John Ellenby dies at 75

ellenbyI wouldn’t normally be writing a column early on a Saturday morning but I just read that John Ellenby died and I think that’s really worth mentioning because Ellenby changed all our lives and especially mine.

If you don’t recognize his name, John Ellenby was a British computer engineer who came to Xerox PARC in the 1970s to manufacture the Xerox Alto, the first graphical workstation. He left Xerox in the late 1980s to found Grid Systems, makers of the Compass — the first full-service laptop computer. In the 1990s he founded Agilis, which made arguably the first handheld mobile phone that wasn’t the size of a brick. Finally he […]

IBM loses its mind

bathwaterThis came in today from an IBM customer. Sure enough, as of this morning he’s correct:

This morning I needed to check to see if one of IBM’s products would run on a particular version of an operating system. I went out the IBM U.S. website to look. I can’t find the product. I can’t find a lot of IBM products. Where are the servers? Where are the software products? Where are the storage products? Wow, its all gone or at least well hidden. The website has been completely replaced and only the CAMSS stuff is there.

Where, indeed, are the mainframes?

IBM is a completely sales-centric business.  It is really all about what IBM […]

The Cringely boys Kickstart Mineserver™, a $99 Minecraft server

When my three sons, ages 13, 11, and 9 decided to do a summer business together I thought it could be almost anything. After all, they’ve visited three dozen tech startups with me in our RV and they’ve been surrounded by technology entrepreneurs their entire lives. What business would it be?

I just never expected a $99 Minecraft server.

It’s brilliant, really. Minecraft is hugely popular but the Minecraft hardware market is almost nonexistent. It’s not that nobody thought to do such a server but that it’s a business idea most entrepreneurs would see as not having legs. It will scale, sure, but will it endure? In a few months someone — no doubt someone in Asia — will copy the idea, […]

IBM is so screwed

I’ve been working on a big column or two about the Office of Personnel Management hack while at the same time helping my boys with their Kickstarter campaign to be announced in another 10 days, but then IBM had to go yesterday and announce earnings and I just couldn’t help myself. I had to put that announcement in the context you’ll see in the headline above. IBM is so screwed.

Below you’ll see the news spelled-out in red annotations right on IBM’s own slides. The details are mainly there but before you read them I want to make three points. First, IBM’s sexy new businesses (cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security or CAMSS) aren’t growing — and probably won’t be growing — […]

IBM is right, I am a gadfly


gadfly2gad·fly
ˈɡadˌflī/
noun
 
  1. a fly that bites livestock, especially a horsefly, warble fly, or botfly.
    • an annoying person, especially one who provokes others into action by criticism.

Sometimes being a gadfly is exactly what’s required. That’s certainly the case with IBM and has been for the almost eight years I’ve been following this depressing story.

Gadflies came up because IBM finally reacted today to my last column predicting a massive force reduction this week. They denied it, of course — not the workforce reduction but its size, saying there won’t be even close to 110,000 workers laid off — and they called […]