Here at last is the result of a major piece of market research conducted by Molesoft Research Services in October and early November among literally several users - a sufficiently broad cross section of the market to guarantee complete partiality.
The survey methodology was to ask the question "Name something really bad about Bill Gates", write down the answers, then edit them as necessary to ensure that they support the conclusion reached in advance by Molesoft Corporation's highly regarded research department.
This year's top answers, as dictated by Molesoft chairman Lucidius Mole III, are as follows: in third place, spelling; in second place, memory; and top of the polls for 1998 courtroom tactics.
The bad spelling award is for the hugely amusing Microsoft Word, a heady combination of inaccuracy and perversity, which is best thought of as The Interfering Pedant Who Never Gets Anything Right of word processing packages.
For example, the perfectly harmless "worldwide". Word's spelling checker won't allow this perfectly legitimate spelling, suggesting instead a by no means definitive hyphenated version. However, Word's grammar checker, demonstrating rare good judgement, insists on deleting the hyphen and changing it back. What hope of global domination for a company which can't even agree on a spelling of worldwide? Or perhaps Microsoft is simply trying to confuse us into submission.
As Mr Clinton's misfortunes have illustrated only too well, those in the public eye are often unfairly criticised for that most human of failings, a bad memory. One White House intern is of course very much like another, and after the first dozen or so they tend to blur somewhat in the memory.
Mole has lost sight of the number of nubile young personal assistants he has deflowered over the years, so he can quite understand when other prominent figures have similar lapses. Mr Clinton might have been well-advised to follow the example set by a former senior lawyer in Intel's legal department, who kept a detailed diary of his sex life, and agreed in advance with his wife when he could find the time to make love to her (or fit her into his busy schedule as he probably termed it). Armed with such an aide-memoire, the president's lies and evasions would have been so much more effective.
The useful little online publication NTKnow (which stands for "need to know") has reminded Bill Gates that he does in fact have a memory after the great man momentarily forgot all about it. Mr Gates' recall of the text of certain memos used in evidence in the Department of Justice investigation has been somewhat patchy, to say the least. A plainly irritated Gates might have won a little sympathy for his claim to be as fallible as anyone else had he not bragged so often about his superhuman powers in the past.
No doubt he doesn't remember the following passage, which appears in one of his entertaining columns and can still be found on the Microsoft Web site.
"I can remember all the moves of many chess games that I've played. I can still remember all my lines in a high school play, 'Black Comedy'.
I was so afraid that I'd forget the lines that I just burned them into my head. I remember financial data very well, too.
"I can visualise the source code to the version of BASIC that I wrote for the first microcomputer, back in 1975. That was the programming code that got Microsoft started, so maybe it's no surprise that I can still see every detail of the first page, the second page, the third page - as if they were in front of me."
Memory, as users of Microsoft desktop operating systems will know to their cost, is a very selective - not to say leaky - business.
The Molesoft top prize for badness, however, is awarded to His Billness for his petulant performance to DoJ inquisitors as reported by the New York Times. In his testimony, Mr Gates claimed that Microsoft did not track browser market share, but did keep a watchful eye on something he referred to as "usage". If Mr Clinton is looking for lessons, he should study the following exchange with care.
Q: The industry and Microsoft track what is referred to as browser market share; correct, sir?
Q: No? Does Microsoft track browser market share?
A. I've seen usage share.
Q. You've seen usage share?
A. Uh-huh. But not - market share usually refers to something related to - not to usage. And with browsers, I've seen mostly usage. Now, some people might refer to that as a market share, but it's not a market share.
Q. What is a market share?
A. Well, when I think of a market share, I think of where you're comparing the revenue of one company to the revenue of another company.
Q. The total revenue of a company?
A. No, the revenue related to one company's product to the revenue of another company's product.
Q. And that's what you think of when you use the term market share; is that your testimony?
If you have evidence of absurdity, hair splitting, shilly shallying or double dealing, you know where to send it. The court of his honour Justice Mole will be sitting again next week. Motto: a fair hearing given to industry figures. Usually.
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