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Least "Admirable" means character or opinions?

Geeks certainly see the world differently than the rest of the human race, it would seem....

I posted to the "Least admirable people in IT"  thread in the spirit of hearty "character assasination" - noting publicly known individuals or groups that are (in my opinion) of poor or notoriously self serving personal character. That's my working definition of 'least admirable'. Admittedly I didn't pay a lot of attention to the subtext.

So I find it rather interesting that the title  actually meant (to the original poster)

>> What I am interested in is knowing the false prophets that
>> should be avoided - bad authors, speakers, web pundits,
>> etc.

So I was wrongheaded in posting my rant on certain seedy, selfish, or self serving groups or individuals, as I didn't follow the expanded definition of the topic.

The point is, I took the title literally - I chose what was important to me - namely - the truth, not hurting others unnecessarily, and having integrity in your dealings with others, and I vented about people that violate these principles in my opinion.

So I find it really interesting that many of the attackees named in the thread are  in that position simply because they have a certain editorial or political or even *technical* viewpoint that does not necessarily reflect on their personal integrity.

It's fashionable in some programmer and techie circles to vent on "pampered" authors such as Jerry Pournelle or John Dvorak because: they have a platform and a reputation, yet they don't have to cut code nor otherwise labor on deliverables day to day, and yet they get to opine about the muck that the rest of us live in. I see this as a huge dose of jealousy, frankly, because most of us who code are generally not asked for our opinion on anything in the business world. That still doesn't make someone who is the "golden boy" in print a bad person.

Then you have the Angry Coder, who is a person whose behavior fails to meet ANY description of a solid consultant  in the personal interaction sense - belittles anyone he sees fit,  uses the word "fuck" and "asshole" on people in his own forum and sometimes on his own customers - but appears to be successful, at least at present.  This guy is the *only* example I found in the many examples listed of a "false prophet" that is also definitely not the sort of person I'd do business with, that is, he is the intersection both of questionable personal attitude as well as being a dubious blowhard.

I guess what I'm getting around to is that we technologists often seem to hang a "bad" label on someone who simply thinks differently than we ourselves do. C++ coders vs VB coders in some circles is a prime example. The confusion in this thread's content and interpretation thus bears this out.

I would rather believe that, for instance, Jerry Pournelle may be OK to go have a couple of beers with, but whose opinion of which C++ compiler I should use is for the birds. That doesn't make him "least admirable" as a person by a LONG shot.

This kind of mirrors what the political parties do... Dems were painted as personally amoral by Republicans when they chose to overlook or acknowledge "kneepad politics" in the oval office.

Basically, the interpretation of technical subject matter (IMO) doesn't make a person "least admirable". Bad deeds do.

So, does anyone else find this whole premise of false prophet AKA 'bad' a tad emotionally arrested?

Bored Bystander
Monday, February 24, 2003

I guess that ultimately anybody who has an honest opinion or view of technology cannot be said to be 'bad'. After all nobody ends up dead or wounded. So while it's possible to pick people who are enlightened or considered admirable, based on achievement, it's not possible to pick 'bad' people because there exists no firm criteria to make the judgement.

Because it's so hard to pinpoint anybody as 'bad' for a specific reason, people start blowing off based on personal disagreement and less tangible reasons.

Monday, February 24, 2003

No opinion to share other than I enjoyed reading your post, Bored. Keep up the good prose and I agree with what you wrote.

Tom Fairlie
Monday, February 24, 2003


The answer is character.

My definition of a false prophet would be someone who knowingly gives out false information (your pick - Harris Miller of ITAA - fits the bill perfectly).

However, from the replies I got, I think it was interpreted as someone who speculates and is often wrong.  This is, of course, what technology editorial writers do for a living. In the tech industry, people are always interested in reading about trends, the next big thing, turf wars, etc. So, I personally don't begrudge tech writers for the pulp they pump out. I may not agree or respect some of them, but I don't consider them false prophets.

There were a lot of genre replies as well, esp. anti-HR and anti-recruiter. Not what I was looking for, but no harm in letting people vent. (It would be more helpful if posters named specific recruiting agencies that are notoriously or consistently bad.

The people I really get sick of are:

- The overly pompous such as Dave Winer, who fails to give credit to others.

- The people who pump out half-assed books just to make a few bucks.  Wrox author-by-committee books often apply. So do MS Press cert books that don't even cover _any_ of the material on the test.

- Self appointed experts who lack expertise (e.g., Steve Gibson of ShieldsUP! and SpinRite fame).

Long time listener, first time caller
Tuesday, February 25, 2003

"- Self appointed experts who lack expertise (e.g., Steve Gibson of ShieldsUP! and SpinRite fame)."

hmm, I have to come down on Gibson's side.  He has a good site and offers a good service.  And he is often technically correct in the end.  If you find fault with him, you probably aren't his intended audience anyway.  And he _is_ a good coder.

On the other hand, his public nemesis (pl?) (e.g. Thomas C Greene @ the register) are pretty lacking in expertise..

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Oh god, don't *mention* the register. Try reading one of their stories and tell me if it makes any sense beyond the opening paragraph.

I mailed on of them once, asking why they expend so much energy complaining about Microsoft instead of, say, developing some useful GPLed software. The answer was something like 'someone needs to do it because they're so big'. Like there's any shortage of anti MS sentiment on the net...

Neil E
Tuesday, February 25, 2003

I'm comfortable enough with the register, although it was better a couple of years back.  Now it is all syndicated stuff, and the old hacks have gone.  What is left is often humourless.  That is the worst bit - when they aren't funny.

Look at the inquirer or to see where the talent went..

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

I wonder if people reading the Register also get there socio political & economic news from the Sun or USA Today.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, February 25, 2003


I think John Navas is Gibson's biggest nemesis. In fact, I think I read somewhere that when Navas was a guest on The Screensavers, Gibson called in to debate him.

I first came across anti-Gibson stuff on Navas's cable modem tuning guide. Prior to that, I thought Gibson was a trusted source.  So, I did some net sleuthing (OK, it was just Google, but 'net sleuthing' sounds more rigorous). I was surprised to find so much Gibson-debunking material out there on sites like,, and, of course,

It would be one thing if all the anti-Gibson stuff was just a matter of opinion, but much of it is about facts - specifically firewalls. So when Gibson starts yelling that the sky is falling (remember when he said that the Windows XP's raw socket issue would bring the internet to its knees?), then my advice is to just get a 2nd source of opinion for good measure. It's up to you.

Long time listener, first time caller
Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Bored Bystander wrote, "we technologists often seem to hang a "bad" label on someone who simply thinks differently than we ourselves do."

It's not limited to technologists.

Brent P. Newhall
Tuesday, February 25, 2003

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