‘Wicket’ – UN to Control the Web? Be Very Afraid..

The UN has – in many peoples estimation – singularly failed to live up to its remit, in so many areas..   Now there is a proposal to had over ‘control’ of the Web to a UN Agency that is unaccountable in so many ways, at the upcoming ‘World Conference on International Telecommunications’ (WCIT, or ‘wicket‘):

http://www.siliconvalley.com/mike-cassidy/ci_22100695/cassidy-dubai-internet-conference-threatens-our-wide-web

The Internet-based World-Wide-Web has grown into a massive force for promoting – and supporting – relatively uninterrupted information flow, and this – as usual – can be used for ‘good’ and for ‘evil’, just like other forms of communication, such as the telephone…      As is often the case, there is a section of bureaucracy that believes that everything should be ‘controlled’ in some authoritarian form..     There may well be a need for some changes in the way the internet/web is regulated, but this is not it..

© Robert Gadsdon, 2012

HP and Acquisitions – Not a Very Happy History…

It is worth mentioning, with the current fuss over the Autonomy buy-out, that HP has a relatively unhappy history with regard to its acquisitions…

Going back to the 80s, HP bought out a Unix workstation rival – Apollo – that soon vanished without trace, and led to one of the HP co-founders – Dave Packard – briefly coming back out of retirement as an ‘advisor’ to the board, and who – apparently – was heard to angrily announce words to the effect that ‘we don’t buy our competitors, we aim to compete with them, and put them out of business’.     I was working for HP in the UK at the time, and we were told that Apollo’s UK ‘consulting’ group would soon be joining us, only to find that they had voted with their feet, and resigned en-mass..

One of the more successful acquisitions in the ’90s – in the high-end Unix server business – was Convex, based at Richardson in Texas.    I had been developing and negotiating a comprehensive worldwide OEM support services agreement with them, and had just about got all the terms agreed after many months of negotiation, and we then learned that HP had just bought the company!

Many of the more recent ‘hardware’ acquisition failures – such as Palm – have been well documented elsewhere, but another little-known acquisition that I was briefly involved with was Bluestone Software, who had developed their own ‘middleware’ Java enterprise software stack..    They were supposed to be participating in an ‘HP Day’ at one of our major customer/partner sites, in North San Jose, and they had a table allocated next to the HP Linux one, where I was setting up shop..    Hours passed, and no-one turned up..    In the end, I just pushed the two tables together, and handed out the Bluestone demo CDs to anyone who was interested..    Today, the bluestone.com website sells jewellery…

© Robert Gadsdon, 2012

HP – Apotheker’s Appalling Legacy Continues..

Leo Apotheker is starting to look like one of the most disaster-prone CEOs in recent Silicon Valley history, after his brief but shambolic tenure at HP..

Now, another of his overpriced and ill-judged ventures – the acquisition of UK-based Autonomy – has taken an ugly turn, with the revelation that the deal may have been tainted by gross financial misrepresentation:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/electronics/9690537/HP-accuses-Autonomy-of-accounting-improprieties.html

Of course, Apotheker has now claimed that he was completely unaware of any of this, at the time:
http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2012/11/20/leo-apotheker-due-diligence-of-autonomy-was-meticulous/

It would appear that – accusations of potentially illegal behaviour aside – the ‘due diligence’ may not have been sufficiently thorough, and may have been prejudiced by a strong desire to ‘see the deal through’ despite any misgivings..   After all, the price HP paid was thought at the time to be ludicrously high..

After all, lest we forget, this is the same CEO who killed off HP’s promising foray into the growing Tablet market – the HP TouchPad – two months after the product had been launched, and after significant investments had already been made, and the company was forced to sell them off at humiliatingly bargain-basement prices..
And, this is the CEO who summarily announced that HP was quitting the PC business, and then later retracted his statement, by which time the damage had already been done…

In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I worked for HP for over 18 years – in the UK and California, before being laid off as a consequence of the ‘merger’ with Compaq..

© Robert Gadsdon, 2012

 

Intel CEO Retires? Don’t Panic..

After all the emotion and upheaval at Microsoft recently, (see my previous post..) the news that Intel’s CEO is retiring seems to have spurred another frenzy of speculation..

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/19/intel_otellini_retires/

I don’t think this is justified, as it is – after all – the end of another year, and Otellini probably decided that this was as good a time as any to make the announcement..   And, he isn’t retiring until May 2013, in any case..       The company is doing relatively well, and their major rival – AMD – is in a world of pain, and there seems to be a good selection of able people qualified to take over the helm…

So….  Don’t Panic!

© Robert Gadsdon, 2012

Windows 8 Claims its first Exec. Scalp?

After the less-than-stellar launch of Windows 8, now comes the shock departure of the Microsoft executive responsible – Steven Sinofsky:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericsavitz/2012/11/12/microsoft-shocker-windows-president-steven-sinofsky-out/

The sudden departure is a surprise, and the usual gushing platitudes – probably dictated through gritted teeth – do little to downplay the drama..    It was well-known that Sinofsky did not ‘play well with others’, and there comes a time when this can become intolerable, and a real impediment to effective business decisions..

It would appear that there is – at least for the time being – no new replacement, but just a ‘shuffling of responsibilities’ among the remaining execs, with one being ‘promoted’..

It will be interesting to see if this state of affairs lasts for long, as MS Windows is still – after all – a major Microsoft ‘product’, despite the changing world of IT business models and technologies..   However, it may be thought that having the same person responsible for the ‘technology’ and the ‘business’ aspects was seen as too much of a conflict of priorities, these days..

© Robert Gadsdon, 2012

VC Crisis – The Death of Techno-Hubris?

It could be argued that the classic Venture Capitalist (VC) is the ultimate example of hubris in the modern world..    An irrationally positive belief, that – despite the odds – the money poured into an otherwise irrational venture will lead to that pot of gold..

Now it is being reported that VC capital is in danger of drying up…    This is not the first time this sort of gloom-and-doom scenario has been predicted, but this time, there may be some hard evidence that all is not well in the land of eternal financial optimism..

http://www.siliconvalley.com/chris-obrien/ci_21965075/obrien-venture-capital-is-this-down-cycle-or

As the article says, this ‘gloominess’ is not a recent phenomenon, but is just the latest cycle in a decade of pessimism..    It just may not have been obvious to the casual observer, for – as is often the case – the successes got the publicity, and the embarrassing failures were kept as quiet as possible..

It could be argued that all finance in the modern world is – quite literally – a confidence trick, and that once that confidence has finally been eroded, then what is left is just the smoke and mirrors..     This applies equally to a nations’ financial standing – and to that of its currency – as much as to a possibly-potentially-rewarding startup venture..

© Robert Gadsdon, 2012

WordPress Theme Fonts – Typekit Gotcha..

I use Ghostery, (http://www.ghostery.com) but have found than some sites just don’t work properly, unless you ‘unblock’ certain trackers..     Examples are Disqus (http://disqus.com) for some of the ‘outsourced’ discussion forums on news sites, and one closer to home is Adobe Typekit, which is used to provide a source of fonts for many of the WordPress Themes..    So, if you are finding that your Typekit font changes just aren’t working, then make sure to ‘unblock’ the Typekit by Adobe tracker in Ghostery..    And..  If any visitor to your site has all the Ghostery trackers blocked, then they will only see non-TypeKit fonts, thus spoiling all your carefully crafted design..     Personally, I will be switching to other font sources in the future..

Microsoft – Back to the ’90s?

First we had Microsoft ‘annoying’ its OEM partners with its own tablet (see my previous post..) and now – it seems – the company may – or may not – be introducing its own smartphone:

http://www.informationweek.com/mobility/smart-phones/microsoft-to-build-its-own-windows-phone/240012727

This is starting to feel like the ’90s all over again…   Then, Microsoft was notorious for ‘pre-announcing’ some wonderful new software product or enhancement to the OS, that was designed to panic potential buyers of its competitors’ products into waiting to see what happened next..   In many cases, the plans came to naught, but the competitors were still spooked, by then….

To say that a certain Finnish phone manufacturer would be extremely upset by the latest announcement, would probably be an understatement..   Unless, that is, Microsoft decides to actually buy Nokia outright, now that the price is right..   They would also get access to some very useful mapping technology, into the bargain..

© Robert Gadsdon, 2012

Red Clouds at Night? Red Hat’s China Plans..

So… Red Hat is looking to expand its operations – especially ‘cloud’ related – in China, now..

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2012-11/05/content_15874520.htm

This may be a prudent move, but the company should not forget that China has already developed its own domestic Linux business over several years..   I remember Red Flag Linux, from the early-2000s..

http://www.redflag-linux.com/en/

Another (obvious) factor to take into consideration is the country’s somewhat-relaxed attitude to ‘replication of others’ technologies’..   This becomes far more of a challenge, when the underlying ‘technology’ is – by its very nature – freely available to replicate, thanks to the GPL..    And.. where did Red Flag Linux (and Mandrake, and Conectiva, etc. etc..) come from, originally!

‘Expanding into China’ may seem to some to be an obvious next step, given the less-than-stellar business outlook in the US and Europe, but there is a danger that you could put your most valuable tangible assets at risk, in the process..

However…  The reason that Red Hat may be willing to take this apparent risk, is that they are well aware that their business revenue is largely services based, with support subscriptions and licenses and other deliverables apart from the ‘mere software’..     There is an increasing amount of competition in the areas where Red Hat is seeking to ‘add value’ – in virtualisation, and cloud-related services – and if the company can take advantage of the pool of highly-educated development talent in China, then they may be in a position to be faster-to-innovate than their competitors in these areas, which would produce enormous potential benefits..

© Robert Gadsdon, 2012

CUL, meet CVL.. Viewer Detection Patent?

Apparently, good old Microsoft have been having fun at the US Patent Office, again.

http://www.geekwire.com/2012/microsoft-diskinect-freeloading-tv-viewers/

Their latest bright idea for increased monetisation of their ‘consumers’ is a plan to detect the number of people viewing their gaming products, and cut the system off if their are ‘too many’ at one time.    So, where there was once the tyranny of Concurrent User Licenses, there will now be the Orwellian concept of Concurrent Viewer Licenses!      If MS wanted to take a more proactive approach, they could always link this brilliant wheeze to some form of real-time billing system, so you would be automatically be charged for the number of ‘viewers’ at a particular time..

I am sure the Cable TV companies are salivating at the mere thought of this..      And you thought that Kinect was just a brilliant idea for your game control, didn’t you?

Remember the motto – Consume or Die!

© Robert Gadsdon, 2012