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Closing Time At Microsoft's Campus Pub 393

Posted by kdawson
from the about-face-saving dept.
theodp writes "Just three days before the Spitfire pub was to open on Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices Division campus, TechFlash reports that Microsoft got cold feet and pulled the plug on the project, leaving the bar's owner and his 22 employees in the lurch. 'I am completely stunned and disappointed by the decision,' said now lease-less owner Jonathan Sposato, who's stuck with space built out as a pub, complete with a giant bar, a fireplace, and eight beer taps. (He says it wouldn't be economically viable to refit it as a restaurant.) Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos confirmed the company's sudden change of heart: 'The goal was always to create a cool gathering place for employees, but to do so in a manner that's consistent with a business environment. We decided we should do something more appropriate, and that meant not having a pub.' The new pub had been in development for more than a year."
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Closing Time At Microsoft's Campus Pub

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  • Last Post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Sunday April 12, 2009 @01:50AM (#27546781) Homepage Journal

    "The goal was always to create a cool gathering place for employees..." Where? The state unemployment office?

    Some of these people "...left other jobs to work in the pub" That was a really sleazy move by MS.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Their just afraid someone will get drunk and do something really, really stupid..... like install Linux!

  • by Forge (2456) <kevinforge@@@gmail...com> on Sunday April 12, 2009 @01:56AM (#27546801) Homepage Journal
    I'm taking bets that this contract dosn't put the cost of this "change of heart", where it rightfuly belongs.

    Hurray for the MS Legal teem, once again ensuring that Microsoft can screw it's business partners with impunity.
    • by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:08AM (#27546835)
      My thoughts exactly. Just another form of expression of a basic truth. The fact that a key investor was a former Microsofter only makes this a little sweeter. Consider the words of the great philosophers Mr. T and Nelson.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If the bar fails for any reason, including Microsoft killing it, Microsoft gets all their intellectual property. A deal's a deal.

      Just like Sendo [theregister.co.uk] on phones.

      One wonders if after all these years and this many examples: if the lawyers of Microsoft's potential partners aren't carefully reading the contracts and advising their clients with due diligence, what's in that failure for those lawyers? It could not be possible that Microsoft subverts the legal counsel of their abuse targets first, could it? That wo

  • Sad reality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday April 12, 2009 @01:56AM (#27546805)

    The unspoken reality at Microsoft is that there is a large minority of Mormons working in and around Microsoft. While something like caffeinated drinks can be overlooked, something as potent and mind-altering as alcohol is a spit in the face of the Mormon employees.

    There is no doubt that some pressure was brought to bear against management when this pub was announced, and though it hasn't been publicized, the Washington state Mormon leaders have been visiting the campus to lobby against the pub.

    It sucks for the people who own and work at the pub, but in a silently ultra-religious state like WA, it's no surprise that on of the largest local employers bows to the commands of the puppet masters.

    • Re:Sad reality (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:04AM (#27546825)

      Uh. Well, that might be true, but I don't think so. I have lived in Redmond all my life - all 20 years, and I have only met one Mormon - and he wasn't that religious either.

    • Re:Sad reality (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Stuart Gibson (544632) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:09AM (#27546837) Homepage

      No idea if that is true or not (I don't even live in the same country), but if so it's a most egregious case of screwing the majority to appease a vocal minority.

    • Re:Sad reality (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:13AM (#27546849)

      Unfortunately very true.

    • Re:Sad reality (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:16AM (#27546863) Journal

      It sucks for the people who own and work at the pub, but in a silently ultra-religious state like WA, it's no surprise that on of the largest local employers bows to the commands of the puppet masters.

      Yeah right, puppet masters? What kind of conspiracy are you trying to push around here? A quick search around the net shows only about 3% of Washingtonians are Mormons [adherents.com]. You really think the Mormons can push Microsoft around? I'd like to see some real evidence of that. For what it's worth (probably not much) you can be alcohol in gas stations and grocery stores even in Utah.

      No, this is another case of someone getting screwed out of a partnership with Microsoft. They weren't the first, they won't be the last. If you go into a partnership in any way with Microsoft, make sure you have the contract nailed down, and nothing is left to trust. Because if they can get an extra dollar from screwing you over, they will. You may say this is flamebait, but it is true: there is a long list of companies who have gone down because of underestimating the dangers of doing business with Microsoft.

      • by MrMista_B (891430)

        Hmm, for that evidence you want, I hear there's this story running on /. right now...

        http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/04/11/224237&art_pos=1 [slashdot.org] ;)

      • Mormons aren't much different from Scientology believers. Don't be surprised if that 3% is being very vocal behind everyone else's back. After all they have to appease space Jesus to get their planet to populate for an eternity of sex.
      • Re:Sad reality (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sowth (748135) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @04:37AM (#27547267) Journal

        I think you are mostly correct in that Mormons weren't the only influence for MS higher ups to drop the pub. However, I don't doubt this guy's story at all. LDS leaders and organized groups in their religion are always trying to establish their religious beliefs as the law of the land. Screw the Constitution I guess, unless it benefits them.

        Just look at the California gay marriage issue:

        Note this is people in Idaho and Utah trying to influence an election in California. I can tell you, if people in California tried to influence an election or legislation in Utah, they'd be going apeshit about it. For the next 10, or perhaps 100 years they'd be whining and complaining to anyone who'd listen that people in California were trying to persecute and oppress them.

        I live in Idaho,and just last week, I heard an offensive ad on the radio denouncing some stimulus bill because it relaxes the number of alcohol permits. I wonder who paid for this ad? The ad was claiming alcohol causes "crime" and all sorts absurd crap. Methinks the US has just as many religious zealots as they do in the Middle East. If someone doesn't believe in religious freedom, what are they doing in this country?

      • by Idaho (12907)

        No, this is another case of someone getting screwed out of a partnership with Microsoft. They weren't the first, they won't be the last. If you go into a partnership in any way with Microsoft, make sure you have the contract nailed down, and nothing is left to trust. Because if they can get an extra dollar from screwing you over, they will. You may say this is flamebait, but it is true: there is a long list of companies who have gone down because of underestimating the dangers of doing business with Microso

    • by Sauron23 (52474)
      Not my best work. I desire other, more worthy, convocations: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=asshat [urbandictionary.com] plural.
    • by Spasemunki (63473) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @04:12AM (#27547215) Homepage

      Fool! You've bought the oldest trick in the book, the 'blame the Mormons' line. I've heard through private sources that most Microsoft execs are actually vampires Jehova's Witnesses and are worried that alcohol consumption would dilute the blood volume they need for their artificial blood cloning experiments. All of Microsoft's purported 'software development' is just a front for establishing a solid breeding stock in the Seattle area so that the vampires can repopulate the Earth when the Conflicker virus finally triggers in 2012. Think you can prove me wrong? Then answer this: if Microsoft is really a software company why is their operating system such rubbish?

      We're through the looking glass, people.

    • by Talgrath (1061686)

      Bull. I've worked for Microsoft as a contractor and never met a Mormon in the place.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by AGMW (594303)
        Bull. I've worked for Microsoft as a contractor and never met a Mormon in the place.

        Not even Ethel?

    • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @04:26AM (#27547245) Homepage Journal
      The unspoken reality at Microsoft is that there is a large minority of Mormons working in and around Microsoft. While something like caffeinated drinks can be overlooked, something as potent and mind-altering as alcohol is a spit in the face of the Mormon employees.

      Wait, what are you smoking? There aren't that many Mormons in the Seattle or east side area on the whole, and nobody cares what they think about drinking. When I worked at MS, the Muslims had a more visible presence (they had a prayer room), and nobody cared about offending them when the Friday beer parties rolled around.

      but in a silently ultra-religious state like WA

      Again, Huh? For the most part, Washington pretty liberal in religious terms, but the few religious conservatives we have are not silent. Just ask MS about their good friend Rev Hutcherson and his famous anti-gay MS boycots.

      I find it rather hard to believe that MS would cave to any religious group after the local PR fiasco that resulted in the whole Hutcherson affair.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sumdumass (711423)

      I don't think they are thinking of Mormons or religious tolerance or anything. Many Islamic employees are present too and many of them don't do the alcohol thing either because of religion.

      But MS is attempting to get bail out money for a bridge connecting two campuses across a busy highway separating the them. I'm betting this pub looked too much like posh benefits like resort business meetings or GM jumping on private jets to go to Washington and ask for money and so on that MS decided to can the idea for

    • by Idaho (12907)

      There is no doubt that some pressure was brought to bear against management when this pub was announced, and though it hasn't been publicized, the Washington state Mormon leaders have been visiting the campus to lobby against the pub.

      I sure hope you're actually kidding, right?

      In any case, people would blog about such occurrences. In this day and age, we don't need "official" news outlets to cover such events for us. If such a thing happened there would be rumors about it, which would certainly be reported b

  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:02AM (#27546823)
    How is a pub not consistent with business? Many business deals/contacts are made in pubs. It could be a great place for employees to relax on a Friday afternoon after a successful product launch, oh wait, this is Microsoft. Well they could always give out free beer to console employees and boost morale.

    I see nothing wrong with employees being able to hang out after hours and maybe even some informal brainstorming could take place. Way to not think differently MSFT. How very boring and corporate America of you.

    • No this is AMERICA....

      Whereas in Europe you can head over to a pub to relax and chit chat, in AMERICA (and English Canada) it is completely frowned upon.

      I know whenever I am stateside and I order a beer I am completely out of the norm!

      BUT yet when it comes to drinking while I sip my beer the others get piss drunk, do idiotic things, and generally make a complete a** out of themselves.

      This begs the question, is the pub the problem? Or the fact that the culture in this respect has its head up its a**.

      BTW I am European, grew up in North America, but now have been living in Europe for 15 years. And while Europeans have their oddities, this aspect of English North American life is really screwed...

      • Whereas in Europe you can head over to a pub to relax and chit chat, in AMERICA (and English Canada) it is completely frowned upon.

        Its an anglo-saxon thing. It isn't much better in the UK, believe me.

      • by Pitr (33016)

        What part of "English Canada" are you talking about, 'cause where I live (and work), pub business lunches are pretty normal. I believe the same is true of some parts of the states as well... NYC and LA come to mind, and possibly Boston but that's just a guess.

      • I don't know what part of Europe you're in, but apparently England has some heavy drinking habits [bbc.co.uk].

        That's why the whole "Europe VS America" thing is so silly. For any generalization you make there are always exceptions. Americans are not all anything, and neither are Europeans.
        • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @03:32AM (#27547101) Homepage
          A lot of people in Europe won't admit that the UK is in Europe and a lot of people in the UK claim not to be part of Europe so it's not really fair to paint all of Europe with the same brush.
      • by gordguide (307383)

        Clearly you have never been to "English Canada", and for proof, I offer your silly, sweeping "observation". Although I will admit that, since the bar in the very research park in my city only allows staff and invited guests access, it's possible that they told you there was no bar. No idea why.

        • Yeah you are right, I have never been to "English Canada".

          I only lived in Oakville, Mississauga, Fenelon Falls, Windsor, Waterloo...

          And I have family that lives in British Columbia...

          I have also lived in the greater NYC area, and North Carolina.

          Here is what I found. People do not want you to consume beer during working hours. And if you visit the pub once too often after working hours you are considered to have a drinking problem...

      • Well duh, the US has gets a lot of its heritage from the UK and Ireland. Of course it's going to have issues with drinking.
      • by Aqua OS X (458522)

        Ehh, I don't know. If I have 1 beer with lunch, spend the following hour trying to fight the urge to take nap. I might as well eat a Tylenol PM sandwich.

      • So what you're saying is that it's frowned-upon to go to a bar in North American, even though it's very unusual for people to order to drinks at a bar, but somehow everybody who goes to bars gets piss drunk anyway and does foolish things.

        Even taken separately, nothing you said is remotely consistent with my experiences on the continent. Taken as a whole, your post is nonsense.

        • What I am saying is that it is frowned upon to go during working hours to drink alcohol. And if you visit the pub once too often after work it is also frowned upon.

          Though when people do go to pubs and bars they get rat a***d piss drunk, and I find that bizarre...

          • What I am saying is that it is frowned upon to go during working hours to drink alcohol.

            Well, I've had different experiences then. A beer or two during lunch is not a problem. And it's not unheard of (though not common) for companies to have beer at work on fridays. Alcohol during working hours is fine as long as you don't get drunk.

            And if you visit the pub once too often after work it is also frowned upon.

            If someone is in a position to notice that you've been going to the bar "once too often", they're g

      • It's not that business class American's have some taboo about drinking alcohol while at lunch - it's more about having to drive back to work after you've had said alcohol. That is a major concern. Europeans, having so many other forms of transportation at their disposal, probably don't consider this fact as they cajole us Americans as they wait for their next stop on the line. Driving is essential in the US to work, live and play.

        I worked at a company, here in the states, where we drank alcohol during lunch all the time - with our bosses present. Sadly, and here's where I agree with you, most companies here in the US frown on people coming back to work with the slightest amount of alcohol on their breath because companies are afraid of being sued because someone drank and got hurt while on the job. So, yes, people will refrain from drinking even at lunch out of fear of losing their job. Can you blame them?

        As for lumping all American's as "uncultured drinkers", heh, I'm sure many a limey has his or her drinking problem. People are people all over the world - don't be so sanctimonious about people's use of alcohol here in the states. Most business class people I know you'd probably enjoy a conversion with over a beer either at lunch or after hours. We're not all drunks! ;)

        Now, I will agree that typical bars in the US are simply dives - places for people to get piss drunk. Anyone whose ever gone out on a Friday/Saturday night in the US knows what I'm talking about. I'd take a European pub over an American bar any day. When I was in Scotland, I went to more than a few pubs (Rose Street, Edinburgh, anyone?) and was so impressed with UK bars.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)

        I hate this irrational anti-Americanism we see all the time on Slashdot. Get a grip, people.

        No this is AMERICA....

        Whereas in Europe you can head over to a pub to relax and chit chat, in AMERICA (and English Canada) it is completely frowned upon.

        I have idea where you were working, or who's "frowning upon" it, but the US is a big place. I can tell you we do it all the time in Seattle, well, at least once a week or so. Seattle is near where Microsoft is located, to tie this in with the actual story being discu

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Nothing like a depressant to boost morale!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft doesn't have an "after hours." If you're not a 20%er you're putting in 80-100 hours a week, and thinking about how to get ahead the other 89-109. It's a great place to work if you got in while they were in growth mode because when you fall down your options were worth Millions. Now that they're in Monopoly mode? Not so much. But they still will work you till you fall down. I'm surprised we don't see more stories about employees going postal. I guess to go postal you've got to have some energ

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @03:06AM (#27547037)

      How is a pub not consistent with business?

      My boss got fired after he walked past his secretary and she smelled alcohol on his breath and reported that as sexual harassment. From beer. His friends took him out for his birthday during lunch.

      The company didn't want to chance it. So welcome to America. Home of the free (to sue for every stupid little thing).

      Perhaps this was what MS thought about. Personally, I think America has a relationship with alcohol that's beyond fucked up. Ever notice how the bars in some states (I hesitate to say all) have no windows/small windows and then with the shades pulled down? Welcome to the land where the Puritans settled. And no, those attitudes never went away completely.

      • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @03:18AM (#27547069)

        My boss got fired after he walked past his secretary and she smelled alcohol on his breath and reported that as sexual harassment. From beer. His friends took him out for his birthday during lunch.

        ROFL. OK, let's hear her version of the story now.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Renraku (518261)

          When an accusation of sexual harassment is made, a company has only a few options.

          1. Give the accused the benefit of the doubt and do a full investigation. Realize that its going to come down to the word of the accused versus the word of the accuser. Risk being sued and having bad publicity because accuser is unhappy that things didn't go their way.

          2. Fire the accused and purge liability.

          Would your company pay $100,000 and suffer bad publicity to keep you?

          For most employees in the world, no.

          Accusations

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @03:39AM (#27547119)

        There is a level in business where alcohol is anathema to business - in customer facing roles, on the manufacturing line, driving, operating heavy equipment are examples of this.

        There's a level where it's an essential lubricant - high level sales, conventions, customers who offer it to salesmen. At the highest level of business alcohol is just one of many refreshments available when your host asks, "What are you having?" Whether or not it's appropriate depends mostly on who you are and where you are.

        In workspaces overseen by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, there are certain activities that impact your "risk level" and so affect your "premiums" and this would be one of those things. Reducing risk for workers is their job, and they take it serious. They might even shut down your plant for boozing it up on the job. That would have some serious impacts on the release schedule for Vista SP2, AKA "7", so Microsoft dare not risk it publicly. But the tapizzle is still under rack sixle if you get my inferizzle, and if you're dub debugging, Mitch still has the "boulder" to get you over that compiler bump.

        • by fnj (64210)

          Para. 1: "... alcohol is anathema to business - in customer facing roles ..."

          Para. 2: "... essential lubricant - high level sales, conventions, customers who offer it to salesmen."

          You don't think we have a fundamental inconsistency here? I'm not poking fun at the poster, but at business mores.

          • by ciggieposeur (715798) on Monday April 13, 2009 @12:02PM (#27558617)

            Para. 1: "... alcohol is anathema to business - in customer facing roles ..."

            Para. 2: "... essential lubricant - high level sales, conventions, customers who offer it to salesmen."

            You don't think we have a fundamental inconsistency here? I'm not poking fun at the poster, but at business mores.

            Simple: one set of customers contains rich people, the other does not. Rich people can drink under any circumstance.

    • by qw0ntum (831414)

      Eh, they'll get their company alcohol. When I was there (at a low-budget team) we were having a BBQ on the lawn next to our building, and a high-budget team was also having an event out there with an open bar (we just had a cooler). That's not too uncommon there.

      On a nicer note, one time my manager thought it would be fun to spend a workday with the team at his house making beer. It was a good bonding experience and a welcome break at a very hectic time. Good people, good people.

  • I guess (Score:5, Funny)

    by Norsefire (1494323) * on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:05AM (#27546827) Journal
    It seemed like a good idea until they read the last two panels [xkcd.com].
  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:17AM (#27546879)

    Thanks, Mormons.

    No, not really.

    Not flamebait either - local Mormon leaders have been quite vigorously, though quietly, campaigning against the pub, and, apparantly, successfully. Assholes.

  • Official statement: "There's no such thing as free beer"
  • Maybe Microsoft is just afraid that the employees will overshoot the Ballmer Peak [xkcd.com].

  • Just a question. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@p ... t ['ray' in gap]> on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:30AM (#27546919) Homepage Journal
    I'm all for putting a pub in anywhere, including an existing pub (imagine an infinite series of pubs...). That said, does Google have any pubs on their campuses? Honest question, really.
  • by Sarusa (104047) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:30AM (#27546923)

    Boy if this isn't Office Space and every boneheaded corporate move ever in a nutshell. Hey let's do something nice for out employees, they're adults who will enjoy this and can have a beer without getting completely drunk and making asses of themselves at work (or we'll fire them, that's fair). Then a lawyer takes a look at it, says you know this looks like it might be fun and actionable, and god knows we don't have any money - better cancel it.

    So you end up five times worse than never even having planned it in the first place, because you got everyone's hopes up and now you look like stupid jackasses. But your asses are covered, so all is right with the world! And this is why we pay all you stupid CEOs and MBAs the big bucks, to be dithering asswipes who lead by windsock.

  • And who knows, Drunk programmers would probably improve the product... ...sure couldn't make it any worse.

    • by hughk (248126) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @03:42AM (#27547131) Journal

      One of the nastiest bits of code that I wrote after a four rather strong beer lunch. It was in the early days of graphics when we had a DEC VT11, vector graphic display where we had to draw the screen within the phosphor decay time so it didn't flicker. Typically you would have a sequence of instructions for the graphic controller and then you interrupted the CPU which would do cleverer things. The problem was that every cycle spend in the interrupt code, the phosphor was decaying and it limited the number of things we could draw as the CPU was involved every time we drew a new component on the screen.

      In the pub, I just thought "Sod it" and shaved a few cycles by having self modifying code. Ugly as hell and hard to maintain but it meant we could display more on the screen.

  • Boring (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Quothz (683368)
    Spitfire Pub? Really? They should've canceled the project for pure, simple lack of creativity. Some suggestions, blatantly stolen from responses on an MS blog: Foo Bar, the Status Bar, the Tool Bar, the Task Bar, the Information Bar, Hello World.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @03:15AM (#27547061)
    Justification for a pub: Google doesn't have one.

    Justification for pulling the plug on the pub: Google doesn't have one.
  • by Lost+Found (844289) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @03:29AM (#27547091)
    They just need to send management to the pub... let them occupy their time with darts and vomit while the engineers work on fixing their operating system.
  • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @04:08AM (#27547201) Journal

    Time was when England exiled their most violent felons to an island continent penal colony half a world away. Over time the definition for "violent felon" slid from rapist and murderer to pirate, then to treasonous conspirator, and so on until they landed at political dissident. For many years they exported these folk, only to discover later that this was their best and brightest; their free thinkers, their engineers artists and inventors, the folk who were brighter than their superiors. And what were left were Lords and serfs.

    So now Australia breeds a more vital breed of men, having been selected from that filter, and England has lost control of them.

    Such is as it is with Microsoft. Microsoft has bought into the theory that the top 20% of workers contribute 80% of the work that they've lost sight of how fungible those metrics are. Their 20%ers are folk who threaten the established structure, who are smarter than their bosses, who have scary ideas. It's only right that they migrate from there to Google. Google is Microsoft's Australia.

    And no, I've never worked for Microsoft or Google and I still don't and I doubt that I would barring dire circumstance or rude incentive.

  • Here in Germany we can have beer at the workplace. And during lunch.

    Oh wait, I'm not in Germany. I just work at a restaurant. My bad.

  • ...it appears they go about other things the same half-assed way they go about making their software.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @06:29AM (#27547633)
    Every time you wanted a drink, or a pretzel, or a peanut, or to use the bathroom did you have to pass an annoying Windows Genuine Advantage check?
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @07:37AM (#27547893) Homepage

    ...time and time again I have heard how various people and businesses who have "partnered up" with Microsoft for various projects were screwed by Microsoft in various ways. I recall things like a phone maker who developed some stuff for Microsoft and then Microsoft caused and created some condition where the phone maker was in breach of contract and then Microsoft claimed all the IP for themselves leaving this other company out to dry. There are lots of other stories where Microsoft screwed people and businesses on deals as well. The lesson that nobody ever learns is NOT to trust Microsoft.

    But usually, you hear about Microsoft deals going bust harming other tech businesses... not things like this! But it is still more of the same. Someone changes their mind and "poof!" it's all gone.

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

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