Connecting The Dots On Covid, The Vaccine, Big Pharma and Control – Senator Malcolm Roberts

I’ve posted recently on Covid, the “vaccines”, Ivermectin and other pieces of evidence that expose what is really going on. I started looking into this when trying to understand the motives, the players and why the push for the vax instead of a cure. It was so that I could make my own decision on how to proceed with my healthcare and to live my life during this shit show.

I’ve discovered that I’m not alone and a lot of people are waking up to the fact that there is a lot of lying going on. None of it has our best interests in mind. They only care about tightening their grasp on our balls (figuratively speaking. Everyone should get this metaphor so cut any sexist crap).

In this video, Senator Roberts pretty well explains a lot of it in a short 2 minutes, it’s in English with sub-titles. Put aside your political bias on any side and think about your future and best interests. TPTB won’t.

I’m going to start the detective work of connecting the dots for you to try and get the facts to make your own decision, something anyone in control doesn’t want us doing. Government relies on us depending on them for their power. Once you think for yourself, no one has any control over you.

How AI Is Spying On You Via CSAM – Apple Version They Say Is Hashing – I Call BS

This is pretty complex stuff. Needless to say, this is how Big Brother is watching you.

Why do you think that you get ads for something you never searched but just talked about? Hell, sometimes I just think of stuff and it shows up it seems.

You are a dumbass for taking nudies or sexting because they are probably laughing at you as they can look at everything.

You’ve been warned.

I Got What I Expected, China is Stalking Me

I’ve posted stuff on Covid (link here to some of my posts to make it easy on them), where I called it the China/Wuhan virus, all to point at the CCP and the MSM. I also have done a lot of gene editing posts about creating bio weapons and super soldiers, and highlighted how they have doped the athletes over the years.

I don’t single out just China. I’ve listed stuff a lot of other people or countries have done too.

My blog is insignificant compared to others who have massive audiences. I go after the Media a lot too. I worked with them for decades and know how much they lie and how biased reporting is. (Recent studies show they have about 12% trust in America).

The statistics show me who’s reading what, and all of a sudden I’m getting a lot of hits from them. They re-route through multiple servers, but I can see that too. I poked the dragon and they responded, from all over the world.

I can’t be cancelled off of fake book or Twitter, or most of social media either because I cancelled them first. It is a cesspool of hate and once you try to silence any group, you are no longer free or accurate. It just becomes propaganda and Josef Goebbels showed us what that leads to.

I’m shocked that they give a crap about a blog that now has topics that go all over the place, but not surprised that no stone is left unturned.

Maybe I should work on the Russians or the Iranians next. I could create all kinds of fun. I think those guys kill people with polonium though. I don’t want to die like that.

Perhaps they’ll get a kick out of all the Gorilla Glue screw ups instead.

Is China Creating A Master Race Of Super Soldiers?

Didn’t anyone watch The Wrath Of Khan? Don’t we already know that trying to engineer a master race always goes wrong. Isn’t Russia kicked out of world competition? Do we even have a James T. Kirk who can defeat a superior enemy?

Gene Editing Through Crisper-Cas

We are witnessing the manipulation of DNA through eRNA as a Covid-19 vaccine. We have no idea what the long term effects are going to be.

Crisper is a gene editing technology that allows for cutting, inserting or deleting DNA in an individual. It can be used to cure diseases or potentially eliminate defects or perhaps create immunity to disease.

These are the potential upsides.

Potential Downsides

When editing DNA, if you are not ethical, one could create a six million dollar man in effect. You think you can build them bigger, faster, stronger. We have no idea what this will do to people.

Think of it, you might give someone the superior intelligence, strength and physical capabilities that can take over the world.

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse1.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.YwH51ipL7TSrx2XYh80SVAHaJl%26pid%3DApi%26h%3D160&f=1

Is China Creating Super Soldiers

Here is what we know. Remember that China withheld the Wuhan virus from the world until it had spread so we have no idea how far they have advanced really.

  • “U.S. intelligence shows that China has conducted human testing on members of the People’s Liberation Army in hope of developing soldiers with biologically enhanced capabilities,” wrote then Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, in a December 3 Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “China Is National Security Threat No. 1.”
  • All these Chinese moves are meant to obtain “biological dominance.” “There are,” as Ratcliffe noted, “no ethical boundaries to Beijing’s pursuit of power.”
  • The experiment evoked the eugenics program of the Third Reich to create a “master race.”
  • Shenzhen’s He [Jenkui], after an international uproar caused by news of his dangerous and unethical work, was fined and jailed for “illegally carrying out human embryo gene-editing,” but in the Communist Party’s near-total surveillance state he obviously had state backing for his experiments…. Beijing’s prosecution of He, therefore, looks like an attempt to cool down the furor and prevent the international scientific community from further inquiry into China’s activities.
  • “What is most disturbing about these endeavors is that China has gleaned access to CRISPR and advanced genetic and biotech research, thanks to their relationship with the United States and other advanced Western nations. American research labs, biotech investors, and scientists have all striven to do research and business in China’s budding biotech arena… because the ethical standards for research… are so low.” — Brandon Weichert, author of The Weichert Report and Winning Space, interview with Gatestone Institute, February 2021.

Biological Dominance

It is not clear how far Chinese military researchers have gone. They are, however, advocating use of the CRISPR gene-editing tool to enhance human capabilities, and the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission is “supporting research in human performance enhancement and ‘new concept’ biotechnology.”

The People’s Liberation Army has gone all-in on gene editing of humans. As leading analysts Elsa Kania and Wilson VornDick report, there are “striking parallels in themes repeated by a number of PLA scholars and scientists from influential institutions.”

All these Chinese moves are meant to obtain “biological dominance.” “There are,” as Ratcliffe noted, “no ethical boundaries to Beijing’s pursuit of power.”

It is clear that the Communist Party is thinking about more than just soldiers. A Chinese researcher is also the first — and so far only — person to gene-edit human embryos that produced live births.

He Jiankui, while at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, used the CRISPR-Cas9 tool to remove gene CCR5 to give twin girls, born in late 2018, immunity to HIV but perhaps also to enhance intelligence. The experiment evoked the eugenics program of the Third Reich to create a “master race.”

When was the last time we heard of creating a master race? Does anyone remember what the Nazi’s tried already?

Finally, I was taught by a Chinese-American how to survive in life and the business world in China. He told me throw out the 10 commandments and you are on even ground. They will not adhere to them so you will lose (I am not suggesting that you break the 10 commandments, this is what I was told on how to survive negotiations with the Chinese).

China’s regime does not have ethics or decency, is not bound by law, and does not have a sense of restraint. However, with its rapid weaponization of biotechnology, it does have the technology to start a whole new species of genetically enhanced, goose-stepping humans. Pictured: Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army march on October 1, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

They have proven that they are willing to cheat in the Olympics, Life, technology and so forth. The question is now how far and what will it cost the others? The CCP clearly has no respect for human beings. The Wuhan research is coming out.

You’ve been warned.

The Government vs. Big Tech In 2020 (Regular Users Are the Losers)

I’m interrupting humor and sarcasm to note a trend. If you read my about, I notice trends and patterns as facts begin to fall into place over time.

As always, the human race seems to come down to power (and other forms like sex and money). Not everyone wants it, but those addicted to it can’t get enough.

In 2020, Big Tech financed a lot of the election, probably on both sides but they seem to favor one side over the other. I’m not going to get into being political but both sides of the spectrum don’t serve us as well as they should. It seems that they serve themselves in terms of granting more power and control. On the other side of power is……

BIG TECH HAS BIG MONEY AND BIG INFLUENCE.

At some point, they tell you to follow the money. No one has more money (ergo influence) than Big Tech right now. I’ll give you that the government has more, they get it from taxpayers and the tech companies. They don’t have to earn it so it is less valuable and more widely wasted.

It’s not just about money though because money buys power and influence. Tech will likely sit their people in positions in the new cabinet, as currently elected but is not the big issue. It is trivial compared to the war.

The war is who controls the message.

GOVERNMENT IS GETTING GENERIC AND TECH RUNS RINGS AROUND THEM

After watching the tech hearings over the last couple of years, Congress is filled with mostly idiots when it comes to tech. They asked Facebook and Google simpleton questions I’d be embarrassed to ask my grandparents. Of course, the CEO’s ran circles around the questioners and frankly made them look like the emperor with no clothes . They didn’t even have to lie (although it looks like they bent the truth pretty heavily) because the questions were so elementary.

The result is that Tech (mostly the FAANGS) control the message that congress had a stranglehold on and the fight is on for said power. On the big tech side is the money and on the government side is regulation.

AMERICANS ARE WAKING UP TO THIS POWER STRUGGLE (AS IS THE REST OF THE WORLD)

I’m not the only one noticing this. This study (linked below) surveyed Americans, but users around the world are the same:

A majority of Americans across the political spectrum believe tech companies have too much power and do more harm than good, and most people have deep concerns about how companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google use their personal data, accordingto a new poll released today by Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The wide-ranging report, “Techlash? America’s Growing Concern with Major Technology Companies,” provides findings on how Americans view the roles internet and technology companies play in their lives and in society. Major findings include the following:

  • Americans believe internet and tech companies have a negative impact on American life: People think the companies do more to divide society (60%) than to unite it (11%); misinform the public about the news (47%) rather than make people more informed (19%); and create more problems than they solve (47%), rather than solve more problems than they create (15%).
  • Misinformation, hate speech and data privacy are top concerns: Americans are overwhelmingly concerned about misinformation on the internet (74%), the privacy of their personal data (68%), and they are very concerned about hate speech and other abusive or threatening language online (56%).
  • A bipartisan majority believes internet and tech companies have too much power: While 77% of Americans hold this opinion, Americans are equally divided on whether the government should intervene to break up these companies. Republicans tend to be more critical of internet and tech companies than Democrats and independents.
  • Americans say leaders are not paying enough attention: Fifty-nine percent say elected officials and political candidates are paying too little attention to technology issues, including 67% of young adults (aged 18-34) and 71% of Democrats, versus 43% of Republicans and 57% of independents.
  • People don’t trust tech companies to police content on their platforms, but they trust the government even less: A majority of Americans don’t trust internet and tech companies much (44%) or at all (40%) to make the right decisions about what content is allowed on online platforms. But 55% of people still prefer that the companies make those decisions, rather than the government (44%). 

We can’t count on the tech companies to do anything other than to seek power:

Self-regulation has failed. One of Silicon Valley’s most valuable assets until now has been the cultural permission to try new things. The public has put up with arrogant rhetoric and a lax attitude toward the law in exchange for innovative ideas that meaningfully improved upon the status quo. But it was a Faustian bargain, with untrammeled innovation raising the specter of uncontrolled growth. When we learn about Airbnb endangering neighbors, Twitter failing to stop rampant harassment, or YouTube radicalizing its viewers with an algorithm that recommends extremist content, we see the destructive harm technology companies can do and their unwillingness to rein in their greed. The narrative has shifted from a question of whether there will be regulation at all to the fight over who should make the rules—and how tough those rules should be.

WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES?

Usually no one wins or the Government uses it’s tentacles to overwhelm companies with regulations. Tech has the power of the message and as much money. Further, with their hands in the pockets of the politicians and the ineptness of Congress, it let’s me think that Tech will have the early upper hand. Congress can pass laws, but tech is usually steps ahead and there is no telling what has been embedded in the future technology. It takes 5 years or so to bring a new product to market. The 2025 tech is already being tested in labs somewhere.

Sure, they might have to pay fines, but they are rounding errors at the rate tech is making money.

So I’m predicting this. It will be a standoff and both sides will struggle for power. In the meantime, users will suffer from regulation or invasion of privacy from both parties.

Congress will get more money out of the tech companies in the form of lobbying or the people they place in high positions. The relationship becomes incestuous.

Again, we are the losers.

Update: It’s already started with Amazon getting their hooks in first:

Amazon, the trillion-dollar tech company, has hired lobbyist Jeff Ricchetti, whose brother will be the top White House counselor to Joe Biden.

Jeff Ricchetti’s firm, which he founded in 2001 with his brother Steve Ricchetti, the incoming Biden adviser, registered as a lobbyist for Amazon on Nov. 13.

Great Sayings – Self Survival By Governments, Innovation and Those In Charge, but are not True Leaders

Hat tip to Moonbattery

For politics, we need balance.  History shows that too much dominance by any side makes for lack of clear vision as leaders.  Their goal becomes being re-elected instead of serving the office they were elected to.  There are plenty of examples.

In Companies, being the solution to a problem is one business model, until the problem goes away then so do profits.

The better model is innovation.  Not that I find it that innovative, but look no further than the iPhone as an example.  Conversely, we are still stuck with Windows however and I find no real innovation there.  I left that platform as quickly as I could

Then of course there is Facebook, Twitter, Google and host of other platforms that haven’t really offered a solution other than sucking the time out of your day and providing a place to move along anarchy.

Look at the motives of the person trying to offer a solution.  Are they selling you a bill of goods, re-election or innovation?

Covid-19, It’s Another Pearl Harbor – We’ve Been Through This Before And We Do It Best

Update:  On April 5th, the Surgeon General compared the Corona Virus to Pearl Harbor.

There are events in history that cause a divided nation to come together.

Some have been pandemics and others have been wars, but there are times defined by history that people put their selfishness aside and gather to do what is best.

As an example, I could pick the Spanish Flu, SARS, MERS, H1N1, Y2K, the Swine Flu, the Space Race to the Moon or any number of events, but I’m going to use Pearl Harbor.

I wasn’t there, but our nation was divided as to whether we should enter another World War or isolate ourselves and hope the problem would go away or others would solve it.  This all changed on December 7, 1941 when our country was forced into the events of the world.

We could have cowered to the attack and ask them not to do it again.  Neville Chamberlin tried to appease Hitler this way and it didn’t work out so well.

THE MIGHT OF THE USA

Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of Pearl Harbor knew that a surprise attack to take out our Navy was the only real chance for Japan to stop the USA so they they could expand their reach in the Pacific Rim.  After all, he had studied and lived in the USA and knew that our forces were depleted after WWI.  He also knew that he couldn’t attack us on our own soil.

What also turned out to be true was that if the attack didn’t work, that he would awaken the might of the greatest industrialized nation in the world and unite our country to defeat evil.

On December 8th 1941, men young and old were lined up to enlist to fight for our survival.  They knew that they would be leaving loved ones behind and there was a distinct possibility that they wouldn’t return alive.  They put their fears aside and were willing to fight for our survival and the future that we enjoy today.

Not long after, women went to work in the factories.  We had to ration rubber and metal for war supplies, but everyone did their part.

Companies changed their direction.  Auto makers went from making cars to building bombers.  Scientists invented new weapons to win, not to just survive and suffer.  Our nation came together as one because we had a cause to fight for.

After the war, the greatest achievements in technology, medicine and space exploration happened at a speed heretofore never accomplished.

WE’VE BEEN COMPLACENT AND DIVIDED

All of that progress created wealth, comfort and abundance and we lost our focus.  It’s no secret that we’ve been a divided country.  I’m not here to point fingers because there is enough of that going on through the tradional news and social media.  All of it has a bias one way or the other and it has been pulling us apart.

We haven’t had a common enemy to rally against since the downfall of the Soviet Union.  Instead, we’ve been feeding on ourselves instead of pulling together.  There is a strain of hatred for what we have been that defies the achievements that built our country.  I have read celebtards and sports figures that say we have never been great.  This just proves that they have no appreciation for the sacrifice and achievements that gave them the fame and fortune to preach from their soapboxes.  It also denies our ability to do it again.

We as humans need a cause to believe in and to fight for, whether we are handed or invent it ourselves.  Conversely, politicians have been poisoning us with their desire for power and control.  They have been playing a game of capture the flag on their own islands and haven’t put the good of the country and the people first.  They have been building their power base by taking away our freedom through regulation.

Our government was set up with a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one had the power like the monarchy who we defeated to become what we are.  We now potentially suffer from what the history of the world has suffered from since the beginning of time.  That is the selfishness, greed and desire for power that has aflicted man since the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

There also has been a faction for globalization that has tried to deplete our greatness by moving manufacturing offshore to the point that we could be held hostage for medical supplies.  Our spirit of nationalization has been tested by the border fight and ideology fueled by hate of the President.  It has ratcheted up these last few years in a power struggle because there was no enemy other than from within.

We have been eating ourselves instead of fighting together.

THE CORONA/COVID-19/CHINA/WUHAN/WHATEVER VIRUS

We now have a new Pearl Harbor.  We have been attacked by a new enemy who ambushed us again.  It is time for us to realize that we have a fight on our hands  Opportunity for success or failure knocks at the door of the fate of our country.

To do that, we need to go back to the spirit of 1941.  It was the people who came together in both the public and private sector, not the control of the Government that helped us save ourselves.

We can go back to being the humans that have struggle to fight against, rally together and overcome (both the virus and the overbearance of the governement regulations).

THE SILVER LINING

There is a great opportunity if we do the same as our forefathers.  Manufacturing in America again can help us right ourselves to help reunite our country and help other countries as we’ve done before.

We are beginning to see the automakers making ventilators, factories starting to make facemasks and other birth pains of our possible re-emergance to self-sustainment.  It can be done.

Before you manufacture in the USA instead of cheap labor offshore, there needs to be a construction boom to prepare production facilities.  After that, the job creation of made in in America is limitless, profitable and will help us help ourselves and others if they want it.

We already have become energy independent by producing enough oil so as to not be dependent on countries who hate us.

Our pharmacuticals are all made offshore by countries that have threatened to cut us off.  We need to do the same in the drug industry to continue our trend of independence and strength.  Through this can we help the rest of the world and save our nation from being held hostage for needed medical supplies and energy.

Most of all, we need fix our goverment and make them serve us instead of us serving them.  Companies and individuals need to be let loose to invent, design and create to defeat this latest Pearl Harbor instead of being told when and what we can or can’t do.  It’s time to limit their power and continue the greatness that history proves is inside of us.

Actual Maps of Where The #Shitholes Are – An A-Polititical Post On Where They Exist

First, I am not going to weigh in on what a world leader has said.  Every time I have ever tried it, nothing is gained as everyone has their own opinion and trying to sway it is not what I care about.  Enjoy your center, left, right or whatever political position you wish.

I was looking for whether this actually exists.  Here is what I’ve found.

UPDATE: Portland is the newest shit hole. Click on the link: Portland: American epicenter of degeneracy, depression, and ANTIFA.

Here is a link and a screenshot of a map from the Rice Institute based showing countries with the most open defecation.

Forbes published a list of the world’s dirtiest cities.  Without passing judgement, they seem to line up with the shitholes in the map so the facts seem to be in order.

Next, is it possible that the United States has places where there is open defecation?  I found that map also.

Below is the link and screenshot also, but in case you don’t recognize it, this is San Francisco.

Now, after reading this, one can add it to their travel plans to go and help, or avoid for sanitary purposes, you choose.  If you go to San Francisco, zoom in and you can see where to not step in a pile of poop.  As I type that, I realize that it is sad for what is supposed to be one of the leading cities of the US, and one so close to silicon valley.

It also gives everyone equal political fodder to take shots at whomever.  In these days of political partisanship, nothing or nobody is safe by the 3rd or 4th comment, so I expect the same.

I just got curious and I wondered if what was said was true or not. Apparently it is.

Here is the link to the recent study of sanitation including feces, used syringes and other disease carrying trash in the heart of San Francisco.  It’s a shame since it is in the heart of the restaurant and hotel area.  You’d think that the tourism officials would do something about this, but looking at the graph indicates the problem escalating.

UPDATE: San Francisco is getting over 80 calls a day to report human feces for clean up.  In the same report were almost as many instances of needles despite the fact that there are safe injection spaces for shooting up an illegal drug that destroys lives.

 

UPDATE: It turns out that Denver is now officially classified as a shithole also.  They passed an act that you can drop trou and pinch a loaf right on the street.  Here is the story and the reason why they passed the law.

UPDATE: It looks like Hawaii isn’t as pristine as one thinks of it.  The cesspools and the water around the islands are contaminated enough to make it a shithole also.  There is a link within this link that goes to the WSJ.

Video Update: A large portion of Orange county is now a 3rd world shithole also.

After all is said and done, I thought that having to have a map to not step in a pile of human feces makes a city the biggest shithole.  It turns out that I was wrong.

According to the Government services including the EPA, ACS and the Census bureau comes this little gem:

The City that Never Sleeps ranked the highest in three out of five categories, placing it as shittest-city-in-the-nation of 427.9 on Busy Bee’s “dirtiness index.” The next closest competitor for all the wrong reasons is Los Angeles, which has a dirtiness index of 317.8. To complete the top five list, the remaining dirtiest cities are Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

So not only do you have to pay way more more to live in these places, they have worse air, bigger rats and more cockroaches, they turn out to be the shitholes that we all thought they were.  Why anyone would choose to live there knowing there?

Schaeffer’s Law’s of the Digital Age – The Non-Racial Master/Slave Paradigm Through Digital Monitoring

Schaeffer’s First Law of the Digital Age:

The Global Digital Infrastructure (GDI) connects all human life on the planet into a single, giant, metastasizing organism throbbing with incredible potential for advancing human good, expanding knowledge exponentially, invading our lives with unimaginable malice and evil, and transforming unsuspecting users into helpless and obedient cyborgs.

Schaeffer’s Second Law of the Digital Age:

Each breakthrough in utility deriving from advances in the Global Digital Domain is accompanied by equal or greater vulnerabilities and potential detriments to quality of life.  Anything that can do amazingly great things for you can almost always do terribly awful things to you as well.

Schaeffer’s Third Law of the Digital Age:

It’s impossible to make or enforce laws to guard the people against the dangers of global digital power and impossible to prevent exponential growth in this power.  The Zuckerbergs and Bezoses and Googles of the world may propose to use their power benevolently, but they plan to use it and grow it without limit.  They claim they’ll be good masters, but they mean to be masters.

I’m not a conspiracy person, rather an observer of trends and patterns.  Haven’t we been down this path before in history where there are classes of people?  This time, they start as digital helpers like Alexa, Echo, Google assistant or Siri, but at what point are they re-directing our lives?  Aren’t there always people who try to control your lives thus enriching their lives both in money and power.

Since there are hackers constantly attacking the cloud, where your data is stored and accessible, when you lose control over your life?  The digital hacks can be found at Krebsonsecurity.com.

It has already begun with your digital footprint being tracked, monitored and being sold off to advertisers, but where does it stop, the Jetson’s?

I advise that you carefully monitor who is monitoring you, even the government.

Now for fun, why is that in the movies that the robots always try to take over the world and kill humans?

How Meetings Are a Waste Of Time and How To Avoid or Get Out of Them

facepalm  I read a WSJ article on ineffective meetings.  It is about the manifesto to end boring meetings.

This brought back thousands of hours of meetings I wished I could have back or would certainly decline to attend had I realized what I know now.  Most of this post is tongue in cheek unlike the WSJ, but I’ll bet everyone wishes they weren’t in so many meetings.

First, let me start out with some quotes I found from The Quote Garden, starting with the one that reminded me most of the meetings I’ve attended:

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.  ~Barnett Cocks, attributed

worfgif

A committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours.  ~Milton Berle

To kill time, a committee meeting is the perfect weapon.  ~Author Unknown

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.”  ~Dave Barry, “Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn”

Our age will be known as the age of committees.  ~Ernest Benn

If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock.  ~Arthur Goldberg

A committee is an animal with four back legs.  ~John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods.  ~H.L. Mencken

A “Normal” person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee.  You know, “Each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray.”  ~Alan Sherman

A committee is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour.  ~Elbert Hubbard

A camel looks like a horse that was planned by a committee.  ~Author Unknown

A committee is a group of the unwilling chosen form the unfit, to do the unnecessary.  ~Author Unknown

If you live in a country run by committee, be on the committee.  ~Author Unknown

Could Hamlet have been written by a committee, or the Mona Lisa painted by a club?… Creative ideas do not spring from groups.  They spring from individuals.  The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam.  ~Alfred Whitney Griswold

We always carry out by committee anything in which any one of us alone would be too reasonable to persist.  ~Frank Moore Colby

I don’t believe a committee can write a book.  It can, oh, govern a country, perhaps, but I don’t believe it can write a book.  ~Arnold Toynbee

There is no monument dedicated to the memory of a committee.  ~Lester J. Pourciau

Any committee that is the slightest use is composed of people who are too busy to want to sit on it for a second longer than they have to.  ~Katharine Whitehorn

Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.  ~John Kenneth Galbraith

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.  ~Thomas Sowell

AND OF COURSE, THERE IS BRADLEY’S BROMIDE: “If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into a committee — that will do them in.”

I WORKED FOR “THE” MEETING COMPANY
I worked a large part of my career either for or with IBM, which many have joked that it stands for I’ve Been in a Meeting. I could have been years more productive and retired earlier if it hadn’t been for all of the meetings I’ve spent time in.  Projects would have been completed weeks in advance were it not for meetings.

Usually, the meetings were a way to get other people to do your work for you, or to assign work to others they wouldn’t do or volunteer for were it not for the fact that they were at a meeting.  The only time this didn’t work was when I actually needed to get a speaker for a press briefing for an interview with Time Magazine when print media was important.  His manager, John Callies then VP of Netfinity or X series at IBM(x86 servers), wouldn’t let the speaker leave the staff meeting stating, “it’s only your job” as the reason.  See how manage executive ego’s for more on this. I’d have never imagined having to cancel an interview with what was then an important publication due to an executives’ ego. I’ve seen bad manager moves in my time, but this was top 10 worst of the worst for me.  He still ranks as the number one suit I’ve ever worked with.  The below meme was how it felt to be in a meeting with him.

Execs have also had meetings in places that they wanted to visit (click on the link to see who it is), and most people knew that.  That was a waste of travel time and money for a wasted meeting. There were other reasons they had meetings, but read the quotes at the beginning to find out why said were held.

Avoid training meetings, unless it was a way to be busy during a meeting you want to avoid.  This is especially true of diversity training.  It is a waste of time (same exact meeting every time every year for the required legal reason) but is more important than almost any other meeting, so it serves 2 purposes.  No one will go against diversity training for fear of being politically or legally incorrect.  It does allow you to miss another meeting and no one pays attention anyway.  It’s an opportunity to get work done while the training is going on in the background.  Your attendance is recorded so you are twice as effective as you complete your work, earn your mark for training and ignore the same speech you went through last year all at the same time.

MEETING RULES TO SURVIVE

The best way to deal with a meeting is to avoid it.  If you can already have a meeting at a time that the scheduler proposes it or be busy and/or somehow away or out of the office.  Teleconferencing kills that strategery  unless you can be found traveling, but sometimes it’s unavoidable (see how to get out of a meeting below if you have to go).  The people calling the meeting are really only people who want the meeting anyway.

For things to do to avoid meetings or how to goof around during a meeting, go to the link How to goof around at work.

HERE IS MY RULE WHEN TO DECIDE TO ATTEND IF I HAD A CHOICE: if there were more than 4 people, don’t go.  Nothing will get done other than resulting in another meeting to have to attend.  This is especially true if there are more than 1 executives, as each brings a team of competing players who guarantee the death of productivity.

The WSJ agrees with me, but goes on to say that if it has 17 people, there is no chance anything will get accomplished.
Don’t speak at a meeting if possible. It usually wastes time and extends the meeting length.  There are only a couple of people who really have something to contribute, the rest want to hear themselves talk, show off their PowerPoint skills to bore you, or think they are more important if they speak.  These show offs can be  insufferable, but they offer time to check your email at best while pretending to listen.

This is in the department of redundancy department, but it is so important to note is to be careful when attending because the meeting leader’s purpose is to assign their work to others or get people to do work they wouldn’t do because they can’t decline in public (this is a corporate tradition).  This further kills your ability to be productive at your real job.  There are some who want to look important by accepting work magnanimously to show off, thinking they were climbing the ladder.  Gladly accept their offer as most people have 10 hours of work for an 8 hour day anyway. Only accept it if it produces revenue or if you are the only one qualified to do it, but generally don’t, especially if you perceive it as a make work project.

Especially avoid planning meetings.  A meeting to plan another meeting is one to be skipped unless you are the project manager and called the meeting, then you have to do it.  Avoid these at all costs.  Once nobody shows up, the meeting gets cancelled for email updates, which is a far better use of your time.  As my grandfather said, they are as common as pig tracks and as useless as teats on a boar hog.

Avoid staff meetings.  These are like planning meetings, but they occur regularly and when you miss one, nobody really cares (especially if there are more than 4 people). Only attend them occasionally as you work with these people everyday anyway, it’s not like you don’t know what is going on.  Email your boss on a regular basis with your activity and you can plan something more productive during that time.

HOW TO GET OUT OF A MEETING

The tongue in cheek part really goes here.  I’ll bet there are folks out there far more creative about this than me.

My favorite methods are to have a customer who needs you.  They are your business and that overrides almost everything.  Even your boss can’t deny this.

Pre-plan an emergency.  I occasionally had another employee phone or knock on the door to call me out (email or text isn’t as good as that is not public enough) to get you out of a meeting.  The trick is to never return. You’ll get the notes anyway, I promise. Since I worked with the press and analysts, I sometimes had a co-worker say that a reporter needed me right now.  They were my customer and no one could say no.  Many times there was no real emergency even if the press did call, it was the best and most efficient use of my time to leave the meeting so as to be actually working instead of being at a meeting.  I usually dealt with the press immediately unless I had to do some digging to get back to them.

Attend meetings by phone if possible.  You can always put the phone on mute and get your real work done, or surf the web or watch TV, which is usually just as productive.  It’s easier to go to the bathroom, which brings me to…

Go to the bathroom.  Offer to get a water to others when you go, then take as much time reading the sports page in the stall as you can.  You are just as productive as listening to someone prattle on about their project.

Send your meeting information in by proxy.  See above where someone is willing to talk.  Give them your results or input so you don’t have to be there.

 THE KIND OF MEETING TO HAVE

I realize that some meetings are necessary, so I understand that it’s the only way to get some things done.  For the other majority of the time, see above.

The best meeting is a hall meeting.  You run into the person you need help from and in 5 minutes, you’ve explained your need, what they can do and your time frame for doing it.  Problem solved.

I also recommend having meetings with introverts and/or men.  They don’t like to talk much (most of them) and want to get it over as quickly as you do.  Attire requirements are less of a priority as is small talk.

Here is the net net, don’t go to a meeting if you don’t have to, get out early if at all possible and above all, don’t speak unless you have no option.  Consider it a victory if you don’t attend, or a minor victory if you have to attend but don’t come out with anyone else’s work. You are a complete failure if you open your mouth and double your workload on something that is not tangential to your job or career.  Enjoy your job more by having the time to actually be productive.

Murphy’s Technology Laws

I don’t really know if they are from Murphy, but you get the point.

  • Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.
  • Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.
  • Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.
  • If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.
  • The opulence of the front office decor varies inversely with the fundamental solvency of the firm.
  • The attention span of a computer is only as long as it electrical cord.
  • An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
  • Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he’ll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he’ll have to touch to be sure. great discoveries are made by mistake.
  • Always draw your curves, then plot your reading.
  • Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
  • All’s well that ends.
  • A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.
  • The first myth of management is that it exists.
  • A failure will not appear till a unit has passed final inspection.
  • New systems generate new problems.
  • To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.
  • We don’t know one millionth of one percent about anything.
  • Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clark
  • A computer makes as many mistakes in two seconds as 20 men working 20 years make.
  • Nothing motivates a man more than to see his boss putting in an honest day’s work.
  • Some people manage by the book, even though they don’t know who wrote the book or even what book.
  • The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.
  • To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.
  • After all is said and done, a hell of a lot more is said than done.
  • Any circuit design must contain at least one part which is obsolete, two parts which are unobtainable and three parts which are still under development.
  • A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.
  • If mathematically you end up with the incorrect answer, try multiplying by the page number.
  • Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable.
  • Give all orders verbally. Never write anything down that might go into a “Pearl Harbor File.”
  • Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity, and other variables the organism will do as it darn well pleases.
  • If you can’t understand it, it is intuitively obvious.
  • The more cordial the buyer’s secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.
  • In designing any type of construction, no overall dimension can be totaled correctly after 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The correct total will become self-evident at 8:15 a.m. on Monday.
  • Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.
  • All things are possible except skiing through a revolving door.
  • The only perfect science is hind-sight.
  • Work smarder and not harder and be careful of yor speling.
  • If it’s not in the computer, it doesn’t exist.
  • If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.
  • When all else fails, read the instructions.
  • If there is a possibility of several things going wrong the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.
  • Everything that goes up must come down.
  • Corollary: Not always
  • Any instrument when dropped will roll into the least accessible corner.
  • Any simple theory will be worded in the most complicated way.
  • Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.
  • The degree of technical competence is inversely proportional to the level of management.
  • A difficult task will be halted near completion by one tiny, previously insignificant detail.
  • There is never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.
  • The remaining work to finish in order to reach your goal increases as the deadline approaches.
  • If there is ever the possibility of several things to go wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.
  • If something breaks, and it stops you from doing something, it will be fixed when you:

1. no longer need it
2. are in the middle of something else
3. don’t want it to be fixed, because you really don’t want to do what you were supposed to do

MY FAVORITE PR STUNT OF ALL TIME – THE WORLD’S FIRST LOW TECHNOLOGY ARTIFICAL REEF

HOW IT STARTED

This story actually began with the unplanned running aground of the Mercedes I in Palm Beach.  It desecrated the private holy grounds of the hoity toity for over a hundred days in late 1984.   They eventually towed it away and made an artificial reef making almost everyone happy.

About the same time IBM introduced the PC-AT, billed as the most powerful personal computer ever built.  It had one problem though as internally sat a 20 MB disk drive made by CMI.  It was based on stepper motor technology and it both failed at alarming rates and was as slow as cold honey.  It was that flaw which helped give birth to the drive aftermarket in the PC industry and caused one of the biggest black eye’s to the PC’s reputation.

CORE INTERNATIONAL TO THE RESCUE

A small storage company in Boca Raton – the home of the IBM PC saw the obvious problem and created a marketing campaign which recalled the IBM drive.  It then sold you a 40 MB drive made by Control Data Corporation and rebadged as CORE product for $2,595, gave you a $1000 rebate and ran an ad claiming it was going to build an artificial reef out of the CMI drives (you can buy gigabytes now for less that $100).  CORE was making over 100% profit so the perception of value is greater than reality.  The users still paid one of the highest cost per byte of storage possible.

Here is  a portion of the ad which created a sensation in the print media, as both IBM and the PC had been infallible up to this point.

PC MAGAZINE CATCHES ON

At this point Paul Sommerson, Bill Machrone, Bill Howard and other writers contacted CORE and asked for pictures of the reef being built.  The company owner confided in me that he had a contract to send the drives back to CMI for a rebate  and to not lose too many, we staged the entire event.  We took his boat, the MEGABYTE out of Jupiter (not Boca) and made it look like we were really dumping the drives into the water.  I’m sure the Nanny state EPA would have been all over us had we really done it, but the rest of the story is that we only dumped the drives in the picture (note the false bottom).  We tried hard to drop a drive on a string while posing with the box in the picture, but that was produced lame results.  I finally convinced him that we needed to actually throw some drives overboard and that one shot is now etched into PC history.  It was the last picture on the roll of film (if you remember film).  We tried fishing for sharks after the shoot to put a drive in one of their mouths for the table of contents.  We had one on, but it bit through the line and we ran out of time.

The film was immediately Fed-ex’d to NY as they were on deadline for what is known as the Fire Ax issue.  The title was “Is Your PC Safe”, but there was a fire ax coming down on a PC-AT and the picture was in both the table of contents and the article.

It should be noted that neither CORE nor PC Magazine was trying to attack IBM products.  The owner at CORE was excellent at marketing and had big balls to do this stunt.  It paid off handsomely both in dollars and visibility.  PC Magazine was at the height of their prowess as journalistic leader of the PC industry.  Kudos should be given to Bill Machrone for approving a story that would never have a chance at seeing the light of day in this day and age.  He was a visionary at the publication.  IBM did themselves in by releasing a defective product and not being nimble enough to deal with the issues.

Both parties were able to take advantage of the arrogance (some say ignorance) on IBM’s part for not ensuring quality control of their product and suppliers.  Further, the moribund IBM PR machine, having used their death grip to the throat of PC journalism to direct results they wanted (because they were the 800 lb. elephant in the room) didn’t know that the journalists were ripe for this.  They never saw this coming and were ill-equipped to deal with it.  The result was that both the reputation of the PC and IBM PR was tarnished.

THE AFTERMATH

As I mentioned earlier, the boom of peripherals was starting and this poured gasoline on that fire.  CMI went out of business after losing their contract with IBM and CORE shipped hundreds of drives while becoming famous.

I personally conducted many interviews discussing drive technology and the stunt (if I recall, the story became far better than the actual event) and the owner had to move his boat.  He had rented a slip from an IBM’er in Boca, but due to the kerfuffle he was asked to find another docking space.

IBM had a PR nightmare on its hands now.  I’m told that Lou Gerstner’s personal speech writer was called in to clean up the mess.  CORE (meaning me as I handled all of PR by this point) got years of mileage from this event.  I developed relationships with the leaders in PC journalism as they were happy to have a person to talk to rather than an army of IBM suits that outdid the White House press corps in obfuscation. We even took a drive to trade shows and put it into a fish tank with fish.  Everyone in the industry knew about it and we even had hats made up saying things like:

My drive won’t stay up, I built the PC that IBM didn’t, My Drive is bigger than your drive and others.

We gave away thousands.  In fact I think we invented the show hat give away in the mid 80’s (one time while leaving the show, we saw a drunk bum outside a convention center at with a CORE hat on).

The owner made show participants suffer through a sales pitch they didn’t care about, but the rest of us just gave them away.

EPITAPH

It is funny to me that I was hired by IBM to do PR for them 14 years later, and even did a stint in the PC division.  I wonder if they had known it was me that helped cause one of the great PR nightmares for them, would I have gotten the job?

IBM had dropped to 6th place in PC’s by then and the PC PR department was led by two nincompoops when I got there (Mike Corrado and Ray Gorman).  I always chuckled when the story came up at IBM and enjoyed the looks on their faces as they found out my part in this event.  I was never involved with anything this creative while doing PR at IBM (see the moribund part), although I used some tactics from this event to be successful, so long as I didn’t tell IBM communications “leaders” about it until after the fact.

Air Conditioning, #Migration, and #Climate-Related Wage and Rent Differentials; or why Northerners Moved South

This is an abstract of a piece that being the son of an air conditioning pioneer in Florida, I can relate to.  Before you skip to the link, notice his comments as he contributed a great deal of the original building code for Florida in an area when this technology first was implemented.

ABSTRACT This paper explores whether the spread of air conditioning in the United States from 1960 to 1990 affected quality of life in warmer areas enough to influence decisions about where to live, or to change North-South wage and rent differentials. Using measures designed to identify climates in which air conditioning would have made the biggest difference, I found little evidence that the flow of elderly migrants to MSAs with such climates increased over the period. Following Roback (1982), I analyzed data on MSA wages, rents, and climates from 1960 to 1990, and find that the implicit price of these hot summer climates did not change significantly from 1960 to 1980, then became significantly negative in 1990. This contrary to what one would expect if air conditioning made hot summers more bearable. I presented evidence that hot summers are an inferior good, which would explain part of the negative movement in the implicit price of a hot summer, and evidence consistent with the hypothesis that the marginal person migrating from colder to hotter MSAs dislikes summer heat more than does the average resident of a hot MSA, which would also exert downward pressure on the implicit price of a hot summer.

The link is here, his comments begin now.

He told me that he felt responsible, if not guilty that the d–m yankee’s relocated to the south, especially Florida.  This is particularly ironic as his parents migrated from Boston in the 1920’s, but this was decades before air conditioning.  That meant he spent his childhood growing up in an unairconditioned house in central Florida, a virtual hot house and the location of near 100% humidity.  As a side note, I spent a part of my childhood in an unairconditioned house also, but kids don’t care about what they don’t know.  We played outside in those days.

As he was a part of the team that designed the Epcot HVAC also, tourism wouldn’t have invaded and transformed the south either.  It’s too bad they didn’t figure out AC for the outdoors given the sweltering heat waiting in long lines at tourist attractions.

One can track the swelling of population to the south, particularly Florida to the invention of AC.  One side of the state tends to favor the mid-west (the more polite side) and the east southeast portion is now almost a southern borough of New York City.

He reckoned that what was once a polite southern state had become a haven for the same people that gave the USA a bad name abroad for their brash manners and self centered nature.  He also observed the voting dynamics being changed by the northeastern influence.

Conversely, the south would not have grown near as quickly business and tourism wise had it not been for this technological improvement.  I did enjoy one of the first air conditioned houses, but the heat combined with the imported people caused me to ultimately leave as the city I departed from (in south Florida) earned it’s reputation as the rudest city in the US the year before I left.

Additionally, it did raise wages in the south, although not enough for the liking of those who moved there.  It also turned sleepy little towns into booming tourist traps creating numerous jobs.

Worst of all he said was the level of complaining.  While the snowbirds moved there to get out of the cold, they then complained how everything was much better from (name the state or city) and how it was so hot outside.  Not the most political fellow, he invited them to move back occasionally.

One final difference was that in the south, people let you in when there is traffic. Up north it is a sport to cut someone off.

TOP POSTS OF 2013, DEWALT AIR GUN ASSAULT RIFLE, EUPHEMISMS FOR STUPID

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 35,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2013, there were 51 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 460 posts. There were 24 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was February 25th with 1,894 views. The most popular post that day was

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 35,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2013, there were 51 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 460 posts. There were 24 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was February 25th with 1,894 views. The most popular post that day was:

Here is the post, click on this link

Views: 1,894?
Visitors: 1,545

Views per Visitor: 1.23

Next was WD-40  interesting facts

9/11 facts and pictures was next most popular

How to be happy

 

My all time number one hit though in any search engine, especially Google is:

Euphemisms for Stupid, because it is funny and witty.

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’s Most Emotional Countries and Why

emotional-map2This is not my data, rather a Bloomberg study. What I can’t figure out is how the US is so emotional except for the political discord recently (the article below says they are happy).  I much more expected it from the Latin countries.

According to Bloomberg, the source of this map, here are the real reasons:

Singapore is the least emotional country in the world. ”Singaporeans recognize they have a problem,” Bloomberg Businessweek writes of the country’s “emotional deficit,” citing a culture in which schools “discourage students from thinking of themselves as individuals.” They also point to low work satisfaction, competitiveness, and the urban experience: “Staying emotionally neutral could be a way of coping with the stress of urban life in a place where 82 percent of the population lives in government-built housing.”

The Philippines is the world’s most emotional country. It’s not even close; the heavily Catholic, Southeast Asian nation, a former colony of Spain and the U.S., scores well above second-ranked El Salvador.

Post-Soviet countries are consistently among the most stoic. Other than Singapore (and, for some reason, Madagascar and Nepal), the least emotional countries in the world are all former members of the Soviet Union. They are also the greatest consumers of cigarettes and alcohol. This could be what you call and chicken-or-egg problem: if the two trends are related, which one came first? Europe appears almost like a gradient here, with emotions increasing as you move West.  (their emotions are sedated)

People in the Americas are just exuberant. Every nation on the North and South American continents ranked highly on the survey. Americans and Canadians are both among the 15 most emotional countries in the world, as well as ten Latin countries. The only non-American countries in the top 15, other than the Philippines, are the Arab nations of Oman and Bahrain, both of which rank very highly. (they have it good there)

English- and Spanish-speaking societies tend to be highly emotional and happy. Though the Anglophone nations of the world retain deep cultural links, it’s not clear if Spain’s emotional depth has anything to do with Latin America’s. According to Gallup, “Latin America leads the world when it comes to positive emotions, with Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela at the top of that list.” Yes, even Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela is apparently filled with happy people. (they have to say that or be imprisoned)

Africans are generally stoic, with some significant exceptions. The continent is among the world’s least emotional, though there is wide variation, which serves as a non-definitive but interesting reminder of Africa’s cultural diversity. Each could be its own captivating case study. It’s possible that South Africa’s high rating has to do with its cultural ties to Western Europe, for example, and Nigeria’s may have to do with the recent protest movement in the south and sectarian violence in the north.  (life is tough for them, they cope)

The Middle East is not happy. Gallup notes, “Negative emotions are highest in the Middle East and North Africa, with Iraq, Bahrain, and the Palestinian Territories leading the world in negative daily experiences.” Still, that doesn’t quite fully explain the high emotions in the Levant and on the Arabian peninsula, compared to the lower emotions in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. Perhaps this hints at how people in these countries are being affected by the still-ongoing political turmoil of the Arab Spring.  (they are rife with terrorists who brim with hate)

What am I missing? Every color-coded national boundary here tells a story. Why is Haiti so bereft of emotion compared to its neighbors? Why is Angola so heavy with feeling? Leave your thoughts in the comments or reach me on social media. (Haiti was founded on voodoo so they believe in the devil).

Economy Signs in the USA and EU that WE ARE IN DECLINE, PROTECT YOURSELVES

Two disturbing articles came my way.  I watch the economy and look for trends.  I found two that are similar because of political policies, yet would be so easy to fix if the respective governments would stop spending, handing out money to those who don’t deserve it, stop handing to themselves and stop the regulations.

We are headed into a depression and it appears that is what the governments want.  History shows they can control a distressed population more easily than a productive, self-reliant successful one…so the preponderance of evidence shows it is intentional.

You’ve been warned, get out of debt, get a strong cash position, stock up on supplies (they are much cheaper now before inflation) and do everything you can to be self reliant rather than convenient.  This is against all the pundits who want you to buy into this is just a phase, just like right about 1926.

Here they are.

THE USA

Link to the full article here:

#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001.  That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.  That is not just a decline – that is a freefall.  Just check out the chart in this article.

#2 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988.  Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.

#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#4 According to the Wall Street Journal, of the 40 biggest publicly traded corporate spenders, half of them plan to reduce capital expenditures in coming months.

#5 More than three times as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2012.

#6 America once had the greatest manufacturing cities on the face of the earth.  Now many of our formerly great manufacturing cities have degenerated into festering hellholes.  For example, the city of Detroit is on the verge of financial collapse, and one state lawmaker is now saying that “dissolving Detroit” should be looked at as an option.

#7 In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 age bracket was about 6.5 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.

#8 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs.  Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#9 If you can believe it, approximately one out of every four American workers makes 10 dollars an hour or less.

#10 Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#11 Median household income in America has fallen for four consecutive years.  Overall, it has declined by over $4000 during that time span.

#12 The U.S. trade deficit with China during 2011 was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#13 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been shut down since 2001.  During 2010, manufacturing facilities were shutting down at the rate of 23 per day.  How can anyone say that “things are getting better” when our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted?

#14 Back in early 2005, the average price of a gallon of gasoline was less than 2 dollars a gallon.  During 2012, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has been $3.63.

#15 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#16 As I have written about previously, 61 percent of all Americans were “middle income” back in 1971 according to the Pew Research Center.  Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are “middle income”.

#17 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#18 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is about 22 percent.

#19 Back in 1983, the bottom 95 percent of all income earners in the United States had 62 cents of debt for every dollar that they earned.  By 2007, that figure had soared to $1.48.

#20 Total home mortgage debt in the United States is now about 5 times larger than it was just 20 years ago.

#21 Total credit card debt in the United States is now more than 8 times larger than it was just 30 years ago.

#22 The value of the U.S. dollar has declined by more than 96 percent since the Federal Reserve was first created.

#23 According to one survey, 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.

#24 Back in 1950, 78 percent of all households in the United States contained a married couple.  Today, that number has declined to 48 percent.

#25 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that receives direct monetary benefits from the federal government.  Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

#26 In 1980, government transfer payments accounted for just 11.7 percent of all income.  Today, government transfer payments account for more than 18 percent of all income.

#27 In November 2008, 30.8 million Americans were on food stamps.  Today, 47.1 million Americans are on food stamps.

#28 Right now, one out of every four American children is on food stamps.

#29 As I wrote about the other day, according to one calculation the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#30 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, one out of every 6 Americans is on Medicaid, and things are about to get a whole lot worse.  It is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#31 In 2001, the U.S. national debt was less than 6 trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 16 trillion dollars and it is increasing by more than 100 million dollars every single hour.

#32 The U.S. national debt is now more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

#33 According to a PBS report from earlier this year, U.S. households that make $13,000 or less per year spend 9 percent of their incomes on lottery tickets.  Could that possibly be accurate?  Are people really that foolish?

#34 As the U.S. economy has declined, the American people have been downing more antidepressants and other prescription drugs than ever before.  In fact, the American people spent 60 billion dollars more on prescription drugs in 2010 than they did in 2005.

THE EUROPEAN UNION

Link to the full article here:

The following are 11 facts that show that Europe is heading into an economic depression…

1. The economies of 17 out of the 27 countries in the EU have contracted for at least two consecutive quarters.

2. Unemployment in the eurozone has hit a brand new all-time record high of 11.7 percent.

3. The unemployment rate in Portugal is now up to 16.3 percent.  A year ago it was just 13.7 percent.

4. The unemployment rate in Greece is now up to 25.4 percent.  A year ago it was just 18.4 percent.

5. The unemployment rate in Spain has hit a brand new all-time record high of 26.2 percent.  How much higher can it possibly go?  This is already higher than the unemployment rate in the United States ever reached during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

6. Youth unemployment levels in both Greece and Spain are rapidly approaching the 60 percent level.

7. Earlier this month, Moody’s stripped France of its AAA credit rating, and wealthy individuals are leaving France in droves as the socialists implement plans to raise taxes to very high levels on the rich.

8. Industrial production is collapsing all over Europe.  Just check out these numbers…

You don’t have to be an economic genius to understand that the perpetual uncertainty over the Eurozone’s future has led to a widespread freeze on industrial investment and development. Industrial production is collapsing at an accelerating rate, falling 7% year-on-year in Spain and Greece, 4.8% in Italy, and 2.1% in France.

9. There are even trouble signs in the “stable” economies in Europe.  In Germany, factory orders in September were down 3.3 percent from the month before, and retail sales in October declined 2.8 percent from the previous month.

10. The debt of the Greek government is now projected to hit 189 percent of GDP by the end of this year.

11. The Greek economy has shrunk by more than 7 percent this year, and it is being projected that the Greek economy will contract by another 4.5 percent in 2013.

But sometimes you can’t really get a feel for how bad things really are over there just from the raw economic numbers.

Many people that are living through these depression-like conditions are totally giving in to despair.  Just check out the following example from an RT article from earlier this year…

A 61-year-old Greek pensioner has hung himself from a tree in a public park after succumbing to the pressure of crushing debt. A note in his pocket indicates he is merely the latest in a rash of economic crisis-induced suicides.

The pensioner’s lifeless body was found dangling by an attendant in a public park not far from his home in the suburb of Nikaia, Athens. The attendant also found a suicide note in the man’s pocket, The Athens news reports.

The man, identifying himself as Alexandros, said he was a man of few vices who “worked all day.”  However, he blamed himself from committing one “horrendous crime”: becoming a professional at the age of 40 and plunging himself into debt. He referred to himself as a 61-year-old idiot who had to pay, hoping his grandchildren would not be born in Greece, as the country’s prospects were so bleak.

The Escape Key and The Guy Who Invented Ctl-Alt-Del….and Why

I worked in the PC Group, wisely sold to Lenovo years ago.  On the 20th anniversary, they looked for interesting tidbits from those who invented the PC.

David Bradley worked down the hall from me.  He’s the guy who invented Ctl-Alt-Del.  I asked him why and he told me DOS 1.0 keep crashing, so he wrote a quick and dirty program to restart the computer quickly without having to turn it off.

Later, David was kind enough to give me a copy of his personal copy of DOS 1.0 and Visicalc, a program for which I was a giant at using.  I still have it in my original IBM-PC I picked up off the trash pile while working there.

His best line though was when they had a reunion of the PC development team and Dave said to a reporter in front of everyone that he wrote the program, but Bill Gates made it famous.

THE ESC KEY

Bob Bemer invented this key.  I never worked with Bob, but per the NY Post, it goes like this:

The key was born in 1960, when an I.B.M. programmer named Bob Bemer was trying to solve a Tower of Babel problem: computers from different manufacturers communicated in a variety of codes. Bemer invented the ESC key as way for programmers to switch from one kind of code to another. Later on, when computer codes were standardized (an effort in which Bemer played a leading role), ESC became a kind of “interrupt” button on the PC — a way to poke the computer and say, “Cut it out.”

Why “escape”? Bemer could have used another word — say, “interrupt” — but he opted for “ESC,” a tiny monument to his own angst. Bemer was a worrier. In the 1970s, he began warning about the Y2K bug, explaining to Richard Nixon’s advisers the computer disaster that could occur in the year 2000. Today, with our relatively stable computers, few of us need the panic button. But Bob Frankston, a pioneering programmer, says he still uses the ESC key. “There’s something nice about having a get-me-the-hell-out-of-here key.”

I, KEYBOARD

Joseph Kay is a senior scientist at Yahoo! Research.

Why do outmoded keys, like ESC, persist? Our devices have legacies built into them. For more than a hundred years, when you wanted to write something, you sat down in front of a typewriter. But computers look different now — they’re like smartphones. It will be interesting to see whether in 10 or 15 years the whole idea of a keyboard will seem strange. We might be saying, “Remember when we used to type things?”

How would we control computers in this future-without-typing? Think of the Wii and Kinect, or even specialized input devices for games like Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution. All might be bellwethers for the rest of computing. We might see a rise in all sorts of input, like voice recognition and audio control — think about Siri.

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

Why Newspapers and The News Are Not Only A Dying Model, But Dead

“I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.” – Thomas Jefferson

I don’t subscribe to the newspaper anymore, but I got one this morning.  I’m sure that it was a teaser to try to get me to subscribe.  Upon reading it, I realized I already knew everything in the paper except the local high school football scores from games after I went to bed.

A DYING MODEL

The subscription rates to newspapers are dying, not even a slow death.  Similarly, the evening news is also a dinosaur.  They report what we knew as much as a full day before.

I am on twitter and read blogs all day long.  I occasionally go to the news sites,  but as I discuss below, their bias (I hold both left and right guilty equally here) usually makes me fact check what I’m trying to find out which defeats the purpose of fact-finding, especially if it involves politics. That subject is pretty much unavoidable these days.

Nevertheless, I enjoy many other subjects which you could read about it on other blog entries if you have nothing better to do, and I find good information about them that is interesting and INSTANT.

I’m a boomer, although a technically savvy one having been in the IT industry all my life.  The Gen X,Y, millennials,  and whomever follows them demand even more instantaneous everything virtually dooming the news model of our prior generation.  Thank you Internet.

THE END OF THE BASTIONS OF NEWS

We have establish that we are now used to getting information instantaneously.  The other reason that the model is dying is that they are biased.  This is ok if you are a neo-con or a loony lefty, but for everyone else (the other 80% given 10% on the edges of left and right) we don’t trust them anymore.

Once, these two sources were the basis of our world and local information.  Besides being static rather than dynamic, they also have stopped being factual sources of information, rather they are partisan, with Fox on one side and CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, NYT, WAPO, LA TImes, Reuters, AP, HuffPo, Local News, Local Papers and most other news sources on the other side of issues.  All are positioned in a place that position the facts from a point of view.   Some of them blatantly lie.   Reporting was supposed to be the facts of the story that let the reader make up their mind on their position.

We’ve actually learned that the news has been biased for at least as long as there has been television, we just didn’t have the instant fact checking that the internet and the other sources have provided.

There is a joke from Bernie Goldberg that said if they had been reporting on Moses at Mt. Sinai, the headline would read “Moses get the 10 Commandments from God, and here are the two that we think are important to you”.

Walter Cronkite said that the Viet Nam war was lost during the time that we were winning.  LBJ said that if he’d lost Cronkite, he’d lost America.  We’ve since learned that the then “most trusted man in America” was also one of the most biased.

LIFE MOVES ON

Other things have died and we have lived and moved on.  Black and white TV, network only channels vs. cable TV and landline phones vs. mobile (cell for those in the US) phones.  Such is the fate of newspapers and TV network news.  Here is just one fact concerning the NYT declining rates.  I’m sure you could find somewhere that their subscriptions are increasing, but this would seem deceitful given the nature of digital delivery.

So am I disturbed by this trend?  Actually I didn’t even notice it until I saw the paper in my yard this morning.  I haven’t subscribed for news in many years (note: I get the Sunday paper for the coupons as long as they pay for the 1 day delivery – my sister calls me a tightwad but it leads to becoming this).

I get my news from the above stated sources and know more about what is going on than the anchors have time to present in their biases manner.

So as they say, life moves on.

The PC is Toast, Or Maybe Just a Toaster

Gone are the glory days when the PC would rule over the vaunted Mainframe, putting power at desks without the overbearing DP department overcharging and under delivering past the due date.

What has evolved though is a commodity product that is at best a commodity like a toaster.  You can buy one anywhere to toast your productivity suite, cloud connection or corporate image.  Further, the once dominant Wintel model is being out-cooled by Apple, and outdated by tablet computing.

First, I was mildly shocked when I learned that Lenovo had a policy where you get an allowance and use what you want to, regardless of who made it.  Next comes the inevitable…..

While this isn’t really new news, in fact it’s been a theme for a while now.  But it was confirmed by the lackluster performance of HP, Dell and other manufacturers.   Even IBM, the company that really put the PC in the office of businesses is famous for dumping the low margin business to Lenovo who lucked out in marketshare due to the HP and Dell screw-ups.  This will be short lived as soon as Apple finishes mopping up in China and the real Lenovo cash cow gets malnourished.

All Things Digital confirms the facts via DRAM supply:

As a signpost on the road to the so-called Post-PC Era we’ve been hearing about for so many years, this one is pretty hard to argue with: As of this year, personal computers no longer consume the majority of the world’s memory chip supply.

And while it may not come as a terrible surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to personal technology trends during the last few years, there’s nothing like a cold, hard number to make the point crystal clear.

Word of this tipping point came quietly in the form of a press release from the market research firm IHS (the same group formerly known as iSuppli). The moment came during the second quarter of 2012. For the first time in a generation, according to the firm’s reckoning, PCs did not consume the the majority of commodity memory chips, also known as DRAM (pronounced “DEE-ram”).

During that period, PCs accounted for the consumption of 49 percent of DRAM produced around the world, down from 50.2 percent in the first quarter of the year. The share of these chips going into PCs — both desktop and notebooks — has been hovering at or near 55 percent since early 2008, IHS says.

As shifts in market share statistics go, it at first seems insignificant until you consider the wider sweep of memory chips in the history of the modern technology industry. PCs have consumed the majority of memory chips since sometime in the 1980s. IHS couldn’t say when exactly when the first personal computers started showing up in appreciable numbers in homes and businesses.

And where are all those memory chips going? Tablets and smartphones for starters. IHS says that phones consumed more than 13 percent percent of memory chips manufactured, and it expects that figure to grow to nearly 20 percent by the end of this year. Tablets — including the iPad — consumed only 2.7 percent of the world’s memory chip supply. The remaining 35 percent, which IHS classifies as “other,” includes servers, professional workstations, and presumably specialized applications like supercomputers and embedded systems.

And given their rates of growth, IHS expects phones and tablets combined to consume about 27 percent of the world’s memory by 2013, while by that time PCs will consume less than 43 percent, making the decline, in the firm’s estimation, irreversible.

Even the much hyped Windows 8 launch doesn’t really do much.  WRAL goes on to say:

Dell executives also indicated that the company is unlikely to get a sales lift from the Oct. 26 release of Microsoft Corp.’s much-anticipated makeover of its Windows operating system. That’s because Dell focuses on selling PCs to companies, which typically take a long time before they decide to switch from one version of Windows to the next generation.

HP’s screw up came when they tried to become an IBM clone.  Dell had their own set of issues as reported by the AP:

Coming off a five-year stretch of miscalculations, HP is in such desperate need of a reboot that many investors have written off its chances of a comeback.

Consider this: Since Apple Inc. shifted the direction of computing with the release of the iPhone in June 2007, HP’s market value has plunged by 60 percent to $35 billion. During that time, HP has spent more than $40 billion on dozens of acquisitions that have largely turned out to be duds so far.

“Just think of all the value that they have destroyed,” ISI analyst Brian Marshall said. “It has been a case of just horrible management.”

Marshall traces the bungling to the reign of Carly Fiorina, who pushed through an acquisition of Compaq Computer a decade ago despite staunch resistance from many shareholders, including the heirs of HP’s co-founders. After HP ousted Fiorina in 2005, other questionable deals and investments were made by two subsequent CEOS, Mark Hurd and Leo Apotheker.

HP hired Meg Whitman 11 months ago in the latest effort to salvage what remains of one of the most hallowed names in Silicon Valley 73 years after its start in a Palo Alto, Calif., garage.

The latest reminder of HP’s ineptitude came last week when the company reported an $8.9 billion quarterly loss, the largest in the company’s history. Most of the loss stemmed from an accounting charge taken to acknowledge that HP paid far too much when it bought technology consultant Electronic Data Systems for $13 billion in 2008.

HP might have been unchallenged for the ignominious title as technology’s most troubled company if not for one its biggest rivals, Dell Inc.

Like HP, Dell missed the trends that have turned selling PCs into one of technology’s least profitable and slowest growing niches. As a result, Dell’s market value has also plummeted by 60 percent, to about $20 billion, since the iPhone’s release.

That means the combined market value of HP and Dell — the two largest PC makers in the U.S. — is less than the $63 billion in revenue Apple got from iPhones and various accessories during just the past nine months.

So now you can go to a consumer electronics store or go online and pick up a PC, a video game and a toaster, all about the same difficulty of decision.  The model is dying and a new paradigm is taking place somewhere between mobile devices and tablets with a combination likely just around the corner, but your Thinkpad is a gravestone in the near future.
It is now reported that Mobiles are the devices most turned to for online activity, banking and other internet activity.

“Cell users now treat their gadget as a body appendage,” Lee Rainie, the Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, told Mashable. “There is striking growth in the number of people who are taking advantage of the growing number of functions that these phones can perform and there isn’t much evidence yet that the pace of change is slowing down.”

The study, released yesterday by Pew Internet concludes that cellphone usage is increasing in basically every department, especially online activities. One in two people now check their email on their phone, up from 19% in 2007 and the number of Americans surfing the web on-the-go has doubled too, going from 25% in 2008 to 56% today.

People are also starting to be less reluctant to use their phones for sensitive activities that were almost considered taboo in a recent past, like online banking. Almost one in three Americans (29%) now use their phones to check their bank account, a considerable increase from just one year ago, when only 19% did. And one in three people are using their mobile device to look for health information as well. Just two years ago that figure was as low as 17%.

Phones are also becoming a substitute for other traditional devices like photo and video cameras. 82% of people who responded to the survey use their phones to snap pictures and 44% use it to record videos

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.

 

Next Article Table of Contents Previous Article

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.

Facebore – The Facebook IPO Dissapointment

UPDATE: This article best sums it up….If there was any doubt that Wall Street is a sucker’s game designed to take money from stupid people and put it into the hands of bankers and powerful corporations, Facebook’s initial public offering should clear that up.

Well, the facts speak for themselves.  What was supposed to be the next sliced bread was a big nothing except for the insiders who already got their money.

Expectations had it being the next Google, zooming into the hundreds of dollars with overnight millionaires.  While it was the most traded IPO ever, it ended where it started and the big bang for IPO’s are usually at the beginning of a stock downturn. (see the Groupon IPO bust).

In fact it was a BLACKEYE for the NASDAQ:

By Bloomberg

Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ: FB) debut on the NASDAQ Stock Market turned into another setback for American equity exchanges, with the $16 billion initial public offering plagued by delays in trade confirmations, crossed quotes and signs that orders were mishandled.

The pricing of the first transaction took a half hour longer than NASDAQ planned. About 30 minutes later, the second largest U.S. equities exchange operator reported an issue confirming trades from the opening auction with the brokerages that placed them. Nasdaq later established an appeals process for investors whose instructions weren’t carried out.

Scrutiny of American equity markets intensified in March when Bats Global Markets Inc., the third-largest U.S. stock exchange owner, withdrew its IPO after failing to trade on its own platform. Nasdaq’s mishaps, on a day when the most anticipated IPO of the year eked out a gain of 0.6 percent, disappointed investors hoping to erase the memory of Bats.

“It certainly wasn’t their best day,” Larry Tabb, chief executive officer of research firm Tabb Group LLC in New York, said in a phone interview. “That said, it also wasn’t a complete disaster. NASDAQ really needs to investigate what the challenges are and fix them quickly. There was a lot riding on this IPO and apparently it didn’t go so well.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it will review the trading. NASDAQ spokesman Robert Madden didn’t return calls and e-mails seeking comment. Jonathan Thaw, a spokesman for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, declined to comment

BUYERS ARE MORE EDUCATED, OR HAVE BEEN BURNED TOO MANY TIMES

I suppose you could trace this back to the internet bubble. Regular investors have been burned too many times.  Sure Google was a killing, but Facebook had a business model and P/E that didn’t impress.  There was too much hype, not enough value and seemingly not enough surety on the IPO.

The Trader sums it up:

The truth is that Facebook is a toy, a dreamworld, a figment of the imagination. Zuckerberg wanted to make the world a more connected place (and build a huge database of personal preferences), and he succeeded thanks to a huge slathering of venture capital. That’s an accomplishment, but it’s not a business. While the angel investors and college-dorm engineers will feel gratified at paper gains, it is becoming hard to ignore that there is no great profit engine under the venture. In fact, the big money coming into Facebook just seems to be money from new investors — they raised eighteen times as much in their flotation yesterday as they did in a whole year of advertising revenue. For an established business with such huge market penetration, they’re veering dangerously close to Bernie Madoff’s business model.

Worst of All:

Even the NYT notes:

The company’s bankers had to buy shares to keep the stock from falling below its offering price, raising questions about how the stock will fare next week.

YAHOO LAWSUIT

There might be other reasons that held back the success offering, not the least of which was a pending lawsuit:

Actually, Facebook hinted at a pending legal battle with Yahoo in Amendment No. 2 to its S-1 form, filed on March 7.

In that memo, Facebook admitted that it is “involved in a number of lawsuits.” That trend, it acknowledged, is likely to continue as it faces “increasing competition.”

Facebook received a letter from Yahoo on February 27 that “alleged that a number of our products infringe the claims of 13 of Yahoo’s patents.” At the time the second amendment was filed, Facebook was “still in the process of investigating the allegations contained in the letter.”

ARE THEY WAITING FOR A DEAL:
Perhaps the real deal and best price will be waiting for a low of under $20 and picking it up then.  Even if you only make a few dollars per share, it’s better than the few cents that the first day delivered.

THE WORLD MARKETS INFLUENCE

Another speculation is that it suffered from the rest of the world.  The problems with Greece and Spain are well documented.  One thing I didn’t consider was this, An oversold rally is in the works:

From a technical standpoint, our markets peaked in February, yet price drifted marginally higher. As the S&P 500 (^GSPC) rang the bell on our target of 1365 +/- 15 basis point handles, we paused. It was not a shorting opportunity, based upon the persistent bearishness that grew as price moved higher. But after weeks of basing between our levels, the market set itself up for a sprint higher into 1420, suggesting but not reaching irrational exuberance. From that intersection, we saw price decelerate in a downward spiral by 115 handles, or about 9%.

So we must ask ourselves the one question that is more important than Facebook’s (FB) $104 billion IPO: Are we still in a healthy sustained upward move, or are we in a state of bearishness that is being masked by love for Apple (AAPL) or Facebook?

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

There are some positives with this pointed out by a smarter mind than me, Social Media expert Jeremiah Owyang, read more at this link:

Despite yesterday’s IPO closed at nearly opening price, it’s important to pause and think about how this company’s market cap reached $100 billion (for context, Pepsi is at par at $106b).  We’re already seeing many become wealthy, from newly minted millionaires in brand new M3s at the local car wash in silicon valley, to the investors, VC, and ecosystem that will benefit from the revenues, we need to pause and think why.

So what is so important to pause and think about? Why do I say the Business Model is “Brilliant”?  Facebook’s business model smashed the traditional manufacturing style we see with consumer products, and instead built a  ’consumer platform’ that enabled many around them. In fact, the Facebook business model is brilliant for the following reasons:

  1. Brilliant because the users do the work.   In many companies, hiring paid or unpaid interns is a source of scale, or even off shoring work to developing regions.  In the case of Facebook, there are 900,000,000+ unpaid members that are generating meaningful content and value to each other.   In fact, official Facebook stats indicate that 526b million of them are active each day, many of which are using mobile devices and applications to connect to Facebook as they traverse the world.  While Facebook continues to grow, third parties are observing that the rate of growth may retarding, what’s important to remember  is that most of the commercial base that brands want to seek are likely within Facebook.

WHAT NEXT?

It either goes up or down in price.  The initial IPO money to be made has been made, but the long term money will be made by the savvy investors who can buy a bargain price and wait for it to go up.  The state of the Euro and the EU as well as the debt crisis worldwide may weigh on the price.  I believe that this has changed how IPO’s will be handled in the future as it didn’t skyrocket like it should have (many theories on that).

Further, Exotic car dealers and realtors in Palo Alto are now set to collect a lot of money from the overnight millionaires.

All in all, I congratulate Zuckerberg et al who created a product, jobs, the next new widget and helped the economy.  Bono made $1.5 billion for example and exceeded Paul McCartney as the wealthiest musician.

I’ll bet it still eats at the Winklevii though because as they say, if they could have created Facebook, they would have created Facebook.

POSTMORTEM

It appears that the management at Facebook is suspect also.  While owning 27% of the stock but having 57% control by Zuckerberg is telling.  Most entrepreneurs are good at developing their product, but are bad at running companies.

Further, this from the WSJ on fumbling the IPO:

Less than three days before Facebook Inc.’s FB -9.77% initial public offering, Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman decided to boost the number of shares the company would offer investors by 25%, said people familiar with the planning. His main adviser at lead underwriter Morgan Stanley MS +0.90% assured him there was plenty of demand, they said.

Facebook shares slid sharply for a second straight day as analysts for at least two of Facebook’s lead underwriters revised their financial forecasts for the company while it was holding IPO roadshow meetings. David Benoit has details on The News Hub. Photo: Reuters.

That decision by the 41-year-old Facebook executive may have doomed any real chance the social-networking company had that its stock would jump on its first day of trading—a hallmark of successful IPOs. On Tuesday, the second full day of trading, Facebook shares fell $3.03, or 8.9%, to $31, after falling 11% on Monday. Investors are blaming the downdraft on the last-moment expansion of the offering.

And this:

Interviews with more than a dozen people involved in the IPO reveal that Facebook approached its deal differently than companies typically do. Mr. Ebersman kept a close grip on every important decision on the stock offering, not deferring to his bankers the way many companies do, according to the people familiar with planning.

Facebook Overnight Millionaires and Employee Turnover

chatango Pictures, Images and Photos

Update: As predicted, the brain drain has begun with executives leaving and others questioning Zuckerberg’s leadership ability.

As we all know, Facebook will go public in a huge IPO.  This will create many mega-millionaires overnight who work there.

I wonder what the drain in human intellectual property will be when they don’t have to work like maniacs anymore.

WHY PEOPLE WORK

Most people work only because they get paid.  A common cliche is that work is a 4 letter word.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t put up with the job they have, proven by frequent job shifts over a lifetime.  They leave for a better opportunity, or a bigger paycheck.  My observation (not scientific) is that if the paycheck wasn’t a part of the deal, the job wouldn’t get done.

Then there are a few who really like to work like my Dad.  His life was his work (HVAC engineer) and he loved it.  My uncle was a pilot who also loved his job.  Both regretted their retirement.

Finally, there are a few who love what they do because it is their passion.  It has been said that if you do what you really love, it isn’t work.  These are usually the most successful people.

MILLIONAIRE HEAVEN

When Facebook goes public and there will be a group of people created who are the overnight millionaires, many will move on.  Some of them are the creative minds behind what has made the company the success it has been.  Sure you can hire more programmers and throw options at them, but they are in the category of working for a paycheck.  Many won’t have the need (some the desire) to work.  I watched many friends I had at Amazon become millionaires and quit.  They went on to do what they wanted to because they sold stock and had the money to do so.

The people that lived and breathed the Facebook that we know it have and hold the history and the reason that it is what it is today.  That knowledge can’t be replaced.

What will be the brain drain at Facebook?  I’m sure there are loyal employees who will stay.  The executives will likely stay because they already are rich and at that point it is a matter of power, not money.  Others, I’m not so sure.

WILL THEY SELL

You bet they will.  There is already a lot of insider selling:

Insiders and early Facebook investors are taking advantage of increasing investor demand and selling more of their stock in the company’s initial public offering, the company said Wednesday.

Facebook said in a regulatory filing that 84 million shares, worth up to $3.2 billion, are being added to what’s shaping up to be the decade’s hottest IPO.

Facebook’s stock is expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market on Friday under the ticker symbol “FB”.

The entire increase comes from insiders and early investors, so the company won’t benefit from the additional sales.

The biggest increases come from investment firms DST Global and Tiger Global. Goldman Sachs is doubling the number of shares it is selling. Facebook board members Peter Thiel and James Breyer are also selling more shares.

Even the Motley Fool is predicting investors will get burned.

Facebook’s IPO: A Quick Way to Go Broke
Facebook’s IPO will create at least 1,000 millionaires, estimates The Wall Street Journal. Founder Mark Zuckerberg is cashing out $1 billion worth of shares. But most investors who buy shares will get burned…

REASONS TO SELL

Recently, it was stated that Facebook could be a passing fad.  This fact is not lost on those looking to make a killing.

If you recall Palm, Friendster, Sony Walkmans and other technologies, or beanie babies and tickle me Elmo’s, fads come and go quickly.  As Qui-Gon Jin said: There is always a bigger fish.  This means the next bigger and better Social Network or better idea is already being worked on.  Innovation drives technology and history has proven it…..ask 3com, Wang, Digital or many others.

We already know that they economy is still in a recession and cash is king.  If this IPO is anything like Groupon, it will trend high, then the price will go down and people want the most bang for their buck.  I know I’d dump it all and diversify by day 2.  I can’t comment as to whether I’d quit as I don’t know the culture, but I’ve worked for paranoid owners before and I know that it is a tough environment.  Zuckerberg has publicly stated that it’s good to be paranoid.  If that was the case, this is the time to bail.

It’s no secret that Facebook is not fully baked on their mobile strategy or execution yet either.  That is a pretty large faux pas.

Worst of all, millions are choosing to not be on Facebook or are just saying no to it.  Many of these are in the high wealth category.

Compound that with the fact that Google is killing Facebook in advertising revenue with Facebook even facing declining revenue:

A comparison of the two companies from WordStream, a search marketing management company, suggests that Facebook is a much less effective ad medium than Google. (The caveat here is that WordStream is, obviously, rather more dependent on Google than Facebook as a medium.)

So how much brain drain and personnel IP will leave?  Time will tell, but I’m sure there are a lot of folks contemplating this issue as I write.  The pressure of work, making a killing on stock or losing a fortune takes its toll on the workers.

I had a lot of friends at Cisco when they were flying high in the market.  While others played solitaire at the other technology companies, Cisco employees spent half their day watching the stock price to see how high it would go and calculate how rich they were.  The problem was that they weren’t vested.  I hope that Zuckerberg and lawyers are smart enough to make their employee options at least 3-5 years before they are fully vested to keep the best and brightest there.  Still, some might be mailing it in until year 3 while dreaming of being rich.

The average Joe won’t get rich anyway because here are the people who have made the money:

My final comment on the greatest brain drain comes in the form of 2 people, Paul Allan and Steve Wozniak.  They got out and went on to different lives, but I’m not sure they still held the passion they had while building their company’s.

Was IBM’s Watson a Breakthrough or Very Cheap and Creative Advertising?

Update 1/8/14: Only $15 Million in sales for over $5 billion invested so far as IBM struggles to turn Watson into a business

The worst news in the above link is that companies like Google can do the the same for far less and that Watson doesn’t even work with other IBM technology.

Update: Watson is in the next publicity stunt with Wall Street as sales seem to be lagging.

As we all know, Watson appeared and won on Jeopardy last year.  It was the culmination of years of work and manpower to build a machine that could react faster and be programmed to win a game show.  It was brilliant, but more for promotion than technology sales (as evidenced so far).  There is little doubt that the promotional value was priceless to the IT industry and an easy calculation by IBM to one up the competition.

The two humans were limited to their capacity, whereas Watson was a massive computer with incredible storage and processing capability.  It was programmed specifically for the game, so while not a slam dunk, inevitability wasn’t in much doubt.

I don’t know about you, but as I get older, I forget things and computers don’t.  You can add memory, processors and build it big enough to recall more than any amount of humans.  Jeopardy had two champions,  so it wasn’t really a fair fight.  You ultimately can overpower any certain situation with billions in technology (which is what it cost to win), but throw something like emotion or nuance into a situation and computers are lost.

It was the perfect set up.  Everyone loves to root for the underdog even though the humans really fit that role.  It was accomplished by putting the biggest two winners ever on Jeopardy up against poor Watson.  The truth was that it never was going to be close given the confines of the rules of the game.  In real life, with unforeseen issues, the humans would have a fair chance.  That was never the point of Watson though.

IBM got to promote a research facility, executives, technology and almost a free ticket for three days.  Jeopardy also was a winner with dominant ratings.

I don’t want to debate the possibilities of Watson’s future contribution to technology other than stating that it is another step (and possibly direction)  in data analytics, and it increases the perception of IBM’s lead in this area (thanks to a lot of M&A and some folks that worked without getting enough credit).  It hasn’t been the breakthrough that companies have jumped on like an iPhone, yet billions of dollars have been spent on the same hardware used to build Watson since Jeopardy for traditional IT.  Time will tell.

ADVERTISING

For now, the real victory was exposure.  How much would it cost to purchase 1.5 hours of prime time advertising for a 3 day period where you basically get to change the rules of advertising to where you don’t even have to pretend that an ad agency was involved (also saving millions).  Here is the breakdown of advertising to program, but in reality the big IBM Watson Avatar is a commercial by itself every time Alex said the word Watson.

From a Mad Men point of view (advertising show for those who don’t know) this was a stroke of creative genius that began with winning a chess match against Gary Kasparov, then moving to prime time TV when new exposure was needed.  I saw people glued to their seats and talking about it the next day at a conference.  Nevertheless, it still has all the appearances of a publicity stunt. Unfortunately, it saddled IBM with a 2015 earnings projection claim that Palmisano left Gini Rometty to figure out.  With this economy, it has Sham’s chance of beating Secretariat in the Belmont Stakes to make it.

There will be claims that further technology is Watson legacy and success, but it is not what was intended by the efforts which related to making sure it beat the humans on Jeopardy.  That is supposed to come later.

CURING THE COMMON COLD

It has been suggested that Watson technology is being used to cure cancer.  I like others wish for this as I lost my mother to that disease.  Along with AIDS and the common cold, I have my doubts that we’ll really see this in our lifetime.  By then, trillions will be spent.  Like Global Warming, we could do more by helping to feed the starving and providing help and aid to millions.  This is not what Watson is about though last spring, it was the advertising win of 2010.

So the jury is out on whether it will succeed in medical or some other breakthrough.  For now, it was the promotional prime time win last year.

Why I Bought an iPhone Vs. Any Google Device

It took me this long to finally buy an iPhone.  I waited until the right carrier had it (AT&T is a diversity nightmare), then my current provider didn’t have international covered because of CDMA.  So when that all came online, I then had to wait for an upgrade time so that I wouldn’t pay an arm/leg/firstborn.  It wasn’t a feature to feature comparison, 3G or 4G or any other techie issue that caused it.  It was because I know Google, have worked with Eric Schmidt  and believe they are evil about their intentions with our data, public or private.

Before any hate mail comes in that Apple does it too, I turn off location services when I leave the house and can confuse them enough that tracking me doesn’t me do them any good….not that anyone would/should care.  I’m a statistic to them and so be it.

Disclaimer:  I’ve had an iPod since 1994 (rotary wheel version) and have an iPad and iPod before I bought the phone, but I worked with/against Google and have met Eric Schmidt at a partner conference.  I don’t trust Google nor do I trust Schmidt as I heard what they are up to.  Basically the same thing as Pinky and the Brain are after, take over the world.

I and I believe they are sincere.  Apple developers are trying to build an ad base to compete against the world/Google, but I can turn them off…..Google follows me, my house, what I buy and everything else…..then are all too happy to share it with those I don’t want them knowing I exist.

In the quest for data analytics, companies have sold their soul.  Google and IBM are at the top of this data list, closely followed by Oracle, only closely in this case as they are hampered by a leader who holds them back from becoming a great (or modern) company.

OPEN SOURCE VS. PROPRIETARY.

Most analyst’s I talk to have Android so that they can practice what they preach, it’s an open world.  Well open source doesn’t work as well and smooth as IOS, so I don’t give a rat’s rump about this.  I just want it to work and for me not to have to fix or code one more device.  Most open systems require tinkering far too often.  So I’m calling BS on that argument.  I’m a consumer with too much going on to have a device that doesn’t work every time and easily.

SECURITY

It appears that Smartphones are now being attacked by malware and theft.  I know of 2 so far on IOS, but Android seems to be up 90%, so it looks like Apps on this OS are easier to break into.  This was not my initial decision point, but has skyrocketed to my list of concerns within a short period of time.

MY PREVIOUS SMARTPHONE

I had one of the newest Blackberry’s and in one word of advice for those who are considering buying it….don’t.  The interface is archaic compared to IOS and I got it because of a corporate policy that stuck me with a device that was hard to use.  I had to take it the phone store to set up the special things I wanted (I have about 7 email addresses and many special things related to what I do, and BTW I set them up myself on the iPhone) and have set up phones and computers for 31 years….before things were easy so I know how to reverse engineer without instructions

One thing I liked about Google was that 3 executives owned 8 corporate jets.  God Bless Capitalism.  I think IBM has a whole fleet of jets for the executives also so they “don’t” have to fly commercial.  Too inconvenient I guess.  It’s the same for most corporations.

Anyway I bought the iPhone.

BTW, I’ll never buy another Windows/Microsoft product again now that I work for myself.  They can only treat me this poorly (since Windows was released) for so long before I vote with my own money like I did here….

It looks like I’m not the only one.  ZDNet wrote this a few days after I wrote about my travails.

Is the PC Dead Or Is It Marketing Hype and Spin?

Update: Apple is more nails in the PC coffin with the new announcement of Post PC devices.

  • 362 Apple stores
  • 315 million iOS devices sold through last year, including 62 million in the last quarter
  • 585,000 apps created
  • 25 billion app downloads
  • 1080p movies and TV shows for iCloud and the new Apple TV
  • 15.4 million iPads sold in the fourth quarter of 2011
  • 200,000+ iPad apps
  • 2048 by 1536 pixels displayed on the new iPad, with 264 pixels per inch
  • 44 percent greater color saturation than the old iPad
  • 5 megapixel sensor on the new iPad camera
  • A maximum of 73 mbps downlink with 4G LTE on new iPad
  • New iPad specs: 10 hours of battery life, nine hours with 4G; 9.4 millimeters thick, 1.4 pounds
  • Same pricing as last iPad: Wi-Fi models are $499 for 16 gigabytes, $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB; $629, $729 and $829, if you want 4G
  • Old iPad now starts at $399 and $529

The Real Meaning in Marketing Speak

In the mid 2000’s, Sam Palmisano of IBM declared the era of the PC is over.  This was somewhat of a marketing move since IBM had just sold the PC Division to Lenovo.  What he really meant was that IBM is getting out of consumer products.  IBM also sold other consumer divisions that were not the margin kings that Software and Services were.  Disclaimer, after working either for/with/against/partnering with IBM for 31 years, I can say that a lot of what they do is incredible spin on pretty good technology.  I had better knowledge of what was going on than what was told to the outside.

PC’s are Toasters Now

This is a bit of a history lesson.  There was a time that PC’s were special and had value.  They still can be found on almost every desk or backpack at an airport, but in reality they are now (and have been for a while) a consumer product.  There gets to a point in time in every product’s life cycle that economies of scale and parts availability drive this value (and therefore the price) down when you can’t differntiate.  It is compounded by newer technologies (tablet computers and mobile devices) to where you can get them at any consumer store that sells toasters, video games and TV’s.  Any improvement is just a little bit better (except Windows which usually is worse), not an era better which was the case when they were new.

PC’s have done this to themselves over the years.  Remember when all you could get was a bulky desktop?  Technology moved on to the luggable computer to the laptop. Now you can get a wafer thin Macbook Air (for a premium price), but the technology curve will drive cost down here when every manufacturer offers it.  Margins are razor thin and there is minimal hardware differentiation on the Wintel platform.

The Effect of iPad and Mobile Phones

Ultimately, the world is driving your communications and computing device to be in your hand.  The end game of input is not a keyboard, but voice.  This addresses the need for instantaneous that we have required as we’ve shifted from email to IM and texting, and from blogging to tweeting. I envision a vision screen that is projected by your small handheld that lets you see what a huge monitor is required for now in the near future.  For more on this, see Project Blade Runner as an example of what the future could look like.

PC’s are already under fire from Tablet computing and smartphones.  While at some point you still need a PC for complicated input/output such as the dreaded Powerpoint and the more mundane payroll/HR applications, they soon will be adapted to tablets as we easily morphed from immobile desktops to laptops.

Many analysts have shown that more phones and tablets are sold than PC’s.  More texts are sent than emails and we certainly have more tweets than blogs.

The Cloud

Powering a lot of this of course is the overhyped Cloud model.  While conceptually it has been around for a long time (we have called it client/server and other names), it is a software delivery model that will make the end device irrelevant.  Perhaps you could get your email on your toaster or refrigerator.  You could make phone calls by dialing in the air at some point.  The issue is that we are driving the connecting device smaller, cheaper and more powerful (and less relevant) so that we can get what we want, when we want it and wherever we want it.

Lenovo and HP

Companies are jumping out of this market as evidenced by IBM and HP willing to sell their PC businesses worth billions in revenue, mostly because of low single digit profit margin.  They realize that there isn’t much money to be made anymore, again putting them in the toaster category. Similar components by most, similar operating systems, market driving memory and storage costs and overhead to sell.  HP is now particularly vulnerable as companies negotiating long term contracts will throw HP out  as a viable vendor not knowing what their future will be either in terms of ownership or viability.  HP has completely lost their way starting with the purchase of Compaq years ago, then dumping their tablet, announcing the sale of their PC division and switching CEO’s like underwear.

The Apple Factor

Everyone eventually builds a better mousetrap.  The Mac has been around for a long time, but the entry way to the door to Apple changed with the iPad/iPhone.  A new processor, operating system visibility, technology paradigm, profit potential and the coolness factor make Apple a different model than the PC.  Prior to that, Mac’s were a niche player in the creative, advertising and education world.  This has changed partly because the OS is better, Windows is not a great platform and Mac’s are headed in the direction of iPads.

So Is the PC Dead?

Ultimately yes, but not this year or in the near future.  I’ve seen models of computers called bricks the size of your phone that you can drop in a kiosk and work anywhere.  You can even use them like an iPhone if needed, but until the voice input issue is resolved, keyboard input is an inhibitor.

No one thought we’d ever see the end of typewriters, faxing or even the 360, but technology advances at an increasing rate economically speaking.  What will be interesting is which social mores we’ll break like talking to ourselves (on a cellphone) in public (or worse in a bathroom or driving).

Is the iPad the next endgame?  Likely also not.  Companies are trying to out do themselves and we’ll wind up like the Jetson’s one day.

Dealing with Email

The 300 Baud Modem Days

I remember back in the 80’s when I had exclusive access to some very important reporters as only about 50 of us were on MCI Mail and it was sort of a club that we had.  We didn’t say it, but we didn’t share our secret as they got pounds of press releases by snail mail daily.  If they got an email over a 300 baud modem, they knew it meant something.  We only contacted each other when it was important, so no one abused it.

Remember, this was the days of the office memo that got typed on a typewriter and sent around. CC’s were made with carbon paper so it was to tough to abuse it due to the trouble

The Evolution, Email is the new Snail Mail, and Spam King


Later, Outlook, Lotus Notes, Pegasus and a ton of other email clients have come and gone.  Email could now even be regarded as the new snail mail, and certainly it’s the king of Spam.  Being CC’d or BCC’d on thousands of notes fills up inboxes globally.  Many have gone to multiple email addresses to divert off the spam for personal use, but if you work for a company, you’re stuck with that address that is all to easy to find.

So what are the up’s and down’s to email?  It can be the only way to reach someone (in a company, a text message or tweet DM is likely faster) if they are in a different timezone or are miles up the corporate ladder for you.  So that is good.

Slogging through endless emails that have little impact are a time suck now and you must fight the urge to respond, stopping the chain.  There are other downsides which I’ll discuss below.

Email Road Rage

Ranting behind the false curtain of email rather than face to face or calling the person directly.  I dubbed this tactic Email Road Rage.  All have been the recipient of it or have seen someone go off the deep end, many times later to regret it.  Bosses seem to think they have immunity on this, but it inhibits employee behavior and openness via email exchange.

The best executive I’ve worked directly for, Buell Duncan once told me to answer these kind of emails once, and then let it roll off your back like water off a duck. Don’t spend nights letting it keep you up.  Deal with it and be done.

While it may be tempting to get into the fray, especially when one is feisty is to defend your position, attack back or go behind the offender’s back describing in unflattering terms what kind of a person would send these emails, the best answer is…..

Don’t Respond Unless Required.

Most email stops when you stop the chain.  I get you have to answer the boss, but not joining the fray is the best medicine.  I have found this hard to do, but being a Ph.D. in the School of hard knocks, I’ve learned to not answer when at all possible.  Don’t explain or defend yourself, just use the del key, the appropriate response.  This is true for tweets.  I’ve gotten into endless tweetbacks that I wish had never happened.  Now I just ignore and I’ve forgotten the next day or someone else is naive enough to get caught into the trap.

Along with don’t answer is don’t send.  You can avoid a lot of useless email if you don’t feel the obligation to fire off emails at every whim.  I’m learning that lesson also.  My inbox thanks me.

The most important time to start going dark is….

Before Vacation

I purposely don’t start anything that could bite me while I’m trying to not work.  IBM is the poster child for people working on vacation, something I try hard not to do.  I got emails from bosses on anniversary vacations, which I’m sure made their spouses happy.  The way I see it, the doors to the company will stay open while I’m away.  Americans are notorious for not being good vacationers.  Not me.  I put on that I won’t be checking email until I return.

The key to this is to start slowing down a few days before you leave.  This slows the wheels of motion and gets the anonymity going.

Conclusion

While email can be helpful and it certainly is still our main method of communicating, it follows Sturgeon’s law.  Life has enough of that anyway, so why add to it?

Will Apple Survive the Loss of Steve Jobs?

I’m not wishing any bad luck or premonitions to Steve, but conditions don’t look that good given he already had a liver replacement and he hasn’t been the picture of health at conferences.  I hope that he has a good recovery and stays at Apple keeping the industry hopping and keeps Apple bringing out newer and better products that make our lives free from Microsoft.

THOSE WHO SAY YES

There is enough in the pipeline with iPhone extending to new carriers like Verizon and any CDMA based companies.  The iPad is just beginning to take off and as soon as they resolve flash or HTML 5.0 or whatever video standard, it will be the de-facto standard.  The only drawback I can see is the keyboard is less than stellar, but I’m sure the form factor will change.  We can already see what the iPad has done to NetBooks, the next big notebook innovation that never happened.  It will likely kill most of the low to mid range PC sales.  I think the iPod has a lifespan that may be ending after a few more revisions, but there is just too many other options that make this redundant.

This doesn’t even count Macbook which shouldn’t be selling as well as it does at 3 times the price of a Windoze PC, but they have a following and a growing market share.  If they pattern it after the iPad, look out HP and Dell.

The Apple designers have enough Steve Jobs inspiration for 3-5 years of innovation and they have set the bar again and again.  As long as Tim Cook keeps the Jobs mantra viable, they will dominate.

Let’s not forget that Jobs created Next and sold it to Apple, and Pixar which made him one, if not the largest Disney stakeholder.  He is the creative mind who invented Apple and rejuvenated it.

THOSE WHO SAY NO

John Sculley came to mind as a corporate wizard who doesn’t get what Apple is.  It is a culture and a mindset that just isn’t GE or Pepsi or your standard fortune 100 company.  They need to keep Cook in place to keep things together, but will need an actual creative genius who will keep the juices flowing and create the next iSomething.  Otherwise, short the stock and move along.  Tim Cook is boring and will try to tread water, but will likely lead the company down the Political Correctness and climate drain of boredom and safety rather than innovation.  He seems more worried about diversity and the culture of appeasing political groups or his interests rather than how Jobs ran the company.

OTHER COMMENTS

Others like ZDNet weigh in:

There’s no doubt that Jobs played a big part in shaping Apple and helping it grow beyond that early base of cult followers and taking the company mainstream and beyond. Like Apple or not, you can’t dismiss the impact that the company has had on consumer electronics, music and movies. Jobs has done a marvelous job as CEO, and whether you own any Apple products or not, I’m certain that in some way Apple’s vision will have shaped and influenced some of the tech you have in your life. Apple shareholders should especially be grateful for the work he’s done and the effort he’s put into Apple.

So, given that Jobs has done so much for Apple, are the pundits right? Is Apple doomed without Jobs?

In a word, not yet.  It will slowly deteriorate with the next product cycles or iphone refresh rate.

The Social Network, A Movie Review with Comparisons to Corporate Life

I’m rarely first in line to many movies and the Social Network is the same, I just saw it last Saturday night.  I realize that the movie didn’t tell the exact story, but I’m sure there were enough similarities to be close.

CAPITALISM, WHY OUR COUNTRY IS GREAT AND THE BEST ECONOMIC SYSTEM IN HISTORY

My first impressionism was thank the good Lord for Capitalism.  There may have been some rough issues with the ongoings of the start up, but that we can live in a country where entrepreneurship and the ability to start a company, create jobs  and have a shot at success should be celebrated.  I want an environment where you can make it, or make it big, which is what is great about this country….The American Dream.  The idea that we should re-distribute wealth because some do better than others is nonsense. One of the best lines in the movie came at the deposition when Zuckerberg answered if he stole Facebook from the Winklescarfs, “if you guys were the inventors of the Facebook, then you would have invented the Facebook”…ouch.  It took hard work, vision and of course a couple of lucky breaks, but would this come out of the current environments in Venezuela, Iran, North Korea….I’m open to any examples?.   That Zuckerberg had an idea and was able to become a billionaire gives real hope to everyone.  Build a better Mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door………………………….but only in the free world.

<sarcasm>

WHY I’M GLAD IT TOOK PLACE IN hARVARD (lower case intentional)

<sarcasm/>


That (at least) the 2nd dropout from harvard (lowercase emphasis mine) became a billionaire shows that an Ivy League credential is not what it used to be, nor is it necessary or as prestigious as it once was (unless you are a dropout billionaire) .  Another great line in the movie that the Winkledoofuss’s were mad because they didn’t get their way such as they had all their pampered life was epic.  We don’t live in the entitlement world (or shouldn’t). I’ve worked with Finklehorsespatoots from all of the Ivy league skools (sp on purpose) as well as those like Duke, USC, UNC-CH, Notre Dame, columbia, princeton who take college snobbery to the wrong level.  Proud of your school is one thing, elitism is another….guess which one is appreciated or listened to? These institutions are reducing themselves to credentialed, not necessarily educated.  Guess which ones are laughed at and not considered worth the money they charge? For the most part, the extra money they paid for their education was a waste that could have been invested and would be worth more.  The reality is most are doing the same job for the same money.  It got to the point in one of my jobs at IBM when someone would brag that they had a harvard MBA, someone would comment in public what a waste of money that was for the person.  The rest of us would know to work around that person as they would just be a hindrance to our ability to get any work done.  They were almost pariahs to everyone else being the snowflakes they usually turned out to be.

It takes a dream and passion to see it to fruition, otherwise you are a lemming in the working world.  No degree earns you the right to do anything but try.  I also subscribe that things are not equal, nor should they be.   Some get more than others, be it because they are smarter, work harder or some combination of both.  If you get a lucky break, consider it a bone, but it’s not an entitlement.

The plaintiffs didn’t have the ability to pull off what Zuckerberg did and they wound up sucking on the hind teat of his success.  You could tell that the lawyers got as much as the clients he settles with through billing and retainers on that settlement.  Might as well include lawyers in the offended since it looks like I’m growing that list in this blog.  This brings me to another of my favorite scene’s, the best answer I’ve ever heard at a deposition.  I wish I’d said it although I’ve said something close I’ll admit.

HARD WORK

Facebook didn’t just succeed because of luck (maybe luck in the timing) and some who didn’t see it’s potential got left behind, but the key to it’s success like most things is ability and hard work.  Although I work for a big company now, I cut my teeth with entrepreneurs who gave every drop of blood, sweat and many times their personal life to make something they believed in a success.  Most are at least Millionaires now and I don’t begrudge a one of them.  They took the risk and deserve the reward.  I only wish more would make it so they could hire more people and reduce unemployment,  restart and grow the economy  This will be the turn around our current economic situation needs, and much faster than our present Keynesian politicians.

REALISM OF THE FILM

I thought they captured the timing and semantics of the period correctly  I was noticing the coding on screen, the Apache servers and that Zuckerberg edited his blog in HTML.  I even noticed that the cell phones were time period appropriate.  What hasn’t changed is College partiers.   Not that I know that much about college partying, but I’m sure some of that really happens.  Although they said he wasn’t an asshole, but that he tried so hard to be one was partly true.  He didn’t have to try.

REAL LIFE

It turns out that Zuckerberg is a suck up to the President to promote Facebook.  Why someone so smart would let himself be manipulated is beyond me.  He didn’t realize that he let a campaign go on for the youth vote who are so easily manipulated by MTV, The Comedy Channel and such outlets.   Older, wiser and those hurt more by the economy know better than to support this or be buffaloed by this sort of trick.  The fact that Fakebook is censuring political groups that are not liberal and letting terrorists plan attacks or post mendacious things about moral groups shows who they and Zuck really are, biased.

EPILOGUE

This was a good movie that shows you can still make it in the business world.  Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs and many others are all good examples of the American dream that Zuckerberg lives.  By now it is out on DVD, I even TiVo’d it the other day an watched it again just to see success.  I am glad we live in the part of the world where you have the chance to succeed or fail.  But if you succeed, you usually take others with you.  A rising tide floats all boats.

Changing Jobs, My New Job, Resurrecting Old Talents

Today I start a new job.  I’ll be working in external communications for IBM Global Finance.

I’ve been a part of Software Group at IBM for about 10 years in a number of A/R capacities, it was a good run, but like all good things….it came to an end.

I’ll be handling not only Analyst Relations, but also stepping back into previous careers.

What few know is that I majored in Accounting and actually started my career as one, so I have a good understanding of finance/accounting (debit is on the left).  Combine that with my personal interest in economics, and you can see how the stars aligned for this.

Upon considering this job opportunity, the obvious occurred to me.  These are tough economic times, customers have IT needs, the banks are fully financed with TARP money yet are not extending credit….and IBM is a major financing organization and is helping customers and partners with financing.  Voila, it was a no-brainer.

So I embark on a new journey within IBM which is a good fit.

For all that I have worked with, I’ll probably still be working with you as IGF works with all IBM divisions to help them, so again, this to me is one of THE BEST STORIES NOT TOLD ENOUGH at IBM.

From our web page:

On a smarter planet, the opportunities that can emerge from intelligent and interconnected systems are unlimited. Unfortunately, your budget is not. The challenge for many organizations is how to invest in smarter systems when the majority of the budget is going towards maintaining current systems.

Building a robust and flexible IT infrastructure often involves systemic transformation that can happen all at once or in phases, and typically requires a new generation of hardware, software, and services. An equally robust financing and asset management strategy can provide you the opportunity to leverage new technologies, and turn your ambitious vision into a tangible solution.

IBM Global Financing can help credit qualified clients develop a comprehensive investment strategy, allowing them to seize new opportunities and accelerate transformation solutions with:

We provide flexible financing options and low rates that can:

  • Turn large upfront costs into affordable and predictable monthly payments
  • Customize payment plans that align costs to projected benefits
  • Accelerate solution implementation, and improve ROI and payback
  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • Preserve cash and credit lines for strategic business investments
  • Reduce or even eliminate the risk of project delays and technology obsolescence

Smart financial decisions, cost-effective results

From simple loans to custom leases, we can finance your total solution – including IBM and non-IBM hardware, software and services – under a single contract.

Learn the Key Elements for why IBM Global Financing is your smartest choice to fund critical IT investments and propel your business forward.

This is a time I’d almost rather be an Analyst

Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy my career in analyst relations, it’s just that the uncertainty of the times makes for endless opportunities to prognosticate.

Economic Downturn Cycles

This is the low hanging fruit.  Depending on the product set a company has or where it is on the technology lifecyle chart, it could be doomed, about to bust, ok for now, suffer in the second wave of non-buying or could surf into the annals of profitability.

Companies are clamping down on expenses buying and new technology investment.  The easist things to cut go first like travel.  So count the travel companies as first victims, except that they rely on technology so the companies they buy from get a deduction or a delayed deduction in the upcoming buying cycles.  I wouldn’t doom them as we are going to travel, but suffer would be appropriate.

Older technologies fall in two categories.  A lot of financial institutions have tons of legacy infrastructure that has to be maintained.  There is a trade off in the cost to maintain vs. the savings gained by using newer technology.  This is an easy decision on the lower security issues, but where privacy and security reign, don’t count on rip and replace.  The other category is replace any easy system that saves money or has broken, cut out the rest.

My datacenter experience has been that no matter what you are promised, the cost recovery is rarely there for the first years of a new technology implementation.  There is too much training, running dual systems for integrity, and of course the unknown.

The second slowdown wave is where contracts need to be renewed or lack of spending holds off sales.  These companies could be parts suppliers or those who have customers who aren’t buying.  That will be tough to tell as the first wave of immediate non buying will blend into this wave.  Earnings statements should give us an indication of this wave.

Finally, there are companies who have technology that makes sense (SaaS could be an example) where they will be in the right place at the right time and iff (iff is if and only if for you JCL and OCL types) you can show value, save money or help a company make money.  Everyone is watching their tails and hedging their bets so this is the sweet spot.

I thought of one last class, those companies who can manage to hang on long enough for the economy to turn around, but how many IBM’s, Microsoft’s, Google and Apples are there?  This is a good question for Yahoo to answer.

Analyst or Meteorologist

Everyone cracks the joke that being a Weathernan person is a great job as you can be paid even if you are wrong half the time (jokes here range from William Ayers to global warming).

This is where a good analyst earns their mettle.  How to forecast what is reality for which industry.  Eventually, except for examples like unstopping drains, there is IT involved so it gets back to our industry.

Predicting is next to impossible, advising and reporting are key elements of the analyst value to us right now.

WHY

There is a bigger chance to be wrong then right here, so why would I like to be an analyst on this one?  The challenge of finding out the answer is intruiging.  It is the thrill of the hunt, not the kill.   The endless amount of machinations of companies succeeding, treading water or drowning will happen at a rapid rate.

We’ll get to see who and what groups are what they say they are, the pundits.  No pressure right?

Are IT Technology Jobs Killing your Life (Slow down and get a life)

It may be.

I’ve stated before that technology is sucking more and more out of our personal lives.  We check email, crackberry’s, internet, blogs, twitter too much instead of life.

It turns out that that is today’s theme.

ComputerWorld writes of the health hazards of being an IT desk jockey.  Here’s the killer:

Finally, work-related stress, while motivating in manageable doses, can grind down your health over time. Undue stress can lower your immune defenses, increase the risk of heart disease and bring on anxiety, depression and difficulty sleeping, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Ziff Davis challenges us with:

Have we all become a bunch of anxious, depressed, sleep-deprived irritable stress-heads?

The story has the paragraph header:

ENOUGH!!!! TURN THE FREAKING COMPUTER OFF! PUT THE STUPID BLACKBERRY AND IPHONE DOWN!

IT workers, particularly those that are in IT service delivery or are in operational/support roles are constantly trying to meet employer and customer demands. We’re tied to email and instant messaging, and not just on our computers — we’re now permanently attached to our Blackberries and iPhones and other smart devices. We’re expected to be available at all times, and to be responsive, no matter where we are or what time of day it is……our synapses are firing like a V-12 Ferrari.

This is something to think about.  Work smarter, not harder or more.  Employees – you’ll be more productive, Managers – you’ll get more out of your employees…

Parents – shut down the video games and have a conversation with your kids.

A CEO with a Second Life

When you think of corporate culture or corporations, it’s hard not to mention IBM in that sentence. One doesn’t think usually think of having a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company as a facebook/myspace junkie, which ours is not, but I’m very pleased to find him with his own Avatar and living in Second Life which is well publicized in Business Week.

There is a range of CEO types from Corporate stiff to major geek (name your startup here) and a million and one flavors in between. I’ve been on record saying how good a job I thought Lou Gerstner did (an 18 billion dollar turnaround is nothing to sneeze at) and Sam is doing an equally good (or better) job, albeit different given the hand he was dealt being different than Lou’s.

What’s great about this is that he can cross over boundaries to understand Second Life and actually be in a virtual world is unknown to CEO’s in his class. How great is that. I think of the virtual reality/video games lifestyle as a generationally younger (probably hipper than me) characteristic, yet the head of a 90 Billion dollar global enterprise can understand and participate. One man’s opinion here, but I always saw how much he interacts with our customers to understand and work with them, and this to me is further proof he’s not an ivory tower hermit like some CEO’s.

I’ll still bet my son can beat him in From Dirt to Daytona, or Star Wars, Empire at War, but Sam could understand and talk to him (as he does customers – the big key here) about it with the fluidity he can with Services or System Z….

Happy Birthday Eclipse

Pretty grown up for a 5 year old.  Here are some details that describe it’s status:

Lotus Sametime 7.5, WebSphere Portal 6.0, and the upcoming IBM Lotus Notes “Hannover” release are all based on the Eclipse open source framework, helping to nurture a rich ecosystem of partners around these offerings.

Just last week Lotus announced Expeditor, a development platform for creating Eclipse-based and Web 2.0 applications that enables enterprises to integrate existing and new applications and deliver a personalized user experience across a range of devices.

The Eclipse Process Framework (EPF) is a resource for guidance on software development stemming from IBM’s contribution of portions of the Rational Unified Process to the Eclipse Foundation.  It comes as no surprise that the EPF has emerged as a widely trusted source for developers worldwide, with thousands of downloads recorded since the first EPF assets became available in February 2006.

IBM this year contributed software to both Eclipse and Mozilla Corp. that allows developers to work with and debug Ajax applications.

Higgins, another new Eclipse project this year, is the code base upon which IBM, Novell and others will build commercial ID management software so that it can integrate and interoperate within organizations.

In May, the Eclipse Modeling Project was formed to focus on the evolution and promotion of model-based development. More recently, IBM partnered with Cisco, Intel and others to propose the COSMOS project, which aims to provide an extensible, standards-based platform upon which software developers can create specialized, differentiated and inter-operable offerings of tools for system management.

IBM, along with other storage industry players including Brocade, Cisco, CA, Emulex, Engenio, Fujitsu, McDATA, Network Appliance and Sun Microsystems, announced the Aperi Project in October 2005 to promote the simplified management of storage infrastructures through an open source community.  The mission of the Aperi project is to create a standards-based, open source storage management framework and to cultivate an open source community and ecosystem for complementary products, capabilities, and services around the framework.

IBM Software Group Surpasses Oracle in SW sales to become Number 2

Usually, I wouldn’t view being in second place as something to brag about, but let me develop the thought.

The first point to this is that IBM is not a Software Company.  Although we have a good Software business, we are about solving customer problems with a myriad of solutions.  Unfortunately, upwards of 80% is legacy solutions that only works on an IBM mainframe.  That is the big lie not told.  I’m not looking to debate semantics here, we are a technology company, leader in Innovation,  IT player, call it what you want here.  I will say that customers have driven our business since Watson built it.

Next point, there was a long time that IBM was the largest SW company, but that was when we had proprietary solutions such as SNA and based a lot of revenue on maintenance.  What is interesting here is that the current leader is following the same path towards license based, proprietary offering.  I’ve been on record that Microsoft is going down a similar path as IBM in earlier years and the market/customers will ultimately rule or change the rules (name your open std or platform here).  They will then have to re-invent themselves as IBM has done a number of times.  Further, Software as a Service and the related SOA capability will likely take us away from the packaged application tradition….speculation here on my part.

Nuther point, acquisitions are in vogue, and Oracle bought their way to their postion.  IBM has made numerous acquisitions also, but they were based on a different model.  I don’t want to debate this issue in this blog, but going back to a Lou Gerstner quote, “you make acquisitions to position yourself for the next wave of growth and to protect yourself from economic fluctuations”.  That is a lot of what is behind the IBM strategy (my opinion only here) vs. what seems to be happening at Oracle who are buying marketshare (again, my opinion only).  Many of their acquisitions are neither technically nor customer related to their core business.  I realize you could argue this from a grand vision, but that is for greater minds or richer lawyers to do (or analysts).

So being number 2 isn’t really that bad.  In fact, when you are dealing in the multi-billions, and when software is only a piece of your overall business (IBM has services, hardware and financing for those that didn’t notice), it’s a pretty good number.  Given my statements on Microsoft’s issues, either IBM or Oracle (or SAP or some other) may be number one in the future.  I wonder if you added up all the open everything out there if that was really #1?

developerWorks Podcasts, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Rod Smith, Gina Poole

Podcast:  developerWorks interviews Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Rod Smith, Gina Poole

Three critical players in alphaWorks history reflect on IBM’s highly regarded early adopter program
Live landing page
Review URL:
Live mp3 link

Podcast: alphaWorks devotee segments with Bob Schloss, John Feller, Chieko Asakawa, Marshall Schor
Four interviews with software architects whose applications and teams have benefited through alphaWorks

Live landing page
Review URL

Gina Smith; Author of iWoz, TV celebrity, Radio Personality, CEO, Journalist but most of all Friend

 

Photo Of Gina

As with all my bloggerviews, I try to talk to interesting people. Up until now, they were from IBM, but I ventured outside for this one as it goes back to my roots. Although we grew up in towns not very far apart in Central Florida, Gina and I met at Core International in Boca Raton, which Gina describes below. We were both young and worked together with some other talented folks who have gone on to many tech companies.

She has gone on to a fantastic career at Ziff Davis, IDG, ABC, MSNBC, CNBC, SF Chronicle, and was the youngest Female CEO of a tech company. Just last week, she released iWoz, the story of Steve Wozniak, inventor of the Apple Computer which she discusses. In one week, it shot to number 20 on Amazon and is still climbing. I recommend that you buy a copy and enjoy both the story and her talent. For more information and updates, check out her blog at http://ginasmith.typepad.com.

Gina was gracious enough to grant this interview and while we covered the questions, we caught up on life since CORE, friends and family and life’s experiences. She has always been down to earth and I’m proud to call her a friend.

Describe your life travel from a hometown girl from Ormond Beach to be a famous Good Morning America (GMA) personality, CEO, and Author?
I grew up in Ormond Beach, FL. Not far from where you grew up in Winter Park, John! I used to sit on the beach as a kid and squint, pretending the hotels were high-rises and that the sand was snow. My dream was to grow up and live in work in a major city like New York, Boston or San Francisco. I wanted out and up. And I’ve been lucky enough to live in all of those places!

How did it happen? Long story, but here’s the gist. Remember how I was working with you at CORE International as a tech writer making 14K a year? Thanks a lot for that great salary. Anyway, one day I wrote a press release and the tech journal PC Week ran almost without a change. I wrote a letter to the editor (on peacock blue paper — I was 23!) and enclosed copies of my press release and the article, saying they should hire me if they wanted a journalist who understood technology. To my total surprise they did hire me about a year later, and I covered the Microsoft beat at PC Week in Boston from 8/8/88 to 1993. (author – here is the actual story from my clipbook)
ct40.jpg

After that, I just worked non-stop. I covered hardware for PC/Computing in San Francisco, started a magazine for IDG called E2 (which in turn started the tradeshow E3), did a radio show with Leo Laporte (On Computers), wrote a column called Inside Silicon Valley for the SF Chronicle for about a dozen years, a bunch of things. Constant working! Then, one day, a producer asked me to come on a show then called Macneil Lehrer to debate Steve Ballmer about Windows 95, which was about to come out. I argued that Microsoft was not pointing out to people that their 1 MB PCs were not going to be able to run it, that they would need new apps and so on. A talent scout at ABC in New York saw it, and I ended up on Good Morning America, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and Nightline for the next five years.

When did you know you had a talent for being in the media?
When the talent scout called me! : ) But I’ve always been a ham. And after talking tech to live callers on the radio about technology for so many years, I felt very comfortable with the subject when people like Diane Sawyer and Peter Jennings were throwing me softballs.

What were some of your experiences on GMA?
In the green room, where the celebrities wait before going on, I met such an amazing variety of people. I was able to ask the OJ Simpson trial jurors what they were thinking when they acquitted him. I met Milton Berle and told him a joke he laughed at. (Two atoms are walking down the street. One says, uh, oh, I think I lost an electron. The other says, are you sure? The first, says, I’m positive!) I was privileged to meet Harry Belafonte, whom my mother followed around for a bit as kind of a groupie in the 50s. And he remembered her! I met Bill Clinton, who was so impressive, so articulate and so much imposing and better looking in person than he was on TV. For Nightline, I had the amazing experience of working with Ted Koppel and his incredible producers. What they were doing over there was true broadcasting art. The night that show went off the air, something in journalism died.

What technology stories did you break that you felt were important?
I broke the first story on Windows 3.0 at PC Week, and also the first story about PM Lite (Presentation Manager Lite), which IBM was secretly producing to compete with Windows after Microsoft switched horses on them and started developing its apps for Windows instead of OS/2. I broke the first story about Pixar for the Chronicle. At ABC, I broke the story about those kids who committed suicide in Southern California, thinking they were going to reunite on a spaceship. I was the first to find the website they left. I broke lots of stories. It kind of became my specialty, to get THE story first.

Talk about your time as the youngest female CEO in the Tech industry.
It was tough. I was 33. Larry Ellison, whom I’d interviewed a few times, called me out of the blue and asked me to meet. When I arrived, he offered me the job as co-founder, CEO and president of his second business to build network computers (NCs). I said, “Why me?” He said of all the coverage he’d read on his network computer idea, I was the only one who seemed to understand it. He was right about that – I thought thin clients were the future and I still believe that. Anyway, he gave me a fat check and I restarted the company and renamed it NIC (New Internet Computer Company). We sold lots of computers and broke even – we never lost money – but though the idea was prescient, we were way too early. Lots of fellow journalists took potshots at me – assuming I was either a bitch or involved with Larry – but that is how it goes with women in power, I think. My husband was really hurt about it, but whatever. I used to tell people: If I were involved with (the then richest) man in the world, why would I be putting in 16 hour days? Ha! But in the end, it was the experience of a lifetime. I learned Mandarin (well, business Mandarin), traveled extensively in Asia for contract negotiations, managed a team of 70 people. And these were the brightest and nicest people you’ll ever meet. The NIC team was like no other. But when NIC went down at the dot com crash, an era was over me. That’s when I had my baby – Eric is now 3 – and I started once again doing both what I used to do and what I think I was born to do…. Write.

I finished The Genomics Age – a book that explains DNA sciences in plain English for business people – before Eric was one. That was my fourth book. My fifth is out now! It is the co-written autobiography of Steve Wozniak, iWOZ. (WW Norton 2006)

Where do you get your ideas for books?
When I am interested in something and I go to a bookstore and there are few or no books on the subject, I pitch a book. That’s how The Genomics Age happened. It is selling all over the world now.

You just completed the book iWoz. Talk about that book and Woz himself?
Steve Wozniak is unquestionably among the greatest living inventors today. He invented the personal computer, which so few people know. He was the first to combine a keyboard and screen with a computer – that’s the modern paradigm. To write the book, I met with him 54 times and interviewed him. Then, I took printed transcripts and used his words – he is a hilarious and plain-spoken guy – and wrote the book in his voice exactly. Some of his stories are just priceless. Especially the ones involving the early days with him and Steve Jobs building Blue Boxes, devices to make free phone calls. Also, the book talks about why Steve believes IBM overtook Apple with its IBM PC. Steve thinks the fault lied with the faulty Apple III, which was designed by committee.

What’s your next project?
You can see my series, Tech Tour, right now at www.techtour.msnbc.com. We are going city to city show-casing inventions. My next book is tentatively titled Five Threats to Global Civilization, but I am taking a bit of a break before starting that. I am also doing lots of work with Link TV, a satellite channel, on American Ramadan and other Arab-related issues. Most people don’t know this, but I am a major ethnic mix. My mother was half Muslim, my father was half Jewish and I was raised Catholic. So covering Islamic issues and other topics outside of science and technology is a real treat for me.

A Relatively Unknown but Useful Keyboard Function (for the function key)

Normally, I would have put this in the comment section, but it was an obscure discovery that I thought few would know and many might want to know.

Thinklight.jpg

I recently did a bloggerview with David Hill. In the course of the discussion, the thinklight came up. It turns on by pressing the function key (left bottom key) and the PgUp key (upper right key). A very relevant comment came up that it would be good to not have to use two hands to turn on the light. I saw this as a handicap issue for some, but it was pointed out that holding coffee (or a beer for some of you) in one hand makes it also un-accessible.

I sent the note to David as a design issue, and the following came back from one of his team members from the design center. I’ve used PC’s now for 26 years and didn’t know this:
Fn key lock function
The Fn key lock function gives the same effect as pressing and holding the Fn key and then pressing a function key. Start the ThinkPad Configuration Program. Click the Accessibility Options button, and click Enable for Fn key lock. You can also set up by typing PS2 FNS E at the command prompt. If the Fn key is not locked, you must press and hold the Fn key while pressing a function key in order to perform certain tasks. If the Fn key is locked, you can use the function keys as follows:

  • Press the Fn key once. Then press a function key. You can get the same effect as if you had held the Fn key down while pressing the function key. The Fn key has to be pressed again each time you want to use the function.
  • Press the Fn key twice. Then, for the rest of your session, you can press any function key without pressing the Fn key again.

What is Apple up to on the 12th?

The same thing that Microsoft wants. Control of the Living room and the entertainment lifestyle. There will be announcements about a new iPod phone or a service but look at the Big Picture.

Here’s the big picture, check all that apply:

1. mickeymouse.jpg

2. check #1.

3. All of the above

Who is the largest Disney Stockholder? one guess.

Steve_Jobs.jpg

So look for code talk about new products, but read between the lines at how “lifestyle” and “entertainment” will change and how Apple is looking to “help” the media experience.. Don’t fall (too much) for the iPod phone with some downloads or a touch screen iPod. Yes that would be cool, but those are only building blocks. Look for how they want to compete for taking over the entertainment center and work their way back to the office (with Intel machines). It will be with better content and delivery.

And what better known content than Disney? They’re pretty much the King of entertainment (I take exception to Eisner’s view of entertainment, but over the years they have been solid). Apple has a better media interface than Windows, and from what I can tell Linux too.

Apple has been very profitable with the iPod/iTunes model. Sell both the hardware and software by controlling the content. Offer better content and DRM is still a nuisance, but you’ll put up with it a bit longer as Apple milks the cash cow. Move that model to the living room and you have the media center hardware and can sell iTunes like Disney movies, working better or cheaper with Apple. Oh, and Jobs collects on the Apple and Disney side. Hey, I don’t blame him, he personifies the American dream. Wish I’d thought of it.

So on the 12th we’ll see if it’s another lame announcement about an lame iPod docking speaker, or selling move movies and hardware. Note, I’ll give Microsoft a D at their try at this; xBox, windoze media software and a large install base and a whole bunch of Wintel boxes…they shoulda had a much better share of the consumer marketplace.

Podcast with Tim Berners-Lee

Not to mention that Tim is in the same Royal Society that Sir Issac Newton was the first member, but he has a lot of interesting ideas.

During this conversation with Scott Laningham of IBM developerWorks, Tim discusses his early history with the Web, opportunities and challenges of the present, emerging technologies, and his current project, the semantic web. He has a nice AJAX discussion on how and why he uses it.

This is part of the IBM developerWorks Podcast Series of interviews and discussions on topics vital to software developers. IBM developerWorks provides a wide range of free tools, code and educational resources to help developers build skills and deploy applications.The podcast can be found on developerWorks at this link.

I have a fond place for developerWorks as it hosted the first and for a long time the only IBM official blog page.

Disk Drive Update

I have my T42 back, and thanks to the work of the IBM help center, most of my data was saved. Here is the synopsis?

Lost:

My Linux partition and data. Since it isn’t the standard image, I either have to rebuild it or forget about it. I got the Linux partition because I was getting tired of 6 Windoze security updates a day and software glitches and crashes. The Linux image that was available to me as a standard load was at best tough to work with. It didn’t have the right graphics drivers and the support was nonexistent as yet. I have to research this more and likely take a different Linux path than before.

Also lost was all of my “remembered” links and passwords and a lot of customization that I do to get the a machine to my liking. I’m a tinkerer and am finicky as to how I want it to work. This will take days if not weeks to get it to where I was before. Each time I visit a controlled place (inside the firewall at IBM for example), I am re-entering data. Some stuff I’ve had for so long, I can’t remember the sign in’s.

I’ll admit, as an option to Windoze when I retire, I considered Apple as it seems more stable and secure, it’s going to Intel, and my computer life is more media oriented at an increasing rate.

Saved:

All my music and podcasts, most of my recent data from the Windows partitition and anything that was on a server somewhere else of course.

Lessons learned:

Keep backing up, this saved me. Keep a spare computer as a back up and keep it current. Yes, your life is very disrupted when your computer crashes. We shouldn’t be that dependent on something so unreliable.

Disk and storage technology has changed in capacity (I once heard that 49 GB was the physical limit when I was in the storage industry) and size (cramming more and more into smaller disks), but is still mechanical and electrical, therefore the part most likely to fail.

Update: After I wrote this, I read this article from ZDNet, remarkably similar to my story, but I didn’t like the MAC failing also. Steve O’Grady also has recommended Ubunto to me also.

The Dreaded Hard Disk Failure

Once again, a failed hard disk for me. It reports to me as a disk read error under diagnostics, but visually, it won’t boot for me.

I worked in the disk drive industry so I know the value of back up and did so of my data. I also did have a pre 2004 machine that I’m currently blogging from.

It has not spared me from the inconvenience of not having the information I need to work, and it appears that working remotely requires me to do the diagnostics to find out the specific disk error before anyone will help me. Sure they’ll assign a case number, but helpful, not yet.

Let’s hope I get this resolved or I’m going to be an unhappy camper. For now, I’m going to be a data disabled user.

Changes and Trends in Communications

I guess they chiseled press releases on stone at some point to promote the invention of fire. Later, parchment must have been sent out to document the parting of the Red Sea.

But the industrial revolution gave us good tools like the printing press and the typewriter, fax machines and let’s not forget the copy machine from the Xrocks corporation which allowed us to mail press releases an astonishing 2 weeks prior to the announcement, embargoed of course.

Then came email, the internet, instant messaging…I’m not going out on a big limb here history wise. Now with the push of a button, bingo – news everywhere.

So what’s the point here? I like to see trends and be an early adopter where possible. There have been times I wait for the technology to stabilize before I expose my backside to any corporate or public lashings, but for the most part, I like to be or know about what the next advantage possible to be gained. I remember using MCI Mail in the mid ’80’s to beat the big companies to the story (then my competition was, gasp – IBM). I was talking to Bill Howard, Bill Machrone and John Dvorak of PC Magazine when it seemed like there were about 25 email users total in the business world.

Despite my daughter’s ability to overwhelm me in Instant Messaging volume, I did use it as a communications tool to reach analysts in the ’90’s before others caught on.

I’ve been beaten to the punch more times than not on new trends, but I give credit to those that catch on before me and I try to learn to do things in a newer better way. Social Computing is such a trend that offers the next new world to those who have vision.

I originally called this the change/death/other titles here of PR, but that will never die, only morph. Those that adopt the new media approach which is happening now, which includes but is not limited to (good lawyer speak there) blogging, podcasting, videocasting, wiki and the various other components of Social Computing will beat others to the punch. (I was later to this game than I wanted to be, but still ahead of many I’m finding out as I beat my head against the wall here sometimes.)

While there was no moment of truth type revelation about why this is, I’ll give Charline Li the credit to why big companies are not always the leaders on this, it requires giving up control. Now tie this into the above stated PR change issue, as control is vital to shaping the message or dealing with the other large major media outlets. The quicker more nimble folks who already embrace Social Computing are moving ahead and larger companies are trying to figure it out and sometimes try to control it. I will say that IBM is conducting perhaps the largest social computing exercise ever right now, but the control issue prevents any details here until it is complete. I hope to blog about it soon, and I hope to start an analyst relations practice/position about Social Computing, send your positive references in now about me as I’ll be canvasing soon for a new frontier that I think we need here.

This is not just a company/industry or PR issue either. Smaller and more nimble analyst firms are leading the way and are way ahead of 800 pound gorillas here.

So I know people who were naysayers to email, IM and other trends and look what happened there. Social Computing will change the messaging capabilities, the way we will work and exchange information and that train is leaving the station, be on it or miss the chance.

BRIC or Brac

IBM hasn’t ceded any space in the America’s or Europe and is doing just fine there, that’s not the point.

Where we are doing well is in the new farmlands of the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). According to the Economist, July 8-14, 2006 edition, Page 94:

GDP, Q1 2006, % of change from a year ago:
China, +10.3
India, +9.3
Russia, +5.5
Israel, +5.2
Brazil, +3.4

And, according to Boston Consulting Group in BusinessWeek the July 31 issue, BCG identified 100 emerging multinationals that appear positioned to “radically transform industries and markets around the world.” The 100 had a combined $715 billion in revenue in 2005, $145 billion in operating profits, and a half-trillion dollars in assets. They have grown at a 24% annual clip in the past four years.

I’ve been in countless briefings where it has been stated that we are doing well and companies are coming to us because we committed to open standards and software. It has been widely read that Germany has committed to Linux and development is picking up on open platforms.

What kills me is those that buck the trend. I was around for Token Ring, SNA, OS/2, Micro-Channel…don’t buck the trend. The markets decide by voting with their money. I’m not sure if it will be late software, SaaS, SOA security issues or just the overwhelming desire by people to want software to work and not care what their platform is as better written than I by Steve O’Grady.

So look out world, we see you growing and it shouldn’t be lost on those companies who want to succeed as markets ebb and flow that you need to be there. If you’re an analyst, count on us mentioning it, ask for proof.

IBM is winning a lot of technology comparisons lately

I just read today in the Austin American Statesman that IBM has the fastest 3 computers in the world, and 243 of the top 500 fastest. Also stated was that we can do more when we need to.
I also read that Rational Application Developer tool set has achieved top rankings for the second year in a row, according to a market research study as reported by eWeek.

Further, IBM’s partnering programs were rated number one by IDC .

I sense a trend here, it looks like our technology and our programs are working well. I know that it has been IBM’s mantra to serve the customer, and much of that is relationship as well as good technology. I think we’re on the right track.

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.

iPoding again – update

ipod.gif

I was complaining discussing my travails with podcast alley and getting non itunes podcasts to my iPod. I’m happy to report that I found Juice off of sourceforge.net.
I’m feeling pretty good about it as I’m now getting feeds off of podcast alley, ipodder, podcast pickle and others with ease. Moreover, I’m pretty glad I went outside of my comfort zone and got what I needed to work. I’m equally happy I got it off of sourceforge.

Now, it’s time for a couple of sporting events that interest me. The Tour de France and the 24 hours of LeMans which until I just typed this, I didn’t realize the French connection. I hope there is a good podcast.

If not, there is always RadioLeMans which comes out of the UK of all places, and is quite good coverage. In fact, now that I’m really getting off topic, I find that auto racing coverage is usually best out of the UK. My favorite racing podcast is the chequered flag from BBC radio 5 Live.

IBM Executives – Who are we? Rod Smith VP of Emerging Technology, SWG.

rod smith.JPG

Today, I’m once again very privileged to speak to another of the leading technologist’s at IBM. As with all these bloggerviews, I try to look at the person and their background rather than just a bits and bytes conversation. I trust you’ll find Rod to be as interesting and enjoyable to read about as I did speaking with him. I always look forward to these discussions with the deep thinkers of IBM, and it continues to give me confidence that we have some of the best and brightest working for our future.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job,)?
VP, Emerging Technologies-Software Group – What I was put in place for 10 years ago at IBM was to scope out emerging internet technologies that could have impact with our customers through their adoption, say 18/24 months out initially. One very important factor here is developing proof of concepts with customers to iterate and validate the business value. The other important part of my role is how do we then help the product team embrace these areas and continue maturing these technologies to be successful with the customers.

A good example of this is AJAX. Our customers have been asking us for a richer internet experience that would help drive more business, not flashy marketing ads as some folks first think. They appear to want something that is open, broadly supported by many companies in our industry, based on open standards or de facto standards – thru the browser, be it FireFox or IE or Safari for example. We have collaborating recently with other vendors on how we could achieve these goals. In fact, this week we met with over 30 vendors in Open Ajax summit. We worked on things like how we can create a place that customers could choose our products and feel safe doing so.

How do you describe what you do to your family and those who don’t work in our industry?
Most of the time i say I’m a Software Engineer – although I wish I had real time to code. It’s a Midwestern or blue collar upbringing I guess; We generally understate our jobs.
I try and keep it simple.

I do tell them that I work on technologies which they might be using on their desktop in a few years. Sometimes I can point to some that they are using today.

Can you tell us some work experience that you want to tell, how did you get to where you are today?

In college, I majored in Economics and then backed into computers & software. I was doing some econometric/demographic modeling and thought that software was more interesting. I hung out with a crowd that was always on the bleeding edge of technology, For example, they were doing ASCII based animation on vector Tektronix terminals – processing ASCII strings is very CPU intensive and very hard to do. If five folks were driving these terminals simultaneously, we could bring a DEC system to it’s knees. Lots of fun!

So in this crowd, learning new programming languages & then showing off what you could do – was huge fun. Back then, you showed your stripes by how many you could program in – which probably early on established my interest in diverse, new technologies. Then when I joined IBM it was right when the PC was introduced in the marketplace – and as you can imagine lots of new software possibilities.

Here’s an small fact, I’m a big Apple fan. I still have a 128k MAC and a LISA that IBM that we convinced IBM to buy – at $10 grand no less.

So what does learning the Mac or Lisa have to do with my IBM career? It taught me to continually get out of my comfort zone keep learning things that might not appear to have direct, immediate career value. This eventually it turned out to be a big asset – both in terms of technologies and what worked or didn’t in the marketplace. That is what helped me think about technology differently – keep them in context to marketplace adoption. Additionally, as you can imagine (an IBMer at a Mac developer conference for example) I made many external connections. Some of those folks now are VPs or CTOs who I can call on for their advice, opinions and many times industry collaborations.

For what it’s worth, I’m still use an Apple today. Probably one of the few that carries it openly in Armonk.

What are your hobbies or fun stuff you want to discuss?
1. I’m a avid music fan. I wish I could say that I’m a decent musician, I used to play guitar many years ago but work & life got in the way. So I’ve begun relearning guitar playing and I really enjoy it. When i don’t travel, I practice a lot because I find that music is inspiring. I’m teaching myself jazz and blues and enjoy it immensely.

I listen to a podcast – The Roadhouse, the finest blues you’ve never heard – very good material.

2. I’m a digital photographer. When I went to the Galapagos Islands, I became a big Photoshop fan, Now I’m also a wannabee graphics artist – you just get hooked doing all those cool Photoshop tricks. That is one reason why my presentations are so visual – hopefully they’re informative – but I do it because I really hate to bore folks, which is easy to do if you’re not thinking in terms of what your audience finds interesting. I know I wouldn’t want to be bored so i want to try & keep audience engaged.

What are the biggest challenges at IBM?
That is a tough question. One answer I’d give is getting technology adopted in our products. Our teams have hard, measured and valued requirements from our customers. I often challenge our team to work with customers early on to demonstrate our value of a technology, then build relationships with product champions, if you will, that can help understand & implement the customer needs.I don’t like to promote technology for technology’s sake. I want to do it in the context of it’s potential business value. This is where my discussions with analysts and reporters come into play to understand if it has or will have business or customer value.

Then, if we are right – then we rely on some luck and what we call demand pull – our product teams read the publications or analyst reports and then come to me and to talk about the opportunity.

Bottom line, if have decent enough insights into how technology will grow in adoption, but failed to get it into products, it doesn’t help IBM. Our loss.

Let me say that our products teams do listen, that is what differentiates us from competitors. They are excellent on execution.

Describe your relationship with analysts, how do they help you?

It’s easy as a technologist to drink your own kool-aid. When I talk to analysts about emerging technology, I want to hear their unencumbered thoughts back to me which are objective. I want to know, am I off or am I close?

I know that Analysts hear from customers. There can be communication gaps between what think customer want and what customers are really saying. Analyst’s help me articulate & clarify the customer & business value. I also find they help me with clear messages to customers. They are good report card on whether I’m on the right track or not.

I value analysts thoughts & opinions a lot. I listen and if i don’t understand something they’ve said, I stop and dig in to internalize their value before I move on with either the messaging or the product.. Web services is an example – they helped in validating this technology direction that’s now blossomed into SOA. I remember doing a keynote interview with Daryl Plummer in 2001 on web services – a spur of the moment decision in front of 1200 folks – most of who had very little idea why they should interested! Daryl and I did an hour regarding the value towards lowering integration costs and new business opportunities; it was the first big talk on subject – before any of the technical conference picked it up. We got tremendous feedback from the audience.

Since analysts read this, what would you like to say to them about what you are doing right now?
Web 2.0 technology is starting to generate interest from customers – Ajax, Atom, Microformats, tagging and REST. Analyst see broader value of Web 2.0 and how enterprises are going to be writing applications in the future.

What is the next big announcement or product you are working on that you can talk about?
For mashups – we are working on mashup makers, we hope. We are using wiki technology to show how Mashup Maker can be used right to a browsers to assemble information. This is an area which is starting to evolve from infancy and we are going to continue exploring. Here’s an example of results from using this technology.

Weather Movie
Hardware, My Projects Movie

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming years, either product wise or how you will work differently?
I’m excited about Skype & Gizmo especially around their toolkits. We need richer way of communicating, Audio and video conferencing still ties our hand behind our back. We need a richer environment where I can stay home and can have such a richer experience to work with people. It could save hours or days and improve my productivity to stay home instead of being on an airplane and then I could have the same impact.

Blogger Meetup Correction

I had lamented that IBM was late to the party for meetups, but bragged that we were having a meetup at RSDC on Tuesday June 6th from 6-8 at the bar by the escalator at the Dolphin Hotel.

Well, the egg is on my face as blogger compatriot, Ed Brill let me know they’d already done it at Lotusphere. Way to go guys, you flew the flag for us.
So the good news is that IBM is not as behind as I described, and we’re still having ours hosted by Danny Sabbah, with the first round of drinks on IBM. I hope to see you there as there will be plenty to discuss from the first two days of the show and our blogging escapades.

And Steve O’grady, I hope to have fishing pictures by then as I’m going out on Friday to chase Redfish in Titusville with one of my best friends over the years.  Here’s what we’re after.
.10 lb red.jpg

High Speed Software, or the real movable type?

This weekend is the Grand Prix of Monaco. A principality barely a mile long, but a tax free haven that sports more millionaires per square inch than perhaps anywhere in the world. It also has fantastic history and equally good names for corners. Nothing against Nascar 3 or Indy 1, but Mirabeau, Beau Rivage and Sainte Devote exude emotion from a race fan that has seen decades of mano-a-mano on this course.  Nancy, there is better shopping here than anywhere you’ve been 😉

Most F1 courses have 100 kilometers of run off at turns for screw-ups or crashes. One wrong move here and it’s into the concrete wall, roughly a few hundred thousand to a few million dollars per wreck.
monaco_circuit.gif

SOFTWARE SUPREME

There are also more computers in this cramped place and more lines of software code and specialty chips than most data centers. They can monitor a sixteenth of a pound of tire pressure from across the city as it inflates due to stress of improper setup. Budgets approach $1 billion including full computer car design, wind tunnel testing at 1/4 scale, aerodynamics and communications capability that rival all but a few countries.

So I wonder, how is it that when they hit a bump between Casino and Mirabeau at over 100 MPH that would knock your fillings out, these cars which are moving software machines don’t miss a beat. For sure they’re not powered by Window’s because there is no Ctrl-Alt-Del in the cockpit.  I wonder if the teams consider uploading viruses to the launch control of their competitors?  Symantec? Norton?  no way.

I also wonder if there is a PHP script that monitors the traction control preventing wheel spin at 19,000 RPM’s? Is there a Perl script that handles shifting at close to a millionth of a second which is the reality of a F1 gearbox? Are the software programmers actually more valuable than mechanics, or are they the mechanics of the future?  It’s likely the Unix center of the universe.
If you think I’m going to be worrying about software while cars scream through the streets of Monte Carlo, with scenery like million Euro yachts and beautiful women in the harbor….

harbor.jpg

get a life.

Why I gave up the newspaper and don't miss it

I went from 7 days a week to almost cold turkey on the newspaper, and don’t seem to miss it much. I got the Raleigh News and Observer.
There are a number of reasons why:

  • The news was 24 hours late
  • I already knew most of it from the internet
  • I couldn’t believe what they wrote due to poor research or point of view
  • The weather prediction is a crap shoot
  • I couldn’t believe what was written
  • I’ve boycotted all the pro sports that boycotted me because they weren’t getting enough millions and were complaining
  • I get better news and points of views from the blogs or podcasts
  • I couldn’t trust whether it was true or not
  • If there was something I needed from the local paper, I got it the day of off the net rather than the next morning

I know I repeated myself in about 3 of the above points, on purpose.

I now take it on the weekends mainly because they have the coupons for saving money. It makes the subscription about free.

What do I miss?

The daily cartoons that I follow, but even they are on the internet if I really cared. Also, it was handy when I needed to take something to the reading room.

I have followed the decline of the subscription renewal rates for most of the written publications and they are going down faster than a truck without brakes on a mountain. Mostly from the reasons I stated above. My unscientific research looks like it’s a toss up between lack of timeliness and lack of believability now. I’ve followed this trend with the network news and most of the cable news also.

Update:  here is how the blogs discover the truth, and the MSM doesn’t do proper jounalistic research:

IBM Bloggers, Who are we? – Jeff Jonas

jeff jonas.JPG

A little while back, I asked the question, who would you like to see in the next bloggerview? Stefanie Sirc, one of my first ever bloggerview’s suggested today’s interviewee as one of the fascinating people she works with.

Jeff as you’ll find out is like many of the recent bloggerviews, one of the really smart guys who works for IBM, an inventor and someone who can fit two or three days worth of work into one. I found Jeff and his work to be very important and something I take a personal interest in, finding and dealing with bad guys. I’ve included a link to Jeff’s blog below so you can read more on how they use data to deal with things like cheaters in Vegas and how they can put the pieces together to link up events before 9/11.

For more on this, here’s a link to Jeff featured on The Discovery Channel talking about spotting relationships amongst thieves, an excellent discussion of Jeff’s work.
What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?
I am the Chief Scientist for IBM Entity Analytic Solutions and an IBM Distinguished Engineer. What does this mean you ask? I tell my parents my job is to invent new left hand columns. Here’s what I mean by that…
When organizations want to acquire technology they often place the capabilities/requirements in the left hand column and then the competing products across the top columns. This matrix is then used to evaluate technologies. My goal is to invent capabilities the customer has never even conceived of. Thus when they hear about the innovation, they say “I must have that!” and so it becomes a new left hand column. And they start telling everyone else about it. The best news of all though, is IBM already has it!”

Some work experience/background that you want can tell the readers?
Back in the early 80’s I worked a lot with credit bureaus/collection agencies. These organizations often had “skip tracing” units with trained staff who would use public records (and other tricks!) to locate people who had ducked out on their debt – doing their best to hide. Learning a bit about this technique turned out to be extraordinarily useful when asked by the gaming industry how to keep the unwanted out and later when asked by the government how to detect corrupt employees within.

How do you describe what you do to people who don’t know you or your industry, to the layman?
I help people find a few bad guys … and work awful hard to do this in a way that does not cast such a wide net as to trample the privacy and civil liberties of the innocent. Catching bad guys while upholding our Fourth Amendment values turns out to be a rather tricky activity.

What are good things about your job, what keeps you going?
My job is my hobby. I am constantly trying to figure out how to get more work done and I try to structure my life to be as productive as possible. Of course, I also have to do this in a way as to be a good Dad — I am a full-time single parent of three kids (two still in the house). What is so gratifying is when I get a call that says something like “you should be a proud American today” –then “click” they hang up. This means one of my systems somewhere in government helped in some material way!

What are your hobbies?
I am a triathlete in my spare time. I do several Ironman distance races a year. And while I am not very fast, I always seem to achieve my first two objectives — not being last and beating at least ONE girl! Last year I did two Ironman races, one in Zurich, Switzerland and the other in Western Australia. Because I work so much, I don’t have much time to train – for example, I only swam twice last year (each race) … that’s right no swim training at all! Not only does that make me a slow swimmer, but by the time I get out of the water my arms are so tired I can hardly get my wetsuit off under my own strength! 🙂

What are things you’d like to change either at your job or IBM?
I have so many ideas in my head — inventions, new left-hand columns – that it would take hundreds of IBM engineers to keep up with me. So in the meantime, I have to find the best one or two inventions a year to champion, while the rest lay in wait. As an innovator, this makes me feel a bit under utilized.

Briefly describe what Relationship Recognition is.

Let’s take a retailer for example. When the purchasing agent turns out to be roommates with the vendor — that can be a big problem (conflict of interest) if not previous disclosed. But how would the retailer ever know this? Relationship Resolution detects this by making sense of the data the retailer already has in its arms – albeit trapped in separate database silos.

Does that make you feel like a superhero?
From time to time I’ll suffer a brief “delusion of grandeur” moment, and then shortly thereafter I’ll get utterly humbled. So I’ve basically learned to be very cautious about a sense of greatness. And whenever I think I am at the top of some game, I find another group of people significantly more elevated. For example, I started thinking I was a privacy advocate myself. This lasted less than a month, then I met David Sobel, the general counsel of EPIC. I heard him speak. He was so inspirational and deep. I immediately demoted myself to a student of privacy and realize that is the most I can hope to be.

Where do you see your work going in 5 years, 10 years?
I am really interested in the area of “perpetual analytics” whereby the “data finds the data” and “relevance finds the user”. This is required as we cannot expect users to ask every smart question every day. I see computers beginning to deliver extraordinary new levels of useful information in such areas as improving healthcare outcomes. The trick will be advancing technology so that organizations and governments can compete in ways that stave off the “surveillance nation” end-state. In fact, my latest innovation to become a commercial product is this ability to have computers associate more data for better conclusions while handling only anonymized data. Such a breakthrough, whereby information can be robustly analyzed while remaining in its cryptographic form, may result in a world where it becomes common place to anonymize one’s data before sharing it. This is a better privacy story than prior information sharing alternatives.

What do you wish you could do now that you can’t and why?
I often feel that the way I see the world and the immense opportunities for improvement are trapped in my head. What kills me is I find it hard to get these ideas out of my head and into the hands of others in such a manner that they get the really big picture I am seeing. That is one reason that I started a blog. My goal has become to speak less and write more.

What is your relationship with analysts:
I brief analysts from time to time. Although names and affiliations are a bit of a blur, Mark Beyer at Gartner and I really see eye to eye!

What do you need to tell analysts about EAS that you’d like them to know?

There is this interesting capability that almost every system lacks called Sequence Neutrality. If Sequence Neutrality is present, the order the data arrives does not change the end-state once all the data has arrived. So many processes are designed to assume that all required data to make the decision is present within the system at the decision making point. But what are the odds of that? Sometimes no better that 50/50! Could that mean half the analytic answers produced by some systems are incorrect? Possibly!

One of my first entries in my blog (www.jeffjonas.typepad.com) is on Sequence Neutrality. And we are the only ones talking about and delivering solutions in this direction. And it is going to be a game changer when folks realize why it is so critical not only to accuracy, but also scalability and sustainability. Without sequence neutrality data warehouses drift from truth. With sequence neutrality they don’t drift at all. This means no periodic database refreshes are required. That means an organization does not have the wrong answer until the next database reload is completed. This is a BIG thing in itself.

32 Gigabyte Flash disk


Why I care about This is because I spent a good part of my career in the storage industry.

When I first started at a small disk distributor, Core International, we sold IBM-AT replacement 40 MB drives for $2595.00. It had an average seek time of 26 milliseconds and fancy technology like a voice coil actuator, dedicated servo technology and auto park and lock. They were 5.25″ high and weighed a few pounds

Now you get 32 GB of instant data access for between $750 and $1000, talk about progress! And since it’s flash, it’s not subject to the failures of electrical and mechanical moving parts like a drive is….and who hasn’t had a drive crash on them.

I wonder if that is going to add clutter and more busy-ness to my day (Why I’m busy).

What I really want is my system to boot as soon as I hit the power button. We haven’t gotten any better at that, DOS booted faster than what I have now.

Bloggerview with Doug Heintzman – SWG Strategist: Analysts – It’s a Partnership of Discovery

I really like to have discussions with insightful people. I thought this was going to be mostly on all things Open (there is a good deal of that, don’t worry), but I came away thinking here’s a guy that really knows where he’s going and what he’s doing. I found his answers to my questions fascinating and I hope that you do also.

Doug delves into the beginnings of IBM’s Software Group, strategy issues, pattern recognition to solve problems, the future, the most important skill at IBM and IT analysts.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?
Director, Software Group technical strategy,

I wear a number of hats. I sit in the headquarters of Software Strategy Group and we worry about big picture issues. We plug holes and identify issues that span all the brands in Software. We worry about things like emerging technology and globalization as well as marketplace landscaped issues. We worry about the Venture Capitol efforts, Strategic Alliances, and things like Open Source.

I have a number of operational responsibilities including running the Open Source Steering Committee for SWG. We process and approve Open Source use, distribution, donations of code or programs, and ensure that proper legal and business reviews are done. We also deal with compliance to mandates about strategic platform support. common criteria certification, and accessibility legislation issues. These mandates are put in place to insure that the IBM platform of middleware products are as collectively valuable as possible. All of the pieces of the software portfolio need to be coordinated for proper delivery. All components need to be there making a cohesive platform and we help coordinate that. I’m also the sponsorship executive for the International Collegiate Programming Championship. That’s a lot of fun.

There are always interesting issues to be considered, questions to be asked and answered, and cracks that need to be filled. We do this also.

Besides the operational side of my team’s responsibilities, we have the bigger strategy side. At any given time, we are working on many strategy projects. We look at the Open Source world and viable business models. We are working hard on the Open Document Format (ODF) strategy for IBM. We provide some support for our field and government relations teams. We are exploring issues like the convergence of VOIP and data network and the kinds of next generation mixed modal applications that become possible, real-time systems, and community effort around building Enterprise Service Buses. In other words, we oversee a lot of activities and projects.

I have a team of bright creative people and we build virtual teams bringing together some of the best minds from across the company including those from research for pattern recognition to solve problems.

When I speak at high school career days, I obviously get the question “what is a strategist” To answer this I show the kids a series of charts of various different technology trend lines over time such as memory density and price, storage density and price, networking speeds and broadband penetration etc… and then I ask them, If you knew all this what would you invent?” The answer turns out to be an I-Pod. A strategist looks at patterns and how they collide to create new opportunities to innovate and invent. We help identify these trends and make recommendations about what IBM should do to capitalize on them.

We also do a lot of ad-hoc consulting for various projects across IBM. We are on numerous advisory boards on a variety of subjects.

How did you get to where you are.. Do you have some work experiences that you would like to relate?
I took a non traditional route.

I started working for IBM right out of college in 1989. I did my under graduate work in Politics and Economics, then did my graduate work in International Economic and Social Administration at the University of Grenoble in France. I’m a second generation IBMer, an IBM brat so to speak. My dad was the CAD/CAM guru for Canada. After graduation, I was looking around trying to figure out what I wanted to do and my dad suggested that I interview with IBM, so I went through the interview process, and at my final interview with the Montreal Branch manager I asked him “why would you hire someone like me?”

The answer is one that I still remember quite clearly and that I relate to new employee classes and to high school students at career days. It went sort of like this: “The stuff we do here you can’t learn in school, the stuff we are going to be doing in 6 months….. – we haven’t invented yet. I’m going to send you to school for 8 months to learn what it takes to succeed in this business. You will never stop learning. You will read 100’s of pages of journals every week and will attend many courses every year, The people I hire have demonstrated a passion for learning. That is the most important skill you can have at IBM”

I’ve been fortunate to have many different career experiences at IBM. This is certainly one of the great things about working for a company with the size and breadth of IBM.

The first thing I did was being a CAD/CAM specialist, sort of following my Dad’s footsteps. Soon after, four of us from across IBM Canada were recruited to become the first sales people for a fledgling software business… what would become the Software Group. That grew into Operating Systems, LAN, and a number of other things. From there, I went to Ottawa as a Sales Specialist.

Fate then stepped in when, as a result of my frustration on hearing all my customers relate how they had been to Redmond to hear the Microsoft story, I wrote a 2 page business case arguing that we should build a capability to explain the big software story and the value of all our middleware products as a platform. At the time you had to go to a lot of different places to here about a lot of different parts of IBM Software. I argued in my paper that we should develop a customer program that became known as “Software in Action”. It was also more frequently referred to as the Ron (Sebastian) and Doug show. Mike Rhodin (now Lotus GM) happened to be at a briefing center when we were doing this, saw us, and subsequently asked us to do it worldwide. After this, I went to pervasive computing and ran standards for 2 years and became chairman of the SyncML initiative (a standards organization for data synchronization), Then I managed strategy for pervasive computing. Then I moved to the SW strategy group to work with government and open standards, and was subsequently promoted to my current position.

What is unusual is that after 17 years, this is the first job I’ve ever inherited from someone else. All of the others were invented, In fact they were all newly created jobs. But it all ties back to the lecture on learning at my IBM interview.

What I love about working at IBM is the rate of innovation and change. We are always doing new and interesting things. We went from tabulating to the 360, from mainframes to services. We are always reinventing and making the transition leap to the next generation of technology, always adapting to new market dynamics and changing customer requirements.

It’s interesting, when I speak to new employee classes, to explain to them that everything I’ve done has been somewhat accidental instead of having a planned career. It is difficult to chart a career progression in a company like IBM because the landscape and technology is so dynamic.

One new employee in one of these sessions said to me “I think I understand what you are trying to tell us….There will always be new opportunities to do new and interesting things… always be prepared to take advantage of a new opportunity when one presents itself. There are always new ways to do something and be prepared to embrace them.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Any hobbies or fun stuff you want to discuss?
I don’t have as much time as I would like. My passion is my children and they are my joy. I love coming home and finding out what they did during the day and reading to them. I’m also an avid skier and I play guitar. I love to canoe and camp. In fact my summer job before IBM was as a canoe guide.

How do you describe what you do to your family and those who don’t work in our industry?
The simple answer is that we try to figure out what the world is going to look like in 5-7 years and try to make recommendations on what to do about it. Part of the art, the challenge of this, is that world is a long way away from where we are todays. Articulating some wonderful vision about what the world might look like to a general manager who is worrying about this quarter’s earnings is tough. You have to bridge today and tomorrow and lay out the steps to get there, a pragmatic approach with intermediate steps. You need to tell the story of the journey.

What are good things about your job?
I have the privilege of working with extraordinarily bright people. They are fun to be around and I have a great opportunity to learn something new every day. I get to work on the leading edge, It’s creative and imaginative. We try to turn research into something real and relevant.

What are things you would change?
I need more in-box discipline. My scope is so large, I speak a lot and am away a lot of the time, so I need to do better at this. I’m convinced there is an important business opportunity in helping people (like me) to manage the volume and complexity of information they are exposed to.  I also thought an Inconvenient Truth was true, later to find out it was political propaganda.

What are the biggest challenges at IBM?
The traditional business challenge of “how do you grow?” Where do we go from here? How to continue doing what you do well while trying to be well positioned for emerging opportunities? Part of it is cultural and creative, Part of it is agility. We have an advantage because of our strengths and insights : our intellectual property, our smart people, our global presence All of these are better than anyone in the world. Figuring out how to grow, how to leverage our strengths has always been an issue. Transition has been a big strength of IBM. The current Open issues (like ODF and Linux) are ushering in another transition period. We have to avoid the “Innovators dilemma”. We have been successful in transitioning across various disruptions in our long and storied history. I think we are very well positioned moving forward.

Have you considered being a blogger?
I may get to it, but time is an issue. It’s a matter of discipline. I talk to bloggers all the time. I think I would enjoy it very much. It’s a fascinating phenomenon. The challenge is much of what I’m doing are not things that are ready to be blogged during the thought process, as we may not be ready to share them yet.

Since analysts read this, what would you like to say to them about Strategy and IBM?
Frankly, I view the relationship with analysts as a partnership. My job is to get as many data points as possible and to synthesize them. The analyst community has deep insight that is a significant contributor to what I do. We’ve been doing a lot of deep thinking as well which I’ve been told by many analysts has relevance to their thinking. I consider my interactions with analysts as a dialogue. I enjoy the analyst community tremendously. They provoke my thinking and serve as a sounding board for our ideas, It’s a partnership of discovery.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming years, either product or how you will work differently?
I’m excited about the people aspect of business productivity. We’ll continue to focus on integration and optimize IT, We will deliver on the potential of SOA, and componantization, but I personally believe the next big piece of productivity comes from the people side of the equation.

My laptop, and my head for that matter, have information that would help others do their jobs. If they could use what I have, it would save them time. We haven’t come anywhere near realizing the potential of focusing the expertise of our people in solving customers’ business problems. My out of control in-box dilemma, for example, is indicative of this potential for productivity improvement. We need to work better, work smarter and expand the productivity potential. We need to focus on optimizing human creativity and potential on solving problems.

We need to bring software tools to the market that provide better visibility into business performance, facilitate better decision making through highly parallel analysis of the efficiency of different scenario’s and focuses the expertise and creativity of knowledge workers. If we could gather and have access to all of the information and research on the many distributed computers and in the heads of many individuals in or organizations, find a way to get it, organize it, make sense of it and make it available to the right people in the right context, we could save months of discovery and development time.

Another area I’m very excited about is the profound impact deep computing will have on our society. We are deploying deep computing capability that is allowing us to model human protein folding. It’s like the introduction of computer modeling in the automotive industry. Through that process, we shortened the product development cycle from 9 years to 9 months. The potential for innovation in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medicine is tremendous.

The other phenomenon that I find extraordinarily fascinating, and very fundamental, is the trend towards openness and community based development. We are in the midst of a process of rebalancing the role that intellectual property protection plays in our society and at the same time the internet has provided us with this extraordinarily efficient and cost effective means to collaborate. As a result I think that the rate and pace of innovation will continue to increase. It is a very exciting time to be in the information technology industry.

Unfortunately, Doug then told the world that he thought that the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” is the most important movie ever made.  I watched an entire audience lose respect for him at that point.  It prompted me to write this post.

IBM leads in patents, good for VC's

Once again, for the umpteenth time in a row, IBM leads in patents. There is also a component of working with the Open world increasing relevancy. Here are excerpts from the official statements:

The initiative has three elements:

· Open Patent Review – a program that seeks to establish an open, collaborative community review within the patenting process to improve the quality of patent examination. This program will allow anyone who visits the USPTO web site to submit search criteria and subscribe to receive regularly scheduled emails with links to newly published patent applications in requested areas. Established in conjunction with the USPTO, this program will encourage communities to review pending patent applications and to provide feedback to the patent office on existing prior art that may not have been discovered by the applicant or examiner. Professor Beth Noveck of New York Law School will lead a series of workshops on the subject. For more information, visit Professor Noveck’sproject website.

· Open Source Software as Prior Art – a project that will establish open source software – with its millions of lines of publicly available computer source code contributed by thousands of programmers – as potential prior art against patent applications. OSDL, IBM, Novell, Red Hat and VA Software’s SourceForge.net will develop a system that stores source code in an electronically searchable format, satisfying legal requirements to qualify as prior art. As a result, both patent examiners and the public will be able to use open source software to help ensure that patents are issued only for actual software inventions. Information for this project is available on the OSDL web site.

· Patent Quality Index – an initiative that will create a unified, numeric index to assess the quality of patents and patent applications. The effort will be directed by Professor R. Polk Wagner of the University of Pennsylvania with support from IBM and others and will be an open, public resource for the patent system. The index will be constructed with extensive community input, backed by statistical research and will become a dynamic, evolving tool with broad applicability for inventors, participants in the marketplace and the USPTO. Information about the Patent Quality Index is available also.

Recently, IBM announced that we’ve opened up the entire patent portfolio for our VC’s. Since we are driving towards open standards, connecting the dots here is not that difficult.

Working with IBM isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but we’re making steps to make our IP meaningful, and available to startups and a lot of other folks that would benefit from IBM help….what’s to lose?

CES, answering my question on video downloads

CES is quickly becoming the new Comdex. Formerly the convention for new and geeky toys it now is as my teenagers say, where the cool kids go.

In my blog on time shifting , I hinted that i-tunes was only the beginning and that there would be many more sources out there and could someone point me to them.

Thanks Bill Gates

Thanks Google

Knew someone would have the answer for me. The ability to download what I want, when I want it will avalanche, as will the devices to load it to.

Time shifting


I got what I wanted for Christmas, a video I-Pod. Yes, it’s one of the coolest tech toys I’ve had in a long time. As a blatant request, please send your favorite audio and/or video download links as I’m busy trying to add content (don’t worry, I haven’t run out of stuff to put on yet, but I’m looking for cool stuff that I don’t know about, but know it’s out there).

I’ve also had a DVR for over a year and today I read this story from CES. It’s not hard to put 2+2 together here. We’re watching things differently, calling our own shots as to when and where.

It used to be we could only watch what was on when it was on. Then VCR’s helped us to watch when we wanted to, but the serial-ness of tape was at best OK for searching.

Now, we can watch what we want, skip the commercials (except the Superbowl) when we want. We can slow-mo the car chase scene’s, the foot out of bounds or whatever.

More important and finally to the point of this blog, is that we watch differently, or time shift. For example, there is 40 minutes of content per hour and 20 minutes of commercials. That means I can start a 4 hour NASCAR race 80 minutes after the start of the program and see the finish on time and skip what I don’t want to see.

Now, thanks to the web and the power of consumer demand, I can time shift on the Video I-Pod and watch my stuff on a plane or at the Gym or wherever. Here’s a small list of what is on today as an example (ESPN is the only thing that interests me on this list, but the point is that lot’s of content is on the way).

A sampling of video content available now or soon online:

— AOL (aol.com): Starting early 2006, episodes from TV series such as
“Welcome Back Kotter,” “The Fugitive,” “Eight is Enough,” “Growing Pains”
and “Lois & Clark;” on six online channels

— CBS (cbs.com, cbsnews.com): Web-only video supplements, soaps and shows
such as “CSI” and “Survivor;” talk-shows and interviews with contestants and
actors. CBS News offers Web-only breaking-news coverage, evening news
segments and behind-the-scenes pieces

— Comedy Central (comedycentral.com/motherload): Clips from shows such as
“Chappelle’s Show,” the “Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “South Park;”
shorts, short clips from comedians’ stand-up acts

— ESPN (espn.com): ESPN Motion videos are embedded in most Web pages and
include game highlights and athlete press conferences; ESPN 360, only
available to some broadband providers’ subscribers, offers full archived
games and live sporting events

— MTV (mtv.com/overdrive): Live performances, music videos, interviews
with musicians, movie trailers, news

— Starz Entertainment Group (vongo.com): Subscribers pay a monthly fee
for unlimited downloads of more than 1,000 movies, including “Finding
Neverland,” “Annie Hall,” “Good Will Hunting,” as well as concerts, extreme
sports and Starz TV programming

Source: the companies

Geneology, IBM in the news

DNA Test Helps Build Common Family Tree

This doesn’t have anything to do with analyst relations today, it’s more a thought for the day. A while back, I asked a mensa question on my blog before I left for vacation. A few guessed at it but no one got the answer. Before I go on, here it is again to let you think about it.

What is the meaning of life, give three examples. The answer will be below.

Well it turns out that through DNA studies, it appears that we are linked to a common ancestor. As stated in the article, Spencer Wells of the genographic project says that people want a sense of their ancestry, a fair statement. At some point in life, we all wonder if who we are related to, and if it is to anyone who was meaningful.

Whether you subscribe to creationism or evolution, if you go back to the origin, according to this article, we are related to each other albeit remotely….. an interesting thought.

So it gets to the specific questions that most ponder, who am I, where did I come from and where am I going when I die?

So much for pontificating, now the answer to the mensa question. It’s a joke that they (I’m not mensa, I just like to poke fun in general, and they are an easy target) like to pose to others.

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.

The News, Have it your way

I read the other day from Steve O’Grady , why he stopped watching the news. It’s been bouncing around in my head for a couple of days and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

We want the information/news/updates/whatever the way we want it, not the way the current regime of news/papers/print magazines decide for us what they want to interpret as news. I’m pretty sure this has always been the case, but we as information consumers haven’t had the opportunity to customize it until recently (a matter of years for some, more recently for others).

I commented on his blog about how right he was, and that I already had stopped watching it also (but you got me Steve, I didn’t even realize this). I always have a better understanding of the issues before it hits the traditional news. I find the subject that interests me, then I can go to sources, blogs or the web that may have been at the place of the event, and almost always there is someone who understands the issue better than a newscaster. It occurs to me that the whoever the media source is, they are really a journalist, not a field or subject matter expert. The blogosphere has now become the more informed reporter.

When the sources for news was limited, these generalist journalists were the only choice. As with any job, there is always a range of talent and quality. But as any economist will tell you, a monopoly causes quality to go down and price to go up. The news has been monopolistic with respect to news feeds, and media conglomerates. Go to any channel and you get virtually the same story, the one that was in the morning newspaper a lot of the time.

Which brings me to how I want to get the news. If you’ve read any of my blogs, you know I love IBM Research. If you ever get the chance, talk to research or read about them. They are not just blue suits, rather some unbelievable minds. Back in 1999, I saw a demo of a flexible newspaper that was really a screen that you customized your own news. When we showed it off, it wowed everyone as the technology was cool, but it opened up freedom of content.

All you need is a news bot to get your sources and it downloaded and formatted. Now that sounds a whole like feed aggregators (google, bloglines, other). It likely won’t come to fruition in that format, but the concept is coming true.

So it’s getting to the time that we can select what we want and get it. This is bad and good for the traditional news. As anyone with a search engine can find, circulation numbers are down for the traditional news, most cable news (ok, one exception was up) and print news.

Why is it good? Back to the economists. Capitalism invites competition, the result of which is lower prices and better quality. So they will either have to improve, or go the way of the horse and buggy (Steve’s example again here). Otherwise, we get what we want because we have choices.

And like Steve, I chose getting the real story from my research, not the negative or slanted (both directions) that someone thinks I should get. Either way, I’m going to get a better product, at a cheaper price.

Update: Here’s a story from Tekrati that shows a trend towards consumer preference. We may win after all.

And another showing lower prices…

IBM to offer 40,000 patents to VC's

If I were starting a company, I’d like to have a unique concept that I could patent and know that it was both a killer idea and have legal protection…oh yeah, I’d like a bunch of VC money also.

Since I’m not a good engineer, or an engineer at all (my Dad was engineer of the year in Florida, but I didn’t get those genes), the next best way is to have help and get the same benefits.

IBM has announced a plan to offer access to the 40,000 plus patent portfolio to VC’s that they can share with their startups. A pretty sweet deal, money and access to the patent leader. Pick your technology, hardware, software, services and a lot of other stuff. I’ve said before that one of the most under told story’s is the cool stuff that IBM research has. Can you imagine what the value of this portfolio is, not just in terms of money but the invention time must be staggering.

In planning this, we worked with our VC advisory council to see what they would want and how it should be structured. They come out a big winner as now they have something tangible other than just money to offer startups. They either pay a one time 3 year fee for alpha stage companies or for products that are ready, a 1% of revenue relate to an IBM patent (not the entire product). This is relatively the same terms that we offered the largest companies we deal with in these arrangements (yes i mean company’s located in Redmond). The VC’s were quite pleased with the terms as they were a part of structuring from the get go. They viewed it as very fair and were glad to be on equal footing with bigger players.

Most of the analyst comments centered around the tools to search this many patents. Amazing how they see right through everything and pick out vital points. To that, we will provide access to the inventor and the technology, and to the specific comments…we’ll be working on some search tools to help the VC’s.

Startups win as they get the patent protection (ask RIM and NTP about this) and VC money.

IBM wins as it is a reason to partner with us. We offer not only the protection issue, but access to some incredible research. Yefim Natis of Gartner pointed out that this is good for IBM in that patent portfolio is likely under used. Lou Gerstner issued a mandate when he was reshaping IBM that we WILL use research and patents in our products. Now it’s not only IBM products, but it is spreading out to the industry also.

We’ve been rightly criticized for not being far enough down in the SMB stack (in the S part). This may not be the golden egg, but it sure is a step in the right direction. You don’t get much more of an S than in a small startup.

Like all announcements, programs at maturity usually wind up being molded along the way due to various things like industry or technology trends. I’m sure this program will be also, but it’s an interesting start.

More information is found on the VC group link.

Bob Sutor blogs about it also.

Computing at the speed of light.

I make it pretty clear that IBM Research does and has some of the coolest stuff there is….

Today’s press coverage about IBM moving data on silicon via light is unbelievable. For you trekkies out there, that’s Warp 1. They even have a cool name for it – Photonic Silicon Waveguide. Data is moved via photons creating less heat and using less power, nice side effects huh?

IBM Slows Light, Readies it for Networking

Too cool.

What happened to my handwriting? I can't wait for Star Trek/Jetsons to get here

I took notes by hand at yesterday’s SOA event in Richmond. When I came back, I paid some bills by check. After I checked both, it occurred to me that I might be a Doctor with the state of my handwriting skills.

What happened? Well, it never was that great. I always admired the handwriting by the girls that was neat and always the same throughout their papers (and the same as all the other girls, unexplainable to me). I on the otherhand scratched out my papers, but as I’ve said before, most of what I do proficiently is by repetition rather than talent. My wife will take exception to my remote control skills which came to me naturally.

The reality of it is that I’m getting older, but I’m also typing most things. I take notes typing, IM, blog, shop, pay bills, balance my checkbook….all by computer. So discounting the age thing, I’m not getting as much practice as I used to and it shows..This is where I’m going to place the blame.

Which brings me to the second point of the title, I can’t wait for voice technology to be able to talk my input. Those that know me know I’m not a gabber, but when I say something, I usually mean to say it and I have a point most of the time (my son disagrees, but he’s a teenager so that explains a lot). I’d like to have the option to speak my input and have it come out correctly. I’m not going to digress to current voice capabilities, I know it will get to where it needs to be.

So back to the age thing. My hands aren’t getting any younger either, talking my input will save some wear and tear unless they invent an arthritis drug before I die.

I want to be able to speak to the computer like Mr. Spock or George Jetson to have it do my work. Computer, analyze the data samples from Rigel 4 and compare it to our dilithium crystals…..

For now, I hope that the credit card company can read my check.

Live long and prosper.

IBM Research Resources through alphaWorks

Research topics

alphaWorks is known for launching emerging technologies. With the research topics, we are offering a collection of resources – technology downloads, demos, articles, and resources – to help build awareness and understanding about an emerging topic.

It’s one of the few places in IBM you would actually want to go and yet might find something useful and interesting.

Research Resources

Don’t miss the opportunity to peek into the window of research through alphaWorks.

alphaWorks, the window to IBM Research

There have been many announcements on the maturing workforce issues lately. I’ll spare you the gory details, but these guys have a lot of skills and knowledge that is both going away and needs to be transferred.

They are also getting older. I’ve noticed a few aches and pains I didn’t use to have, but nothing like those with accessibility issues, who are both young and old.

Saying something and doing something about it are two different things. The coolest place in IBM is the research labs. They don’t lead the world year after year in patents for nothing, they make great products there.

Yesterday, three alphaWorks technologies were announced to help those with accessibility issues. The headpointer, keyboard optimizer and mouse smoother.

Head Pointer

Accessibility

Keyboard Optimizer

Mouse Smoothing

Let me make the connection for you between alphaWorks and IBM Research. alphaWorks is the Software window to the research labs.

The Head-Tracking Pointer provides an inexpensive and easily-used mouse replacement for those unable to use traditional pointing devices. Using only software and any Web-cam, this application allows users to point and click with character-level accuracy by simply aiming their face.

Now stuff like this is cool, reminds me of the heads up display on fighter jets, or interpreting thoughts in the Clint Eastwood movie FireFox.

iPod phone, part the way there

So Apple has introduced the iPod phone. Well, that’s part of what I want. There’s likely a lot of sales there if u look at what’s attached to the ears of the teens/20’s/30’s crowd, but we need more and I don’t think I’m alone.

Here’s my list. I want a device that’s a phone, a camera, wireless+bluetooth, iPod, email, im, handles video podcasts, voice input cause i hate watching drivers thumbtype while driving, oh btw – I want thumb typing too, push to talk capability, minimum of 100 gb of storage, has a docking port of some kind to be able to use a monitor/keyboard/mouse….and I want it in the size of a phone.

I know it exists in the research labs of some phone or computer company somewhere, but this is the I want it now times, so why not now? Using step technology to get one (usually minor) upgrade is not that useful.

Did I miss any capabilities that makes this worthwhile?

My Dad’s contribution to WWII

I recently saw a show on the History Channel about the 5 deadliest weapons ever used. In no order, they were the Soviet 50 kiloton nuclear bomb, incendiary weapons, the VT fuse, machine gun and VX nerve gas. Why does this concern me? My dad helped the development of the VT or Radio Proximity fuse.

For a more detailed explanation of this, go to Radio Proximity Fuse. The net explanation is that instead of having to hit the target for a kill which was the centuries old way, the VT fuse detects a target by radar and detonates near (or in proximity) to the target, enabling a much higher kill rate.

So who cares?

It took over 2000 rounds to shoot down each kamikaze plane prior to the invention of the fuse. This was cut to under 400 rounds when using the VT fuse. It’s next to impossible to hit a plane diving at over 450 mph. This invention saved a lot of sailors lives who later came home and had families rather than having to pay the ultimate sacrifice. They cared.

Here’s what my Dad contributed. He helped with the testing and development of the Radio Proximity fuse at the Applied Physics Lab in John’s Hopkins University. Later he went to the European theater where he trained artillery units to use this device. Remember, they had no silicon chips, PC’s or CAD programs in 1941/42, they did it with slide rules and vacuum tubes.

Why does this matter?

The Germans were shelling London with the V1 “buzz bomb”. It was powered by a pulse jet that made a buzzing noise which gave it the name. When it ran out of fuel, the buzzing stopped and it fell to its target. The V1 traveled at near 600 mph, which made it very difficult for artillery to hit, or fighters that went 350 mph to shoot down. The intentions of the Germans was both terror and destruction in London. Remember that terrorism is used to cause fear in the intended victim and take away the spirit to fight. I don’t know about you, but I would find the sound of an air raid siren or a buzz bomb engine that quit very frightening as you count it down to explosion.

The British had their backs against the wall and the Germans were starting to demoralize them with this scare.

With the VT fuse, the kill rate approached 100%, making the V1 ineffective as either a bomb, or a weapon of terror. The fuse was a big factor in the Battle of the Bulge, helping to decide the outcome (no disrespect to the tacticians and soldiers here).

The fuse on the Atomic bomb was a Radio Proximity Fuse.  It helped end the war.

SO WHAT WAS DID HIS EFFORT DO?

His contribution helped change the tide, the momentum and win in both Theater’s of the war.  His work helped stop the kamikaze and V-1 terrorism against the Allies.

Later in the War, he raced jeeps around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but that doesn’t have a lot to do with physics or winning the war.

Growing up, he like most veterans he didn’t say much or brag about what they had accomplished. Rather, he said he was doing his job and was glad to help contribute in whatever way he could. That we could all have that attitude.

Way to go Dad.

IBM and Cool in the same sentence, Gaming

The marketing at some companies is really cool. You look at it and say wow, or you can imagine yourself going 196 MPH in that Porsche, maybe you see yourself rocking to your favorite tunes from your iPod. By contrast, other companies are stoic about marketing and plod along, which is ok for water heaters or area rugs.

IBM is in between, and shouldn’t be. I don’t ever imagine myself driving 196 mph in a mainframe computer, but sometimes you look at a product and say this is great, but somehow it doesn’t come off that way.

The under told story is that IBM makes some of the coolest products in our industry. Most folks don’t know it, but if they ever took a look at the products and design from IBM Research, you’d say I’d like to have one of these and you’d feel way cool about showing it off. Now, it would be nice to have shark storage capability in an iPod, but that would be difficult to wear on my belt, but I digress. The under told story is that we are in some great area’s like gaming.

IBM makes the processors for all the game boxes…GameCube, Xbox and PS2. You might say so what, but with those names you cover the majority of the non handheld gaming business. I have a teenager, so games are a part of my life without me having a say in the matter. I know that it’s a market with upside potential for sales and design…there are lots of teenagers and preteens with an insatiable appetite for video games. I ask, how many of these boxes are being sold and how many are going to be sold this upcoming Christmas?

Read about it at the Gamer Blog . Maybe you won’t be jazzed like playing “From Dirt to Daytona” but hey, IBM and cool are in the same sentence – the engine driving the game is ours. Maybe they’ll blog about virtual reality gaming soon, I don’t know. If you’re old enough to remember the movie “Lawnmower Man”, I know I could get amped to play in VR, and would like to know about it when it’s close to my home.

P.S. I’m going to talk more about Research sometime in the future because some of the most fantastic stuff you can imagine is there. IBM helped take man to the moon in the 60’s, and it’s come a long way since then.

Epilogue: It went nowhere as IBM left the chip business.  IBM and cool were never really in the same sentence.  Think of the blue suit, white shirt and red tie.  That is a better vision of reality.