Ernie Ball ditches Microsoft

Here’s a great interview with Sterling Ball, CEO of Ernie Ball, the world’s leading maker of premium guitar strings. Ernie Ball ended up ditching all of their Microsoft software and moving almost entirely to open source after the BSA raided them, costing them $100,000 in fines. There are so many great quotes from this article…

On the BSA’s power:

I would have loved to have fought it. But when (the BSA) went to Congress to get their powers, part of what they got is that I automatically have to pay their legal fees from day one. That’s why nobody’s ever challenged them–they can’t afford it. My attorney said it was going to cost our side a quarter million dollars to fight them, and since you’re paying their side, too, figure at least half a million. It’s not worth it. You pay the fine and get on with your business. What most people do is get terrified and pay their license and continue to pay their licenses. And they do that no matter what the license program turns into.

On cost:

I know I saved $80,000 right away by going to open source, and each time something like (Windows) XP comes along, I save even more money because I don’t have to buy new equipment to run the software. One of the great things is that we’re able to run a poor man’s thin client by using old computers we weren’t using before because it couldn’t handle Windows 2000. They work fine with the software we have now.

One of the analysts said it costs $1,250 per person to change over to open source. It wasn’t anywhere near that for us. I’m reluctant to give actual numbers. I can give any number I want to support my position, and so can the other guy. But I’ll tell you, I’m not paying any per-seat license. I’m not buying any new computers. When we need something, we have white box systems we put together ourselves. It doesn’t need to be much of a system for most of what we do.

On support:

What support? I’m not making calls to Red Hat; I don’t need to. I think that’s propaganda…What about the cost of dealing with a virus? We don’t have ’em. How about when we do have a problem, you don’t have to send some guy to a corner of the building to find out what’s going on–he never leaves his desk, because everything’s server-based. There’s no doubt that what I’m doing is cheaper to operate. The analyst guys can say whatever they want.

More Fish Warnings

Both JAMA and the EPA have recently published warnings about mercury levels in certain kinds of fish. A Bush administration plan is likely to make the problem worse.

Both these warnings come as Congress is poised to act on a Bush administration plan, called the Clear Skies Initiative, which will slow down the timetable for reducing the main source of mercury — emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Frank O’Donnell, director of the Clean Air Trust, an environmental lobby group, says the mercury data delayed for 10 months the release of the EPA report, which was made public after being leaked to the press.

“But people need to know the power industry is the biggest unregulated source of mercury and that tuna will continue to be risky as long as power plants continue to put out tons of heavy metals,” O’Donnell says. He says he fears war-dominated media coverage could allow the bill to be pushed through without notice.