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March 25, 2006 11:14 AM   Subscribe

I am computer literate! I have 22 years in computer systems engineering and operation. Now, can you tell me how to remove "your software" that you acknowledge you provided free of charge? I consider this "hacking". I have no fear of the media, in fact I welcome this publicity.
posted by rxrfrx (176 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
And remember: He answeres his phone calls.

(A true social hack would be resquesting on his behalf the FBI to come in and save him from the hackers)
posted by rough ashlar at 11:20 AM on March 25, 2006


Wow, Jerry Taylor of Tuttle, Oklahoma is an idiot.

Twenty-two years of completely, blissfully useless computer experience. Maybe he was on BetaMax? (Note, yes, I'm well aware that BetaMax is alive and very well in the professional broadcasting space, but it was the first decent example I could come up with.)
posted by fenriq at 11:22 AM on March 25, 2006


Heh.
posted by delmoi at 11:26 AM on March 25, 2006


ATTN: Jerry A. Taylor.

You have lost at the internets. Game over. Please insert coin.
posted by loquacious at 11:31 AM on March 25, 2006


I feel sorry for your city.

Yes, that's a wonderful way to start the conversation. Not that Taylor wasn't a giant idiot about the whole thing, but there was a slight chance that maybe he was just misinformed and would be responsive to non-flippant remarks. Assuming he was an idiot right off the bat is a bit offensive and smacks slightly of "bored Unix sysop has no time for the peons who use Outlook."

Of course, threatening to report CentOS to the government isn't exactly a smart opening move either.
posted by chrominance at 11:31 AM on March 25, 2006


The CentOS guy comes off looking pretty bad. I can understand getting fed up with someone who contacts me about Free software I've written---someone who clearly doesn't "get it"---but I still do my best to act professionally. That wouldn't ever include gathering an embarassing discussion with a user or potential user and posting it for all to ridicule.

Grow up, Mr. Centos 4 Lead Developer. I feel sorry for your Linux Distribution.

(Isn't Centos one of the distributions that consists mostly of trying to replace every occurrence of "Red Hat Enterprise Linux" with a different word or phrase?)
posted by jepler at 11:34 AM on March 25, 2006


I read about this on the Reg. Mr. Taylor acted like a major ass. I dislike people that turn their ignorance into someone else's problem like this.
posted by teece at 11:35 AM on March 25, 2006


n00b!
posted by furtive at 11:36 AM on March 25, 2006


The CentOS developer seems to have infinite patience. I applaud him and his extended efforts to point this clueless "official" in the right direction.

That's not sarcasm.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:37 AM on March 25, 2006


Someone has already put the story up on Wikipedia's entry for Tuttle.
posted by dilettante at 11:40 AM on March 25, 2006


I am also not quick to condemn the guy. He acted like an idiot. But then the Centos guy gave an unprofessional response: "i feel sorry for your city"

At that point it gets escalated and people dig their heels in regardless of whether they are right or wrong. Its not too unlike many mefi debates.

And the guy sort of apologized at the end. So...unless you're an underconfident nerd who needs to laugh at some poor guy out of his depth in tuttle, oklahoma in order to feel better about yourself...this isnt that interesting from a "tech support" stories angle.
posted by vacapinta at 11:41 AM on March 25, 2006


This is Jerry. Laugh at his face.
posted by wumpus at 11:44 AM on March 25, 2006


pop. 4,294 is a city? It's the size of a public high school in many places.
posted by bardic at 11:44 AM on March 25, 2006


I want to assume that the CentOS developer meant something more along the lines of "I feel sorry that you guys got hacked" in a facetious tone. Certainly doesn't seem to come off quite like that, though.

El Reg's picked up on the story:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/03/24/tuttle_centos/

Apparently, someone's actually hacked the Tuttle Times forums now. This is just going to get more interesting, I imagine.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:46 AM on March 25, 2006


He didn't apologize, vacapinta. He said that it would have gone faster had the CentOS guy told him who was hosting his own servers sooner. As if everyone in the world only exists to serve this guy. What an ass.
posted by stavrogin at 11:51 AM on March 25, 2006


I am please to serve the citizens of the City of Tuttle. I am dedicated to working with the City Government Officials and citizens to ensure Tuttle maintains the qualities that makes it a great place to live.
and in comic sans, no less. i DO feel sorry for his city.
posted by quonsar at 11:51 AM on March 25, 2006


Vacapinta, it's possible that johnny hughes is not a native english speaker, and so perhaps what seems as unprofessional to you is actually meant to genuine. The whole time he tries to be helpful and non-confrontational, so why would he start with biting cynisism? Also, he's a lead developer, not a PR representative or anything.
posted by wumpus at 11:52 AM on March 25, 2006


I am please.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:53 AM on March 25, 2006


I am, please.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:54 AM on March 25, 2006


I am job.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:54 AM on March 25, 2006


This is what happens when you use multiple ?s or !s in a row.
posted by mullacc at 11:58 AM on March 25, 2006


I've had a couple of vaguely similar situations with cluelessly malicious people. You have to resist the temptation to hit back, no matter how many great lines come to mind or how much crap you're having to take, in case it escalates.

And don't publish the correspondence unless you either have clear, confirmed permission or remove all names & places. Even fools deserve some privacy.
posted by malevolent at 12:09 PM on March 25, 2006


Before we condemn CentOS guy for being abrasive, remember that he did end up fixing this guys problem for free, and also answered all his questions repeatedly. Jerry Taylor is clearly too arrogant to read what people have to say, and instead only make demands and threats. I would just have ignored him, and squealed with glee when the FBI gets involved and this boob is exposed for the arrogant dimwit he is.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:10 PM on March 25, 2006


That whole exchange, while not that terrible, reflects poorly on both parties.

It's clear that the city manager was out of his depth and should have spoken to Tuttle's systems administrator and/or service provider. Maybe he really didn't know to do this. His 22 year claim is therefore either a lie or he just didn't know what computer systems engineering and operation was.

The manager should have started with an assumption of good faith. A simple description of the situation and a query for clarification probably would have garnered a much better response. This is a problem one often sees with people poorly schooled with any type of tool.

On the developer's side, I would clearly expect him to realize the above and not come out of the gates with even low-level computer jargon and smarminess towards someone who obviously didn't know what they were talking about.

It's a problem one often sees with technical writing by developers who aren't also well-trained in technical writing and are creating a document for a general audience. "Do jargon A with a combination of jargon B and C. Then you should be ready to use jargon D."
posted by Captaintripps at 12:10 PM on March 25, 2006


Is Jargon A hot? Never mind B and C. My D is ready.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 12:13 PM on March 25, 2006


I have to echo some of the comments from the linked site that point out that the entire exchange (and the fact that it was posted) is a great example of the problems faced by Open Source.

Like it or not, by choosing to use CentOS the ISP has now become inextricably linked to the public humiliation of one of their customers. The simple lesson (which I am sure is not lost on the ISP) is that if they had chosen to use professionally supported software, their customer's private exchange would not have ended up a public disgrace.

One wonders if we need an Open Source Support system that these smaller projects could link to. If nothing else, it could provide some bulletin boards and common guidance for unexperienced people attempting to provide customer support.
posted by tkolar at 12:17 PM on March 25, 2006


Why do people consider it jargon when that is what those things are called?
posted by jenovus at 12:18 PM on March 25, 2006


and in comic sans, no less

He'd have looked better if he'd left up the CentOS configuration page.

Before we condemn CentOS guy for being abrasive, remember that he did end up fixing this guys problem for free, and also answered all his questions repeatedly.

It's worse than that. He produces the distribution for free, and then has to deal with dicks calling him up, making threats. Dicks who can't even be bothered to talk to their IT support people before they go contacting the head honcho at some software operation.

It's like calling Bill Gates when Windows won't start because I haven't got my computer plugged in *and* I'm using a warez copy of XP.

Personally, I'd have told him to go fuck himself and redirected subsequent emails to /dev/null.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:20 PM on March 25, 2006


I call 'false attempt at equivalence' on those saying both sides reflect equally poorly.

Person A: "X happened to me! Don't make me call the cops!"
Person B: "You're an idiot. What do you want? I think I know what your problem is but it has nothing to do with me."
Person A: "This is the second request! Fix it! Asshole!"
Person B: "I'm having a hard time trying to control myself. But I'll fix it for you for free, if you tell me who has access to that area."
Person A: "Third request! You're fucking with me in violation of federal law! You have 12 hours to comply!"
Person B: "Ok, ok, let me take a look. It appears that so and so is broken. Call this person up."
Person A: "Oh. Ok. I'm sorry we had to go through this. If only you'd had a better attitude at the start."

A single "I feel sorry for your city" and then posting the transcript to the mailing list (the equivalent, in open source development communities, of telling your friends at the bar about the issue) is equivalent to being an agent of the government, threatening to bring the force of the FBI and judicial system on a random coder? Please.

(By the way, you don't get to be and stay a lead developer of a successful project without incredible issue resolution and community management skills.)
posted by Firas at 12:21 PM on March 25, 2006


But then the Centos guy gave an unprofessional response: "i feel sorry for your city"

Hughes didn't owe Jerry A. Taylor a professional response since they didn't have a professional relationship. That Hughes even bothered to help out that ranting lunatic is commendable.
posted by horsewithnoname at 12:21 PM on March 25, 2006


Personally, I'd have told him to go fuck himself and redirected subsequent emails to /dev/null.
---------------------------
Right there with you.
posted by mk1gti at 12:24 PM on March 25, 2006


The Centos guy could have done a much better job at the start of explaining what the problem was, but he certainly wasn't rude.

"I do not want this software!!!! This is the City of Tuttle, Oklahoma. Get rid of this software!!!!!"
posted by cillit bang at 12:25 PM on March 25, 2006


Jerry, please hope me.
posted by lalochezia at 12:26 PM on March 25, 2006


I'd just like to underscore that the other party in this exchange was not a random citizen. He was claiming the full authority of his position. You don't get these rights without having some responsibilities to weild them gracefully. What would your reaction have been if the guy was George Bush? Just acting with the character of a leader is a large part of leadership. What a terrible failure this man is.
posted by Firas at 12:27 PM on March 25, 2006


Sidetrack trivia: looks like someone fixed the wikipedia article already.
posted by dilettante at 12:28 PM on March 25, 2006


Okay Firas. It reflected poorly on both of them, just not equally.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:29 PM on March 25, 2006


People who don't understand computers are stupid. I laught at their stupidity.
posted by antifuse at 12:30 PM on March 25, 2006


Step one: ignore and delete ludicrous email

Step two: ???

Step three: back to work on whatever I was doing before.
posted by C.Batt at 12:31 PM on March 25, 2006


Fair enough. Firas' authority argument brought me to the other side. If there's one thing I cant stand its people given some measure of authority and then abusing it.

I think at some point the guy said, with regards to the media, essentially "bring it on." So it would be fun to see the guy really get what he was asking for.
posted by vacapinta at 12:34 PM on March 25, 2006


He was claiming the full authority of his position.

'This is the City of Tuttle, Oklahoma. "

And the appeal to authority:

" I have 22 years in computer systems engineering and operation."

I was in a client's office when they called in the cops because they got an e-mail that said 'Child porn for sale'.

Personally, I would have asked him TO call the FBI ASAP and then we could all have a nice 3 way call. In fact, I would have contacted the gal I know in the computer security group on Mr. Taylor's behalf and asked who the local office staffer was in Mr Taylor's area.

And, asked him for his credit card for the support.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:39 PM on March 25, 2006


horsewithnoname wrote...
Hughes didn't owe Jerry A. Taylor a professional response since they didn't have a professional relationship.

This is iffy, actually. CentOS arguably has at least a semi-professional relationship with the ISP. If you publish software and encourage people to use it in a business environment, you have to take some responsibility for that. If you don't, why should the business trust you enough to use your software?

And if CentOS is going to be associated with an ISP, then it assumes a certain amount of responsibility for customer support. The CentOS developer clearly attempted to provide that in this case, and seems to have done OK right up to the point where he decided to post the exchange publically.

The problem here is that by posting this exchange, the CentOS developer has screwed the ISP who chose to use his software. That's bad for CentOS, and bad for Open Source in general.
posted by tkolar at 12:53 PM on March 25, 2006


For someone who was hired to be a MANAGER - he didn't manage anything. What ever happened to 'I have a problem here - please help me fix it'?

If this gets more public or serious media coverage this manager has to look for a new job.

I often had to deal with client who paniced - but still - a manager should be able to stay calm and ask the right questions. Mr. Taylor aint worth his $63,000.
posted by homodigitalis at 12:56 PM on March 25, 2006


I've never met a techie like Johnny Hughes. I really wish I had.
I've met too many Jerry Taylors.
posted by NinjaPirate at 12:56 PM on March 25, 2006


It's like the old engineer's joke:
A middle manager goes ballooning, but a strong wind blows him far off course. As he's floating over a meadow, he sees someone in the field below and yells down, "Hello, sir, could you tell me where I am?" The man yells back, "You're about 50 feet off the ground over a meadow." The balloonist shouts back, "You're an engineer, aren't you? Because while you're answer is technically correct, you haven't addressed the actual problem." The engineer down below shouts back, "Why yes I am. And aren't you a manager? Because I had nothing to do with you getting in your current predicament, yet, after 5 seconds of talking, somehow it's my responsibility to get you out of it."
posted by boaz at 1:00 PM on March 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


One more thing ...

I am pretty sure that Mr Taylors has no clue that his conversation is all over the intranets over the weekend. He'll be a net celebrity until monday. Gee, I would love to see his face on Monday morning - and read all the nice email he must have received ...

Harhar.
posted by homodigitalis at 1:03 PM on March 25, 2006


I have to echo some of the comments from the linked site that point out that the entire exchange (and the fact that it was posted) is a great example of the problems faced by Open Source.

that's only true if you have a very specific agenda for "open source" - that it should "transparently" replace commercial software. the community is a lot wider than that; not everyone who writes free software gets a kick out of pretending to be a marketing department, or dreams of world domination. i fact, if i have to be polite to idiots i damn well want to be paid for it...
posted by andrew cooke at 1:04 PM on March 25, 2006


And if CentOS is going to be associated with an ISP, then it assumes a certain amount of responsibility for customer support
Like hell it does. The ISP - and solely the ISP - is responsible for supporting their customer. If the customer has a problem he should go to the company he's a customer of: the ISP. The ISP can then go to CentOS if they find it's a problem with CentOS itself - which it wasn't.

This further assumes they have ANY level of agreed upon support at all, which is by no means a given.
posted by kaemaril at 1:05 PM on March 25, 2006


If Rent a Car sends Johnny Bling a broken Lexus, and Johnny Bling starts chewing Lexus out for it, and Lexus makes fun of Johnny Bling and it turns out that Rent a Car doesn't know how to handle their Lexuses—hasn't the fact of offering Lexus cars created a problem for Rent a Car?

Sure, the open source community doesn't have a responsibility towards the ISP, but if we want the ISP to make a choice of open source, well, this kind of issue would be a problem. To influence their choice we have to prove we're worthy of the choice.

Of course, open source versus zipped lips is not a valid comparison. If the ISP was a customer of Red Hat rather than someone who randomly installed CentOS, Red Hat employees probably wouldn't have released the conversation.

(Note that the whole raison d'etre of CentOS is to be anti-corporate-mainstream. They work around the Red Hat 'source licensing versus brand licensing' difficulty by just removing the brand and releasing the source.)

By the way, I don't think the ISP is going to get into any trouble at all over this. Maybe if their customers start going away or something we can consider the issue as a more grave hypothetical.
posted by Firas at 1:14 PM on March 25, 2006


shut up you hacked me.
posted by arialblack at 1:16 PM on March 25, 2006


The ISP has chosen to use a free distribution product. I can't imagine why CentOS is obliged to field the calls of the ISP's clients.
posted by horsewithnoname at 1:25 PM on March 25, 2006


I'll need you to go ahead and FUCK YOU !
posted by elpapacito at 1:34 PM on March 25, 2006


Eh, this is mildly analogous to cow-orkers coming in and asking me for tech support for their personal home computers based on highly inaccurate second-hand descriptions of symptoms, expecting me to know what the problem is from a bunch of vague, unspecific descriptors and cursing me out when I tell them it's not in my job description or scope.

Even though I'm usually happy to provide "beyond scope" advice or support, assuming I'm not actually busy earning my paycheck.

Thankfully this doesn't really happen at my current job. I do get a lot of "out of scope" questions, which I do often answer, and I haven't been cursed out by anyone. Yet.

Really, I do good support. I try to put my users and clients at ease, help them understand that I don't believe there really is such a thing as a stupid question, and I try to answer their questions as honestly as possible with as little of the quantity of bullshit that is almost always standard operating procedure for providing support.

But it's unbelievably helpful if the user or client at least knows what a clue is. Or has openness to the very idea of a clue, or even the merest whiff of clue. Actually having a clue is even better, but I can only expect so much.

Homeboy Jerry Taylor wasn't even open to the idea of having the merest fragment of a clue. He was anti-clue. He didn't even have a clue after it was all over. He's a helpdesk's worst nightmare, entirely unforgiving and willfully ignorant and entirely unwilling to admit that learning is never done.

If he was one of my users and came in with that attitude and level of unhelpfulness, I'd be well within my rights and well within the formal scope telling him to go fuck off up a tree until he could come back with real information and a modicum of civility.


It reminds me of the time I made the mistake of emailing a stranger who had obviously recently contracted either the ILOVEYOU or MELISSA email virus/worms, as somehow I'd ended up in her address book and received a copy of the message and virus payload.

I spent my own valuable time attempting to inform her that she obviously had a virus, and that she could find information about how to fix it at such-and-such location.

My reward? Dozens of emails filled with badly written invective accusing me of infecting her computer with said virus, and that I'd better remove it before she contacted the FBI. Being a stubborn motherfucker, I attempted to explain that I was just trying to help her out so she'd stop sending out malicious messages with active virus payloads. But it was so fucking futile it still makes me ill with stress just thinking about it.


Tech support, helpdesk and IT work in general is often a royal pain in the ass. It's like being a cop or something. The only time anyone wants to see you is when something went wrong, when they're really pissed off about it, or panicked, or frustrated.

Add to that all the emotional baggage of users often having to admit that they either screwed up or were wrong or simply don't know about something. "I don't know" seems to be one of the hardest phrases to utter.

Sure, there are harder jobs out there, and worse jobs. But it's certainly not the pleasant walk in the park people seem to think it is. (Most of these people that think it's a carefree walk in the park seem to be the ones with the least amount of cluefullness. Go figure.)

Note: bribing your support staff with the caffeinated beverages of their preference, or offerings of food also often works wonders, considering many of us don't ever take lunch breaks.
posted by loquacious at 1:35 PM on March 25, 2006


pretty funny. :)
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:36 PM on March 25, 2006


kaemaril writes...
Like hell it does. The ISP - and solely the ISP - is responsible for supporting their customer.

If only life were this simple. Cross-support of customers -- even if it is as simple as saying "I'm sorry you're having problems, sir, but you'll need to contact X to address your problem" is a normal and expected business courtesy provided in every single vendor situation I have ever seen or heard of.

If you're going to play in the business world, you need to pay attention to these niceities. Otherwise you're just a punk kid with a compiler and a website.
posted by tkolar at 1:36 PM on March 25, 2006


Denholm: I'm gonna put you in I.T. because you said on your CV you have a lot of experience with computers.

Jen: I did say that on my CV, yes. I have a lot of experience with the whole computer thing you know, emails, sending emails, receiving emails, deleting emails, I could go on.

Denholm: Do.

Jen: The web. Using a mouse, mices, using mice. Clicking, double clicking. The computer screen, of course. The keyboard. The... bit that goes on the floor down there.

Denholm: The hard drive.

Jen: Correct.

Denholm: Well, you certainly seem to know your stuff. That's settled. I've got a good feeling about you Jen and they need a new manager.

Jen: Fantastic, so the people I'll be working with, what are they like?

Denholm: Standard nerds!
posted by iviken at 1:45 PM on March 25, 2006


Andrew Cooke wrote....
that's only true if you have a very specific agenda for "open source" - that it should "transparently" replace commercial software.

Unfortunately it looks like their website is broken, so I can't tell you what their specific goals are. From looking at their list of customers however, I would say they have aimed at the commercial market.

the community is a lot wider than that; not everyone who writes free software gets a kick out of pretending to be a marketing department, or dreams of world domination.

Noted, but if you're going to release a business product under these conditions, it might be preferable if you put a big notice up front that says: "We don't support this product at all, and if your customers call us about it we're going to mock them publically."

in fact, if i have to be polite to idiots i damn well want to be paid for it...

It would be nice. On the other hand, if I want lots of people to use my software I'm just going to have to deal with the fact that a modicum of support is part of the equation.
posted by tkolar at 1:53 PM on March 25, 2006


OK, here's where Johnny Hughes loses me:

"I feel sorry for your city."

Unfortunately, that was in his first message to the user....

Arrogant putz. Whether Jerry Taylor is clueless or not, at that point, Johnny Hughes demonstrates right then and tehre that -- like a lot of wannabe-Alpha-geeks -- he's mostly in the business for that feeling of superiority that he gets every time he contemplates the fact that most of the other guys at the donut shop (you know, the ones the waitress actually flirts with) don't know how to configure his software.
posted by lodurr at 1:58 PM on March 25, 2006


(By the way, you don't get to be and stay a lead developer of a successful project without incredible issue resolution and community management skills.)

Sure you do. Happens all the time. Perhpas the name "Richard Stallman" rings a bell?
posted by lodurr at 2:02 PM on March 25, 2006


OK, here's where Johnny Hughes loses me:
"I feel sorry for your city."


And the first words from the moron accused him of invading their computer (a felony), and threatened to report him to the government. Which is no joke in clueless, post 9/11 America.

he's mostly in the business for that feeling of superiority that he gets every time he contemplates the fact that most of the other guys at the donut shop (you know, the ones the waitress actually flirts with) don't know how to configure his software.

Gee, stereotype much?
posted by bitmage at 2:14 PM on March 25, 2006


Here's where Jerry loses me:
Please remove your software immediately before I report it to government officials!!

He's very mad!! He thinks it's appropriate to make empty threats in his second sentence in order to gain assistance!!

Johnny Hughes also lost me with "I feel sorry for your city", but only because he responded at all.
posted by mullingitover at 2:21 PM on March 25, 2006


The complainant was an clueless blowhard, and the CentOS guy was a weenie. He didn't communicate very well - but then, the content of the default webserver page explained the situation about as clearly as one could ask for.

It sure is funny when untechie people get apoplectically angry about techie things though. Here's an example I collected.
posted by newton at 2:26 PM on March 25, 2006


Why do people consider it jargon when that is what those things are called?

Because that's what it's called?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:37 PM on March 25, 2006


The City of Tuttle - The Place Where People Grow - Friendly!
Somehow, I'm a little skeptical.
posted by ooga_booga at 2:38 PM on March 25, 2006


he contemplates the fact that most of the other guys at the donut shop (you know, the ones the waitress actually flirts with)

And so now what's wrong with flirting with waitress, you arrogant snot ?
posted by elpapacito at 2:39 PM on March 25, 2006


captainTripps: I'm guessing he's not making up his technical experience, although it's likely not in hosting websites. Not coincidentally, his resume includes 'Program Manager 22 years Raytheon(E-Systems, Inc.)'. E-systems were responsible for, among other things, portions of the Airborne Laser project.

This means that haters should probably remove any geo-location data from their userpage.
posted by arialblack at 2:47 PM on March 25, 2006


Jenovus writes...
Why do people consider it jargon when that is what those things are called?


See definition #3 on this page.
posted by tkolar at 2:52 PM on March 25, 2006


lodurr

Er, or maybe he was irritated at having accusations and threats flung at him?
posted by Target Practice at 2:58 PM on March 25, 2006


I don't understand computers all that well- though I could follow the convo, I wouldn't be able to explain it to my mother, for example.

However, I do understand small towns and I understand bureaucratic assholes.

Thanks for the laughs, Jerry A. Taylor.

I feel sorry for Tuttle, but I feel even sorrier for anyone who has to work under a pompous, self-entitled tinhorn like that.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:58 PM on March 25, 2006


From looking at their list of customers however, I would say they have aimed at the commercial market.

What list of customers? They don't appear to have any customers to me. You mean that list of satisfied users of the free distribution that they offer?

Noted, but if you're going to release a business product under these conditions, it might be preferable if you put a big notice up front that says: "We don't support this product at all, and if your customers call us about it we're going to mock them publically."

I'd argue that anybody with even half a clue knows this already. If people want support, they go for one of the supported distributions like RedHat or SuSe, and they pay for the support that they get. If people just want the functionality of those distributions without having to pay for anything, then they download a distro like CentOS and take that responsibility for themselves.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:58 PM on March 25, 2006


I made sure that the local newspaper got a copy of the URL where these messages are being hosted. This type of behavior should certainly be pointed own to the residents of Tuttle.
posted by scottj at 3:03 PM on March 25, 2006


arialblack: "shut up you hacked me" made my evening better.
posted by moonbiter at 3:06 PM on March 25, 2006


As a former alpha-geek programmer (though waaaay below Johnny Hughes' level), I resent the implication that waitresses don't flirt with me. Erm, though I only get the ones who are bi/lesbian. I prefer the waiters.
posted by Liosliath at 3:08 PM on March 25, 2006


tkolar: That's as it may be, but its proximity to definition #1 isn't helping the connotation any. Besides, Google can't help you if you don't know what you're looking for. Using the correct nomenclature really ought not to be considered burdensome.
posted by jenovus at 3:18 PM on March 25, 2006


Iviken, we USA-ians do not have access to that which is Channel4's IT crowd. Please post links.
posted by subaruwrx at 3:20 PM on March 25, 2006


Firas: While the ISP in question might have second thoughts about using CentOS in the future, that won't really make too much diffrence to the CentOS developers.

Quite frankly, the majority of hosting providers simply can't afford to offer anything other then Linux (or maybe FreeBSD) so it dosn't matter.

If you want people to behave professionaly pay them
posted by delmoi at 3:28 PM on March 25, 2006


Initially, I thought the emails simply made Jerry look idiotic and rude, but then I checked out his photo on the Tuttle homepage and the whole story suddenly made me very sad. You can tell he's just an old fella who doesn't understand this whole 'Web business' and thought that someone had ruined his beautiful website which you can bet has taken a long time to get up and running what with all the problematic IT people.

The whole thing's just sad like laughing at some old folk who can't use an ATM or a mobile phone or whatever. The CentOS guy, who eventually went out of his way to help, actually, responded badly in the first instance, imo.
posted by Keefa at 3:30 PM on March 25, 2006


The CentOS guy didn't embarrass himself or act like a jackass. He was extraordinarily patient for a guy being repeatedly threatened by some clueless asshole bureaucrat. And the City of Tuttle ought to can Jerry Taylor for being a horrible, worthless manager. The best part is that even after he realized that CentOS was not the problem, he gave them a hard time for not magically solving the problem earlier. Hughes went above and beyond - and for what? - to get a pissy note in reply?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:32 PM on March 25, 2006


Ironically, the CentOS guy had actually already sent out someone to take care of the problem, but, thanks to a misprint, the repairman went to assist a city called Buttle.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:38 PM on March 25, 2006


You can tell he's just an old fella who doesn't understand this whole 'Web business' and thought that someone had ruined his beautiful website which you can bet has taken a long time to get up and running what with all the problematic IT people.

I guess he shouldn't have said: I am computer literate! I have 22 years in computer systems engineering and operation. Now, can you tell me how to remove "your software" that you acknowledge you provided free of charge? I consider this "hacking". I have no fear of the media, in fact I welcome this publicity.

Fuck him.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:40 PM on March 25, 2006


subaruwrx - thepiratebay.org
(and utorrent.com if you don't already have a bittorrent client)

I missed the first three and the kind buccaneers were kind enough to fill me in.
I'm not usually into sailors filling me in.
posted by NinjaPirate at 3:52 PM on March 25, 2006


subaruwrx - They're also all hosted on Filecloud.
posted by jenovus at 3:56 PM on March 25, 2006


"...you can bet has taken a long time to get up and running what with all the problematic IT people"

Very funny, since they obviously don't have any IT people working for the city of Tuttle.

"Do I need to know any programming languages to use GovOffice?
No. GovOffice's simple user-interface allows anyone with simple word processing skills and a computer connected to the Internet to build and manage a site, make updates, revise content, add or delete pages or photos--anything you need to customize the site and keep it current. Users need no programming skills whatsoever."
posted by Liosliath at 4:01 PM on March 25, 2006


From About CentOS page:
CentOS users as a group are a community of open source contributors and users. Typical CentOS users are organizations and individuals that do not need strong commercial support in order to achieve successful operation.
posted by mkultra at 4:37 PM on March 25, 2006


Well if that's the case, Astro Zombie, at least we can be reassured that everyone involved is going to die horribly.
posted by kyrademon at 4:40 PM on March 25, 2006


This vaguelly reminds me of a prank I once pulled in which I played the part of a Jerry Taylor-type.

About 5-6 years ago, I think, a friend on IRC posted a link to some disgusting horse-fucking website. Standard pictures of girls sucking off stallions, etc. It was a Geocities page, or on some similar free hosting site that puts up random ads on user homepages.

When I first went to the site (I was curious!) I noticed that the ads were for Hewlett-Packard printers. So I decided to have a little fun with HP's customer service department. I sent them an email with something to the effect of:
"I was looking for sites for equestrian enthusiasts when I came upon this disgusting filth: [insert URL]. I cannot believe that HP would advertise with such horrid bestiality and pornography!!!! I am the office manager for a large firm [I wasn't] and you can rest assured that I will never buy HP equipment again!!!!!!"

A short time thereafter, I received a standard canned response. "Thank you for your message, we will respond soon, blah blah". A few hours later, I check my email and find a message from a customer service agent. "Sir, I apologize for this. I am currently investigating to find out what's going on..."

I figured that would be it, but then the next day I get an email from the customer service agent's manager. Then an email from her manager. I watched as this thing made its way 3-4 steps up the corporate ladder, each person apologizing profusely and insisting that HP would NEVER! knowingly promote such filth.

I finally got an email from some Regional VP of Marketing saying that they were sorry, blah blah, they'd taken down the ads, blah blah, they were not in any way associated with the site, etc etc. At this point I felt a little bad, mostly for the poor customer service dude who first read my email and started the whole rigamarole, so I emailed back a brief note that said something like: "Thanks for your response, sorry if I overreacted, I was just shocked, I'm sure I'll continue to buy HP, etc etc."

I'm probably going to internets hell for that.
posted by papakwanz at 4:58 PM on March 25, 2006


papakwanz, you actually probably ended up doing a good thing. Ad banners suck, and the guys who set up the site probably did it to inflate their ad banner impression figures anyway.

Concerning the whole CentOS email exchange: the whole thing gives me a headache.
posted by JHarris at 5:11 PM on March 25, 2006


Like hell it does. The ISP - and solely the ISP - is responsible for supporting their customer.

If only life were this simple. Cross-support of customers -- even if it is as simple as saying "I'm sorry you're having problems, sir, but you'll need to contact X to address your problem" is a normal and expected business courtesy provided in every single vendor situation I have ever seen or heard of.

Operative word there is courtesy. I'm talking responsibility, and I reiterate: centos has absolutely no obligation to provide any technical support for this dingbat. He's not the user of their software. The ISP is. Hell, depending on their license the ISP might not be entitled to support, let alone the customer of the ISP :)

If I sell some guy a VBA app, and it goes wrong because - oh, I dunno, my code always assumes that February 29th is a valid date? - are Microsoft obliged to do my technical support for me? Of course not. They might help the guy out as a courtesy ("Yes, sir, your programmer was a moron. Go bug him, it's nothing to do with us." at a minimum), but they're not obliged to. And given the guy was a moronic asshole, I don't think he's entitled to much courtesy, quite frankly.
posted by kaemaril at 5:13 PM on March 25, 2006


JHarris: yeah, I just felt bad for the customer service guy. I can picture him opening up his email and clicking on that link, or walking into his manager's office. "Um... Sir? I think you should see this... picture of a girl sucking off a donkey. Next to an ad for our new color laserjet printer."
posted by papakwanz at 5:17 PM on March 25, 2006


The CentOS rep might have been nice enough not to contact the Tuttle Times.

I, however... ;-)
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:18 PM on March 25, 2006


BTW, anyone else find it amusing that cityoftuttle.org is still displaying the CentOS test page?
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:22 PM on March 25, 2006


Tuttle's population, btw, is 4852 according to the 2003 census. It's been growing extremely rapidly, however.

Things are a-buzzin' in Tuttle!
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:25 PM on March 25, 2006


Well, Johnny perhaps ought not to have started out with the "I feel sorry for your city" comment, and I think he should have been more discreet about names and places. But we should also remember that this might have been the 30th 'incident' he'd dealt with that day/week.

Customer service can be difficult to do with patience at the best of times; it's even harder when the party "requesting" support comes out with guns blazing, calling you all sorts of filthy names and making threats. (And in those cases it's almost always the case that the problem is in fact their fault and nothing to do with you...). That sort of full-on anger combined with stupidity and arrogance can really ruin your day. And I can't imagine providing support in the face of that sort of thing for free.
posted by Zinger at 5:36 PM on March 25, 2006


Why on earth is anybody trying to defend the idiot from Tuttle? Why is mindless scripted help desk response deemed to be 'professional'? Sure, support should be informative and polite (the extent of which depends on the level of knowledge that should reasonably be expected of the user), but if you pander to fools then you just take part in the dumbing down process. At exactly what point in this ridiculous exchange would it have been 'professional' for the CentOS guy to stop being falsely polite? Pretty early on?
posted by Shinkicker at 5:41 PM on March 25, 2006


The CentOS people should have had the FBI call *Jerry* and explain things. Hah! Imagine that! "You won't need to call the FBI, sir, as I've already called them. They should be contacting you any moment now...*brrrrring!*"

I've had issues like this with users before. I have also found that it's often easier to just pick up the goddamned telephone and call them.
posted by drstein at 5:46 PM on March 25, 2006


papakwanz, you're my hero. see you in internets hell.
posted by frogan at 6:13 PM on March 25, 2006


"This page is used to test the proper operation of the Apache HTTP server after it has been installed. If you can read this page, it means that the Apache HTTP server installed at this site is working properly. you're probably too smart to be working for the city of Tuttle".
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:17 PM on March 25, 2006


This is a lighthouse. Your call.
posted by flabdablet at 6:25 PM on March 25, 2006


kaemaril wrote...
Operative word there is courtesy. I'm talking responsibility, and I reiterate: centos has absolutely no obligation...

Okay, it sounds like we're in agreement about (lack of) legal responsibilites in this situation, but that we have different ideas of what constitutes good corporate citizenship for free software.

Fair enough.
posted by tkolar at 6:54 PM on March 25, 2006


Shinkicker wrote...
Why on earth is anybody trying to defend the idiot from Tuttle?

I've resisted the urge to defend him thus far but... come on, this guy is our brothers and sisters, our parents, our grandparents. And if we're honest, he is us too.

We've all been angry and said or done stupid things. We've all been dead sure that we were in the right, and later realized we were idiots.

Compassion for this man is compassion for ourselves.
posted by tkolar at 6:59 PM on March 25, 2006


tkolar: BS. I've never once yelled at a random person without first at least verifying they were the ones responsible for the problem.
posted by delmoi at 7:07 PM on March 25, 2006


Back to the subject, that exchange was classically funny. Ignorance is excusable; arrogant and aggressive ignorance is not.
posted by raider at 7:19 PM on March 25, 2006


Let's keep the debate clean, boys- this sort of thing is absolutely uncalled for:

Jiffy Pop - As much Fun to Make as it is to Eat!
posted by squalor at 7:37 PM on March 25, 2006


Compassion for this man is compassion for ourselves.

A noble sentiment but I disagree in this case. Incompetent boobs like Jerry should be outed. They do not deserve their jobs (I assume he is being paid). I know nothing about computers or apache installations but I understood what Johnny Hughes was saying immediately and would have been very thankful for his help--especially considering this was not his problem to begin with.

Jerry, let me put it to you this way, it's OK not to know stuff but it's very dangerous not to know that you don't know stuff. And we are still waiting for a real apololgy.
posted by a_day_late at 7:41 PM on March 25, 2006


Welllll- My little Jerry Taylor aka Jiffy Pop picture certainly showed up in the preview. Has Mefi instituted a No Snarky Inline Graphics Posting Policy during my brief absence?
posted by squalor at 7:45 PM on March 25, 2006


No, you munged the quotation marks:

img src=http://crapbook.com/tuttle.gif" "
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:07 PM on March 25, 2006



Thanx Mr. Crash!
posted by squalor at 8:46 PM on March 25, 2006


I'm solidly with tkolar on this one. If someone had treated my grandfather like this, then I'd have to be the one explaining to him why his emails were posted on the Internet and people were making animated pinhead gifs of him.

This is a classic techie/non-techie miscommunication which makes both people look bad. Jerry is being a blowhard and making weird threats about something he doesn't understand. Johnny needlessly insults him and explains himself badly (and yes eventually solves a problem that was not his responsibility to solve). As someone in the comments on that site said "I think a lot of the escalation could have been avoided with a little patience and a phone call. Maybe I'm just outgrowing my IT smugness."
posted by jessamyn at 9:21 PM on March 25, 2006


When I read "I feel sorry for your city", I assumed he was doing nothing more than expressing sympathy over technical problems. I'm amazed that so many think it was intended as a snide insult.
posted by Prince Nez at 10:03 PM on March 25, 2006


delmoi writes...
BS. I've never once yelled at a random person without first at least verifying they were the ones responsible for the problem.

Good for you. I'll bet you're also the one person on the internet who has never posted a message that they thought better of later.

It's good to finally meet you.
posted by tkolar at 10:21 PM on March 25, 2006


so I see this post and I think - where have I seen the name Tuttle, OK before... and then it hits me...

Some guy made a vague post in a forum for Cox HSI yesterday...

Must be the same guy...
posted by WhipSmart at 10:29 PM on March 25, 2006


Prince Nez wrote...
When I read "I feel sorry for your city", I assumed he was doing nothing more than expressing sympathy over technical problems. I'm amazed that so many think it was intended as a snide insult.

I suspect this is an idiomatic english thing. When I first read it I thought it was snide insult, but as the conversation went along it seemed incredibly out of place with the rest of the content.

Where I live (California, USA) that phrase, taken on its own, would be considered a personal insult. The appropriate phrasing for what he was trying to say would have been "I'm sorry your city is having problems", or simply "I'm sorry you're having problems."
posted by tkolar at 10:30 PM on March 25, 2006


If you want people to behave professionaly pay them

Hell fucking yes. If some cocksucking government official acting his his fucking official capacity decides it's OK to waste fucking taxpayer money making nasty, violent threats against someone when he has no fucking clue whatsoever, fuck him. The CentOS people are more charitable than I — I'd have had suits filed for harassment the minute that worthless botched abortion's e-mail hit my inbox. If it was my grandfather? OK, I can sympathize with computer-illiterate individuals; nobody has an obligation to get a clue when it comes to obscure Linux distributions. But when you are in a freaking position of legal authority? You bloody fucking well have an obligation to get a clue before threatening to sic the fucking Feds on some hapless motherfucker.

The simple lesson (which I am sure is not lost on the ISP) is that if they had chosen to use professionally supported software, their customer's private exchange would not have ended up a public disgrace.

I can't speak for the ISP, but if it were my company, the "simple lesson" I'd draw from this would be to make bloody fucking sure my customers in the future were not litigation-happy paranoid fucks who'd call in a SWAT team the first time they got a freaking DNS error.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:34 PM on March 25, 2006


a_day_late wrote...
Incompetent boobs like Jerry should be outed.

If this were a repeated behavior over a period of time, I would agree with you. I would still have compassion for him, but it would be clear that he wasn't able to function where he was, and that he was making other people unhappy in the attempt.

But all we have here is one incident. A few emails sent back and forth at a time when he was clearly very agitated. Is this really the standard that we want to set, that if you screw up even once you are immediately fair game for worldwide scorn and ridicule?

If so, I shudder to think of the standards of perfection that you must hold yourself to. A little room for common human failings is not a bad thing.
posted by tkolar at 10:45 PM on March 25, 2006


The following is an email I just sent this guy.....
**************************************

Mr. Taylor,

I am a a professional located in the southeast. I just read your email exchange with CentOS via a link on the popular community website Metafilter.com.
I am totally unbiased in this issue as I don't know you nor anyone at CentOS, however I would like to point something out to you.
You have no leg to stand on in the this issue. You would be advised to drop it now before you really get dragged over the coals on this.
Trust me on this one. Drop it.
CentOS is an operating system and only that. It is Linux based as is may other popular open source free operating systems. If you would like to experience what this an operating system such as this is like allow me to suggest that you try Ubuntu. In fact, I have taken the liberty of sending you five free copies of Ubuntu to the city hall where you work. I hope you enjoy them.
Free software comes with no support. Please know that. This means that if you use Ubuntu (and I hope you do) and in the use of Ubuntu you do something that causes harm to your computer, Ubuntu is not to blame just as CentOS is not to blame for what you do with their software. It is assumed, and fairly so, that you have paid someone to install CentOS on a server or some other computer in your network. I would suggest that you contact that person to help resolve your issue. It should be noted though that no one will be needed to install Ubuntu to any computer you choose. Just use the "live" CD that will come with your package and reboot your system.
And oh yea, BTW, you can't blame me if you do something horrible with Ubuntu or CentOS either........just thought I would get that clear.
You may also want to research a few terms:
GNU
Open Source
Freeware
Sourceforge

Enjoy Ubuntu! Really, you should try it out. Perhaps if you convinced your city council to use Ubuntu vs. Windows or OSX from Apple you could possible save the city the money that you have wasted while fretting over this issue. Its worth a shot!

Best Wishes,
xxxxxxx xxxxxx

***************************************

I wonder what he will do with his free copies of Ubuntu?
posted by Mantix at 11:39 PM on March 25, 2006


You have no leg to stand on in the this issue. You would be advised to drop it now before you really get dragged over the coals on this.

Where do you get the impression he intends to pursue anything?? The last email shows resolution with him saying:

I am sorry that we had to go through the process and accusations to get the problem resolved.


I honestly hopes he deletes your email along with the undoubted thousands of others by people who have decided to harass the guy.
posted by vacapinta at 11:47 PM on March 25, 2006


I'm with the few people who are suggesting that this guy be cut some slack.

Sure, he comes over in this email exchange as clueless and aggressive. But what possible good can possibly come from pillorying him?

It really is easy for those of us who understand a little about how the Web hangs together to forget just what a bizarre bunch of bizarreness it looks like to people who don't have a clue, and how frightening it can be for those folks when things go wrong.

It seems to me that the correct response to somebody who continues to make ill-informed and obviously empty threats when offered help is simply to ignore them. Publishing this email exchange with all names deleted would have been OK for a laugh, too. But actually naming the guy and linking to a page that exposes his email address? Lame, lame, lame.

Shooting fish in a barrel is no way to demonstrate that you're a Mighty Hunter.

And Mantix, I can't see how subjecting the guy to an open-source sales pitch right when he's just been made a target by an open-source lead developer is going to cause anything but more grief. I think your timing was ill-considered.
posted by flabdablet at 12:03 AM on March 26, 2006


If you are a member of the general public:

The fact that you are seeing this page indicates that the website you just visited is either experiencing problems, or is undergoing routine maintenance.

If you would like to let the administrators of this website know that you've seen this page instead of the page you expected, you should send them e-mail. In general, mail sent to the name "webmaster" and directed to the website's domain should reach the appropriate person.

For example, if you experienced problems while visiting www.example.com, you should send e-mail to "webmaster@example.com".

For information on CentOS-3, please visit the CentOS website.


The real problem is that a guy in the City Manager's position can't parse this. He sees the page with this copy on it and thinks he's been hacked. To me it seems pretty clearly written. And I'm sure Mr. Lead Developer considers it to be more than sufficient for even the n00biest simpleton to understand why they're seeing the page. So he gets kind of offended that the city manager didn't understand it. It's not "I have been contacted by idiot." It's "My software's post-install page that was supposed to be idiot-proof was insufficiently idiot-proof and therefore my [group's] ability to communicate with the layperson is called into question."

The direct attack on his integrity ("you hax0red me") is absurd, but the implication that A Techie cannot communicate with An End User connects. That is why he lashes out with "I feel sorry for your city."

I admit that I also feel sorry for the city. Maybe because I identify with jargonists who think they're putting everything in layman's terms when they haven't quite managed it. But I do feel sorry for Tuttle. Because they do not have a genius for a city manager. And now 25% of everyone who's every heard of the town has heard of them because of this.
posted by damehex at 12:59 AM on March 26, 2006


Is this really the standard that we want to set, that if you screw up even once you are immediately fair game for worldwide scorn and ridicule?

In my eyes, this is not one incident. He repeats his mistake over and over with each e-mail and does not seem interested in genuine communcation with CentosOS. This is not about a mistake or about not understanding how server software works (I don't understand that myself, yet I can easily follow what is going on here). This is about a bull-headed man who pisses in someone's corn flakes and then "apologizes" by saying, "Sorry your corn flakes have piss in them."


If so, I shudder to think of the standards of perfection that you must hold yourself to.

I don't know how you arrived at this conclusion. I do not hold myself to any such standard (although I try to do the best I can). All situations are not created equal. This is Jerry's job and he is clearly incompetent at it. Because of poor judgement, he has exposed himself (and his town for hiring him) to public ridicule. If the public ridicule helps him get a clue and get some more training, or refusing that, if the town replaces him with someone more capable, the public interest is served. This is not, as you seek to frame it, a case of simply bashing an old guy (I am pretty old myself, in case you are interested).
posted by a_day_late at 2:57 AM on March 26, 2006


For those identifying with The Tuttle City Manager as their non-technical grandfather, I choose to identify with the CentOS developer as a polio-ridden baby sister. Her only remaining joys in life are her brown puppy and her hobby of developing alternative free OS's that no one was compelled to use.
posted by horsewithnoname at 3:56 AM on March 26, 2006


While I am at it, let me say this problem is easily fixed and human dignity restored if Jerry simply goes to the the FPP link and posts something like this:

Johnny,

I now understand what you have been trying to tell me. Wow! Sorry about that. While I have a lot of computer experience, I am unfamiliar with your software or how servers are set up so I missed the point. It didn't help that work was crazy and everyone here is on my case about not being able to access the town's website. In any case, thanks for your help and please accept my sincere apology.

Regards,
Jerry A. Taylor


I bet anything that Jerry would win over 99% of his critics if he did that. Hell, I'd send him a personalized e-mail telling him what a swell guy he is. But I am afraid that I have seen his type before. Pride goeth before the fall. Jerry, please prove me wrong. I SO want to believe in you. Now I've done it: I am officially rooting for Jerry.
posted by a_day_late at 4:09 AM on March 26, 2006


tkolar wrote:If only life were this simple. Cross-support of customers -- even if it is as simple as saying "I'm sorry you're having problems, sir, but you'll need to contact X to address your problem" is a normal and expected business courtesy provided in every single vendor situation I have ever seen or heard of.

flabdablet wrote:It really is easy for those of us who understand a little about how the Web hangs together to forget just what a bizarre bunch of bizarreness it looks like to people who don't have a clue, and how frightening it can be for those folks when things go wrong.

The guy did write:

"Please contact someone who does IT for you and show them the page so that they can configure your apache webserver correctly." It doesn't get much clearer than that.

I suppose the only way it could have been clearer would be to write:

"The page you are seeing means that there is something wrong at your end. This page only shows up when there is a misconfiguration on your computers. CentOS is like Windows*; it's not special software that was just recently put on your computers; it was on there before. Someone who works for your ISP or IT department or your webmaster needs to put webpages on your computer to replace the page that's showing now. What you're seeing now is just the default page when there isn't content."

The gist is, this J. Taylor guy is something of a jerk for going for the big guns first. Clearly he was irritated but it's always best to ask questions first and shoot later. I don't know what axe against OS software you have tkolar.

I worked at a web design firm once. People would call saying they had problems with their AOL connection. I would try, as patiently as I could, to explain that we weren't AOL. At that point, people still wanted help, or wanted a number for contacting AOL. At that point, I would generally recommend them to look in the yellow pages. Thankfully none of them ever called back and threatened to call the cops because of their lousy connection. If they had, I shudder to think at how tkolar might frown on my less-than-businesslike response might have been.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:35 AM on March 26, 2006


note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand -- not at other members of the site.

oops.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:35 AM on March 26, 2006


So, let me see if I understand the concensus, here:

As long as the other person is stupid, you're not responsible for provoking them into an argument.

Right?
posted by lodurr at 7:21 AM on March 26, 2006


Lodurr, it was the city manager who provoked the argument by immediately threatening to call the FBI because he refused to read the setup page on Tuttle's webservers as well as the very clear emails sent by CentOS. You do not need to be a computer whiz to understand what CentOS was saying. All he needed to do was take a breath and make an attempt to read very simple English, but instead he was combative and rude, and even now refuses to see that he harassed someone for literally no good reason. The board that elected him should be ashamed that they appointed such a petty, ridiculous, rude little man.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:39 AM on March 26, 2006


I am a a professional .... CentOS is an operating system ...... This means that if you use Ubuntu (and I hope you do) and in the use of Ubuntu you do something that causes harm to your computer, Ubuntu is not to blame just as CentOS is not to blame for what you do with their software.

As a professional, how come you are labeling an lack of an Apache config as tied to CentOS?

(Why is it the GNU/Linux 'community' is happy to slap a "Linux" label on most anything that touches the Linux kernel? And, did JErry send the same kind of e-mail to the Apache group?)
posted by rough ashlar at 7:46 AM on March 26, 2006


Did you read the Tuttle guy's opening salvo lodurr? He was already argumentative.
posted by Zinger at 7:52 AM on March 26, 2006


So, let me see if I understand the concensus, here:
As long as the other person is stupid, you're not responsible for provoking them into an argument.
Right?
posted by lodurr at 7:21 AM PST on March 26 [!]

How do you get that? Jerry was not lacking education, Jerry:

1) Didn't read/understand the default install page
2) Decided to go with 'do what I say, for I am in the government and I will use these ties to force you'
3) When not getting his way, his response was 'I have years of experience, so listen to me'

Uneducated, mean and shows an unwillingness to learn. How do you get 'stupid' from that?

posted by rough ashlar at 7:53 AM on March 26, 2006


uwillingness to learn == stupid

. . . at least in my book it does.
posted by JeffK at 8:03 AM on March 26, 2006


Yes, I read his opening salvo.

I've also spent a career listening to tech-macho bullshit from assholes like Johnny Hughes.

This was basically a pissing contest between assholes to see who was stupider. Not to see who was "right" -- but to see who could get the rhetorical upper hand.

If you're into that kind of thing, I'm sure it's either funny as hell or smells like righteousness. To me, it smells like picking on retards, and it's not funny.
posted by lodurr at 8:22 AM on March 26, 2006


On the other hand, if I want lots of people to use my software I'm just going to have to deal with the fact that a modicum of support is part of the equation.

but when did writing software become a competition in dick size (here measured by number of users)? i write code because i'm interested in certain problems; i share it in case someone else is. number of users - or any other metric - doesn't come into it.

from this point of view the "problem with open source" isn't the lack of support, it's that it's been hijacked by people trying to score points for their own particular neuroses.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:33 AM on March 26, 2006


I've also spent a career listening to tech-macho bullshit from assholes like Johnny Hughes.

Well, that sounds like you reading your own issues into it.
posted by Zinger at 8:34 AM on March 26, 2006


... or maybe it's a bunch of people who like to watch people pick on retards? The Farellys make a shitload of money, after all.
posted by lodurr at 8:36 AM on March 26, 2006


BTW, the assholes I've heard that from? Usually peers. Not to me. To other people.

'My own issues'... the only 'issue' is that I don't like bullies, and it's got to be a pretty extraordinary case (like, say, the O'Reilly-Olberman smacker) before I get jollies from watching bullies beat up on each other.
posted by lodurr at 8:39 AM on March 26, 2006


Deathalicious wrote...
I shudder to think at how tkolar might frown on my less-than-businesslike response might have been.

Don't worry, I have compassion for you too.
posted by tkolar at 8:52 AM on March 26, 2006


Deathalicious wrote...
The gist is, this J. Taylor guy is something of a jerk for going for the big guns first. Clearly he was irritated but it's always best to ask questions first and shoot later.

I don't anyone here has suggested that J. Taylor was acting like anything other than a jerk. The dangerously radical proposal being put forth by myself and others is: "Hey, we all screw up sometimes, so let's cut this guy some slack."

I don't know what axe against OS software you have tkolar.

None, I've written a few toy OS's myself. I did not release them to the community, however, as I didn't want to support them.
posted by tkolar at 9:03 AM on March 26, 2006


andrew cooke wrote...
but when did writing software become a competition in dick size (here measured by number of users)? i write code because i'm interested in certain problems; i share it in case someone else is. number of users - or any other metric - doesn't come into it.

from this point of view the "problem with open source" isn't the lack of support, it's that it's been hijacked by people trying to score points for their own particular neuroses.


Fair enough. Let the struggle for the soul of open source begin!
posted by tkolar at 9:09 AM on March 26, 2006


To me, it smells like picking on retards, and it's not funny.
posted by lodurr at 8:22 AM PST on March 26 [!]


How is he a 'retard'? Unless the claim is Rayathon, who lives by government contracts is SO wasteful and mis-managed, they'd keep a 'retard' as manager for 22 years.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:22 AM on March 26, 2006


This was basically a pissing contest between assholes to see who was stupider. Not to see who was "right" -- but to see who could get the rhetorical upper hand.
The hell? No. To any person who was actually willing to listen, this would have been over the moment Hughes sent the first couple of mails basically saying "Nothing to do with us, guv, looks like you need to speak to somebody who handles your IT."

This wasn't a "pissing contest". This was the head vs. the brick wall. Face facts : Taylor's not innocently clueless, instead we have a man with "22 years (experience) in computer systems engineering and operation" who can't understand plain English and who was issuing completely unfounded accusations and threats. It's just a shame Hughes published these mails himself - if Taylor had made these accusations publically a large lawsuit could be headed his way, given that he was accusing an innocent party of committing federal crimes...
posted by kaemaril at 10:23 AM on March 26, 2006


+1 tkolar. Very nice response.
posted by JHarris at 11:51 AM on March 26, 2006


How is he a 'retard'?

Do you think it's not obvious that you're willfully misunderstanding the analogy?

The hell? No. To any person who was actually willing to listen,...

... too bad Hughes wasn't interested in really listening. Or in taking repsonsibility for the effect his attitude would have on the dialog.
posted by lodurr at 2:25 PM on March 26, 2006


Or in taking repsonsibility for the effect his attitude would have on the dialog.

That's what I always find myself wishing other people would do, like how lodurr could take responsibility for the effect his attitude is having on this dialog.
posted by boaz at 2:30 PM on March 26, 2006


What is my attitude, and what effect is it having on the dialog?

While we're at it: What is your attitude, and what effect is it having on the dialog?

You seem to be upset by my interpretation of the Hughes-Taylor thread. Why is that? Why do you care what I think? Could it be because you're invested in believing that one party is "right" and the other "wrong"?
posted by lodurr at 2:39 PM on March 26, 2006


You seem to be upset by my interpretation of the Hughes-Taylor thread

Oh yeah, I'm pissed. I'm frankly amazed at the acuteness of your attitude-detecting skills. *Yawn*
posted by boaz at 3:08 PM on March 26, 2006


Ah, so, you're just jerking off here, then? No point to anythign you're saying?
posted by lodurr at 3:10 PM on March 26, 2006


I love the irony of the repeated "cut Jerry some slack" commentary that simultaneously cuts Johnny to pieces for his ambiguous "so sorry for your city" comment.

Jerry started the exchange with a hot-headed, heavy-handed, and rude as fuck email to someone who wasn't even remotely responsible for fixing the problem.

As far as I can tell, Johnny was pretty civil in response to this unwarranted attack.

If anyone deserves some slack being cut, it's Johnny.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:38 PM on March 26, 2006


This is the CITY GOVERNMENT OF TUTTLE!! You're all in SUPER DUPER BIG TROUBLE and the FBI (as well as your PARENTS) have been notified.
posted by Skygazer at 3:38 PM on March 26, 2006


The city manager is clearly not qualified to be speaking on behalf of his city in any role, let alone a technological one.

The very very worst Mr. Hughes can be acused of is being slightly insulting to someone who already clearly showed no intention of behaving in a civil fashion. (Or is two exclamation points acceptable english these day?)

What really blows my mind is the inconsistancy of Mr. Taylor's actions. He belives he's been 'hacked', but also seems to think his hackers have a web and email based support forum he can send requests to. You don't have to be a web guru (with 22 years experience) to realize that makes no sense.
posted by tiamat at 3:39 PM on March 26, 2006


Uh, Lodurr, one guy was right and one guy was wrong. And you're asserting that Hughs was the bully? Are we all reading the same emails here, or are these some kind of bizarre Rorschach texts?

If that ass was my grandfather, I could only be gratefull to someone who treated him that well.
posted by Zetetics at 3:45 PM on March 26, 2006


Seriously. What makes the whole exchange so bizarre and even offensive is that somehow the guy managed to read the CentOS error page, find the website and/or email address, open an email client, send an offensive email that leapt straight to laughable threats.

Yet he totally failed to parse what the original CentOS error page said.

The dude got treated well, considering. Especially these days, threats of getting the FBI involved - coming from a city official - is no laughing matter, considering how hair-trigger these LEO agencies have been over the last few years.

If I had recieved those kinds of threats my blood pressure and anxiety would have shot through the roof, regardless of the complete and total lack of wrongdoing.

What if Jerry actually did contact the FBI? And what if the FBI agents he contacted were so incompetent that they took his claims of being hacked seriously? And then they raided the CentOS offices, seized his computers, and he spent x amount of months or years trying to get his systems and data back undamaged, while the project foundered and his hardware depreciated?

That'd be some serious suck.
posted by loquacious at 4:02 PM on March 26, 2006


And you're asserting that Hughs was the bully?

I'm asserting that Hughes is a bully, yes.

LADY: Are you ... the gay?
MAN: Well, I am a gay, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the gay. I think there is more than one of us.

posted by lodurr at 4:13 PM on March 26, 2006


I want these motherfuckin' snakes off my motherfuckin' website!!!11!!1!!!!!!
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:23 PM on March 26, 2006


I'm asserting that Hughes is a bully, yes.

I guess he's one of those patient and helpful bullies.
posted by horsewithnoname at 4:32 PM on March 26, 2006


Some people get a kick out of helping people as they insult them; and then get an even bigger kick out of insulting them after the fact.

Put another way: There's a fine line between "patient and helpful" and "teasing the idiot for fun."
posted by lodurr at 4:42 PM on March 26, 2006


Fucking Hughes. How dare he be patient and helpful for his own sinister pleasure.
posted by horsewithnoname at 4:56 PM on March 26, 2006


Anyone who starts off a letter by threatening police action, about an error message that clearly states what's going on, against someone who is only tangentially involved at best, is someone who deserves a big fuck-you.

Read the first letter: the man who started this whole debacle is evidently a hot-headed, ignorant jerk who refuses civility and disavows any responsibility. He wrote what he wrote.

Publishing what he wrote is one way to hold him responsible. I think publishing is asshattery, but it certainly accomplishes its goal: it is a big "Fuck You" that I suspect will make someone responsible for him, make him responsible.

Honestly, there is room here to both call Hughes an asshat for publishing this, and tell Jerry that he is an asshole. You don't need to pick black-and-white sides.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:34 PM on March 26, 2006


No, you don't need to. But I'm going to anyway. Asshat for publishing this? No. Public service. Clueless public officials who lay claim to expertise they don't possess, who make unfounded accusations, issue threats and don't even apologise are people who well and truly deserve seeing their idiocy laid bare.
posted by kaemaril at 7:12 PM on March 26, 2006


Amen to that, brother.
posted by horsewithnoname at 7:50 PM on March 26, 2006


<firas:mode="knee-jerk">

Jessamyn, are you implying senility? Because otherwise, that has to be the first time I've seen technological illiteracy invoked as a defense for being an arrogant boor. When I can't figure out some darned contraption, first I feel vageuly embarassed, then I swallow my pride and ask the first staffer I can find how exactly it's dealth with. I don't attempt to get a hold of someone involved with the construction of the contraption and scream at them that I'm from so-and-so organization and if you don't help me out I'm going to get you arrested!

he's mostly in the business for that feeling of superiority that he gets every time he contemplates the fact that most of the other guys at the donut shop (you know, the ones the waitress actually flirts with) don't know how to configure his software.

lodurr, the fact that a programmer ran over your dog has nothing to do with the CentOS dev. I'd suggest that your issues are better resolved in therapy than by nursing a permanent grudge against any technologist who doesn't prostrate himself under the grinding heel of incompetent, unwarranted demands delivered with pathological bile. I'm not even going to get into the shamefulness of assuming so much about a person's life and motivations from a random conversation. He's always writing guides and stuff to setting up various linux-based systems. Oh, I know, it's for the perverse kicks.

</firas:mode>

Look, I can easily put myself in Taylor's shoes. It's like coming home and seeing that your fridge is replaced by something else which has a badge imprinted with the URL. The first thing he did was assume it was illegally placed there, and fired off a demand to the organization that they get their damned crap out of his house. But what then? At some point, communication demands acknowledging what the other person is saying. He didn't even proceed to that level until he got free tech support. Fuck that. I'd forward the city an invoice for my services.




I think part of the problem here is an 'audience' problem. If you walked into a writing session for certain TV shows you'd think that all the writers were sexist and objectified their current and ex-boyfriends/girlfriends to an alarming degree. If you overheard waiters after their shift was over you'd think their clientele was picked from the legions of Belial. For the CentOS guy, posting the thing to '300,000 of his closest friends' was the most natural thing to do.

PS. I agree that the Apache default page is mostly useless, and phrases like In general, mail sent to the name "webmaster" and directed to the website's domain should reach the appropriate person don't help the matter at all. Maybe a simple 'Server Installed Successfully' without any branding—apache or the OS—would be the best way to go.
posted by Firas at 6:56 AM on March 27, 2006


Could you people STOP HACKING INTO MY BROWSER!! How dare you?!!

HOW. DARE. YOU.

Disgusting.



The authorities have been notified. (See below)

cc: FBI, CIA, FEC, FDA, MI6, MOSSAD, KGB, NATO, FDIC, BBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, JVC, FTD, IBM, BMW, MOMA, MDMA, LSD,PPC, THD, PVC and THX 1138.


Second warning.
posted by Skygazer at 9:08 AM on March 27, 2006


It's like calling Bill Gates when Windows won't start because I haven't got my computer plugged in *and* I'm using a warez copy of XP.

Oh hell, if you replace "calling" with "blaming" then you just described Slashdot and osViews entire business model.

1) Stay ignorant

2) Blame Microsoft

3) s/MS/M\$/g

4) Sell advertising

5) Profit!

I feel sorry for Tuttle, but I feel even sorrier for anyone who has to work under a pompous, self-entitled tinhorn like that.

Hold on, which of the two pompous, seld entitled idiots in this echange are you referring to?
posted by soulhuntre at 10:21 AM on March 27, 2006


Metafilter sure has gotten Fair And Balanced.
posted by boaz at 10:23 AM on March 27, 2006


Once again, Metafilter to Slashdot log time: 2 days.

I'm sure the thread over there will be an even greater credit to the human race than this one.
posted by intermod at 10:34 AM on March 27, 2006


I agree with Prince Nez and tkolar.

It is an idiomatic english thing. When you read Johnny Hughes' polite initial response as a whole, it is patently obvious that he actually meant "I'm sorry for the trouble your city is experiencing."
posted by slf at 10:55 PM on March 27, 2006


I eagerly await being reported to the agencies of IBM, BMW, MOMA, MDMA, LSD, PPC, and PVC. For that last one I would like to request a female agent who is brunette, pale, curvy about 6 feet tall and very, very strict. I wouldn't turn my nose up at a little FTD, either. BBC can watch and document the proceedings, if they like.
posted by loquacious at 12:59 AM on March 28, 2006


"Ironically, the CentOS guy had actually already sent out someone to take care of the problem, but, thanks to a misprint, the repairman went to assist a city called Buttle."

Scandalous lack of love for this comment.
posted by fullerine at 5:25 AM on March 28, 2006


Just was about to prepare a post on this. Looks like I'm a couple of days too late! Good reading though. Here are a couple of followups...

Oklahoma city threatens to call FBI over 'renegade' Linux maker

Oklahoma man asks Register to turn off the internet
posted by Roger Dodger at 7:56 AM on March 28, 2006


Holy cow. Jerry Taylor is out to make a name for himself. What an asshat.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:05 AM on March 28, 2006


Hmm.

That second link is very interesting. Not for The Register's snide remarks, but for the fact that Taylor apparently did significant due diligence (and even followed the advice on the front page to contact his System Administrator) before going apeshit on CentOS.

Looks like his web service provider really dropped the ball on this one.
posted by tkolar at 11:50 AM on March 28, 2006


That second link is very interesting. Not for The Register's snide remarks, but for the fact that Taylor apparently did significant due diligence (and even followed the advice on the front page to contact his System Administrator) before going apeshit on CentOS.

Or, this may be revisionist history and CYA. No way to know for sure but I'm not giving the benefit of the doubt to a guy who can't comprehend a simply worded e-mail (about his supposed area of expertise) and has never truly apologized for his transgressions. I admire your forbearance of Jerry but I am not sure it's at all warranted.
posted by a_day_late at 2:58 PM on March 28, 2006


a_day_late wrote...
Or, this may be revisionist history and CYA.

Could be, although the original exchange did include this bit:

"I have contacted the City's network administrator wnd he has done nothing to install your CentOS software. I have contacted our Internet provider and they know nothing about your software."

..and has never truly apologized for his transgressions.

Yeah, this is a problem for me too. It's one thing to go off half-cocked, but his letter to The Register would have been a perfect place to make a public apology to CentOS, or at least mention that he had made a private one.

Ah well.
posted by tkolar at 3:32 PM on March 28, 2006


tkolar, good points you make. As I wrote previously, I think he could have made the whole thing go away (and gotten major kudos) with a sincere apology as soon as he realized what was going on. That's what I was rooting for. The problem is, the longer he goes without one, the deeper the hole to climb out of.
posted by a_day_late at 3:42 PM on March 28, 2006




"The guy kept telling me to get an IT person. I don't know how to break this loop without threatening him with the FBI because this is not getting anywhere."

Would someone please reach out and bitchslap this dummy for me? I don't know how to break him out of his loop otherwise.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:11 PM on March 30, 2006


Linux zealots have now proposed that an unreasonable support request be called a "Tuttle." (the episode one before kaemaril's).

From the same: US Ambassador Robert Tuttle refuses to pay London's "congestion charge" and has earned himself the designation of "chiseling little crook."

The Tuttles are a breed apart.

posted by five fresh fish at 7:17 PM on March 30, 2006


Say what you like about Ken Livingstone, he knows how to throw a good insult :)
posted by kaemaril at 2:39 PM on March 31, 2006


The Tuttle Times article.
posted by horsewithnoname at 8:49 AM on April 12, 2006


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