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Former Hacker Irks Microsoft in EU Dispute 204

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the one-man-headache dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "The Wall Street Journal profiles Neil Barrett, 'a former computer hacker who once infiltrated the system controlling a telescope at a Hawaii laboratory' and is now an expert witness causing problems for Microsoft in its antitrust battle with the European Union. Barrett 'has helped put the British glam rocker Gary Glitter behind bars for pedophilia. And he also has helped prosecute a teenage hacker from Wales, who claimed to have stolen Bill Gates' credit-card number and sent the Microsoft founder a shipment of Viagra. [...] In the corporate world, Mr. Barrett once met a challenge to hack into a large multinational company's system in four days to win a security assignment. He stole the company's undisclosed new logo as a trophy, he wrote.'"
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Former Hacker Irks Microsoft in EU Dispute

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  • Shipment (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    of herrings...that's what he should've sent Bill. And a first anonymous post!
  • resume? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PrinceAshitaka (562972) * on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:22AM (#14962610) Homepage
    This summary doesn't actually say anything of how he is causing problems for microsoft. It is just his hacking resume.
    • Re:resume? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mtenhagen (450608) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:39AM (#14962637) Homepage
      From the article:
      Last year, Mr. Barrett studied the manual Microsoft produced for four days, tried to use it to write programs and, in December, pronounced it "totally unusable." "There is apparently no structure and no logic in the whole documentation," he wrote in his report
    • You're right, it is a bad resume^H^H^H^H^H summary, but if you're interested, perhaps you should read the article itself.
    • Re:resume? (Score:3, Informative)

      by gnufied (942531)
      It should be a Cracker at least............
  • by dreez (609508) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:41AM (#14962643)
    googling brought this up. http://download.microsoft.com/download/5/3/2/53239 546-efee-460c-a583-11c20cdea9ab/03-02-06Supplement ary [microsoft.com] Response SO final NC.pdf Basically it says 'he is in a anti-microsoft conspiracy', and 'he don't know how to program' Grtz Drz WARNING: no tag line. . .
    • by alexhs (877055) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:09AM (#14962709) Homepage Journal
      (you've put spaces where %20 were needed)

      "neil barrett" site:microsoft.com Google search gives two (pdf) results, the one you were linking to is here [microsoft.com]
      • It's not his fault.

        Slashcode inserts spaces in long words to prevent page widening trolls. That's why it's always good to use 'a' tags and 'href=', rather than relying on Slashdot to autolink.

  • by Channard (693317) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:42AM (#14962647) Journal
    .. was actually a technician working at UK computer chain 'PC World'. You could say that he's more responsible for Glitter's incarceration than this guy. Though I guess Glitter himself is most responsible. Thing is, the computer technician actually got the sack because he was breaking the Data Protection Act my snooping.
    • Well hindsight is 20/20 but its definitly a grey area as it depends what "Pissy World" was doing to the PC. IF scanning for viruses then its feasible the files would be opened. If just being nosey...
      • it depends what "Pissy World" was doing to the PC. IF scanning for viruses then its feasible the files would be opened. If just being nosey...

        IIRC, Mr Gadd brought his laptop in for repair for something mechanical (battery issue or something), and specifically told the technician not to look at the contents of the hard disk.

        Third-rate glam rockers clearly do not make great study of basic human psychology, it seems. The technician proceeded to think 'hmm, I wonder why he's so worried about people looking

        • According to someone in the same department at that branch, Gadd brought the laptop in partly because it wouldn't work with image files (the association between JPEGs and an image viewer program was lost).

          So, in order to confirm that everything was fine again, he opened some random files to check everything was ok. Oops.
      • I'm not aware of any virus scanners that would say "Hey, this JPEG looks infected, want to open it?".

        That being said, I've not tried the Microsoft "One Care" solution ;o)
    • Thing is, the computer technician actually got the sack because he was breaking the Data Protection Act my snooping.

      Rightly so. He "helped" catch one pedophile, but so what? We all know that paticular suspect was under surveillance for quite some time anyway. And you're simply naive if you this this paticular tech only snooped once and just happened to stumble over one celebrities hidden cache. Dollars to doughnuts the tech regularly slurped customers hard discs for porn and the like.

      To paraphrase:
      It were better that Ten Suspected Pedophiles should escape, than that the Innocent Person should be subject to warrantless seizure.
    • "now an expert witness .....Barrett 'has helped put the British glam rocker Gary Glitter behind bars for pedophilia'"

      It doesn't say he discovered Glitter's kiddie porn. It says he helped put him behind bars as an expert witness
  • by tpgp (48001) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:50AM (#14962665) Homepage
    The really funny bit of the article:
    by the commission, which has signed him to a five-year contract at an undisclosed salary that it requires Microsoft to pay.
    *heh* I bet that drives Bill crazy....
  • by supersnail (106701) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @05:55AM (#14962677)
    I was pleasntly surprised during the US anti-trust case that Microsofts legeal team was so inept. Microsoft surivived that because of politics.

    Thier lawyers seem even better at p****ng off European judges. Only this time there is no President of Texas to ride to the rescue. They are not a major generator of jobs or revenue for any european state, and, they cannot legally contibute to any European polititions campaign fund. Thier only hope was a sound legal case and ass kissing, but, its too late for that now. I think this is just starting out and Microsoft will be paying anf paying for years to come.
    • by eturro (804858) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:42AM (#14962787)

      They are not a major generator of jobs or revenue for any european state.

      Oh yeah? From http://www.enn.ie/news.html?code=8883686/ [www.enn.ie]:

      With about 1,700 employees, Microsoft operates three businesses in Ireland -- a European operations centre, a European product development centre, and its Ireland sales, marketing & services group. After its headquarters, the Irish facility is the company's second largest in the world, alongside an operation in Japan.

      Microsoft spends around EUR350 million each year in the Irish economy, and the software behemoth accounts for about 6 percent of national exports.

    • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:35AM (#14962921)
      Thier lawyers seem even better at p****ng off European judges. Only this time there is no President of Texas to ride to the rescue. They are not a major generator of jobs or revenue for any european state, and, they cannot legally contibute to any European polititions campaign fund. Thier only hope was a sound legal case and ass kissing, but, its too late for that now. I think this is just starting out and Microsoft will be paying anf paying for years to come.

      They should have used the tried and tested method of offering 'Sales commissions' and 'Consultancy fees' to key officials like Lockheed did to convince certain European leaders to spend obscene amounts of money on a mediocre combat aircraft called the Locheed F-104 Starfighter. Judges may have strange delusions of independence over here but our politicians can certainly be rented, leased or bought just like their US counterparts and politicians as we all know can 'persuade' judges to think of the 'greater picture' by dropping hints about career death.
    • There's an old expression among trial lawyers - "A lawyer's as good as his case". Every attorney soon learns that an average lawyer with good facts almost always beats a brilliant lawyer with poor facts. The government had overwhelmingly supportive facts in the antitrust trial. That's why they won, at least until they gave away the store in the settlement after the election. I suspect it's no different in the EU.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I read his profile, he's Dr Barret a computer security expert, not a hacker, I can't find anything relating to a hack in Hawaii:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Neil+Barrett+hawaii +telescope [google.com]

    He does seem to be a normal expert.
    http://money.guardian.co.uk/creditanddebt/creditca rds/story/0,1456,717426,00.html [guardian.co.uk]

    This looks like a Microsoft inspired misinformation campaign.
    • Any attempt at throwing dirt at him will backfire because they choosed him in the first place. Pissing the EU off isnt a shrewd move for a company that basically only leeches and dont create any real value inside the EU. This will underline the fact that some corporations have to much power.
      • He was pretty far down the list. The EU rejected 5 other people before deciding on this guy.
        • Only 5? I would've thought you'd have to get even farther down Microsoft's own list to find someone who is relatively unbiased.

          • I'm more surprised they didn't reject them all and fine Microsoft for not complying with their demands for a list of candidates. I also find the 5 year contract interesting. The EU essentially said they intend to milk Microsoft for non-compliance for a MINIMUM of 5 years and they're counting on this guy to keep the charade going. If Microsoft came into compliance on the deadline, there wouldn't be much of a need to give the guy a 5 year contract. Throw in a few blood thirsty competitors (one of which was a
            • It's hard for me to sympathize with Microsoft. They do make some good products, but they bring these problems on themselves. The emails that were revealed during the last two anti-trust cases here in the U.S. illustrated perfectly that they knew that they were breaking the law, and they laughed about it, and came off as a generally arrogant and unruly company. It seems to be their culture. Then again, they always manage to get away with it too, so I guess it works for them. So I don't begrudge anyone g

  • Worthless slimeballs (Score:5, Informative)

    by caffeination (947825) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:16AM (#14962719)
    European Commission regulators in Brussels chose Mr. Barrett from among Microsoft's own nominees
    His testimony leads to threats of fines by the EU....
    prompting Microsoft to attack Mr. Barrett's competence and to accuse him of colluding with its rivals
    The EU publishes the previously secret terms of Mr. Barrett's mandate, arguing he is required to seek input from Microsoft rivals.
    Not that I'd expect Microsoft to know about the secret terms, but the fact that their lawyers can do a u-turn on their own fucking nominee like that and retain credibility is incredible. I'm more inclined to trust an ex-hacker who says things like this:
    "Although experts [in the U.K. courts] are usually employed on one side of a particular case, we are not 'on their side' once we are in court," he wrote. "We are there to see that justice is served."
    To end, here is a list of companies who agree with Barrett about Microsoft's documentation:
    • Oracle
    • IBM (this dumbass news site thinks they're still International Business Machines)
    • Sun
    • Novell>
    Even if they can undermine belief in his competence, they can hardly do the same for companies like those.

    It's just a shame that all that this will lead to are chump-change fines that probably won't even equal the money made by all the lawyers - the real winners. I'll go as far as to say that the EU would have spent its money better on OpenOffice development.

    • Then the dumbass news site is right. Take a look at this [google.com], or if you don't believe Google go here [ibm.com] and take a look at the address.
      • I realised this the moment I hit Submit. If only I didn't word every single thing I write so strongly. God only knows where that idea came from. Thank you for not being a prick about it - this is the nice thing about Slashdot in the morning.
    • IBM is still International Business Machines. In fact, they file their yearly financial statements [edgar-online.com] with the SEC as International Business Machines. What do you think IBM stands for these days?
      • As you can see, I'm the dumass [slashdot.org]. I'll answer your question though - I think I was acting under the belief that they had officially downsized their name, a la Lucky Goldstar.

        However, having considered all the available evidence, I have concluded that I acted in good faith, even when I did not, and should not be punished in any way.

  • by The Fold (242121) <thefold@ntl w o r l d .com> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:40AM (#14962782) Homepage
    but has he hacked the Gibson?
  • by smithwis (577119) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:45AM (#14962796) Journal
    Evil Microsoft aside. Let us suppose that this is the same level of documentation Microsoft's internal development teams get:

    Could this be why Microsoft projects consistently run over deadlines and behind expectations? (At least in the first iteration.)

    This isn't Microsoft trying to screw the competitor, but just a peek into the hole that Microsoft has dug themselves into. Afterall, Microsoft hires can't all be dull-witted-code-monkeys, but perhaps the existing codebase has become a steaming pile of sh*t.

    Working with c# and attempting to do anything beyond the immediately supported seems to support this. (Try overriding an OnPaint event on a ListViewBox for instance)
    • Evil Microsoft aside. Let us suppose that this is the same level of documentation Microsoft's internal development teams get.

      With one advantage. Most Micosoft teams have been on the same campus so they can go around and talk to the team that developed it or to others who have talked to the team that developed it.

    • Try overriding an OnPaint event on a ListViewBox for instance)

      I have written an entire design surface control in C# complete with resizing, scales, transforms, rotations, layers, and rubberband selections all without flicker. It is not difficult to create custom controls for either Windows Forms or ASP.NET, especially when you compare it to using MFC or the Win32 C APIs. BTW...if you want to handle your own drawing in OnPaint, the proper way to implement this is to inherit from UserControl rather than a
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:08AM (#14962835)
    While looking for Occupations from the pre 1900's, i came across the following in the list.

    HABERDASHER - Seller Of Men's Clothing
    HACKER - A Maker Of Hoes
    HACKNEY MAN - Renter Of Horses & Carriages
    HANDWOMAN - Midwife Or Female Attendant

    So the true definition of a 'Hacker', was a Maker of Hoes.

  • Most Interesting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zygamorph (917923)
    What I found the most interesting in this Wall Street Journal piece.

    "With their orders to Microsoft, the regulators are aiming to level the global playing field and make it easier for rivals' inexpensive, easily modified "open source" software to interact seamlessly with Microsoft's more-expensive, less-flexible products."

    OSS - inexpensive, easily modified

    MS - more-expensive, less flexible
  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @08:52AM (#14963260) Homepage
    Okay, so I read the article.

    * Microsoft offered a list of people, including Neil Barrett whose opinion they would respect
    * EU rejected most of them but accepted Mr. Barrett
    * Mr. Barrett evaluates the Microsoft offer of compliance and deems it useless
    * other [competing] professionals agree
    * Microsoft changes its position regarding Mr. Barrett because of Barrett's opinion

    Yay!

    Just love it.

    EU: Gimme a list of people you think could be unbiased when evaluating your offer of compliance.
    MS: Blah blah, Blah blah, Neil Barrett, Blah blah, ... and Blah blah
    EU: Our experts don't like your Blah blahs but Neil Barrett will do
    EU: Neil? What do you think about MS's offering?
    NB: Uh... it sucks. I talked to everyone I'm allowed to speak with about it and they couldn't make it work either.
    EU: MS, your stuff sucks.
    MS: Neil is the devil!
  • Best I can tell is "documentation".
    But documentation for what?
    What things are microsoft being asked to document?
    • What they have said is that MS has unfairly used it's dominance in desktop OS sales to force Server sales. That's the core of what they are looking to remedy now.
      The actual documentation as I understand it is the core protocols/APIs for connectivity between MS applications.
      What they got was a limited copy of the connectivity source code with no explanation of the APIs referenced, and that's why it was deemed to be useless.
      MS provides:

      function set_connection(pointer preconfigured_array){
      push (preconfig

    • In summary:

      • FULL documentation for CIFS/SMB and possibly how to let the user part of the reqistry be stored on non-MS servers, and possibly parts of how Active Directory talks to its clients.
      • Unbundling WMP from Windows, and making sure MS doesn't try to give better deals to conusmers/OEMs who choose to install WMP bundled.

      Taken from European Commission press release IP/04/382
      http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do? reference=IP/04/382&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN &guiLangu [eu.int]

    • Who are you?

      The New EU Complience Director.

      Who's side are you on?

      That would be telling.

      Wat do you want?

      We want documentation.

      You won't get it.

      By hook or by crook we will

      Who is the Comminishoner?

      You are the defendent.

      We am not the defendent. We are Microsoft.

      Ha Ha Ha Ha!
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @09:38AM (#14963465) Homepage Journal
    Whoever this guy is, to say an expert witness in court of law is the one "causing problems" for anyone is a wild distortion of the role of an expert witness. Barrett's job in this situation is ostensibly to give a neutral, factual examination of the evidence, as relates to his field of expertise. His skills qualify him to dumb technical facts down so that the court can understand it. He is, more or less, a talking piece of evidence. MS or anyone else blaming him for causing any sort of problems is like Colonel Mustard blaming the lead pipe.
  • Hackers cause problems to Microsoft's OS.
    Ex-hackers cause problems to Microsoft's lawyers.

    Poor Microsoft, hackers are so bad with you! :P
  • Hello?!? MSDN (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LinuxPoultergist (899564) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @10:20AM (#14963748)
    Anyone who has ever had the misfortune to read MSDN documentation can see that Barrett speaks the truth.
  • In the corporate world, Mr. Barrett once met a challenge to hack into a large multinational company's system in four days to win a security assignment. He stole the company's undisclosed new logo as a trophy, he wrote.

    Does anyone else see this as a non-sequitur to the whole article? In general, original article [wsj.com] is very interesting, and more than a little amusing - but the OP on /. is, to say the least, addlebrained and lacking any resemblance of article summary (which is what it really should be). The arti

  • I'd say something along the lines of "you nominated him, we appointed him. He's not going away, and you still have to listen to us. If you don't like it, tough shit."

    I dislike how some companies feel like they have a right to bend the rules and laws, just because they get caught doing something illegal. Instead of admission of guilt and a promise to do better, they say it isn't fair. Last time I checked, a slap on the wrist by a certain administration wasn't exactly "fair," either.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain

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