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Microsoft pays for insults through ignorance

"Insensitive computer programmers with little knowledge of geography have cost the giant Microsoft company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business and led hapless company employees to be arrested by offended governments."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/news/0,12597,1286066,00.html

TheGeezer
Thursday, August 19, 2004

bah.

such ignorance as not knowing what direction the (political) wind is blowing in some intolerant country.

mb
Thursday, August 19, 2004

If a foreign software company produced software that said Nebraska is part of Canada, how many people in the US would be so outraged that they wanted the program banned and software's creators arrested?

This article simply proves what we already know -- too much of the world is controlled by morons.

Art Vandelay
Thursday, August 19, 2004


If you actually read the article (I did earlier today), most of the references have little to do with geography and more to do with political and language situations....


Taiwan and China...
Kashmir and India...
"slut" in Spanish...

KC
Thursday, August 19, 2004

"23 out of 56 young Americans knew the whereabouts of the Pacific Ocean"

Thats another one of them evil empires huh?

nuke them all
Thursday, August 19, 2004

this does  prove that the English, have no idea how to write. This article is horrible juornalism on so many levels, its not even funny.

the artist formerly known as prince
Thursday, August 19, 2004

"more to do with political and language situations"

"the English, have no idea how to write"

Oh I get it, you're all pretending to be that stupid aren't you?

i've been trolled
Thursday, August 19, 2004

Funny how the article refers to Americans, when there's a lot of North and South Americans who resent that term being used for citizens of the U.S. of A.  ;-)

Edward
Friday, August 20, 2004

Just wandering, not trolling.
How would you call a citizen of the U.S. of A?
If not "American".

(I can think of a few but will not mention them here as I am looking for a serious answer)

Geert-Jan Thomas
Friday, August 20, 2004

"If a foreign software company produced software that said Nebraska is part of Canada, how many people in the US would be so outraged that they wanted the program banned and software's creators arrested?"

It depends.  If the software creators made the mistake because they thought that, like Nebraskans, Canadians were also "Americans", then I could get a lynch mob together in 5 minutes.

The software might be very popular in Oklahoma, though.

Yet another anon
Friday, August 20, 2004

From the article:

Uruguay is a republic and proud if it but in Microsoft's Outlook in Uruguay, the company offended the government by describing Tuesday April 30 as the queen's birthday.

Hey, that is us!

Karel Thönissen, still Kingdom of the Netherlands
Friday, August 20, 2004

I go by American because
(1) The word "America" is actually part of the name of our country (unlike all the other North and South American countries).
(2) USian sounds stupid.
(3) US citizen is too wordy

Yet another anon
Friday, August 20, 2004

[from the article]
"decisions on what to do [were] taken entirely on commercial grounds

when employees were arrested in Turkey because Kurdistan had been shown as a separate entity on maps of the country, a decision was taken to remove Kurdistan from all maps"

So if you get thrown into jail, don't think MS will give a shit unless it happens to benefit their bank balance as well.


Friday, August 20, 2004

> this does  prove that the English, have no idea how to write.

Judging by that "sentence" that's a pretty funny thing to say. Quite aside from the logic.


Friday, August 20, 2004

"this does  prove that the English, have no idea how to write. This article is horrible juornalism on so many levels, its not even funny. "

I think you meant to write:

This does prove that the English have no idea how to write. This article is such horrible journalism on so many levels that it's not even funny.

Being English, I could be wrong of course.  To add a surreal touch, the Guardian had such a reputation for misprints in the typesetting era that Private Eye refers to it as "The Grauniad".

a cynic writes...
Friday, August 20, 2004

Or possibly he meant that the English have a style of journalism which differs to that of journalists in the USA, so it must obviously be worse rather than, say, different....

Factual titbit: Hull University's History and English departments used to (and probably still do) have quite a lot of American students visit on exchange years.  Initially they tried to teach said students to write essays in the English style rather than the American for the duration of the year, but the results were pretty poor: most of the students continued to write essays in the American style regardless, because that was the "right" way to do it.  To avoid having to fail every one of these students, they ended up instituting a (very) unofficial policy to just add 30-40% to every American student's marks.

JP
Friday, August 20, 2004

They don't speak proper in 'ull anyhow.


Friday, August 20, 2004

"The Grauniad" was chosen to avoid libel cases.

Stephen Jones
Friday, August 20, 2004

The Americans ignorance of Geography is notorious.

A few years back at a sales pitch, the Scott Foreman representative remarked that at one conference of educational book sales representatives (nearly all of them PhDs) a speaker asked what where the three most populated States in the USA. I ventured California, New York and either Texas or Florida. He informed me I was correct and that out of 2,000 attendees he and three others had volunteered the correct information ( I knew it from the number of votes in the electoral college for US President, and he guessed it from his companies sales figures). All five of us had one thing in common - none of use were Americans!

Stephen Jones
Friday, August 20, 2004

And the British are not that much better.

When the Malvinas war started in 1982 a newspaper did a survey asking where people thought the Falkland Islands were. Over 50% thought they were off the North of Scotland, which appears reasonable until you ask yourself  where the hell did they think Argentina was!

Stephen Jones
Friday, August 20, 2004



The general US citizen's knowledge of geography is abysmal....  now the thing to ask yourself, is "where were these people educated?"

Oh, yeah, miserable public schools.

I had *wonderful* teachers in the public schools that I went to.  Of course, most of them retired within 3 years of my graduation as they had put in the required 25 years and didn't want to deal with it anymore.

KC
Friday, August 20, 2004

>If a foreign software company produced software that said Nebraska is part of Canada, how many people in the US would be so outraged that they wanted the program banned and software's creators arrested?

How many Americans would actually notice?!

Bill Rushmore
Friday, August 20, 2004

I think you'll find it's called The Grauniad from a time in the 1970s when it supposedly once mis-spelt its own masthead.  Plus the Eye actually managing to avoid libel is reasonably unlikely.

a cynic writes...
Friday, August 20, 2004

The take home lesson?  "The Guardian" is an offensive, morally bankrupt leftist rag.  Turkey arrests people because a map includes "Kurdistan" and to the author this is evidence that the programmers are "insensitive"?  There you have it...the essence of the left today.

To explain our "insensitivity" to the foreigners, here in America we have a thing called "The Bill of Rights".  It assures that the government can't do things like imprisoning people for making a map that shows Minnesota as a part of Canada.  You might consider cutting and pasting this into your own supreme legal documents...

name withheld out of cowardice
Friday, August 20, 2004


Americans dont have any idea of time zones either. They dont know the other half of the world is twelve hours ahead.

anon
Friday, August 20, 2004

> here in America we have a thing called "The Bill of Rights".

*cough* Jose Padilla
*cough* Gitmo

And to stem the "but they're terrorists" riposte:
A) Says who?  No evidence has been presented to prove they are, and they certainly haven't been tried.  In the case of the American citizens, like Padilla, you have a situation where American citizens have been held by the American government for over two *years* without so much as being charged.
B) Turkey also claims that it's anti-Kurdistan measures are anti-terrorist measures.


Slightly more on topic - there was also a case last year where Cadburys published an advert (on big billboards) with maps of Kashmir, a picture of a box of chocolates, and a caption saying "Too good to share".  That went down well....

Ultimately, the price of doing business in a country is that you *have* to hire local knowledge, or you end up getting into trouble.

JP
Friday, August 20, 2004

I think the lesson I really get from all this is *if* you're going to sell something internationally you really need someone local to localise it.

...and now a true story...a few years ago a friend of mine worked at Cisco in the UK. One of his colleagues got posted to head office and while he was there went shopping for his kids.  "Toy Story"  was big at the time and he decided to buy a Woody doll.  So he walked up to the (female) assistant and asked for a woody. 

I understand it took a while before the police he believed him when he said it doesn't have the same meaning in the UK.

a cynic writes...
Friday, August 20, 2004

Crucial omission from the Cadburys story above - this was in India...

JP
Friday, August 20, 2004

Nwoc, quite a few guys have been imprisoned exjudicially for years now and it's starting to smell as if their final processing will run conveniently concurrently with an election we all have our eyes on.

"American" is a bit of a mouthful so most other English speakers I've met just refer to yanks. It has the added benefit of immediately identifying innocent Canadians.

Then there's the tasty rhyming slang.

trollop
Friday, August 20, 2004

"How would you call a citizen of the U.S. of A?"

-Gringo
-Yankee

TheFBIgaveMeANewIdentity
Friday, August 20, 2004

Dear a cynic writes,
In my time a woody was a Wills Woodbine cigarette. What other meaning has it acquired?

Stephen Jones
Friday, August 20, 2004

JP-

Just because the executive branch violates aspects of the Bill of Rights doesn't invalidate the Bill of Rights.  If you were to follow the news more closely, you would have noticed that the Judicial branch has ruled that even the Gitmo prisoners are entitled to a day in court.

There is a huge difference between wrangling over what to do with prisoners of war taken off a battelfield in another country, while the war is still going on, and imprisoning people for expressing opinions.  We cannot jail people here for speaking out in favor of the Islamists.

I'm not sure what your point is.  Are you saying that the Bill of Rights is useless and we are no better in respecting people's rights than Turkey or Saudi Arabia?  If so I would appreciate a detailed argument including evidence of some kind.

name withheld out of cowardice
Friday, August 20, 2004

"The word "America" is actually part of the name of our country (unlike all the other North and South American countries)."

People from South Africa are called South Africans, not Africans.

I wonder how the canadians, central and south americans call the US of A citizens.

TheFBIgaveMeANewIdentity
Friday, August 20, 2004

NWOC, my point wasn't that the Bill of Rights is a bad thing (quite the contrary), but rather that its existence is useless unless it's enforced fully and without exceptions. 

Ultimately I choked on the part of your post which said, "It assures that the government can't do things like imprisoning people for making a map that shows Minnesota as a part of Canada."  The legislation does no such thing *unless* enforced by the executive and the judiciary, and whilst the judiciary has recently roused itself to a half-hearted defence of some of it, the executive is still intent on violating it (for example, by trying to overturn the recent Supreme Court decision on the Guantanamo detainees).

JP
Friday, August 20, 2004

The earlier comment about Hull University reminded me of my own experience when I came to England from Canada at the age of nine.

In my Canadian school we had had a few lessons devoted to British English, and even if we hadn't, I'd picked it up from television shows and books.

I had always been marked between 95 and 100 percent for grammar in Canada. When I arrived, I switched over to British English, of course. But at the end of my first school year my report card marked me down for grammar: "Fernanda will have a very good command of English as soon as she masters certain grammatical concepts."

I know that my grammar and spelling never deviated from Standard British English, and I never received any specific criticism of my grammar all year, much less in that report card. But I was a colonial, and would therefore never be able to speak as well as a pure-bred flaxen-haired Saxon.

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, August 20, 2004

Excuse the double-post but I meant to ask: how specifically do the British and American styles of journalism differ?

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, August 20, 2004

In America FOX broadcasts whatever murdoch says.
In Britain SUN prints whatever murdoch says.

The Gaurdian piece was typical laugh at foreigners silly season filler.

If there is a difference between UK/USA newspapers it is that in the UK there are 4-5 national broadsheets which compete whereas in the USA there tends to be one broadsheet per city.

Martin Beckett
Friday, August 20, 2004

Nwoc,  don't shoot the messenger. Here's another:
http://news.com.com/How+eight+pixels+cost+Microsoft+millions/2100-1014_3-5316664.html

I think the thread is concerned with the abysmal ignorance of the outside world displayed in these articles and the contents of some of the above posts. Microsoft isn't the problem, it's a symptom of the problem.

trollop
Friday, August 20, 2004

Stephen Jones, I don't know whether you're being facetious, but in case you're not, a woody is the state of a certain male organ when ready for sex. Woody is a noun referring to said organ in that state.

Fernanda, you asked about the differences between British and American journalism. You might have been referring to the statement about different writing styles, so I'll answer both.

If people were contrasting British and American journalism, there are two things they might have in mind. Some British journalism is regarded as some of the most trashy in the world. On the other hand, the journalism in the top British papers probably sees itself as more erudite than that of American papers. It probably has more interest in the world too, partly because of Britain's former empire.

If they were contrasting British and American writing at university, I'm not sure what they would be talking about. Possibly British traditionalists might consider British writing was better, but I don't think that's true nowadays.


Friday, August 20, 2004

I keep hearing that the world hates Americans. glad to find out that it's not us citizens of the USA they are talking about, but rather the damn wetbacks!

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, August 21, 2004

I think even the British would be hard-pushed to be trashier than the "National Enquirer".

One probable difference between British and American journalists is that American broadsheet journalists appear to have a miuch more inflated sense of their own iimportance and the importance of their role. However, I doubt if generalizations mean much in this respect.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, August 21, 2004

---" I think the thread is concerned with the abysmal ignorance of the outside world displayed in these articles and the contents of some of the above posts."-----

As far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned MS was quite right. It is not a part of India, any more than the West Bank is part of Israel. Now, they ought to have colored Pakistani occupied Kashmir the same color of course.

The fact that MS is prepared to apologize for telling the truth if they can make money by liying suggests you ought to think twice before using Encarta as a reliable source.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, August 21, 2004

Can you people not spell? The word "yankee" is correctly spelled "damnyankee" and that's definately not a silent "damn" at the front.

Well, according to a fair number of US citizens who get seriously offended by the term "yankee", anyway.

See how hard it is to avoid offending hyper-sensitive morons?

As for the weirdo who thought that selling a whole 1/10th of a million units of windows 98 was worth eliminating a useful feature for every other nation on the planet? What drugs cause that sort of thinking?

What about "we've offended two groups of people, but we'll be nice to whichever gives us more money"?  I simply don't understand, because people keep informing us of all of Mr Gate's wonderful donations to charity and his humanitarian work - yet his company's official policy is that money is more important than human rights. What's up with that?

(Incidentally, the problem has nothing to do with ignorant or insensitive developers - the whole problem is that the world is being run by complete morons and there's nothing that can be done to make them happy.)


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Yup the muslim intolerance shows through

infidel
Monday, August 23, 2004

> I wonder how the canadians, central and south
>  americans call the US of A citizens.

We Canadians call Americans "Americans".

Many Spanish-speaking people from Mexico on south call Americans "Norte Americanos".  I am not sure what they call Canadians.

Eric Lippert
Monday, August 23, 2004

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