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Re: Microsoft needs a help strategy

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: Microsoft needs a help strategy
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009 01:37:48 +0100

amicus_curious wrote:
> person hiring you.  You would be well advised to get your payment in
> advance, I would think.


(follow the link above to see embedded pictures and links)

Winning the Gnu

by Joey deVilla on January 26, 2009

The CUSEC convention’s last keynote speech was Richard Stallman’s
presentation titled Copyright vs. Community in the Age of Computer
Networks. It’s similar to the one he gave at the University of Toronto
in the summer of 2007; you can see my detailed notes on that
presentation here.

At the end of his keynote, he declared an auction, the proceeds of which
would go to the Free Software Foundation (I heard a couple of people say
“Yeah, right” behind me). The first item up for auction was a hardcover
copy of his book Free Software, Free Society. I already own an
autographed edition, so I wasn’t interested in bidding. 

He started the bidding at CAD$40; someone from the audience yelled out
“we’re students!”. Oblivious to the remark, the bidding continued and
the book sold for somewhere close to a hundred dollars.  

With the book sold, he then showed the audience the next item for
auction: a plush gnu, the mascot of the Free Software Foundation:

Stallman shows off the plush gnu for auction. 
Photo by Matthew Gallant.

“You should totally bid for that!” someone behind me said. I’d been
thinking the same thing. 

As with the book, the bidding started at student-unfriendly 40 dollars.
When the price hit $60, I threw my hat in the ring.


The room burst out in laughter. They’d seen my presentation yesterday
and knew I worked for Microsoft, long a major figure in the Free
Software Foundation’s demonology.

“You should know that he’s with Microsoft!” someone in the audience said
to Stallman.

“There are anti-animal cruelty laws,” said Stallman, facing in my

“You have The Empire’s assurance that no harm will come to him,” I

The bids continued. For every bid that came in, I immediately countered
with one that was $5 higher.





By this point, the room was really getting into the bidding war. Would
the Microsoftie actually win the auction for the symbol of the
organization that views it as The Great Satan?

And up the bids went until I said “One hundred.” Just to underscore my
intent on getting that gnu, I bid again. “One hundred five.”

“Going once…” said Stallman, “…twice…SOLD! For one hundred and five

I walked up to the stage to loud applause.

I go onstage to claim my prize. 
Photo by Andrew Louis.

Stallman seemed a tiny bit confused as to why someone from Microsoft
would even want a gnu, never mind pay that much money for one.

“You do promise to obey anti-animal cruelty laws?” he asked again, as if
it were a real flesh-and-blood gnu.

“I won’t harm a hair on its head. I do come from the Free Software
world,” I replied, being careful not to call it the “Open Source” world.
I didn’t want to give him any reason to cancel the sale.

I give Stallman my word that no harm will come to the GNU. 
Photo by Andrew Louis.

I pulled out my Microsoft corporate credit card. I held it up and asked
the audience: “D’you think I should pay with this?”

“Can I pay for it with my Microsoft corporate credit card?”

Asking the audience if I should pay with my Microsoft corporate credit
Photo by Andrew Louis.

That got a good laugh from the audience.

(In the end, since I was buying the gnu for myself and not Microsoft, I
paid for it in cash. But as long as I was up there, why not milk the
event for all it was worth?)

“The Microsoft corporate card. Don’t culture-jam the FSF without it.” 
Photo by Andrew Louis.

Using my best Darth Vader impression, I extended my hand out to Stallman
and said “Join me, Stallman, and together we shall bring order to the
galaxy!”, which got a good laugh.

"Join the Dark Side, Stallman, and together we shall bring order to the

At the end of the conference, I walked up to Stallman, who was selling
Free Software Foundation paraphernalia at the registration table. I
asked him for his autograph, which he gladly provided on the plush gnu’s
tag. “Happy hacking! Richard Stallman,” it read.

Getting Stallman’s autograph after the keynote. 
Photo by Andrew Louis.

I did it all in the name of fun and also to show that Microsoft people
have a sense of humour. I was also more than happy to hand over some
money to the Free Software Foundation as a way of saying thanks for all
the things they’ve done for developers – myself included – over the

As for the gnu, I plan to take it out from time to time, posing it for
photographs just as the travelling garden gnome is.

I’ll close with a couple of close-up shots of the gnu:

Tagged as: CUSEC, Funny, gnu, Richard Stallman 



(GNG is a derecursive recursive derecursion which pwns GNU since it can 
be infinitely looped as GNGNGNGNG...NGNGNG... and can be said backwards 
too, whereas GNU cannot.)

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