“Danger”ous liaison

Hooray, Yahoo! Way to resist assimilation by the Borg:

Yahoo Formally Rejects Microsoft Offer

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (AP) — Yahoo Inc. has formally rejected Microsoft Corp.’s $44.6 billion takeover bid as inadequate.


Microsoft to Buy Mobile Startup Danger

SEATTLE (AP) — Microsoft Corp. agreed Monday to buy cell phone software maker Danger Inc.

So it looks like I’m about to become part of Microsoft, the evil empire. For Danger it’s an outstanding deal. For me personally? Well, my opinions on Microsoft’s collective technical wherewithal are well-documented among over five years of bug-tracking and source-control comments that I’ve written, as Microsoft’s irksome coding practices impacted my work at Danger in one way or another (usually in the form of their producing e-mail messages that failed to obey accepted Internet standards, but that my code had to deal with correctly anyway). Excerpts of my comments follow; here’s where I get to channel famed Internet curmudgeon jwz.

Some mail agents, particularly those fine ones emanating from Redmond, break up long URLs in plain text message parts using line breaks.

In MSP-land, a message contains “a body” and then maybe some “attachments,” which doesn’t really map onto the Internet standards for mail, but you can insert your own snide comment about Microsoft’s attitude towards important and widely accepted standards.

There are 100’s of different computing platforms and 1000’s of possible e-mail clients. I happen to be using Evolution on Linux. But the IETF standards govern most of those variants. Outlook is a notable exception. Microsoft is notorious for ignoring rules that everyone else plays by.

When we told Microsoft that [a component of the Danger mail system] routinely downloads both the plain-text and the HTML versions of the body (for those messages that have both) in order to construct multipart/alternative MIME structures, they acted as if we’d told them we married our cousins.

They may come back and request that we only download one or the other to protect their servers, which are apparently of 1960’s vintage.

MSP returns lists of addresses (such as the “To” and “Cc” recipients of a message) as a semicolon-separated string. This does not comply with Internet standards and breaks the Javamail address parser, which [a component of the Danger mail system] uses when converting from MSP data to IMAP-appendable data. I am sure Microsoft had their own very good reasons for this; I do not begrudge them the choice to be idiots.

[A component of the Danger mail system] records the set of messages already fetched from an IMAP account using the messages’ IMAP UID’s. If the folder’s UIDVALIDITY value changes, we are supposed to discard all saved UID’s as invalid (per the IMAP standard). In theory this only happens when the folder has been destroyed and recreated with new contents, but in practice it’s more common that the IMAP server simply loses track of the old UIDVALIDITY (I’m looking at you, Bill Gates) and assigns a new one.

Add application/vnd.rmf as a synonym for audio/rmf. Good thing you got money, Mr. Gates, ’cause you ain’t got charm.

(Why couldn’t they just have used the standard designator “audio/rmf” like everyone else?)

As I suspected, it’s Microsoft’s fault. (*audience gasps*)

Outlook is using Unicode to encode the funky characters but not declaring it in the enclosing MIME syntax, which it’s supposed to.

The following refers to Microsoft’s practice of sometimes wrapping perfectly good message-attachment data in a strange construct called a TNEF object that only Microsoft programs can reliably decode.

Leave it to Microsoft to take data that is encapsulated in a format that was meticulously, ingeniously designed to be neutral with respect to transport, and enclose it in an opaque wrapper they call “transport-neutral encapsulation format.”

To understand this one, you have to know that:

  1. In HTML, a “comment” (which is ignored for display purposes) begins with the string “<!–” and ends with “–>”;
  2. The characters < and > are referred to by programmers as “angle brackets” and sometimes as “brokets“; and
  3. There was a buggy version of Microsoft Outlook (or possibly Word) that produced HTML that began with a comment such as “<!– Created by Microsoft >” which, as you can see, did not properly terminate the comment, so it looked to other mail software like the entire HTML message body was a comment, and none of it got displayed.

Gets things wrong oft.
Ending an HTML comment with a bare broket?
That broke it.
– Ogden Bob

Now I face a decision: submit to the will of Landru, or make my escape before I become one of us one of us?

If I go by Kevin Spacey movie quotes — as good a guide to living as any, I suppose — I should stay:

If you’re not a rebel by the age of 20, you got no heart, but if you haven’t turned establishment by 30, you’ve got no brains.

(I’m well past 30, and Microsoft is nothing if not establishment. Maybe I can aim to reform it from within?)

On the other hand, if I go by the choice of song that, I swear, randomly came up first (odds against: 99.96%) as I got on the highway this morning to attend the Danger-Microsoft “Come to Jesus” meeting, my course is clear. It was, “Gotta Get Out” by The Bicycles.

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