I'm So Very Sorry

04 Jan 2015

I was recently asked, in casual conversation while helping relatives with computer woes, why I don’t run Windows on my computer at home. I responded, “Because of the problems you’re facing right now.” We had a good laugh; but, I don’t think the gravity of what I’d said hit home. I was actually being serious; “ha ha, only serious.”

When a company which has been outed again and again over the last 30 years as being expressly anti-consumerist in the construction of its products (despite their public rhetoric; that’s right – thirty years – that is not a typo) fails to make suitable changes to improve their relationship with their customers, it really makes me angry. I’m angered that my relatives have to endure an unnecessary “ignorance tax” for their lack of detailed knowledge of what goes on under the hood of their computer, and especially for how Windows works inside; and, I’m especially angry that Microsoft goes scott-free both legally and in the ostensibly free market. When you lack repurcussions for your actions, you can’t help but develop a sense of sheer contempt for your own customers. Pfeh, you don’t care — why should you? What can they do to you? Just think of how much money is wasted annually, both by corporate and consumer-level Windows users, because of deliberately poor systems design on the part of Microsoft.

And, don’t give me that bullshido about how they have to maintain backward compatibility, blah blah blah. That is, at best, a proximate problem, and it exists only because the actual problem has been allowed to go on for so long unabated.

Well, here we are, 30 years after the 1985 release of Windows 1.0, and yet again, industry leaders caught Microsoft red-handed treating their customers with nothing but sheer contempt through willful inaction.

To my family and friends in similar situations, I want to expressly apologize on the part of all computer software engineers that we are not all like this. We don’t all believe in creating trash. We don’t all believe in making software deliberately insecure, deliberately hard or obscure to use, deliberately pandering to the advertising industry.

It is my hope that my work on my Kestrel project will some day spark someone or a group into action to help restore a free market economy for both computer hardware and the software that runs on it. Linux is not the answer (yet) for people like my relatives, although it’s a lot better today than it was decades ago. We need more open source options sooner, not later. My Kestrel project is self-admittedly quixotic in scope (it is, by definition, how I envision computing should be), but if someone takes inspiration from it, then I’ll feel I’ve done my job.


Samuel A. Falvo II
Twitter: @SamuelAFalvoII
Google+: +Samuel A. Falvo II

About the Author

Software engineer by day. Amateur computer engineer by night. Founded the Kestrel Computer Project as a proof-of-concept back in 2007, with the Kestrel-1 computer built around the 65816 CPU. Since then, he's evolved the design to use a simple stack-architecture CPU with the Kestrel-2, and is now in the process of refining the design once more with a 64-bit RISC-V compatible engine in the Kestrel-3.

Samuel is or was:

  • a Forth, Oberon, J, and Go enthusiast.
  • an amateur radio operator (KC5TJA/6).
  • an amateur photographer.
  • an intermittent amateur astronomer, astrophotographer.
  • a student of two martial arts (don't worry; he's still rather poor at them, so you're still safe around him. Or not, depending on your point of view).
  • a former semiconductor verification technician for the HIPP-II and HIPP-III line of Hifn, Inc. line-speed compression and encryption VLSI chips.
  • the co-founder of Armored Internet, a small yet well-respected Internet Service Provider in Carlsbad, CA that, sadly, had to close its doors after three years.
  • the author of GCOM, an open-source, Microsoft COM-compatible component runtime environment. I also made a proprietary fork named Andromeda for Amiga, Inc.'s AmigaDE software stack. It eventually influenced AmigaOS 4.0's bizarre "interface" concept for exec libraries. (Please accept my apologies for this architectural blemish; I warned them not to use it in AmigaOS, but they didn't listen.)
  • the former maintainer and contributor to Gophercloud.
  • a contributor to Mimic.

Samuel seeks inspirations in many things, but is particularly moved by those things which moved or enabled him as a child. These include all things Commodore, Amiga, Atari, and all those old Radio-Electronics magazines he used to read as a kid.

Today, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his beautiful wife, Steph, and four cats; 13, 6.5, Tabitha, and Panther.