Can a free laptop move the dial?

So I log in this morning and open up my e-mail to see what kind of blogstorm this free/gift/review Acer Ferrari laptop from Microsoft and AMD has caused. It seems that the blogosphere is interested in the news and that opinions vary widely between in implying that I’ve been bought as a blogger to congratulations on a great score.

Some of the choice comments that I got on my blog so far:

  • a.hoc: If you keep it you’ll never be viewed as someone who is capable of having an unbiased opinion. Cout me in as one of many who won’t be returning to your blog. Unsubscribed.
  • fred: notgartner blog: bought and paid for
  • allison: Have you figured out why you only got a 1000 and others got a 5000? [reply: Not sure Allison, although I think it might be something to do with my dainty fingers :P]
  • Callie: the entire blogosphere is aware of all the other bloggers who’ve received this same gift, and that’s what it is – aka, a bribe.

First off, thanks to all that seem to be interested and passionate enough about this to respond. Some of the comments seem a bit harsh or misdirected at best, but I will address that in a moment. There has also been a fairly large number of trackbacks to other peoples blogs, I’ve categorised them (mostly for myself):

That is a lot of feedback in under 24-hours, especially for a B-list (if even) blogger like myself. In fact the whole affair has caused a spike in my blogs traffic:

But what can I say to those that imply that I’ve been bought because its something that doesn’t sit comfortably with me.

Moving the Dial

The idea of a bribe is to effectively change the behavior of someone by giving them something they want, like money, lovin’, or as proposed in this case, a gadget. But before you can go around suggesting that I’ve been bribed to say good things about Vista, Acer or AMD you first need to determine that my behavior has changed – did Microsoft move the dial?

Because I don’t know all of the people that suggested that I had been bought (a.hoc, fred, Callie) I am not sure how long they have been reading my blog or whether they know much about me, but here are some facts:

  1. I am a software developer that has been working with Microsoft’s .NET platform pretty much exclusively since the year 2000.
  2. I co-founded the Melbourne .NET User Group (although I have since moved interstate and it is run by others now as the Victoria .NET Special Interest Group).
  3. I have represented Australia to the International .NET Association.
  4. I have been awarded as a member of the Microsoft MVP program for five consecutive years (or is it more) – full disclosure, MVPs get access to a MSDN Premium subscription for free.
  5. I have been a member of the ASPInsiders group since inception.
  6. I work as a Senior Consultant for a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner called Readify which does a lot of work for Microsoft and Microsoft Consulting Services.
  7. I’ve spoken at a number of major Microsoft technical events, in particular TechEd Australia 2004, 2005 and 2006.
  8. I am a co-organiser of Code Camp Oz, a Microsoft-centric community event held in Australia each year (third year coming up).
  9. Most recently I was a guest editor on TechTalkBlogs which was started by Microsoft’s very own Frank Arrigo.
  10. During November I toured Australia (six cities) presenting at the partner-orientated Ready Summit where I presented in UI, security and data enhancements in Vista.

That is a fair bit of Microsoft centric activity right there so to argue that Microsoft could move the dial on the tone of my blogging is simply laughable, I am already a fan of their technology, and if you are coming to my blog expecting me to encourage people to avoid Microsoft products you are probably barking up the wrong tree.

I write my blog for me, and to be honest I am still amused that anyone would bother downloading the content that I write, I guess its for my technical observations and the other stuff that I dig up. I doubt it is for my unbiased writing style :)

What is happening to the laptop?

Well, to be honest I’ve been running Vista on and off for the past three years (back when it was called Longhorn) and pretty much non-stop for the past six to nine months, so there isn’t much in the platform that I don’t already know about (although as a developer I am always finding new APIs to tinker with). That is why I started out with a mostly hardware orientated review because I thought I could definately do it justice (it is new hardware territory for me).

Next I am going to give the laptop to my wife who has hardly used Vista at all and has actually being resisting until it came out of BETA. This will be her first laptop and her first time running Vista and my plan is to somehow capture her feedback as a “Vista-newbie”. Some of the things that I thought would be a good outcome was:

  1. Nicola starts a blog and journals her experiences there.
  2. Nicola guest writes on my blog and journals her experiences here.
  3. Nicola and I do some screencasts together playing with Vista.
  4. What do you think?

All of this is part of my goal of getting my wife blogging, so far I’ve been unsuccessful but to be honest, given the reactions of some people on this blog you can hardly blame her for being a little bit gun shy.

Summary

I am not even sure if this whole thing would have been noticed if folks like Robert Scoble didn’t blog about it, but I think even he is swinging around to the idea that this is a pretty good marketing ploy. As he points out I think one of the key issues is disclosure, and in my case I did disclose that I was sent the laptop for free from Microsoft – and even in this post I’ve disclosed more about myself that some of my new subscribers didn’t know about (regular subscribers would know most of the above about me anyway).

Ironically I posted up this piece the day before the laptop arrived about marketeers earning mindshare rather than buying it. On the surface this might look like a circumstance where my advice wasn’t heeded, however, I actually believe that this is a perfect example of how the blogosphere can actually “arrive early”. In this case I think that the Vanishing Point Game is more newsworthy than a few geek bloggers getting laptops.

Finally, this blog is about me and who I am, it is not about what I am trying to sell (or what others are trying to sell). It reflects my thoughts, interests and passions, I am not a journalist so don’t try to hold me to a set of standards which I have not signed on to uphold.

 

About these ads

85 thoughts on “Can a free laptop move the dial?

  1. Pingback: Microsoft hands out Ferrari’s to bloggers - istartedsomething

  2. William Tulloch

    Mitch,
    Personally i think everyone is getting their knickers in a knot over nothing. If anything it is probably jealousy. Hell who wouldn’t like a laptop to turn up on their door step unannounced. As far as being bribe, considering your Microsoft-centicity it would be hard to guess what you were being bribed for. On the other hand if a super new Mac laptop was to arrive at your house…

  3. Fred Pugsley

    Good for you, Mitch. Most of the guys who criticised you for being a “bought & paid for” blogger simply don’t understand how things work in Redmond. Enjoy the laptop & keep on doing what you’re doing

  4. Michael Wales

    I saw your comment on my blog and decided to check yours out.

    My opinions on M$ giving away free laptops:
    I would gladly take one and I wouldn’t see as a bribe at all. If Microsoft gave me a laptop I would obviously think they are a great company (hell, I do without the laptop).

    All in all – I’m an Airmen in the US military – I don’t make shit for money and the only person that received Christmas gifts in my house this year was my daughter. A free laptop would be one hell of a (late) Christmas gift for my wife.

  5. Kevin Daly

    You know you’re doing well by the kind of people you annoy :-)

    I’ve always enjoyed the dramatic pomposity of people who finish with “Unsubscribed” as if that’s going to have some poor blogger thinking “Oh God, what have I done?!!!”.

    Not to mention the word “blogosphere” (and please people, don’t. Just stop. Before you go blind).

    Anyway, you do make a key point: why would Microsoft bother bribing someone who is already an active member of the Microsoft ecology? Surely they’d be better off trying to “turn” the editor of Mac Fetishist magazine (OK I’m not 100% sure there is a magazine called that exactly, but you get my point). And if I thought they were going to do *that* I’d naturally escalate from mild bitching about the state of Vista-readiness of the developer platform to full Slashdot-level, spelling-Microsoft-with-dollar-signs ranting, since you can’t beat a good bribe.
    But sadly for me, the only bribery is in the imaginations of some rather sad people.

  6. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Fred,

    I guess I should thank you for getting me into .NET in the first place all those years ago. Thanks for the feedback but I’ll be putting out a post tonight about giving the laptop away at the end of January/beginning of February.

    Not really my choice since I had promised it to my wife, but Microsoft has now requested that we don’t keep them.

  7. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Michael,

    Sorry to hear about the hard times. I see you don’t seem to blog much about your service – are you actively enlisted?

  8. Pingback: lamerslame.net - the personal blog of mike brown » Blog Archive » MS gives bloggers free laptops - What would you do?

  9. Pingback: T-Zombix (The Chronicles of…) » Blog Archive » Laptopi blogerima

  10. Pingback: Microsoft’s Giveaways Cause Quite a Stir - CyberNet News: Keeping you plugged in!

  11. Mikal

    Mitch,

    (long time no see).

    I’d kinda assumed that the machine was a standard “kick back” to Microsoft MVPs… You are still one, right?

    While I wont say I’m a big Microsoft supporter (I work for a competitor, have been using Linux for the last 10 years, and am finally Windows free), it seems to me that it’s fair enough for Microsoft to provide training resources to MVPs. Don’t you also get flights to Redmond, copies of MSDN, a back rub from Frank?

    It seems to me that most of the complaining comes down to jealousy. Especially if you disclosed the machine as a gift.

    Oh, and Microsoft taking it back again (or dictating how to dispose of the machine) just leaves me with the impression that Microsoft lacks the courage of their convictions. Surely if individual bloggers thought there was a tainting issue they are big enough to resolve that for themselves without a mandate from above?

    Mikal

  12. BobH

    Once you accept a gift like this (and if you don’t have to return it then it is most certainly a gift) you have officially defined yourself as a whore. Just like the bloggers who took money from politicians, or the ones who accepted free trips to Amsterdam. You’ve hung out a sign that says, “I’m for sale.”

    That’s your choice. But pretty soon nobody can be sure if you’re espousing a point of view because you truly believe it or because somebody paid you to believe it. And if you think you can accept payola without it affecting your independence, you’re extremely naive.

    Oh, and you forfeit all rights to speak credibly about the biases of the mainstream media.

  13. Pingback: A Day in the Life of an Airman » MichaelWales.com

  14. andrew/crucible

    Hey Mitch,

    I’ve been following you since I saw you speak at last years Code Camp and I don’t know how people think this is going to sway you in some way – getting a free laptop… you’ve talked about Vista before, and like most of us MS technology excites you (isn’t that why we’re in this game?).

    Seriously, if people think one laptop is going to stop you being impartial they’re kinda dreaming.

    And it’s no loss if they unsub.

    That said I’m pretty much a MS fanboy because their technology does excite me and because it’s so much a part of what I do day to day.

    If Linux ever took over the world like some wish, and became part of my business then I’d be more about Linux I’d guess.

    But yeah, I don’t see one laptop making someone more of a fanboy when they’re already a great supporter and “evangelist” such as yourself. :)

    That said, a couple of months you’ll give away the laptop? Hmmm how about at the next Code Camp? :)

    As for this sort of thinking: “Once you accept a gift like this (and if you don’t have to return it then it is most certainly a gift) you have officially defined yourself as a whore. Just like the bloggers who took money from politicians, or the ones who accepted free trips to Amsterdam. You’ve hung out a sign that says, “I’m for sale.””

    Thats complete crap. Mitch does a lot for the Australian community, he helps out with Code Camp and TechNet and whatever else. I don’t see it as a bribe or whoring himself whatsoever. I see it more as a reward, like a mini MVP reward for the effort Mitch has put in for .NET and development in Australia.

    I’m sorry you’ve got to give it away Mitch, and I’m sorry that people go around saying garbage like that. I really don’t think they think about what you do for all of us before they go around accusing people.

  15. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Mikal, long time no chat. I’ve been reading about your travels with interest. This wasn’t part of the MVP program, it was about getting properly configured machines out for review and possibly feedback.

    It seems that it has been derailed but I guess I just have to live with that. Oh well.

  16. Pingback: Rob Farley : Acer Ferrari laptop giveaway

  17. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Andrew, thanks for the kind words. I guess we are now officially in the aftermath. I won’t be posting more about the blogospheres reaction to the laptops, but I will be posting my reviews.

  18. MRS Blackmoore

    Hello,
    I really like your words here. I have been following the news as of late in different blogs about this whole thing. I don’t think that you have compromised your integrity one bit. Anyone who has claimed to have taken the time to understand your format as a blogger, should have also noticed the impressive microsoft-laden paths you have taken and found it completely silly to accuse you of being bought.
    keep up the good work.
    Ronin

  19. Jason N. Gaylord

    Mitch,

    Haven’t seen you since the summit last year. Anyway, I don’t get what the big deal is. I missed out on a free laptop, but anyone who got one is probably well deserving of one, you especially. Keep up the good work Mitch!

    BLOG: My opinion

    Jason

  20. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Jason,

    Yeah. I am still deciding whether I am going to the summit this year. Thanks for you thoughts – I thought the comments on the eWeek article were interesting :)

  21. David Mackie

    Not sure Laptops change your dial but ….
    “training resources to MVPs. Don’t you also get flights to Redmond, copies of MSDN, a back rub from Frank?” back rubs from Frank may invigorate the rush for new MVP awardees

  22. rochmind

    This is probably the one and only time I have visited this blog – courtesy of the free lappy conundrum. How do I get on the list to get a free one too?

  23. Jacques Surveyer

    This debate is missing one key piece of information – Microsoft legally restricts through its EULA what can be said negatively or in test/benchmarks about its software (see here for details and links: http://www.theopensourcery.com/wordp1/index.php ).

    So what does this mean – Ferrari-ized bloggers can say nice things about Vista – but they can’t say negative or benchmark based things about Vista, Office 2007, or other software apparently.

    And of course anointed bloggers, even MVP bloggers, have been given an excellent opportunity to test this.

    Do some benchmarks of Vista versus Linux. These machines have big drives of 160GB. So dual boot them, add your favorite Linux – my recommendations are Redhat Fedora, Ubuntu, or Xandros – and do benchmarks all over the place. Speed of Explorer, file copies, program start-up in Vista are just scratch the surface ideas. Office 2007 again presents some wonderful benchmarking opportunities.
    But the piece de resistance would be to compare MySQL with Access and/or SQL Server – and here is the free database to do it with.

    Well Mitch, you may have been given an implicit dispensation on Microsoft EULA’s benchmarking restrictions – why not do the right thing and give us a review and comparison that would be of keen interest – how well does Vista measure up to Linux on the desktop on identically the same machine. In fact the whole “anointed” blogging crew has been given an unprecedented opportunity to do this. What say you ??

  24. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Jacques,

    Sounds like an interesting challenge. *IF* I agree to do it, what distro would I use/would you recommend for this particular hardware configuration.

  25. Pingback: TPN:: G’day World » Blog Archive » G’DAY WORLD PODCAST 179 - Saddam’s Execution, Cure A Christian, and Mitch Denny’s Ferrari

  26. Pingback: TPN:: G’day World » Blog Archive » G’DAY WORLD PODCAST 180 - We Cure Our First Christian!

  27. Pingback: The great Microsoft laptop giveaway debate « myblog = new james.mccutcheon.blog();

  28. Pingback: social media group corporate blogging » Blog Archive » Controversial declarations and smokescreens

  29. nashvillephan

    I worked at a newspaper, and we were always sent CDs, books, playstation games, etc free of charge to use and review for the paper. It’s not bribery…there is nothing that says you can’t try Vista, think it’s crap and say so

  30. Pingback: ABC Digital Futures » Blog Archive » Microsoft’s Laptop Gift & The ABC Of Ethics

  31. Pingback: Veličković :: blog » Isplati se

  32. Hanif

    hello, I am in Indonesia
    everyone give me a laptop, please
    ( new or second ) no problem
    because I can’t buy it

    thank’s

  33. Narada Jayasingha

    I am student fo advansced tcenologycal institute in Sri Lanka so I need a any usablecomputer to follow this course

  34. Pingback: Techronical » Look what parked itself in my Driveway - an Acer Ferrari 1000 Laptop!

  35. didik bekti p.

    IAM IN INDONESIA, CAN YOU HELP TO GIVE LAPTOP NOT NEW, SECOND LAPTOP IT’S OKEY STILL WORK

  36. didik bekti purwanto

    I am a socio-economics researcher and i am moveble and
    i need a laptop for help my studies.
    My adress is
    Surokarsan Street. MG2 No.459
    YOGYAKARTA 55151
    INDONESIAN
    telp. +628562935849 or +622747012773
    Thanks,God Bless You!!1

  37. mohammad faheem khan

    my name is m.faheem khan .i m doing engineering but i have some problem in my study.
    i m doing engg but since i have no pc or laptop which is necessary.so plz help me i will be very thankful to u for this act of kindnes.
    my address is,
    n.w.f.p uet peshawar mardan campus
    batch 4th telecommunicatio dept
    hostel 4 room no-3
    country: pakistan

  38. suan

    sri please hept me i am a student ican’t buy laptop notnew second laptop ITstill ok
    k.k.halli,a.e.c.s college
    bengalore,india

  39. jez

    is this all fro real. wish i could afford a new laptop. mines an old dell latitiude that works slightly faster than a typewriter. humn

  40. Pingback: Microsoft sending free computers to bloggers? « Electronic WordPress

  41. bright

    i you to give me a free laptop with demanding any thing from me. please GOD WIL BLESS YOU AS YOU GIVE ME FREE LAPTOP.

  42. michael

    i’m a student in information communication technologie in a university in nigeria but computers are so few we can even spend a whole week without touching a mouse so i am begging for someone who could help me to get a laptop so my dreams of becoming a powerfull engeneer will be true. i m 19 my e-mail is pinkybecky90@yahoo.com
    thank you for your goodness.

  43. Donatus Enebuse

    hi there,
    please i want to know how i can get a free laptop, or if i can get a free laptop from you. i am a computer student in nigeria without a computer to practicalize my skills.

  44. nosa

    i am a computer student please i want to know how i can get a free laptop, or if i can get a free laptop from you. i am a computer student in nigeria without a computer to practicalize my skills.

  45. yashwanth

    hi
    my name is yashwanth iam poor iwant to have free laptop.how can iget it
    iam an indian ican buy it ihope u will heip for me with lord jesus bless.

  46. wow

    wow.. half of these people asking for a free laptop sound like the same guy, but i think its great you gave one away, and who cares if they are indonesian or indian or whatever.. not all indian people n stuff are poor, these people are sick liars -.- k lol idk why i posted this but im not eraseing it all now :)

  47. victoria

    I HAVE 5 KIDS AND THEY ARE ALWAYS ON THE COMPUTER.I GET DISABILTY AND I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A LAPTOP FOR FREETHEN I COULD HID IN MY ROOM AND STILL GO ONLINE.

  48. AKINSOLA

    HELLO!
    GOOD DAY! I AM SO HAPPY TO EXPRESS MYSELF TO YOU.
    I AM LOOKING FOR SOME ONE THAT CAN PITY ME TO GIVE ME A LAPTOP FOR FREE.
    THIS HAS BEEN MY EVERY DAY WEEPING! BECAUSE I AM DOING COMPUTER COURSES[ A+ & SYSTEM ENGINEERING], NOW MY LECTURER IS ADVICING ME THAT I SHOULD GET A LAPTOP.EITHER USED OR NEW TO WRITE MY PROJECTS.
    PLZ, I AM LOOKING FOR YOUR HELP! I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO BUY IT, I’M LOOKING IN FAVOUR THAT YOU SHOULD PLS ASSIST ME. IT IS MAKING ME PERSIMISTIC IN ACHIEVING MY SUCCESS IN MY COMPUTER COURSES!
    IF I AM LUCKY TO GET ONE, HERE IS MY UNCLE’S ADRESS.
    P.O BOX 185,
    OTSE,
    BOTSWANA.
    THANKS FOR YOUR KINDNESS IN READING MY COMMENT.
    SAMUEL AKINSOLA.

  49. Amrid Ramdhani

    am a student researcher and i am moveble and
    i need a laptop for help my studies.
    My adress is
    SMKN 2 Sumedang
    Jalan Arief Rachman Hakim No.59
    Sumedang
    Thanks,God Bless You!!1

  50. Amrid Ramdhani

    My Name Is Amrid Ramdhani am a student researcher and i am moveble and
    i need a laptop for help my studies.
    My adress is
    SMKN 2 Sumedang
    Jalan Arief Rachman Hakim No.59
    Sumedang
    Indonesia
    Thanks,God Bless You!!1

  51. francis bright oeke

    Dear, my name is francis bright okeke from eastern Nigeria; Igbo by tribe. please it’s very hard to believ without investigation, however God knows the truth. i am deperately poor and someone called me for a help. but it concern training on website and oracle, he has paid much money for the training
    please could you from your heart help me with any laptop or any systm at all, to help my learning.
    i am genuie only that i am poor i’m 31 yrs old, incase you need verification i can post you my ID. pls help me only God knows my truth and suffering.

    be blessed
    yours
    frank

  52. Aderemi

    hello over there
    this is purposely for you
    pls, send this laptop
    i need it badly
    help me out
    this is my add
    p.o.box284
    bowen university,
    Iwo

  53. Pingback: Techronical » Blog Archive » Look what parked itself in my Driveway - an Acer Ferrari 1000

  54. Miji

    Thank’s for all, I’m not forget at much help and live indonesia
    from balikpapan 76114.
    Safir 3 block 5 num. 30 sepinggan

  55. tolu abraham adekomaiya

    please help me i need a laptop to improve my computer studies and i will really appreciate it if u can help. phone no 08067666061 ,address; 11,akeukewe st ijeshatedo surulere lagos state.

  56. Syed Fareed Ali

    Hello,
    Sir I am a student of International Relations (Final Year). As a student of this vast field, i need a laptop for my work. The problem is that i cannot afford it. Daily i am facing huge problems for completing my work. At a last resort, i m going through this petition. For your convinience, i m going to mention my mailing adress. I hope for your kind response soon. Thanks.
    ADRESS: H-49, Block B, Mir Fazal Town, Latifabad 9, Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan

  57. PASINDU

    Hellow,
    sir,
    I’m a engineering student.I’m poor to have a laptop of my own.
    But if you can help me , I will be greatful to you.
    My address is;
    448,
    Kapuela junction, Ambalangoda, Sri lanka.

  58. IMAN

    study of world.I would like to develop websites…Accept me as I am-I have no guarantee.
    A claim to perfection I have not.
    Perfect I cannot be.
    I, like you…..am human.
    Prone to make mistakes.
    Failure is not a character flaw,
    Just a part of the human makeup.
    I live, I laugh and I also learn.
    My knowledge is incomplete.
    I am searching all the time,
    in waking hours as well as sleep.
    I have a long road to travel,
    as well as you do.
    We learn our lessons on the way.
    Wisdom we shall acrue.
    Accept me as I am
    Because I am ….me.
    And You are you.
    No one like me in the world.
    That is my only guarantee.

  59. IMAN

    PLEASE SEND LAPTOP
    TO :MOCHAMAD FIRMANSYAH
    JL. P.H.H. MUSTHOPA, GG. NEGLASARI UTARA RT 06/04V NO 03
    KELURAHAN SUKAPADA KECAMATAN CIBEUNYING KIDUL
    WEST JAVA 40125 INDONESIA

  60. Pingback: Microsoft PR Sparks a Blogstorm of Support and Outrage | PR2.0

  61. adeshina jubril

    wel,am a student like any other person who would love to insrease his computer knowledge through ur free laptops.pls i need ur free laptop.
    address:5 branco street mafoluku,oshodi,lagos,nigeria.
    postcode:23401

  62. michael

    hello sir
    i am a student and i already have a computer knowledge but right now i cant afford a computer i will be happy if you can help me and give me a laptop for my assignments and project.. thanks
    mike

  63. Tony Refurbished Laptops King

    haha I totally love this little ‘problem’ you’ve got here… what a problem to have!
    I think either way microsoft has gotten pleny of attention from the blogosphere over it all, so that’s their mission complete, and you’ve gotten plany of extra traffic so I guess you’ve won there too.
    Also, I think you’re refining your readership to those who ‘get’ you, so those that unsubscribe…I think you’re better off without them.

    I think a real grown-up can make an honest review of something without their view being tainted by being sent it for free.
    Yeah sure at first you’ll be giddy, but after that you’ll take a look (perhaps with even more skepticism) at what you’ve been sent to see if it’s great or a piece of crap.

    Nice one :)

    Tony.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s