And Then Along Comes Larry….

There’s a premise in big business that no single person is essential to the success of an organization. If I die on the job, microscopic cringely.com dies with me, sure, but if Steve Ballmer kicks-off during a sales meeting tirade, Microsoft will move smoothly onward, or so the idea goes — as far as it goes. Because of course it is frequently wrong. There are many instances where a single person can bring about a sea change in a company or an industry. In the 19th century that meant John D. Rockefeller in oil or Andrew Carnegie in steel. In the 21st century it means Steve Jobs at Apple and Pixar, or Larry Ellison at […]

By |December 29th, 2010|2010|85 Comments

You Can't Go Home Again

I have worked from home since the first time InfoWorld fired me in 1994. When you work at home you live at work, which is precisely why telecommuting has been so embraced by non-smokestack industries that love the low office rents and longer working hours. But the tide may be turning against working at home for some larger companies. Lockheed-Martin, for example, effectively banned the practice recently, sucking nearly all the company’s telecommuters back into the office. IBM, too, is rethinking its work-at-home strategy.

Lockheed earlier this year told its managers they all had to work from plant sites, then followed that by canceling any telecommuting services paid for by the company. In theory workers can […]

By |December 29th, 2010|2010|50 Comments

The Trojan App

It wasn’t so many years ago, remember, when AT&T (the old AT&T, the U. S. national telephone monopoly) owned the phone wire in your walls. You put the wire there, or your builder did, and you certainly paid for it, but once dial tone filled the lines those lines became the physical property of Ma Bell and you couldn’t legally touch them. Everyone longing for the bad old days should remember when you couldn’t touch your own phone lines under penalty of law. Today or tomorrow, we’re told, the FCC will vote under the guise of net neutrality to re-instill some of those old ways of doing business, at least for wireless networks.

Well it won’t work.

The short story of what’s happening at the FCC […]

By |December 21st, 2010|2010|56 Comments

How To Plug a Leak: Don't

If the United States is so upset with Julian Assange and Wikileaks for continuing to expose its stash of 200,000+ purloined U. S. diplomatic cables, why aren’t they trying to extradite the guy to face trial in the U. S.? I can think of at least four reasons.

First there’s the problem of actually convicting the guy, which is doubtful. While the Department of State might well be able to extradite Assange, either before or after his date-rape trial in Sweden, they are unlikely to gain a conviction in most U. S. courts. What’s the charge? Violating the Espionage Act outside the United States as an Australian citizen who isn’t accused of having stolen anything? That […]

By |December 20th, 2010|2010|61 Comments

It's All Downhill from Here

Google Labs has this new lexical research tool you may have read about called a Book Ngram Viewer, which allows you to peek inside five million books published between the 15th century and 2008 to see how many discussed antigravity and when:

Semiconductors:

Michael Jackson:

And good old-fashioned fornicating:

But most important of all, since this is simply a new form of Googling we’re talking about, we can look up […]

By |December 19th, 2010|2010|45 Comments