Does a disagreement on Mac fonts warrant libel and a death note?

Last week, some blogger in San Francisco has written a hit piece on me complete with a hacked up photo of my face calling me a Microsoft shill despite the fact that I’ve recently praised Apple’s iMac form factor, praised the iPhone, and even called Microsoft Office a zero-day liability.  He accused me of rigging a test in my Vista versus Mac font comparison blog which is easily disputed with hard evidence.

Last week, some blogger in San Francisco has written a hit piece on me complete with a hacked up photo of my face calling me a Microsoft shill despite the fact that I’ve recently praised Apple’s iMac form factor, praised the iPhone, and even called Microsoft Office a zero-day liability.  He accused me of rigging a test in my Vista versus Mac font comparison blog which is easily disputed with hard evidence.  Now I’ve got some crazy zealot who read that hit piece emailing me to go die.

Look folks, OS X does a lot of things better than Windows (such as Mac Expose versus the useless Flip3D feature in Vista).  But most people do care about readability first and foremost especially in their web browser and they believe that Vista font rendering - while it takes liberties with Typography - is more pragmatic and proven to be more readable.  It’s just silly to represent someone as a shill for simply saying that Vista ClearType is more readable and is a better solution for web browsing.

Since I didn't want to bother giving this person any link love if I called him out in public, I simply sent him an email pointing out the issues point out that:

  1. I did not "stack the deck" against the Mac font rendering by disabling sub-pixel rendering. I have at least 2 Macs in the SF CNET office building that have 24" Dell LCDs running an obvious LCD resolution of 1920x1200 16:10 aspect ratio (connected by DVI).  Mac OS X default automatic mode had sub-pixel rendering off which is optimized for CRT.  This is despite the fact that I can’t think of any CRTs that use this aspect ratio or resolution. So the default automatic setting failed, it was not an attempt to cripple and sabotage the Mac.
  2. As soon as people complained about this, a second set of samples that were LCD-optimized were added to the blog within 10 hours of the original posting to be as fair as possible. The results were still not as readable as the Vista fonts and most experts agree this was because of Apple’s design decision to be faithful to the purity of typography rather than deal with the limitations of the pixel grid. I never represented this as incompetence or ignorance on Apple’s part; just that it was a design decision geared for Desktop Publishing and not web browsing. This design decision in my opinion was the wrong decision since we’re talking about a web browser where readability should take priority over the purity of typography.

The blogger simply refused to acknowledge the errors and claimed that he was merely pointing out that I was "a shill".  After a few more exchanges, I didn't bother trying to reason with him and just forgot about it.  The problem now is that so-called researchers like Peter Gutmann with the help of Chris Keall (PCWorld New Zealand) started linking to the smear piece to attack me on a personal level which left me no choice but to write this blog.

Blogging is a new and wonderful communication medium on the Internet and I would hope that people won't take it to the gutter level or wish death upon people.  It's only an Operating System and some people really need to get a grip.  I'm here to stimulate debate and people can disagree with me and criticize me in their blogs or in my talkback without censorship so long as it's not vulgar or excessively personal in nature.  But at the end of the day we need to remember that we're there are just human beings and there are more important things in life and let's ease up on personal stuff.

My colleague Steven Warren (contributor for TechRepublic) use to set my priorities straight by saying: What are you doing worried about what someone says on the net when you should go and hug your kids!  Well Steven, you're absolutely right and I always remember what you say at times like these.  At the end of the day I don't care what OS or web browser or font you use and I have plenty of friends who use Macs and Linux machines (I use Linux myself).  So at least for this blog posting, I'm not going to mix it up with anyone in the talkback no matter what anyone says to me.