Oh Vern, where art thou?

I’ve been trying to get in touch with Vern Raburn. You remember Vern, who was an early employee at Microsoft, Lotus, and Symantec. Vern was very involved in pen computing, ran Paul Allen’s investments, created the first Very Light Jet — the Eclipse 500 — and most recently sold Titan Aerospace to Google. That’s a busy career. Well I’ve been trying to get in touch with so far no success.

I contacted a couple old mutual friends, but they’d lost touch with Vern, too. I saw he was on LinkedIn so I tried to connect. No luck. Then I upgraded my LinkedIn account so I could send Vern e-mail, to which he didn’t reply.

Oh Vern, where art thou?

An economist walks into a bar…

defendingDid you ever see the 1991 Albert Brooks movie Defending Your Life? A movie that clearly could not be made today because it includes neither super heroes nor special effects and isn’t a sequel, it’s about a schmo (Brooks) who dies only to find heaven has an entrance exam of sorts in which you literally defend your life. Well the other day I watched a very good TED talk by my friend Bob Litan in which he defended his entire profession — economics. I know no braver man.

Few of us would defend our professions. I’m a journalist — what is there to say about that except that being a Congressman […]

The Secret of Google X

Sergey“All politics is local,” said House Speaker Tipp O’Neill, meaning that every politician has to consider the effect that his or her positions will have on voters. What makes perfect sense on a national stage might be a disaster back in the district, where the actual voters live. And so it is, too, with big companies, where local impact is sometimes more important than national or international. Sometimes, in fact, companies can be completely re-routed solely to please or affect a single executive. I believe we are seeing precisely that right now at Google concerning Google X.

Google X is that division of the search giant responsible for self-driving cars, Google Glass, and […]

Bill Gates and the non-prediction prediction

bill-gates-steve-ballmer-microsoftFollowing my #1 prediction yesterday of dire consequences in 2014 for Microsoft some readers challenged me to say what should happen this year in Redmond to right the ship. Is it even possible? So here’s my answer which isn’t in the form of a prediction because I doubt that it will actually happen. But if it actually does come to pass, well then I told you so.

At this point in Microsoft’s history the only CEO who could follow Steve Ballmer and be more or less guaranteed to be successful is Bill Gates. I think Bill should take back his old job for awhile.

This line of thinking was suggested to me, by the way, […]

A Tree Falls in Reston

yayaThere’s an adage I’ve heard repeated many times that on their deathbed nobody ever wished they had spent more time at work. Well last week right after telling me from memory her Social Security number and less than 24 hours before her final breath, my Mom did just that.

“I so enjoyed my career at the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” she said. “I wish I had worked there longer.”

My Mom, an economist and librarian who died on New Year’s Day, was a nerd.

She might not have identified herself as such, but she was definitely a nerd.

This lady took no prisoners. Ideas and words were important to her. Mastering concepts, too. At her dinner table you had […]