Microsoft biscuits. Not a phrase you often hear. I associate Microsoft largely with poor web browsers, dreadful large scale releases, (FYI- Vista, ME, 2000, 98,), and Russian piracy. Until recently however, I hadn’t associated them with biscuits, but that’s what a government conference will do to you. I’d like to tell you all a little about the spread I so generously received from Microsoft HQ London, whilst attending UkGovCamp 12 last weekend. I can’t, it must be said, be any more specific because tonight/ this morning/ this afternoon, I’m going to talk about a whole selection of biscuits; what some might describe as a risk, too great a leap for a humble scientist. But that’s what science is all about- pushing boundaries, bringing light where once there was only darkness. For the purposes of this exercise I have enlisted the help of a large gratuitous photo.
Take a long hard look, memorise the selection. Actually, to be on the safe side here it is again.
That second photo has nothing whatsoever to do with being the only photo of the biscuits I had, or even remotely related to the fact that taking photos of biscuits at conferences isn’t the done thing. Anyway, “what were they like” I hear you ask? Do Microsoft pump their diminishing profits into quality biscuits, thereby increasingly the short supply of good will available to them? Err..kind of. The buttery biscuits were above average, but devoid of brand, so finding more of them isn’t going to happen anytime soon, or not perhaps until the next conference. Many avid readers will be aware of my misgivings of fleeting biscuits so its not exactly a positive start. And then we move onto the Bourbons. Again readers will know of the pedestal on which I place the humble Bourbon, and so it was with surprise, (they must have known I was attending, my name was on the list) that I realised something was dreadfully amiss- the fondant glueing the Bourbons together, was white. Its not for the first time, or indeed probably the last, that I’ll say it- Jesus Wept! What the hell are they playing at? But really should I have been surprised? One small look at my surroundings told me everything I needed to know. The Xbox console in the corner, the Microsoft Ad Platform banners, and the pitiful Bing light hanging from a rail. All words, no substance. The correlation between biscuit and environment was obvious. Immediately turning to thoughts of IE6, (or 7,8,and 9), and other fatal errors of judgement, (Frontpage, Encarta, Movie Maker) I could see what had happened. Somebody, somewhere, in the Microsoft accounts department, (who hold an iron fist over even the most trivial procurement), had a simple decision to make. Do we buy regular, loveable, delightful chocolate Bourbons, that we know people will like and enjoy, or do we do something hideously stupid and irrational, for no good reason, that will naturally frustrate and annoy the end user, thereby contributing further to the eventual destruction of what was an unshakeable grasp of all home computing, ever?
This is what happens when you mix biscuits and an ailing software giant. One crushing moment, a conference ruined, and a further nail in the coffin. The lesson?
Sometimes eating biscuits can transcend the mere act of eating, and make us aware of larger issues that we hadn’t previously considered, shedding light on endemic failures fueled by rabid bureaucracy, greed and poor software, (Media Player, MSN, all Office ever, Powerpoint v1} infinity). Biscuits, my friends, aren’t just a simple everyday pleasure, (they are), they’re also a vehicle capable of taking us on wondrous journeys of learning, which is something to be cherished next time you’re weighing up whether to buy those Garibaldis or not. I’d suggest you get them, its downright spiritual sometimes.