Of Fanboys and Shills

I used to read ZDNet News quite frequently.  I still check the site out every other day or so, but the content is nothing like it used to be.  A few years ago there was some sort of shakeup at ZDNet.  The site’s top editor and most of the genuine journalists went bye-bye.

I remember the editor had just started a series of video posts called “Tech Shakedown” or something like that.  The few of these I saw were very good.  They highlighted some flaws and very serious problems with Windows, other software, hardware and even retail tech vendors.

George Ou was one of the more outspoken journalists the site had.  A lot of times – all to often actually – journalists and other news writers will simply paraphrase a company’s (or an agency’s) press release and report that as the news.  George Ou – like so few other genuine journalists – would use his brain.  I remember many an article by Mr. Ou saying basically “what the company says is bullshit.  Here’s the way it is.”

I’m guessing George was fired.  He was just too much of an independent thinker.  His articles aren’t even hosted at ZDNet any more.  The editor I mentioned above, whose name I wish I could recall, was probably also forced out in a not-too-friendly way.

By the way, I refer to these people as “journalists” without any knowledge of their credentials, or their training, their education or their accreditation as such.  I judge them to be journalists simply by the quality of their work on what was once a very good news site.

George Ou has moved on.  He uses his tremendous intellect for other things now, but he still has an interesting blog going with some other people.  Sadly, it’s not updated very frequently.

There’s one writer still at ZDNet News that always makes me laugh when I think of him.

Ed Bott.

This man always has a kind word to say about anything Microsoft.  He’s like a guy at a tech convention trying to pass himself off as just a normal, everyday tech-geek, but he’s forgotten that he has that Microsoft “window logo” tattooed on his forehead and that he’s dressed in his Windows Vista one-piece pyjamas with buttoned up buttflap and that he’s holding onto his Bill Gates teddy bear.

His response to the disaster that was Vista:

“Oh, it’s great!”

His response to each and every major security flaw or fuck-up perpetrated by Microsoft:

“Internet Explorer is the best, safest browser out there!”

I’m paraphrasing, of course.  Like any typically lazy newsroom hack. :P

His latest article is about a very major flaw in Internet Explorer 6.  It was the one that allowed China to fuck with Google.  You may have heard about that kerfuffle.

He basically defends the fuck out of anything “Microsoft”, and says that “The flaw has been patched so…. Internet Explorer?  Oh, it’s great!”

I skimmed the comments to that article and found this one, which quotes something he wrote first:

“I’ve seen several pundits argue that Internet Explorer is inherently unsafe. I think they’re overreacting.”

Ed, you’re the ultimate Microsoft brown-noser. Any time I want to hear the company line on something, I read your posts.

You may walk around believing you’re some kind of independent thinker but, really, you’re a PR tool. A shill. Nothing more.

Do you get free product from MSFT not available to the public? Do you get access to personnel for your stories? Do you get access or placement at product announcements? Are you on the MSFT influencer mailing list? Are you getting any compensation from MSFT at all? Don’t you have to disclose that now?

Ed was, of course offended by this.  Whatever.  Here is Ed Bott’s “full disclosure” page.

So, the man’s written 25 books about Windows and MS Office, and:

Ed’s books are currently distributed by Que Publishing (a division of Pearson Education) and by Microsoft Press.

…and he’s not speaking for Microsoft?

There’s nothing wrong with being a fanboy.  I try not to be a Linux fanboy, because there are things about Linux which I think are wrong and fucked up.  I happen to like using Windows XP too, and as a matter of fact on this main computer of mine, I use Windows XP running inside VirtualBox inside Linux.  I’m typing this post in a Windows application while browsing with the Linux version of FireFox.  So I like them both.

But to be a fanboy, you should be aware that other people KNOW you’re a fanboy.  To then try to pass yourself off as impartial, or even respectful of anything that hasn’t been shat out of Bill Gates’s or Steven Ballmer’s ass….

Just so you know, MS fanboys, I just mangled that image using MS Paint. :P

And I’m sure Ed is probably a good person.  He’s probably a law-abiding, productive member of society, and if I knew him, I’d value his Windows and Microsoft expertise.  But I sure don’t regard anything he writes about on ZDNet News as unbiased.