Friday, January 26, 2007

IBM develops invisibility cloak

Says so here. I believe Sam Palmisano has been wearing the beta version of this cloak for the past eighteen months. Seriously, has anyone seen that guy? Yes, I know, someone claiming to be “Sam Palmisano” came here a few months ago. We’ve studied the security tapes. That wasn’t Sam.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Power of the Chart

If you want to start guessing about which CEOs should be worried in the wake of the Nardelli ouster, you might do better to look here or here or here.

As regards the last one, have you noticed that nobody has seen or heard from Sam Palmisano in more than a year? Does the phrase “Operation Condor” ring a bell? Trust me, the IBM board of directors make Pinochet and Stroessner look like kindergarten kids.

And yes, I know Sam supposedly visited us recently. I’ve come to believe the guy who came here was an impostor. First of all, the guy didn’t know a thing about computers. At the time we attributed that to the fact that he works at IBM. But the real giveaway was that he didn’t recognize me. I mean, come on.

No, my theory is that the real Sam P. has become a desaparecido, as they say in ancient Paraguayan. And now they’ve got the Fake Sam Palmisano in deep training, trying to bring him up to speed. Soon they’ll trot him out to make some speech about whatever new slogan IBM is cooking up for the year ahead. “People Ready”? Nope, taken. “On Demand”? Er, tried that. “Open Your Source and Bend Over”? Nice.

One suggestion: Maybe Fake Sam should start writing a blog, explaining IBM’s strategery and vision for the next few years. I know I’d read it, if only to find out which other parts are going to be sold off to the Chinese, and in what order.

I’m sure IBM could spare 20 or 30 or maybe 100 IBM Global Services “blog consultants” who could handle the task of writing Fake Sam’s blog for him. You know, like, meet once a week for half a day to discuss blog story ideas, then break into smaller teams that meet daily to work up prototype blog items and PowerPoint slides about possible blog production schedules.

Meanwhile Ed Barbini and his team in Armonk could spend a month writing a hundred or so drafts to put together a press release announcing that the IBM Corporation has identified blogs as a strategic technology and now IBM is going to devote one billion dollars (curled pinky at corner of mouth) to a major blogging initiative which will include opening blogging “centers of excellence” in twenty-five countries around the globe. Nothing at IBM can happen for less than a billion dollars. Ever notice that?

Now if they could just drag friggin Irving Cheddarcheeseky-Burger out of Second Life long enough maybe he can run the whole thing. And yeah, Irving, we know you’re on there trying to pick up Second Life chicks. And we’ve noticed your Second Life doppelganger is quite a good bit more hunky than the Real Irving. And what’s with this telling girls that you’re Justin Timberlake’s manager, and can totally get them in to meet him? That’s all we’re gonna say on the matter.

Friday, December 15, 2006

My Little Pony calls, stomping his hooves

And goes, Damn, Steve, I can’t believe you just ran that email from Irving without challenging him at all. They’re going around trying to act like the king of open source when everyone knows that Sun is waaaay more open than IBM. Heck, open source is in our roots. It’s part of our legacy. That BSD code in your Mac operating system? Yeah. Send Bill Joy a thank you card whenever you’re ready. And now you’re just out whoring for IBM, is that it? Steve, we’ve open-sourced Solaris. We’ve open-sourced Java. We’ve got all of these free desktop applications. Paid millions to build or buy all this stuff and we’re just giving it away to make the world a better place. Not only do we give away free software; we also give customers free hardware to entice them into using our free software. The hardware is what gets you in the door for the free software. Or we can do it the other way around, and use the free software as the lure to get you to use our free hardware. Either way we win. Total double whammy!

How can Microsoft compete with this? Answer: They can’t. First of all they’re still charging money for their software — which is so last century — but more important, they don’t have any free hardware to give away. Linux can’t compete either. Same reason. No free hardware. IBM says they’re listening to customers? Gimme a break, dude! We’re the ones listening to customers and giving them exactly what they want. Free stuff. No charge. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Steve, we are so far ahead of everyone on this one that it’s not even funny. We’re paying thousands of people to keep making all this free stuff. Think about that, Steve! I mean, don’t we deserve a little credit? And yet here you are, using your blog to promote IBM. You make me so mad I just wanna go set my ponytail on fire. Or pull out my split ends. Except I don’t have any split ends. Just long, silky, perfect strands. So soft and shiny, so perfectly conditioned. Watch the way it waves when I move my head. Just like in the commercials. Are you jealous, baldy? You know you want to touch it. You wait and see how we take over the world with all our free stuff.

Oh, and I know what you’re thinking. How do we make money if we give everything away free? Obvious. Advertising. Heard of this little company called Google? Seems to be working for them. So we put some ads into our software. And we get endorsement deals to put stickers on our boxes, like NASCAR. Think of the companies that would die to attach their brands to our boxes and be seen in every data center. Red Bull. Dr. Pepper. Chocolate covered coffee beans. Or all those geeky karate and slasher movies that those weirdos go for. All these years, we thought we were selling computers. But no. We were aggregating an audience. Millions of IT geeks the world over. Now all we do is monetize that audience. Easy peezy. Oh wait. My groomer is here. Gotta hop.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

An IBMer writes in to explain

So I just got email from “Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger” and I must say, I just don’t trust people who have Ph.D.s and call themselves Doctor So-and-so. I mean, okay, you’ve got a Ph.D. I didn’t go to college. Who has more money? Who invented the friggin iPod? Nuff said, Mr. Big Brain. Anyhoo. Here’s what Irving has to say:

Dear Steve,
I think maybe you were a little rough on Sam in that item on your blog. You’re still operating under some very old ideas about what IBM is like and how we operate. The company has really changed since the days of your “Big Brother” ad. In fact one reason for Sam’s visit was to reach out to you and explain a bit about the new IBM. These days we’re all about sharing and openness, Steve. We’re driving the open-source revolution. We really believe that no one company has a monopoly on innovation. That’s why we’re reaching out to people all around the world and encouraging them to sign over their IP and let us put their brilliant ideas to work in lucrative consulting engagements. Why do you hoard your marvelous OS X operating system and those fantastic iLife applications? Why do you keep the workings of an iPod secret? Think how much more valuable those things would be if you would stop charging money for them and just let anyone copy them for free.

I know it sounds upside down at first. But here at the new IBM we’re all about taking your hard work and intellectual property and using it to help our customers. I know. You’re thinking, Wait a minute. What the fuck? You want me to do all the work, and you get all the money? A lot of people balk at this. Hey, I was there once too. But that’s the old way of thinking, Steve. The world is changing. Closed, proprietary systems are becoming extinct. Today it’s all about maximizing responsiveness, accelerating speed to market and responding to customers.

The customer is now in charge. And it’s an On Demand world. And what those customers are demanding is that you give them your stuff free. We’ve done huge amounts of research on this. We asked, How much do you want to pay for software? For computers? Kept getting the same answer: Zero. Well, IBM is listening to customers and responding to that dynamic and evolving with the market to meet the needs of end users. We’re looking for the best and most innovative ideas. Whether those ideas come from inside IBM or from outside our walls doesn’t matter. It’s kind of like how scientists work, or academics, by standing on the shoulders of giants. You give us a gigantic idea, we’re not going to compete against it, or try to kill it. We’re going to take it from you, jump on its shoulders, and sell it. We’re open.

Instead of the old “not invented here” syndrome, we’re saying to innovators, look, whoever you are, wherever you live, share your ideas with us, and you know what? We’ll use them. And we’ll give you one hundred percent of the credit. All we get is the money. Sure, we knew we were taking a risk by embracing this new open way of doing business with partners, but once we made the leap we found this new model works so much better than the old one, where we had to actually hire engineers and pay them. It’s a new world, Steve. So what do you say? Are you gonna be a change agent? Will you embrace the disruption? Can we count on you to jump in and join us for the big win?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

So some IBMers came to visit

You may not know this if you’re not in the industry but IBMers are a bit like Roman Catholic nuns. They never travel in groups of less than 20. I have no idea why except that everything at IBM seems to require massive logistics and planning and scheduling, and a series of pre-planning meetings to discuss the later planning meetings to discuss whatever the actual meeting is. I swear the execs there can’t take a dump unless it’s on their calendar; and before they go they have to find three other dudes to take with them. Yeah. Anyhoo.

This visit in Cupertino was the top brass, with Palmisano and about two dozen of his thugs and flacks and bodyguards and yes-men and shoeshine boys. They rolled up in armored SUVs and they were all wearing suits but they’d taken off their ties and stuffed them in their pockets in an attempt to be cool. You could see the bulges. Palmisano had a guy with him whose job, it appeared, was simply to tell him where he was and the name of whatever guys he was meeting. When I came down the guy was whispering to Palmisano and then Palmisano walked toward me with this big jock smile and I saw him very quickly glance down at a little card in his hand and he said, “Hey, uh,” (glance down again), “Steve, well, it’s great to see you, and thanks so much for making time to see us.” And he gives me the big phony salestard handshake and says, “And I’m here on behalf of the IBM Corporation to tell you personally how much we value your business and how much it means to us to have you as a customer.” I’m looking at him like, What the frig?

His handler dude grabs his sleeve and they do this little huddle where the handler is whispering to Palmisano and Palmisano says, “Huh? Who? Where? Wait a minute, this is Steve Jobs? Steve Jobs of Apple? But what’s he doing– oh, we’re at Apple? This is Apple? Right here? Oh Jesus.” Then he just looks back at me as if I couldn’t hear what he just said and he’s like, “Well, the famous Mr. Steven A. Jobs of Apple Computer, man oh man, do I like what you’re doing out here! Man, with those iPod compact disc players. Wow! My kids love them.”

So right. Whatever. There’s no point to any of this, it’s purely a meet-and-greet, and my guys have arranged to take the BlueTards on a dopey do-nothing tour of a fake manufacturing facility that we’ve set up, just something to keep them busy and walking around for thirty minutes until we can get rid of them. So we get to this area where we’ve got our current product line on display and Palmisano is looking at the Shuffle and asks me if it’s a tie clip, yuk yuk, just joking, he says. Then he goes, “Seriously, what the hell is this? Some kind of mouse?”

I explain what it is and we move down to the iMacs and he goes, “Wow, these are beautiful flat-panel TVs, are you getting into that game too, like Dell? Smart move, if you are. Big money in that consumer space.” I tell him we’re not making TVs, that these are computers. “So they’re hi-def, right?” he says. I tell him again that they’re not TVs, they’re computers. He seems kind of confused for a moment, then he goes, “You mean like terminals? Like network computers?” And I go, No, they’re full computers. He asks me where’s the hard drive, and where’s the computer, and I try to explain that it’s all one piece, and he goes, “Okay, so these are not hi-def television sets is what you’re telling me?” I’m like, That’s right, they’re not television sets. They’re computers. He stands there shaking his head and whistling, like Andy Griffith. And he goes, “Wow. Imagine that. You know, we got out of the PC business. Sold it off to the Chinese. No money in it. But I’m sure you’ll do really well with these, no worries. Stay out of that TV business though. No money there. Just a huge sink hole.”

Right. So we walk along and he asks me if I ever played any football in college, I tell him no, he tells me he played college football and was a lineman and man oh man it was a different game back in the old days, different game, you didn’t have the equipment that these kids have today, why the helmets were just these cheap plastic things with barely any padding, can you believe that? I tell him, Yes, I can believe that, for sure. By then we’re back in the lobby and he says, “Well, uh,” (glances down at card in hand again) “Steve, thanks again for letting us come visit and thank you again for being such a great partner, and you’ve got to come visit us in Armonk sometime and we’ll play some golf over at Winged Foot, ever been there? Beautiful course. You play any golf? No? Seriously? You’re kidding, right? Well that’s a shame. We gotta get you out there. Right guys? We gotta get this guy out on the golf course! Don’t we?”

Then Jon Ive and I just stood in the lobby watching them all waddle their fat asses out to their armored SUVs, putting their ties back on as they went.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Adventures in hacker-land

Our pal Hog from Free Software Foundation Scandinavia sends this photo with some exciting news:

Dear Steve, We recently are having an honor of a visit from Richard M. Stallman. RMS spent several days with us at our annual meeting in Sweden and was able to attend the induction ceremony of some new members. RMS taught us about an initiation ritual he calls “GNU Communion” which consists of Swedish wafer cookies and a sip of RMS’s pee. Shown here are three “gnubies,” programmers from IBM, who were taking their first communion. Note the expression of the IBMer on the left. A bit sour perhaps? Note too the solemn look on the face of RMS as if he is saying, Yes, well, if you want to belong to my movement, there is a price to be paid, so drink up. Well the ceremony seemed unorthodox and the IBM guys thought it was a practical joke and even called their boss to find out if they had to do this and they were told, yes, they have to do whatever is asked of them, since their mission is to become accepted by the community. I too thought it might be a prank of some sort, to be honest, because IBM is sending so many of their guys to infiltrate the movement and I believe RMS is skeptical of their intentions and resents so many of them suddenly claiming to have had some kind of religious conversion. But RMS insisted this is not a joke and is very widely practiced in other parts of the Free Software community and that no one can join FSF without passing what he calls “the piss test.” So it was quite an honor and a rare treat for our gnubies. Several of them reported recovery from minor ailments in the days following. (One hacker’s chronic wrist pain simply disappeared overnight. Another who suffers from headaches has been free of this affliction.) So, we have frozen the remainder of this miraculous healing liquid for future user group meetings. As always RMS was traveling with no luggage or personal effects of any kind. Such an inspiration. Steve, I hope someday you have the good luck to meet RMS as he is truly a great human being, like Gandhi or Miles Davis. Maybe you could use him in one of your ads? Though first you will have to set free all of your code or he won’t touch your machine. Love and happy hacking, Hans-Olaf.