Cringely’s Rules for Home Schooling in the Age of COVID-19

My first job out of college was teaching biology, chemistry, physics, and vocational agriculture at Triway High School in rural Wooster, Ohio. I lasted for six weeks. The school environment was such a downer, from the smoke-filled teachers’ lounge to my young co-workers who were teaching mainly, it seemed to me, to avoid service in Vietnam. So when a reporting job became available, I jumped on it, leaving Ohio forever. Years later I returned to teaching, this time at Stanford University, where I worked for six years. Now, 37 years after Stanford, I’m teaching my kids at home thanks to COVID-19. You may be teaching your kids, too. This […]

COVID-19 Lessons from Three Mile Island #2 — the NRC

My last column was about crisis management lessons I learned back in 1979 while investigating the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island (TMI). Let’s just say that FEMA wasn’t ready for a nuclear meltdown. Today we turn to the other federal agency I investigated at that same time — the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). While FEMA was simply unprepared and incompetent, the NRC was unprepared and lied about it.

Like FEMA, the NRC had recently undergone a rebranding from its previous identity as the Atomic Energy Commission — a schizoid agency that had been charged […]

Three Mile Island Lessons for COVID-19: FEMA and Me

Forty-one years ago this summer I was a young investigator working in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC for the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, a big federal investigation chaired by Dartmouth Professor John Kemeny, who is best known as the father of the BASIC programming language. I learned a lot that summer and fall not only about nuclear accidents but about how governments and industries respond to crises. Some of those lessons apply to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is also being poorly managed. This may surprise you (that 41-year-old lessons can still apply) but governments, especially, change at a glacial pace.

The two […]

Sometimes We Get Lucky: ProjectN95.org

Last weekend I participated in two investing panels for my friend Anina.net’s global online fashion conference. Anina is the pretty girl next to me in the picture atop this page. My second panel was the final event of the conference, so Anina and I stayed on the line to talk a bit afterward. She had been up for 72 continuous hours. Oddly, what we discussed were N-95 respirator masks, which are in such short supply thanks to COVID-19.

Anina lives in Beijing and China is starting to get back to work as the country slowly backs-off from its draconian coronavirus shut-down. Some businesses are retooling to address global coronavirus needs and one […]

Not Just the End of IT, the End of IT Contractors

Earlier this week I predicted the demise of conventional IT caused by the wide adoption of SD-WAN and SASE, accelerated by the emergency demands of everyone working from home. Now that Congress has passed a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 bail-out, let’s throw-in the implications of that legislation to see what effect it is all likely to have on what used to be IT. The short version is to expect an even bigger bloodbath as IT employees at all levels are let go forever. Please understand that some version of this bloodbath was going to happen anyway. What matters right now is how we respond to it.

While my previous column was generally about […]