Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/11/verity_stob_moleskin/

No stranger to the moleskin trouser

Not around the water cooler

By Verity Stob

Posted in Verity Stob, 11th April 2011 10:42 GMT

Stob A website called MySpace is 'in a death spiral' according to Mr Robert Scoble, who attributes this unhappy state to its being implemented using Microsoft .NET technology, and because it is headquartered in Los Angeles, where apparently there aren't enough good programmers.

Slightly cross-eyed with concentration at his three-carry, and skilfully avoiding the crowd surrounding the Last Proper Pinball Machine in West London, the plump man navigated back through the pub to his booth and carefully placed the pint glasses on the table in front of his two companions. Then he felt in his jacket pocket and pulled out a packet of crisps.

"There you go, boys," he said, "never say I don't spoil you. I even got you a packet of Walkers Stephen Fry crisps."

(Like all modern programmers, and also users of the click languages of South Africa, he was naturally able to embed URL links into his spoken sentences.)

"No thanks, Dennis," said one of his companions, pushing the proffered packet of crunchy treats back across the table with a disdainful finger, "I would, but my doctor has put me on a low smarm diet. Actually, while you were up, Phil and me were wondering what you made of this end-of-MySpace thing?"

"Or, more properly speaking, the My_____ thing," said Phil-the-third-man, who naturally enough could pronounce the underscore character too.

"That? I had supposed that it was simply because there weren't enough places for young people to put up photos of Justin Bieberlake," said Dennis, who had daughters. "That and unsuitable self-portraits, of course."

"Actually, we were thinking more about the technological perspective. You being a C# champion, and that."

Dennis-the-C#-programmer licked beer foam off his upper lip and re-narrowed his eyes.

"Oh, right. Here we go. Jake the C++ guy and Phil the PHP guy gang up on Redmond technology. Shuffle the mp3, why don't you! Besides," – he hesitated, knowing he was bringing a weak argument into play, but needing a stalling tactic – "besides, I thought they had worked out that it was to do with good techies not wanting to live in Los Angeles?"

"What? You mean 'the ability to write code increases in proportion to the square of the distance to Hollywood'?" asked Jake scornfully. "Don't tell me you still believe in Demi Moore's Law?"

"Come on, Dennis. Anybody running a serious 24/7/365 web operation..." began Phil.

"Surely a 24/7/52.2 operation?" interrupted Dennis. "Or a 24/365/aeon operation? Having introduced the concept of a week, I don't think you should abandon it mid-cliché."

"Or perhaps a 24/29.530589/49, for those of us still holding out for general adoption of Newton's lunar cycle," added Jake, unhelpfully.

"Anybody running a serious 24/7/365 web operation," repeated Phil, struggling to regain his momentum, "with an ultra-visible public profile and terabytes of boy band and heartache to be streamed every second, should know it is suicide to use the .NET web stack. Look at any serious public website – FaceBook, Wiki, whatever – and you are looking at PHP code at work," said PHP Phil.

"Unless you are looking at StackOverflow, or maybe Dell..."

'Dell?'

"Sorry," said Dennis, "sorry, but are you really claiming that PHP, a language that has evolved from Perl's sweepings like an unexpected potato plant found growing in the compost heap, is a serious alternative to a stack powered by compiled C#, proper designed-in OO, static typing and full of LINQy goodness?"

"I'd hardly call C# 'compiled'..." began Jake, but was ruthlessly cut off by Dennis.

"Do shut up, Jake, you don't know anything about it. Go away and write a device driver, or something."

It just doesn't...

"There's one reason," said Phil, reinforcing his words with a pointing finger, "I would never, ever use .NET for a real website, not even if Steve Ballmer himself rang me personally and begged me to. And that one reason is" – he paused for dramatic effect and a mouthful of Sam Servlet's Magnetic Media Peculiar – "is this: it just doesn't scale."

"What, the 'it doesn't scale' claim already, Phil?" said  Dennis warmly. "I expected better from you. I didn't think you'd fall back so swiftly to that hackneyed grenade of bogusness. The ignorant can fling that at any technology, and reckon to flee the crime scene under cover of the ineffectual splutterings of the victim. It cuts no ice with me. I've seen the [OTT-and-NSFW-but-still-funny] MongoDB is web scale animation. I am unmoved."

"And as for you, Mister Native Code," Dennis added, rounding on Jake, who was laughing, "I suppose you are now going to lecture us on the importance of generating machine-specific object code?"

He tried to underline his challenge by popping a crisp into his mouth and crunching firmly, but the effect was significantly weakened by an errant crumb adhering to his chin.

"Well, I do think we all need to bear in mind the Evernote experience. And of course, as my reference points out, remember that MS itself abandoned an attempt to write great chunks of Windows Vista in .NET," smugged Jake.

"Instead of which they wrote it natively, with such brilliant results," muttered Dennis indistinctly through a mouthful of Stephen Fry.

"But actually, I don't think that the flabby, slow code for which .NET is rightly notorious was necessarily the primary cause of trouble," continued Jake complacently. "It's the actual developers themselves who were the problem."

"Yes, let's face it, .NET people are... well... 'thick' isn't the right word at all," said Phil.

"Oh, go on then. I can see you boys have got your toys on a roll. What is the right word?" growled Dennis.

"Your .NET programmer is very... enterprise," said Jake.

"The sort of people who buy guarantee extensions for their toasters," expanded Phil.

"The sort of people who always chortle at the Quote of the Day," explained Jake.

"They set aside time to read government leaflets on Alternative Voting."

"They can use the word 'stakeholder' without blushing."

"They have contemplated re-artexing the ceiling of the spare bedroom. Know what I mean?"

"They are no strangers to the moleskin trouser. Present company excepted, of course. Oh..."

Borne away by his part in the duet of rhetoric, Jake had forgotten until too late to check the vestments of his companions. He attempted to peer under the table while pretending not to, and quickly discovered that this is impossible.

Nobody seemed to have moved, but Phil had somehow contrived to position himself with the lower half his torso concealed by furniture.

Dennis sat up and ostentatiously brushed salty fragments of witty crisp from a corduroyed leg. "Well, fellow stakeholders, I may not scale, I may be slow, and I may be enterprise, but I do know one thing."

"What's that?" asked Jake.

Dennis smiled him a beatific smile. "It's your round," he said. ®