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.

The Cassette Tape Inventor Died

Lou Ottens, the former Philips engineer who gave the world its first compact cassette tape, has passed away. According to Dutch news outlet NRC Handelsblad, Ottens was 94 when he died on March 6th.

Ottens started work on the cassette tape in the early 1960s. The way NPR tells the story, he wanted to develop a way for people to listen to music that was affordable and accessible in the way that large reel-to-reel tapes at the time were not. So he first created a wooden prototype that could fit in his pocket to help guide the project. He also worked to convince Philips to license his invention to other manufacturers for free. Philips went on to introduce the first “compact cassette” in 1963, and the rest, as they say, is history. But that wasn’t the end of Ottens’ career. He went on to help Philips and Sony develop the compact disc.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of cassette tapes to music culture. We wouldn’t have mixtapes and playlists without them. What’s more, they allowed people to listen to their favorite songs and albums on the go. No ads or input from a radio DJ. That’s something that has come to define how people enjoy music ever since. And for all of their flaws, in recent years, cassette tapes have enjoyed something of a resurgence in popularity. In 2016, sales of the format increased by 74 percent. Two years later, they grew another 23 percent with help from the soundtracks of Stranger Thingsand Guardians of the Galaxy.

Story here

I remember having tons of cassettes laying around and a ton of broken cases. Sometimes the cases matched the tape inside.

Does anyone remember rewinding one with a pencil eraser because it got caught?

Somehow, the portability of music got us off the sofa and out jogging or skateboarding because we could listen to tunes. I think some people just wanted to show they could play tunes.

On the bright side, this is the beginning of the end to unwanted conversations on the plane.

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.

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.

Why the Apple Watch Is Not The Product That Will Save Apple

Apple has prided itself on cutting edge products.  Their mantra is to create great products that we didn’t know we needed.  It worked for the iPod, IPhone and iPad.  Now there are rumors about the iWatch.  Guess what, they are going to miss the boat on this as they have overlooked what we do and do not need.

Who are the biggest consumers of new technology?

First it is the early adopters, they’ll buy anything.  That is a small percentage of the population though, maybe 15% at the most and that is being generous. 

They will likely be the bulk of the iWatch consumers.  Here are the others:

Dilberts who need to have the most gadgets.

dilbert stuff

Some workout people who for while will think this is cool.  This groups purchasing power will wear off as you can tell by the proliferation of watch style monitoring devices being purchased, but then discarded.  It is not the killer app.

Who won’t by buying them?

Almost everyone else and the biggest problem is the group that has the largest digital footprint:

The generation of 18- to 34-year-olds, known as Millennials, are an increasingly influential group that impacts many aspects of the American lifestyle, including fashion, technology and entertainment, according to the upcoming 2013 Digital Marketer Report from Experian Marketing Services. The report looks at key segments of the consumer landscape, including millennials, who provide a major opportunity for marketers to reach consumers via mobile. Millennials spend 14 percent more time engaged with their mobile devices in an average week than their generational peers.

Guess what?  They don’t wear watches for the most part, they keep time on their phone.  They want a phone with a bigger screen, better input capabilities and easy access to social media.  An iWatch doesn’t fit this model.  This will continue for the rest of their lives (likely) and with the younger generation.

They also have to pick which device they are going to buy as student debt is at an all time high.  If you need an iPhone to work the watch, no money left for beer or video games.

Digital Currency

What is the biggest attraction for Facebook and most social media?  It is the sharing of pictures.  Why did Instagram get bought for 1 Billion dollars?  Why is snapchat gaining ground and Twitter adding video to their photo capabilities?  With the grandparents getting onto Facebook, the youngsters are using other apps like Instagram to share their lives with their friends.  While you can see a picture, it is small.

So why are they doing it?  Because they need the buzz or the next great thing.  Will they do it anyway?  Of course, Samsung already has one announced and Apple copies and tries to make it better

I’m not saying watches are dead, who doesn’t want a Rolex for example, it’s just that the impact of an Apple Watch isn’t going to be the $100 jump in the stock price that earlier products were.

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.

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 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

How Much They Know About Us, The Perils of Big Data

I wrote this as humor years ago. I thought it was a joke, but due to tracked digital footprint and Big Data, it turns out to be true.

Read it here and weep.

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.

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.

The Original Press Release for the IBM PC in 1981

At 4 pages (typed on a typewriter), here is the original Press Release for the IBM PC from 1981.  Judge for yourself the writing style.

At $4500, you could get a fully configured 64k PC with 2 360k floppy disk drives and a small dot matrix printer.  Such a deal.  I’m pretty sure that there are wristwatches with more computing power available now.

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.

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.

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.