Dramatic Vista: Show’s Not Over Yet

Randall Stross, in Sunday’s New York Times, described the story of Windows Vista as “a tragedy in three acts.” The voices of the chorus reveal that all is not well in Vistaville. For example:

Jon… upgrades two XP machines to Vista. Then he discovers that his printer, regular scanner and film scanner lack Vista drivers. He has to stick with XP on one machine just so he can continue to use the peripherals.

Did Jon simply have bad luck? Apparently not. When another person, Steven, hears about Jon’s woes, he says drivers are missing in every category.

Then Randall unmasks the chorus members.

Jon A. Shirley, a Microsoft board member and former president and chief operating officer… Steven Sinofsky, the company’s senior vice president responsible for Windows.

You can probably tell that I like Randall’s dramatic framing of the Vista story. That’s why I extended it to refer to the chorus, and that’s why I’m going to take it yet further, and refer to five-act structure. I’ll leave you to read about the fourth act, falling action if you want.

Let’s think about the fifth and final act, dénouement. Wikipedia tells us that “tragedy ends with a catastrophe in which the protagonist is worse off than at the beginning of the narrative.” Again, I’ll provide an exercise for you dear reader: provide a

I note that tragedy is not the only type of five-act drama: “comedy ends with a dénouement (a conclusion) in which the protagonist is better off than at the story’s outset.” I wonder what conclusion to the drama of Vista could leave Microsoft better off? Maybe it can sell Windows! But who would buy it? That would surely require a deus ex machina.

redditpython.pngI’ve been rather slow to post this: two days is a long time in blogging. I was far quicker to post it to reddit, where it has done rather well. Yes, this is a rather gratuitous last paragraph, but I just wanted to include the cute reddit alien and yet another picture of a snake.

The Tragedy of the Dollars

The US dollar falling below the Canadian dollar amused me until a few minutes ago. Then I opened mail from a Canadian publisher. There was a cover letter, a statement, and a check. The statement told me that I was owed $X. The check was for $Y, where X > Y. What causes the tragic difference between X and Y is the exchange rate.

This is of course an illustration of the difference between comedy and tragedy. When it happens to someone else, it’s comedy; when it happens to me, it’s tragedy.

When it happens to someone like W.C. Fields or Mel Brooks, it’s material. Each of these guys seems to be associated with the above explanation of the difference between comedy and tragedy. Actually, it’s more like material to me in this case, since the sums involved are so small.