A story about piracy, a network rebuild, and why I now hate Microsoft.

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by Kayot, Jul 13, 2016.

  1. Kayot
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    Kayot GBAtemp Fan

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    As a long time pirate and general collector of every game made that is crack-able, I never bothered with pesky things like Licenses. If I wanted to run a copy of Microsoft SQL Server I didn't bother with that Express crap. No, I went full on Enterprise. Did I need failover? Nah, nor could I even use it.

    Let me be frank. This isn't one of those "Piracy hurts the developers" craptastic escapades into moral and ethical hijinks. This isn't an article to downplay or promote piracy either. This is an observation and something that's been on my mind for a while now.

    The Problem with being a Pirate

    One of the biggest misconceptions of mine was the cost of software. I knew the cost of Windows. It was $199 for Pro and probably a little more for Ultimate. It didn't matter. These are numbers that only had consequence when ordering a Laptop because Linux on a laptop is rare and never on anything gaming class. I can understand that because; and let's be honest here, Linux sucks for gaming. What I never expected was the cost of anything that bore the title Enterprise. This was something that initially confused me, and then flat out frightened me.

    For the want of a nail

    Last year in March I started a job in computers. I was under paid, but also had no paid experience in my field. It was only two days a week and would cover all my bills with some left over for savings and whatever. Needless to say, it was great. Coming from doing mostly full time plus over time warehousing and customer support, this was a dream job that would also give me the needed experience to pursue higher employment later.

    I used my time off to read, play games, and write.

    The setup at work was god awful. We were using Access 97 for both internal tables, and linked to a 2008 SQL Server running on a Microsoft Server 2008r2 Machine. One of my predecessors thought it would make more sense to create an SQL statement that would have the SQL server backup onto a small hard disk and then run that statement with Access 97. In fact, every program the place ran used Access 97. We had a website on a hosted solution that would go down at least twice a week. The setup used FTP to grab uploaded files from the site. It knew to do this by querying a MySQL database that was site side. It queried this database every two seconds. The Front End was 140MB due to storing graphics inside the mdb. The code was Kludge at its finest. Often times when doing a repair, I would follow a variable through several modules and functions and then find that it was pulled from the either the SQL Server located in the office or; god help me, the MySQL server.

    The DHCP and File Servers were both running Windows NT. They had base 10 network cards. Of the fourteen systems in the building twelve had blown capacitors. Three had been upgraded from NT to XP. Every system was running XP. One out of every four network cables were damaged. Clients were able to upload CSV, XLS, XLSX, and DAT files. All of these used COM in Access 97. We didn’t have enough Licenses to cover the software we were using. I learned that last part later.

    I hated it, but it was only two days a week and the requests were simple. They boiled down to fix this and fix that. The biggest problem was when our host decided to encrypt FTP and then they started doing something with the key that made automation impossible. I fixed a few systems blown capacitors. I reinstalled Windows XP at least six times. Over all, easy work. I worked from 9am till 4pm and over if needed. In January of this year, that all changed.

    Imagine a dog chasing cars. One day, he catches one. I was that dog and I have no need of a 2002 Honda Accord.

    It was during the previous year debriefing. It was mostly annoying stuff like customers gained, customers lost, how it was all this/that persons fault. Honestly the whole thing was unmemorable. Like how it's a typical morning before Godzilla levels Tokyo or Honolulu becomes a lumber yard. I kept asking myself, why are we doing this on a Tuesday? I work two days a week. That gives me a 2 in 6 chance of being here for this. Then the owner casually asks me about rebuilding the whole computer infrastructure. I now see it for what it was. It's like jokingly suggesting sex with your extremely hot cousin and gaging their reaction to see if it might be a go. Half asleep and half paying attention I gave a basic breakdown of what would need to be done. The casual tone of such a heavy topic was probably the same way the Nazi's discussed the Holocaust. I threw out big numbers and deep in the future unrealistic time scales.

    Next working morning, they gave approval for the whole dam project. I think I heard laughing in the distance. Somewhere a puppy died. It rained brim stone. I had a whole packet of ramen noodles fall out the side of the strainer and down the drain. I sat there, eyes glazed over, trying to make sense of the horror I was presented with. I've seen some dark stuff in my life. I saw someone die via crushing by cars on a hill, I witness two drownings, and I watched an eldritch abomination order Mc Donald’s, and this. This was worse. It's worse than saying "I like trying new things." In a gay bar.

    All of this, and it didn't prepare me for... Microsoft License Agreements. More like Microsoft Extortion.

    The cost of doing Business

    One of the first things we established was that this was a Microsoft Shop. I couldn't get away with using Debian + MySQL on the server. They wanted MS all the way. I threw out ball park figures I pulled from my ass since as a Pirate, this was never an issue. I also suggested Piracy which was immediately shot down. They sat there with their Apple computers and took notes the whole time. The irony was lost on them. For the last six months I've been full time working 40 and 50 hour weeks.

    When rewriting the software, I made an immediate choice. VB.NET (C# for custom controls compiled into a DLL) for User Application and PowerShell for system tasks. I wasn't about to write a bunch of console apps where PowerShell could handle the task. If I used PowerShell, I wouldn't have to store a ton of source codes. I created two servers. One that was average and hosted the Active Directory, DHCP, and DNS; and another that was an absolute beast compared to the originals. It would host the SQL Server and Exchange Server along with the ASP.NET Website. I rewrote the Front End and Website. The Front End looks like the original without the Big Ball of Mud + Spaghetti code and taking advantage of features in .NET that didn't exist sixteen years ago. I tore the Database(s) apart and rebuilt them from scratch since the Originals didn't use the R in relational database nor Procedures and Functions. I set them up to self-repair, self-maintenance, and self-backup. Everything was encrypted to hell and back. Desktops were built from components instead of bought from a Bulk seller. I got 4th gen i5's, 8GB of ram, and SSD's for all the systems. I'm using DISM to make images and WDS to deploy them. I can reimage a system in ten minutes from boot to final desktop. Roaming profiles ensure user data is saved. I'm using One-Click Publishing (Which is more like five or six clicks) to distribute the application. Using Group Policy, I set shortcuts and establish all the roles etc. Systems unlock Bit locker with the Server on EFI boot so if a system is stolen, it stays encrypted.

    I've put a lot of effort into the build. You might be asking, "Why VB.NET and not C#" to which I will respond, "I have to train my replacement."

    So once everything was established and I knew how the build was going to work, we had to do Licensing. One thing I can say quite honestly is, fuck Microsoft. They didn't get rich being good guys. Here's the breakdown.

    The Database

    SQL Server 2016; I couldn't use a Per User or Per Device because of the Website. Our machine has a single six core chip. Microsoft Licenses their software per-core. Each core comes in a two pack with a minimum purchase of 4 cores. Each package of 2 costs $3,500. So $10,500 just for the Database. Granted this comes with SSRS which worked great for replacing the Access reports while giving a website report solution that could also export to PDF. For whatever reason, SSRS can't print through the code nor can we trigger a print through its Active X Control. So I have to export to PDF and then print that PDF.

    The Server

    We're going to be using Server 2016. Due to the website, we have to get an External Connector License since we have authentication on the site so a user can login and upload files. It uses a table for usernames and passwords, but the six agents I talked to assured me that if I didn't have it I would fail an audit. With User CALes it comes up to $4,615 for two copies of Server, 30 Users, and the External Connector License which hosts the SQL Server.

    Email

    I tried to use hMailserver. Then the testers lost it when they couldn't use Calendars and Task Lists without using a second PST file. Exchange server it is. Oh look, Microsoft charges per user, didn't see that one coming. $655 for the Exchange Server and $85*14 = $1,190 for email... plus calendar and tasks... whatever. I use Thunderbird.

    Office Suite

    Hell wouldn't be complete with the ability of reason. Office Professional 2016 since our employees use Access to make quires instead of using something like Heidi or Base. I'm not even surprised at this point. $279*14 = $3,906.

    Oh, but this one comes with a prize. In order to use the copies, I need a Microsoft account. No, not a bulk account or something that would make my life easier. This is a freaking user account. Like the one MS tires to lay on you when you install Windows 8+. Does this mean I can transfer a License by simply logging out one user and logging in another, nope. It's lock to the machine. So surely I can put all of these on the same account and just use one account for every machine. Wouldn't that be nice? Still, nope. This turd had nutz. If you put two keys on the same account it just lists them both as Microsoft Office Professional 2016. That's it. No MAC address or way to determine which system the key goes to. I have to pick one on log in. Pick the wrong one and I have to uninstall Office, then reinstall office to get a second chance. I also have to call customer support to have the first key unblocked as it's been marked as being a pirate key due to two systems trying to use it.

    The OS

    8 of our 9 keys we purchased for the new systems were marked as pirate keys. We exchanged them but only got back 7 keys and are now in a tug of war to get the 8th key because the supplier says they sent 8 keys. These are Windows 7 OEM that we are using to get Win10 Pro OEM digital entitlements that end the 28th.

    On and on

    Also, none of this matters. I can still fail an audit because the Auditor is a jack ass. He/she can make shit up and I have to go to a California circuit court to prove innocents. This is a civil court that is probably in MS's back pocket.

    On a side note, we also have to get Adobe Acrobat since I'm using PDFSharp to fill in government forms that I prepared with form fields since the United States government can't seem to provision half way decent forms.

    What I've learned

    I can understand why a business goes FOSS or Pirate. I suggested FOSS in January, yet the owners opted to suck the MS tit. Why? I don't know. They own Mac's and that means they have no idea what a computer is.

    What I do know is Linux needs to start promoting itself. Microsoft is asking absorbent fees and Linux should be able to crush this market.

    I really hate Microsoft now. As a pirate I never gave it any thought. Now I know how normal people suffer these tyrants.

    After Thoughts

    When I showed my complete Front End to the owners they got stars in their eyes. This is always a bad sign and should be treated with fire. I should have released this a month ago, but they spent a week coming up with new ways to delay the project. They go on week long vacations every month and don't bother reading my reports until the day before coming into the office. They only visit the office every two weeks for two days. They remote to the office which is insecure and drives me up a security wall. I'm not complaining so much as I'm wondering why they would treat their cash cow in this manner... Then I remember EA.

    I was going to release the Alpha yesterday, but now they want me to rebuild their entire billing system.

    I want back my lazy two days. Money is nice, but no one can buy time.
     
  2. Swiftloke

    Swiftloke Hwaaaa!

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    Nice story. Sad to hear though. Maybe you should send this story in to a magazine I used to read, Linux Format. They would LOVE this stuff.
    But I don't get it: are you currently working 5 days or something? Ouch. How much extra are they paying you?
     
  3. OpenSource

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    Nice story.

    I've disliked Microsoft for a long time. Pirate and philosophical differences, or not, they've been anti-consumer since, forever. I just read today they're moving to a pay-per-month model for Windows 10 Enterprise for $7.00 a month. I laugh when people say how great it is that the Windows 10 upgrade is free, what could go wrong? Well, when the Anniversary update comes, you'll get more "sponsored tiles" for one. And you're already getting increased telemetry and using a required Microsoft account for many things. It's not as if they're giving it away free, they're going to get their revenue from this one way or another with this system. And that way is selling your information, and bombarding you with ads.

    Linux is already big on server side, I don't think it needs marketing, it's there and always have been there. People just need to open their eyes to actually learn it and USE it. Granted, you'll have to go through the process of learning which distro to use, but Red Hat Enterprise is out there with support a lot cheaper than Microsoft. Also, maybe look into LibreOffice instead of Office 2016. It's compatible with practically all of Microsoft's file formats. The account thing sounds weird, there must be a deployment method to create a common image where the different keys can be input for each machine.

    Linux has come a long way, and there's still some issues, but it's mountains ahead of where it was a decade ago in about every category.
     
  4. Xanthe

    Xanthe Sith

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    Great story! Half the people won't understand what mySQL, VB.NET, etc. so it may be confusing for some people lol.

    I've always dreamed of working for Microsoft, but after hearing this story that dream has become a little iffy.
    Microsoft all the way? Geez, Linux isn't even a paid operating system and is used for SEVERAL online servers, so I see no reason for Microsoft to not want to use it.
     
  5. fafaffy

    fafaffy GBAtemp Fan

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    Yeah Microsoft is definitely pricey for enterprise users.. However playing Devils advocate... We do use the money to continue support of all the products we do have. It is a monopoly so don't mistake me for saying we need to charge this amount, but if people are willing (or rather have to and do)... Then it's business.
    Though as I'm currently working at Microsoft, I'm gonna have quite a bit of bias. Let's just say paying for 60k+ employees in the main Redmond campus alone is not cheap

    — Posts automatically merged - Please don't double post! —

    Don't let these horror stories deter you. Microsoft is an amazing place to work at. Amazing pay, benefits, and the employees there are awesome! Also don't think it's impossible to get into. If you're in a University, apply online or in person in career fairs. We hire 2k interns yearly. And the interns are categorized in 2 forms:
    Explorers for freshmen and sophmores
    Regular intern for junior and senior
     
    Last edited by fafaffy, Jul 13, 2016
  6. OpenSource

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    And maybe I'm biased, but there's also this option, a lot cheaper and just as much support:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux

    The problem is, many individual think Microsoft IS operating systems and Office software. Like, no alternative even exists. I remember years ago working in an electronics department someone ready to buy the new Office for $100 plus bucks just to have Word to print a document. My employer probably didn't appreciate it, but I explained that Microsoft doesn't *own* document formats and word processing, and wrote down the website for OpenOffice for her.

    Granted, I'm going for my MCSA for Windows and Windows Server soon, after I take the Linux+, but it's always useful to know the enemy. :ha:
     
  7. fafaffy

    fafaffy GBAtemp Fan

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    I agree, if it's overkill then don't use Microsoft. Unfortunately for others, we did a great job at monopolizing the marketplace. Not because there's no alternatives, but because people think we are the thing they need. However, if you don't absolutely need our products, and a free open source one is sufficient, then I strongly encourage you to talk to your team/boss/whoever about the pros and cons of switching to your alternative. Educate them on what exactly you're attempting to accomplish, and how Microsoft isn't the only solution, nor may it be the smartest solution.
     
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  8. Olmectron

    Olmectron GBAtemp Addict

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    I'll just say I used to work 6 days a week, 9 hours each day at a development company as Android and Java developer. I earned around USD$115 a week. I envy people that only works 4 or 5 days a week.

    Anyway, sad for you. I'm glad I haven't needed to use Microsoft SQL Server (or any other Microsoft development product at all), and only used Android and Firebase all this time. MySQL with Java, but that was it.

    I'm unemployed right now, so nothing of that matters anymore, anyway.
     
  9. Xanthe

    Xanthe Sith

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    That's sweet! I actually live right next to the main HQ in Seattle. I have several friends who work there and can possibly get me an internship :D
     
  10. fafaffy

    fafaffy GBAtemp Fan

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    Definitely! If they recommend you to their recruiter, you bypass the first rounds of interview (there's 3). So, I'd highly encourage your friends to vouch for you.
     
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  11. ThePanchamBros

    ThePanchamBros Hates the Undertale Fandom

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    I hate Microsoft, yet I use WIndows 10.
     
  12. vayanui8

    vayanui8 GBAtemp Maniac

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    This seems like a serious case of your boss being incompetent. There are free alternatives to this software for a reason, and they function perfectly fine. I can understand why they want to stick to using Windows and Office, but alot of the other software in completely unnecessary and a free alternative would make far more sense.
     
  13. loco365

    loco365 GBAtemp Guru

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    I haven't had much of a problem with using Microsoft's software since I get a decent chunk of it for free through my school, but to see those kinds of prices that companies have to pay really disgusts me. It's no wonder people these days consider piracy seeing as software is just getting more and more expensive and out of control in the pricing department in general.
     
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  14. Kayot
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    Kayot GBAtemp Fan

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    I tried to suggest using something like Debian (I'm familiar with this one due to Ubuntu, but Ubuntu is drinking the MS cool aid now and will soon receive the Triple E) with LibreOffice (on all systems). How is the documentation for .NET to LibreOffice? I need to convert an XLS to XLSX as easily as possible for as little as possible. I was using a ODBC to read out the data, but when it breaks it gives some really cryptic stacks. If I could tap into LibreOffice to do the conversion; possibly as a stream, it would save us one copy on the server. I'm using EPPlus which only works with XLSX for my MS spreadsheets. I'm avoiding third party paid extensions after having a throw down with one regarding a scanner ActiveX control that was on the Access 97 Front End.

    I still use MS products at home. I was using Ubuntu Server 14.04 on the server mainly because Storage Spaces has terrible performance on Raidz2. I also like the idea of removing a drive AFTER I make it move all the data off the drive. Right now I would have to remove the drive and do some parity shenanigans to keep my data. I only have one full backup due to the content of the array. 32TB is hard to backup. I would love to use Deduplication on the array.

    I'm hoping that Server 2016 allows write through on Storage Spaces. That would solve the speed issue. Don't talk about using SSD drives either. BTRFS is able to send and receive at incredible speeds without any of that. ZFS is a legend.

    I mainly moved to using Windows Server 2012r2 because my job was going to use it in the new setup. I figured, live in it, learn from it, understand it. I'm doing stuff in PowerShell and Group Policies I didn't know existed just a few months ago.

    P.S. Regarding the prices, some of the documentation I read on my quest to avoid an audit at my place of work talked trivial about spending millions on SQL Server alone. They acted like it was fine and normal. All I could think is, ouch. I debate/compare/contrast spending $40 on a game I love.
     
    Last edited by Kayot, Jul 13, 2016 - Reason: No need for a second post
  15. OpenSource

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    Database definitely isn't my forte, but it seems there are some examples on the LibreOffice SDK page:

    http://api.libreoffice.org/examples/examples.html

    I don't know how relevant or deep this compares to your situation though.
     
  16. Engert

    Engert I love me

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    Smh.
    Kids nowadays.
    @op, first of all I think you wasted too much time writing this article and second welcome to the workforce and the cost of doing business. As you become a more seasoned pro in the workforce you'll notice that Microsoft tries to copy Apple and when it doesn't work, they abandon it and for this they should be shot. But since shooting them would be illegal you'd learn that later on you can scream to your Microsoft sales manager when shit doesn't make sense and then they'll customize something for you.
    Again welcome to the workforce.
     
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  17. gudenau

    gudenau Largely ignored

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    Use a VPN or something for remote access? Maybe paired with some of those USB crypto things?

    At least as a tech savey home user you can call up MS and get free keys. :-D
     
  18. wrettcaughn

    wrettcaughn Misunderstood Moral Elitist

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    All of the software costs more for businesses because they are using it to make money. No different from any other commercial software.
     
  19. VinLark

    VinLark This machine kills bourgeois sentimentality.

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    I skimmed over this story article thing and I didn't see what it had to do with piracy as much as you getting into the workforce. It's amazing that you wrote this much but I think it would be better suited on a Linux fourm. Still, thanks for sharing it.

    About Linux, I will use Linux when it has amazing documentation, a community that doesn't suck, and cansupport basic things like flash without tons of tinkering needed. Or it can stay the server hosting OS it has been.
     
  20. Kayot
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    Kayot GBAtemp Fan

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    Update
    Regarding the Office 2016. Turns out my copies won't activate at all. The Microsoft Reps claim that the keys are good and unused. So I have to do Phone Activation.

    I was weary about putting Exchange Server directly on a Domain Controller, however it works fine. Plus, Outlook can directly import PST files into Exchange. This will save me a few days. The migration was pushed back a few months so I now have more time to get things working correctly.

    @Engert, @VinLark - I've been in the Work Force for twelve years doing hard labor and customer support. This is more like, "Welcome to IT." When you say welcome to the Work Force it sounds patronizing. I did have a two year stent of being Unemployed which felt like an eternity.

    Over all, I am enjoying my job still. I'm just annoyed at some of the licensing terms. I get the feeling that Microsoft purposely makes it confusing so they can Audit people to death. The per cpu to per core (with minimum 4 core purchase) move reeks of a cash grab. Since we have to volume license one of our stuff, we can expect an Audit in six months.

    My rule is, when I can no longer pirate Windows, I'll switch to Linux. I'll amend that with, and so long as Microsoft doesn't stop piracy.

    The last thing I want is an OS that narks on me. It's bad enough that I can't use anti-virus software because every crack and key gen has been reported as being some horrible virus or Trojan, ironically by the content company that supplies said game/software that the cracks and key gens are for. It's sad since there are some good anti-virus products and it would help to stop the spread if there weren't false positives. As always, a good thing is being drowned by greed.

    I just wish Linux wasn't so anti-pirate. Try asking for help installing a steam game without steam on wine. That's how bans are made.