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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 11:54 AM   #1
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I followed a link today from Google Tech News to this story on a site called Axcess Business News.

I commend this column to you ("Microsoft Sees Worm in Apple") -- not as good information or even as something you should react or respond to, but rather as light entertainment and an exercise in spelling and grammar proofreading.

UPDATE: My e-mail exchange with the author of this column is reproduced below. I have personally apologized for the unkind tone of my post here on ehMac. It was originally entitled "Really, really bad writing" and called the author "a maroon."


On Thursday, June 19, 2003, at 01:21 AM, Axcess Mail wrote:

Hello Sandy,
I'm Alan Fein.* I read what you wrote about me in a public forum on ehmac.ca.* That wasn't very nice of you.* Yes it's true about the grammar, let's see how good you do under a deadline at 2am..** What you say in your blog is one thing, but you had no right to insult me in public, they call that slander.* I had more comments on that story than any I've written, and normally someone does check grammar - but not at 2am.* By the way, there were over 28,000 hits on that story - in one day.* I bet that's more than you get in a month, am I right?
We're not paid to write our columns or stories but we do have very good readership.* Your work's not bad by the way.* Our editor's a nice guy, if he knew what you wrote about me he'd take it personally and complain to that forum - a lot.* People have feeling's Sandy.* I wonder what they say about you?** Oh, that's right, you had made a comment on that in your blog,*you were wondering that yourself.** By the way, I did have about 15 comments come in telling me about the bad grammar.* I was embarrassed, but I appreciated the helpful attitude they expressed.* I had a lot of comments about Internet Explorer, Apple's Safari and Standardization.* Felt more like they were preaching to me about where the Internet was going and why.* But at least they expressed an opinion and I appreciated that.** You were the only one I found who called me names.* By the way, three different people alerted me to your comment about me - all members of that forum.* You need to be a little careful what you say in public.* Actually, it hurt you not me.* I'm not the one who did that and if three people go out of there way to tell you something, I wonder what they think of the person that said it.** Your blog note's that you are for hire.* You won't get business treating people like that.* I'm not mad at you Sandy, but I am disappointed.
Alan Fein
Axcess Business News
[email protected]
My reply, sent this morning:

Hello Alan,

First of all, I do want to sincerely apologize for hurting your feelings and for being unkind. I will adjust my comments in the ehMac.ca forum accordingly.

As for your story -- the 2am deadline is an interesting defense, but the story is still sitting there on the Web, days later, making you look bad. Even if there was a rush to publication at first, the story could have been corrected or deleted by now.

Putting aside the grammar and spelling issues, you make several incorrect statements and assumptions about Microsoft's decision to end development of Internet Explorer for the Macintosh. As you note, you're not a Mac user. It might have been helpful for you to consult some of them to find out what's going on before writing your story.

The implications of the headline you like so much -- "Microsoft Sees Worm In Apple" -- are not developed in your story. As you note, the company continues to sell Microsoft Office for Mac (two versions). They also recently released new MSN software for OS X. What is the "worm" MS has seen in Apple? Do you think the company will discontinue its other Mac products?

(As a small aside, the five-year contract between Apple and Microsoft -- which I believe hinged on the development of Office, not IE -- expired months ago.)

As for Safari, Apple's new Web browsing software has become popular because it performs better than Internet Explorer for Mac. Safari -- still in beta -- is quickly becoming "the browser of choice" for Mac OS X users, despite the availability of several other options including Netscape, Mozilla, Camino and OmniWeb.

Apple has also taken a page from Microsoft/IE with Safari -- the product is tightly integrated with the Mac operating system, so it can do some things very well that competing browsers cannot / do not do. One small example would be its use of the built-in OS X spell-checker to check the user's spelling when filling out forms on Web pages.

Why did Microsoft cancel development of IE for the Mac? I haven't asked anyone there, but I can offer an opinion, as you did. It has nothing to do with the viability of the Mac platform. It is NOT, as you suggest, "all about market share," or Mac Office would be on the chopping block, too.

Microsoft can't make money with IE for Mac. The software is free to the user, yet -- as far as I know -- does not accomplish any business goal for Microsoft. It does not hurt a competitor, as IE for Windows did to Netscape. It does not promote or support the use of another commercial Microsoft product, as Outlook 2001 for Mac does for Exchange Server. I think it just makes good business sense for Microsoft to discontinue IE for Mac.

I believe your sympathy for Web developers, who will now have to deal with another Mac browser, is well intentioned but misplaced. As a Web publisher myself, I can tell you that IE 5 for Mac and IE 6 for Windows are two of the most frustrating browsers to design for, because they do not comply with accepted standards for HTML, XML and style sheets (CSS). Web developers must add "hacks" and workarounds to their pages to accommodate IE's strange behaviour. Only Netscape 4 gives as much trouble.

The very idea that Web publishers currently only have to consider two options (Internet Explorer and Netscape) is very outdated. These days, Web pages must look good on at least three platforms (Windows, Mac and Linux), which means programming (at least!) for Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera and Konqueror. Pages must also "degrade" well for viewing on WebTV, handheld computers and even cell phones. It gets worse: publishers must make their HTML machine-readable for the visually impaired (so the CONTENT appears first in the code, for example, rather than the menus and other junk).

The addition of any new browser that supports accepted Web standards has a POSITIVE impact on Web publishers/designers. Safari was developed by members of the Mozilla development team, and behaves at least as well as Mozilla on most Web pages. In an ideal world, Web publishers would design using accepted standards, software would support those standards. Alas, that's not how Internet Explorer works.

Back in the days of the "browser wars" between Internet Explorer and Netscape, some Web publishers chose to adopt some tricks that only IE could do. These pages ("optimized for Internet Explorer") were/are unfriendly to computers that do not run Windows and to users that do not run Internet Explorer. Any publisher who voluntarily reduced their potential audience in this way may have to adapt to the growing success of alternatives to Internet Explorer (especially Opera and Mozilla on Windows). This can't be laid at the feet of Apple and its new Safari software.

I could go on, but I'm sure you're as tired of reading my note as I am of writing to you.

It is often frustrating to read people who apparently know little about the Mac platform write as if they are experts. Your readership was not well served by your article.

Thank you for the civil tone in your e-mail. I should have done as well in my forum post.

[ June 19, 2003, 10:41 AM: Message edited by: Sandy McMurray ]
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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 12:50 PM   #2
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I agree - badly written.

"Its all about market share"

It should be 'it's.'
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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 12:52 PM   #3
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wow. i'm at a loss for words.
too bad he wasn't.
how does this guy get published???
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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 12:55 PM   #4
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The guy tried, but yes that writing was horrible, it was like reading a bad essay by a high school student. Run on sentences, horrible grammer, and extra statements tagged on making it sound as if he is rushing and throwing in tidbits at the end of each sentence.
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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 01:03 PM   #5
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>how does this guy get published???

He's self-published of course. As am I.

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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 01:09 PM   #6
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I'm sorry. I had to respond to the story. I gave Alan Fein 4 out of ten for spelling, grammar and content.
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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 01:18 PM   #7
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ErnstNF, glad to see another person from St.John's here in the forum. What do you do in this fine city/province of ours??? Personally, I am over at MUN in the Faculty of Education, trying to teach teachers-in-training how to teach students to become strategic and effective readers and writers.
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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 11:09 PM   #8
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Wow... that was badly written and not all that accurate...

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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 11:25 PM   #9
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Phew!!! When I read the title of the topic "really, really bad writing", I was certain it was going to be a critique of my writing. [img]redface.gif[/img]
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Old Jun 19th, 2003, 12:46 PM   #10
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First post in this thread has been updated to reflect feedback from the author of the column in question.

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