Sunday, December 12, 2010

Microsoft Silverlight and open standards

I made a side comment about Microsoft Silverlight on a previous post and foxfier asked if I just don't do Silverlight.

I try not to. It isn't terrible technology. In some ways it's worse than Flash, in some ways it's better. Microsoft likes to say that Silverlight is "based on" open standards because they use XML packaged up in a zip file. Two comments about that: first, it is a terrible way to do things from a technical point of view, and second, it is a trivial sop to open standards given the enormous barriers to competition that Silverlight creates.

Frankly, Silverlight represents an attempt by Microsoft to create an internet platform that they can control. Given their history, Microsoft is not a company that you want controlling any more platforms. Unless you own stock or work for Microsoft, of course. And they don't support the platform anywhere except Windows and (sort of) Apple.

Now, Adobe isn't any better than Microsoft and Flash isn't any more open, but it is, at least, much more widespread on the internet and the clients are available on more platforms. People interested in open standards can copy a single platform more easily than two. So if you have to use an application like Flash or Silverlight, and you care about keeping big companies from controlling technology that they didn't create (which is what happens when a company controls a platform), then you should go with Flash.

decency

From instapundit, this link about a critic of Sarah Palin who has been arrested for incest. Look, I think the guy was probably unfair in his comments about Sarah Palin and he may have been a real jerk in his other political writing, but there is really something indecent about taking this sort of personal revelation and using it for a political gotcha.

There is no rational connection between this man's crime and his politics. I can pretty much guarantee you that there are Sarah Palin fans who are involved in incest, not to mention child abuse, rape, and murder. Sarah has millions of fans, how could there not be?

Look, I've defended Ann Coulter from other conservatives who thought she was being too mean, and I haven't exactly pulled punches much myself on this blog, but there are lines that should not be crossed and this is one of them. Don't take family tragedies and exploit them for political gotchas. This is a family tragedy. Yes, it was deliberately caused by members of the family, but that makes it no less a tragedy. If a man tries to commit suicide and fails, is that not a tragedy to him and his family just because he acted deliberately? Would it be OK to exploit that for political gotchas?

I don't think so, and I don't think this is much different.