New Keyboard from Microsoft

Microsoft Corporation has just announced a new PC keyboard designed specifically for Windows. Sources say a Macintosh variant is in the works. In addition to the keys found on the standard keyboard, Microsoft’s new design adds several new keys which will make your Windows computing even more fun! The final specs are not yet set, so please feel free to make suggestions. The keys proposed so far are:

  • GPF key — This key will instantly generate a General Protection Fault when pressed. Microsoft representatives state that the purpose of the GPF key is to save Windows users time by eliminating the need to run an application in order to produce a General Protection Fault.
  • $$ key — When this key is pressed, money is transferred automatically from your bank account to Microsoft without the need for further action or third party intervention.
  • ZD key — This key was developed specifically for reviewers of Microsoft products. When pressed it inserts random superlative adjectives in any text which contains the words Microsoft or Windows within the file being edited.
  • MS key — This key runs a Microsoft commercial entitled “Computing for Mindless Drones” in a 1″ x 1″ window.
  • FUD key — Some thing to do with the display … self explanatory.
  • Chicago key — Generates do nothing loops for months at a time.
  • IBM key — Searches your hard disk for operating systems or applications by vendors other than Microsoft and deletes them. (Is very effective at removing Netscape).
  • MSN Key — With a single keystroke you will install and setup the world’s second slowest web access (AOL takes first place). And you thought it was tough deleting all of the SetupMSN files from Win 7!
  • RW8 Key — Stands for Re-install Windows 8. Because it’s usually a weekly ritual for most Win 8 users, why not make it easier?
  • FDISK Key — Microsoft’s new compression utility gives you 100% data compression guaranteed. Could stand for Format Disk, but we all know what it really stands for.

If The IRS Was Run Like Microsoft

  • The IRS, as always, announces new tax forms will be mailed the week before the new year. However it will follow Microsoft’s example and actually ship them the following May.
  • Responding to pressure from some large corporations and a users’ group, some early copies of the tax forms will actually be released in March. The recipients must sign non-disclosure agreements.
  • In June, the forms will be recalled because the IRS loses a suit for appropriating some other country’s intellectual property.
  • When you move, the IRS will continue to send mail to your previous address forevermore, just like Microsoft sends its product upgrade notices.
  • When you upgrade from form 1040 EZ to 1040 A, and then to 1040, you will pay an upgrade fee each time. Also you need to send in a new registration card and get a new Social Security Number. In order to upgrade, you have to submit the original first page of your previous year’s form.
  • Like Microsoft, when you file a late or amended tax return the IRS will reject it on the grounds that the prior year is no longer supported.
  • The IRS telephone help will remain similar to Microsoft’s, staffed by ill-trained, high-turnover personnel who sometimes give a correct answer, but the IRS will have to discontinue using a toll-free phone number.
  • After struggling with reams of dense documentation of complex options and rules, you discover that you will need publication 3297, with a ten-word-long title, in order to answer (you hope) a single obscure question. The IRS, like Microsoft, will charge a minimum of $40 for that publication.
  • The IRS, like Microsoft, will continue to issue immense volumes of bug fixes, interpretations, and clarifications. However the tax-rule updates should be neither easily searchable nor well-indexed.
  • Instead of three-ring binders containing complete sets of tax code bugs and interpretations, IRS rulings will be promulgated in a haphazard fashion by individual taxpayers via BBS, Usenet, and Compuserve. A for-profit publishing subsidiary would also be nice.
  • The new all-powerful (and eccentric) Commissioner of Internal Revenue will jet around the country giving speeches and granting numerous interviews, but only to sycophantic reporters. Changes to the tax code will be at the whim of the Commissioner and largely kept secret until they are published.

Microsoft Error Messages

Once upon a time there was a young man who wanted to become a great writer. “I want to write things the whole world will read,” he declared. “Stuff that will elicit strong emotions from people in every walk of life. I want my writing to make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger.”

He now lives happily ever after in Redmond, Washington, writing error messages for Microsoft.

Microsoft Copyrights Binary

REDMOND, WA–In what CEO Bill Gates called “an unfortunate but necessary step to protect our intellectual property from theft and exploitation by competitors,” the Microsoft Corporation patented the numbers one and zero Monday.

With the patent, Microsoft’s rivals are prohibited from manufacturing or selling products containing zeroes and ones–the mathematical building blocks of all computer languages and programs–unless a royalty fee of 10 cents per digit used is paid to the software giant.

“Microsoft has been using the binary system of ones and zeroes ever since its inception in 1975,” Gates told reporters. “For years, in the interest of the overall health of the computer industry, we permitted the free and unfettered use of our proprietary numeric systems. However, changing marketplace conditions and the increasingly predatory practices of certain competitors now leave us with no choice but to seek compensation for the use of our numerals.”

A number of major Silicon Valley players, including Apple Computer, Netscape and Sun Microsystems, said they will challenge the Microsoft patent as monopolistic and anti-competitive, claiming that the 10-cent-per-digit licensing fee would bankrupt them instantly.

“While, technically, Java is a complex system of algorithms used to create a platform-independent programming environment, it is, at its core, just a string of trillions of ones and zeroes,” said Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, whose company created the Java programming environment used in many Internet applications. “The licensing fees we’d have to pay Microsoft every day would be approximately 327,000 times the total net worth of this company.”

“If this patent holds up in federal court, Apple will have no choice but to convert to analog,” said Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs, “and I have serious doubts whether this company would be able to remain competitive selling pedal-operated computers running software off vinyl LPs.”

As a result of the Microsoft patent, many other companies have begun radically revising their product lines: Database manufacturer Oracle has embarked on a crash program to develop “an abacus for the next millennium.” Novell, whose communications and networking systems are also subject to Microsoft licensing fees, is working with top animal trainers on a chimpanzee-based message-transmission system. Hewlett-Packard is developing a revolutionary new steam-powered printer.

Despite the swarm of protest, Gates is standing his ground, maintaining that ones and zeroes are the undisputed property of Microsoft.

“We will vigorously enforce our patents of these numbers, as they are legally ours,” Gates said. “Among Microsoft’s vast historical archives are Sanskrit cuneiform tablets from 1800 B.C. clearly showing ones and a symbol known as ‘sunya,’ or nothing. We also own: papyrus scrolls written by Pythagoras himself in which he explains the idea of singular notation, or ‘one’; early tracts by Mohammed ibn Musa al Kwarizimi explaining the concept of al-sifr, or ‘the cipher’; original mathematical manuscripts by Heisenberg, Einstein and Planck; and a signed first-edition copy of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being And Nothingness. Should the need arise, Microsoft will have no difficulty proving to the Justice Department or anyone else that we own the rights to these numbers.”

Added Gates: “My salary also has lots of zeroes. I’m the richest man in the world.”

According to experts, the full ramifications of Microsoft’s patenting of one and zero have yet to be realized.

“Because all integers and natural numbers derive from one and zero, Microsoft may, by extension, lay claim to ownership of all mathematics and logic systems, including Euclidean geometry, pulleys and levers, gravity, and the basic Newtonian principles of motion, as well as the concepts of existence and nonexistence,” Yale University theoretical mathematics professor J. Edmund Lattimore said. “In other words, pretty much everything.”

Lattimore said that the only mathematical constructs of which Microsoft may not be able to claim ownership are infinity and transcendental numbers like pi. Microsoft lawyers are expected to file liens on infinity and pi this week.

Microsoft has not yet announced whether it will charge a user fee to individuals who wish to engage in such mathematically rooted motions as walking, stretching and smiling.

In an address beamed live to billions of people around the globe Monday, Gates expressed confidence that his company’s latest move will, ultimately, benefit all humankind.

“Think of this as a partnership,” Gates said. “Like the ones and zeroes of the binary code itself, we must all work together to make the promise of the computer revolution a reality. As the world’s richest, most powerful software company, Microsoft is number one. And you, the millions of consumers who use our products, are the zeroes.”

Introducing the Microsoft Chair

PRESS RELEASE

July 7, 2001 (Seattle) — Microsoft announced today that it will provide office furniture with its software. The next release of Windows, code named Naugahyde, will include the Microsoft Chair at no extra charge.

“This is a natural for us,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. “We’ve conquered the desktop, so we’re looking at way of expanding our installed base.” The spokesperson denied accusations that bundling constitutes an unfair competitive advantage. “We’re just listening to our customers. They’ve asked for more built in features, and who doesn’t use a chair when they’re at their computer? Especially when they’re waiting for Windows to reboot.”

Beta testers noted its large footprint and found the chair to lack substantial features found in most of the competition. But when asked if they dislike it enough to purchase another vendor’s furniture, most stated that they would just take what Microsoft had to offer.

Also in the works is a small seat, dubbed the Microsoft Stool, soon to be bundled with laptops. Beta testers were surprised to find the backless chair at their doorsteps. “Then again, it’s not the first time we’ve received a shrink-wrapped stool sample from Microsoft,” noted one breathless customer.

Microsoft Bathroom Humor

The following were found scribbled into the stall wall at Microsoft, courtesy of MAD magazine.

  • Bill Gates downloads here
  • Where do you want to go today?
    In the crapper!
  • Microsoft Word Speelchecker RULES!
  • Do not flush mouse pads down the toilet!
  • To flush, press handle. You do not need to hold Control, ALT and Delete at the same time.
  • The Basic Program
    10: Enter
    20: Lower Pants
    30: Try real hard
    40: If nothing, then goto 30
    50: If something then goto 60
    60: Wipe Butt
    70: Exit
  • Stop writing these mindless jokes and childish insults on the walls!
    Yeah, that’s what the internet is for!
  • Why cant B*ll G*tes get dates?
    Because he’s Microsoft
  • -Rajeey has a 3 1/2 inch floppy! – Carl
    -Carl still plays with his wang! – Rajeev
    -Yeah, well you both program in DOS – Fred
    -Byte me! – Rajeev and Carl
  • Your mother’s so fat, it took me 25 minutes to download a picture of her from the web!
  • For a good time, e-mail SUZIE@ohmygod/Im/about/tohave/an.org
  • IBM we all BM

Microsoft’s TV Ad

The classically-minded among us may have noted a new TV ad for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer e-mail program which uses the musical theme of the “Confutatis Maledictis” from Mozart’s Requiem.

“Where do you want to go today?” is the cheery line on the screen, while the chorus sings “Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis,” which translates to: “When the accursed have been confounded, And given over to the bitter flames.” Which basically means: “When the accursed have been damned, and sent to Hell.”

Go Microsoft!

Microsoft Versus Psychic Friends

In the course of a recent Microsoft Access programming project, we had three difficult technical problems where we decided to call a support hotline for advice. This article compares the two support numbers we tried: Microsoft Technical Support and the Psychic Friends Network. As a result of this research, we have come to the following conclusions:

  1. that Microsoft Technical Support and the Psychic Friends Network are about equal in their ability to provide technical assistance for Microsoft products over the phone;
  2. that the Psychic Friends Network has a distinct edge over Microsoft in the areas of courtesy, response time, and cost of support; but
  3. that Microsoft has a generally better refund policy if they fail to solve your problem.

In the paragraphs that follow, we will detail the support calls we made and the responses we received from each support provider. We will follow this with a discussion of the features provided by each support provider so that readers can do their own rankings of the two services.

Our research began when we called Microsoft regarding a bug that we had detected when executing queries which pulled data from a Sybase Server into Microsoft Access. If we used the same Access database to query two databases on the same server, we found that all of the queries aimed at the second database that we queried were sent to the first database that we had queried. This problem existed no matter which database we queried first.

Dan called Microsoft’s Technical Solutions Line, gave them $55, and was connected with an official Microsoft Access technical support person. As Dan began to explain the problem, the support person interrupted him, and told him that since it was clear that it was not just a problem with Access but with the two programs together, Microsoft would not try to help us.

They did,however, have a consultant referral service with which he would be glad to connect us. Dan then asked if we could have our $55 refunded, since Microsoft was not going to try to answer to our question. The tech support person responded by forwarding Dan to the person in charge of giving refunds.

The person officially in charge of giving refunds took Dan’s credit card info again, after which Dan asked about the referral service.

It was too late, however — the refund folks could not reconnect Dan with the tech support guy he’d been talking with, nor could he put Dan in touch with the referral service hotline. End of Call One.

Our second call came when Dan was creating some line graphs in Microsoft Access. Microsoft Access actually uses a program called Microsoft Graph to create its graphs, and this program has a “feature” that makes the automatic axis scale always start the scale at zero. If all of your data are between 9,800 and 10,000 and you get a scale of 0 to 10,000, your data will appear as a flat line at the top of your graph — not a very interesting chart.

Since Dan was writing Visual Basic code to create the graphs, he wanted to be able to use Visual Basic code to change the graph scaling, but he could not find anything in the help files that would tell him how to do this. After working with Microsoft Graph for a while, Dan concluded that it probably didn’t have the capability that he needed, but he decided to call Microsoft just to make sure.

Dan described his problem to the technical support person, whom we’ll call Microsoft Bob. Microsoft Bob said he’d never gotten a call about Microsoft Graph before. He then left Dan on hold while he went to ask another support person how to use Microsoft Graph.

Microsoft Bob came back with the suggestion that Dan use the online help.

Dan, however, had already used the online help, and didn’t feel that this was an appropriate answer for a $55 support call.

Microsoft Bob didn’t give up, though. He consulted the help files and learned to change the graph scale by hand and then began looking for a way to do this via code.

After Microsoft Bob had spent about an hour on the phone with Dan learning how to use Microsoft Graph, Dan asked for a refund since he had no more time to spend on the problem.

Microsoft Bob refused the refund, however. He said he wouldn’t give up, and told Dan that he would call back the next week.

Microsoft Bob did call back the following week to admit failure. He could not help us. However, he couldn’t give us a refund either. Microsoft Bob’s supervisor confirmed Microsoft Bob’s position. While Microsoft Technical Support hadn’t solved our problem, they felt that a refund was inappropriate since Microsoft Technical Support had spent a lot of time not solving our problem.

Dan persisted, however, explaining that if Microsoft Bob actually knew the program, he would have been able to give Dan a response much sooner.

The supervisor made no guarantees, but he instructed Dan to check his credit card bill at the end of the month. The supervisor explained that if Dan saw that the charge was still there at the end of the month,then he would know that he hadn’t gotten a refund. End of Call Two.

Our third call to Microsoft involved using the standard file save dialog from within Microsoft Access to get a file name and directory string from a user in order to save an exported file. The documentation didn’t make it clear how to do this using Visual Basic code within Microsoft Access, and Dan decided to call Microsoft to ask if and how a programmer could do this.

The technical support person he reached told him he was asking about a pretty heavy programming task. He cheerily informed Dan that he’d called the wrong number and advised Dan to call help for Visual Basic, not Access ($195 instead of $55). This technical support person was extraordinarily helpful in getting Dan his refund. End of Call Three.

Stymied by our responses from Microsoft, we decided to try another service provider, the Psychic Friends Network.

There are several noticeable differences between Microsoft and the Psychic Friends Network. Microsoft charges a flat rate per “solution,” which is a single problem and can be handled in multiple phone calls. As described above, Microsoft may or may not issue a refund of their fee if they fail to provide a solution for your problem.

The Psychic Friends Network charges a per minute fee. They do not offer a refund if they cannot solve your problem. However, unlike Microsoft, they will not charge you extra if they provide more than one solution per call.

We decided to test the Psychic Friends Network by asking them the same questions that we had asked Microsoft Technical Support.

We called them and were quickly connected with Ray, who was very courteous and helpful. Like Microsoft Bob, Ray quickly informed us that he wasn’t fully up to date on the programs that we were working with, but he was willing to help us anyway.

We started off with our first problem: making a connection from Microsoft Access to two different Sybase Servers. Ray worked hard on this problem for us. He sensed that there was a problem with something connecting, that something wasn’t being fulfilled either in a sexual, spiritual or emotional way. Ray also identified that there was some sort of physical failure going on that was causing the problem.”

Do you mean that there’s some sort of bug?” we asked.

Ray denied that he knew about any sort of bug in the software.

“Are you sure there’s not a bug?” we asked.

Ray insisted that he did not know of any bug in the software, although he left open the possibility that there could be some bug in the software that he did not know about.

All in all, Ray did not do much to distinguish himself from Microsoft Technical Support. He wasn’t able to solve our problem for us, and he wasn’t able to confirm or deny that a bug in Microsoft Access was causing the problem.

We then asked Ray our question about using Visual Basic to set the axes of a chart. Ray thought hard about this one. Once again he had the sense that something just wasn’t connecting, that there was some sort of physical failure that was causing our problem.

“Could it be that it’s your computer that’s the problem?” he asked.

“Is this something that happens just on your computer, or have you had the same problem when you’ve tried to do the same thing on other computers?”

We assured Ray that we had the same problem on other computers, then he asked again, “This physical failure that you’re talking about, do you mean that there’s some sort of bug?”

Once again he assured us that there wasn’t a bug, but that he didn’t know how to solve our problem. “I sense there’s some sort of sickness here, and you’re just going to have to sweat it out. If you’d like, you can call back tomorrow. We have a couple of guys here, Steve and Paul, and they ‘re much better with computer stuff than I am.”

To conclude our research, we asked Ray about our problem with the standard file dialog box.

“It’s the same thing as the last one,” he told us. “There’s some sort of sickness here, and you’re just going to have to sweat it out. There is a solution,though,and you’re just going to have to work at it until you get it.”

Conclusions:

In terms of technical expertise, we found that a Microsoft technician using Knowledge Base was about as helpful as a Psychic Friends reader using Tarot Cards. All in all, however, the Psychic Friends Network proved to be a much friendlier organization than Microsoft Technical Support.

While neither group was actually able to answer any of our technical questions, the Psychic Friends Network was much faster than Microsoft and much more courteous.

Which organization is more affordable is open to question. If Microsoft does refund all three “solutions” fees, then they will be the far more affordable solution provider, having charged us no money for having given us no assistance. However, if Microsoft does not refund the fees for our call regarding Microsoft Graph, then they will have charged us more than 120% of what the Psychic Friends charged, but without providing the same fast and courteous service that Psychic Friends provided.

Gates: “Quake Was Just a Sample of Our Power”

In a warning to the US Government, Microsoft demonstrated their power by launching a major earthquake in Seattle.

Bill Gates issued a statement from the Microsoft “Campus”. “The time for talk is over. We will not be broken apart. We have demonstrated our power. We will not hesitate to use it again. Heed our warning. We have spoken.”

President George W. Bush responded from the White House, “Gosh. I don’t know about this. Ask Dick.”

Computer experts dismiss Microsoft’s warning. “Naw, it was just a demo. Microsoft does these great demos, but until they get to about release 3.0 the programs won’t work. They’ll just keep crashing. I mean, you might be able to break a few windows, but to take on Washington you’ll need to be able to drop the Lincoln Memorial all the way to the molten center of the earth.”

The Microsoft Approach on the Firing Range

It was decided by Microsoft during a brilliant brainstorming session that military service would improve the skills and discipline of their finest technician. So off to boot camp he went. At the rifle range he was given some instruction, a rifle, and bullets. He fired several shots at the target.

The report came from the target area that all attempts had completely missed the target.

The Microsoft tech looked at his rifle and then at the target again. “Hmmm,” he thought, “I’ll get to the bottom of this in no time.” He looked at the rifle again, and then at the target again. He pointed his still loaded rifle at the ground in front of him and fired. A cloud of dust kicked up, and a little dimple was left therein the dust.

“Yep, it’s working,” he concluded.

The technician yelled out to the others at the target end, “The rifle is in working order, and the bullet seems to be leaving this end just fine. The trouble must be at your end!”