Twitter will color-code your terror photos on Microsoft's orders

Or maybe it won't -- but Cringely's readers will surely be ready to comment, judging by the latest arrivals in the mailbag

Is Twitter the best way to get word out about terror alerts? Can you trust a social network to do the right thing with your photos? What really happened back in 1995 when Microsoft put the screws to Compaq? Sometimes even I am amazed at the range of topics that pass through this space, as well as they reactions they engender. Welcome to another trip through the Cringeville mailbag.

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In "Tweet if you see Osama," I wrote about how the Department of Homeland Security is planning to use Twitter to send out terror alerts, as well as replacing our current five-color alert system with a two-tiered one, either Elevated or Imminent. Reader G. W. says even that's too complicated and suggests a much simpler two-level system:

  1. Get a damn helmet.
  2. Put on your damn helmet.

Or you can just do what I do: Wear your damn helmet all the damn time.

In "Color me stupid: A privacy nightmare in the making," I wrote about Color, a new mobile photo-sharing network with absolutely no privacy restrictions whatsoever. Reader R. H. had this clever suggestion:

All we need now is app that detects my image being shared on Color, notifies me of it, and automatically files lawsuits for giving away my image without compensating me. Seems like a couple days work by a savvy app writer and the right lawyer could make a lot of money.

Cringe fan M. V. offers a final word on Alexandra Wallace, the UCLA student who got a lot more fame than she bargained for when she posted an anti-Asian rant on YouTube:

I sometimes revel in the continuing proof of Mark Twain's quote "Common sense isn't all that common." Case in point is Ms. Wallace. Seriously, who would hire her now? Unless she's going into her own business where she'll need some serious customer service and people skills, she's doomed to living in mom and dad's basement.

Hey pal, a lot of my readers still live in mom and dad's basement. Be careful there.

Finally, in a post last month titled "HP to Microsoft: Eat our Web OS, losers," I put forth the conventional wisdom that Microsoft threatened to put Compaq out of business in the mid 1990s if the Houston PC maker shipped machines with Netscape Navigator installed instead of Internet Explorer.

Cringester Jim Boak, who was a VP for Compaq at that time and handled contract negotiations between Compaq and Microsoft, says the facts of the matter were slightly different.

Boak says the deal to swap Netscape for IE was made by an executive who was unaware of the OEM licensing terms for Windows 95, which required IE in order to perform basic functions. That deal involved only a small percentage of machines aimed at children, and it happened because Netscape agreed to license Navigator to Compaq for free. Compaq solved the problem by including both Netscape and IE (and the AOL browser) on those machines. He writes:

That exchange became an issue during the DOJ trial as David Bois attempted to portray Microsoft as "strong-arming" Compaq. ... We later dropped Navigator, but that was because they did not renew the "free" deal, not because of pressure from MS.

I'm not trying to defend Microsoft's business tactics during the '90s -- they certainly played hardball. But "putting Compaq out of the Windows PC business" would have cut Microsoft revenue in half -- not something they were likely to consider.

Thanks for setting the record straight, Jim.

Got any other revisions to conventional wisdom? Correct our misguided notions below or email me:

This article, "Twitter will color-code your terror photos on Microsoft's orders," was originally published at Track the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.