Not your class

by Volker Weber

A week ago I pulled Ed's leg. We were chatting and while doing so he did the equivalent of "I dare you". Who was I to not fetch that stick?

Quite a few people were involved in the construction of that prank. Before I posted, I needed to make sure I got the vital data to fool Ed: a filename and a size. The date wasn't really important, but I needed to get the other two right. The dummy was created in a minute, a quick screenshot and I was ready to go. Right after posting the prank I sent email to a trusted IBMer high enough in the food chain to prevent a witch hunt. Little did I know that the fan boys might be pissed.

My original plan was to leave the first screenshot on for a day and then post the second one. However, within 30 minutes there were three people who wanted to help me. So I needed to post the second picture with the directory earlier than planned.

I was going to be surprised again. This time by people who desperately wanted to have the beta. I could have made my installer available for download. It would have been just another nice lesson, but I did not want to waste the bandwidth. So I updated my post again, explaining that I "no longer" had the file.

The next day I received an answer from IBM asking me to post an explanation of the prank. This was the third update to the post. Since then it has not been changed again. Comments had been disabled from the beginning.

It turns out this post got a few knickers in a twist. About a dozen people went ballistic. The usual suspects handed out pitch forks to go after me. Folks, pull the stick out of your behind. You've been had.


They publicly post the Mac 7.02 beta, which is supposed to be closed, but they go on a witch hunt because you Punk'd them? Good grief.

Charles Robinson, 2006-11-17

The witch hunt I was trying to prevent was a search for the "leak". Wanted to make it clear to IBM that the installer had not been handed to me.

Volker Weber, 2006-11-17

Well, I installed the Beta today and it's really nice, but I'm not sure, why it would be so awful if you had it.

Martin Hiegl, 2006-11-17

Just to be clear, Vowe posted about the Notes 8 beta. The Mac beta is a separate issue.

Charles Robinson, 2006-11-17

Martin, that is easy to explain. "Hannover" enjoys quite a hype. But the emperor still has quite a lot of old clothes. IBM'd rather keep it secret. That is the reason I don't want it. I operate on a strict "need to know" basis. I don't want to know too many secrets.

Volker Weber, 2006-11-17

Thanks for explaining. I think at least one thing you didn't account for were those people who had been counting on being part of the public beta, which then turned out to not be public. As an ISV, that can really screw your schedules up, and to see you lightly get hold of something that people felt they needed seemed a misuse of your "connections". In addition, the bit about making sure there was not a witch hunt was not made clear until after people, including myself, got upset. I have personally seen doors slam shut at IBM when they thought that people were abusing betas, something which caused me personally a good deal of grief in the early pre-R5 timeframe.

So, I'm glad you've had your fun, but I'd appreciate if you found other ways in the future. You can tweak Ed all you want, but you could just as easily do it through e-mail.

Ben Langhinrichs, 2006-11-17

Ben, I have great respect for you, and I have taken your reactions very seriously.

However, I can promise you that there will be more jokes right here. Consider yourself warned. It's not going to get boring.

In regards to having a beta available, there is a rule of thumb: If there is no torrent for your software, and your company has more than a thousand employees, you are dead. I have been told just a few hours ago that Notes is not dead. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2006-11-17

Aw, OK, I guess a few jokes can't hurt. I mean, we don't want it to get boring. And I am quite sure Notes is not dead. Beyond that, I don't know.

Ben Langhinrichs, 2006-11-17

Oje, ein schmaler Grat zwischen Insider und Zauberlehrling. Aber sehr spannend!

Thomas Cloer, 2006-11-17

I enjoy the fact that there are still a few people on this planet with a sense of humour.
I very much enjoy the fact that quite a few of them are Notes developers (o.k. some are admins). :-)

Deborah Latter, 2006-11-17

Deborah, yes, it is nice to see people with a sense of humor. I don't see however, that Notes developers or admins have more or less of it. The humorless shall remain nameless. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2006-11-18

At some point I suppose I need to clarify... I knew vowe was posting the quote from our chat. I was OK with that. I even expected that someone in his vast network might possible consider violating an NDA or business conduct guideline and share the code with him. We have known each other long enough that I knew it would be to "prove a point" and win the challenge, not that it would go any further.

I should also admit that I got duped by the initial "that was quick, thanks". I didn't expect it to happen that quickly! I didn't initially notice when the post was updated with the explanation of the dummy file creation, but it was eventually pointed out to me, and I figured everyone had had a laugh and we all moved on.

Then I saw the postings in the Lotus Partner Forum, where people were upset for various reasons. That was clearly never the intent, or I would have asked vowe to take the original posting down.

I really wish I could distribute the beta 1 code more widely. There are a lot of good reasons to start with a small, controlled group of testers, and then expand more broadly based on that initial feedback (and we most definitely are getting good feedback). In the meantime, I'll go back to preparing the emperor's new clothes :-)

Ed Brill, 2006-11-18

I am not aware of all the backroom details, but I remember going on a skiing trip in Kitzbuhel, where my Austrian ski instructor made it very clear that Germans don't have a sense of humour. So, Volker, where do you get yours?

Simon Barratt, 2006-11-18

Volker, you may or may not already know that I am one of those who, like Ben, have my "knickers in a twist". Now you do.

I don't know if I'm one of your "usual suspects" or not. We sometimes disagree, and sometimes agree. That's pretty normal, and I'm sure you don't have a problem with it, just as I don't.

I would not have brought up the subject of your post on the Lotus Partner Forum, but someone else did and then some of your own "fanboys" immediately shot him down. That's when I felt compelled to state my opinion. It's a private forum so I presume that you have not read my remarks. I didn't "go ballistic", and I don't believe that anyone else did either. Some people disagreed with what you did, and they said why. That's our right, just as much as it was your right to play your joke.

I don't believe I "have a stick up my behind" -- at least no more so than anyone else in this discussion does. I'm disappointed that that is your reaction, but I'll get over it, as I'm sure you have already gotten over the fact that I happen to disagree with you. I did not get the joke initially, but it is apparent that many other people also didn't. It's now even more apparent from your own statement here that three people offered to send you the code and others desperately wanted to get it from you.

I agree with Ben, but I have my own reasons as well. I assure you, my reasons have nothing to do with the fact that I was had.

I believe that you erred by creating the impression that you were using your status as an influential blogger in the Lotus community to get people to violate their beta agreements and send you the Hannover code.

I believe that you erred by casting suspicion on all participants in the beta program, and that despite the fact that you notified someone high up in the IBM food chain I believe you still increased the likelihood that IBM may restrict future betas even more.

I believe that you further erred by using updates rather than new posts to continue your joke. New posts would have shown up in all your regular readers' feeds, whereas your updates didn't and a significant number of your readers probably never saw all the updates.

Those are my reasons. I am not expecting to change your mind or to influence what you do, what you post, or what jokes you play in your blog in the future. I do hope that you can accept that people can disagree with you, can say that they disagree with you to whomever they so choose -- even to IBM, that we're not handing out pitchforks and torches to the mob to go after you, and that it's no reason for name-calling.

Richard Schwartz, 2006-11-18

Simon, all generalizations are false.

Richard, great weather.

Volker Weber, 2006-11-18

Volker, great post.

Richard Schwartz, 2006-11-18

I don't believe I "have a stick up my behind"

LOL. Could it be any longer?

Alexander Mercwat, 2006-11-19

Sure, and I know exactly where to find it.

Richard Schwartz, 2006-11-19


"and then some of your own "fanboys" immediately shot him down"

You give the impression to people who do not have access to this private, secure non-public forum that someone (who didnt get the joke) complained and was immediately set upon.

I would ask you to revisit the forum, look at the dates, and revise your wording on "shot it down".

Certainly by the time I responded, there were a fair few pitchforks being waved in the air. I had one firmly shoved into my head, for instance, for daring point out (not for the first time) that it was actually a joke.

I would have preferred not to make mention of this in a public forum - enough has been said in the private one - but on reflection you might wish to revise your wording. I would hate for people to get the wrong impression based on your (unusualy misleading) assessment on this.

And *fanboys*. Oh come on. You make it sound as Volker has some personality cult - where in truth as we both well know - you get two business partners in one place and you get at least three conflicting opinions.

Richard - please dont take this as a personal attack - as you and I have known each other for a long time, and I have a great deal of respect for you.

Can we get back to poking holes on the Redmond Emperors new clothes please ?

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2006-11-19

Bill, First of all I do not take your response as a personal attack. I see no reason why you, I, Volker, or anyone else involved in this discussion should take any of this personally. For the record, your post several days after the thread started was not the basis for my use of the word "immediately", and I'm completely comfortable with that word given the less than 12 hour interval that passed between the appearance of the first critical post and the appearance the first post defending Volker. That twelve hour interval spanned from late at night to mid-morning in the time zones of the various posters, so I figure it covers about four hours of working time. That's good enough for "immediate" given the asynchronous nature of the forum discussions. I'm also completely comfortable with the words "shot him down" as a characterization of the initial reactions. I won't quote private posts by third parties here, Bill, but if you want to take it off-line I will be happy to show you the exact phrases that I am thinking of when I say "shot him down".

Secondly, I see no need to re-think any of my own words in this thread.

In particular, "fanboys" was Volker's phrase. Everything I put in quotes in my response was directly quoted from Volker. I just re-used his own words. If it's fair for him to throw around labels like "fanboys" and "stick up your behind" for those who disagree with what he did, then why would it not be fair for me to throw around those same labels for those who disagree with our disagreement?? If you don't like the characterizations that those words imply, then I suggest you direct your comments to both the person who used them, as well as to the person who re-used them. If you agree that it was inappropriate for Volker to characterize those who disagree with him as "fanboys", implying that we are part of some cult ourselves, then I will happily agree that it is equally inappropriate for me to label those who jumped to Volker's defense as "fanboys".

And as for the pitchfork you received, I don't think you're referring to my response to you, which I believe addressed the facts that you raised, and demonstrated why I believe that those very facts support my criticism. I don't like the tone of onr of the other response you got, but I can't and won't be responsible for others.

There are other aspects of what you've said, Bill, that we could surely discuss at length (with at least three opinions between the two of us ;-)), but I would suggest that the proper venue for that would be a pair of barstools at ESPN, or perhaps a trio of barstools if Volker would care to join us.


Richard Schwartz, 2006-11-19

I think everyone is getting too sensitive about this term, “fanboy”. I wouldn’t presume to call anyone who has contributed to this thread a “fanboy”.

But yes, there are one or two others out there to whom I would apply the term.

For me the epithet sums up a person who is blind to all faults, a person who accepts everything the object of their fandom says as gospel. In addition, a fanboy goes on the defensive (or offensive) at the drop of a hat. A tiny piece of criticism, and they’re there.

Taking another technological “religion” (i.e. one other than Notes!), I love a lot of what Apple are doing, nevertheless I don’t agree with all of their moves. I’ve owned Macs for 15 years or so, but I’m not afraid to criticise Apple when the need arises. However, when I do such a thing on my site, I invariably get an utter pasting from Apple fanboys. And this is directed at someone who is pretty much on their side.

I’ll wrap it up; I echo what Bill has to say in his post :o)

Ben Poole, 2006-11-19

Richard, there are no private conversations in forums with hundreds of lurkers. Assuming otherwise is very foolish. Anyway, I enjoyed your conversation, and there have been a few moments where I literally hit the floor laughing. My two favorite ones were "He is not valid to comment on the product any more" and "When did taunting become an acceptable business practice". I would certainly care to join Bill and yourself at the bar. But we won't be de-constructing jokes. We will just have a good laugh, even if we are the business end of that joke.

Ben, indeed. Apple fanboys can be very bad and they are large by numbers. The herd of Lotus fanboys who will laud every singe move is tiny on that scale. Most of the people I deal with are passionate about the product, but they definitely are vocal about the shortcomings as well as the good things.

Volker Weber, 2006-11-19

Volker, I knew as far back as 1994 that conversations in the Lotus partner forum were occasionally being read by some people in the trade press, so even though my posts there are marked as copyrighted (something I didn't tend to do when I was on my own, but do now that I work for a large company), I never assume that they are private. In fact, in one of my responses in the thread in question, I specifically wrote that I presumed that you knew all about what was being said -- and I said that it didn't bother me.

I will, however, continue to respect the privacy of that forum myself and not comment here on the remarks made by others unless they decide to join the public discussion. That includes the two remarks (both from one particular person) that you just quoted above. There's probably some sort of major logical inconsistency in my taking that position, but we can include that in what we laughs about at ESPN.

Richard Schwartz, 2006-11-20

Richard, this has nothing to do with "the trade press". The more you talk about these discussions, as you have chosen to do here, the more interested parties show up. It also helps if the discussions are hilarious. :-)

Volker Weber, 2006-11-20

Volker, I'm glad you find my remarks hilarious, as I do yours. I never said this had anything to do with the trade press. My mention of the trade press referred to past events -- I mentioned 1994 specifically -- from which I had learned long ago not to assume that conversations in the Lotus partner forum were private.

Richard Schwartz, 2006-11-20

I don't find your remarks hilarious. I find the discussion over there hilarious.

Volker Weber, 2006-11-20

Ah. Clue received.

Richard Schwartz, 2006-11-20

Wow. Never thought I'd subject myself to so much blog rubbernecking.

Nathan T. Freeman, 2006-11-20

And here I am, in the "behind" of the world sitting down, and watching the show.



Alex Hernandez, 2006-11-21

This is like argument with your spouse. It quickly devolves from the original topic of discussion and becomes a nightmare of a "meta-argument" -- that is to say, and argument about the argument.

It is at that point I have learned to walk away. Once you're arguing about the argument, it is a sure sign of the apocalypse (or whatever escheton derivation your particular faith has).

Life is too short to argue about arguments.

As far as the joke itself goes, allow me to quote Steve Martin who said "Everyone THINKS they have a sense of humor."

You may all take that last comment in whatever way makes you feel best.

Andrew Pollack, 2006-11-22

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