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docdivakar
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Re: HP Lays Off 5.000 More Employees
docdivakar   12/31/2013 8:18:28 PM
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It is sad and ironic that this had to happen on the 75th anniversary of the company!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hewlett-Packard

I suppose the $538 the duo invested in founding the company in a garage went a long way... it is still a great company!

MP Divakar

AZskibum
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Re: HP Lays Off 5.000 More Employees
AZskibum   12/31/2013 10:12:56 PM
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Is it still great compared to what it used to be?

docdivakar
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Re: HP Lays Off 5.000 More Employees
docdivakar   1/1/2014 6:40:03 PM
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Re: Is it still great compared to what it used to be?

Frank, I still think it is because I know many (I hope they were not on the hit list!) that are excellent technical people. There is indeed good potential for HP to get back to a leading position.

It would be easy for any one to comment that HP has not done well in the area of strategic innovation and blame it on the management. Perhaps it is warranted... but I believe the company can turn around.

MP Divakar

Simon7382
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Re: HP Lays Off 5.000 More Employees
Simon7382   1/2/2014 6:04:26 AM
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Not with the present mangement with no strategy to speak of and extremely short term focus.

goafrit
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Re: HP Lays Off 5.000 More Employees
goafrit   1/2/2014 8:45:54 AM
HP is still a great firm. The only problem is that it is not well managed. Just look at IBM and its struggles since Sam left. While Rometty is a great lady, she has struggled to at least sustain the momentum that Sam had in place. Leadership matters and that is what HP is lacking now.

paul.c
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Re: HP Lays Off 5.000 More Employees
paul.c   1/1/2014 2:30:58 PM
I worked for HP during the 50th anniversary.  Bill and Dave were retired but the company was still run the "Bill and Dave way".  Management was proud that no one, not one single employee, had ever been laid off in the history of the company.

Obviously the CEO's since then didn't read the "HP Way" or figured they knew better than the founders.  What a shame.

goafrit
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Re: HP Lays Off 5.000 More Employees
goafrit   1/2/2014 8:44:11 AM
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The problem with HP was firing the only man that knew how to run that company and then empowering him to compete with the firm. HP is a legacy company and I am so sad that if it does not get its acts together, it can go in the way of Blackberry.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: HP Lays Off 5.000 More Employees
MeasurementBlues   1/2/2014 9:06:53 AM
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"it can go in the way of Blackberry."

Well then, maybe the name Hewlett-Packard can become the name of the new measurement company being split off from Agilent.

goafrit
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Re: HP Lays Off 5.000 More Employees
goafrit   1/4/2014 10:43:26 PM
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>>  of the new measurement company being split off from Agilent. 

I am not sure Agilent is holding up with Tek which seems to be leading that market sector. Being an Agilent will not help HP. They need to evolve to survive as Amazon, Google and others eat into their cakes.

MeasurementBlues
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Happy new year
MeasurementBlues   1/1/2014 12:36:57 AM
Well, 2014 should be a great year for HP. It's stock price will rise now that it's put all those people out of works. Is this the Bill and dave way?



vandamme0
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Re: Happy new year
vandamme0   1/1/2014 11:44:50 AM
They need to dump Microsoft.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Happy new year
MeasurementBlues   1/1/2014 11:50:29 AM
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"They need to dump Microsoft."

Adn replace it with what?

vandamme0
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Re: Happy new year
vandamme0   1/1/2014 12:45:32 PM
Well, Linux of course. I'm writing this on my cheap HP G62 laptop, runs openSuSE right now but I've tried Bodhi, Mint and Ubuntu. Everything works: sound, touchpad, camera, wifi, even the extra buttons on the side for the calculator, printer and such. When I backed up the original windows7 it filled 5 DVDs with bloatware and trial junk. And, it didn't reload when it crashed, so I loaded Mint and the rest is history.


HP is late to the Chromebook game but that might be my next laptop.

_hm
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Re: Happy new year
_hm   1/1/2014 6:32:44 PM
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Yes, Ubuntu works so great for me. Even it looks far better!. I do not know, why EEs do not use Ubuntus or similar linux OS?

 

David Ashton
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Re: Happy new year
David Ashton   1/1/2014 7:25:31 PM
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@vandamme0... "runs openSuSE right now but I've tried Bodhi, Mint and Ubuntu."

That implies some disatisfaction with the other 3, also some level of expertise in getting them going how you want them to run.

Could you confirm....how much knowledge / time / experience was involved here?

I share your dissatisfaction with MS but I'm not a Linux guru...is this something for the faint-hearted to attempt?

vandamme0
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Re: Happy Linux Year
vandamme0   1/1/2014 9:14:37 PM
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Well, I was scared to death, as all Windows users are, but after reading about different Linux flavors I tried Mint on an old laptop that nobody wanted at work because it wouldn't run all their required bloatware.Not only did smoke not curl out of the processor, it ran great. I was hooked. I'm a 66 year old EE, but only worked on analog, RF and vacuum tubes (TWTs).  I made mistakes and had troubles (mostly self-inflicted), but there are a lot of forums and tutorials to help.

I've put mostly Mint on over a dozen machines, and it takes about 25 minutes to install, and an hour to install the apps, data, and refinements I want (themes, art, password and bookmark managers and so on).

There are 300 different Linux distributions, and maybe a dozen different window managers or desktops, so I tried a few. Most are very similar. Ubuntu is the most popular, but Mint is based on it and has some refinements. Bodhi is lighter, and yet pretty, so I put that on an old laptop for my 6 and 8 year old granddaughters, who love it. I run Puppy on an 8 year old laptop with 512 MB memory. I'm trying SUSE just because it's new, different, and runs KDE desktop. Different tools for different jobs. I think I'll try Kubuntu in April when the long-term update comes out, and probably be done with my "distro-hopping".

Yes, it's different, and you need to learn things unless you have a geek to help you (it's ideal for old folks who have windows problems). But look at how much time you've invested in learning how Windows works. You can pick up the basics pretty easily.

So download a nice-sounding distro (makeuseof.com has a nice article on choosing, http://www.makeuseof.com/pages/best-linux-distributions) and try it as a live OS (no installation) just to get to know it, and how it works on your PC. Or put it on an old machine to play with. Dual-booting on your main PC is next. Forgetting to boot into Windows for a few months at a time, will come sooner than you think...

David Ashton
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Re: Happy Linux Year
David Ashton   1/1/2014 10:17:38 PM
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@vandamme0....many thanks for taking the trouble to give such a detailed reply.  I am 9 years younger than you, so should pick it up easily :-)   I have done some UNIX in the past so should not be toooo gormless......   sounds like I should give it a go, I have a few old machines lying around that would probably do. Problem is getting the time.....    Thanks again and happy new year // David

DMcCunney
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Re: Happy new year
DMcCunney   1/3/2014 10:44:04 PM
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@David Ashton: I share your dissatisfaction with MS but I'm not a Linux guru...is this something for the faint-hearted to attempt?

It depends on what you have, what you want, and where you start.

At the moment, I run Ubuntu on two machines, in a multi-boot configuration that has Windows as well.

I chose Ubuntu because it did the best job I've seen in a Linux distro of figuring out what your hardware is, setting itself up, and Just Working. I'm a tech, and I know how to answer the questions other distros ask when installing. I didn't want to be bothered.  I wanted to spend my time using the system, and not playing Sysadmin to get it up and running.

The challenges will come after you have a running system.  Computers are tools people use to do work.  They don't buy OSes, they buy platforms.   The work is done with applications.  What applications do you use under Windows?  What applications are available for Linux that will do what you do under Windows?

Depending upon what you do in Windows, you can probably do the same thing in Linux, but you'll face the biggest challenge for Linux in the desktop marketplace: it's different.  You'll need to relearn how to do things because they won't be done the same way.

The first challenge will be the desktop environment.  Windows has a standard "look and feel", and ways to do things.  Linux doesn't.  What it looks like and how you interact with it will be determined by the window manager you run, and they are all over the map in look, feel, and functionality.  Ubuntu uses one called Unity, that they are trying to make a standard interface for Ubuntu on any platform, from desktop to tablet, but there are a number of others available in the Ubuntu repositories.

The key is that the GUI is not an intrinsic part of the OS as it is in Windows.  It's an application running on top of the OS, loaded as part of the OS startup process.  You can boot Ubuntu (or other Linux distro) to a command line interface and not run a GUI at all.  (You can technically do that with Windows, but you don't want to.)

After that, there's the challenge of what applications you'll run.  Open Office or Libre Office will substitute for MS Office.  Firefox, Chrome, and Opera are available as browsers, as well as some things specific to Linux.  Beyond that, it gets fuzzy.

A good starting might night be trying Ubuntu via WUBI.  WUBI lets you install Ubuntu on Windows.  When you use WUBI, Ubuntu installs to the Windows file system.  What Windows sees is one huge multi-gigabyte data file.  What Ubuntu sees there, when loaded, is a Linux file system with OS and applications.  WUBI installs a boot choice in the Windows boot menu that lets you select at boot time which OS you want.

Later, you may choose to repartition your disk and install Ubuntu on its own slice with a native file system (or perhaps replace Windows entirely and devote the machine to linux.)  On a reasonably current machine, performance is good enough with WUBI you may not need to go fully native.)

Tell us what you normally do on your system, and we can give better advice.

 

 

David Ashton
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Re: Happy new year
David Ashton   1/3/2014 11:48:28 PM
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@DMcCunney, thanks also to you for your long reply.....I don't do a lot out of the ordinary, and will maintain a Win machine anyway, so just  emails, web browsing, some office type work, displaying PDF data sheets, etc.

One thing that worries me is that the machine I would put it on would be a fairly old one, and some of the more mainstream distros appear to have fairly stringent hardware requirements.  I have in mind around a  1-GHz machine (which would be hopeless by windows standards) but many Linux distros appear to want more than this?    Vandamme gave in his post a link to a site that shows a few flavours that will happily run on older, slower PCs - should I consider one of those?

Thanks again

 

DMcCunney
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Re: Happy new year
DMcCunney   1/4/2014 12:29:06 AM
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@David Ashton: I have in mind around a  1-GHz machine (which would be hopeless by windows standards) but many Linux distros appear to want more than this? 

The scarce resource will be RAM, not CPU speed.

I run Ubuntu on an ancient (in computer terms) notebook: A Fujitsu Lifebook p2110 circa 2005.  (It was a pass along from a friend who upgraded but didn't want to just throw it out.)

The Lifebook has an 867mhz Transmeta Crusoe processor, ATI Rage Mobility graphics with 8MB video RAM, a 40GB IDE4 HD, and a whopping 256MB of RAM, of which the Crusoe grabs 16MB off the top for "code morphing".

I reformatted the HD, and multiboot Win2K Pro, Ubuntu, Puppy Linux, and FreeDOS.  Ubuntu and Puppy are on ext4 slices and mount each others partitions on boot, so I have the ability to install some apps once but access them from either OS. Both can see and access the NTFS slice Win2K is on

Win2K is on NTFS, but I found an open source driver that lets me read and write to the ext4 partitions from Windows.  (Win2K actually runs acceptably in 256MB RAM.  WinXP SP2, one the machine when I got it, does not.)

All of them can see the FAT32 slice FreeDOS lives on.  FreeDOS can't see anything else, but I don't care.

Getting Ubuntu running on the machine was a challenge.  What I wound up doing was installing from the Minimal CD to get a working CLI installation, then using the apt-get package manager to pick and choose the rest.  I use LXDE as the desktop, since it's the lightest weight one available.  Ubuntu package management is a strong point: select a package, and it looks at your system for dependencies, and automatically includes eerything the package needs to run.  Selecting LXDE brought the needed X-Windows environment with it.

The issues I run into revolve around low RAM and slow HD.  Linux likes lots of RAM.  Ubuntu runs in a low RAM system, but has to do a lot of swapping.  (The Lifebook can be upgraded to 384MB, but I could buy many gigabytes of RAM for a more modern system for what the 128MB upgrade touwld cost.)   The IDE4 HD is a BIOS limitation.  Swapping in a faster drive isn't an option.  Performance of small apps is acceptable.  large ones are problematic because of slow HD access.  (I don't even try to run a current Firefox build - it takes 45 seconds to load and initialize, and is perceptibly slow when up.)

The machine is purely a toy to see what performance I can wring out of ancient HW without throwing money at it, so I'm not unhappy.  I had low expectations going in.

If you have a gig or so of RAM and a reasonable HD, Linux shouldn't have a problem.  Your likely issue will be video.  Ubuntu Unity, for example, wants a graphics card with 3D acceleration.  It won't run on the Lifebook.  It does work on the desktop with integrated Intel graphics, but I don't care for it.  An interface intended to make best use of small screen sizes on notebooks and tablets falls down on big monitors.

Unless you are doing demanding processor intensive stuff, CPU speed is less critical than you might assume.  Most desktop machines are I/O bound, not compute bound , and the CPU spends most time in a wait waiting for I/O to occur.  All machines wait at the same speed. :-)

Tell me more about the specs of the machine you plan to put Linux on and I can give better advice.


 

David Ashton
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Re: Happy new year
David Ashton   1/4/2014 12:46:59 AM
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@DMcCunney...thanks again....I am looking at a desktop, probably around 1GHz, I could probably get 500MB to 1GB RAM, a decent PCI or AGP graphics card.     As an example I have a machine I used to have Win 2000 on, it's got a Gigabyte GA6BX motherboard,  an 800MHz P4 processor, 768MB ram and an AGP graphics card (not sure which one without firing the machine up).  It's got a SCSI card in it and I used to run a SCSI 12GB tape drive for backup,  If that (as a machine) would work I'd use it.  Would that run Ubuntu or should I look at something smaller (Linux-wise)?

I'd probably not use Multiboot, I have a KVM switch so could switch between machines fairly easily.... 

DMcCunney
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Re: Happy new year
DMcCunney   1/4/2014 8:34:00 PM
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@David Ashton:Let's clear up a little confusion.

Technically speaking, Linux is the Linux kernel, vmlinuz.  It it uses a Linux kernel, it's a Linux system.  My old Linksys WRT54G router was a Linux system, using a Linux 2.6 kernel. Because it was a Linux system, the firware was open source under the GPL,  people could grab and hack it, and did,  I ran a third party package called Tomato that would let me SSH to a command line in the router, and run a cut down version of th vi editor to diddle config files.

Current Linux distros will largely use the same kernel version, and the differences will be elsewhere.  All will have a Linux kernel, most will come with a set of the Gnu utilities, and they will differ in the window manager used (and therefor the GUI presented to the user) and the bundled applcations.

Linux distros intended for low end hardware like Puppy Linux or TinyCore will be optimized for size on disk, and will include utilties based on Busybox rather than the Gnu tools.  (Busybox is a set of cut down versions of the standard utilities packaged as one large executable, with individual utilities being symlinks calling Busybox with the appropriate parameters to exercise the particular functions.)  An example is Damn Small Linux, whose guiding principle was whatever could be fit in a 50MB ISO distribution file. It reached the point where hte developer simply couldn't pack anything more in.)

I recommend as much RAM as you can give the machine, with 512MB a good minimum and a gig or two being better.  As mentioned, the machine will be I/O bound.  Linux uses a memory paging system similar to Windows, where memory is allocated in 4K pages.  Linux memory consists of physical RAM plus the size of the allocated swap file on disk, similar to Windows virtual memory being installed RAM plus whatever size pagefile.sys is.  If there is more going on than will fit in physical RAM, Linux, like Windows, will swap less recent used memory pages to disk to make room.  If something tries to access a page no longer in memory, a page fault occurs, and the swapped out page(s) are swapped back in, with others swapped out. 

RAM is an order of magnitude faster than disk.  You want to minimize disk I/O, and that means reducing swapping and running a good sized disk cache.  The more RAM you have, the less need there is to swap, and the larger a cache can be maintained.

Your AGP graphics card ought to be supported, but I'm not sure about SCSI.

Get an ISO for an older Ubuntu release, like 11.10, burn it to CD, and see what happens when you try to install it. (The most recent Ubuntu release bit me when I tried to upgrade the Lifebook to it. It requied PAE support in the CPU, but installed everything else before it discovered it wasn't there and couldn't successfully upgrade the kernel.  That failure caused all manner of fun side effects.) If it works, you have a running Linux system.  If it doesn't, we can advise further

David Ashton
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Re: Happy new year
David Ashton   1/5/2014 6:10:11 AM
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@DMcCunney...thanks again....I reckon I could publish your posts as a beginners guide to Linux :-).    I will try and get this done soon, I had a look around the Ubuntu site and they have a lot of help there too.  I'm pretty busy with other stuff at present but I've wanted to try this for a bit, so hope it won't be too long.  I'll let you know how I go.

Thanks again // David

DMcCunney
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Re: Happy new year
DMcCunney   1/5/2014 9:54:42 PM
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@David Ashton: I reckon I could publish your posts as a beginners guide to Linux :-).

Thank you, but there are many, and better than I could create.  I was just offering a few pointers as places to start.

I had a look around the Ubuntu site and they have a lot of help there too.

The Ubuntu forums are also useful.  When I first tried Ubuntu on the Lifebook, I used the Xubuntu distribution.  This is Ubuntu intended for lower end machines, using the XFCE4 window manager, which is lighter weight than Unity.  It successfully installed and ran, but was painfully slow.  Posters on the Ubuntu forum said that Ubuntu had a steadily advancing idea of what "low end" was, and that too much Gnome had crept into the Xubuntu distro and was slowing things down.  They recommended what I did - install from a Minimal CD to get a working command line interface system, then use the apt-get package manager to pick and choose the rest.  The result was a system which was hardly a speed demon, but was usable.

I suggested you try Ubuntu simply because it does the best job I've seen of figuring out what your environment is and installing itself with almost no under interaction.  There are other distros that can install to older hardware if you answer various questions during the installation, but many new Linux users won't know the answers.

Email reaches me at dennis dot mccunney at gmail dot com.  Feel free to continue this in email, as it's a bit off topic for this thread.

David Ashton
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Re: Happy new year
David Ashton   1/5/2014 11:56:34 PM
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@DMcCunney, many thanks again, hope to get this done within a week or two but the best laid plans...etc.....  will email you and let you know how I go

 

Cheers // David

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Happy new year
Caleb Kraft   1/7/2014 12:20:57 PM
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While Linux works, you're overlooking the money aspect. That bloatware you mentioned? That is how they got their money.

vandamme0
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Re: Happy new year
vandamme0   1/7/2014 12:24:13 PM
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My sincere, heartfelt sympathies go out to Microsoft, Symantec, and the rest. </sarcasm>

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Happy new year
Caleb Kraft   1/7/2014 12:28:48 PM
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Oh I'm not saying that it is good. I'm explaining why companies aren't quick to get rid of it. Linux sounds like a great idea to you, but a horrid one from the business standpoint.

 

Lets toss an OS on here that works fine, but doesn't work with the majority of software you'll find in the box stores. Lets also hire the support to deal with the new learning curve of a new OS. While we're at it, lets just stop taking all this money from these vendors.


That is what goes through their mind. I personally used various flavors of linux for years on task specific machines (web servers, DNS, mail, proxies, file servers), but still enjoy Windows for my editing/gaming, etc.

DMcCunney
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Re: Happy new year
DMcCunney   1/7/2014 8:40:17 PM
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@Kaleb Craft: Lets toss an OS on here that works fine, but doesn't work with the majority of software you'll find in the box stores. Lets also hire the support to deal with the new learning curve of a new OS. While we're at it, lets just stop taking all this money from these vendors.

I've been a corporate IT guy, and an open source partisian.

I snicker at the notion that Linux has a future on the desktop, and have for about as long as people have been trumpeting it, despite the fact that I run Linux at home.

The fundamental problem Linux has on the desktop is that it's different.  My experience in IT and support positions, starting in the 1980s in a mainframe shop and proceeding accross and down through mini-computers, super-micros, and personal computers has been consistent.  People buy computers as tools to perform tasks.  Once they have the tool, they learn just enough about it to perform the task, and stop.

Simply doing a corporate ugrade to a new version of Windows and Office can be painful, because it will require a learning curve on the part of the users.  (A fair bit of my activities over the years have been efforts to simplify the user's environment and reduce what they had to know and learn to be able to use the tools I supported.)

A switch to Linux on the desktop is a "throw out the baby with the bathwater" operation, involving not only a new OS with a different UI, but a whole new set of applications as well.  The user's reaction will be "I don't have time to get all my work done now, and you want me to learn a whole new set of ways to do it as well as getting it done?"  They have a point.

I've successfully introduced open source software, but it has been in specific niches, like PuTTY as the standard telnet/ssh client, and Filezilla as the standard ftp client.  Linux was in the mix, but in the server room doing things users didn't interact with directly and didn't need to learn about.

Ubuntu does about the best job I've seen of being a plausible desktop replacement for Windows, because it does the best at installing with next to no interaction needed with the user.  But Canonical, who are behind Ubuntu, are using Ubuntu on the desktop as a marketing tool.  They want to play in the same space Red Hat is.  Red Hat Linux is open source, and the CentOS version can be obtained free.  But the question corporate types will have about open source tools is "Who do we call if it breaks?", and Red Hat makes it's living being who they call, with supported commercial Linux installations.  Canonical wants a piece of that selling supported Ubuntu server installations, and uses the desktop version to let people know about the server flavor.

Meanwhile, Linux can make good business sense, but that generally happens in places where the user may not be aware Linux is under the hood.  My former Linksys router was one such.  There was a Linux kernel, but the user dealt with a web page to configure it.  The Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook eBook viewers are based on custom versions of Google Android, but the users likely don't know that.  and there are a plethora of Android powered cell phones and tablets, but while the users know it's Android, how many are aware that Android uses a Linux kernel?

And we are slowly reaching the point where what the OS is may not matter.  An enormous amount of stuff is out there is written in Java or Python, which are inherently cross platform, and will work the same on Windows, OS/X or Linux.  The user increasingly doesn't have to care what the underlying OS is.

Sheetal.Pandey
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Re: Happy new year
Sheetal.Pandey   1/10/2014 10:40:58 AM
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I use Ubuntu for my laptop, it works well, in last 2 years it has never crashed. But its a developer's OS if you need to update something and many websites features doesnt work well with UBuntu. 

DMcCunney
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Re: Happy new year
DMcCunney   1/10/2014 11:45:03 AM
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@Sheetal.Pandey: But its a developer's OS if you need to update something

Ubuntu can let you know when updates are available and apply them.  The bigger issue is that it can take time for current releases to get added to Canonical's repositories.  I added some PPAs to the software sources list Ubuntu looks at when checking for new releases to keep current.

and many websites features doesnt work well with UBuntu.

What browser are you using?  I run Firefox as my browser, and every site I visit with Firefox in Windows works in Firefox in Ubuntu.

goafrit
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Re: Happy new year
goafrit   1/2/2014 8:47:47 AM
Firing 5,000 could be a vicious cycle to fire more people. That is the problem. Lenovo and other Asian competitors will not sleep because 5k staff of HP are out of work. The challenge HP has is one of vision and strategy. I do not think they have the right mix now. Hurd was the only one that figured out the modern HP but they messed up with him.

elctrnx_lyf
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3D printers
elctrnx_lyf   1/1/2014 1:44:29 PM
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The next phenomenon would be 3D printers. And i believe there may be a lot of market for these products. This will be fueled not just by hobbyists but also by the school kids.

pconti
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Were there 10% Salary reductions across the board also (or instead)?
pconti   1/1/2014 2:40:34 PM
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Can anyone intelligently answer the question: Is firing 11% of your staff a business management strategy or is it the result of mismanagement ?  I've seen this strategy for 30 years in the semiconductor business and I've seen few companies if any rise from the ashes like a Phoenix.

David Ashton
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Re: Were there 10% Salary reductions across the board also (or instead)?
David Ashton   1/1/2014 3:48:50 PM
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I don't have the facts but I could pretty well guarantee that 
  • The CEO didn't lose any salary
  • The CEO won't get laid off as a result of this.....


Simon7382
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An incompetent CEO at work
Simon7382   1/2/2014 6:02:03 AM
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Laying off people at a company like HP which thrives on the ingenuity and innovation of its engineers is a sure sign of an incompetent CEO, wanting artificially increase profits to enrich herself. I did not expect anything else from Meg Whitman. The BOD can be proud of themselves for hiring her. This seems to be the beginning of the end of HP which used to be the pride of Silicon Valley.

junko.yoshida
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
junko.yoshida   1/3/2014 11:53:38 AM
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@Simon7382, but the fact is that HP has been on the beginnin of the end" for several years now....

Simon7382
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
Simon7382   1/3/2014 7:01:05 PM
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Hi Junko, regretfullty you are right. They have been wandering in the wilderness without any startegy to speak of (well, Apotheker at least had a startegy, one can argue whether it was the right startagy or not, but he was the exception) and without competent leadership for many years. This is why I have some doubts whether there is still enough vitality left in HP to reinvent itself, even if they were (unexpectedly) provided now with proper new leadership and direction. Organizations can reach a point of decline when there is no return. Just think about Sun or Silicon Graphics, etc.

junko.yoshida
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
junko.yoshida   1/4/2014 6:51:47 AM
@Simon7382, you wrote:

Organizations can reach a point of decline when there is no return. Just think about Sun or Silicon Graphics, etc.

I agree. I do, however, wonder how organizations reach that point. I mean there are a lot of business management books talking about how to succeed in business, but how corporations die seems like just as important study as the birth of startups/corporations.

betajet
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The Law of Large Organizations
betajet   1/4/2014 9:40:54 AM
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junko.yoshida asked: I do, however, wonder how organizations reach that point.

I think the primary reason is the Law of Large Organizations:
In any Large Organization, Loyalty will always be rewarded over Competence.

Employees who do not follow the Way We Do Things and warn of Icebergs Ahead get weeded out as trouble-makers.  Managers surround themselves with people who tell the managers What They Want To Hear, and then management acts surprised when the company starts hitting icebergs: "No one could have predicted that..."

JMO/YMMV

Simon7382
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
Simon7382   1/4/2014 5:58:51 PM
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Junko, that is a very interesting point. Maybe you or one of your colleagues should research the topic and write a book about it. One of the business books that I have read (and liked a lot) which has relevant observations on this topic is Andy Grove's "Only the paranoid survive". His theory about inflection points in businesses and that some companies come out of these rejuvenated and stronger while others miss it and die may be one of the explanations. For example DEC's history and demise seems to be a perfect illustration of Grove's inflection point theory.

DMcCunney
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
DMcCunney   1/4/2014 7:40:37 PM
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@Junko: @Simon7382, you wrote:

Organizations can reach a point of decline when there is no return. Just think about Sun or Silicon Graphics, etc.

I agree. I do, however, wonder how organizations reach that point. I mean there are a lot of business management books talking about how to succeed in business, but how corporations die seems like just as important study as the birth of startups/corporations.


There are endless case studies of individual failures.  The problem is drawing generalized conclusions.

Sometimes the companies involved had good management, but were swept under by abrupt changes in the market.  An example might be Digital Equipment Corporation, once the second largest computer maker after IBM.  DEC had good management, all things considered.  (You will find folks who chart DEC's decline from CEO Ken Olsen's decision to kill the Jupiter project, intended to create the successor to DEC's 36 bit DEC-10 and DEC-20 machines, but I think that's misplaced.)

DEC was caught be the same thing that has caught many other computer outfits: the advance of technology, and the need by customers to do things cheaper. DEC's flagship product was the 32 bit VAX minicomputer, based on the proprietary DEC LSI-11 processor architecture.  But a new generation of "super micros", based on the Motorola 680X0 architecture and running flavors of Unix were appearing.  They could to the work VAXen did in many cases almost as well, and instead of spending $250K for a VAX running VMS, you could get a super-micro to do much the same thing for a fifth to a tenth of the price.  (PCs increased in power to cannibalize the super-micro market later, and brands like Apollo, Pyramid, and MassComp are footnotes in computer history.)

It was also the heyday of the RISC processor, with Sun's Sparc, HP's Precision Architecture, and IBM's Power line among others being developed.  DEC had its own well regarded entry, the Alpha.  The market was making a mass migration to cheaper hardware.  DEC had its own Alpha based workstation.  The problem was ramping up Alpha sales fast enough to stem the bleeding and replace the revenue form plumetting VAX sales.  DEC couldn't do it in time, (in part because Alpha boxes were a lot cheaper than VAXen and it had to sell a lot more to take up the slack).  DEC sold off pieces of itself to stay alive, and what was left was bought by HP becore if in turm was merged with Compaq.

There are also examples of "Should have seen it coming."  You covered the problems faced by Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp as the big screen TV market declined.  All three had made enormous capital investents in the plant neeeded to produce the big screens, and all three did well while the market was new and growing, people were replacing old TVs and trading up to new ones, and they could charge high prices and make high margins.  But like everything else in consumer electronics, the market became saturated, and the products became commodities, where the purchase decision came down to price.  Outfits like Samsung could address that market because they had lower costs.  Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp could not, and started hemoraghing.  The question is why the Japanese outfits didn't see this coming and have an exit strategy in place, since it would happen, but Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp are hardly the only ones that wear such blinders.  If things are going well, there's an almost inevitable tendency among managements to assume that state of affairs will continue, and overlook or ignore evidence of impending change.

HP's case is more complex, starting with the question of just what HP is.  Is it a supplier of equipment to business (the test and measurement business spun off as Agilent, or the high end server and printer lines)?  Or is it a consumer products company selling through retailers?  They are very different businesses with different models and sales and product cycles.  HP drifted along by inertia, trying to make incremental improvements in existing lines of business, but paid insufficient interest to indicators of change.

Leo Apotheker blamed HP's woes on the acquisition of Palm, but blaming the outgoing CEO for the problems is no surprise.  I think the underlying weakness was there prior to that acquisition, and would have bitten HP in any case.

HP needs to rethink who it is, what it does, and who it does it for, and I suspect a successfully revived HP might look a lot different than the present company. The only certainty I see is that HP can't continue as it is.


junko.yoshida
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
junko.yoshida   1/4/2014 10:34:09 PM
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@DMcCunney, as usual, thank you for posting such well argued perspective. (I relish every point you make here.)

I think you nailed it.

HP's case is more complex, starting with the question of just what HP is.


HP, indeed, has grown into just too many things to many people (internally and externally) without a clear focus. That, I think, is the crux of the issue.

DMcCunney
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
DMcCunney   1/4/2014 11:39:23 PM
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@Junko: I think you nailed it.

HP's case is more complex, starting with the question of just what HP is.

HP, indeed, has grown into just too many things to many people (internally and externally) without a clear focus. That, I think, is the crux of the issue.

Yes.  And I agree with the "internally and externally" part.  Ask 20 random people inside HP and outside HP what HP is, and I think you'll get as many different answers, or more.

We all see things from our own viewpoint, and are often not conscious of the boundaries of that viewpoint.  We see the piece of the puzzle we are in as the whole puzzle.  It's easy for divisional managers in a large corporation to see their division as the core of the corporation, and the rest as appendages, and I suspect there's some of that in HP.

HP doesn't have a focus, and arguably hasn't had one in quite some time.  It's a collection of disparate businesses collected under an umbrella labeled HP, but is not a coherent whole.  You can get away with that as long as the individual parts are prospering, but is any have problems, they can poison the whole enterprise.

Mark Hurd at least had a vision of what HP was and needed to become.  His acquisition of Palm got blamed for a lot of HP's problems, but had he remained in place that perception might have gotten altered,  Palm had developed WebOS as the successor to the venerable PalmOS Garnet powering devices like the TX and the Treo.  WebOS is based on Linux, with an HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript programming model.  There is nothing that ties it to a PDA or smartphone, and I wondered when Palm might release something that wasn't a smartphone running it.  Palm, alas, had disappointing sales of the new phones it released based on WebOS, and put themselves on the block.  Hurd bought Palm as far as I could tell to get WebOS.  He announced plans to put it on everything HP made.  (It's Linux, and he could.) That would have been truly disruptive and a potential game changer, and WebOS might have been a competitor to Android.  Hurd left under a cloud, and it never happened.  HP's initial line of WebOS tablets got sold off at fire sale prices.  (They are showing up on eBay, modified to dual boot WebOS and Android,  I am very tempted.

Succesor Leo Apothecker tried to blame HP's problems on the Palm aquisition.  Apothecker had the idea of shifting HP into software services and away from dependence on hardware.  It's a nice thought, and IBM previously did something much like it.  But IBM began the process much earlier.  They wanted to reduce dependence on cyclical mainframe sales with long lead times and revenue peaks and valleys, but they started while the hardware business they were trying to diversify from was still healthy.  Doing so when your hardware business is in trouble, like HPs, is a much different matter.  HP probably can become a player in software and services, but it needs to be healthy otherwise first.

I don't envy Meg Whitman.  She gets brickbats, but she inherited a mess.  Right now, she's trying to keep HP alive.  Complaining that she isn't an engineer misses the point.  Engineers aren't necessarily good managers, and engineering driven companies can have predictable problems.  DEC was one such, with a propensity for relasing neat technology, then trying to figure out what the customer might do with it.  Another example might be Xerox's attempt at the computer field with the Xerox Star workstation.  The were a company that developed neat technology other companies turned into salable products.  (I believe about half of the folks at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center would up at Apple in the Macintosh group, taking ideas pioneered at Xerox PARC and turing into systems people wanted to buy.)

HP needs a unifying vision.  If Whitman can develop and articulate one, it doesn't matter that she's not an engineer.  If she can't, it wouldn't matter if she was.

junko.yoshida
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
junko.yoshida   1/5/2014 6:40:38 AM
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Brilliant analysis. I tend to agree. I had much higher expectation for WebOS, too... What I find fascinating, though, is that many of our readers do care about HP. They get so passionate about what HP could have done or should have done. The company, which served as a quintessential campus to nurture many engineers in Silicon Valley for decades, not only draws criticism but also support. During my time in the Bay Area, I met a lot of brilliant minds at HP, and I often found them courteous and helpful.

DMcCunney
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
DMcCunney   1/5/2014 10:30:07 PM
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@Junko: Brilliant analysis. I tend to agree. I had much higher expectation for WebOS, too..

HP is making it open source, but I don't see anyone actually putting in on new machines.

What I find fascinating, though, is that many of our readers do care about HP. They get so passionate about what HP could have done or should have done.

Given HP's storied history and place in the field, it's not surprising.  Given my choice, for instance, I specified HP printers and servers.  They tended to be high quality, well manufactured, and robust.  (I was heartbroken when an HP Laserjet II in the computer room at a former employer finally died.  It had been built like a tank and just ran.  It didn't do fancy stuff, lacking Postscript siupport, but I didn't need it for the purposes it served.)

My SO likes HP laptops, and has had several.  Alas, when her old one died and she needed a replacement right away, the model she wanted was out of stock at the retailer she went to  She called me and said "What about ASUS?"  I've used ASUS gear, the specs were similar, and I said "Sure."  She's been happy with it.

But that illustrates part of HPs problem: PCs are commodities, bought on price, and given similar specs, it doesn't much matter whose name is on the box.  Can't compete on price? You have trouble, right here in River City...

It makes Meg Whitman's announcement that HP would make PCs in the US fascinating, because doing so requires HP to either find ways to compete on price or develop PCs customers will willing pay more for.  A partial model might be the successful line of HP laptops aimed at women buyers, with packaging by iconic fashion designer Vera Wang.  Someone at HP realized that many women were fashion conscious, and wanted a laptop that looked good as well as worked well.  (That model has been used in more general terms by Apple, whose product have superb industrial design.  Apple figured out that good looking products sell.)

zewde yeraswork
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
zewde yeraswork   1/6/2014 9:34:37 AM
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HP remains the pride of Silicon Valley, and along with Intel and Microsoft one of the companies that the United States in general can be proud of. It's been a space fo rinnovation and evolution for some time. That explains why so many people continue to care and show concern when the company seems to be moving in the wrong direction.

betajet
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
betajet   1/5/2014 2:10:22 PM
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DMcCunny said: You will find folks who chart DEC's decline from CEO Ken Olsen's decision to kill the Jupiter project, intended to create the successor to DEC's 36 bit DEC-10 and DEC-20 machines, but I think that's misplaced.

I think it has a lot more to do with Ken Olsen's famous 1977 statement regarding microcomputers: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home".  Yep, that totally missed a gigantic market waiting for the right product.  It's pretty ironic that DEC, which disrupted the computer market with the PDP-1 minicomputer totally missed that the microcomputer would do the same to them.

Another big problem IMO was the architecture of the VAX-11, which made it very hard to pipeline.  VAX-11 instructions are byte-aligned and can vary from 1 to at least 50 bytes long.  The CPU has to interpret each operand field to determine how long the instruction is.  With a pipelined machine, you want to start interpreting a new instruction (or instructions) each clock cycle -- how do you do this if it's hard to calculate the length of the current instruction?  RISC machines have a huge advantage by making all instructions the same length (typically 32 bits), so finding the next instruction is trivial.

DEC is a casualty of cheap memory.  When memory was so expensive that nobody could afford more than 64KB, the PDP-11 ruled.  That was a great architecture.

Yog-Sothoth
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
Yog-Sothoth   1/5/2014 2:39:44 PM
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betajet, that is a very interesting summary. I recall how DEC introduced the Rainbow PC, the only problem was that it could only use pre-formatted floppy disks bought from DEC. A huge mistake that killed their chance in the PC market.

DMcCunney
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
DMcCunney   1/5/2014 9:35:45 PM
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@Yog-Sothoth: I recall how DEC introduced the Rainbow PC, the only problem was that it could only use pre-formatted floppy disks bought from DEC. A huge mistake that killed their chance in the PC market.

That wasn't the only problem.  The Rainbow came out in the days when IBM compatibilty was not assured, and users used Lotus 1,2,3 and MS Flight Simulator to test compatibility.  Compaq became the gold standard for IBM compatibility.

The Rainbow wasn't 100% IBM compatible.  That was deliberate on DEC's part, and the incompatibilities tended to be in places where DEC thought what it did was technically superior to what IBM did.  And it may have been, but users bought PCs as platforms to run applications, and expected to be able to run the applications they bought.  The Rainbow mostly got taken up by companies that already ran other DEC products and weren't bitten by the incompatibilities.  It got next to no pickup in the general PC market.

DMcCunney
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Re: An incompetent CEO at work
DMcCunney   1/5/2014 10:10:33 PM
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@betajet: DMcCunny said: You will find folks who chart DEC's decline from CEO Ken Olsen's decision to kill the Jupiter project, intended to create the successor to DEC's 36 bit DEC-10 and DEC-20 machines, but I think that's misplaced.

I think it has a lot more to do with Ken Olsen's famous 1977 statement regarding microcomputers: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home".  Yep, that totally missed a gigantic market waiting for the right product.  It's pretty ironic that DEC, which disrupted the computer market with the PDP-1 minicomputer totally missed that the microcomputer would do the same to them.


I don't think they totally missed it, but they were too late to the party.  DEC arch rival Data General suffered a similar fate.  They came out with the Aviion RISC workstation, but it couldn't replace declining revenue from Eclipse sales.  They had a storage management product that was well regarded, and that part of DG got bought by EMC, but the rest is no more. 

But yes, it was ironic.  It's also quite common, and DEC is hardly the only company that had the problem.

DEC is a casualty of cheap memory.  When memory was so expensive that nobody could afford more than 64KB, the PDP-11 ruled.  That was a great architecture.

I logged time on PDP-11s, under RSTS-E and RSX11m+.  I was trying at one point to get an expense reporting system used in another area of the bank I worked for up for a look in my area, as a possible replacement for a mainframe based application.  The small Systems Manager couldn't officially support me, but could give me an account on the PDPs and have an operator show me how to mount a tape.  Once I got the software loaded, I discovered I had to get the Applications Manager to regen RSTS-E with matrix support, and then track down the programmer who had put it up in the other area of the bank, and get him in for consultation on getting it customized for our shop.  Fun, for suitable values of the term.

 

zewde yeraswork
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leadership at HP
zewde yeraswork   1/2/2014 9:06:22 AM
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For those who see this decision as an example of HP's poor leadership, what do you think HP ought to do rather than pursuing its curent strategy? What would you like to see out of the company? Who would you like to see running it or, rather, what would you like to see from the leadership at HP in order for the company to once again be the "pride of Silicon Valley?"

mike_m
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Re: leadership at HP
mike_m   1/2/2014 6:08:13 PM
RE Zewde yeraswork: For those who see this decision as an example of HP's poor leadership, what do you think HP ought to do rather than pursuing its curent strategy?

My favorite ideas:

Option 1: Fire every top level executive, move them to Detroit and have them clean up old burnt out buildings for a time period of not less than 5 years.

Option 2: Make them do road work in Phoenix during the entire summer months but only during daylight hours without sunscreen, again for a time period of  no less than 5 years.  (Phoenix Roads have a lot of potholes and 5 years may not be enough)

Option 3 make them all join the army and do duty for not less than 5 years in Afghanistan.

Option 4: all of the above 

Personally I like Options 1 and 2, option 3 is nice; however these people are to stupid and stupid people in combat zones get innocents killed.

 

 

Simon7382
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Re: leadership at HP
Simon7382   1/2/2014 11:06:43 PM
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HP, as all technology companies, should be run by someone with engineering background, with both understanding and true passion for the technology, not by an administrator, or by a finance type/bean counter (see e.g. Fiorina, who probably was the biggest mistake among the incredible series of mistakes of the HP board). I am not sure what could be done now to save HP, short of a major shake-up of the BOD and the entire top management. However, for sure HP will not survive as a supplier of non-differentiated PC-s, inkjet or laser printers and inkjet cartridges, these products constituting the majority of HP sales. There may be some differentiation is servers and software/services, but those are becoming commodities, as well. For HP to survive it needs a visionary technologist leader who drives the remaining engineering talent at HP to invent and commercialize differentiated new technologies with long life cycles for sustained profitability (and to keep and hire new exceptional engineering talent, which is the only way to add significant value for a technology company). With a decade or more bumbling and egregious mistakes by HP's leadership it may be too late to save HP and make it again the pride of Silicon Valley, indeed our nation. Maybe the best option is for someone like Michael Dell (and private equity companies) taking it private and remake/reshape the whole company outside of the quarterly pressures of Wall Street.

zewde yeraswork
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Re: leadership at HP
zewde yeraswork   1/3/2014 8:41:56 AM
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Any specific idea of who that visionary technologist might be? Do any names come to mind when considering the ideal leadership at HP?

 

As for the rest of the board, it seems as though there is agreement here that HP needs a change. Is there anyone who actually likes their current direction? Their current decision to lay people off not withstanding, is there anything they are actually doing right?

rich.pell
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Re: leadership at HP
rich.pell   1/3/2014 12:19:03 PM
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"...is there anything they are actually doing right?"

They (maybe) have managed to stop shooting themselves in the foot on a regular basis.  They do seem to have stemmed some of the decline in some of their businesses. They are looking to get much more into growth areas like the cloud and 3D printing.  



Simon7382
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Re: leadership at HP
Simon7382   1/3/2014 7:14:15 PM
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I agree that cloud and 3D printing are promising new directions. However there are established players in cloud (e.g. Amazon, IBM, etc.) and it is not clear to me whether HP has, or can create, any competitive advantage there. As for 3D printing one has to wonder how big that market can be in the forseeable (say 5 year) future. One thing that bothers me about HP lately is that they seem to have given up one of their significant competitive advantages: quality/reliability (presumably to increase their profit margins short term). Up to a year ago, during the past ~25 years, I have only used HP printers both at work and at home. The last 2 generations of HP inkjet printers that I had were terrible quality, both mechanically and over-all. Hence, I switched to Brother and I doubt that I would ever go back to buy an HP printer again.

Simon7382
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Re: leadership at HP
Simon7382   1/3/2014 6:52:31 PM
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Hi Zewde, I have no idea, but for sure it is NOT Meg Whitman. They need someone who speaks the language and has the respect of the lead engineers who are still with HP and who can make the difference HP needs. They need someone who has the vision and iron will to remake HP, as Jeff Immelt has been remaking GE for example. Just as Immelt (after some arduous years) is succeeding in taking back GE to its roots (pre-finacial services) so HP needs ro go back its pre-PC, pre-printer roots, at least in my opinion. It will not be easy and will at least initally lead to much decreased revenues. This is why it could probably be best done by taking HP private for a couple of years during the transition.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: leadership at HP
MeasurementBlues   1/4/2014 10:58:46 PM
HP, as all technology companies, should be run by someone with engineering background

It started with Bill and Dave, and we all know what happened.
Then there was Carly Fiorina, and we all know what happened.

DMcCunney
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Re: leadership at HP
DMcCunney   1/5/2014 12:18:50 AM
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@MeasurementBlues: HP, as all technology companies, should be run by someone with engineering background

Really?  Then perhaps you can explain the success of technology company Apple Computers under the late Steve Jobs?  Jobs was not an engineer.  He dropped out of Reed College after 6 months, wasn't an engineering major, and while he studied a variety of things after dropping out, engineering wasn't one of them.  Yet under Jobs, Apple became arguably the most successful technology company ever.

The underlying assumption here seems to be "If an engineer were running HP, it wouldn't be in trouble!"  That's wishful thinking at best.  HP's current problems aren't engineering problems.  They are rooted in finance, marketing, and underlying shifts in the marketplace, which historically are things engineers haven't been good at.

zewde yeraswork
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Re: leadership at HP
zewde yeraswork   1/6/2014 9:31:21 AM
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It is to be expected, I think, that among engineers there is a belief that if only engineers were running things, were completely in control of their own fate, most of their problems would go away. That is, as you say, wishful thinking, but it's a powerful sort of belief and one that is not likely to dissipate.

DMcCunney
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Re: leadership at HP
DMcCunney   1/6/2014 4:00:49 PM
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@zewde yeraswork: I think, that among engineers there is a belief that if only engineers were running things, were completely in control of their own fate, most of their problems would go away. That is, as you say, wishful thinking, but it's a powerful sort of belief and one that is not likely to dissipate.

No, it won't.  There are lots of powerful beliefs that can be conclusively disproven, but are clung to anyway, because they satisfy on an emotional level. 

Part of the issue is the very different nature of the jobs of the engineer and the CEO.  The engineer does engineering, designing products the company builds and sells.  But the engineer is not normally the one that decides what products to design,  build and sell.  He gets his marching orders about what is needed from elsewhere.  Product development is and must be customer driven.  It doesn't matter how good the technology you develop is if it can't be used in a product customers will buy.

The fundamental job of the CEO is resource allocation.  Development, manufacture, and sales of products requires capital investment, and in the case of high-tech firms, enormous capital investment.  Top management at a firm are custodians of Other People's Money.  The capital they invest comes from outside the firm, in the form of equity from stockholders purchasing stock, and debt in the form of loans, commercial paper and the like.  Management has a fiduciary responsible to invest Other People's Money where it will get the greatest return.  (If they are perceived as not doing so, they can be sued.)  So final decisions on what products the company will design, build, and sell will be made by the CEO, based on his and his subordinate's best guesses on what the customers will buy, and resources will be allocated based on those guesses.

Another widely held mistaken notion revolves around the above, and concerns profitability.  The usual assumption is that the company asks "What is the maximum profit we can make?"  It's the wrong question.  The right question is "How much profit do we have to make to survive and stay in business?", and the answer is simple: enough to cover the marginal cost of capital.  The capital investment requirements of high tech companies are ferocious, and require high margins to fund.  (For some companies, the answer to "How much do we have to make" is higher than the most optimistic answer to "What's the maximum we can make?", and they are in trouble.)

There are few cases I can think of where having an engineer at the top is a good idea.  It worked for Hewlett and Packard, because they were engineers selling equipment that would be used by other engineers, and were selling to other businesses.  I'd bet that only businesses selling technology to other technology oriented businesses might be candidates for having an engineer at the top, and that likelihood would progressively diminish as the company grew.  (Note, for instance, that the current CEO of semi-conductor equipment maker Lam Research is a financial guy.)

It's not the responsibility of the CEO at a high-tech firm to be an engineer.  It's his responsibility to insure the firm has top engineers working for it.  He needs to understand enough about the technology the firm has and develops to know how it can be applied to customer needs, and he needs to deeply understand the customers and the market he is in.  Most engineers simply can't do this.  It's not their orientation or skill set.  They're engineers, which is a different discipline.

DMcCunney
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Re: leadership at HP
DMcCunney   1/4/2014 11:54:44 PM
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@MeasurementBlues: The point was to assassinate the idea that the best CEOs were those that worked their way up from mail room to the top, having done every job along the way and knowing the company's business inside out.

The best CEOs know the customer and the market inside out.  They do not always come from within.  Revenue comes from outside of the enterprise: you get it by selling things customers want to buy.  You need to understand what the customer perceives as valuable, and it may not be what you assume it is.

The CEO promoted from within may have the problem of tunnel vision imposed by spending a career in a company whose vision of the world was increasingly incongruent with reality.  Spend a career in an organization, and you pick up the organization's viewpoints and attitudes by osmosis, as part of fitting in and advancing in the company.

What if the organization's view is simply wrong? If so, yours will be too, and you won't be able to fix the problems despite "knowing the business inside out", because you won't understand what the problems are.  Such understanding comes from stepping outside the local context and seeing things from a different perspective.  The longer you have been with a firm, the harder that is to do.

DMcCunney
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Re: leadership at HP
DMcCunney   1/3/2014 11:40:43 PM
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@zewde yeraswork: For those who see this decision as an example of HP's poor leadership, what do you think HP ought to do rather than pursuing its curent strategy?

It's not clear what HP's current strategy is, beyond "try to stop the bleeding while we figure out what to do next."


If I'm HP management, I'm asking "What is HP, anyway?  What do we do?  Who is our customer?  What do we do better than anyone else?"

HP's problem is that there isn't a simple answer to those questions.  It's a diversified conglomerate, engaed in a variety of different businesses with different underlying business models and cycles, and problems in one can drag down the others.

What most people probably think when they think HP is printers  and computers.  The problem HP has there is the same problem every other US outfit in those lines has: how to do it profitably.  Leo Apotheker got the boot in part because of his intent to get rid of HP's PC business, but he had a point.  The PC business is a commodity business where the purchase decision devolves to price, and lowest cost producer wins.  HP can't be the lowest cost producer, and has problems.  HP competitor Dell has worse ones, and most recently went private in a LBO to avoid the pressures imposed by the public markets for returns it couldn't generate.  The printer business is likely similar.

Meg Whitman reversed the decision to get rid of the PC business, and even announced return of PC manufacture to the US.  That's lovely, but the challenge will be how to do it profitably.  HP was losing money in the PC business because they couldn't be a lowest-cost producer.  Producing in the US has inherently higher costs.  HP must either figure out ways to dramatically reduce cost of manufacture in the US, or come up with computer models it can successfully charge a lot more for, or both, to have any hope.

Spinning off the test and measurement business as Agilent was probably sensible.  It's a very different business than PCs and printers, with the mentioned different business model and cycles.  The test and measurement business, by itself, can't save HP.  It's simply not a big enough market. When you are the size of HP, it puts constraints on what you can do.  You have to do big things, because you are too big to do small ones profitably.   There is simply too much overhead from being a big company.

Others have decried the lack of engineers at the top and talked about technology.  Technology by itself is meaningless.  You can have the best technology in the world, but if you can't see needs your technology can fill, and create products or services people will buy using it, the technology will simply be an asset someone else might buy when you go into bankruptcy.

I wouldn't be surprised if HP's best move wasn't fission - split back into the parts it was built from, and let those parts sink or swim, rather than trying to remain a huge conglomerate.

goafrit
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Manager
Re: leadership at HP
goafrit   1/4/2014 10:40:25 PM
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>>  What would you like to see out of the company?

When Hurd was running the firm, it was expanding and growing. The fact is this, after the man left, all these issues came up. They went and bought one English balloney in Autonomy and ever since, they have not recoverred. If shame can be taken away, they need to bring the man back if he will agree.

MeasurementBlues
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Blogger
Re: leadership at HP
MeasurementBlues   1/4/2014 11:04:30 PM
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what do you think HP ought to do rather than pursuing its curent strategy?

They should start by asking Bill and Dave.



resistion
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CEO
Re: leadership at HP
resistion   1/5/2014 8:23:52 AM
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Breakup seems inevitable. Printers and PCs separated. Neither really outstanding at the moment.

aarunaku
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Rookie
HP lays off 5000 more employees
aarunaku   1/3/2014 10:22:00 PM
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Would like to see one bold CEO who comes out saying that he/she will take 30-50% pay cut to avoid layoffs. It sounds tech-fiction.

DMcCunney
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CEO
Re: HP lays off 5000 more employees
DMcCunney   1/3/2014 10:55:28 PM
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@aarunaku: Would like to see one bold CEO who comes out saying that he/she will take 30-50% pay cut to avoid layoffs.

It wouldn't avoid layoffs if one did.  Remember, most of the CEO's compensation isn't in money - it's in stock, and options to buy more stock.  If the CEO elected to get no salary, the amount of money to redirect to things like keeping otherwise laid off employees would save relatively few jobs.

If you assume an average salary of $50,000 for those laid off, dropping 5,000 employees is a savings of $250 million a year.  (Much more, actually - that $50,000 is base salary.  Add various fringe benefits and the total savings is much greater.)

goafrit
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Manager
Re: HP lays off 5000 more employees
goafrit   1/4/2014 10:46:33 PM
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>> @aarunaku: Would like to see one bold CEO who comes out saying that he/she will take 30-50% pay cut to avoid layoffs.

I do not think the CEO salary is the problem. Imagine if we can guarantee that higher pay provides better returns (there is no correlation to that). I will be happy to pay you $20m if you can add a value of $2B in the stock valuation in a year. Why people are complaining is that the pay has no bearing on performance. But there are cases when they deserve. I will be happy to give the CEO of Micro $20m this year for growing the stock 238% in 2013.

seaEE
User Rank
CEO
What impressed me about HP
seaEE   1/4/2014 5:09:22 PM
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What impressed me about HP was that they started out in test and measurement, but ultimately they were highly succesful in the calculator, PC, printer, and electronic component businesses (LEDs and communication IC's).  Somehow they were able expand upon those technologies that fed into their original core competency.  To do that takes a "go for it" mentality along with seasoned good judgment.  I think there is as well something of the "muse effect" that inspires engineering as well as the arts.  Einstein was noted for his long walks in the countryside during which he thought.  Beethoven was noted for his long walks in the countryside during which he composed.  Most time cards to not have a charge number for long walks in the countryside, and yet you need a certain amount of freedom to be able not just to think, not just to engineer, but to muse..."what could happen, what might happen, what if this leads to this".  Oops, somebody is coughing at me.  Back to work!

vikas.shrivastava
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Rookie
No more quality lover
vikas.shrivastava   1/14/2014 7:25:09 PM
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They used to be quality lover. Why shouldn't I go for lenovo if lenovo and hp offers same. HP products were popular because they were hassle free simple and tough. HP products were not feature rich but with outstanding features/specs. HP should concentrate on reliability instead of being feature rich Chinese company. Now a days buy a laptop or computer they wont guarantee it will work seamlessly but they can ensure you will get super service at service centres. If I will have to visit service center every now and then it is better to go for cheap Chinese product so whenever I will face problem I will dump it and go for new which will be faster than waiting for services.

zewde yeraswork
User Rank
Blogger
Re: No more quality lover
zewde yeraswork   1/15/2014 9:09:48 AM
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Should HP continue to seek to offer products at a lower price or should they change their approach? Should HP look to make reliable, durable products or offer more feature-rich solutions?

vikas.shrivastava
User Rank
Rookie
Re: No more quality lover
vikas.shrivastava   1/21/2014 12:03:26 PM
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As I said hp should not get involved in making cheaper products. They should concentrate on quality, premium products. Yes it is always easy to jump in cheap competition but it can never earn value. A super brand can not be born by cheap product. HP is a premium brand name and should be continued with permium way.



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