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Palladium, More Precious Than Gold 8 August 2002 Edition
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Many years ago, when little Billy Gates first spied the opportunity to make some money out of computers, gold was "the" valuable metal of the day.

Having lots of gold meant that you were rich and powerful -- so Billy naturally tried very hard to turn Microsoft into the type of company that could accumulate large amounts of wealth -- then he could buy as much gold as he wanted.

Gold was also invaluable in the manufacture of computer processors, memory and other types of computer chips -- so Gates knew that his future was always going to be intimately linked with this shiny yellow metal.

But then something terrible and unforseen happened.

Distributors of Billy's products started complaining that he wasn't playing fair and wouldn't let others have their turn with the gold. Little Mr Gates had been simply too clever and now he had far more of the gold than almost anyone else.

All that heavy metal began to affect his thinking and Billy-boy soon became known as bully-boy. He began telling everyone else what they could and couldn't do.

"If you don't do what I say then you can't share my gold" he'd shriek!

Some of Billy's's playground chums decided this wasn't on and they went and told the government that Microsoft was being mean and breaking the rules of the game.

When the guys in the Government Gang heard this they said "this isn't on, we're going to cut you down to size -- in order to protect consumers you understand."

Billy obviously needed a new plan or he wasn't going to be able to collect all that gold he lusted after so much.

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    Around that time, a couple of geeky scientist guys called Ponns and Fleischmann pulled a stunt in which they said they'd solved all the world's energy problems.

    At the heart of their little trick was a metal (which at the time was) even more precious than the gold that Billy had lusted after for so long: palladium.

    Yes, by using little more than a glass of funny-tasting water, an old car battery, a few magic beads and some of this valuable silvery metal, Ponns and Fleischmann claimed to have produced cold fusion!

    Now Billy saw this and thought to himself in a thick Seattle accent -- "gosh darn it, those boys are onto something, I must have some Palladium."

    By the time P&F were discredited as a couple of overzealous geeks it was too late -- Billy had made his plan, and here it is:

    Firstly, Microsoft ensured that all of its software contained quite bad security holes and bugs. These bugs/holes allowed viruses and trojans to infect copies of Windows through the Net and from contaminated disks.

    Quite rightly, Billy figured that this would make the public annoyed and worried.

    Then Billy said "trust me, I'm an expert, I know what I'm doing -- I will tell my guys to fix all this up" -- and "Trustworthy Computing" was born.

    Of course this was just a smoke-screen. Billy's boys toiled tirelessly, swapping jokes, sending rude pictures over the internal email system, and chatting endlessly around the coffee machine -- but the bugs and security holes kept coming and, as planned, the public were still not happy.

    Then, right on cue, it was revealed that Microsoft's Windows platform is irredeemably broken from a security perspective.

    Naturally the public would become distraught at this news and beg Microsoft for some kind of solution.

    Of course after the September 11 terrorist attacks and the endless official warnings of impending online attacks, even the guys in the Government gang were by now begging Billy to help them.

    Enter Billy's most precious metal: Palladium!

    Yes, having set the stage so very cleverly, Billy will now roll out his OS to end all OSes which is (of course) named Palladium.

    But Palladium will be more than just another OS -- it will be tightly bound to the hardware of the day and make extensive use of digital certificates to ensure that only code approved by Microsoft itself will run.

    Billy justifies this draconian move by saying (in a voice slightly slurred from years of heavy-metal poisoning) "Hey, trust me. We're not going to give a certificate to any virus writers so this system will guarantee that your valuable data will be forever safe!"

    Of course the this means that Micrososoft themselves will no longer even need to write applications such as Word, Excel, etc., in order to make lots of money. Billy will sit back and collect all the precious metals he wants simply by issuing the certificates that other programmers need in order to have their software run on this shiny new Palladium operating environment.

    What's more, Billy will also be able to cosy up to the burly boys at the RIAA and MPAA and offer them total protection against computer-based piracy of their music and movies -- for a small fee of course.

    You see, despite the fact that he has a pocket protector surgically implanted in his left pectoral muscle and keeps his best glasses (the ones held together with masking tape) for "intimate moments" -- Billy is a very clever geek.

    He knows that whatever the precious metals markets say, Palladium is far more valuable than gold!

    Have your say.

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