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Microsoft Programming Linux

Microsoft Apologizes For Inserting Naughty Phrase Into Linux Kernel 897

Posted by timothy
from the brogrammers-at-work dept.
netbuzz writes "Microsoft has apologized and promised to rectify the fact that one of its developers slipped a sexist phrase into Linux kernel code supporting Microsoft's HyperV virtualization environment. In that code, the magic constant passed through to the hypervisor reads '0xB16B00B5,' or a slightly camouflaged 'BIG BOOBS.' After Linux developer/blogger Matthew Garrett criticized Microsoft for the stunt, the predictable debate over sexism in the technology world ensued. Microsoft issued a statement to Network World apologizing and added, 'We have submitted a patch to fix this issue and the change will be published in a future release of the kernel.'"
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Microsoft Apologizes For Inserting Naughty Phrase Into Linux Kernel

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  • Babecafe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by unts (754160) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @02:37PM (#40702869) Homepage Journal

    0xBABECAFE or 0xDEADBEEF are both slightly less controversial.

  • Sexism in tech (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @03:07PM (#40703319)

    There is enough real sexism that runs throughout tech circles that bringing up stupid things like this does nothing but give deniers more ammunition to point to when dismissing any charges of sexism as stupid.

    I am a woman, I used to work in tech (and now do tech for research academics), and I have experienced a pretty large amount of sexist behavior in my career, from the merely annoying ("you must be the secretary" "no, I'm the team lead") to the work affecting and frustrating ("let me condescendingly explain this incredibly simple thing to you and completely tune out anything you're saying because girls are dumb") to the incredibly fucking horrifying ("you should be raped for doing this that way" "stupid cunt" - yes, both said by people I was collaborating with, and the repercussions to them weren't nearly as severe as they should have been for such a transgression).

    A variable named big boobs is so not even on my fucking radar and is so fucking stupid to even mention that I'm actually kind of pissed so anyone even mentioned it. It's dumb and childish to put it in in the first place, but who cares?

  • by Teppy (105859) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @03:15PM (#40703443) Homepage
    Oh, there's a lot of things that are now considered insensitive that didn't used to be. For instance "idiot" and "imbecile" used to be clinically accepted ways of describing people with low IQ (0-25, and of 26-50 respectively.)

    My sister works in the mental health field and was horrified when I used the word "retarded" to describe a certain child. I believe the accepted term is now "differently tarded."
  • Re:Oh come on. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @03:53PM (#40704005)

    One product I worked on had an easter egg; just a picture of the development team (before my time) showing up on screen if you held down certain keys while booting. Sometime later a customer found this (after my time). The company had new owners and the new German management were not fun loving, and demanded it be removed. This was an older product still being maintained but with many original engineers being long gone.

    However none of the current engineers for the front end UI board knew anything about this stuff or how it got in there. They did a throrough code search and could not find anything that contained that picture or triggered it. None of the code that monitored the key presses seemed to do anything unusual and the boot up code was straight forward. Eventually someone found it after chasing down rumors. Turns out the easter egg was in a back end data processing board and the image was stored in ROM, key presses were monitored on the buss I think. Now the snag was that they couldn't just put in a software patch to fix this. I don't remember the details here but I think they had to leave the image in ROM but had some sort of firmware fix so that it wouldn't be activated.

  • by makomk (752139) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @04:56PM (#40704793) Journal

    Not really. Last I heard, Matthew Garrett was trying to get Stallman banned from speaking at various conferences over his sexist jokes. Microsoft has very little to do with it, except in so much as you might expect them to know better.

  • Re:Not getting it... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @04:58PM (#40704807)

    YOU don't see anything wrong with it. YOU aren't offended by it. That's very nice and all, but

    I both am not offended by it nor do I see something wrong with it. You do realize that these two things are not the same, right?

    Your entire post is based on the premise that if someone is offended by something, then there is something wrong with that something. It is that premise that is whats wrong.

    You are advocating the politically correct version of the thought police, but instead of telling people how they should think.. you are trying to tell people that they cant induce particular thoughts ("offended") in others. How dare I alter someones thoughts to a mode of being offended.. right? How dare I?

    Did it ever occur to you that the "wrong" part in this whole ordeal (besides your entire post) is that someone got offended in the first place? If someone gets offended easily we call it a disorder. Hypersensitive blah blah and all that. You are suggesting that its normal to be offended by some thing, just not a lot of things. Those facts are not in evidence.

    I suggest that its always wrong to be offended.. that its always a psychosis. What happens inside your head is your business, not mine. Dont make it mine. you wont like that.

  • Re:Not getting it... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tftp (111690) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @05:24PM (#40705001) Homepage

    All we're asking, if we're asking for anything at all, is that you develop a little flexibility. There's a time for being a professional man, and a time for being a sexually aroused man.

    Men cannot effectively control these reactions, short of whipping themselves, or taking an ice-cold shower every other minute. Even monks cannot claim that they are in control of themselves. What you are asking about is technically impossible in most cases (excepting blind, deaf, dead, very old, or gay men.) Humans look at other humans in well defined sequences, and science discovered those long time ago. Those sequences are selected by evolution as being most beneficial for safety and replication. Humans are not in control of that - it happens faster than one can think. Perhaps a blindfold will help? But no, this will be seen by women as an affront as well :-)

    If a man makes a heroic effort to ignore your sexy attire, still he will be extremely distracted by the circumstances; he will not entirely be a professional focused on the job. Such a man will likely be unwilling to work with you in the future, seeing you not as a colleague but as a distraction that cannot end well. It will be a purely logical decision to stay away from a troublemaker. Office is for work, and only a fool would use it differently. (Not that there aren't many fools around.)

    And most of us women, while yes, we do sometimes dress sexy at work, that's not a comeon for you at work.

    Similarly, a man might hop into his Porsche 911 and drive through a city at 180 mph, but that's not an invitation to the Highway Patrol to stop him.

    Unfortunately, some things are related. If y=f(x) you cannot manipulate 'x' with impunity and expect the 'y' to be where you like it to be today. Pull a cat by the tail and it will say meow.

    That's a meet me after work proposition.

    Many women take it for granted that men can unerringly read their thoughts and extract hidden meanings from little details. However in practice men will have difficulty in reading your intentions even if you print them on a placard and carry it with you everywhere :-) The art of communicating hidden messages with small gestures or positions of a hat died along with the courts of kings. Men just don't bother inferring hints anymore; among men it is a good rule to communicate simply and clearly, so that your message does not have to be decoded. The language of the army is an ultimate example of that - the cost of misunderstanding there is extremely high; you speak clearly or people die.

  • Re:0xB16B00B5 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kate6 (895650) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @06:10PM (#40705467) Homepage
    I don't really feel like this is an appropriate forum to get into an in-depth discussion of feminist philosophy.

    That being said, IMHO if female coworkers were routinely commenting on the size of your nose or your waist line, that would very definitely be unprofessional behavior on their part.  And if a female programmer named her constants things like "TINY_DICK_LOSER," I'd count that as sexism.

    I'm not suggesting or supporting any sort of double standard -- I'm just suggesting that a professional environment involves placing a few boundaries on your behavior in order to make *sure* that, to use your words, "everyone gets along, has a good time and enjoys what they're doing."  That might mean not making the overweight man overly self conscious about his weight, it might mean making a point of making *eye contact* with the lady with the well-endowed chest, it might mean refraining from mentioning that you spent your weekend picketing an abortion clinic, or that you spent your weekend campaigning for gay marriage.

    You don't make the assumption that your co-workers are all going to feel the same way as you on any potentially charged issue.
  • Re:0xB16B00B5 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by arth1 (260657) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @06:33PM (#40705745) Homepage Journal

    it might mean making a point of making *eye contact* with the lady with the well-endowed chest

    Where I grew up, only ophthalmologists and people who wanted to fuck you made eye contact. Even after 13 years in the US, I still can't make eye contact without it becoming obvious how much I dislike it. If my gaze is further down it's because I was brought up to be polite.

    On the other hand, I also grew up without equating breasts or nudity with sex. Big breasts, big ears, big calves - it's pretty much all the same. They're just body parts we all have in various sizes. *shrug*

  • Re:0xB16B00B5 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by arth1 (260657) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @06:54PM (#40705947) Homepage Journal

    > I use 0xdeadbeef as a magic constant

    Have you considered how offensive that can be to vegans?

    Or many Indians, for that matter.

    The problem is that you want a long word that's instantly recognizable, unlikely to occur in normal use. Preferably odd so it will throw a violation on any pointer usage wider than bytes on most systems, and with the high bit set so it can trigger signed/unsigned 31/32 bit assignment tests.

    And it should also be fairly unique - everyone uses 0xDEADBEEF and the other commonly known ones, so don't pick those if you want to know whether it was your driver that caused the crash.

    B16B00B5 is near ideal in this respect, except for B00B being a loaded word in some cultures. I'm not sure DEFEC8ED or BABEF00D would be much better. 0xBAAAAAAD perhaps?

  • Re:0xB16B00B5 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:22PM (#40706193) Homepage Journal

    Both of which are far more social; which I think likes the reason for such a low amount of women Computer programmers.

    Sit in a cube by your self all day. Women are much more social then men.

    OF COURSE these are generalities.

  • Re:0xB16B00B5 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garett_spencley (193892) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @10:35PM (#40707427) Journal

    "If a woman was going around bragging about her conquests she'd be labelled a slut and people would talk shit on her, while the dude, after being called a pig, is applauded."

    By women. The men I know would be asking for her phone number.

    "You don't see the impact of patriarchal society because you don't experience the effects. The same way that many white people feel that there is no such thing as institutionalized racism in North America because they don't experience it."

    I find that interesting because as I hinted to, I've experienced the same thing from a male's perspective, from my own family. I experience gender bias all the time from people who proudly label themselves "feminists." They make generalizations about men, they side with my wife every time the two of us have a dispute and we seek support from family, they speak for me as if they know what I'm going to do and the false assumptions they make are based on the fact that I have a penis. Women think they know what I'm thinking and what my intentions are just because I'm a man. So I know exactly how it feels and I do experience it, only I experience it from the same people who complaining about it most vocally.

    That's what I was alluding to when I said "... I don't see it. In fact, I see the trend going in the opposite direction." and "the complete double-standard backwardness that has been instituted in the name of 'feminism.'"

    I remember a time when I was working along side a female sysadmin. The two of us always got along and worked very well together. One day we had a dispute, I wish I could remember what it was about but it's not that important, she got extremely upset and accused me of being sexist and hating women etc. I would have been very open to the possibility that I said something which was perceived as sexist completely unintentionally, but fortunately for me the argument was made in front of several witnesses, some of them women, and they didn't understand where she was coming from. Now that may be her past experiences causing biases which were transferred to me, perhaps she worked with a lot of chauvinists and/or misogynists and something about our argument worked as a trigger, but I submit that as one small piece of anecdotal evidence that men are being thrown under the bus in a huge way and the "movement" is becoming quite hypocritical without even realizing it. Publicly accusing someone of gender bias in the workplace is a very big deal.

  • Re:0xB16B00B5 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @11:07PM (#40707565)

    Or maybe you are being overly sensitive.

    This is at worst childish, not sexist.

    I agree, but FYI the reason why it was thought to be sexist was "At the most basic level it's just straightforward childish humour, and the use of vaguely-English strings in magic hex constants is hardly uncommon. But it's also specifically male childish humour. Puerile sniggering at breasts contributes to the continuing impression that software development is a boys club where girls aren't welcome."

    Anyone who sees it as sexist is trolling for attention or is trying to make herself feel special.

    You say "herself" as if it could only be a women who would agree that this was sexist. But from the article it seems to have been someone called "Paolo", which I assume is a boy's name, and there is a Matthew involved as well. Many men like the ideal of human equality and are sensitive to sexism, just as many whites like the idea of human equality and are sensitive to racism.

    As I said, I think they are being oversensitive in this case - but, in my mind it's better to be oversensitive and get a few false positives than the reverse. At least they are trying to promote equlity in our culture.

  • Re:0xB16B00B5 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Evtim (1022085) on Friday July 20, 2012 @04:55AM (#40709199)

    Mod parent +1 000 000! How many articles we have read saying that the modern, educated male has little to do with the "patriarch" image. Damn it, wasn't there a study finding that modern males are in fact becoming ever more responsible and less cheating! You know, exactly those urban types to which our grandparents were saying that we would rot in hell for living "in the big sin cities" of today! You know the grandparents who were REALLY sexists and fucked around so much that they would put a shame to an urban Casanova of today...

    On a related note here is on of my warmest family memory so far:

    We are in a plane. I am sitting in the middle seat, next to the window is a dude, my wife sits next to the walk (my left). The stewardess arrives with hot drinks (tea and coffee). The safest way of distributing hot drinks is to start with the person next to the window, then the middle....All the three of us instinctively sensed this so the dude sitting next to the window reaches first, I go second and my wife - third. At that moment the stewardess scolds me and the dude for "leaving the woman last instead of letting her first" upon which my wife looks coolly at her and says "I though we are equal"

    The face of the stewardess after the retort - priceless!

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