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Yesterday I nearly killed a million people. It was a close call.

It all started as I sat in front of my drawing workstation and wondered how to finish a comic. The best solution I could come up with involved mocking Microsoft's Vista operating system. While I have no personal gripe with Vista, I know that many of my readers do, so it would have been a popular strip. After years of cartooning, I have a good sense of which comics will end up on cubicle walls and be passed around the Internet. This one would have been huge.

I wrote the line and leaned back, admiring my work. Then I had the "Holy crap!" moment. If I mock Vista, and it has an impact on Microsoft stock value, then Bill Gates will have a few billion dollars less to spend on humanitarian projects. Therefore, the comic could end up killing a million people. Those people are all strangers, but still.

I deleted the reference to Vista and went another direction.

I know what you're thinking. You think that a Dilbert comic isn't going to influence Microsoft's earnings. But what you don't know is that Dilbert has been used in several court cases where an attorney tried to demonstrate the date when obscure technical issues became "common knowledge" and therefore something that a reasonable person should know. The importance in the court cases is that a defendant couldn't claim ignorance about something that is so widely known it can be included in a Dilbert comic without explanation. If a Dilbert comic mocks Vista, the criticism transforms into "common knowledge" and could influence Mac versus Windows buying decisions.

Okay, granted, it is unlikely a Dilbert comic would have any impact on Microsoft. But given the non-zero risk that I could end up killing a million people, I decided to go another direction with the comic.

When those people I saved yesterday solve their malaria issue and get some food, I hope they chip in to buy me a card to say thanks.
 
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0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
Was the lawyer successful in using your strip to prove something is common knowledge? If the court/jury didn't accept that as proof, then you can freely insult all the products you like.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
Oh, what a nice coincidence - you mentioning the legal cases, where Dilbert was a proof of the contents of common knowledge, and just half an hour ago - seeing one popular quiz show in UK presenting a question: 'Which famous comis strip has characters Wally, Catbert, [someone, I don't remember] and Alice, the secretary?'.

I waited for a fist of death, but nothing happened. Probably, they cut the punch out while editing :( .
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
Scott, If you really believe this, it means that you are assuming that everyone currently thinks very highly of Microsoft and it's habit of having it's customers as a large Beta-testing lab. Furthermore, you think that this universal love of Microsoft would be seriously damaged by a cartoon.

Time to join us in the real world, Scott. Microsoft is universally despised for putting out shoddy products that people are forced to buy along with their computers because of barely-legal licensing schemes they have come up with to control the market. My company recently issued new laptops to us, but replaced Vista with XP before shipping them out because of the known problems with Vista. Now Microsoft has pulled XP from the shelves, forcing Vista on everyone going forward.

In short, the Gates Foundation has tons of money because of predatory business practices, not because everyone likes Microsoft. Your cartoon would not have made any difference in that regard, although they might have sued you....
 
 
Jul 23, 2008
Is it a coincidence that you come up with a great idea ($$$) involving MS Windows and the next day you mention how easy it is to flex your 'muscles' in such a way as to make Microsoft think a little about your power?
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
Speaking of Vista and bugs and such, I'd like to report a minor annoyance on this site. Whenever I vote for one of your posts the link to the comments disappears. I have to hit F5 to refresh the page, so that the Comments link reappears and I can get here.
 
 
Jul 23, 2008
Can I trade on this information or will it get me into inside trading trouble? If fI can trade, please tell us what else you're not going to do a strip on so that we can profit. Or here's an idea: you post to your blog a couple days in advance what you will mock in your strip, we can all short it, make lots of money and we'll all agree to donate a portion of the boatloads of money we make to save all the lives that would have been lost.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
if this were a forum and not Scott's playground<tm> I'd get mod'd down but it isn't so...

built-in stuff
A post the other day (no idea which one) got me thinking about stuff I'd invent if I had "motivation" (you'll have to imagine the air quote fingers there) - more built in stuff. I think the people over at OFF<tm> are missing some earning potential. They need to either partner with a fabric softener company or start making their own fabric softener. Personally I don't use fabric softener much (or even wear clean clothes everyday if I'm being honest but that isn't the point) but not completely out of laziness, call it 92% laziness and 8% "I don't want to smell like fruity blossoms'. If I could buy fabric softener that kept bugs from biting me and less like a fresh spring day I might use a softener 400% more often (and wear clean clothes twice as often to boot, but again - not the point)

.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
This made me wonder: by the logic in that last post, if I point a gun at someone and don't pull the trigger, have I just saved his or her life?
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
I suppose by that logic we all ought to be buying Vista, versus buying a Mac. At least until Steve Jobs creates the Jobs Foundation.

Although if I had to guess the Jobs Foundation would have less to do with fighting malaria and more to do with building a Mount Rushmore-sized bust of Steve Jobs.
 
 
Jul 23, 2008
If you have problems with vista you're either trying to use it on an antique or know nothing about computers. Ever since I built my system last summer it has worked magnificently. It has been the most stable operating system I've ever used. I restart my computer approximately once a month, and that is only to install new security updates.

Most of the people that complain about it either have never used it, are trying to use it with a system with 512 MB ram, or are trying to use it with some piece of antiquated software and don't understand how to configure it to run properly.

If you are running it and think it's slow, try turning off aero. geez.
 
 
Jul 23, 2008
Enclosed please find 1/1,000,000 of the price of a thank-you card.

 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
Hi Scott,

Any future income you get from Microsoft advertisements or being hired for a speaking engagement (when your voice returns) should be donated to a good cause.

A long time ago the group I previously worked for accepted some grant money from Microsoft. As a result we couldn't complain about Office's poor interoperability with accommodation software. Eventually, Office got much better and is now a far more accessible product. Still, it felt dirty for some time.

I have some soap if you need it.

dsg
 
 
Jul 23, 2008
By letting Microsoft get a free ride on their computer glitches, you may have just cause the loss of thousands of hours of work time. This loss in productivity damages the economy. The strength of our economy affects the lives of everyone across the globe. 6 billion people may be worse off this year because of this comic.

http://www.notthisgod.blogspot.com
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
Scott, while I appreciate your concern for humanity, I also believe that "Just because a butterfly doesn't flaps it's wings doesn't mean you won't have a hurricane anyway". (comment #5) Virtually NONE of us is that important

Perhaps by NOT posting your cartoon you are allowing (causing) Microsoft to continue to producing crappy software that doesn't meet it's customers needs. As a result the all the users get fed up with Mircosoft and turn to another as yet unknown developer. This "New Bill Gates" drives Microsoft out of business and as a result the Gates foundation is forced to stop ALL funding of humanitarian projects.... And just think YOU'RE RESPONSIBLE for all of that...... Pretty heady stuff.....

But wait... the "New Bill Gates" is even more philintropic that Bill Gates .... Now what.... What do I do now?

Stop agonizing and just publish the cartoon

 
 
Jul 23, 2008
I can't quite tell if you're serious about the court cases part (I suspect not), but if you are, your post itself provides as much evidence as the joke in the comic would have. You've just stated publicly that the Vista problems are such common knowledge that you were going to use them in a Dilbert cartoon, but decided not to for other reasons.

(I think you're joking.... If it were April 1 today, I'd be sure!)
 
 
Jul 23, 2008
Not publishing that Vista has problems in your cartoon so that it doesn't become "common knowledge" is like wiping a gun done after a murder. It doesn't change the truth of the matter, it just gets rid of some evidence.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
Well, I think your loyal blog readers should get to see what almost killed a million people.
 
 
Jul 23, 2008
my, aren't WE full of ourselves today.
 
 
Jul 23, 2008
Comparing Mac to Windows Vista is like comparing Apples to Horse Crap. (Literally Speaking, of course)
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 23, 2008
On the flip side you may have just cost a million people their lives. That court case would have been a monumental case shifting the focus and direction of all future software products.

Just because a butterfly doesn't flaps it's wings doesn't mean you won't have a hurricane anyway.
Can you post the unedited strip?
 
 
 
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