Things I’ve written that have amused other people, Episode 4


One of my colleagues pointed out that my web site is listed in the references section of this whitepaper. It scares me that I'm being used as formal documentation because that is explicitly what this web site isn't. I wrote back,

I really need to put a disclaimer on my web site.

FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY

Remember, this is a blog. The opinions (and even some facts) expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Microsoft Corporation. Nothing I write here creates an obligation on Microsoft or establishes the company's official position on anything. I am not a spokesperson. I'm just this guy who strings people along in the hopes that they might hear a funny story once in a while.

You'd think this was obvious, but apparently there are people who think that somehow what I write has the weight of official Microsoft policy and take my sentences apart as if they were legal documents or who take my articles and declare them to be official statements from Microsoft Corporation.

Comments (66)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Go for it. Stick it just below "not actually a .NET blog" in the upper-right of the site.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well, by doing those multi-part tutorials and "don’t do this" articles you implicitely gave the impression that you were at the very least enlightening us. What the point of reading your tutorials if we are supposed to assume they are flawed and incorrect? I find your posts to often be clearer, simpler and more complete than the official documentation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I got to say that a lot of the comments people leave is just great cheap entertainment.  (Especially the rants.)  While waiting for a long build to finish peoples comments help make the time fly by.

    Hopefully one day these people who are ranting/critizing will redirect that energy to trying to fix what is wrong.  Whether it be by submitting bugs back to the correct parties at Microsoft on the documentation, developing better software practices, etc.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Pierre is right. Obviously, some of your posts cannot be cited in formal documentation – because they’re not guaranteed to be true, and you’re not Microsoft spokesman, and et cetera, et cetera, but others definitely can. Or are you going to say that no single statement written by you in this blog during the last several years was guaranteed to be true? If it’s not like that, then I guess at least some of your posts can be used as references after all.

    Yes, you don’t want to constantly think of responsibility for accidental mistakes made in your own blog, so you keep with that "just-for-fun" line. But you know what? Nothing could be done about that. You better think of something to minimize the probability of such mistakes. Because, no matter how many times you’ll say "it’s just for fun", when a hundreds of people read your posts every day it’s no more "just for fun". It’s like a newspaper claiming "Don’t actually believe us; we may be true and we will be true most of times, but accidentally we’ll make mistakes so don’t depend on us at all. We’re doing all this just for fun".

    That’s impossible. There’s a point after which you can’t say you’re doing it just for fun anymore. You’re really good at blogging about Windows and everybody will depend on you no matter how hard you’ll struggle to prevent that. So you better accept the fact that people trust you and try not to let them down ;)

    Sumimasen for my loose English ;)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Vladimir, newspapers (and other news media) make precisely the opposite claim: that they’re telling the plain, unvarnished truth.  Raymond has never said that and has taken pains to say that his blog is unoffical personal opinion.  That many people read it or that he frequently provides explanations for seemingly unexplainable does not obligate him to become an ‘official’ source for anything.  That’s like saying ‘since Scott Adams frequently writes about politics, he should be the offical voice of US government policy’.  He also has hundreds of readers.  Most sensible people understand that blog for what it is – satire.  Most sensible people understand this blog for what it is – highly informed personal opinion.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Trevel: <i>This is written as opinion, not fact.</i>

    So, why can’t his opinion be referenced in that whitepaper? It’s not like they’re claiming him to be the voice of Microsoft, isn’t it?

    [Yes they are. The text reads “Microsoft claims” rather than “Raymond Chen claims”. Update: Looks like somebody edited the article to fix the problem.]

    DEngh:

    <i>hat’s like saying ‘since Scott Adams frequently writes about politics, he should be the offical voice of US government policy’.</i>

    Well, of course all of this is Raymond’s personal opinion, not the Microsoft policy. It’s only natural to fight such claims. But  (as far as I understood his point) Raymond goes further than that, and wants us almost to not believe him at all, to take his postings for a mere chitchat.

    Yup, it’s only his opinion. We all understand that. But why can’t we rely on his opinions if he proved them to be reliable? Look at that whitepaper; what’s wrong with referencing Raymond in a way they did it?

    [Because unlike a newspaper, I do not have a fact-checker. Most of the time, the “facts” I state are actually speculation. Well-informed speculation, but still speculation. -Raymond]
  7. Anonymous says:

    I can believe Raymond had to write that. Wikipedia often violates its own policy WP:SPS, "Anyone can create a website or pay to have a book published, then claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason … blogs are largely not acceptable as sources."

    On the other hand, there are blogs and then there are blogs. Raymond Chen is not just anybody, he is widely recognized as a knowledgeable and insightful expert. If some people quote him out of context or mistake the particular for the comprehensive, they make the same mistake as nitpickers who demand precision that is beside the point being made. Nobody would care if all he wrote was nonsense.

    There is a price to be paid for having earned the respect of the public.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Raymond, the white paper listed you specifically as a "blog for developers" — along with 2 other MSDN blogs.  In that context, I think it was fine, as he doesn’t claim that you are the voice of Microsoft or anything, but instead just a source that developers would be interest in reading.  What’s wrong with that?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Newspapers, news channels and news broadcasts are mostly accurate.  They do provide retractions or corrections, so they’re willing to admit some of their mistakes.  An interesting one is [url=http://www.regrettheerror.com/2007/08/misspelled-at-l.html]here[/url].

  10. Anonymous says:

    "there are people who think that somehow what I write has the weight of official Microsoft policy"

    And there are those who watch videos of Ballmer on stage and who would sincerely LIKE it to be true.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wiki quote:

    "A possible justification suggested by Microsoft’s Raymond Chen for limiting the maximum size of FAT32 partitions created on Windows was the time required to perform a simple "DIR" operation"

    That’s not an official statement from MS, that’s characterized as speculation. Or did someone edit it to sound less official in the interim?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Someone updated it from:

    "In fact, computing free disk space on FAT is one of the most resource intensive operations, as it requires reading the entire FAT linearly. A justification Microsoft offered for limiting the maximum size of FAT32 partitions created on Windows was the time required to perform a simple "DIR" operation, which always displays the free disk space as the last line.<ref name="TechNet on FAT32"/> Displaying this line took longer and longer as the number of clusters increased. "

  13. Anonymous says:

    Yes, he’s saying that no single statement in the entire blog is guaranteed to be true. Certainly a goodly portion of them ARE true — and certainly he’s trying to be truthful, since it’s in his own best interest for people to learn from this — but he is offering NO *guarantee* that anything he says is true.

    Personally, I would trust it over some guaranteed sources, but I do understand the point: This is  written as opinion, not fact.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The world is full of idiots, it’s sad but true. Your blog should be required reading for them, with some appropriate insulation system for your good self.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I remember the time I realized that talk shows needed to say "views do not *necessarily* represent the views of the station", because if they just said "views do not represent the views of the station" some clown would complain that the station was pro KKK if someone came out with an anti-KKK stance.  CUZ THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYTHING SAID ON THE SHOW IS THE STATIONS OFFICIAL POSITION! EXACT WORDS!

    I also wonder if some of the clowns here need to wait to the very end of Star Wars to see the standard "no resemblance to persons living or dead" disclaimer before they realize that was all made up.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Blogs can be expected to be wildly inaccurately.

    but *published articles*? Or.. *published articles on microsoft.com*? That wikipedia isn’t written in a very professional tone, but that article is a totally valid reference.  

    [That “article” is just a blog post copied to microsoft.com. -Raymond]
  17. Anonymous says:

    "It’s like a newspaper claiming "Don’t actually believe us; we may be true and we will be true most of times, but accidentally we’ll make mistakes so don’t depend on us at all. We’re doing all this just for fun"."

    You know, that’d be a lot better than how the newspapers currently imply that everything they’re writing is the truth, even though their articles can be incredibly inaccurate and full of bias.  Is that really a better solution than Raymond’s?

    And Ulrich said:

    "but *published articles*? Or.. *published articles on microsoft.com*? That wikipedia isn’t written in a very professional tone, but that article is a totally valid reference."

    Someone edited the article today to fix it.  The previous edit was implying that Microsoft’s official viewpoint was what Raymond Chen wrote in his technet article.  It’s not, it’s Raymond’s viewpoint, since he was the author of the article, not "Microsoft".

  18. Anonymous says:

    I come here for insight and more detail about the way things work. This blog is extremely valuable because you make yourself available to expand on the posts and generally correct or clarify them quickly. I appreciate that. All my ratings and feedback on MSDN pages seem to go into a black hole, but maybe that’s because they’re about broken Win32/COM examples and not the .NET side. Yet I still take the time to do it.

    I read your linked posts and find myself leaning towards agreement with the commenters. I can’t even see where you got your interpretation! They weren’t taking your blog as Microsoft’s official statement, they were trying to figure out what you meant. Sure, *you* knew what you meant to say, and it was clear to you. I’m sure the MSDN documentation was clear and unambiguous to the people who wrote it at the time. However, both they and you sometimes fail to clearly communicate the point.

    Look at it this way: if only one person whines about something, maybe they’re just a troll. But when several people have the same concern, maybe you didn’t say what you thought you said. Your replies there were defenses of your post that managed to insult the intelligence of the commenters in the process. Why not just restate the point in a way that clarified it without getting insulting?

  19. Anonymous says:

    ‘[That “article” is just a blog post copied to microsoft.com. -Raymond]’

    Unforunately, I’d say it doesn’t really matter.  At the point
    at which a Microsoft editor (of TechNet, in this instance) allows for
    information to be printed in an official publication, then the text in
    question becomes the official position of Microsoft.  In short, I
    can understand pointing at Wikipedia if they were quoting a blog entry
    or pointing at the original blog entry (though in that perspective,
    it’d be hard to establish who was commiting “foul play”).  But, I
    don’t see what in Wikipedia’s FAT entry scares you.

    [Um, TechNet and MSDN and the other magazines are
    independent businesses from the product groups. They do not establish
    the policy of the product groups. (Notice that many of the article
    authors don’t even work for Microsoft.) It’s like saying that articles
    in The New Yorker set the official policy of Wired Magazine (since they
    are both Conde Nast publications and a Conde Nast editor approved the New Yorker article). -Raymond
    ]
  20. Anonymous says:

    [Vladimir] (as far as I understood his point) Raymond goes further than that, and wants us almost to not believe him at all, to take his postings for a mere chitchat.

    As far as *I* understood his point, it’s that he would like people to stop expecting his explanations to be _the_ _absolute_  _verified_ _truth_, especially when comparing his posts to the real offical documentation, other bloggers or their personal experiences.  

    I can’t count the number of times he’s clearly stated in the original post "this is not my area of responsibility, this is simply a recounting of watercooler conversation" or similar, only to have his explanation picked apart sentence by sentence.  Those folks need to understand that opinion or informed speculation are not fact, even from someone with as athoritative a background as Raymond’s.  

    It sure seems like he’s getting tired of saying it, and it would be a real shame to have his easily readable explanations disappear because of stupid expectations of infallible authority on the part of some readers.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I think this is a symptom of something we’ve seen for a while: Raymond is blogging scared.  We’ve seen it with stories being removed, names being redacted, and now this.  I don’t know exactly what he’s afraid of – Microsoft may be many things, but I can’t imagine it being stupid enough to fire Raymond.  

    As to the content of the post:  I think while most people recognize that you do not speak for Microsoft in an official capacity, they also recognize that what do you say is often of higher value than what is officially stated.  I know that if there is a case where MSDN and your blog conflicted, I would assume you are more likely to be correct.  So I don’t think its unreasonable for people to quote you based on similar assumptions.  

    Just my $0.02

  22. Anonymous says:

    Did you get permission to do this blog?  Come see me in my office Monday morning.  Bring a chair I can throw.

  23. Anonymous says:

    A bit offtopic (but you’ll see the connection):

    Assuming that the behaviour Raymond explained was true in the past (DIR made a call to the FS that counted the free clusters in the FAT each time called), there would have been a simple workaround for this time-consuming operation when the partitions size grew larger and larger:

    Count the free clusters at mount-time and update this count as allocation/deallocation are made. Not a big change but a huge optimisation of the ‘free size’ FS call…

    My less-than-informed opinion about the 32GB limitation is that it was imposed to be compatible with older OS versions that couldn’t use those large partition.

    (Because the limitation only apply when creating a partition, not when using one)

  24. Anonymous says:

    The facts expressed here are those of the author.

  25. Anonymous says:

    ‘[Um, TechNet and MSDN and the other magazines are independent businesses from the product groups.’

    Um, so?  TechNet is a part of Microsoft, designed to push the
    Microsoft brand.  Microsoft Press is in the same position–well, I
    don’t about structuring internally.  Internal business
    configurations aren’t relevant.

    ‘They do not establish the policy of the product groups.’

    Notice how I stated “official position”, not “official policy”.
     Beyond that, stating a position or a policy in any publication
    doesn’t establish the position or policy; such is merely public
    relations.

    ‘(Notice that many of the article authors don’t even work for Microsoft.)’

    Which is, again, irrelevant.  If a Microsoft publication
    includes an article by an author, they’ve effectively given that
    article their authority.  Short of some clear disclaimers (op.
    ed., for example) or a later retraction, the weight of the article
    remaining unchallenged sets the standard that it, in part, defines the
    official position of the publication and the company as a whole.

    ‘It’s like saying that articles in The New Yorker set the official
    policy of Wired Magazine (since they are both Conde Nast publications
    and a Conde Nast editor approved the New Yorker article). -Raymond]’

    Switching policy with position, that’s still not quite right.
     More accurately, if a Wired Magazine employee hosts a blog entry
    on company servers and that entry is published as an article in The New
    Yorker, it would very well set the official position of Conde Nast, The
    New Yorker and Wired Magazine included.  Such wouldn’t directly
    set policy, though.  Official positions are many, after all, and
    often contradictory.

    That’s the entire reason why official policies are explicitly stated
    from time to time, as well as the reason why MS legal seems so
    insistent that you are responsible for the contents of your blog; even
    in places where there’s clear disclaimers (blogs, by their very nature,
    fall into the category of op. ed.) were policy shouldn’t apply much, if
    at all, a “good example” is sometimes set to make clear what the
    official policy/position is.

    In short, the venue is important, not the author.  And even
    when the venue should be seen as non-authoritarian over the
    same/another institution, companies/peoples will at times vocally
    objection to positions taken to reenforce what should already be clear,
    for PR purposes.  A lack of this in a venue where the can be
    assumed authority can be shown as indirectly consenting to this
    authorization.

    [You might be surprised to know that the product
    groups do not review every article printed about them in TechNet or
    MSDN magazine. I occasionally object strenuously to some of the
    articles printed in those magazines, especially those that give bad
    programming advice that are just going to create more compatibility
    nightmares in the next version of Windows. -Raymond
    ]
  26. Anonymous says:

    “You might be surprised to know that the product groups do not review every article printed about them in TechNet or MSDN magazine. I occasionally object strenuously to some of the articles printed in those magazines, especially those that give bad programming advice that are just going to create more compatibility nightmares in the next version of Windows.”

    Which means that the editors do a poor job, then? If Microsoft’s own publications fail to show how to develop correct programs for Microsoft-systems, then it’s not a big surprise that there are so much flawed software around.

    Makes me wonder about the Microsoft Certification-stuff. Do the product groups help out to make those? Or will again risk being teached flawed methods?

    This is probably pretty far away from your daily job, but your answers to the other questions makes me wonder about these issues.

    Inhouse business software developed by somebody whose code was lost ages ago is often used as an example in your posts about why Windows should help them out, so that the software continues to work in a new version of Windows. However, how was the developer(s) of this business software trained? Maybe self-learned programming, and then reading a few articles in MSDN and/or Technet Mag., lot’s of googling, and perhaps some reference doc reading inbetween? Notice that I mention ref. doc reading at the end, to emphasize that they try to avoid that and therefore the official docs won’t be used as much as “easier sources”, such as MSDN Magazine, are being used. And therefore, official MS publications (like books, white papers & magazines) should try to make those sources reliable too.

    [TechNet is just another magazine like Dr. Dobbs Journal. “TechNet Magazine is published by CMP Media LLC. CMP Media LLC is an independent company not affiliated with Microsoft Corporation.” Says so on the copyright page of every issue. -Raymond]
  27. Anonymous says:

    ‘[You might be surprised to know that the product groups do not review every article printed about them in TechNet or MSDN magazine.’

    That doesn’t surprise me in the least*.  Just because a company takes an official position doesn’t mean it’s the result of a fact-seeking expedition.  Official positions are decrees, not proofs.

    ‘I occasionally object strenuously to some of the articles printed in those magazines, especially those that give bad programming advice that are just going to create more compatibility nightmares in the next version of Windows. -Raymond]’

    That’s good to hear.  Hopefully they listen to you.

    [It’s too late. By your argument, it’s the official position of Microsoft. Nothing I can do about it now.]

    *It’s hard to adequately read the situation, but it sounds like you have one of three possible problems you have with the Wikipedia FAT entry.

    The first scenario assumes you retain exclusive copyright over your blog posts.  Within this scenario, TechNet gained your permission to include your blog entry as an article in their magazine, but you didn’t think the magazine entry would be taken as “the official position of Microsoft”.  Not wanting to be in that position, even when you voluntarily put yourself in that position, you’ve tried to further clarify what your intents were in the hopes that people will listen and stop considering you a Microsoft.

    The second scenario assumes that you don’t retain an exclusive copyright on your blog entries, either base it’s clearly work-for-hire or because while you technically might technically retain copyright, it’s not worth the legal fight over a blog entry.  In this situation, you might feel not only forced by TechNet to be a Microsoft spokesman, which makes you uncomfortable, but Wikipedia citing the article and treating you as a Microsoft spokesman only further aggravates the problem.  Of course, in this scenario, continuing to use Microsoft’s blog space or whatever else would qualify your blog as work-for-hire would continue to put yourself in the same position, leading to possible further problems.

    And of course, there’s always possibility three, that I’m just reading too far into things and not taking what you say at face value.  In that, I mean, you’re trying to be as blunt and adamant as possible that “I’m not a Microsoft spokesman”.  The problem is, so long as you keep putting yourself in a situation where you can be quoted by some arm of Microsoft and so long as Microsoft chooses to quote you, the words of yours they use will be seen as an official position of Microsoft because Microsoft is in some fashion choosing you to be a temporary spokesman for them.  You can’t get out of that position by trying to hold up a sign that says “don’t quote me on that” (well, perhaps you can, but that’s likely to get you either fired or perhaps, if you’re lucky, have them come stop coming to you for anything remotely official that might reach the public).

    Having said all that, I can certainly understand not wanting one’s blog entries (or a lot of other entries) to be taken out of context (quite literally, in this case) and pasted into magazine articles.  But the road to stopping that could be rocky.

    [It appears that the consensus is that if a Microsoft employee says something on a Web site that says “Microsoft” on it, then it makes them a Microsoft spokesperson. If I say “Here’s a way to do X”, that makes it official company position that my method is the recommended way of doing X. If I say “This was poorly designed”, then that makes it the official company position that it was poorly designed. Obviously I am underutilizing this enormous power. “Microsoft should give Raymond Chen 10 million dollars.” Let’s see what happens. -Raymond]
  28. Anonymous says:

    ‘[In other words, only authorized Microsoft spokespeople should write articles in Microsoft-branded publications.’

    Well, my main point was that you’re a de facto spokesperson because you’re a Microsoft employee writing in a Microsoft-branded publication.

    ‘I guess I should resign, then. I originally signed up to write the “fun back-page” column, not “establishing the official Microsoft position every month” column.’

    Unfortunately, you inevitabely do both.  I will admit that, to an extent, it’s an unfair position to be in.  And perhaps I’m reading more deeply than most others would in the seriousness/officiality of your TechNet column.  But, it’s hard to not see the conflict of interest present, and to constantly have to consider whether something stated might be the official position of Microsoft in a matter or not.

    ‘I have written official documentation. My TechNet column is not official documentation. It’s the dessert course of a technical magazine. -Raymond]’

    Sorry.  My point wasn’t that TechNet is official documentation.  It was to point out that you have in the past been the official spokesman of Microsoft in some technical matter.  Perhaps the back page column of a technical magazine shouldn’t be considered more than a dessert course.  And perhaps the Wikipedia entry should have been more clear on the context of their information from the start.  But, the situation does leave enough room for ambiguity on whether your TechNet column should ever be considered a viable official, quotable source.

    [When have I been the official spokesman of Microsoft on a technical matter? I can think of only one time I’ve spoken in an official capacity – the PDC. Are there others? Does this mean anybody who speaks at a PDC gets tagged with “Official Microsoft spokesman” for the rest of their life? -Raymond]
  29. Anonymous says:

    ‘[TechNet is just another magazine like Dr. Dobbs Journal. “TechNet Magazine is published by CMP Media LLC. CMP Media LLC is an independent company not affiliated with Microsoft Corporation.” Says so on the copyright page of every issue. -Raymond]’

    That’s odd.  So, does that mean “Microsoft TechNet” isn’t trademarked?  And I suppose the “© 2006 Microsoft Corporation and CMP Media, LLC. All rights reserved; reproduction in part or in whole without permission is prohibited.” at the bottom of [url=http://www.microsoft.com/technet/technetmag/issues/2007/08/WindowsConfidential/default.aspx]here[/url] and [url=http://www.microsoft.com/technet/technetmag/issues/2007/08/Toolbox/default.aspx]here[/url] is just for show?  Perhaps the print edition has the disclaimer and is different than the website edition?  I don’t see a copyright page on the web site to disassociate Microsoft.  Of course, if Microsoft doesn’t own the copyright at all on anything in TechNet, it’d mean that you’ve answered my question:  you willing put your blog posting in TechNet.

    ‘[It appears that the consensus is that if a Microsoft employee says something on a Web site that says “Microsoft” on it, then it makes them a Microsoft spokesperson.’

    No.  The “consensus” is that if a Microsoft employee says something in a Microsoft publication of note (blogs don’t count, magazines might depending on the context), that what they say is a de facto official position of Microsoft.  If it’s not the official position, then either (a) in the future other official positions by other people in similar situations will conflict with the official position, possibly creating paradoxes and ambiguities* or (b) Microsoft will in some way (retractions, press releases, firings, etc) try to directly override a seeming official position by Microsoft.  Given that you don’t believe your blog has the authority to override the seeming official positions of Microsoft (and I don’t think it does, either), criticizing Wikipedia for using an official source seems..silly.

    ‘If I say “Here’s a way to do X”, that makes it official company position that my method is the recommended way of doing X. If I say “This was poorly designed”, then that makes it the official company position that it was poorly designed.’

    In the right position (a magazine publication), yes.  And like I said, this assumes that there aren’t later contradictions.  You make it sound like you’ve never written official documentation before and are completely unfamiliar with the concept that what you say could be taken as an official company position.  And I wonder, when you do write documentation, do you write it as manager of the product group, where you have authority to establish a position or policy on what’s written about?

    ‘Obviously I am underutilizing this enormous power. “Microsoft should give Raymond Chen 10 million dollars.” Let’s see what happens. -Raymond]’

    Again, blogs aren’t an authoritarian source.  Magazines have higher authority than blogs, with few exceptions.  Newspapers are above magazines (except possibly in certain fields), and journals and books are above magazines.  Besides, what Microsoft “should” do is different than stating what Microsoft “will” and “did” do.  Or are you saying that you think you’d be able to say “Microsoft is going to pay me 10 million dollars” or “Microsoft’s project groups take company funds to pay developers 10 million dollars when they travel to Europe, so they can buy beer” (aside from as a clear joke**) when it wasn’t true in TechNet without any fear of repercussions?

    I really am curious, how does Microsoft go about stating an official position in your view?  If their web site isn’t good enough and with almost any authoritarian source quoting an actual person (thereby, seemingly, making that person the endorser, not Microsoft), are PR releases in questionably authoritarian sources the only place to look?  Or perhaps books, where Microsoft can hide the authors?  I mean, at some level, some *person* has to be stating the official position of Microsoft (we’re still not developed enough in AI to be able to avoid that), so how can one be absolutely sure that it’s Microsoft, not the author, who is the endorser?

    *Or, in short, Microsoft’s indirect endorsement of things by lack of clarification can be proven to be a lack of endorsement, conflicting endorsement, or a change in position.  Official positions don’t have to be right or even directly clarified as official positions.  If the latter held, scummy companies would invest large amounts of money to astroturf other companies while using the company logo while avoiding the legal ramifications of fraud and slander***–“I didn’t say ‘Simon says’ isn’t a defense”, in other words.

    **One could take the 10 million dollar amount or the idea that Microsoft is trying to buy vast quantities of European beer for its developers as clearly comical, as there isn’t supporting evidence and the values seem too high.  But what if the amounts were more reasonable?  At some point, the “average man” could be deceived that what is stated is true.  And if Microsoft doesn’t seem to mind or react to this fact, how are people to know that it’s not the official position?  Because some people, by word of mouth or through the author’s blog, are told that it wasn’t meant?  Such seems like a security inversion.

    ***At some point, the scummy company would claim it acts like a common carrier, point out that it’s “quite clear” on what is official policy (though, given that the situation could give free reign to said astroturfers, they might just as well forge whatever method is used to make their statements seem official; such gives some realm of deniability), and try to claim no knowledge of which of the actual employers are responsible.  Perhaps it’d fail as a defense, as at some point the courts would be thoroughly convinced that repeated failed attempts to find the perpetrators (who themselves *would* be responsible for libel, slander, etc, potentially) was intentional.

    [In other words, only authorized Microsoft spokespeople should write articles in Microsoft-branded publications. I guess I should resign, then. I originally signed up to write the “fun back-page” column, not “establishing the official Microsoft position every month” column. I have written official documentation. My TechNet column is not official documentation. It’s the dessert course of a technical magazine. -Raymond]
  30. Anonymous says:

    As Raymond’s impartiality will eventually be doubted, let me state it myself:

    Microsoft should really give Raymond Chen 10 millions dollars.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Also, I don’t like where it seems to be going. The future doesn’t look bright.

    (Both with the ’10 Million $’ thing and Raymond’s blog)

  32. Anonymous says:

    The whitepaper author probably meant "Further Reading" (I hope they consulted with more than just the blogs).  The Wikipedia material looks like a draft, considering the references were an afterthought.

    Still, I think his concern is justified, as Kuwanger has shown.  Technet has an editor, copyright statement, a corrections policy and a blog: that would make even a parody article citable as coming from "the Microsoft camp".  And some people view these blogs as an exercise in glasnost, and so assume everything here is The Secret Microsoft Knowledge (TM).

    So right here is the best place to debunk any misunderstanding.

  33. Anonymous says:

    You need an intro page with a list of disclaimers that will ping anyone who hasn’t visited your blog (or at least, not recently). Each item should be in the form of a checkbox e.g. [ ] I understand that Raymond will not do my homework. [ ] I understand that Raymond is no better at using Windows Live Search than I am. [ ] I understand that this blog does not contain official Microsoft policy. (I’m sure other commenters can add to the list. If you can include ways to find those things then so much the better.) And sneak in a few false statements to catch out the people who think that the page is just an exercise in checking checkboxes.

  34. Anonymous says:

    ‘Does this mean anybody who speaks at a PDC gets tagged with "Official Microsoft spokesman" for the rest of their life?’

    That’s what I was saying "No" too.  If you leave Microsoft, you’d be an "Ex-Official Microsoft spokesman".  If Microsoft gets bought out, you’d become "Official [New Company Name] spokesman" in your new columns.  You don’t innately get "tagged … for the rest of [your] life".  Of course, if you should happen to die–a long life, I hope–before you stop writing your column, well, what do you expect?

    ‘Any Microsoft employee who writes in a Microsoft-branded publication is, according to you, a de facto Microsoft spokesperson. Even if the role in the publication is as the historian and cartoonist.’

    You’re right:  I did cast too wide of a net.  There are going to invariable be exceptions that rule out the officiality of Microsoft employees.  Although, one could take implicitly that if a Microsoft employee starts drawing cartoons in a Microsoft-branded publication, they’re not inherently adverse to Microsoft employees drawing cartoons in a Microsoft-branded publication.  And, of course, there being a well-published struggle  in a more reputable publication for the cartoons to be included would counter that implication.

    ‘Even if you don’t consider watercooler talk acceptable for a magazine, the editors appear to be okay with it.’

    That’s the thing, though.  If Microsoft is allowing TechNet to brand itself with its name, then at some point TechNet should be held accountable to Microsoft to prevent TechNet from ruining the brand–imagine if TechNet turned into a porno magazine.  Because it should be the case and Microsoft isn’t an entirely naive business, I and I think most others would presume that there already exists, in place, policies that are to be applied by the editor to articles that are included in TechNet.  So, it follows that unless there’s some clear disclaimer–being on the back page might suffice–, your articles won’t seem to be merely "watercooler talk".  Some level of officiality will be seen.  Just like if TechNet allowed porn in its magazine and Microsoft didn’t react, it’d be seen as silent acceptance of associating porn (or whatever the porn is meant to represent) with the Microsft brand.

    ‘Perhaps you should write to them, "Don’t have lighthearted articles in your magazine, or if you do, make sure they’re not written by Microsoft employees."’

    Or, perhaps I should write to the Microsoft TechNet website to put in a disclaimer on your articles to note that they’re published on the back page of the dead-tree publication?  Or, to make more clear on the website that Microsoft’s involvement in TechNet is less than one might otherwise innately believe, considering the prominence of "Microsoft TechNet" on the website.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Problem seems to be with Wikipedia as pointed by The Inquirer several times already.

    Wikipedia is chock-full of self-proclamed "experts" on all subjects and their writing on Wikipedia website is giving them the "Official" stamp.

    Some of Wikipedia authors are attention seeking whores which go as far as to create false identity and false biography and build their credibility in much the same way someone here said bloggers and website owners do.

    Raymond is writing great articles both here and on TechNet and his credibility when it comes to Microsoft/Windows/Shell related stuff is already set in stone. That is why some people are taking his word as a law without giving it much thinking.

    As for me, if I had to chose whom to trust I would also chose Raymond Chen, not Wikipedia because I know he exists.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Oh and Kuwanger… whatever your real name is, real men do not hide behind a pseudonym. Give Raymond a break!!!

    I would rather keep reading his informative posts here than your self-righteous phylosophical blabbering. So if you came from Wikipedia, go away and take that crap back with you to Wikipedia Talk.

  37. Anonymous says:

    “Then again, I might just be reading too deeply into things.”

    Yes!  Furrfu, I wonder why Michael Kaplan never gets this kinda trouble…

    [I mentioned that to Michael when I saw him a few weeks ago, that he can get away with writing stuff that would get me pilloried. He succeeded at establishing an informal—even somewhat renegade—tone, and for that I envy him. -Raymond]
  38. Anonymous says:

    if i may say, it’s probably because people have a lot more respect for Raymond, and because he (seemingly) takes himself more seriously.

  39. Anonymous says:

    ‘[When have I been the official spokesman of Microsoft on a technical matter?’

    You have been the official spokesman of Microsoft on a technical matter when you wrote official documentation.

    ‘I can think of only one time I’ve spoken in an official capacity – the PDC. Are there others? Does this mean anybody who speaks at a PDC gets tagged with “Official Microsoft spokesman” for the rest of their life? -Raymond]’

    No.  Again, “you’re a de facto spokesperson because you’re a Microsoft employee writing in a Microsoft-branded publication”.  That doesn’t mean you’re a spokesperson all the time.  It does mean you’re being a spokesperson in the actual writings in the Microsoft-branded publication.  The difference between TechNet and your blog is that blogs are ranked lower in authority (potentially with no authority).

    [You say “No” and then explain that the answer is “Yes”. Any Microsoft employee who writes in a Microsoft-branded publication is, according to you, a de facto Microsoft spokesperson. Even if the role in the publication is as the historian and cartoonist.]

    I guess my issue with your complaint is that you seem to want to claim no authority to state Microsoft official position until some “official” has deemed you as an official Microsoft spokesman.  But, there’s clearly levels of officialness.  The actual documentation comes above your blog entries or magazine articles.  Official press releases likely override documentation.  When there’s vast voids of “what is Microsoft’s position on this?”, then even something as low authority as a magazine article can be seen as the current official position until something of equal or higher authority overrides it.  And equally so, the lower in authority an official statement is made, the more often it has to be repeated to “stick” and the less often higher authority statements need to be made for people to consider the new, higher statements as the genuine position.

    ‘Also, I don’t like where it seems to be going. The future doesn’t look bright.

    (Both with the ’10 Million $’ thing and Raymond’s blog)’

    I think there’s two interesting–somewhat related–concepts to consider when thinking about Raymond’s blog versus Raymond’s TechNet column.  Not being a lawyer, don’t take this with heavy authority, but if a person were to sue Raymond over his blog for defamation of character, he’d likely only be able to claim slander.  Meanwhile, to sue Raymond over his TechNet column would likely be claimable as libel.

    Why?  Because the differentiation between slander and libel isn’t so much on whether something is written or not.  It’s based upon the venue being different.  Blogs are understood to be like watercooler chat.  They’re alterable and rapidly changing.  There’s the ability to clarify multiple times on the same day.  But, magazine articles are different.  They’re seen as much more static.  Altering articles after first publication without notification is heavily frowned upon.  Why?  Because people expect to be able to *cite* articles.  There’s no reasonable expectation to be able to rely upon blog entries.

    Trying to conflate magazine articles and blogs is the problem.  People might naively believe that Raymond’s blog is meant with some officiality, but society dictates that it isn’t the case.  That’s why it’s naivety.  But, magazine articles *are* different.  So, I can perfectly understand why Raymond would be upset about people trying to cite his blog entries.  However, when he writes a magazine article, it isn’t entirely naive to think that what is written might contain one or more Microsoft official positions.  It’s his magazine article(s) that I keep writing about, not his blog. :/

    ‘Technet has an editor, copyright statement, a corrections policy and a blog: that would make even a parody article citable as coming from “the Microsoft camp”.’

    If it’s a parody article, it’s a parody article.  And if it’s the Onion, it’s the Onion.  Special cases have to be considered, of course.  But, special cases have to be clear enough for people to not be mislead into thinking they’re more authoritarian than they are.  For example, findig out that Raymond’s TechNet articles are on the back cover (something non-obvious from the web site), decreases the authoritarianism of his articles.  The inclusion of an editor increases the authority of articles because it creates a unifying force; ie, an editor sets policy that preemptively filter out unacceptable articles–such is absent in a blog.  The copyright statement would, if it were prominent enough (I still haven’t found it on the Microsoft TechNet website), greatly deminish the officiality of Raymond’s TechNet article.  Newspapers have correction policies; that doesn’t make them non-authoritarian.  And Wired has a blog.  That doesn’t mean there’s nothing of authority in their magazine.

    The main problem is, there isn’t always any other official position beyond Raymond’s TechNet article.  Perhaps all of the things that go together should to form his column should completely remove him from officiality.  And perhaps that means no one should cite his articles, ever.  But “watercooler talk” may not be acceptable for a magazine article, especially when such talk seems focused mainly on the stuff that Microsoft has yet to comment on in some other capacity.

    [Even if you don’t consider watercooler talk acceptable for a magazine, the editors appear to be okay with it. Perhaps you should write to them, “Don’t have lighthearted articles in your magazine, or if you do, make sure they’re not written by Microsoft employees.” -Raymond]

    Then again, I might just be reading too deeply into things.  And certainly, a little more clarification in the Wikipedia entry couldn’t hurt things.

  40. Anonymous says:

    "if i may say, it’s probably because people have a lot more respect for Raymond, and because he (seemingly) takes himself more seriously."

    And because nobody cares about internationalization! ;)

    It’s a joke (only kinda, alas) but it’s true that people run a lot more into the Windows behaviours that Raymond describe than into the difficult problems of internationalization… or maybe they’re more accustomed to these…

  41. Peter Ritchie says:

    …likely to get lost but…

    It’s scary because there’s an obvious need for the content you’ve provided in your blog which isn’t being provided in an "official" or "supported" manner.  If people took your blog with a grain of salt, they’d simply have to ignore most of the technical stuff because it’s not official and supported when contradicted by, or not backed-up by, official documentation.  

    People would rather say "Raymond said so", or "see Raymond" than say "no, the problem can’t be solved".

  42. Anonymous says:

    Raymond doesn’t want to take responsibility for his claims, and neither do I.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Well, if you got a problem of Microsoft whitepaper endorsing your blog, you talk/complain to Microsoft, not any outsiders.

    As it stands, it was not your decision that Microsoft whitepaper listed your blog. It’s an inconsistency between Microsoft and its employee.

  44. Anonymous says:

    man, some of the commenters here really need to get a job.  How did you survive for so long without ever coming in contact with the real world?

  45. Anonymous says:

    Raymond is employed by microsoft.  They pay for priviledged access to Raymonds ‘opinion’.  

    Raymond’s opinion has developed based on priviledged access to microsoft resources.

    Where is the boundary between Raymond & Microsoft’s opinion?  Is the boundary in a review process?  

    Is it resonable for Raymond to assert that he is not representing the company that has employed him for a long time and pays his salary.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Wendy, that was deep… perhaps too deep for most of the visitors here :)

  47. Anonymous says:

    > real men do not hide behind a pseudonym. Give Raymond a break!!!

    Yeah, sometimes women do it. There’s lots of reasons to post behind an identity, not the least of which is people taking your posts out of context, which is Raymond’s point, I suppose.

    > Is it resonable for Raymond to assert that he is not representing the company that has employed him for a long time and pays his salary.

    Sure – he isn’t an official rep. He is, however, an expert in a part of MS’ software, and that will follow him everywhere. Sorry Raymond, but what you say about the windows API carries a fair bit of heft due to your demonstrated competence.

    [I claim that “Carrying heft” != “official spokesperson”. But it appears that I am mistaken and heft = spokesperson. -Raymond]
  48. Anonymous says:

    Got to say, I’m the one that originally linked to the technet presentation here

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:File_Allocation_Table#2_TiB_limit

    since the stupid Wiki article gets the volume size limit for FAT32 wrong. They say 8TB, but you can see from the boot sector that the disk size is a 32 bit sector count, and that allows volumes of at most 2^32 * 512 bytes or 2TB. And I figured you were a credible source to cite. But I only cited you for on a technical point, not on Microsoft policy.

    @Nawak

    “Assuming that the behaviour Raymond explained was true in the past (DIR made a call to the FS that counted the free clusters in the FAT each time called), there would have been a simple workaround for this time-consuming operation when the partitions size grew larger and larger:

    Count the free clusters at mount-time and update this count as allocation/deallocation are made. Not a big change but a huge optimisation of the ‘free size’ FS call…”

    In FAT32 the FSInfo sector has a “free clusters” field –

    http://www.x-ways.net/winhex/templates/FSINFO_Sector.tpl

    … so at mount time you can read that. Then as clusters are allocated or freed you can update it in memory as you say and write it back to the FSInfo sector on unmount. There’s even a hint for the next free cluster to try to allocate.

    So you don’t need to scan the whole FAT unless you’re chkdsking.

    And it seems to me that if you added a “volume size in clusters” to the FSInfo sector you could have 2^28 clusters, i.e. 8Tib volumes with 32K clusters. Come to think of it, if you had a flag to say “use all 32 bits of the FAT entry instead of 28”, you could have 128TB with 32K clusters or a whopping 256TB with 64K ones.

    So with a few minor tweaks, FAT32 would be OK for huge volumes.

    [For a specific definition of “OK” (one that ignores performance). Unless you don’t mind linear-time algorithms everywhere. -Raymond]
  49. Anonymous says:

    I’ve cited you in a number of usability articles I’ve written because your comments are a valuable insight into the way that people misuse computers, or that developers misuse interfaces.  Just because it’s not an official company-approved statement doesn’t mean that it’s not useful.

    [That’s fine. -Raymond]
  50. Anonymous says:

    @Nawak

    "Assuming that the behaviour Raymond explained was true in the past (DIR made a call to the FS that counted the free clusters in the FAT each time called), there would have been a simple workaround for this time-consuming operation when the partitions size grew larger and larger:

    Count the free clusters at mount-time and update this count as allocation/deallocation are made. Not a big change but a huge optimisation of the ‘free size’ FS call…"

    In FAT32 the FSInfo sector has a "free clusters" field –

    http://www.x-ways.net/winhex/templates/FSINFO_Sector.tpl

    … so at mount time you can read that. Then as clusters are allocated or freed you can update it in memory as you say and write it back to the FSInfo sector on unmount. There’s even a hint for the next free cluster to try to allocate.

    So you don’t need to scan the whole FAT unless you’re chkdsking.

    And it seems to me that if you added a "volume size in clusters" to the FSInfo sector you could have 2^28 clusters, i.e. 8Tib volumes with 32K clusters. Come to think of it, if you had a flag to say "use all 32 bits of the FAT entry instead of 28", you could have 128TB with 32K clusters or a whopping 256TB with 64K ones.

    So with a few minor tweaks, FAT32 would be OK for huge volumes.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Anon:

    I know about this field. I don’t know if I read from the MS whitepaper or if I saw it from experience that updating this field is not mandatory… If I am mistaken and this field is indeed mandatory or if you know that the field is correct (you have a way to know that an OS obeying the field has mounted the volume last), then of course you gain mount time.

  52. hampsi@yahoo.com says:

    Raymond, you’re a bright light in the fog. Keep writing the way you always have. <i>Illegitimi non caborundum</i>

  53. Anonymous says:

    I don’t really lke the idea of a 8TB FAT32 volume – I’d feel better if it were ext3 or xfs, personally. storing directory catalogs as a tree of some sort makes for reasonably fast lookups with absurd numbers of files.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Raymond, why don’t you just write an article at Technet, stating that it’s Microsoft position that your articles at Technet do not necessarily reflect Microsoft’s positions? That should clear things out, shouldn’t it? :)

  55. Anonymous says:

    I think Raymond has infected Microsoft and vice-versa and its pointless for him to deny spokes-person-ship when Microsoft provides the blog he opinionates-on and the coding expereinces he opinionates about.

    (my thinking is not representative of any kind of organisation)

    More beer anyone?

  56. Anonymous says:

    There are generally two "types" of people who read this blog:

    A) People who believe Raymond speaks for Microsoft.

    B) People who believe Raymond speaks for Raymond.

    The "Type A" crowd would probably have an easier time with the exegesis of the Book of Raymond if their view wasn’t obstructed by their colon.

    The "Type B" crowd tends to see Raymond as that incredibly smart kid from physics who sits around after class in the commons sipping tea and discussing the ideas – as he understands them – in ways that make sense to people who are not physics textbook authors.

    A is wrong.  B is partly right.  The truth is that Microsoft speaks on behalf of Raymond and you’re all putting the cart before the horse.  (I wonder if Raymond’s ever been called a ‘cart’ before?)

    Of course, there’s also the "Type Cs" who believe that "Raymond" is the pen name for a society of a living, periodic waveforms transmiting this blog’s content from Sirius to test humankind’s ability to distinguish between a blog author and a corporate spokesperson.  We’re not doing so hot, apparently.

    I, for one, welcome our Raymondian overlords with open arms.

  57. Anonymous says:

    @Cooney

    "I don’t really lke the idea of a 8TB FAT32 volume – I’d feel better if it were ext3 or xfs, personally. storing directory catalogs as a tree of some sort makes for reasonably fast lookups with absurd numbers of files."

    FAT32 is useful because every OS in the world supports it, it’s not the most advanced filesystem in the world by any means. Whereas ext3 is Linux only and NTFS is Windows only.

    I know there are ways to get read/write access to ext3 on Windows and NTFS on Linux but none of them are very stable in my experience.

    And in practice, the fact that FAT32 is so simple means it’s pretty quick at reading and writing on a typical volume. I’ve seen benchmarks where it’s faster than NTFS for example.

    http://blogs.sun.com/dom/entry/filesystem_benchmarks_iozone

    Directory lookups on the media are slower, but caching tends to hide that problem for typical volumes that have few directories. An O(n) algorithm is ok if n is small or the constant is small, which is true if you cache sectors effectively.

    @Nawak

    I know about this field. I don’t know if I read from the MS whitepaper or if I saw it from experience that updating this field is not mandatory… If I am mistaken and this field is indeed mandatory or if you know that the field is correct (you have a way to know that an OS obeying the field has mounted the volume last), then of course you gain mount time.

    It’s not mandatory, but you’re supposed to set it to 0xffffffff if you don’t support it. In which case on mount you need to scan the FAT. But after that you can cache it in memory and write it back on unmount. I think in practice everyone uses it correctly.

  58. Anonymous says:

    Reading these blog comments, somehow I’m reminded of this:

    http://www.pennyarcademerch.com/pat070381.html

  59. Anonymous says:

    NOTHING technical, just self-indulgent meta-blogging crap, so feel free to skip if you aren’t interested

  60. Anonymous says:

    Files create their own problems.

  61. Anonymous says:

    So yesterday in The most important language in the whole wide world is yours, and you hardly even know

Comments are closed.