Regular readers may recall that Microsoft has taken its dirty tricks campaign to Mole's doorstep. In February it was brought to his attention that a rival mole was at large in the TechNet pages of the Microsoft Web site.
Mole immediately wrote to Bill Gates to protest, pointing out that yet another copyright infringement suit was the last thing Microsoft needed and demanding that the fraudulent Microsoft mole be subjected to summary gassing. Sad to say, neither Mr Gates nor David Svendsen, the chairman of Microsoft UK, has had the courtesy to reply. Meanwhile, outraged readers have continued to send messages of sympathy and support.
Mole has kept them all and will use the correspondence to petition the US regulatory authorities, the EC and anyone else who will listen.
It may not be too late to save Mole, but poor old Netscape, already robbed of its independence, is beyond help. The company that has done more than any other to make the Web browser the most important piece of software this decade has lost the battle for market dominance. So let mediocrity ensue. Microsoft has excelled itself this time, because Internet Explorer 5 is less than mediocre. To take a small but significant example, Microsoft's programmers have somehow contrived to forget all about the font tag, the HTML instruction that defines the size and type face of the text on Web pages. It is true that the authors of version 4, the latest iteration of HTML, encourage developers to use global style sheets in preference to the font tag, but it's also true that the font tag remains firmly part of the internationally ratified HTML standard. What this means is that most Web sites viewed in IE 5 will be displayed in the browser's default font regardless of what the designer specified. At a stroke, nicely designed sites are turned into easy reading material for the visually and aesthetically impaired. The kindest conclusion is that Microsoft is deliberately trying to undermine the HTML standard to complete its conquest of the browser market. The alternative explanations are that Microsoft is too stupid, too lazy, too incompetent or too arrogant to follow a simple set of rules.
If this oversight leaves you unmoved or causes you to reach for the traditional excuses, consider this: Microsoft programmers may not have had time to bring IE 5 in line with international standards, but they found space to hide a couple of Easter eggs in the code.
In the hurly burly that is the world of IT, it is reassuring to find little oases of calm, such as at BT's Centre House. In a memo headed "Jam" that has come into Mole's possession, a female BT manager writes: "I have had two full jars of jam disappear from the small fridge in the kitchen.
If anyone can offer any suggestions as to where they may have gone, it would be appreciated." The answer, of course, is that the missing fruit spread has defected to Microsoft, where it can look forward to a fabulous career prospects and lucrative share options.
It's sad to think that in this stage of the evolution of the human race, bigotry still triumphs over history. Alan Turing was a genius who profoundly influenced the development of the computer and helped Britain enjoy a reputation for pioneering work in the computing field. So it's only fair that we remember him for his homosexuality - an irrelevant detail that helped IBM to decide against contributing to the cost of a statue in Turing's honour. On the Today programme earlier this month, the director of Bletchley Park, Turing's shrine, got extremely agitated when John Humphrys referred repeatedly to a donation from Microsoft, sizeable enough to save Bletchley from certain closure. Agitated enough to get on the phone towards the end of the programme to point out to Mr Humphrys that she was unable to confirm or deny that Microsoft cash would be forthcoming. In the event, a deal was struck with BT to save Bletchley for the nation. No mention of Microsoft
Someone sent Mole an electronic copy of an old photograph that you may find amusing. It is too disturbing to reproduce here but can be found at www2.vnunet/mole/beards.htm.
It's well worth a visit.
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