Is the MSN search engine being used in the battle to kill Linux?
I began writing articles about Linux in April 1999. My first assignment involved a Howto Consulting Series for "Linux Today". My editor at the time, Dave Whitinger, felt that we needed some basic Big 5 consulting skills in an industry with approximately 2 million users.
Over the years, I had some top ten hits. Two articles that stand out the most include "How to Build a Low Cost Linux Personal Computer" and "How to Build a 1u Linux Rack Server". The former found itself on every major search engine directory globally. In 2000, we had several hundred thousand page views and it never had a mention on Slashdot. The second came at a time when no one could find the components to build their own 1u computers. It took me three weeks of research to find the case, low profile memory, cdrom and floppy. At the time, I had reseller agreements with Ingram Micro and Tech Data but still could not find the pieces. That article also got hundreds of thousands of page views in 2000. At some point, both articles disappeared from my web site as have other articles.
The past two years, I have devoted much of my writing efforts to influencing Linux use in Government. I have spoken to many groups, dug for obscure case studies. I have also championed the desktop.
In late 2002, I began working with a state Senator in Texas and helped sponsor SB 1579 so Texas government agencies could use open source software. That's when I started getting a letter a day from the BSA and/or Microsoft offering me amnesty if I would let them into my house to audit my computers. Lucky for me, I use Linux. Of course, I didn't take Microsoft up on their offer.
Over the last few weeks, I have noticed that a search on my name brings up articles written in 1999 and an obscure set of articles related to a music career that ended a couple of decades ago. I even have a spot on MSN entertainment for an album that hasn't been available in years. I really like the Japanese tech articles from 1999.
So what's going on? MSN Bot has become the preferred browser on some of my web sites creating links and generating hits. On sites I could control, I excluded it from my blog, for example, with a robots.txt file and entries. But as Tom Cruise said in the movie "A Few Good Men": The hits just keep coming.
A search on Google with the terms "robots.txt stop msnbot" will yield results asking mostly how to keep the MSN Bot from using up bandwidth and repeatedly hitting sites. As Fox News says "You Decide".
Last week, O'Reilly released a new book co-authored by me about "Exploring the JDS Linux Desktop". The real danger to Microsoft may be the fact that the book comes with a Morphix CD version of JDS. Of course, any good Linux user could build their own Morphix CD image and see how JDS really kicks. If you aren't familiar with Morphix, it's Debian based and free software. Once installed it's basically a Debian distro.
I think that if word got out, we'd have a memogate of our own and discover that Sun really isn't trying to kill Linux as George Colony claimed in an Opt-Ed piece in ZDNet UK. We'd also see how committed to Linux Sun remains and how little their ties to Microsoft remain. Also, we'd see why Sun's Linux continues to kick Microsoft in China.
If anyone does a search on my name, and winds up with an obscure Japanese Link from 1999, I can't do much about that. But, we did discover how to use the MSN bot against them --quite by accident. But these are desperate times and call for desperate measure such as luck.
One of the things I have discovered about Microsoft is how innovative they can be. In my research and activities, I have uncovered some remarkable things about a lot of companies and people. Would you find it surprising if some open source advocates were on the payrolls of commercial companies? What about discovering that all those articles about MSN search technology competing with Google simply gave MSN a search bot for manipulating the knowledge base of the Internet? The question is strictly one of conjecture; just a question for the sake of argument and to stimulate discussion about things people can do with technology.
I mean if this were politics instead of religion, you wouldn't be surprised to find that some people still believe that some questions remain about the forged documents on CBS. In case you're one of those people - CBS admitted they were forged. Of course this is about perception and no one really believes that MSN Bot would be used to manipulate what people read on web searches. Would they?
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