Update On The Gates Divorce – Windows Now A Victim

I’ve not had a Windows PC for a long time now. I got tired of a crappy operating system.

As you read in About Me, I’ve worked with Bill Gates. As a person he was ok to me, rather bland. His products never worked well after DOS. I couldn’t wait to get rid of both.

Microsoft was the hardest company to work with to try and get something done. It was like working with the SS or the KGB. You know you could never trust them and they kept giving me reasons why not to.

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?

Common Core Education, Failing our Kids

 

THE SETUP FOR THE DISCUSSION

I suppose every generation considers the learning of the next generation as inferior to theirs.  If we didn’t, why do millennials eat tide pods?  Why do parents talk about how better their education was and how soft they are on kids today?   There are many reasons for this including prejudice, standards, government intrusion into the learning system and deviation from what made our education system the one that led to more progress, inventions and breakthroughs than any in the history of man.

We’ve now potentially gone backwards and have therefore failed the following generations.

In working with public school kids, I observe that there are many reasons.  People are not equal and some are smarter and learn better than others.  Those with two parent families or with a single parent who is highly integrated in the student’s learning consistently outperform those who don’t.  The system has gone backwards due to interference from do-gooders, government (over)regulation and unions.  Note: that is my observation only.  I see kids rise above the system to achieve, but they have to swim upstream.  Most can coast their way through.

Conversely, children who learn under Classical Education have an advantage in learning as it is taught to a standard the kids must keep up with as opposed to teaching to the lowest common denominator so no one is left behind, penalizing those who could achieve more.

Further, Classical Christian education is an approach to learning which emphasizes biblical teachings and incorporates a teaching model known as the Trivium, which consists of the three stages of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

Classical education complements a child’s natural development stages. Young children can memorize information easily. So, in the early years, learning is enhanced by songs, body movement, recitation, and exploration. This sets them up for success in their next stage of learning, critical thinking.

The critical thinkers are what companies want to hire.  They look at problems differently and come to the table with better skills for success.

They also have a distinct advantage over the public school system and the below discussion of how we are destroying learning.

WHERE EDUCATION HAS FAILED OUR KIDS

The biggest failure I’ve observed is the Common Core learning system.  It threw away the standards of learning that has proved to produce educated kids by introducing a system that borders on the ridiculous.

It was implemented by those we thought were helping us, yet it may have set us back for years.

Behind a lot of this is none other than Bill Gates, a man I’ve met and have mixed thoughts about.  Microsoft is far more successful than his support of Common Core.

From the American Thinker, I read this snippet:

But Bill Gates should have felt some uneasiness.  Common Core was untested, unproven, and micromanaged by David Coleman, a man with limited credentials but reliably far to the left.  Nobody in the business world launches a big new product without years of research and refinement.  Instead, Common Core was wrapped in $1 billion’s worth of propaganda and dumped on the country as a fait accompli.

The late, great Siegfried Engelmann, a real educator, was asked what he thought of this approach: “A perfect example of technical nonsense.  A sensible organization would rely heavily on data about procedures used to achieve outstanding results; and they would certainly field test the results to assure that the standards resulted in fair, achievable goals.  How many of these things did they do?  None.”

Did Gates realize that Common Core, supposedly a new and higher instruction, incorporates all the dubious ideas from decades prior?  New Math and Reform Math were the basis for Common Core Math.  Similarly, Whole Language and Balanced Literacy were rolled into Common Core’s English Language Arts (jargon for reading).  Constructivism, which prevented teacher from teaching, has been undermining American schools for decades.  Nothing new and higher about these clunkers.

An earlier generation of Gates’s business partners had created so much illiteracy that Rudolf Flesch had to write a book to answer every American’s favorite question: “why can’t Johnny read?”

I don’t hold Gates responsible except for his funding and use of his status to push this, but I hold those who pushed this system on the generation suffering from this learning standard.

The Thinker sums it up like this:

We have to wonder if Bill Gates performed due diligence, that being the care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or property.  In other words, before putting your business funds to work on anything, you should make yourself an expert.  That’s what we need in this country: everybody becomes an expert.  For sure, nobody should trust the official experts.  If Bill Gates had observed that simple rule, he would still have a billion or two he doesn’t have now.  And the country would have tens of millions of better educated students it doesn’t have now. 

We need to stop this disservice to our kids and have them learn properly, and to learn to think critically.

Here is a video that shows just how far we’ve deviated from the learning system that invented computers, vaccines, technology that has helped mankind and sent men to the moon.  Go to 1:24 under Decompose to see how far we’ve digressed.

CONCLUSION

It would seem the dumping common core and putting real learning would be best for the kids.  The world is getting tougher and we need to give them every advantage possible.

 

 

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.

The Best News For PowerPoint Users Since Its Creation

From this link, Jeff Bezos says it is the end of PowerPoint.

To be honest, I don’t really give a flying fig or a rats rump about either Bezos or his product, but PowerPoint has always been a crutch that rarely connects emotionally with the audience.  Of all the tools we’ve used, it must rank lowest on the rung of real importance when compared with the time wasted compared to other tools.

The author explains it:

In no way am I advocating that you ditch PowerPoint. I am recommending that you ditch PowerPoint as we know it—dull, wordy, and overloaded with bullet points. Image-rich presentations work effectively because pictures appeal to the right hemisphere of the brain—the emotional side. You can have great ideas backed up by data and logic, but if you don’t connect with people emotionally, it doesn’t matter.

START FROM THE BEGINNING

Back in the dark ages, companies used overhead projectors and presented “foils”.  This was the forerunner to PowerPoint only you had to manually change them.  Given the projector fails I’ve seen, it at least was more reliable, albeit archaic.

It was a hoot to watch people try to figure out how to configure a projector or a multi-media room to get their PC to connect.  Entire sessions have had to be conducted without PowerPoint due to operator or machine error.  For the most part, they were likely more productive meetings.

THE DEARTH OF OUR EXISTENCE BEGINS AND CREATES MANY JOBS

The jobs being created were PowerPoint slide creators.  A pretty easy job if you were ahead of the curve.  The only caveat was unrealistic executives who thought they were presenting to the UN. One VP of Social Business Evangelism at my last company used to put us through 20 changes minimum, often commenting that it was not what she wanted.  When asked what it was, the comment was usually, “I don’t know what I want, just go fix it and bring me back what I want”.  On a humorous note, one time we brought back version one as a ruse and she commented now that is what I really wanted to begin with, why didn’t you bring me this to start with?  Go figure.

THE HUMAN PROBLEM

A big problem with PowerPoint is that it rarely could tell the story on its own, and that it depends on the human presenting it.  My favorite observation during analyst briefings was the game that they played to try to get the executives off their slides and onto a tangent.  It was my job to get them to stay on topic, but for fun I let it stray…even nodding to the analyst to let them know I knew what the game was.

Also, everyone goes to the page count to see the torture they will be put through.  That in itself is an indicator of its usefulness.  At one meeting, there were 137 charts by the GM of our group.  There was a collective groan by all, and a cheer when it got interrupted by a fire drill.  Hardly anyone returned for the finish.

So basically as a tool it is deficient and a serious time suck.  It also is held up as the idol of meeting communications similar to how executives fret over a press release as if it was what anybody actually read or re-quoted.  I’ve got news for you guys, we could actually do without both.

A GENERATION OF SLACKERS

What also chaffed my behind was that those held up as PowerPoint experts created a job niche that in reality was a re-cycle exercise.  Once you knew the executive, you could re-use their charts with minor changes and act like it was some big production….then kick back and act like it was a Renoir.

IF YOU HADN’T NOTICED…..

I loathe PowerPoint.  I have been working with office suites since the introduction of Visicalc.  I’ve always been able to master them down to a coding level, but I rank PowerPoint at the bottom of my list of usefulness.  Worse than this were knock-offs like Symphony that even the company that created it wouldn’t use it except for the division responsible for it.

I’ve always been far more engaged by a speaker who could tell a story in words and be effective.  Ahead of that is a genuine discussion without the high school drama of charts. You always have to send documentation after a meeting anyway, so dispensing with this for an engagement tool always mirrored the way people have interacted over the years.  In reality, it wasn’t the next best thing.

Microsoft, Being Chipped Away by Google, Apple, Everyone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ORIGINS OF THE CASH COW’S

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

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

Siegler proves my point of re-inventing themselves here:

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

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

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

BALLMER IS NO GERSTNER

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

Here is Diaz’s Ballmer scorecard:

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

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

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

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

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

MINI-MICROSOFT WEIGH’S IN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And their big solution is this right now –

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

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

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

COMMUNICATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

Let the communications team explain this.

Back to the Future, Microsoft is IBM, circa 1980’s-early 1990’s

In 2012, my prediction has come true, although IBM is guilty of the same process of stacking reviews of people killing employee morale and innovation.

Original Article here:

History is reliving itself.

Take a dominant company with a large market share with essentially a proprietary product and have it grow to a large enough size based on a subscription or renewal/upgrade model, and you have either pre-Gerstner IBM or Microsoft today.

Peter Drucker has made very relevant descriptions of how companies reach plateaus and either change, tread water or decline. I’m not an analyst, but I can’t help notice that Microsoft is following a similar path that IBM lead in the late 80’s/early 90’s .

I have questions after hearing Vista is delayed, like how long can you miss your product introductions and keep credibility happy customers before they search for options (Linux, Workplace, name your new desktop platform here)? Um Bill, when Lou Gerstner took the reigns, people who missed deadlines had a career decision made for them as opposed to the pre-Lou years when things just went as they went. Look where that got us.

How long before external issues begat internal strife? Mini-Microsoft describes some management issues here calling for the leadership to be fired now.

How long before it affects your other products like Office? (StarOffice, OpenOffice anyone?)

Peter would be rolling in his grave right now to see this happening all over again. IBM went through this and almost didn’t survive. I’m not predicting a company death here, but if something doesn’t change, the market will change it for them as we vote with our dollars. Doesn’t anyone learn from history?

There are too many competitors out there today Microsoft, I know Steve Ballmer is firing shots across the bow at IBM, but I think that Oracle, Apple, Google and a host of others have more marketshare in mind than gathering crumbs under the Microsoft Thanksgiving table. Next time you shoot at IBM, you should look in the mirror and think if the following words mean anything to you? They do to the customers, the industry and history…..

Proprietary, Monopolistic, Bureaucratic, Schizophrenic about the competition.

Competition is good. It promotes Innovation and lower prices, oh yeah, it delivers your products on time or you get a career decision made for you.