(David is on the left, and I'm the guy on the right)
Anyway, here's what happened:
Not to say that big brother is everywhere, but short of having microsoft people monitoring our lists and newsgroups (with wouldn't overly surprise me, after all they also tried a PR compain with magazines, posing as simple users who liked microsoft products), the announcement was available in several places, including freshneat and Linux Today, as well as the Svlug web page, so I did expect some microsoft people to have learned about it, some way or another, and to be waiting for us there.
They were actually much smarter than that, and did what I hadn't quite expected:
two microsoft people, Dan Frumin and Mike, met us at the cafe where we had
planned to meet before going to the ms event.
Basically they were worried to have an unknown number of linux geeks rampaging around their party, and kind of overwhelm the place.
Our goal wasn't obviously to ruin their party, but it's true that having 30 to 40 geeky looking people, with our crazy Sam Ockman harassing people in suit with Linux CDs (just kidding Sam ), might have been somewhat disruptive.
Their offer was to give us 5 SVLUG badges to let 5 of us in at a time, and let us rotate. Their claim was that you actually had to have received an invitation from them before being able to RSVP.
One of the five badges they had prepared for us
This may or may not have been true as in practise, anyone who RSVPed in time did
have a badge waiting for them at the entrance, whether or not they had received
an initial invitation of microsoft.
Those who tried to RSVP later received an Email saying that they could still register at the door, and it's only the last day that their autoresponder said that they event was full (some thought that they just refused requests from obvious linux people, like me when I forgot to strip out my "Microsoft is to software what McDonalds is to gourmet cooking" signature in my first RSVP, but that was just a conspiracy theory, someone simply modified their script on the event day to reject further RSVPs)
My point is that it would have been possible for at least some of us (as long as it wasn't too obvious) to RSVP at the door and get a badge.
Their second option was to invite us all to eat instead, so that none of us
wouldn't have to wait outside in the cold :-)
That was obviously a nice try, and we politely declined.
Of course the third option would have been to ignore them and try to sneak as many of us in as we could have.
We however went with the first one because:
Picture of the New York Times photographer and Yoshimoto-San
From left to righ: Brian Chrisman, Jesse Mundis, Mark Smith, and Wayne Earl
From left to right, Marc Merlin (that'd be me ), Mark Smith, and Josh Hill
As you can see, some people brought some nice signs (and I also have a zoomed picture of the back)
Another two officers from SVLUG, Ian Kluft and Sam Ockman on the left of each picture. On the right of each picture, two of our linux enthousiasts: Colin Howell and Alexandre Petit-Bianco
A few bold ones in the group did go through that door, but some got assimilated
Abandon hope all ye who enter here
The funny thing is that a couple of ladies inside actually pet tux, my penguin that I was carrying along with me. You have to admit that it's a cute penguin :-)
Here we have Allison Huynh, who definitely likes Tux. So, who said that girls don't like linux?
Let's face it, we had some awesome guys there. Here we have Drew Bertola going beyond the call the duty
"Dad, there's weird guy who's trying to give me a CD" - "Don't worry, our penguins don't bite"
After most people got out and had a second shot at getting a CD from us, we left for a local Pizza à gogo. Some of us took a microsoft gift (cocktail glass and t-shirt, both with microsoft logo). I personally got neither since I didn't quite see where I could have used them with them having a logo and all.
Then, Dan from microsoft called the pizzeria where we were to pay us a round of beers and sodas, which was obviously nice of them. After that, we eventually headed home.
Our legendary Rick Moen, the man who has his own FAQ
Now, if you have a closer look, you'll notice that in fact some of us who had entered the ms building had been assimilated
(the T-shirt and the badge say: "Microsoft, Silicon Valley Developer Center"). Rest assured that we took the necessary steps to put him back on the right track, starting with preventing him to watch Babylon V that evening (private joke) .
I have to say that the microsoft people were really cool with us. They behaved
much more intelligently than the Fry's manager who called the cops to have us
thrown out during the Win98 launch a few months ago.
Don't take me wrong, I still think their OSes are crap, along with many (but not all) of their software products. I still think they're a monopolistic company which thrives to crush their competition without worring too much about laws, and that constantly changing their protocols and file formats to make sure people can't really be compatible with them is plain evil (the list is longer than that, but I'll spare you the rest).
Yet, they are also very careful at not getting bad press and they did let us get away with things like taking pictures with tux in from of their logo (no one even told us anything). I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by their positive behavior, and the little things they did to be nice to us.
Thanks all those who came, and see you all next time.
Marc Merlin firstname.lastname@example.org
(feel free to write me to give your name if you recognize yourself on a picture. Also, if you are a journalist and have some questions about the event, feel free to send me Email)
A few Emailed me to ask where they could buy Tux, the penguin. I got mine from Linuxmall a couple of years ago.
Last updated on November 20th 1998. V 1.11