How to kill your company

I’m not sure what’s infected businesses lately, but there seems to be a surge of mind-numbingly retarded executives making mind-numbingly retarded decisions.

First we have HP, which seems intent on removing itself from the Fortune-100 list.  The past year has been filled with blunders like failure to capitalize on the Palm buyout (which they paid too much for) with a tablet that was too expensive and poor competition for the iPad.  Killing it and dumping inventory in a fire sale seemed more like the kind of thing a stubborn 5-year old would do when told their toys are inferior.  The HP tablet wasn’t that bad.  Then there’s the PC-spin-off fiasco which caused stocks to take a nose-dive and the stockholders to can Leo Apotheker because they were tired of his crap.  Let’s hope the new CEO can do better – she’s only the third in 11 months.

After buying Sun in 2009, Oracle began screwing over MySQL users because Larry Ellison just doesn’t understand open software.  He’s too busy suing his neighbors over their trees.  That hasn’t stopped him from making some questionable decisions that’ve infuriated the Oracle user community.  Quadrupling the cost of MySQL support, and adding a host of new commercial extensions doesn’t bode well for the open software database platform.

But that’s not as bad as Netflix.  For a company that changed the rental industry with DVDs-by-mail, they don’t seem to understand their core business.  First was a severing of streaming and DVD contracts, effectively doubling the cost of subscriptions for most users.  Stocks took a nose dive.  Then CEO Reed Hastings announced spinning off DVD rentals into a new company called Quickster.  That move would’ve forced DVD and streaming customers to maintain two separate log-ins, accounts, and queue lists.  After a serious beating from customers and stocks, the split is being cancelled and Quickster is no more.  Nothing tells the world you don’t know what you’re doing like reversing big publicly announced decisions.  Quick tip Reed: try discussing business moves with other people before announcing them.

Just don’t ask Oracle or HP.

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You can have my iPad when you pry it from my cold, dead hands

I have never been a fan of Macs.  That confession, especially after the death of Steve Jobs, may label me as a heretic.  I’m willing to risk burning at the stake.  What turns me off isn’t so much the hardware (they use standard PC parts, if a bit overpriced), or the software (it’s Unix, after all).  It’s the people.  Most (and by most I mean nearly all) Mac users are rabid cultists intent on making the world see their wisdom.  Arguing which is superior, PC or Mac, is like arguing which is the better pet, dogs or cats (cats, obviously), or the better soda, pepsi vs. coke (coke wins).  Computers are tools, and I’d no more hold an argument in favor of my PC than I would my cordles drill (it’s a DeWalt and it’s awesome).

Even though I will likely never buy a Mac, I still love my iPad.  Apple didn’t invent the tablet or the touch operating system, didn’t invent the integrated processor, didn’t invent the downloadable software store, but they did bring these things together in a tight, easy-to-use package.  The iPad/iPhone ecosystem is so user friendly my cats can use it (though they haven’t figured out swipe-to-unlock yet).

Using an iPad brings back that excitement I felt the first time I used my commodore 64 as a kid.  It won’t replace my PC or my laptop, but that’s not what it was intended for.  The iPad brought the internet to the couch and the bed and the bathroom (don’t try to tell me you don’t use your iPad when you’re doing number two – I won’t believe you). 

Steve Jobs will be remembered for more than bringing the web into the potty.  While I applaud his drive and determination, his ability to redefine an industry and yank Apple from the brink of failure, the man was not the pure genius and embodiment of perfection Apple-fans will undoubtedly praise him as.  The iPad, for all its brilliance, suffers from stifling and distinctly un-American censorship; if Apple doesn’t like your app, it doesn’t go on the marketplace.  Everything from gay-related apps and political cartoons to software from competitors gets the axe.  And let’s not mention the sweatshops all that gear is manufactured in, places that sound like something from a dystopian science fiction novel.  And maybe it’s too soon to mention the fact that Jobs never donated to charity despite his 7-billion net worth (unless, that is, he did so anonymously… which seems unlikely given his personality).  The man was a visionary, sure, and shaped a global industry.  But he wasn’t a saint.

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Protest-ants

I’ve been following the Occupy Wall street protestors.  The official demands seem pretty reasonable, some are actually great.  It’s the unnoficial stuff circulating the internet which come off as bat-shit insane and frankly retarded.  “Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment”… on whose dime?  If they’re thinking the taxpayers should foot the bill, then I demand they amend that request with “and require unemployed people to clean houses, cut grass, and collect trash from the folks that have jobs”.  Those people can come clean my house. 

Still- I give them all credit for peaceful demonstrations, as opposed to the outbreak of hacktivists who think bringing down internet sites and services constitutes peaceful demonstration.  Peaceful demonstration ends when financial responsibility extends beyond police saying “don’t go there”.  When I gotta pay for something stupid some activist nutjob does, it’s time to break out the Baseball Bat of Appreciation and go to work. Like the idiots who brought down the Chase site over the summer because they were mad Chase stopped processing payments to wikileaks. I’m an American, so I’ll support your cause, as long as it doesn’t cost me anything.  The minute I’m inconvenienced, then we’re enemies and your cause is stupid.

That first poster comes off as either fresh out of school and idealistic, or a debt-ridden moron who are angry they can’t survive in a capitalist economy.  “But nobody wanted to click on my importedgoatcheese dot com site and I went out of business…. therefore, the taxpayers should subsidize me”.  Yeah… you’re an idiot, and that’s not my problem.

And by “you” I don’t mean you personally – I’m speaking metaphorically and indirectly, which is kind of like speaking plegmatically with less coughing involved.

But I need to give thanks where it’s due.  I wouldn’t know about the batshit-insane list of demands if not for the over-hyped sensationalist spin the news likes to put on everything.

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