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Comrade, You Are So Not Getting a Dell 600

Posted by kdawson
from the touchy-touchy dept.
theodp writes "At the World Economic Forum, Michael Dell's pitch to help Russia with its computers got the cold-as-Siberia shoulder from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. 'We don't need help,' shot back Putin. 'We are not invalids. We don't have limited mental capacity' (video — rant starts at 1:24). 'Our programmers are some of the best in the world,' Putin continued. 'No one would contest that here — not even our Indian colleagues.'"
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Comrade, You Are So Not Getting a Dell

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:38PM (#26668467)
    the State tells you what it needs...
    • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:5, Interesting)

      by suso (153703) * on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:41PM (#26668507) Homepage Journal

      Actually, ex-soviet computer scientists apparently where not happy with the former governments choice to use non-soviet produced computers and protocols. They felt that it dampened the ability for them to make their own technologies.

      Check out the history of Soviet computer technology on wikipedia sometime, its interesting. Most of it cuts off in the 60s and 70s and then they just started using IBMs and stuff.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by suso (153703) *

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_computer_hardware_in_communist_countries [wikipedia.org]

        What I mean by cut off is that they mostly just started using processors from the free world instead of making their own.

      • by 0racle (667029) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:53PM (#26668703)
        Most of it was also just a carbon copy of what was being done in the US. At some point in time, intelligent people say 'lets just buy the wheel and move on to making a cart.'

        Not Invented Here slows down a lot more progress then it helps.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by suso (153703) *

          Not Invented Here slows down a lot more progress then it helps.

          Maybe in the short term, but in the long term when you are talking about a whole society inventing things. The USSR, having different needs and different mindsets, may have come up with unique technologies that where not tried here. For instance, what if they would have gone the trinary route instead of binary, or if they had made their first computers more like the ideas behind the thinking machine from MIT. I think then you wouldn't be saying that it was a waste of time because their technology would sh

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ravenshrike (808508)
            Um, given the nature of computing based on electricity trinary computing would have simply been higher order code, unless your talking about levels of electric power, say 0, 1/2, and 1, but then the tech would have been vastly more complicated and almost certainly more prone to breakdown for a relatively small return.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Wonko the Sane (25252) *

              -1, 0, 1?

            • by Unordained (262962) <unordained_slash ... @pseudotheos.com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:34PM (#26669341) Homepage

              I'm pretty sure that was meant as an example only. The point being that GroupThink can hold us back. One of the arguments for capitalism is that you have N people all trying to find the best way to solve a problem, being rewarded when they do -- we're betting that it's more efficient in the long run to waste resources in the short term exploring different options and seeing which ones survive. When you see a whole group of players "give up" in a sense, and use the existing solution, you've got to be worried that there was some innovation there that just won't happen anytime soon now -- and if the idea is instilled that you should always go with the short-term efficiency of using off-the-shelf solutions, then you've got a long-term problem to deal with: entire generations raised to go with COTS rather than innovating. The bet here is that in the long term, it's more profitable to at least have some trained R&D people than an entire population of "users", dependent on others, and you can't have that without sometimes saying "no" to the salespeople.

          • Re:In Soviet Russia (Score:5, Informative)

            by Cyberax (705495) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:45PM (#26669497)

            USSR _did_ have successful computers using ternary math: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setun [wikipedia.org]

            Unfortunately, it was abandoned in favor of copying foreign binary computers :(

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:52PM (#26669611) Homepage

          When has it ever been about intelligence when Politics or politicians are involved?

  • by LordKaT (619540) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:38PM (#26668469) Homepage Journal

    and said "Well ... ok then."

    • by James_Duncan8181 (588316) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:47PM (#26668623) Homepage

      Of course, Putin is actually also correct to be worried. The 90s was full of foreign consultants coming over to Moscow and giving unbelievably bad advice that lead to premature loosening of all controls and a kleptocratic oligarchy shortly after that.

      Now imagine that combined with a foreign profit seeking company offering to do the helping. I'm not entirely surprised Putin reacted as you would if Bill Gates came over to your FOSS startup and asked if you'd like an MS sales team to give you some free help and advice. Quite how naive do we assume Putin to be here? Russia isn't some failed state that cannot run it's own programs and make it's own choices. Authoritarian, yes, but competent at it.

      • by El Torico (732160) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:05PM (#26668885)

        Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

      • by swb (14022) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:06PM (#26668901)

        Don't give them too much credit. Now that the petrodollar tap has been turned off, Putin is terrified of any real decline in standard of living. Like China, authoritarianism works on a population accustomed to it and enjoying a rapidly rising standard of living. Manufacturing brought this to China, and oil exports (and some raw materials exports) brought this to Russia.

        With the collapse in oil prices and raw materials demand, Putin is in a tough spot. His currency sucks and they've wasted a ton of money trying to defend the ruble, pissing away a lot of their foreign currency reserves in the process. The stock exchange has been closed down a number of days due to declines.

        If a bad global economy wasn't enough, the little tete-a-tete they had with Georgia made a lot of nervous investors even more nervous and they pulled a lot of resources out of Russia fearing all the usual problems that come with a nationalist thug like Putin.

        We've seen what the USSR could accomplish as a go-it-alone economy, and it wasn't enough. Having a nominally capitalist system will help, but Putin needs to stop with the saber rattling and the blind nationalism.

        • by Jabbrwokk (1015725) <grant.j.warkentin@ g m ail.com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:54PM (#26669637) Homepage Journal

          It's not just nationalism. It's hubris. That has been a part of Russia's collective psyche for at least the past 100 years. They're not going to let anyone tell them what to do, and they balk at receiving help from anyone - it's a sign of weakness. They have a strong "us and them" [washprofile.org] mentality which has not faded away one bit since the end of Communism.

          I can't really fault Russians or Putin for that, other countries are loud and proud of themselves [usa-patriotism.com] and can also be a bit protectionist [dw-world.de] from time to time. But in Putin's case, it could be incredibly self-destructive, although I would bet that his people will support him even if it means economic disaster.

          I'll probably get modded troll for that second paragraph, but just remember, in post-Soviet Russia, troll mods YOU.

          • by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:09PM (#26670661)

            It's not just nationalism. It's hubris. That has been a part of Russia's collective psyche for at least the past 100 years. They're not going to let anyone tell them what to do, and they balk at receiving help from anyone - it's a sign of weakness.

            Russians are Klingons. They are belligerent and drunk all the time, use brute force whenever possible, would rather die that surrender. Yet somehow they are a spacefaring society that always ends up saving the day with their cargo ships and scrapped together heaps. It defies logic.

        • by James_Duncan8181 (588316) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:00PM (#26669731) Homepage
          "Like China, authoritarianism works on a population accustomed to it and enjoying a rapidly rising standard of living."

          This is surely incorrect. The USSR functioned for almost seven decades. The people of the Ukraine clearly had a falling standard of living as Stalin starved them but failed to successfully revolt or change the system. Likewise in China, the cultural revolution was not something associated with a huge rise in living standards but Communism survived. Or the Castros in Cuba after the fall of the USSR and resultant drop in subsidy. Or Afghanistan moving from Soviet subsidy to Taliban control. Or the long reign of Pinochet in Chile. Or, indeed, the continued existence of Zimbabwe as a state.

          I would suggest that authoritarianism does not require a rise in living standards to keep on going, and indeed I would suggest that a perception of danger and mass insecurity in the face of either economic or military threat is what often creates it in hard times. If you are American you have surely just lived through a period where the political utility of the perceptual emergency was clear.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hal_Porter (817932)

          Quite. I can see why Putin's nationalist bluster about not needing the outside world might appeal to Joe Vodkabottle types in the sticks in Russia, but I'm surprised it appeals here on /.

          If an American President had said it, you'd be mocking him.

        • by quarterbuck (1268694) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:26PM (#26670871)
          We've seen what the USSR could accomplish as a go-it-alone economy, and it wasn't enough. Having a nominally capitalist system will help, but Putin needs to stop with the saber rattling and the blind nationalism.
          We have so far seen what a large communist economy can accomplish in USSR. We have seen what a minimally capitalist Russia can do. But from the way Putin has been moving, he is not planning to stop there. It seems like he wants to be a monopoly player in any sector Russia has the power to do it. He is playing a game of chess with eastern Europe as his chessboard when it comes to oil pipelines. Attacking Georgia was a case of sacrificing a pawn to make a move on the queen - The BTC [wikipedia.org] pipeline is the pipeline that will break Russia's monopoly on gas and Russia just made a move on it.
          The same thing goes for any natural resources, Aluminium to Manganese -- Russia lets the oligarchs consolidate the industry with no regards to monopoly issues and at the last minute captures them back from them (or gets enough power to control the exports). You can't fault Russia for lack of extreme capitalism.
          That said, it works for natural resources, but lack of protection for entrepreneurs has been a disaster in all other fields. Their productivity is actually falling in most sectors and they have been able to export limited number of branded products. If I were Putin, I would have asked for help in developing entrepreneurial culture,
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bearhouse (1034238)

        Authoritarian, yes, but competent at it.

        Bollocks. Competent at being authoritarian, yes, as you'd expect from a bunch of Chekists.

        Oil production (output) has fallen since the re-nationalisation by Putin and his cronies, and now that oil prices have fallen, the dependance of the Russian economy on commodity exports, and - shock - foreign investment has been revealed.

        Make no mistake, they're in big truoble just like the other major world economies.

        • by James_Duncan8181 (588316) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:23PM (#26669151) Homepage
          Make no mistake, they're in big truoble just like the other major world economies.

          If this state is shared with the other large economies, it would fail to support your argument that the Russian government is not in fact reasonably competent. Other than that I would have to infer that you are claiming that all governments are incompetent. While I appreciate that this is a popular position for the Norquist/Libeterian crowd, I do not agree.

          • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:00PM (#26669737)

            While I appreciate that this is a popular position for the Norquist/Libeterian crowd, I do not agree.

            Well, never though of myself as a Libertarian...
            To clarify my thoughts; well, all G7 Govs. seem to have dropped the economic ball - in some way or another - in recent times, so we may, I suggest, reasonably claim that they're all incompetent in that regard.

            Let's turn to the main point, to whit Putin. He has ruthlessly and systematically concentrated power just as much as any Tzar, (to be fair, so have others - think Burlusconi, Chavez...) I suggest it is therefore reasonable to assign the current condition of the Russian economy and state pretty much to him.

            Now, do you seriously suggest that those two things are in good shape? Major western economies are in the toilet, for sure, but on all other criteria (democracy, corruption, life expectancy...) we're way ahead. My concern is that the signs are not good for progress in Rusia on ANY front.

            • by James_Duncan8181 (588316) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:24PM (#26670079) Homepage
              Let's turn to the main point, to whit Putin. He has ruthlessly and systematically concentrated power just as much as any Tzar, (to be fair, so have others - think Burlusconi, Chavez...) I suggest it is therefore reasonable to assign the current condition of the Russian economy and state pretty much to him.

              Now, do you seriously suggest that those two things are in good shape? Major western economies are in the toilet, for sure, but on all other criteria (democracy, corruption, life expectancy...) we're way ahead. My concern is that the signs are not good for progress in Rusia on ANY front.

              I would agree that the West is indeed ahead on all fronts (including economically, in fact) but it is important to bear in mind the legacy that Putin came into power with. It is not entirely propaganda that makes people compare him positively to Yeltsin, I would say. The Russian body politic looks at Putin and compares him to Gorbachev's dismantling of the USSR and Yeltsin's disposal of the assets of the state for pennies on the dollar and loss of societal control. It is therefore not surprising that a program of controlling the oligarchs and bringing them under Kremlin control is popular. The Russian economy was starting to diversify, but was indeed focussed in energy. I think it is however fair to say that the economy did better under Putin than under any Russian leadership for at least a generation.

              In terms of democracy, it is of course going backwards. I am however not entirely sure that's not what Russians as a body politic (which is very different from the urban intelligentsia) actually wants. It's a problem. I would also say that in a country where Stalin almost won a greatest Russian poll (while being Georgian, oddly enough) Putin's centralisation of power is not only not as big as any Tzar's but actually quite restrained. The rule of Stalin was essentially that of a Communist Tzar, and he killed millions.

              The counterargument is that Putin's air force almost bombed me in Gori, Georgia. I was however mildly amused by this.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Arthur B. (806360)

          If price fell, it's good management to cut down production.

          At least the Russian government is smart enough to steal money making industries as opposed to the US which bails out money losing businesses.

      • A failed state? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by swm (171547) *

        From

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Russia [wikipedia.org]

        Lower birth rates and higher death rates reduced Russia's population at a 0.5% annual rate, or about 750,000 to 800,000 people per year during the late 1990s and most of the 2000s. The UN warned that Russia's 2005 population of about 143 million could fall by a third by 2050.

        From

        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/state [merriam-webster.com]

        State: 5 a: a politically organized body of people usually occupy

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jgalun (8930)

        If the advice of foreign consultants was so bad - why has it worked fine for the other members of the Eastern bloc? If the fault is of the foreigners coming up telling Russia what to do, then how did Poland end up democratic and prosperous while Russia is autocratic and at the whim of oil/gas prices?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Hognoxious (631665)

        Putin is actually also correct to be worried. The 90s was full of foreign consultants coming over to Moscow and giving unbelievably bad advice that lead to premature loosening of all controls and a kleptocratic oligarchy shortly after that.

        I guess that is cause for him to worry. After all, the only person allowed to be kleptocratic oligarch is him!

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:39PM (#26668479) Journal

    "We don't need help. We are not invalids. We don't have limited mental capacity. Our programmers are some of the best in the world. No one would contest that here -- not even our Indian colleagues."

    Failure to address the real issues (corruption, economy, etc) plaguing your society? Check.

    Playing up a sense of extreme national pride, isolation and bullheadedness? Double check.

    Burning a bridge? Triple check.

    Putin, you would have made a fine leader during the Cold War for either side.

    • by R2.0 (532027) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:47PM (#26668621)

      Not going back far enough. The Russian fear of being perceived as backass country folk goes all the way back to the Tsars. Russia really wanted to be counted among European nobility, but could never really cut it, so they are hyper-sensitive to anything indicating that they are not up-to-date/cutting edge. AFAIK, "nekulturny" (literally, uncultured) is still the highest insult you can throw at a Russian.

      • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:03PM (#26668841) Homepage

        ...the highest insult you can throw at a Russian.

        Not a shoe?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Cyberax (705495)

        Well, you're wrong (I'm Russian, BTW).

        Russians are not very hypersensitive about _everything_. Only about things in which Russia was the best :)

        All engineers here realize that USSR was far behind in electronics/computing - "Soviet microcomputers are the biggest microcomputers in the world!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016)

        The problem is that their culture and everything else is diametrically backwards from the rest of the western world. Someone reading Russian literature will notice the extreme difference from western, same with lots of other things. a couple of my Russian friends were able to crack the encryption on a Home automation systems software encryption in literally minutes. It would have taken me days to do it. They try to explain it to me but you have to "think Russian", as they put it to me, to understand it

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:17PM (#26669985) Journal

        AFAIK, "nekulturny" (literally, uncultured) is still the highest insult you can throw at a Russian.

        I see that you've read Heinlein. However, that particular thing that he wrote wasn't true then, much less now.

        Depending on the social class, the highest insult you can throw at a Russian is probably either "intelligent" (as in belonging to intelligentsia) when directed by a prole against someone he perceives as a smartass, or "bydlo" (this is a Polish loanword that literally means "cattle", and figuratively someone who lives to eat and copulate, and nothing above that) when it is the other way around.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by X.25 (255792)

      Failure to address the real issues (corruption, economy, etc) plaguing your society? Check.

      Playing up a sense of extreme national pride, isolation and bullheadedness? Double check.

      Burning a bridge? Triple check.

      Putin, you would have made a fine leader during the Cold War for either side.

      I'm sorry - what country are you talking about, because quite few fit into this profile.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JoeMerchant (803320)
      Sounded like a clumsy translation more than anything... that translator is working on the fly in a literal word-for-word sense. Get a spin-meister on the transcript and you'll get something out like "Thank you for your generous offer Mr. Dell, however, Russia is a proud and self-sufficient nation who can provide for her own IT needs."
    • by melted (227442) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:15PM (#26669029) Homepage

      1. Putin has been addressing the economy pretty darn well. There was pretty dramatic GDP growth during his tenure.

      2. While corruption is still high, it is MUCH lower than it was during Yeltsin years. Oligarchs don't open the doors in Kremlin with their foot anymore. The guy who tried to buy up enough of the parliament to pass his own laws (Khodorkovsky) is in the prison, where he will remain for a long time. Needless to say, the Russian people have much less sympathy to him that those who don't know what he's really in the prison for.

      3. It's about time Russia asserted itself internationally. For nearly a decade and a half, Russia did exactly as IMF and Washington DC told it. Needless to say, neither of the two had Russia's interests in mind.

      4. Putin was merely putting Dell in his place. Just because you got a ticket to Davos doesn't mean you're entitled to any kind of preferential treatment from the government. Dell is just "screwdriver assembly" company. There are plenty of those in Russia.

      Questions?

      • by ravenshrike (808508) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:27PM (#26669229)
        The amount of corruption hasn't declined in the least, rather, the competitors have all been eliminated and now the source of corruption is coming solely from the Putin faction and also the Russkie mafia. Entrepreneurial corrupt politicians not welcome.
      • by russotto (537200) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:30PM (#26669263) Journal

        1. Putin has been addressing the economy pretty darn well. There was pretty dramatic GDP growth during his tenure.

        I'm sure $150/bbl oil had nothing to do with it.

        2. While corruption is still high, it is MUCH lower than it was during Yeltsin years. Oligarchs don't open the doors in Kremlin with their foot anymore. The guy who tried to buy up enough of the parliament to pass his own laws (Khodorkovsky) is in the prison, where he will remain for a long time.

        You have any room in that prison? There's a few US oligarchs who probably deserve a stay there.

      • by junkgoof (607894) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:47PM (#26669521)

        Coincidentally oil prices went way up shortly after Bush jr was elected, and went way down after he left. In the interim Iran, Russia, and a number of other countries made out really, really well. The economic gains were very much due to oil prices and very little due to anything Putin did. Still better than Bush's economic plan that involved claiming deficit spending as a GDP increase, giving money to rich people is NOT Keynesian, making them work for it is.

        Putin has basically done a Lenin so far. He has taken power completely so he can help his friends and persecute his enemies. He has said a lot, especially about Russians being a great people and Russia being a superpower. He has not done a whole lot.

        Note: Reagan gets credit for a lot, but he was sort of all over the place as pres. Lower taxes, raise taxes, lower spending, raise spending, whatever. As for ending "communism," or, more accurately the Stalinist dictatorship (Lenin ENDED any semblance of communism in Russia, and started a totalitarian dictatorship, Stalin took over after a few years and continued for decades), it ended when Gorbachev told the East German leadership they could not shoot protesters, and if they did he would not send out the army to support them; the tyrants started picking up their gold and planning their luxurious retirements instantly.

        Oh well, at least Putin has less secret police and executions than Lenin did...

      • by jgalun (8930) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:15PM (#26669941) Homepage

        1) Putin did not address the economy well. Rising commodity prices addressed the Russian economy. No structural problems were addressed, and until they are, Russia will falter every time commodity prices go down. What happened to the scientific prowess of the Soviet Union? Putin has not restored that. Russia is not a leader in any high-tech industries, despite what Putin thinks.

        3) Putin is asserting Russia's interests in a typically moronic Russian manner. That is to say, he is trying to set Russia up as a Great Power and an ideological competitor to the West. But it doesn't have the population, resources, or technology to do this, so all it is doing is spending its money wastefully on these vanity projects. I mean, take something like selling missiles to Syria. It gains Russia almost nothing (some small money in arms sales and close ties with an country that still leaves Russia without any real leverage in the Middle East), but Russia pursues it because it is a poke in the eye to America. Much of Russia's policy seems more geared towards annoying the US (to prove that Russia can do what it wants) than doing anything useful for Russia.

        Let me put it this way. In 20 years, China and India will be rich and fully integrated into the global system. Russia, which 20 years ago was far ahead of both, will likely not be. For that, Putin needs to answer.

        4) What Dell said is standard business/political talk. It's a polite way of asking, "Is there anything we can invest in that would make both of us rich?" That's why politicians go on foreign trips trying to drum up business from investors, and why countries fly their own investors overseas to meet with foreign countries to solidify relations. Even if there are no specific opportunities for Dell right now, it is incredibly stupid for Putin to respond this one. It just sends a message to foreign investors that they are not wanted in Russia (a message already sent by Putin's actions to seize foreign investments in Russia's oil). How does eliminating foreign investment help the Russian people?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        3. It's about time Russia asserted itself internationally. For nearly a decade and a half, Russia did exactly as IMF and Washington DC told it. Needless to say, neither of the two had Russia's interests in mind.

        Questions?

        Yes, I have questions. Do not change the subject by talking about what America does. What I want to know from you, since you seem to think you are an expert is... How does this "reassertion" benefit non-Russians?
        Is there more to this reassertion than simply supporting noxious dictators (ie. Sudan, Cuba) and stealing territory from other countries (ie. Georgia)?
        I'm not going to deny that Russia benefited little from doing what it was told to do, mostly because President Bush was too idiotic to underst

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Putin has been addressing the economy pretty darn well. There was pretty dramatic GDP growth during his tenure.

        It's no coincidence that oil prices tripled during his stay in the office. Now they're back down, and we'll see how long that GDP growth will last.

        While corruption is still high, it is MUCH lower than it was during Yeltsin years. Oligarchs don't open the doors in Kremlin with their foot anymore. The guy who tried to buy up enough of the parliament to pass his own laws (Khodorkovsky) is in the prison, where he will remain for a long time. Needless to say, the Russian people have much less sympathy to him that those who don't know what he's really in the prison for.

        I won't even comment on Khodorkovsky - anyone who knows enough about the case knows that it was a case of political persecution, pure and simple. Even if you go by the official version, he was charged with tax evasion, not "buying the parliament".

        Anyway,

  • by R2.0 (532027) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:41PM (#26668503)

    "Our programmers are some of the best in the world,"

    Of course - after all, those viruses don't program themselves, now do they?

  • dude, (Score:5, Funny)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@gmai l . c om> on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:43PM (#26668525) Homepage Journal

    you're getting a polonium 210!

  • by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@@@praecantator...com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:43PM (#26668533) Homepage

    Our botnets span the globe! Our shadowy hosting providers are without peer! Our ability to ddos former republics who move monuments is second to none...

  • "Best" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:45PM (#26668589) Homepage

    > Our programmers are some of the best in the world

    Yes. Just look at how they dominate the malware industry. And nobody is better at herding bots.

    • Re:"Best" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@b[ ].org ['eau' in gap]> on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:53PM (#26668693)

      > Just look at how they dominate the malware industry. And nobody is better at herding bots.

      That is one good example. They have lots of skilled people in a hellhole economy. And sending hard currency they don't have (mostly because of corrupt politicians like Putin it must be said) to buy stuff they could do themselves with labor so underutilized they accept the low returns of the malware industry out of desperation is do dumb even Putin gets it.

      And I can totally understand why they wouldn't want a Dell. If they want Chinese made crap they have China's number, why would they want to cut the US in on the action just to get a Dell sticker on the box?

    • Re:"Best" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpinyNorman (33776) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:20PM (#26669101)

      Eastern european programmers do tend to dominate things like the Top Coder and Google Code Jam competitions (although a Chinese guy won the latter last year), so there's certainly plenty of talent there. Let's not also forget that they've got things like the unmanned Progress ISS supply ship that we're totally dependent on - something that neither the US, Europe nor anywhere else has to offer.

  • by MykePagan (452299) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:49PM (#26668639)

    Did anyone actually watch the clip? It appeared to me that Putin gave a very mild rebuke to Dell, and then went on to do just as much marketing of Russian IT :-) It was not a big "F-You Dell, F-you The West" like the headlines imply.

    • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:55PM (#26668727)

      No, it was more like "when are you going to start treating us as equals?"

    • by Darth Cider (320236) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:35PM (#26669357)

      Yes, it seemed mild to me too, so I transcribed TFV, in the interests of honesty and fairness. (I'm not a sympathizer of any sort!)

      Here's the transcript:

      People with limited capacities should be helped. Pensioners should be helped. Developing countries should be helped. And help must not only be simply in the form of giving the money, perpetuating the circle of poverty. Why negotiations at the WTO (?) are at an impasse? Because rich countries cannot meet the needs of the developing economies...let's be frank about it and open... One must look for a compromise, speaking of Russia and our partners in Europe, our partners in Europe and the United States and Indonesia... one needs fully fledged equal partnership. In many respects, our economies are complementary. Indeed, we've managed to achieve a lot in developing informatization, as we say of our society. A few years ago, imagine a village in Siberia with a computer system and internet access. We did it. We made it. We have a government program for that. In every school, I stress, every Russian school has both computer rooms and internet access. In the Far East, in the Far North, everywhere. This movement of IT in the society will continue as dictated by both the development of economy and society... No one would ever think of doubting opportunities of information offered by (the) internet as an open source for information and for opinion sharing. You may like something, you may not like something. But complete freedom is the word here. Speaking of the intentions of the State, we have a program, a federal program - it is called Electronic Russia. We intend to continue this individual program in cooperation with our partners, and it is great pleasure that we will accept, as we have done before, investments into this sector and will continue developing our own products and presenting them to the global market. Many companies of Russia are major operators of the cellular services in a number of the developed economies of the world and we will continue facilitating such experts in the future. We have quite a few coinciding interests in these and in this area of course we will find a few more. Many companies (I will not name them) work in these areas. Of course, it doesn't only deal with hardware, as they say, but also and most importantly with intellectual products, the software, Here we have a few things to offer to the market, and I am grateful to you for this allusion. Traditionally, we have a very strong school of mathematics in Russia, and our programmers are among the best in the world, no doubt about it, and nobody would contest it here, even our Indian colleagues. I would say, let's do [with] the job. Thank you.

  • Nice slap down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MisterSquirrel (1023517) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:55PM (#26668725)

    In Putin's defense, he was slapping down a marketing pitch. The linked article gets it wrong on a subtle but significant detail: Mr. Dell didn't ask "If" Dell could help, he asked "How" Dell could help.

    Who can blame Putin for being offended by the implication that Russia needed Mr. Dell's help? So he let him have it with both barrels, much as any of us might react to an unwanted and annoying telemarketer, if they gave us a similarly arrogant pitch.

    And by the way, shouldn't the lame jokes be changed to start with "In post-Soviet Russia"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Greg_D (138979)

      There's a huge difference between declining assistance and going off on a childish diatribe because a businessman offered his services to you. Putin seems to be playing up to the state-owned press in Russia which lionizes everything he does.

      • Re:Nice slap down (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Todd Knarr (15451) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:35PM (#26669347) Homepage

        Possibly, but I'd direct you to Robert Heinlein's essays on how to deal with Russians and the Russian system, "Pravda Means Truth" and "Inside Intourist", both in Expanded Universe. These were written based on personal experience travelling inside Russia, with his wife learning Russian fluently enough to talk to people there without needing a translator. They provide quite a bit of insight into why Putin reacts the way he does.

  • by MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) on Friday January 30, 2009 @12:59PM (#26668801)
    Not that I agree with him, but I understand Putin's response. Look at it from Putin's POV: Putin is a very strong nationalist. And just about every country, not least Russia, tends to be quite sensitive to American condescension or arrogance, real or perceived. So when Dell says, in what would be an okay-ish remark between Americans, 'how can we help you', it's easily felt as condescending in foreign eyes. Especially Russian ones and especially Putin's. Add to that the cultural factor of Russian temperament and you get what Putin said. Dell probably should have phrased it in a more neutral manner. For instance, he could have been more generalized and simply ask "How can the IT sector in Russia be expanded to better utilize the reserves of talent there?" Or something similar. By his response, you'll find out if there's a role for you or not. So simply by dropping the 'How can we help' bit, you avoid the implication that they _need_ help (even if they do, nobody really wants to be told that by someone else) and the further implication that 'we' are the only ones who can do so.
  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:05PM (#26668887)

    Putin wasn't reacting to Dell offering computers so much as Dell suggesting that Russia had a problem with technical talent that needed addressing, which *is* obviously absurd! Even if Russia did have a problem developing IT talent, the solution isn't a big order of Dell computers, even if Dell honestly thinks it is.

  • TopCoder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:08PM (#26668931)
    According to the TopCoder algorithm competition stats:

    1 Russian Federation 2930.06
    2 China 2843.33
    3 Poland 2842.79
    4 Ukraine 2557.06
    5 Japan 2483.83
    6 Canada 2426.56
    7 United States 2320.98
    8 Slovakia 2291.73
    9 South Korea 2226.98
    10 Belarus 2206.81

    Let's just hope the next war isn't fought with robots.
  • by Anonymusing (1450747) on Friday January 30, 2009 @01:09PM (#26668941)

    Here [russiatoday.com].

    âoeYou know, the trick is we're not someone in need of help. We're not invalids. Help is something that you should give to poor people, to people with limited capacities, to pensioners, to developing countries... As for Russia and our partners in Europe, in the United States, in some Asian countries, there should be a partnership of equals.â

  • Bright Side (Score:3, Funny)

    by Demonantis (1340557) on Friday January 30, 2009 @02:00PM (#26669729)
    At least Putin wouldn't have to deal with their shitty customer support...

Egotist: A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. -- Ambrose Bierce

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