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Microsoft PR Rep is the Switcher 901

Here's a followup to our earlier story about Microsoft's "inverse switch" campaign. The AP tracked down the switcher and spoke with her: she's an employee at a Microsoft public relations firm but says she actually did switch from Mac to Windows. Microsoft's page is still 404 (but Google's cache still works). The interesting part to me is that the AP "tracked Mallinson by examining personal data hidden within documents that Microsoft had published with its controversial ad." Hmmmmmm. (Kudos to obidonn, the first to demonstrate the use of a stock photo, which piqued interest in this story. As of noon EDT Oct. 15, other stock photos are still being used in anonymous Microsoft "testimonials.")
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Microsoft PR Rep is the Switcher

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  • by CommanderTaco ( 85921 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @09:17PM (#4450298)
    well, microsoft owns corbis [], but they hardly have a monopoly... getty images [] is far larger. not that it would be that important, anyway.
  • by chris_mahan ( 256577 ) <> on Monday October 14, 2002 @09:19PM (#4450310) Homepage
    except of course that it's at and that dave is widely read by media types. Heck, even the new york times (don't they have a baseball game to cover--go Angels) did a blurb on /. recently...
  • by Captain Chad ( 102831 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @09:48PM (#4450500) Homepage
    In the MS Word document" [] (still available on the MS site), under properties, under the "Custom" tab, the
    1. _AuthorEmailDisplayName
    property is set to
    1. Valerie Mallinson (Wes Rataushk & Assc Inc)
    I guess that's hidden if you don't know much about computers.
  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @09:55PM (#4450533) Homepage Journal

    How do we know the Anonymous Poster isn't an employee of Linux

    I don't see "Anonymous Poster" capitalized that way anywhere in the blurb or the article.

    If you're trying to draw a parallel between "AP" in the blurb and "AC" as a common abbreviation for Slashdot's Anonymous Coward, you're mistaken, but I forgive you: AP == Associated Press.

  • by selan ( 234261 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @10:04PM (#4450580) Journal
    Funny you mention that on the same day that the New York Times does an article about Slashdot []. Gotta admit, /. is becoming more mainstream everyday.
  • Be a Super-Sleuth! (Score:5, Informative)

    by corby ( 56462 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @10:04PM (#4450581)
    Hey kids!

    Want to engage in real-life Kompooter Forensics just like AP does? Follow these easy steps!

    1) Go to Google's cache [] of the article, since it has now been pulled by Microsoft.

    2) Now click on the link at the bottom of the cache page, which reads "Download the submission form in Word format." Whoops! Looks like those kid whizzes at Microsoft didn't actually remove everything!

    3) Haven't made the switch to Microsoft yet? Word still new to you? No prob. Go to the 'File' Menu and select Properties while you are viewing the Microsoft Word document. Don't worry! No chmod here!

    4) Peruse the tabs to uncover all of AP's 'personal data', including Valerie's zany new website []. You go, girl!
  • by jeffy124 ( 453342 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @10:06PM (#4450597) Homepage Journal
    The AP article actually attributed slashdot for finding the stock photo of the person.

    This story is the type of stuff Consumer Reports Magazine publishes in their "Selling It" [] column. Things like the same person in the exact same pose promoting two completely different products, with different names of themselves. Or (I like this better) the company that advertised the same thing in two different magazines about a few months apart with "Steve Johnson Uses X", but two different people were "Steve Johnson." I liked the CR headling the best - "Would the real Steve Johnson please stand up?"

    CR would be in best position to publish this if MS published this as an ad in a magazine or newspaper, as they typically stick to glorifying published ads or physical products.
  • Re:The truth be told (Score:3, Informative)

    by SparkyMartin ( 206236 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @10:18PM (#4450692)
    As for User Interfaces Apple and Microsoft have upgraded their User Interfaces considerably, but they need to give due credit to Amiga for pioneering UI-based operating systems, from which they obviously ripped off.

    Considering that the Mac came out a year earlier than the Amiga, and the Apple Lisa came out a year before the Mac, unless Apple had a time machine in the early 80's I don't see how they could have ripped off the Amiga UI.

    It's possible they could have used McFly's Flux Capacitor though...
  • by InnovATIONS ( 588225 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @10:55PM (#4450894)
    Office XP, aka Word 2002 is listed as version 10 as well.
  • by Josuah ( 26407 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @10:57PM (#4450900) Homepage
    There are other things, like extensions being left around... and we all know that extensions NEVER, EVER, EVER cause system conflicts. Basically it's the DLL hell all over again, just renamed.

    Some people argue that Mac OS X doesn't do extensions anymore because everything is in Bundles. That's not true. An application may install what is called a kext which is very much like extensions were in the previous Mac OS releases. This kext will be included as part of the system when a user logs in.

    Actually... to the best of my knowledge that uninstall method has issues.

    Yes, this is true. However the drag-and-delete uninstall method will not mess up your system and really does everything except remove files which may never be used again or those kext files which will still be used. Except for kext files, anything which an application may install in */Library or ~/Library/Preferences will never be used again once you delete the application that installed it. Unfortunate to have this type of hard disk clutter, but that's the way it is right now. I think keeping preferences around is a good thing since they don't use up much space and will let a user get their preferences back if they ever reinstall a program.

    There should be an uninstall equivalent to the installer for those packages which are installed that way (yucky sentence). If you installed it with drag-and-drop you can delete it with drag-and-delete. But if it was installed with the installer, you should be able to launch an uninstaller to clean up. Still, drag-and-delete works for both types of installed applications is better than Windows where the only drag-and-delete applications are those written for DOS.
  • by destinyland ( 578448 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @11:04PM (#4450941)
    In 1994 AOL published a slick 30-page promotional brochure profiling four new members. They also made them up [] -- prompting much derision in

    Destiny-land [].

    The happiest blog on earth.

  • by Hyped01 ( 541957 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @11:16PM (#4451000) Homepage
    Valerie admits to being the secret MAC person... but is she also admitting to being the rest of the people?

    Valerie Mallinson (Wes Rataushk & Assc Inc) is also apparently the author of:

    MS EnCarta FUD Paper []

    ... meaning she's a black male 7th grader. Or a white female married adult... or perhaps she is a group of 4 older people of varied ethnicities. Cant print? You're probably running MS Windoze XP and are pretty screwed! []

    Either Valerie has multiple diverse personalities or all or most of these "submissions" are penned by her and falsly attributed to others.


  • by uhoreg ( 583723 ) on Monday October 14, 2002 @11:39PM (#4451083) Homepage
    Actually, a slashdotter [] pointed it out to him.
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @12:03AM (#4451188) Journal
    it can be just as secure as anything else in corporate America.

    You've got to be absolutely kidding. I was with you up to that point, but nobody with an ounce of sense believes that for a second.

    Even "Microsoft VP Jim Allchin [...] stated, under oath, that there were flaws in Windows so great that they would threaten national security if the Windows source code were to be disclosed." (

  • "Because the 13 year old script kiddie crowd wouldn't stoop that low."

    The "13 year old script kiddies" are smart enough to remove not only the web page, but the files to which it links. Not Microsoft. You can still download the original files, using the original links, which I copied from the source of the original page (my italics):

    Do you have an idea for a story? We'd love to hear from you. How have you used Microsoft software to make your home or work life easier, more fun, faster, or simpler? Submit your ideas, and you could get published on the Insider Web site! Submit Your Idea Today! Note that, if you look at the binary of the .DOC file, you can see this:

    Comments To Valerie Mallinson (Wes Rataushk & Assc Inc)

    A google search says Wes Rataushk & Associates, Inc is located at 5904 105th Ave NE, Kirkland, Washington. If you are in the area, stop by to joke with them about their business ethics.

    It seems likely that someone downloading and submitting the form would have no chance of getting their story published because Wes Rataushk & Associates is paid to write them.

    I try to help people have a balanced view of Microsoft: [].
  • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <> on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @12:59AM (#4451483)
    I'm posting this so late, it's unlikely that anybody will read it. But I thought you guys might be interested to know just who, exactly, wrote this article for the AP.

    His name is Ted Bridis. I'll quote him here.
    I work in our Washington bureau, along with about 60 other reporters and

    about 30 photographers, and have been covering Microsoft as a technology
    writer since 1998 (I worked for the Wall Street Journal as a tech
    reporter here in DC from 2000-2001 then came back to AP). I was the only
    reporter to interview Gates during the antitrust trial, and I broke the
    story about Oracle hiring private detectives to dig through the trash of
    Microsoft's allies.

    I decide which stories to cover based on what's newsworthy, in my
    judgment and in the judgment of our editors. Ideally, a story we latch
    onto will end up on the front page of many of the world's newspapers.
    (In this case, although I anticipate the story will get pretty
    reasonable "play," it's doubtful it would end up on p1 anyplace).
    So this guy, who's evidently been around the block a few times, thought this story was worth covering. That's saying something, I think.

    He also says that the story could contine developing in the morning. He asks us to stay tuned.
  • I'm Bored (Score:5, Informative)

    by shepd ( 155729 ) <> on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @02:30AM (#4451801) Homepage Journal
    Waiting for a DVD to rip.


    Go buy any old digital camera and try to download the pics on a RedHat system. []

    Go buy a DVD-R and try to burn a disc. []

    Go to any old website showing media (RealPlayer [], QuickTime [], Windows Media []) and see how successful you are at viewing content.

    Buy a Firewire DV Video Camera and see how successful you are in getting the video off and editing it. []

    Try to visit a site that's made for IE.
    Go to the store and buy a game. (I'll give you these -- VmWare and other solutions are a serious bitch to setup, and don't work well except in certain Distros)

    Buy a PDA and get it to synch up. []

    Your network card doesn't work, find somebody you know willing to come over and fix it. (Huh? If the card is broken, even your God(s) ain't/aren't gonna fix it.)

    >The steps to do any of the above in Windows are very easy

    Uhhh, sure... I mean, I mean, if you want to have every two or three DVDs come out as coasters (happens with Prassi Primo DVD for me) sure. Or if you want to use crappy outdated camera software that just lets you easily download one picture at a time through a slow ass serial connection, great (Fuji MX-1200). I've never done DV, but Kino doesn't look too hard. Or you can try Cinerella [], which seems more full featured and easier.

    >When a DVD-Burner manufacturer is swamped with "Uhh where's the Linux Drivers?"

    DVD-R in linux doesn't use "drivers", unless you count the built in generic SCSI support built in linux (since well before DVD was available for most PCs) as a "driver". Try saying that about windows. Especially windows 9x...

    HTH. And take it from me, there's NO software in windows that lets you use a Celeron 300 to burn DVD-R at 2x and surf the 'net at the same time.

    Linux's motto should be "Spend some time now -- Then do more, quicker".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @04:39AM (#4452141)
    Legal or not, msft doesn't care. Whether it hurts people or not, msft doesn't care. Linux? It's a non issue on the first part, get around legal hassles with liscense like you just passed a bowl around and drinking frappucino. Problem is, too much frappucino and pot makes you SICK. On the second one it's overuse of GPL. It can and does hurt some people, but not microsoft or apple.

    And, msft has their own legal dept nursury, they call it "the legal dept".
    And, msft has their own PR dept. they call "paid liars"-- btw, PR dept is not the same as advertising dept, so I have to ask for a WTF upmod.

    Be Inc had "kindler, gentler" down pat. It was their way. A way all to easily destroyed by people calling themselves "friendly competion".

    but like their(msft, apple, and linux to a trite degree) collective PR and Adv. wings, they are all abv for this


    I hope Be wins in court against Microsoft, I really truly do. I hope they win, I hope sun wins, and the other 133+ plaintiffs in court charging them.
  • by Des Herriott ( 6508 ) on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @06:30AM (#4452324)
    Reminds me of a small company I used to work for, where most everyone insisted on using MS-Word format for email, much to the annoyance of us Unix operational types. Still, strings worked pretty well to get the gist of the text (this was quite some time before Openoffice etc.)

    One day, we received a fairly innoccuous memo from our CEO. However, running strings on the document showed an interesting little "hidden" addendum: details of annual pay increases for pretty much the whole company.

    My boss pointed this out to him in private. A few minutes later, a decree was issued: plain text is the standard email format, and thou shalt not use Word. A good day, that was.
  • by sh00z ( 206503 ) <> on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @09:47AM (#4452922) Journal
    is there an advertising standards agency in the US ?
    No, each state has its own deceptive trade practices laws (generally enforced by the State Attorney General). Connecticut [] nailed Sony for very similar behavior to what MS is up to here.
  • by Chris-S ( 24407 ) on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @10:22AM (#4453131)
    Richard Stallman wrote the GPL to protect himself (and others) after James Goslings's shenannigans with Gosling Emacs. See the history here []

    I don't know when Gosling started working at SUN, but I don't think SUN had anything to do with the original creation of the GPL.

    BTW, Sun was growing fast, but IBM was the big monopolist of the time (and hadn't yet realized the monster they created in Microsoft).
  • Re:I hate the NYT. (Score:2, Informative)

    by ellboy ( 315411 ) on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @10:32AM (#4453192)
    Just because you hate them doesn't give you the right to republish their articles. The NYT doesn't HAVE to provide free, online versions of their articles, but they do, so have some decency, and do the free reg. if you want to read their stuff.
  • Re:Certification... (Score:3, Informative)

    by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {srevart.sirhc}> on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @12:12PM (#4453971) Homepage Journal
    I think honestly that pursuing the certification is still worth it. And although I will be going for the Windows 2000 MCSE, it is for an entirely different reason. The NT Server in the Enterprise exam taught me how inadequate NT4 was for the enterprise ;) But with Windows 2000, I can learn strategies for deploying LDAP-based directory services in general. My point is that I pursue certification not for that piece of paper but rather for the learning opportunity.

    And lest you think I am supporting Microsoft consider this-- my organization has made the decision to build its network infrastructure entirely on RedHat 8. This includes the desktop computers, but I can still apply what I have learned in both the NT4 and Windows 2000 MCSE exams to this environment. I just have to make sure they are the right lessons. ;-)

    This is getting sort of off-topic. Please write me if you want to continue this conversation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @04:20PM (#4456084)
    Anyone know if MS could be investigated for this ad under the truth-in-advertising rules in the FTC act? aq s.htm

    I guess the question would be whether it's considered an "ad" -- it's misleading and material by the act's definitions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @04:53PM (#4456392)
    From some research I've done, it appears that Don Funk is a real person over at Microsoft, employed in the software testing area, probably accessibility testing. Accessibility testers apparently get all the newest GUI's, and marketing weenies love to show the newest stuff.

    Anyway, apparently Microsoft's tech writers work closely with the test people to write the KB articles, and will take snips of code and/or screenshots from the tester's workstation to include in the KB entry.

    So it looks like Don Funk is real people, not just a fake name.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @11:52AM (#4462178)
    Noticed MS had 404'ed it. Yay google! J: celbrary2003_researchpaper.asp+encartareferencelbr ary2003_researchpaper.asp+microsoft&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller