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Feb. 4, 1998: Gates Gets Creamed

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Old 02-04-2009
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Feb. 4, 1998: Gates Gets Creamed
1998: Microsoft mogul Bill Gates gets a pie in the face. It's a day millions have been dreaming of.
Computer software is made by humans, who are not infallible and make mistakes. Therefore, even as conceived, software will have faults.
And because humans are fallible, even well-conceived software will not be perfectly executed. Bug happens.

What's more, software is used by fallible humans, who will err in their operation of operating systems and in their application of applications.
Sometimes the weakest part of the system is the part between the chair and the keyboard. Sometimes end-user humans will not heed the advice of those who created the software. RTFM!
Whatever. Still, not all software is created equal. Some software is more error-prone than others, some is more crash-prone. Some makes erroneous assumptions about what the end user actually needs. Some software is simply more annoying, more trying of one's patience, more infuriating.
Perhaps Microsoft's software is no worse on these counts than any other company's. Or perhaps, and many people believe this, it is indeed worse, even much worse. The firm's longstanding practice of ship-it-now, fix-it-later, coupled with its deep market penetration, may be to blame for the animus some people feel toward the company.
Who among us, when presented with the infamous blue screen of death, has not damned — or used stronger language against — Microsoft's magnates and minions? Who among us, when Word or Excel or PowerPoint did what it wanted instead of what we wanted, has not once wished deep penetration or other unusual (if not cruel) punishments on the Grand Geek of Redmond?
Enter the champion of the oppressed! Enter the avenger of the digital downtrodden. Enter NoŰl Godin, a Belgian who made a practice of pieing the rich and pompous. Godin was so widely appreciated that he was called L'entarteur, or the Pieman. He even spawned a new French verb, entarter, to hit someone in the face with pastry.
Enter Bill Gates into a European Union building — or try to enter, anyway. The then-CEO of Microsoft was visiting Brussels to speak with EU officials, who didn't particularly like what they considered Microsoft's monopolistic practices.
But before he could get inside, Godin ducked from behind a pillar and gave Gates a face full of fromage frais, or whatever it was.
Gates appeared shaken. Godin got away.
Police detained an accomplice and a photographer, but let them go after Godin went on TV and took credit for the creaming.
Gates had weightier legal matters on his mind and was also in the midst of a PR campaign to lighten up Microsoft's image and his own. So, he chose not to press charges, or even charge for pressing.
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