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Microsoft Apologizes for Big Boobs

| 21 Jul 2012 05:20
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Microsoft apologizes for an "offensive" hexadecimal string inserted into the Linux kernel.

I'm about to show you a hexadecimal string deemed offensive by some. Those of you with a sensitive disposition may want to shield your eyes.

0xB16B00B5

Not seeing it? You might have to squint a little, and maybe dial back your sense of humor to the 12-year-old level. That's right, when you remove the 0 and the x, it reads "Big Boobs." Har. Har.

The string, which is definitely deliberate, is part of the Linux kernel support code for Microsoft's Hyper V visualization environment. It was first found back in 2011, but it was met with little more than a snigger or a sigh depending on the reader's disposition towards childish jokes.

Just a few days ago, a user by the name of Paolo Bonzini brought the string to the attention of Linux developer, Matthew Garrett, who confirmed that the string was real and voiced his disapproval at the "boys club" nature of the joke.

"At the most basic level it's just straightforward childish humor, and the use of vaguely-English strings in magic hex constants is hardly uncommon," he wrote on his blog. "But it's also specifically male childish humor. Puerile sniggering at breasts contributes to the continuing impression that software development is a boys club where girls aren't welcome."

This sparked instant debate between various bloggers, journalists and other e-vultures. Some immediately broke out the scare quotes and labeled the "joke" sexist and offensive. Others insisted it was a bit of a harmless, if juvenile, fun. The two groups were still quite happily butting heads when Microsoft swooped in with an apology and a promise that it would patch out the offending code.

"We thank the community for reporting this issue and apologize for the offensive string," announced a Microsoft rep. "We have submitted a patch to fix this issue and the change will be published in a future release of the kernel."

A similar, and considerably less "harmless," situation occurred last year, when it was revealed that one of the programmers working on Dead Island had labeled a female character "Feminist Whore" in the game's code. Older gamers may also remember the case of Jacques Servin, who secretly added a bunch of shirtless "himbos" with fluorescent nipples to the otherwise entirely family-friendly SimCopter.

Source: The Register

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