Monday, 8 November 2010

No apples for the apes


Tantalus was a powerful guy at his time in ancient Greece. Powerful enough to have been granted access to the gods, nothing less. Impressive.

Ungrateful though, he had an “inappropriate behavior”, and took with him nectar and ambrosia from the gods’ banquet table, and thus, “disclosed confidential information” to mortal humans.

That violation of the gods’ Standards of Business Conduct could not go through without punishment, and Tantalus was sent to Hades (the Greek version of Hell at that time; please note we carefully typed and initial “H” for Hell as confusion with “Dell” could have easily happen to our dear readers).

But not only was the guy sent there, where he might have eventually found a decent living by writing his memories and giving conferences and TV shows with forgettable American Presidents, the gods’ wrath went further. Instead of enrolling him in endless PowerPoint presentations about Standards of Business Conduct, which seems to be the classic punishment for normal mortals, they decided to teach him a lesson about ambrosia and nectar he would never ever forget: They placed him in a water pond beneath the most wonderful fruit tree in a way that when he wanted to calm his thirst off, water would withdraw from him, and when he wanted to reach for the low hanging fruit from the tree to fill his stomach, the tree branches would raise enough to remain always out of reach.

Thirst and starvation for eternity did not really seem a good plan. but we’d guess that is what happens when you fall short of expectations in such an exclusive club as Mount Olympus.

Microsoft is a really impressive company. Rich, knowledgeable, talented… a winning combination certainly. No wonder it is one of the best known brands, and much present in many people’s daily life, either as individuals or as professionals. Becoming the CEO there certainly gives you big green US presidents portraits, and, subsequently, a hell lot of power. You become a member of the super-exclusive elitist club of the people that appear regularly in Fortune magazine, and even the US President may ask for some of your time. Furthermore, if you wanted you could even have a yacht to win America’s Cup, or build spaceships to ascend to Heaven like a “Virgin”. You could say you reached the Mount Olympus of the 21st Century, you could say you are like a god on earth, couldn’t you?

When you imagine, dear reader, the banquets and conversations they enjoy in Mount Olympus, you expect at least fantastic goods and services, outstanding super cool products coming out from the companies they lead, from the companies that have put them in those jobs, would you not? “Product etiquette”, which, should it not be observed, creates an actual situation of “not living up to standards” that should end up in sending the non compliant guy to 21st Century Hades… (again, not suggesting a promotion within Dell at all).

Generally speaking, we think those super-exclusive people do well up there… but, being as human as people can be, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Enter Steve Ballmer, 50% Ape, 50% Man, 100% pure transpiration…

by the gods, someone bring deodorant to this guy

No wonder his sense of etiquette falls a bit short to expectations… but as well do his company products and services do, especially compared to other peers of his.

And, as in ancient Greece, somehow the market gods are delivering him slowly to the 21st Century Hades of the IT Market (again, not really suggesting he should be hired by Hell-Dell). He’s been placed in a pond of operating systems, beneath a tree of wonderful fruit in the form of smartphones…

Whenever he finds himself thirsty of operating system technology, the pond withdraws its androids, symbians, blackberries, iOS4s and even WebOSs, and whenever he wants to reach a piece of fruit, revenue raises, but not for him to “touch”, while a subtle breeze sounds in his ears like “not yet, kid…”

In very many versions of the mythological story of Tantalus, by the way, as much as in many artistic representations of the story, the fruit in the tree are red, shaped like a heart, fresh, juicy… Apples!

A tantalised Pontifex


It looks that Big Mouth Larry is seriously taking the challenge we suggested him some days ago.

As a matter of fact, he’s paid for some private investigations to find out the pharmacist’s whereabouts. Well, this sort of game is supposed to be carried out individually. Come on, Big Mouth, it’s no fun if someone else tells you where Léo is and you do not find out yourself… unless you tell us that instead of tennis, you are playing this with your friend Mark. Oh, yes, Mark has some experience in private investigations indeed, doesn’t he?

Yet we are puzzled about the point he’d want to prove. Assuming for a minute he found out the guy is anywhere out of legal reach to force him to serve the subpoena at the trial the oracle is waging against SAP, if Law can not grab him, it is absolutely useless. Sounds a bit paranoid, in our opinion.

So Big Mouth Larry, aka The Pontifex Maximus at the oracle, would be punished for his paranoia by knowing where the guy is, but not really being able to grab him, like poor old Tantalus, condemned by the Gods to starve in Hades below a rich fruit tree that raised it’s branches as soon as Tantalus tried to grasp any throughout eternity… which, for us at least, seems to be a heck of a long time, incidentally.

Big Apes don’t play Quidditch


Those readers who have read the Harry Potter saga , total or partially, are surely familiar to quidditch, the most popular sport in the magic world where the full story happens.

Two teams, one against the other, each one with the objective to score more points on the rival’s goal than the other.  Similar in principle to rugby, American football, basketball or soccer.

There is an important difference, though: Quidditch is played with four balls simultaneously.

First there is a quaffle, which is the biggest one. Players are supposed to pass this ball through three different rings at one of the field ends, which are the rival’s goal. Each time a team succeeds, they get 10 points.

Then there are two bludgers, a bit smaller than the quaffle. These two are used by one team players to beat, harass and distract the other team players, and make it more difficult for them to score with the quaffle. Two specific players have special bats to hit the bludgers against the other team.

And finally there is the smallest one, called golden snitch. It is the size of an iPod shuffle, and has two fast wings. It floats ans wanders around erratically, and one special player of each team, called the Seeker, has to be the first to catch it. Once it is caught, the match ends, and the team whose seeker got it gets a 150 point bonus.

If quidditch were played without a snitch, it would not be fundamentally different from other similar sports we mentioned before, would it? Indeed, as you might have guessed, it is the snitch that really makes the difference, for it depends almost on a simple flash of genius from the Seeker to strike a 150 points bonus and determine the end of the match.

Both teams will normally score regular points with the quaffle. Both teams will me more or less lucky in harassing the contrary with bludgers. But it is just one team which will get the snitch. Just one.

And this is the situation where Big Ape’s Microsoft is about Windows Phone 7. But his problem is that he still is thinking rugby, or basket, football or soccer, and he’s not understood that there is a snitch around that needs to be caught and really make a difference. If he just thinks quaffles, his team might score. But the other team certainly will too. As a matter of fact, if he plays against iPhone, Android, Blackberry or old-glory Nokia, these have already scored a heck lot of regular points more than he has. And the two first competitors of his have already seen the snitch and are moving their seekers towards it.

And, we are afraid, the only bright and shiny little thing floating over at Microsoft’s camp is his polished sweaty head top when he jumps across the scenery like a gorilla on caffeine overdose.

too much coffee, isn’t it, Big Ape?

Footnote: This post is dedicated by Sirius to Percy, Luna, Neville, Hermione, McGonagall, Hagrid, Draco, Rita Skeeter and even Bellatrix… you (should) know who you are…