in Culture, Windows

*LET* the Lawsuits Fly.

Wow. It’s been a while since I last wrote. Happy Hallowe’en, by the way.

I now work for CBC.ca in the New Media Production & Operations department as a software developer. Primarily this involves Java development, but I also do a bit of Perl (as much as I hate to). I also weigh in on system administration matters quite a bit, since I think of myself as a half-time sysadmin, half-time programmer.

I just had to respond to this slightly brain-damaged article which appeared in eWeek recently. Now I know eWeek is one of these magazines for PHBs but I still like to flip through it (very briefly) to see what the PHBs are being told these days, and how I can counteract that. So this article — if you go and read it — basically says well, Microsoft has to make "Longhorn" really secure, and improve their security in general, or else legislatures will impose security warranties upon software developers, and this will impact all developers and not just Microsoft.

My reaction — as both a sysadmin and a developer — is: so what? Isn’t that a good thing? I’ve often railed about the fact that software is but one of the few industries where you can sell an expensive product to someone and not be held to any legal liability whatsoever. No warranty to speak of beyond the value of the actual compact disc that the software arrived on. In my mind, this is a bad thing. So when Brian Livingston says something like

Such an earthquake could emerge not just from legislatures but also from courts. All it would take would be a precedent-setting ruling that the “we’re-not-liable” language that’s commonplace in shrink-wrap licenses is “unconscionable and unenforceable.” The lawsuits would fly.

I think he’s bang on — but the lawsuits should fly, in fact, if the software is defective. This would certainly stop not only Microsoft from shipping poorly-tested products, but all software vendors.

On a lighter note — check this out. If you work for Allstate, you can submit your resignation online. No word on whether a security guard will be e-mailed to you to escort you out of the building, too. (Speaking of which — someone at work was joking about dressing up for Hallowe’en as a manager who was unceremoniously sacked some time ago. “I’ll just dress up two mannequins in security guard uniforms, put one under each arm, and I’ll be [name removed] being escorted out of the building!”)