This Is Going To Put a Dent in The Nathan’s July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest

Bet On Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest 2020 | Betting Odds ...

More specifically, researchers found that consuming one 85-gram serving of chicken wings translated to 3.3 minutes of life lost, owing to sodium and harmful trans fatty acids, while a beef hot dog on a bun resulted in some 36 minutes lost “largely due to the detrimental effect of processed meat,” study authors wrote.

Joey Chestnut is about dead. He knocked back 75 dogs this year to win the contest. He looks pretty healthy to me. Badlands Booker on the other hand better prepare his will.

The good news is that a PB&J sandwich adds 33 minutes to your life. I’m going to be about 3000 years old given that I’ve lived on it for 5 or more decades.

Foreign Languages and Klingon’s, Why Posting Has Been Light

Being a person of a certain age, I need to exercise my brain, body and even spirit. You stay in balance that way.

I’ve been using Duolingo to learn Italian for a couple of years. I would have picked French but the wife speaks every language in Europe it seems except Italian. Those are the two best sounding languages so it’s been the one I chose first when exercising my mind.

See my travails below how I turned it into a competition to beat others and dominate.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve meandered my way from rookie to the Diamond league, where most people who stick with it will stay with it and work hard, just because of human desire I suppose. The reward for that is that everyone studies hard and you need to do more to stay in the league.

HOW IT WORKS

Of course you learn, but you can use it on your computer or mobile device. Each is different. On the phone, you have 5 hearts (tries) before you fail a lesson. On the computer you can keep going, but get a continuously lower score.

There is a 15 minute double points score available as a bonus for finishing each round of lessons. If you do a practice on a finished lesson you can get max points with no hearts loss. Sure, this is sounding like a video game but everything is a competition to me. I’m a man and it was born in me. I can’t help it and I don’t apologize. I accepted it and use it to fuel my desire to learn.

There is more, but that gives you an outline of how to game it, but this blog is about how I got wrapped up in something else instead of blogging. Oh, and how I slayed the competition.

THE PLAYERS

As I stated, by the time you get to the diamond league, you are pretty well committed. Some are learning because they are in a new country. Some took languages in school. Others are near borders and naturally speak the language. Most have a reason to be in that league.

I’d taken German in high school so I added that language a few months back. It is good to learn Spanish because of the makeup of the country so I then added that. Just because I couldn’t stand not being able to do it, I picked up French. I’d already started Danish because of some in-laws so add that to the mix.

There is a pay version of the app and you can get points a lot easier and never run out of hearts (like having unlimited outs in baseball). It’s an unfair advantage to the free players but they paid so good for them. They can get points at twice the rate of us plebs, but it’s where I am at now. It makes winning that much sweeter.

There is always some inspired player who wants to win the league for the week and to do so you have to commit to really working. Sometimes it is a horse race.

HOW MY WEEK DEVELOPED

I always like to start out the week with a big score by doing the 20 point doubles. You can cruise the rest of the week and score enough to not get bumped down to a lower league. I then watch who is going to go for it during the week. Sometimes it’s early and sometimes people wait and put on the full court press at the end.

I noticed a trend a while back (read about me, I see patterns and trends in everything) that even though someone might want to compete, you can suck the will to win out of most if you put it out of their reach. They’ll fight for first loser (2nd place).

I did my usual big total on Monday and was in the top 3, but that isn’t unusual as I turn it to cruise mode once someone takes off. By Tuesday, I noticed the makeup of the group were people who weren’t aggressive and just did the same number of points a day.

THE PERFECT STORM

Once I put it together, I knew this was my week to give it a shot. I threw up 1000 points on Tuesday to see who the real players were going to be. Nothing happened. I tried it again on Wednesday. There was no response. I knew right then that if I killed it a couple of more days, it would be over. I didn’t see anyone willing to make it a race so I made it a run away.

THE ATTACK OF THE KLINGON’S

Early in the week, one of my relatives told me that Klingon was a language. I’m a huge Trekkie/trekker so I said why not. Points are free and easy at the beginning of every language to keep you going because it is a beta language. That means no penalty for missing. It’s like you paid for the pro version of the game. Free points just lit up in my eyes, plus I can say stuff in Klingon, only not yet.

By now, I was committed. As they say in Klingon, today is a good day to die (I haven’t learned it in Klingon yet and won’t put it through a translator, but watch any Klingon episode of Star Trek). I went for it and quickly stayed the week at double the score.

WHAT HAPPENED ALONG THE WAY.

For one thing, I didn’t blog much. I did learn a lot of Spanish, German, Italian and especially French. I learned a little Danish and some Klingon. I understood a lot of what happens in grammar, sentence structure and everyday conversation. I can ask for the bathroom in some languages and order a complete meal or talk about the house in others.

It was a good week. I’ll win because I never play for second. I told myself along the way it was for learning, but when the stars lined up, my inner self took over and I went hard at it. I killed any desire for the rest of the group to compete and I won’t get an opportunity to win but a few times in life. There are too many good people. I struck early and often and learned a ton along the way.

One day I’ll be fluent or can survive, at least in Europe.

Here’s a shout out to my German teacher in High School, Jane Phillips. She taught me well and was pretty hot so I liked her class.

If you look in my quote blogs, there is a lot about winning. I have a hard time sticking with anything very long before I drop it or figure out a way to the top or my desired destination.

It’s weird sometimes when you expect to win and you do, just like it is supposed to happen

Qapla’.

The Connection Between Golf And Outer Space

I’m not fazed by water. Instead, I use it to my advantage.

I’ll get a brand new ball out to hit over the water and I try to hit first. Once safely over the water hazard I tell the other players not to worry about the water. Inevitably, one of them will hit it in and be pissed at me the rest of the day. I make sure to laugh at them on purpose.

These are the head games of golf. There are many. This one is just a fun one that will put you in the head of the player who hit the water, especially on the next water hole.

Enjoy the next time you do this. Hopefully it is early in the round so you can enjoy the day.

Why Have Passion?

This quote was supposed to be about grit, but the passion came in when it helps you keep going.

While Angela Duckworth separates passion and perseverance into two separate dynamics, Steven Kotler argues that passion is part of perseverance; it plays an essential role in determining how motivated you will be to keep going. “Passion doesn’t make us gritty,” he says, “Passion makes us able to tolerate all the negative emotions produced by grit.”

Anytime I wanted to get a real team together to get something done, passion was the trait i looked for in people I wanted to hire. Some have a passion just to get a job, not to do it well. You have to want to do it and want to do it well. Those are two different and distinct things.

Find your passion and you will do what you want to, probably well. That is except for golf. No one does well at golf all the time.

Wednesday Saying – Is The USA Dying?

It's interesting sometimes to read about the last days of past civilizations. It's hard not to notice during these readings that those last days were filled with completely irrational ideas and behaviors that could not be explained in any way outside of a mass collapse of reason. - David Horowitz

I’ve heard it said that governments based on a republic have an average life span of about 200 years throughout history. That means America is in overtime.

Other nations have been unable to unseat the USA as the de-facto world leader by force, so they are using the 5th column instead. Here is the definition of the 5th column -> Link to 5th column.

I have chosen to not be political, rather than observe patterns and history on this one.

Friday Saying – How To Win by Paul Tournier

Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can. – Paul Tournier

 

Rocket Scientist Ozan Varol wrote this about winning:

1. You think you can’t do something.

2. You’re forced to do it (or you’re brave enough to try).

3. You find out that you actually can.

Winning is a habit.  Seals and champions know how to win by practice and banning any thoughts of giving up.   A lot of winning (or just succeeding, which is a win for some) is beating your mind.  When you give yourself positive thoughts and remember how you’ve achieved success in the past you’ve accomplished a lot of the battle.

Life is a fight sometimes.  It is always a fight for some.  Winners don’t win by accident.  They learn how to win, but they thought they were going to win.

In an interview about being in the zone, Hall of Fame players were asked about being in the zone.  Most said it happened once in a while but couldn’t predict it.  Dan Marino said he was in the zone for 17 years because he thought he could win.

Don’t give up.  Take the challenge bit by bit and be a winner.

Great Sayings – Muhammad Ali On How To Train

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
Most of winning is done before the event.  Sure, some people occasionally bring a surprise to the fight but almost always the winner also won in training.
I strive to win everything.  I win practice before training.  I try to win training.  I then try to win the event.  It showed me that tenacity over talent can accomplish a lot.
When you feel like giving up, don’t. You won’t know what you can achieve until you push your limits.  This counts at work, in life, sports and almost anything.

Great Sayings – Shakespeare

We know what we are, but know not what we may be. – Shakespeare

 

Another version of this goes – You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.  That was either Gretzky or Jordan.

Some don’t try for fear of failure, some don’t try because they lack courage.  Both lose because there is a reward for winning and a reward for learning if you fail.  I heard Michael Jordan say that he took over 30 shots to win games and missed, but it didn’t stop him the next time.  He said when asked if he was worried he might miss and he answered that why would worry about something that hasn’t happened yet?

Don’t let your inhibitions keep you from excelling.  You never know what is inside you until you try.  Many times I haven’t felt well for an activity that I needed to be well conditioned for, yet wound up killing it because all I needed was a warmup.

Go after it today, then go after it tomorrow.  Keep going after it until you can go.  The reward is not a trophy, it is the sense of accomplishment that will help you try again the next time.

Finally, let it be the judge of who you are, not social media.  That is turning into a cesspool of being a time suck and dragging you down because you think something is different than it is.  Don’t be a sheeple.

Great Sayings – Vince Lombardi

I’ve heard him being quoted with different versions of this one, so I’ll put in the ones that I’ve heard.

 

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” — Vince Lombardi

If winning isn’t important, why do they keep score?

Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether you win.

Doing a Joint Announcement With The Competition, How to Cooperate

Recently, I’ve done joint announcements with Oracle, SAP, HP, Tibco, Software AG and HP. As you can imagine, I’ve had varying relationships with each and I’m happy to report that the state of the A/R industry is good and that we can work together.

When I was in PR, here is the link to the cat fight supreme with territorialism and turf wars. Most of the announcements I did with these companies when in Analyst Relations didn’t have that element. For the most part, the announcements were about standards, not products. So that went a long way towards working together. Still, if you include IBM, the companies I’ve named here aren’t known for being best buddies.

As an aside, I can say that the executives (who can be the source of most problems) all worked towards the cause of the best briefing possible.  They were helpful in this instance.  Many times, they are the fly in the ointment.

Some things are given, like in a certain area (we just did SOA) the analysts know the exec’s by company and the exec’s know each other so I’m happy to report they acted like grown ups.

TURF WARS

With the typical name calling (from the CEO’s) and because of the belief in your own products, the first issue to overcome is that the announcement is usually about a jointly created product or standard, not us vs. them.  That rule has to be set down first and if you don’t overcome that, you have no chance at building trust, the basis for working together.

DIVIDE THE DUTIES

One company can’t dominate the duties or it is not a joint announcement.   This also forces the companies to work together to approve what the others have created as their part of the announcement.   There are analyst lists, invitations, charts, follow-up issues and any number of duties that need to be attended to and dived up.  Once that is done, you must rely on each other and the level of trust inherently rises.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s important that the analyst see this as equal among the companies.  One company presenting more than another is a dead give away.  You can’t help Q and A as the analysts will direct the question directly to a company.

LESSONS LEARNED

You either put your differences aside and work together, or you’ll never get anything done.  It’s tough to do when your day job is to hammer the company that you are working with other than on the joint effort.  These are the days of co-opetition though.  You learn to get along or you’ll never make it to announcement day.

After Being Dissapointed by Lenovo One To Many Times, What PC Did I Buy Instead?

I’ve had PC’s since before the IBM PC in 1981.  I’ve built hundreds of computers over different phases of the PC life cycle (for myself, others and at computer stores I worked at for years).  I’ve personally owned many ThinkPads since they were introduced…likely between 40-50 including my multiple work PC’s. The same is true with Microsoft. I’ve worked with DOS and Windows, Windows for Workgroups, (built and wired my first network in 1994), NT, 95, 2000, XP and you name it.  I first put up webpages since 1993 and every version of DOS or Windows made starting with 1.0 for both.   I’ve finally had it with the declination of the quality, service, especially customer service and workmanship of IBM/Lenovo and Microsoft products.

I began to desire a different machine when the smartest guys at IBM (IBM Fellow’s) and the smartest (and of course some of my favorite) IT analysts starting using Mac’s.  It told me times were a changin’.

WHEN THEY WERE GOOD

It used to be that when you went to a frequent flyer lounge at an airport, it would be a ThinkPad convention because they were so tough, now everyone is switching to an iPad which I now also love and  have.

Further, when I retired, I bought what I thought would be the ThinkPad which would last me for at least 5 years (pictured below).  It was the worst PC experience to date, see the beginning below.

In reverse order, after 1.5 years, one of the USB ports failed, the screen is falling apart (for the second time…the first in only months), the battery died in the first 6 months (they fixed that under warranty after 1 month of calls and forcing a manager intervention because customer service blamed me) other hardware and software problems which eventually got fixed over hours of calls (the final fix was always simple and could have been easily accomplished from the start).

I called the Lenovo help desk and not only did they refuse to fix most of my problems (all within the warranty period), but they were with the exception of one person, unhelpful to me and not proficient in English 95+% of the time (some were rude, but tech support is a thankless job).  Note: I like the people from other countries and think that they are hard working so I have no problems with the people, rather the policies they are forced to adhere to put them into positions they shouldn’t be forced into.  I’m clearly calling out the company, not the people here. It’s just in this case we couldn’t understand each other and they mostly were not trained or who couldn’t fix problems and just couldn’t help fix issues Lenovo created.

Here’s what my screen looks like now with use that is less than normal due to my retirement status:

pc pic

SHIPPING DISASTER

This was compounded by the fact that they originally shipped me a computer which was in for repair as I found it had someone else’s  password on it.  Tech support recognized the serial number as someone else’s machine and I had to ship back a PC so that they could ship me what I ordered which  was supposed to be new.  They at first required me to pay for the return shipping for the machine which they wrongly shipped me in the first place.  It took them 5 weeks to get me this wrong machine once I ordered it in the first place, so needless to say, this added to a dissatisfied experience.  Let me summarize it: The 1st machine I received was in for repair which they shipped to me as my new machine.  They finally agreed to pay for the shipping back to them after weeks, but I was in dis-belief by now as I had to get upper management approval 3 levels above my call to tech support to get shipping approved and the machine I ordered sent to me.  This was a 6 week timeframe that I put up with to get a ThinkPad that looks like the one above.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE COMPANY PURCHASED FROM IBM?

So, what happened when Lenovo bought the PC Division from IBM?  Quality and customer service have apparently suffered, at least for me.   It is fair to note that Lenovo is the PC leader even though PC’s are a dying breed and are now a commodity item, but that the lead is mostly due to HP executive incompetence and Dell lack of innovation.

WORKING FOR IBM PC DIVISION, MORE THINKPAD BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE THAN MOST HAVE

I worked with ThinkPads at companies before IBM.  I then did communications for the IBM-PC (PSG) division back in the early 2000’s.  IBM-PCs were a rock solid product that introduced many technologies from the floppy disk, HDD on PC’s, open system motherboard, the start of an incredibly successful industry, creation of millions of jobs, Bluetooth and WiFi to the industry.  It was well accepted by industry leaders as the standard to compare against and I was proud of representing the machines.  By then, we had slipped to about 4th place, but IBM had other priorities by then.  Analysts always recognized that the IBM ThinkPad was the industry leader, albeit most of the time the expensive option.  I never had a problem educating them that it was the industry leader to be compared against.  I also learned from IDC, Gartner, Forrester and others that Dell and HP were sub-standard compared to the ThinkPad.

THE IBM TO LENOVO EMPLOYEE TRANSITION

The co-workers who went to Lenovo were mixed.  The developers were good, with the chief designer being one of if not the best, but he obviously had nothing to do with my 410S.  The Press communications team however was a joke.   Much of the management that I had worked with were handcuffed by the new ownership.   However, with the non-inventor taking over control, changes in leadership including many Dell executives,  it has appeared to make it less than the leader of rugged laptops, a position it once enjoyed.

MY LATEST PURCHASE

Since my ThinkPad failed and the screen basically fell off (I am retired and don’t travel anymore so it didn’t have the wear and tear to justify its condition), the keyboard keeps sticking, ports not working and the other problems I’ve described have forced me to buy a new PC.

Side note: I worked with Microsoft since 1981 in one form or another, as a partner, but mostly as a competitor as Microsoft was very belligerent and went out of their way to be anti-IBM  (see my joint announcement wrap up).  I’ve worked with their products since DOS 1.0 which I still have installed on an original PC at home.  They loved Lenovo when the purchase was made and the difference was an overnight sea change in their attitude of helpfulness and pricing.

So the combination of Lenovo’s product being poor, their customer service being unhelpful led me to buying a MacBook Pro (but I got much more computing power and a brand new experience in helpfulness).

But, both Lenovo and Microsoft lost me as a customer and I can’t be alone.

Here is my new computer, a 13 inch Macbook Pro:

macbook pro

It sync’s with my phone and iPad seamlessly.  I don’t have weekly Microsoft security updates or blue screen of death experiences.  It is powerful, I can read Windows files and have converted them, multimedia is a snap, graphics are beautiful and most of all it works without gyrations to make drivers, port configurations and software incompatibilities work.  I have never before been an Apple fan except when I ran an advertising department for a few years and understood artists needs for them.

When managing a store at a computer chain, my store was recognized as the retailer that lead the nation in Apple sales so I do have experience with them.  My store also was a leading promoter of the first Macintosh during the famous 1984 ad time.  In other words, I know them well, but I’ve used Wintel computers most if not all of my life until now.

Further, I called their tech support and went to an Apple store and guess what, they were friendly and helpful, and it just works.  I paid less for the software than the PC version (I just built a multimedia PC for my TV viewing so I am fully aware of company configured, or self built PC’s vs. Mac machines hardware and software.

THE TREND OF PC’S

Mobile devices are killing standard laptops at a rate far faster than laptops replacing desktops, but there is still a need for machines that do more than a tablet until they increase in input efficiency, storage capacity and business application conversion (there are tons of legacy apps still out there as the average person still interacts with COBOL 13 times a day).  This hasn’t caused me any issues with my new laptop though, it just works.

The company that is easy to work with, keeps up with the trends and produces quality equipment will be the one who has market leadership.  I have voted with my money.

World Record Parachute Jump By Felix Baumgartner, A Round Up Of Coverage and Issues

Here is the video of the jump above.

Here is the video from his chest camera:

Here is a view of all angles of the jump:
http://gizmodo.com/watch-felix-baumgartners-space-jump-from-every-angle-i-1445173582?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+gizmodo%2Ffull+%28Gizmodo%29&utm_content=Bloglines

On October the 9th, Felix Baumgartner will jump from the edge of space at 120,000 feet, breaking the speed of sound as well as all the records for a human parachuting.

Normally, this would have been only mildly interesting, but I went to school with Fred Kittenger, son of current record holder Joe Kittenger.  Fred was one of the nicest, most motivated young men that I went to school with.  Unfortunately, his father didn’t seem to be a part of it.

Nevertheless, I was still fascinated with the feat and I liked Fred, plus it was a tremendous show of testicular fortitude which I admired.  Many died trying to break his records and given the technology then vs. now, it was quite a feat.
KITTENGER PLUNGE

As recorded byDiscovery

Kittinger made his highest jump, and set the still unbroken high altitude jump record, on the third and last jump of Project Excelsior. On Aug. 16, 1960, Kittinger lifted off from an old abandoned airstrip north of Tularosa, New Mexico in an open gondola; his pressure suit was his only defense from the harsh environment of near space. At the tests starting altitude of 102,800 feet, Kittinger had 99.2 percent of the atmosphere beneath him.

Then he jumped, and the Beaupre multistage parachute system worked perfectly. After a 13 second free fall, a 6-foot parachute opened and stabilized his fall — this is the one that prevented the spin dummies that had fallen before experienced. After another four minutes and 36 seconds he was down to about 17,500 feet where the main 28-foot parachute opened. He floated the rest of the way to Earth.

BAUMGARTNER’S TECHNOLOGY

Francis F. Beaupre came up with the system built around a series of parachutes that would deploy in sequence to stabilize the pilot. Here’s how the sequence was designed:

Right after bailing out, the pilot would pull a cord to release an 18-inch pilot parachute after a few seconds of delay. Once it was fully inflated, the pilot chute would pull out a 6-foot diameter stabilization parachute. Next would come the main parachute release. It would inflate partway until the pilot passed through 14,000 feet as measured by an aneroid barometer on his person. Passing this altitude would trigger full release of the 28-foot diameter main parachute. It would inflate fully, and he’d make a soft landing on Earth.

Beaupre’s stabilization parachute system worked at altitudes where jet aircraft were normally flying, but it needed to work higher. Aircraft like the X-15 were brushing the fringes of space, and they would need a safe way to bailout of the rocket plane just like pilots did from jet aircraft. So the Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base began a series of high altitude parachute tests where pilots jumped from balloons. This was Project Excelsior.

Project Excelsior wasn’t a long term project. There were just three tests, but they were manned, most famously by then Captain Joseph W. Kittinger Jr.

Here are the 5 biggest risks to making it safely or biting the big one.

Felix talks about the risks, the jump, the record and more.

Red Bull Status Update, Countdown and Information

I wish him luck and hope he makes it.  It certainly is a ballsy feat.

For fun, here is a link to 8 of the craziest skydives in history

It even set the record for most live web streams.

Felix hits Mach 1.24, faster than the auto land speed record

Engineering issues that had to be overcome

WORKING WITH THE COMPETITION ON A JOINT ANNOUNCEMENT – What went on behind the scenes with Microsoft, IBM and Intel

I wrote a while back about doing a joint announcement with a competitor.  Communications wise, it was from the standpoint of Analyst Relations.  Since I also did Public Relations for many years, I had the opportunity to lead an announcement with Microsoft and Intel.

CODE NAME FIRESTORM

Recently I came across a press release that I had coordinated on behalf of the Netfinity Server (System X now, update: It has been sold to Lenovo) with Microsoft and Intel in the early 2000’s.  In reality, all the work was done between Waggener Edstrom for Microsoft and me for IBM.  All other parties weren’t interested enough to contribute as long as their name and content was in the release. It was done to best Oracle in the TPC-C benchmark category (there are multiple TPC benchmarks but this one worked for effect).  While the machines pale in comparison to recent server announcements, it was quite an achievement in 2001 terms.  The code name internally at IBM was Firestorm and had the high priority and secrecy of a CIA mission with me having to sign a non disclosure agreement that expired on announcement day just to know about it.

HOW IT WAS RUN

We had weekly internal meetings to cover the progress as what was at stake was having DB2 exceed Oracle in database transactions, basically one-upmanship in a bake-off.  I coordinated it for IBM even though there was a Software Division product at stake.  Since it was run on an IBM server, that established what the importance to the company was and to this day servers are still a critical product to the company (you can’t run software or have services without one).  I told the then PR manager for DB2 that I would run it for them as they didn’t have much involvement in the benchmark testing (their PR group didn’t even know about it during the testing) so it was cleaner this way.  She was bossy and turned out to be a back stabber so my instincts were right. It was already going to be hard enough to work with multiple companies which turned out to be true, so this kept the cooks out of the kitchen. Moving her out of the announcement was vital to being able to get anything done at IBM.

If you recall, there was bad blood between Microsoft and the IBM PC group since the beginning of the PC era (which Netfinity was a part of, until PC’s were sold to Lenovo).  It was apparent from the start to the end of this process.  I had to also keep the GM of Netfinity, John Callies out of the process as he was a useless suit whose ego commanded his actions which weren’t always good for the division.  The GM of the overall PC Group was also hopeless (see the letter below) so I ran the process and kept the ego maniac suit and the helpless suit from ruining things.  They were part of the old IBM who got their jobs through working the system rather than competence.  It is part of executive ego managing, a tool that everyone needs to know when dealing with executives.

The other PR teams jointly listed in the release didn’t have the spirit of the announcement as their focus, rather it felt like we were in the cold war.  This happened even though IBM did all the work (it was built and conducted by IBM technicians, then independently verified by the TPC committee) and handed to the other companies as a freebie.  Back then, Microsoft then had the clout of IBM PR during the System 360 and initial PC days when they were king of the hill and could (and did) throw their weight around.

THE PRESS RELEASE BATTLE

As I recall, there were over 30 revisions of the press release before we got to the final (below).  It seemed as though every word was contested.  This is how it went; I’d send a press release draft around which had the details giving all parties credit and explaining the products and process.   A few days later I’d get back a draft which talked about Microsoft with relatively little mention of the process or an understanding of why the benchmark mattered to database users.  It was a combination of elbowing IBM out-of-the-way to get headlines and a general lack of understanding of what we were announcing.  Intel went along with us as they were confident in our ability to make a successful announcement.

The negotiations went on for about 3-4 weeks prior to the announcement until 2 days before the big day.  We couldn’t agree to the verbiage and finally Wagg-Ed suggested that we just each write our own press release.  While I disagreed with this strategy, we actually agreed to it just to make the deadline and got it approved by the IBM executives. I didn’t want to do it as this inherently would present problems like why are there 2 separate releases if the companies are working together?  However, since I knew the reporters I knew I was going to tell them the background off the record.  I fully understood that a press release is merely a place holder and a conversation starter.  No self respecting reporter would use someone else’s words if they were worth their salt.  Only the companies really care what it says.

THE RESOLUTION

The announcement was to be made on a Monday which we could agree on for effect (good PR tactics in those days, especially with IBM/Microsoft/Intel vs. Oracle in the headlines).  Our final joint call occurred the Friday before the announcement and was attended by PR teams, spokesmen and company executives (note this was the first time I recall an actual Microsoft executive on these calls).  It was on this call that a Senior VP from Microsoft (who reported to Ballmer and Gates) stated through his heavy French accent that having two press releases was a stew-peed idea and which idiot suggested it (I agreed with him).   I pointed out that it was Microsoft’s idea which we accommodated.  I’ve rarely heard such a gasp of silence as all parties realized what was going on.  They quickly agreed to do a joint release and we cobbled together what to me was a very neutral (and useless) document.  I silently was grateful that he asked this question that I’d pondered the whole time I dealt with this crew.

I had known the whole time that this was a press release wording struggle and the real work was going to be done in the one on one’s with reporters after the press release hit the wires.  I also was informed that Microsoft was only going to speak with a couple of magazines they viewed as their buddies.   I agreed and kept quiet as I knew that this left the door open for us to lead the announcement.  One has to have one’s priorities in focus and getting proper coverage was mine.  I knew the reporters they wanted to talk to and they wrote my story and told me they didn’t like how pushy the W-E PR team was.  See the part about relationships.

It is important to note that a press release is merely a document to get an interview except when a wire service will run it early hours to beat a deadline.  It is the relationship that the PR person has with the reporters that is the key to getting results.  It didn’t hurt that so many big names were seemingly working together on this and that it had the element of controversy (IBM teams with Microsoft and Intel to beat Oracle) which is a headline grabber.  It was then that I knew that things would work out despite our differences.

For strategic purposes, I saved the IBM draft version of the release and used it for my press work as it described more accurately what we were doing, including a better presentation of how Microsoft and Intel contributed.  Since Microsoft was only interested in the press release and thought they would get minimal coverage, I didn’t bother telling them and they didn’t care past the document.

THE RESULTS

It turned out that the IBM team did the bulk of the publicity work (we had the most invested so no surprise).  There was only a few joint calls with Microsoft and Intel where the executives touted the significance of this benchmark and during which everyone worked together like professionals.

After hammering the phones and working with reporters for days, we received thousands of articles which was a shock to the other PR teams, especially Wag-Ed.  While they tried to claim coverage, it was heavily nuanced to the IBM side of the story as we did the actual work both in the test and in the PR effort so no one believed Microsoft’s Wagg-Ed team.

I worked with most of the reporters who covered it to give them the real story of the benchmark, and just left the press release controversy alone.  I even fed them the line that we “Blew the doors of the TPC benchmark” which got printed and made it to the halls of Armonk.

THE AFTERMATH

While I was glad it was over, I learned a great deal about working with others such as keeping the big picture in focus.  It was one of the years largest announcements for our group and garnered massive coverage.  I received my one and only personal email from Lou Gerstner praising the results.  He stated that he had no interest in bake-off’s, but that this one was significant given what we had accomplished.  This meant a lot as I thought Lou was one of the two best executives I had worked with at IBM, and I had a great deal of respect for his saving and running IBM as a company.

I also received a personal note from the head of our division.  The reality was that the IBM PC group had managed to fall to about sixth in the industry by then behind the likes of Dell, Compaq, HP, Acer and E-Machines, and this was one of the more competent things the group did while I was there.

EPILOGUE

If you go to the link at the top of the page, you find that the Analyst joint announcement I did with Oracle was a far better experience, go figure.  I received a personal note from the GM however.  Note that he got my name wrong which caused me to chuckle and save it for the memories.  Execs like Callies and Thomas cost IBM market share and progress.  It was surprising that the doors opened some days in the PC division with people like that running the place.  It is an indication of why they were 6th behind companies that didn’t exist only a couple of years later.  The division fell off the map at IBM and was sold to Lenovo who took it back to the top of the industry.

Overall, it was tenacity over talent, execution over ego but it is how the game is won.

 

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IBM, INTEL, MS CLAIM WORLD’S FASTEST SERVER CLUSTER

IBM, Intel and Microsoft announced the world’s fastest server cluster for commercial use, recording performance levels that triple the performance of Oracle running on a Sun Microsystems cluster, at one-third the price.

Using the performance measurement technique agreed to by all computer makers (TPC-C), this alliance of leaders in industry standard computing achieved record-breaking results in server and price performance.

“This benchmark constitutes a solution that will entirely bypass the normal glitches and costs of second implementations that accompany exponential transaction growth rates,” said Marshall Freiman, CTO, Web Emporium LLC, an IBM customer. “It also offers scalability for e-businesses affected heavily by the transaction spikes associated with the holiday seasons. This is the type of cooperation between industry leaders that we should expect. With IBM, Intel and Microsoft making a move like this, others are bound to follow.”

“Scalability concerns for e-businesses are a worry of the past,” said Perry Cain, vice president, Neoteric Solutions, also an IBM customer. “With this benchmark, we receive the cooperative efforts of IBM, Intel and Microsoft yielding a standardized and tested solution with double the transaction capabilities of anything else before. These technologies are no longer dreams of engineers.”

IBM, Intel and Microsoft joined forces on this groundbreaking effort to prove that a combination of Netfinity Servers with Pentium III Xeon processors running at 700 MHz (megahertz) with 2 MB (megabyte) L2 cache, IBM DB2 Universal Database and Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server operating system provides a highly scalable environment. This technology combination is ideally suited for data-intensive applications like business-to-business (B2B), e-commerce and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

“With this record-breaking event, IBM has once again demonstrated the power of DB2, and has raised the bar for industry-standard servers with Netfinity,” said Ralph Martino, vice president, strategy and marketing, IBM Personal Systems Group. “IBM’s strong, productive relationship with Microsoft and Intel, and our collective ability to achieve extraordinary results as we did with this benchmark, is changing the way the world views industry-standard computing.”

“Achieving strong industry-standard benchmark results is one of the leading ways to show the industry and our customers that Windows 2000 is a highly scalable operating system for mission critical enterprise deployments,” said Jim Ewel, marketing vice president for IT infrastructure and hosting at Microsoft. “Beyond the numbers, this benchmark effort illustrates our commitment to working with IBM and Intel to deliver to customers the largest and most reliable enterprise-class solutions.”

“This breakthrough performance on Intel-based servers and achieved by IBM’s Netfinity 8500R server showcases the incredible scalability of our large cache Pentium III Xeon processors,” said Raghu Murthi, director of marketing for Intel’s Enterprise Platform Group. “Intel-based servers are designed for large enterprise class implementations and we worked closely with IBM and Microsoft to deliver outstanding performance and solutions tailored to meet the rapidly growing e-Business economy.”

Benchmark Configuration Details

The configuration included an unprecedented 116 terabytes of physical disk space configured for high availability using RAID 1 and RAID 5 arrays.

The Netfinity 8500R servers, containing Netfinity X-Architecture features adopted from IBM S/390 and RS/6000 servers, contributed to this benchmark’s success. Specific features that convinced the benchmark team the servers were up to the test include the 8500R’s expansive memory, the number of processors supported, the number of PCI slots available for add-on components and the amount of LAN I/O for the transfer of data in and out of the system. In addition, the setup utilizes Giganet cLAN interconnects for fast server-to-server communications.

Key components of the cluster included:

  • 32 IBM Netfinity 8500R servers running Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server and IBM DB2 Universal Database Enterprise-Extended Edition V7.1
  • Four 700MHz/2MB L2 cache Intel Pentium III Xeon processors per server
  • 4GB ECC SDRAM memory per server
  • Eight IBM Netfinity ServeRAID-3HB Ultra2 SCSI Adapters per server
  • 96 IBM Netfinity 5000 servers were used as TPC-C clients for the Webserving, Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server on each client.
  • Two 9.1 GB (gigabyte) 10K Ultra 160 SCSI drives and 218 18.2GB 10K Wide Ultra SCSI drives per server
  • One EtherJet 10/100 PCI Management Adapter per server
  • 2 Giganet cLAN 5300 switches

DB2 Universal Database

This announcement highlights IBM’s leadership in the database market. DB2 demonstrated record-breaking results in transactions and in the ability to manage the world’s largest database of more than 116 TB of online storage – this is equivalent to a stack of paper 3,480 miles high.

A proven foundation for B2B applications, DB2 Universal Database Version 7 integrates breakthrough technologies that enable customers to slash development in many cases nearly in half and perform high-speed text searches as much as ten times faster than traditional relational database search engines.

DB2’s ability to scale to 1000 nodes, using a single database spread across the cluster offered significant advantages in scaling and management over other data management solutions that follow a federated architecture (i.e., one database instance per machine, each requiring individual management.)

Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server

Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server was configured using a scale out approach to run on each member of the cluster of the Netfinity servers. Scale out architecture ensures that customers creating enterprise solutions will be able to achieve the highest possible levels of scalability and reliability with unmatched price and performance; this benchmark is further evidence of the performance, scalability and economic advantages of the results that can be achieved using Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

COM+ is a complete, mature set of component services for quickly building scalable, reliable applications that is delivered in the Windows 2000 Server family of operating systems. COM+, the most popular component model in the world, includes critical scalability and reliability features necessary for building large-scale applications by integrating the features of the Microsoft Transaction Service (MTS) deep into the COM component model. This integration makes it easier for developers to create and use scalable software components in any language, using any tool.

Windows 2000 Advanced Server is a solution that includes additional functionality to enhance the availability and scalability of e-commerce and line-of-business applications. The Windows 2000 operating system is the ideal platform for the next generation of business computing; helping organizations Internet-enable their businesses with a reliable, manageable infrastructure that is optimized for existing and emerging hardware.

Intel Pentium III Xeonprocessor at 700 MHz with 1MB/2MB of L2 Cache

The new large cache 700MHz version of the Pentium III Xeon processor has a record 140 million transistors. The processor is based on Intel’s advanced 0.18-micron process technology, and offers 1MB and 2MB of Advanced Transfer Cache memory with Advanced System Buffering, which boosts performance by placing a full-speed, level-two cache memory directly on the processor die and increasing the width of the data pathway to the processor.

The processor also offers a 100 MHz system bus and on-cartridge voltage management for increased system reliability. The new processors also are built on the same form factor, enabling server manufacturers to use them with existing server platform components, accelerating time to market.

For more information about: — IBM Netfinity servers and DB2 Universal Database, visit www.ibm.com — Intel, visit www.intel.com — Microsoft, visit www.microsoft.com.

The Transaction Processing Performance Council is a non-profit corporation founded to define transaction processing and database benchmarks and to disseminate objective, verifiable TPC performance data to the industry.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is a worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Sun’s Enterprise 6500 cluster achieved 135,461 transactions at a price performance of $97.10 tpmC. IBM, Intel, Microsoft cluster achieved an audited record attested to by TPC-C (Transaction Processing Performance Council, type C benchmark) of 440,879.95 transactions per minute at a price performance of $32.28 per tpmC.

Data is current as of July 3, 2000 and is subject to change without notice. For the latest benchmark information, visit www.tpc.org.

Solution specification, pricing and availability information is subject to change without notice.

Contact John Simonds, IBM, 919-254-9732, jsimonds@us.ibm.com or Deborah Young, Waggener Edstrom for Microsoft, 425-637-9097 deborahy@wagged.com.

Microsoft, Being Chipped Away by Google, Apple, Everyone

Every time a company comes up with a good idea, another company finds a way to one up it.  Patents, trademarks, copy-writes  or any other legal means don’t stand in the way of a better idea.

This also works when you don’t have a better idea, but your product still dominates the market, mostly due to better marketing.  Yes, there is a good percentage of people don’t think Windows is a good product.  Most have experienced the Blue screen of death. Booting takes forever, drivers, compatibility, price and any number of factors make it a product that is only doing well because of marketing and the force of Microsoft.

Apple OS, Linux and even OS/2 were or are better operating systems.  Now the Chromebook is out.  I won’t pontificate as to whether it is better or not, but it will take share away from Windoze as the OS of choice.   There are many Google lovers or users out there and for the price of a Chromebook, you could only get Windows 7 from Microsoft.

I’ve often said that Microsoft will have to pull an IBM by re-inventing itself, but their phone OS, gaming, MP3 players and Office haven’t really done the trick.  They are are the quintessential one trick pony.

Time will tell what will happen, but the introduction of the Chromebook is just another layer of the onion being peeled away.  Good thing they have a lot of cash in the bank, because they will need it to buy a better product.  They sure haven’t invented one……ever.

Microsoft Facing A Critical Time In Their Business Direction, (or I wouldn’t want to be in Microsoft Communicaitons right now)

There are times in any business that you need to re-invent yourself.  Even if you are selling nuts and bolts, a bigger fish like Lowes or Home Depot can wreck your sales and pricing.  Nothing changes faster these days than the IT industry.

Microsoft is facing the situation that IBM has faced at least 3 times now.  The last one was a do or die decision to not break up the company and I credit one Lou Gerstner for such a great move.  Nevertheless, he reformed and reshaped the company from a hardware (mainframe) company to more of a services and software organization. Microsoft unfortunately didn’t invent everything it sells and is faced with a fork in the road on success or pack mediocrity.  I for one would not want to have to face the upcoming issues as a communications professional that Microsoft will face.

ORIGINS OF THE CASH COW’S

Microsoft got it’s start by buying an operating system and taking the Software PC business away from IBM.  Next, they “stole” the Windows idea from Apple, here is a bit of history from MG Siegler….

For nearly 25 years now, the story has lingered that Microsoft stole the idea of Windows from Apple (AAPL) while working to develop software for the Lisa and Macintosh operating systems. The stories you hear generally seem to be a mixture of truth, urban legend, and fanboy fabrications at this point — but the fact is that Apple did sue Microsoft in 1988 for copyright infringement on the matter. After four years worth of arguments, Apple lost. They also lost the subsequent appeal (and they even tried to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that was denied). But they didn’t lose because Windows wasn’t thought to be similar to Apple’s operating systems. They lost because the judge ruled that you couldn’t protect the concept of a graphical user interface or the desktop metaphor idea. And more specifically, Apple ran into problems because of a decision that then-CEO John Sculley made in 1985 to sign an agreement licensing certain parts of Apple’s GUI to Bill Gates for use in what would become Windows 1.0 (presumably without realizing exactly what he was doing).

Siegler proves my point of re-inventing themselves here:

But now that idea is waning. Or rather, everyone is starting to recognize that the idea will be waning in the years to come. Make no mistake, Microsoft still makes a lot of money from Windows — and I do mean a lot. But Windows is not the future. By that I mean that the desktop metaphor GUI is slowly but surely being replaced by a rise of mobile and touchable devices. In other words, Microsoft needs a new idea.

The problem is that Microsoft hasn’t proven themselves to be capable of coming up with or executing such an idea on their own. Dozens of failed projects ranging from the original tablet PCs to SPOT watches to the Kin have been left in their wake. The fact that tablet computers are now exploding in popularity thanks to Apple’s iPad suggests that Microsoft, for whatever reason, has a hard time launching new, successful ideas on their own. Windows Mobile is another example of this. They were there early, much earlier than their main rivals. And now they’re getting trounced.

Instead, it may be time to piggyback off an idea again. To create a new inception, as it were. Lure someone in, take their idea — and take it to the next level. Microsoft has nothing if not a huge amount of resources. If they pick the right idea to take, they can once again transform the world — but they need that right idea.

BALLMER IS NO GERSTNER

I’ll go on record to say that Ballmer is no Lou Gerstner.  A company needs a visionary like a Gerstner or maybe in this case, a Steve Jobs.  Sam Diaz speculates his demise and that he might not even make it to CES to make the keynote.

Here is Diaz’s Ballmer scorecard:

  • Mobile: Clearly, the KIN was a flop. And, isn’t it kind of funny that references to the mobile landscape are always centered around iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. When was the last time you heard someone get excited about the forthcoming arrival of Windows Phone 7 and talk about how it will rock the mobile landscape? OK, putting Microsoft shareholders and employees aside, when was the last time you heard anyone else talk highly of Windows Phone 7?
  • Tablet: Well, Ballmer killed the Courier. Or someone at Microsoft did – but surely not without Ballmer’s permission. OK, so they killed a tablet PC project. Big deal. Isn’t that better than launching a loser (like they did with KIN)? But it wasn’t so much that they killed it as much as it was the extra line in the company’s official statement that declared “no plans to build such a device right now.” It seems that tablets are all the buzz right now, sparked largely by Apple’s iPad. And Microsoft has no plans for one?
  • Software/OS: Regardless of what you think about Google, the cloud and even the Mac, you cannot ignore the fact that Geese that lay Golden Eggs at Microsoft – Windows OS and Office – are getting old. There’s fresh competition from all over – and this isn’t just the Mac vs. PC sort of competition. There’s excitement around the launch of tablets running Google’s Chrome or Android OS. Clearly, Apple is gaining some ground from its switch campaign. And companies are being given real options for productivity software from online providers.

The point of all of this is that Ballmer, as the CEO of Microsoft, seems to have spent quite a bit of time riding on the successful coat tails of Bill Gates – but really hasn’t done much to elevate the company further, XBox being the exception.

My .02, he needs to go and they need new leadership to fend off Google, Oracle, Amazon and most of all Apple.  He is not the savior and they need a Gerstner.

Rob Enderle, one of the analysts I used to work with when I covered Analyst Relations for ThinkPad adds this nugget of perception:

Perception works both inside and outside the company. Recall that in the Apple turnaround, Steve Jobs started out with a company in deep trouble with products he had publicly called crap.  He started changing the perceptions surrounding the company because he knew this would give him the time he needed to rebuild it. At IBM, Louis Gerstner changed out the entire marketing department as one of his first accomplishments. He knew that if he couldn’t deal with the perception that IBM was failing, that perception would drive an unavoidable result.  In  both cases, by aggressively dealing with perceptions of unavoidable failure, both internally and externally, they bought time they needed to get  the real work done.

MINI-MICROSOFT WEIGH’S IN

One of the blogs I follow is Mini Microsoft as do many.  He’s got the biggest set of attachments that I know to write things like this:

And now Kin is killed *after* it has shipped in June 2010. You can bet Andy was involved in the development of Kin, the partnership agreements with the OEM, Verizon and most importantly the “ship it” approvals all along the way. And Microsoft discovers its a bad idea after it blows up in the broad market. Absolutely no thanks to any pro-active decision making on Andy’s part.

Now there is spin that Andy killed kin to put all the wood behind Windows Phone 7. Er, the guy was in charge for two years of Kin development. He could have made this decision far earlier.

Similarly Windows Phone 7 has two years of development under his watch. Based on his past performance, 99% chance this is also going to be a total catastrophe. It further doesn’t help that much of the Windows Phone 7 leadership team was kicked out of Windows when they screwed up Vista.

And finally, one Danger-employee’s point of view of why they became demotivated:

To the person who talked about the unprofessional behavior of the Palo Alto Kin (former Danger team), I need to respond because I was one of them.

You are correct, the remaining Danger team was not professional nor did we show off the amazing stuff we had that made Danger such a great place. But the reason for that was our collective disbelief that we were working in such a screwed up place. Yes, we took long lunches and we sat in conference rooms and went on coffee breaks and the conversations always went something like this…”Can you believe that want us to do this?” Or “Did you hear that IM was cut, YouTube was cut? The App store was cut?” “Can you believe how mismanaged this place is?” “Why is this place to dysfunctional??”

Please understand that we went from being a high functioning, extremely passionate and driven organization to a dysfunctional organization where decisions were made by politics rather than logic.

Consider this, in less than 10 years with 1/10 of the budget Microsoft had for PMX, we created a fully multitasking operating system, a powerful service to support it, 12 different device models, and obsessed and supportive fans of our product. While I will grant that we did not shake up the entire wireless world (ala iPhone) we made a really good product and were rewarded by the incredible support of our userbase and our own feelings of accomplishment. If we had had more time and resources, we would of come out with newer versions, supporting touch screens and revamping our UI. But we ran out of time and were acquired and look at the results. A phone that was a complete and total failure. We all knew (Microsoft employees included) that is was a lackluster device, lacked the features the market wanted and was buggy with performance problems on top of it all.

When we were first acquired, we were not taking long lunches and coffee breaks. We were committed to help this Pink project out and show our stuff. But when our best ideas were knocked down over and over and it began to dawn on us that we were not going to have any real affect on the product, we gave up. We began counting down to the 2 year point so we could get our retention bonuses and get out.

I am sorry you had to witness that amazing group behave so poorly. Trust me, they were (and still are) the best group of people ever assembled to fight the cellular battle. But when the leaders are all incompetent, we just wanted out.

So it is even internal that they know they need a change…..BUT HOW

Most of their products that were successful were others, what they invented except the xbox were largely irrelevant or unsuccessful.  They should have been a dominant phone player and got owned by Apple and Android.

And their big solution is this right now –

Microsoft: ‘If we don’t cannibalize our existing business, others will’

That’s not what companies do to reinvent themselves.  Take Apple, or IBM…that is what Microsoft needs to do.

I’ll give them this, they have a lot of money in the bank, but they are not positioning themselves as a dominant player for the future.

COMMUNICATIONS

In talking to the analysts and even the press from time to time, arrogant seems to be a trend.  They need to be humble and explain the situation.  Most of all, they need a product and a strategy to deal with.  I don’t envy them.

So far, they have emulated IBM in a lot of ways.  Re-Inventing themselves would be a good start.

Fixing moral would be good too….I’ll end with what Rob Enderle says:

The best way the take on these problems is for the management team to engage with employees by both listening to them and providing insight into the company’s strategic plans. Candor is critical; the goal is to get people working as a team again.  Employee surveys are generally ineffective because they aren’t trusted and the results don’t create the needed dialog.

Update: Their tablet strategy is labeled misguided and confusing.  Who would have guessed that?

Let the communications team explain this.

Doing a Joint Announcement With Your Competitors

Recently, I’ve done joint announcements with Oracle, SAP, HP, Tibco, Software AG and HP. As you can imagine, I’ve had varying relationships with each and I’m happy to report that the state of the A/R industry is good and that we can work together.

When I was in PR, it was cat fight supreme with territorial ism and turf wars. Most of the announcements I did with these companies when in Analyst Relations didn’t have that element. For the most part, the announcements were about standards, not products. So that went a long way towards working together. Still, if you include IBM, the companies I’ve named here aren’t known for being best buddies.

As and aside, I can say that the executives (who can be the source of most problems) all worked towards the cause of the best briefing possible.

Some things are given, like in a certain area (we just did SOA) the analysts know the exec’s by company and the exec’s know each other so I’m happy to report they acted like grown ups.

TURF WARS

With the typical name calling (from the CEO’s)and because of t the belief in your own products, the first issue to overcome is that the announcement is usually about a jointly create product or standard, not us vs. them.  That rule has to be set down first and if you don’t overcome that, you have no chance at building trust, the basis for working together.

DIVIDE THE DUTIES

One company can’t dominate the duties or or it is not a joint announcement.   This also forces the companies to work together to approve what the others have created as their part of the announcement.   There are analyst lists, invitations, charts, follow up issues and any number of duties that need to be attended to and dived up.  Once that is done, you must rely on each other and the level of trust inherently rises.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s important that the analyst see this as equal amongst the companies.  One company presenting more than another is a dead give away.  You can’t help Q and A as the analysts will direct the question directly to a company.

LESSONS LEARNED

You either put your differences aside and work together, or you’ll never get anything done.  It’s tough to do when your day job is to hammer the company that you are working with other than on the announcement.  These are the days of co-opetition though.  You learn to get along or you’ll never make it to announcement day.

What’s goin’ on

The Marvin Gaye themed Blog today.

7 more Windoze security updates today, bringing the total to well over 20 in just the past couple of weeks. I wonder if this happens to Sam, Mark Hurd, Michael Dell…they get paid a whole lot more than me per hour to sit and wait for updates.

Oil – went to $67.50 and it’s approaching a level that it could fall even more. This is good news/bad news right before an election. It was the main problem point in an otherwise good economy. So depending on your stance in the election, your point is either strengthened or weakened. One thing of note is a place in the Gulf of Mexico I’ve been following lately – area 181 that has more oil than we could need for a while. Combine that with the lack of hurricanes, diplomacy in Iran rather than threats to nuke Israel and summer travel being over, prices could go a lot lower. Environmental good news update, I found out that ocean floor oil seepage is far more than any oil spill, and nature has cleaned that up for thousands of years. Also, Katrina didn’t dump any oil into the water, though it did cripple oil production.

HP is under inquiry for board of directors leaks to the press leaks. Too bad, I thought that they were cleaning up the act. This looks more like “he looked at me, she’s on my side of the room, he/she touched me” kid fighting. All companies have issues and infighting, but you have to find a way to not air your dirty laundry. This is PR hell and takes the focus off of the good work they’ve done recently. Customers and analysts have long memories for this nonsense. This is a festering sore that has to be healed or will be a problem for a while.

The launch of Atlantis is on hold for a Fuel Cell problem. We need to keep making progress on our programs, but the reality is the moon mission is not being handled from the ISS.

The opening game for the NFL tomorrow night is the Steelers (fresh off of a Super Bowl Victory) vs. my team the MIAMI DOLPHINS! Ben or no Ben, everyone is picking the Steelers.

Sametime is not sometime, rather all the time

Our WPLC (Lotus) announced Sametime 7.5 this week. I’ve been using it now for a while as a beta product. I use any number of instant messaging products depending on who it is and what they use. We at IBM use Sametime and up until now, instant messaging was IM to me, just another package to get work done. This announcement has the ability to change the direction of what IM is and how software can work together.
The fact that it is integrated into Microsoft applications, blackberry, Motorola Q and any Eclipse oriented environment changes things now. It just closed the world a bit for me. I’ve always wanted a one size fits all device and software that actually talked to each other. I view this as now headed in the right direction. We’ve even announced upcoming support for OSX Mac users. Don’t get me wrong that any one product should be a panacea, because I firmly believe that competition drives up quality and drives down price, but the point is to have things work together seamlessly.
Not trying to be a commercial here, but the audio and Video support brings in a whole new list of things to do on a device or through an IBM platform. Not that I think email is going away, but we are a society who wants things faster and better and Sametime 7.5 is a step in that staircase.

Note: Earlier this year, IBM announced that Sametime is connected to AOL, Yahoo and Google…I think most have heard of these companies.

Other Note: Good Technology also introduced a service for Domino users to remotely check email on any number of devices. Partners supporting your products and platforms are important factors for success (note to the micro channel marketing department there).
So more things appear to be working together, a good thing and maybe proof that our strategy for open standards is working. I find it interesting that IBM is reaching out into the Microsoft space to work with their software. I don’t think it’s as much an olive branch as it is a proof of what we are trying to do to get software to work together. It will be interesting to watch whether Microsoft closes the kimono more or opens up to us.

I can’t believe I’m the only one out here that wants to have things work together without getting a computer science degree first.

The executives call this Sam Time as Palmisano uses it to constantly stay on the ass of his direct reports.  The best feature is DND which keeps people from bothering you and gives the appearance that you are there or in a meeting.  Unfortunately, it is now used as a babysitter to see if you are working or not.  Instead of a tool, you have to have it on so management can monitor you like a child, rather than trusting you to do your job.

Customer No Service

I’ve blogged before about issues with customer service Dell Hell, or as consumer advocate Clark Howard coins it, customer NO service. Since I worked in the PC industry for 20 some years, it is easy for me to talk about it. I frequently compare selling PC’s to the used car world with their respective salesman and policies, but that might be giving used car industry a bad name with this next example.

Tiger Direct has a rebate scam going that is documented by the Better Business Bureau, and Bloggers, and to add salt in the wound, they are also selling your personal info. As of this post, 42,508 customers have requested a reliability report on Tiger Direct in the last 36 months according to the BBB.

I always maintain that customers vote with their dollars (or Euro’s, pounds, rubles, rupees, whatever.), I wonder if this will be the case or is the drive to somehow get an extra discount worth going through this poor example?

It’s time for the PC industry to stand up and offer quality service rather than just a next discount. After all, PC’s are on just about every office desk, at most homes and travel with most businessmen and women.

Here is the opportunity for the HP’s and Lenovo’s of the world to stand up and inject some integrity into the industry, I hope that between the customers and the manufacturers, they/we can weed out those who do this sort of thing.

Making Microsoft Lemonade from lemons, or – maybe the cleverist Idea of the year

I hate it when I don’t think of things like this. James Governer on Vista

James Governer suggested to give a rebate with the purchase of an xbox. It may go down as the cleverist idea of the year. And to further support James’ idea, it has precidence with one of the top marketing rebounds ever.

When the original Star Wars came out in 1977, it was before action figures from movies was what it is today as an aftermarket sales vehicle. They not only underestimated the demand for this, they blew it for the Christmas Season. So they had the empty box campaign. You got the box and the figures would come later.

Microsoft pooped a big lemon yesterday, and here’s how to make lemonade out of it.

Do I think they will listen to him? When pigs fly out of my…… because of the reasons I spoke of yesterday, but is it an idea that should cause Microsoft to want to hire him like they did when they hired Borg analysts, I seriously hope not. May the force be with you James.

Nice Chip Job Apple

Macslash reports that Apple picked Intel for it’s new processor because it was faster and they got more attention from Intel. Ok, I get that. What should they say, we picked it because it was the same?

Today I read stories from the WSJ, Financial Times, Reuters (sorry, they’re paid links, but the stories are all over the place) that IBM has a new Power chip that is clocking in at 6 Mhz and lower power and heat consumption. Just after the big Intel/Mac splash, here comes a chip revolution.

Was this a bad choice by Apple to switch? History will decide, but I’m thinking that since IBM has all the game boxes and there is a move to control the consumer market in the house for audio/visual/lights/AC that this is going run together. The person that controls the entertainment and the house from a pc is a winner.

So I ask, did Apple make a mistake going to Intel? Switching your OS to work with different hardware is no small feat, so there had to be some thought going into it. I thought when they made the switch, here comes another Intel box, and since it was vehemently denied, it’s probably truer than we were led to believe.

All the articles today say that the other chip makers are going to have to do some catch up to the new Power 6 chip, so who’s made the right decision here? Apple has made some good decisions before. I-Pod is a killer product, but more of a one off as more stuff is going to be integrated into the phone/mp3 player/thumb type email device. Palm was once dominant too, ask Blackberry users what they would rather have there.

So I’m going to be watching the Mac numbers and Apple spin.

Disclaimer: even though I’m and IBM’r, I love my video I-pod, and I’ve worked as an Apple dealer selling tons of Mac’s in a prior job. I have no affiliation with the chip division other than through working for the same company. I looked at this one as if I was an outsider.

Gates, IBM is number one, but how many balls can you juggle?

At CES, Bill Gates said IBM is our number one competition . Ok, I’m fine with that, as I’ve said before, everyone shoots for number one. At least we’re relevant to them.

Here’s my point, I’ll use an analogy. To win an Olympic medal, you have to keep your eye on the goal, win the Gold. You train hard, eat right, strict schedule and most of all FOCUS.

Microsoft is trying to release Vista, compete against Sony and Nintendo with the XBox360, fend off Google, win ODF issues (perception and reality), legal battles around the world on monopoly issues, fight off Linux both in server and in the desktop, Google issues, Yahoo issues, instant messaging, dot.Net in the middleware space, office application needs/updates and star office competition, mobile and hand held device operating system competition, need I go on?

So how in the world are they going to focus on winning? I get multi-tasking, although Windows doesn’t do that as well as Unix/Linux but come on! How are you going to concentrate on not dropping a ball here.

One would say, yeah but these are only Software issues, look at IBM or Sun that has hardware and software, and services. This would be a good point, but Microsoft is doing better than Sun, so throw them out of this argument for now.

IBM has lived through these issues more than once, trial by fire changing from tabulating machines to computers, from near death to resurrection by Gerstner, changing the business model from mainframe only to software and services. Oh yea, and a lot of mistakes along the way like the one that made Microsoft a company, giving away the PC operating system.

Does Microsoft need to re-invent themselves? Not in the traditional sense, but they are going through growing pains that will either get them focused or diluted to just juggling.

Going away? Hardly, they’ll be a force for a while. Sun was a force during the dot.net bubble also. IBM was a force during the 360 days also.

Predictions here? No, just wondering about history before it happens. At least they think we’re number one. Or maybe Bill is trying to get the press to focus on IBM and not on him.

IBM Buys Micromuse and Bowstreet – Lou Gerstner's notes on why these are important.

I’m not going to get into the coverage of the purchases of these two companies, there is plenty of news and links out there. I will say that it is the 10th and 11th acquisition by IBM Software Group this year.

When Lou Gerstner was retiring, he came to RTP to make his farewell remarks. There were over 15,000 IBM’rs at the site and about 200 got to go, I was one of the lucky ones…. thank you Lyle McGuire.

I have always had a lot of respect for Lou. Not many executives can save the largest company in a particular industry (IT of course for us) and accomplish an 18 BILLION dollar turn around. While I’m commenting on Lou, I once heard some folks say he made to much. I say he didn’t make enough for what he did (kept IBM together and made it profitable and productive). I wouldn’t be blogging today if it wasn’t for him.

Back to my point on the aqusitions. Lou spoke during a downturn in our industry. He said buying companies is easy to do, but hard to do correctly. He spoke of the HP purchase of Compaq, that it was not smart to buy a company that does relatively the same thing you do, no added value there. Although at the time it was disguised as a “services purchase” to get on equal terms with IGS (that still hasn’t come close), it was described to me by more than one analyst as thinly disguised “Lou Envy” by the then head of HP who has met her demise.

Lou then commented on the purchase of Price Waterhouse Coopers for business consulting services. From this purchase, we used the PWC data and research to help formulate and design our industry strategy, a go to market par excellance strategy that is being copied by our competition.

Lou’s point was that in tough times, smart companies position themselves to be on top when the market turns around or when the next trend of strategic selling comes to fruition. So there is a little insight on how to do things right. Some buy for R&D, some for customer base and some for extra bottom line. While there is some of that in our acqusitions, strategic positioning for the future to make us stronger and more competitive, advancing our business strategy is a driving force.

No, no one consulted me on which companies we are going to acquire, but being smart and doing it for a good reason, not just to do it is nothing to sneeze at. I’m guessing that Steve Mills, the head of SWG and Sam Palmisano ultimately pull the trigger on these, but every time they do, Gerstner’s words come back to me and make more sense each time.

How to attract developers

Hats off to Microsoft here, I wish we’d thought of this.

Prize in Indian Talent Search

Microsoft has a talent search in India that will produce one member to work with Gates for a year. If you look at this closely, there is one big winner….Microsoft. You may have thought I was going to say the guy/girl who gets to work with Microsoft for a year, but I’m not sure that is that good.

Microsoft is pulling the credit card game, announce a contest and you pull everyone in. Compound that by it being in India, and you have one heck of an idea.

We make no bones about the fact that we are expanding heavily in the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China. It looks like we aren’t the only game in town now.

Hope we learn from this.

Scoble has a big set of attachments/Customers do matter

Kudo’s to Robert Scoble today for calling out his own company in public, that took big….uh….attachements. Why, if you go to the end, he talks about Microsofter’s having to work for other companies because the customers will leave.

12 reasons why not to work with Microsoft .

I read Thomas Watson’s book about IBM. It was always about the customer, both Watson Sr. and Jr. Let us not forget that either just because it’s Microsoft that has become the BORG, that our end goal is the CUSTOMER! (listen to this, it’s scary when you think about the operating system war).

Ultimately, it is about the customers. It’s not about what you can do to climb the ladder of success, or how great a product you can produce – especially if no one wants to buy it…..or for Microsoft, if no one wants to work with you.

Fork in the Road for partners? Yes for some, Crocodile for others.

Oracle has bought Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and will likely buy others. Microsoft has bought Great Plains and Navision, today they announced a business intelligence solution going up against Cognos. All but Great Plains were staunch IBM partners. SAP has Netweaver applications. For the major middleware companies mentioned in the same sentence with IBM, those are facts.

The easy bandwagon is to jump out there and say everyone should buy a company and get into the application marketplace. Just ask the press.

Here is the speculation section. What will the outcome be with the applications marketplace? All the above mentioned major players have applications in the common business arena. IBM on the other hand is going to this market with partner applications as the solution. These are two pretty diverse paths when considering the partner aspect of channel conflict. Thus, the fork in the road

I am a staunch believer in capitalism, that it promotes competition forcing better solutions and lower prices, usually resulting in an overall better customer solution. How will this concept be applied to the aforementioned channel conflict and fork in the road?

The answer is that history will tell the ultimate story, but as with all things, it will not be a zero sum game for any of the companies mentioned. Partners will be motivated by who helps them the most. Sort of the capitalism statement. It will likely parody the political situation. The staunch believers (or those too far financially invested in a solution) will likely stay there. Those deciding on a solution, or moving to open source or have ODF issues or those pissed off at channel conflict or competition from their existing middleware supplier are at the fork. So the fight is not for the right or left, but for the middle….those at the fork.

Yogi Berra said, “When you get to a fork in the road, take it”

IBM is making a stand on supporting the partners and going to market with them as the application solution. There are co-marketing programs and 30,000 IBM sales reps helping them make sales.

Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have said where they are going to compete with partners, and hope they can drag enough other business along that are willing to go in their middleware space. Some partners will go that way, hoping that they don’t or won’t have to compete.

As a famous president once said: “To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.” Ronald Reagan.

Hey Microsoft, it's IBM deja vu… all over again

I’ve been watching this phenomenon happen now for a few years. In fact, because I think that James Governer is a better writer than me (ok, it’s not even close), I suggested for him to get rich writing this book….James, there’s still time.

Microsoft is facing what the old IBM faced in enough ways that it’s now not a conincidence. Since my due dilligence on this hasn’t been approved by anyone, I’ll just mention a few public similarities.

Back in the pre-PC mainframe heyday, IBM had what some would call proprietary architecture. The industry then revolted with of all things DOS/Windows, ethernet, distributed computing, etc. Now the roles have reversed and Windows is proprietary and IBM is pushing Open Standards. I guess it’s human nature to want to have control and to not want to be controlled.

IBM was the big bad corporation, Microsoft was the upstart that freed everyone from the data center. Now Microsofts server product is called Data Center.

IBM had some legal troubles with monopolistic behavior, I think Microsoft has it’s hands full with this distraction right now. I won’t go into distraction too much. I’ll leave it with if you take your eye off the ball, you can’t hit it.

These are merely symptoms of the condition though, here’s another. Yesterday, there was and organizational change in Redmond, Microsoft Management Undergoes Major Overhaul . I’ve been through 100’s of these changes in my career. Some really shook up a group and things took off (very few times did this happen), some were monumental failures (more often than not) and some were treading water (some things changed, but the results were about the same). One fact that is not lost on me is that when you’re killing the competition, or when things are working well, few teams will change their line up.

Re-inventing yourself is how a company can survive key times in their existance. Re-shuffling is not the same thing. IBM has had faced this a number of times (remember typewriters, 360, Akers to Gerstner, commitment to open), and now Microsoft may face an IBM sized challenge.

I spent a good part of the day with an analyst yesterday and we had this conversation (I’ll keep him anonymous for now). He rightly points out that one company doesn’t have to take away a big portion of the desktop OS market, but many companies can take a small piece causing the same erosion effect. Heck, even a shift in technology to something like a handheld device with lots of bandwidth can cause the OS to be irrelevant.

Other companies haven’t managed as well, remember DEC?

Microsoft has $50 billion cash sitting around, so they are not in financial trouble, so they could tread water for a long time. Managing shifts in technology is an issue, dealing with people and their loyalties (internal and external) is a bigger challenge. This is a fast and ever changing industry. It’s tough to keep up. My analyst pal and I also talked about the defining changes in history like from horse and buggy to trains, to cars, to planes.

The first closing I ever put on my email was this, change is the only thing that stays the same. Others point this out, it’s tough to get to number one, it’s tougher to stay there.

Everyone shoots at number one.

Will history repeat itself? Not exactly, but there are only a few big corporations and their problems, while not exact are similar.

I’d like to get in my DeLorean with a flux-capacitor and go back to the future to see what happens and how this works out. Maybe James will be rich enough to invite me to his new place in the Mediterranean that he can buy from book royalties?

What I was going to blog about today, only to get messed up

I had planned on blogging today about the IBM/RedHat Emerging Markets announcement today Businessweek , but that’s gonna get covered in the press. Move on from that one.

As I was reading the news, I saw this comment, Oracle “continues to fail, will continue to fail, and we’re going to help them in every way we can,” Bill McDermott, chief executive of SAP’s North American unit. I was thinking, here’s a potential rant. How the heck does he know whether it will fail or not? Is he a blowhard? Is he a good soapboxer? Is he looking for some spotlight? Actually, it reminds me a lot of political speech where you can call your opponent a collie molester and then he/she has to defend that they don’t molest collies while digging a huge hole.

So now I’m up to two subjects and I’m debating two blogs or a catch all for news today. Or I could just link to them via del.icio.us.

Here’s where my day went bad. My pal Jblog , writes today about how google blog search is and that he found his own blog.

Ok, I’m hooked, I googled my own blog and found four other blogs with the same name as mine. I’ll save myself the trouble of linking to them, you can play with Google Blog Search.

I thought I had sort of a creative name, only to find out that I’m late to the party once again, without a gift. Some of the other delusions were pretty good reads. I’ve got work to do.

So I rumble a few subjects through my mind to post about during the day to try and be witty, or humorous, or perhaps insightful (don’t worry, one day I will be) and right before I blog, any thoughts of having a original or imaginative name are shot down like I had the Red Baron on my tail.

Well, at least I got some new baits from Manns Bait Company which they’ve asked me to test this weekend. Think I’ll go fishing and stop crying about my blog. By next post, I’ll have decided on a single subject that readers can go away from with a modicum of content.

Dell Hell – the power of blogging

This is not news to real bloggers, but it struck me a couple of ways what it’s like out there.

First, it’s tough to be #1. Dell has been number one for a while in the PC space. It’s tough to get to be #1 at anything, then it’s tough to stay there. Everyone shoots at #1, from football to business to retail. Those shots come in the form of paradigm shifts to sniping. Worst of all, it can come from within….What’s the saying? A house divided against itself can’t stand? Think it goes something like that.

Here’s a paradigm shift. Blogging. Jeff Jarvis BuzzMachine talked about his tech support nightmare with Dell. It then goes all over the blogosphere and Dell has a customer support perception problem. As we know, perception is reality in a lot of cases, so they have support and perception problems to deal with.

To properly navigate the stream of the business world while pleasing your customers is very tricky. Not that customer support took down every company, but I’ll be everyone knows a company they don’t buy from anymore ’cause they made you mad. Customers vote with their money.

Do I think this will take Dell down from their top position? No way. Not on this by itself, but big companies (and number 1’s) have to fight a lot of battles to stay on top, internal and external…real and perceived.

VC's and Mentoring

IBM announced the VC advisory council and mentoring programs today. It was a good announcement and it got plenty of attention. A new term for me came out, BRIC which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China.

We briefed a number of the analysts, so here are some of the comments.

There was a theme of emerging markets, some as a delivery model, some for cost reduction. The partner network is key in these countries as they are huge opportunities and no one company can cover it. Good thing IBM has a solid partnering program

Open is a big word. Both standards and software. Gluecode and PHP are big for IBM, but RUBY is something that VC’s are looking at.

The council gives quick connection for the VC’s to our executives. Cutting through the maze is a major task at any big company.

A big software company in the northwest is scaring their VC’s with uncertainty and fear of competing with them.

Here’s a link to the lead exec for this, who’s always a good read when checking out IBM and partnerning…

Buell Duncan