I Like VB6
A reader explains that he likes VB6, and that is enough; another reader comments on the disconnect between Bill Gates' charitable work and Microsoft's (and other companies') assistance to the Chinese government in helping it stifle dissent.
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I Like VB6
There is one important point people like Michael Valverde forget when they say it is time to give up the ghost and move onto .NET (Letters to the Editor, "Time to Move On," VSM March 2006). That is, it's not about being intransigent or stubborn or stuck in the past. It's about the fact that I like VB6, it continues to do everything I need, and I continue to serve my clients well when I use it in projects I create for them.
That might not always be the case, but it is today. And for as long as it remains true, I'll continue to use it, however outmoded others might think that makes me. Our job as developers is to get stuff done, and in my opinion, VB6 still lets me get stuff done better and faster than .NET does.
I know it's sacrilege in some circles to say I prefer using VB6, and maybe to VSM as well, going by its lack of VB6 coverage. But I like VB6. Reports of its demise are premature. I'm reminded of the Apple II fans who resisted the introduction of Apple's Macintosh line. The Macintosh was highly innovative, including many very advanced features that became part of nearly every computer of today. And yet, for all its innovations, there remained a core group of Apple II users who preferred their Apple II's, championing the slogan: "Apple II forever." Perhaps it's time for our own slogan along the same lines: "VB6 forever." I, for one, think it has a nice ring.
History Will Judge Harshly
It's not unusual for businesses in America to look the other way at abuses committed by the governments they do business with. This is an historical truth, not merely the behavior of current businesses, both in and out of the technology realm.
For example, IBM's role as a collaborator and facilitator of the Nazi's Final Solution has been well documented in various locations, including Edwin Black's book, IBM and the Holocaust. IBM was far from alone in having contracts with the Germans in the years leading up to and during World War II. And there are numerous other examples of American involvement in South and Central America and other locations around the globe where American companies made tidy profits in the process of helping dictators and other repressive leaders maintain their control over their countries. It's a sordid but common history, and probably to be expected.
You might wonder what this has to do with computer programming. I felt compelled to write to you after I saw VSM Editor in Chief Patrick Meader salute Bill and Melinda Gates for being Time Magazine's co-persons of the year (along with Bono of U2) for their charitable work in his blog posted on January 26th (FTPOnline, "Persons of the Year"). I'm not writing to dispute their work in this area. If anything, the charitable work of Bill and Melinda Gates should serve as inspiration for what it is really possible, if you apply yourself.
What I'm struck by, rather, is the somewhat jarring juxtaposition of these charitable efforts and the assistance of Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google (among other technology companies) in assisting the Chinese government in its efforts to censor ideas and track down dissenters. I've debated these subjects with friends and co-workers, especially the notion that Microsoft and these other companies bear some responsibility for the work they do on behalf of others.
I think it's tempting to fall back on the adage that it is beyond Microsoft's responsibility to police the world and how its technology is used. It is merely selling an ends to a means, the argument goes. It cannot control how this technology is used, nor should it, apologists say. Moreover, if Microsoft didn't provide these services, other companies would, it is said. All this might be true. Other companies probably would step in to fill the breach if Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo refused to cooperate. It is business.
And yet, sometimes the principle is bigger than business. Nazi comparisons are always suspect, and it would be ludicrous to consider the level of repression of current-day China to Nazi-era Germany. All the same, companies like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo will be judged harshly by history for their roles in helping China stifle and track down dissenters, much as IBM has been judged harshly by history for its actions on behalf of the Germans.
San Francisco, Calif.
The April 2006 VSM Desktop Developer column, "Exploit Collections in VB," was excerpted from chapter 9 of Daniel Clarks' book, Beginning Object-Oriented Programming With VB 2005 From Novice to Professional [Apress, ISBN:1-59059-576-9]. VSM omitted the citation to the articles' source—the book was used with permission from Apress—and regrets the error. You can find more information about the book by visiting the Apress Web site at www.apress.com.