Think cloud computing saved you from Sandy? Think again.

Late at night last weekend, as Hurricane Sandy was beating the crap out of the eastern seaboard, I received an e-mail message from lower Manhattan. You may have received this message, too, or one just like it. It felt to me like getting a radiogram from the sinking Titanic. An Internet company was running out of diesel fuel for its generator and would shortly be dropping off the net. The identity of the company doesn’t matter. What matters is what we can learn from their experience.

The company had weathered power outages before and had four days of diesel fuel stored onsite. They had felt ready for Sandy. But most of their fuel wasn’t at the […]

Steve Ballmer’s Dilemma

Napier & Son was the most successful British manufacturer of aircraft engines in the 1920s and 30s with their 12-cylinder Napier Lion powering 163 different types of aircraft between 1918 and 1935. Over that 17 year period the Lion grew from 450 to 1350 horsepower and was, for awhile, the most powerful aircraft, boat, and car engine in the world, holding world speed records in all three venues at the same time. And then the Napier Lion was suddenly gone — a lesson from which Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer could benefit if he and his company don’t repeat it.

Napier perfected their Lion engine over those 17 years, improving it in every way until it was the […]

On Win8 launch day a look back at Steve Ballmer, circa 2001

Today was a big day for Microsoft, with the Windows 8 and tablet launches, and potentially a very big day, too, for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. It had better be, because some pundits think Win8 is Ballmer’s last hurrah, that he’ll be forced to step down if the new operating system isn’t a big success. That might be true, though I have a hard time imagining who would replace Ballmer at this point and how the company would change as a result. I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement — heck, I’m among those who have called for Ballmer to go — I’m just not sure what would be any better. More on that in a future column.

Today, rather than look to the […]

What Americans don’t know about H-1B visas could hurt us all

The H-1B visa program was created in 1990 to allow companies to bring skilled technical workers into the USA. It’s a non-immigrant visa and so has nothing at all to do with staying in the USA, becoming a citizen, or starting a business. Big tech employers are constantly lobbying for increases in H-1B quotas citing their inability to find qualified U.S. job applicants. Bill Gates and other leaders from the IT industry have testified about this before Congress. Both major political parties embrace the H-1B program with varying levels of enthusiasm. But Bill Gates is wrong. What he said to Congress may have been right for Microsoft but was wrong for America and can only […]

Don’t mess with IBM: one downside of suing a tech company that thinks like a law firm

I struck a chord with my recent column on H-1B visa abuse, so I’ll be following later today with an enormous post that tries to explain the underlying issues. But before then here’s something I came across that doesn’t quite fit that theme but was too interesting to let pass unnoticed — how companies like IBM intimidate employees and discourage them from speaking up.

A few years ago there was a class action lawsuit against IBM. Thirty-two thousand server administrators were being forced to work overtime without extra pay. IBM lost the suit and paid a $65 million settlement. That’s just over $2000 per affected employee before the lawyers took their share. Then IBM gave all […]