Sampling every flavor of dogfood in the store


During the development of Windows 95, everybody was, of course, self-hosted and upgraded the operating system on a regular basis as new builds came out. I took it upon myself never to install the operating system twice the same way. Each time I ran setup, I would give different answers to the questions. Maybe this time, I’ll leave out Wordpad and bind NetBIOS over TCP/IP to my Xircom parallel-port network adapter. Or maybe I wouldn’t choose any networking drivers at all during setup and try to add them later. Towards the beginning of the project, nearly every run of setup would run into some strange problem, and some developer from whatever component I decided to configure randomly would be in my office at the debugger trying to figure out what happened. (Fortunately, as the project matured, the problems were rarer and rarer.)

I was, you might say, sampling every flavor of dogfood in the store.

I would also do crazy things for nightly stress runs. My favorite was to run stress over a parallel port direct cable connection. I don’t think it ever occurred to anyone to test DCC quite this way.

Comments (13)
  1. Dave says:

    I don’t know whether to despise you or ask you to test my program. :)

  2. Maurits says:

    Thumbs-up from my POV

  3. AC says:

    Hey Dave why on earth despise? MSFT should be grateful to have people like Raymond. If you haven’t notice, he’s the guy who rewrote the whole Dr. Watson even against his manager’s wishes — it really sounds like some Dilbert story (maybe I invent a little):

    "It’s impossible or it would take too much time from the whole teams", says manager; "Actually I’ve already done it" says Raymond and even gets punished.

  4. Puckdropper says:

    Depends on your program, Dave. Perhaps if Raymond had tested HAL, the whole 2001 thing wouldn’t have happened.

    Ok, I’ve been reading too much Usenet…

  5. Norman Diamond says:

    There’s a big difference between "many" and "every". Sometimes the difference is huge. I think it shouldn’t be necessary to repeat one that you didn’t sample, but seeing the word "every" there… Windows 95 even has a built-in driver for the Adaptec 1460 card, so you don’t even have to test whether FDISK was equally broken when used with other manufacturers’ cards too (which it is). I know FDISK isn’t your department, but I also know you didn’t dogfood with it for things that were supposed to be your backups.

  6. oldnewthing says:

    Yeesh can’t a guy say anything funny around here without somebody nitpicking it to death?

  7. Raymond, I wish they had someone like you working for the company that produces the (RT)OS we’re using. As it is today, too many bugs seep out of their drivers and sometimes the core…

  8. Anonymous Coward says:

    Well, It would appear all of Microsoft run the default theme with the taskbar in the default position.

    Place it on the right of the screen, and the Start button isn’t in the corner (which is left unused, and is the space of the screen which is most easy to access).

    If it’s paced on the bottom, and you make it more than one line tall, the start button will move up, generating the same problem, and leaving the corner empty.

    While we are at it, the ‘fabulous’ Luna theme will make the rightmost pixel on scroll bars on maximized windows unusable, so you actually have to aim horizontally.

    Also, I’m sure NEARLY EVERY Windows XP user has hit this: thanks to the rounded corners and lack or borders around the title bar, you migh have a maximized window, and another one on top which isn’t maximized, but whose coordinates are (0, 0, maxx, maxy). So of you click the top-right corner pixel, and you’ll go through the hole that the rounded corner leaves, and close the maximized window that was behind.

    This is all very obvious stuff, and makes one wonder why it got out. Putting a random idiot to use an OS and designing the interface around it is generally a very bad idea: you annoy people who actually have a clue, and the idiot will countinue to be one, so you can’t change anything afterwards because he’ll get lost again, having learned nothing.

    Bah :)

  9. Htom says:

    In defense of Raymond: He said every barnd of dogfood in the STORE. I’m sure his metaphorical store does not have every brand ever made, but at HIS store he sampled what he could come up with.

    And that, best I can tell, is the point.

  10. Norman Diamond says:

    Thursday, November 17, 2005 2:15 AM by oldnewthing

    > Yeesh can’t a guy say anything funny around

    > here without somebody nitpicking it to death?

    I don’t know how to answer. Your posting looked like a serious and respectable effort to teach something to both your employer and readers’ employers (maybe reminding your employer about something they’re starting to remember too). Sure the word "dogfood" is colloquial but the usage and the topic are deathly serious.

    If I could see what was intended to be humorous about the posting then I should withdraw the repetition of one of my most serious complaints. But I’m afraid I don’t quite see it. The topic is serious, the posting is serious and respectable, the complaint fits it, there’s not even any parody involved…

    Thursday, November 17, 2005 9:33 AM by Anonymous Coward

    > Well, It would appear all of Microsoft run

    > the default theme with the taskbar in the

    > default position.

    Only some parts of Microsoft. Some parts of Microsoft do experiment with moving the taskbar but it looks like they don’t give feedback to the parts that forget to experiment.

    (I’m not sure whether to call those parts departments or teams or sections or whatever. It is not intended to say that employees are parts.)

  11. oldnewthing says:

    Okay, fine. Perhaps I should have titled the article "Attempting to sample as many flavors of dogfood that exist in the store, within the limits of practicality and with the understanding that I could not devote my entire day to the practice but rather took up the effort each time the opportunity naturally arose." But that would have been a rather cumbersome title and lose quite a bit of its snap. Writing with such pedantic precision is not fun, and if you insist that I write in such a manner, I’ll just stop.

  12. Helen says:

    Some people blog, others just complain.

    As a reader, I know which one I prefer.

  13. Dave says:

    So of you click the top-right corner pixel,

    > and you’ll go through the hole that the

    > rounded corner leaves, and close the

    > maximized window that was behind.

    I do that so often, that I wrote an app that positions a transparent 3×3 always-on-top window in the top right corner to save me from accidentally closing windows that way.

Comments are closed.