Bonum Certa Men Certa

Raspberry Pied in the Face -- Part III: Eben Upton's Response and Its Significance

Video download link

Summary: The founder of the "Pi" could tackle (and should have tackled) the issue swiftly and with great determination; sadly, however, his early reaction suggests passivity and a miscalculation of the harm caused

IN Part I and in Part II we explained there was no rush or urgency covering this issue, as new information emerges over time. We put accuracy first. There has been too much speculation, which was exploited by Microsoft apologists to insult the critics (e.g. "Microsoft bashing").

What we're planning to do is, we'll present one chunk of facts each day for at least a week. The following "Twitter RPI thread," as a reader put it, shows the founder of the whole thing responding to the scandal when it was still rather young (5 days ago). Maybe back then they thought the whole blunder would just go away and "age gracefully" within a day or two, at most (we keep track of some media coverage in this page; it's still in the news this morning).

The tweet does not show us a worrying/worried Microsoft apologist (the video above says more about that), as we don't suppose he cares much for Microsoft personally, but judging by context, he underplays the severity of what was done, maybe even behind his own back.

Eben Upton

"Sorry," he said, "I can't understand why you think this was a controversial thing to do."

It doesn't sound like this troubles him; he's even defending what they did, even though we thought (or hoped) he'd be the one to get them out of this mess. We broke this story a week ago. Better responses would have been something along the lines of, "we're going to look into how that happened, investigate, etc etc..."

"I gather he has not made a statement for more than a few days," an associate of ours noted. "So his position in that statement might (hopefully) be outdated. [Either way,] Twitter is blocked by JavaScript." (Since December)

"I presume he's in massive denial about making a mess of things. Whoever was behind the decision to allow microsofters into RPT and RPF set this up and cost him massively in the area of reputation. It will be very, very hard to earn it back especially with the unapologetic denial. It's to early to say what the economic impact will be for RPT and RPF but it will be felt on top of Brexit. They probably have just lost far more than the paltry >= 500k that Microsoft bribed them with."

The source of that figure will become more apparent later in this series. We're still verifying a number of things.

One noteworthy comment:

"€£500,000 – €£999,999" I would be very surprised if there was not both a non-disparagement clause and a non-disclosure agreement or other similar limitations attached to the money; didn't Microsoft Frontpage used to have a license prohibiting its use in making web pages critical of Microsoft? see: scan for 'disparage'

"The discussion about Microsoft attack on RPF seems to focus on gathering information for possible advertising purposes," our associate said, having been scanning a large number of online comments. "That's lame. Microsoft use to have the EDGI programme to assault institutions that were found to not be using Microsoft products or considering abandoning them. The real danger is that Microsoft uses the geolocation data to identify institutions to attack. Advertising is the least of the worries that the tracking can incur."

We also don't know how the inclusion of a repository can extend (as in "E.E.E") into something yet worse over time.

"After almost a decade of gaining trust," to quote someone from Hacker News, "Raspbian has now lost a huge amount in a single bad decision. It's yet even clear they even understand the depth of the mistake."

We've seen people very angry about this, even people who did not themselves buy and use such a device. The change in question can be traced back to someone from XECDesign, who certainly did not follow proper procedures and practices. The way this was done was technically shady and "whoever this microsofter's supervisor is, plus whoever signed off on the deal itself, all need to go," one reader told us. If there's someone who probably has enough clout to do this on the spot, it is Eben Upton. Hence the importance of the otherwise-meaningless tweet. It doesn't seem he has the courage to address the blunder 'head-on'.

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