Stephen Hawking and me

I only met Stephen Hawking twice, both times in the same day. Hawking, who died a few hours ago, was one of the great physicists of any era. He wrote books, was the subject of a major movie about his early life, and of course survived longer than any other amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) sufferer, passing away at 76 while Lou Gehrig didn’t even make it to 40. We’re about to be awash in Hawking tributes, so I want to share with you my short experience of the man and maybe give more depth to his character than we might take away from the evening news.

Several years ago I was booked […]

Remembering Bob Taylor

2013_robert_taylorBob Taylor, who far more than Al Gore had a claim to being the Father of the Internet, died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease last Thursday at 85. Though I knew him for 30 years, I can’t say I knew Bob well but we always got along and I think he liked me. Certainly I respected him for being that rarity — a non-technical person who could inspire and lead technical teams. He was in a way a kinder, gentler Steve Jobs.

Bob’s career seemed to have three phases — DARPA, XEROX, and DEC — and three technical eras — mainframes, local area network (workgroup) computing, and the Internet.

At DARPA […]

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 […]

Is IBM guilty of age discrimination? — Part two

agediscriminationThis is the promised second part of my attempt to decide if IBM’s recent large U.S. layoff involves age discrimination in violation of federal laws. More than a week into this process I still can’t say for sure whether Big Blue is guilty or not, primarily due to the company’s secrecy. But that very secrecy should give us all pause because IBM certainly appears to be flouting or in outright violation of several federal reporting requirements.

I will now explain this in numbing detail.

Regular readers will remember that last week I suggested laid-off IBMers go to their managers or HR and ask for statistical information they are allowed to gather under two federal laws […]

Is IBM guilty of age discrimination? — Part one

agediscriminationIs IBM guilty of age discrimination in its recent huge layoff of U.S. workers? Frankly I don’t know. But I know how to find out, and this is part one of that process. Part two will follow on Friday.

Here’s what I need you to do. If you are a U.S. IBMer age 40 or older who is part of the current Resource Action you have the right under Section 201, Subsection H of the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) to request information from IBM on which employees were involved in the RA and their ages and which employees were not selected and their ages.

Quick like a bunny, ask your manager to […]