Hewlett Packard Shuffles Legal Deck Chairs

November 15, 2014

Short honk: I am not an attorney (heaven forbid). I found this somewhat opaque, inside baseball write up interesting: “Baker & McKenzie, Freshfields and Gibson Dunn Cross Fingers as HP Kicks Off Panel Tender.” The write up references HP’s “contentious year.” I would agree. When a football team makes changes, it is usually because the human element is not fitting into the team. I suppose with a new line up, HP will win more legal games. I would be happy if I could get my HP ink jet printer to work when the temperature drops. I wonder if Autonomy’s founder is making changes to his legal team? Dr. Lynch is probably too busy with his new businesses. HP, however, has some reason for making news with a legal shuffle.

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2014

Why I Dismiss Search Vendors Who Sell Customer Service Solutions

November 13, 2014

I have had feedback over the years about the baloney generated by mid tier consultants, struggling enterprise search vendors, and failed webmasters about their expertise in customer service.

Customer service means cost cutting or worse to me. I ignore the silliness of Comcast apologists too.

I wish to offer a tiny bit of possibly true information from the annals of real customer service; that is, attention to customers the it is, not as it is supposed to be.

Navigate to http://bit.ly/112cWdc. Allegedly this is a “real” letter from a former Amazonian to big cheese bits at the digital WalMart with drones, Amazon.

As I read this allegedly accurate epistle, a person asserts that the digital WalMart wanted an Amazon professional (now apparently seeking a future elsewhere) to prevaricate. Here’s the passage I highlighted:

I tried to get Amazon to address what I believe to be misleading and deceptive, and possibly criminal ?nancial fraud issues related treatment of an Amazon advertising customer while I was an employee at the company. I was subsequently terminated for raising the internal ethics complaint even though Amazon’s own policies require that employees report events of this nature. To be terminated for that is wrong and is the subject of current litigation which I have asked the Washington Attorney General’s office to assist in resolving, since it deals with important issues related to misleading,deceptive, and what I believe to be ?nancially fraudulent trade practices that relate to Amazon customers and employees.

Is this perhaps the first instance of alleged misconduct in the handling of “customer service” issues? If so, mark it down. If not, my views of customer service have been affirmed.

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2014

Google Road Show: Annoying the Audience?

November 4, 2014

I wonder if the European officials are finding Google’s methods annoying. I read “Google’s ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Roadshow Is Just a ‘Distraction’ – EU Digital Rights Group.

I found this comment interesting:

“Google is in the perfect position to drive much needed change in this area, but the truth is that Google doesn’t want to restrict its own freedom to maneuver. It doesn’t want more regulation and misrepresenting this whole ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling is a way to distract from that,” claimed McNamee [EDRi executive director Joe McNamee].

The Google approach was quirky and charming to some. No more it seems.

Stephen E Arnold, November 4, 2014

Google Not Accurate in Search Results

October 28, 2014

I read “Is Google Responsible for Delivering Accurate – And Truthful – Search Results?” The main idea of the write up is that at least one person perceives Google’s search results as “riddled with lies, deception, even criminal intent.”


My goodness. A locksmith is taking Google to court over his allegations about Google’s search results. The aggrieved locksmith is quoted as saying:

“People think this search engine stuff is accurate. A lot of times it isn’t.”

Who knew.

The article reports:

It’s not just locksmiths, either, said Baldino. His belief is that listings for many occupations are contaminated with links to the unqualified and the unlicensed, because apparently Google acquires many of its listing from third parties including bogus locksmiths who create misleading web pages. Remember this because it may be key to how the law plays out. Nonetheless, it would be easy, Baldino added in the interview, for Google to double-check its listings. For locksmiths, he said, the company could cross-reference listings with state records of locksmith licenses. No license in the state database, no listing in Google; it’s that simple, he [the locksmith] said.

Double my goodness.

Stephen E Arnold, October 28, 2014

Hewlett Packard Autonomy: Law Firm Spat

October 20, 2014

I read “HP Shareholder Wants Scrutiny of Wachtell Role in Controversial Settlement.” Quite an interesting write up. The proper nouns alone make the article a stunner. Here’s a sampling:

  • Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom;
  • Proskauer Rose, Choate
  • Brown Rudnick
  • Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy
  • Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd
  • Greenfield & Goodman

The proper nouns point not to actual humans in most cases but to law firms.

In addition to the HP management decision to buy Autonomy for billions of dollars, the litigation is acting like a magnet for attorneys eager to help their clients and help blind justice remove the occlusion from her eyes.

Here’s a passage I noted:

“Wachtell inappropriately represented simultaneously both HP and the individual director and officer defendants,” the brief said, “and seemingly succumbed to the pressure to construct a settlement that unjustly benefited the individual defendants and provided, at best, nominal value to the company. Since the interests of the company were wholly incompatible with the goal of the individual defendants to eliminate their liability, Wachtell should not have provided such de facto dual representation.”

Would a law firm behave in this manner? I assume that the resolution of this matter will clarify the situation. I had the same silly notion about the settlement between i2 and Palantir. I am hopeful, however.

Stephen E Arnold, October 20, 2014

College Students Turn to Illegal Downloads for Textbook Materials

October 10, 2014

There is a well-known crisis in academic publishing. Most of the discussion centers on journal articles with many librarians and other thought leaders publicly denouncing the skyrocketing price increases. And while the serials crisis has been ongoing in some part for at least two decades, more recent attention has turned to inflated textbook prices.

This recent Reddit thread, “More students are illegally downloading college textbooks for free,’ laments rising costs and their effects on students. One disgruntled student sums up the issue:

“Yea, this is what happens when costs skyrocket and become generally un-affordable to students (who are already broke teenagers). You create an ‘underground’ market for people who can’t afford the legal price of the book. Publishers often create new versions every year, with little to no difference in content, but charge a few hundred dollars. And the people that write the book chapters (often professors with specialized research areas, or even post-doctoral students) don’t get royalties of the book.”

This thread was inspired by a Washington Post article, “More Students are Illegally Downloading Textbooks for Free.” And while piracy is never laudable, it does reveal weaknesses in systems, in the textbook system in this case. The students’ and concerned professors’ criticisms are sincere. The industry has responded by offering textbook rental plans and digital offerings in recent years. But anyone who crunches the numbers will see that those new means of access do not put a dent in the corporate greed at the center of the controversy, nor does it address the inequity of not paying professors and other writers for their work in assembling the material.

Emily Rae Aldridge, October 10, 2014

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Google and Images: What Does Remove Mean?

October 4, 2014

I read “After Legal Threat, Google Says It Removed ‘Tens of Thousands’ of iCloud Hack Pics.” On the surface, the story is straightforward. A giant company gets a ringy dingy from attorneys. The giant company takes action. Legal eagles return to their nests.

However, a question zipped through my mind:

What does remove mean?

If one navigates to a metasearch engine like Devilfinder.com, the user can run queries. A query often generates results with a hot link to the Google cache. Have other services constructed versions of the Google index to satisfy certain types of queries? Are their third parties that have content in Web mirrors? Is content removed from those versions of content? Does “remove” mean from the Fancy Dan pointers to content or from the actual Google or other data structure? (See my write ups in Google Version 2.0 and The Digital Gutenberg to get a glimpse of how certain content can be deconstructed and stored in various Google data structures.)

Does remove mean a sweep of Google Images? Again are the objects themselves purged or are the pointers deleted.

Then I wondered what happens if Google suffers a catastrophic failure. Will the data and content objects be restored by a back up. Are those back ups purged?

I learned in the write up:

The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday published a letter to Google from Hollywood lawyers representing “over a dozen” of the celebrity victims of last month’s leak of nude photos. The lawyers accused Google of failing to expeditiously remove the photos as it is required to do under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They also demanded that Google remove the images from Blogger and YouTube as well as suspend or terminate any offending accounts. The lawyers claimed that four weeks after sending the first DMCA takedown notice relating to the images, and filing  over a dozen more since, the photos are still available on the Google sites.

What does “remove” mean?

Stephen E Arnold, October 4, 2014

Google May Show Pesky German Publishers Its Traffic Power

October 2, 2014

I read “Google Bows to Pressure, Removes News Snippets from German Search Results.” This is a “real” journalism story from the same folks that delivered the Dave Schubmehl sale of my information on Amazon.

Not surprisingly, I interpreted the friskiness of the German legal eagles in a way that is quite different from deal old Computerworld’s.

Computerworld states with its real news authoritarian tone:

In a move to minimize legal risks, Google has stopped showing news snippets and thumbnails for some well-known German news sites in search results.

My view is that Google will allow publishers to witness a shift in their referral traffic from Google. Changes in either presentation in a Google page or results list can have an immediate and direct impact on traffic.

In my view, the Google perceives some countries as “not getting it.” What looks like a retreat may not be a signal of Google cowardice. Too bad traffic reports for German media properties are not as popular as Miley Cyrus concert attendance.

If one is not in Google, one may be hard to find or may not exist to some of the digital crowd.

Stephen E Arnold, October 2, 2014

Hewlett Packard Autonomy: A New 3D Printer Will Not Distract Litigation Scrutiny

September 28, 2014

I read “Hewlett Packard Autonomy Lawsuit Accord Questioned by Judge.” I marked this passage as an indication that HP’s announcement about a new 3D printer is not distracting US District Judge Charles Breyer. The write up states:

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco, who earlier held up approval of the settlement over how much lawyers would be paid, Friday told company attorneys he’s concerned the deal would rob investors of the right to sue management over matters unrelated to the purchase.

Also, one big bucks outfit expressed some concern that certain aspects of HP management behavior may need some sunlight. Navigate to “CalPERS Says HP/Autonomy Shareholder Settlement Needs More Work.” I noted this passage in the article:

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer dated Tuesday, CalPERS said the judge should not approve the deal before both sides disclose the amount of fees plaintiff attorneys would recover. As it stands, the proposed civil settlement would leave shareholders “in the dark” about one of its key terms, CalPERS said in the letter.

Now about that 3D printer? “Market Brands HP’s 3D Printing Comments “Worrisome.” As long as a mid tier consultant explains HP’s 3D printer play in this way, HP will have to deal with the buzz about Autonomy:

In the end, HP will target the 3D printer opportunities that align with its technology and overall strategy. And as the company has said but which has been misunderstood by many people, HP will make technology announcements this fall only to make its 3D printers available later.

Does HP have control of its communications or will tweets from an outfit like IDC turn the tide? The September 22, 2014 tweets about HP are similar in the impact to the “In the end” statement above:

Dave Schubmehl @dschubmehl  ·  Sep 22  HP #IDOL and #Vertica power #HPHAVEn to deliver new insights from structured and unstructured information to impact marketing #HPEngage2014 Replied to 0 times

I quite like the zero times.

Stephen E Arnold, September 28, 2014

HP, Bribes, and an Autonomy Flip

September 13, 2014

Try as I might, I cannot avoid learning about Hewlett Packard. For a $100 billion outfit, the flow of information is not overwhelmingly positive.

Earlier today, I worked through several stories. Perhaps you have absorbed their contents? If not, here’s my take.

First, several years ago I saw a document describing Autonomy’s business. The link to the “Autonomy Overview,” dated January 2011 is at http://bit.ly/1tNtn5H. The link to a second document is at http://bit.ly/1uMLmKg. (A happy quack to Oracle for keeping these useful documents online and available.) One of the most important factoids in the two documents is that there appeared with the Qatalyst Partners logo. Quatalyst is associated in my mind with Frank Quattrone, a person of interest for his financial wizardry.

The write up “Exclusive: HP Exploring Sale of Photo Sharing Service Snapfish – Source” may be off center. I did note this this statement in the write up:

Shutterfly hired Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst Partners over the summer to find a buyer, and is expected wrap up its process in the next several weeks, people familiar with the matter have said previously.

Perhaps HP’s sale of Snapfish will demonstrate that Mr. Quattrone will be bested in this minor joust. HP’s encounter with Mr. Quattrone’s analysis of Autonomy seems to have dazzled the printer ink company to some degree.

Second, “HP Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Is Fined $108” asserts that HP fought the law and the law won. I learned:

In a statement, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said HP Russia admitted that its executives paid bribes to officials of the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation to win a large technology contract in 1999, and continued making illegal payments for more than a decade. “[HP] subsidiaries, co-conspirators or intermediaries created a slush fund for bribe payments, set up an intricate web of shell companies and bank accounts to launder money, employed two sets of books to track bribe recipients, and used anonymous email accounts and prepaid mobile telephones to arrange covert meetings to hand over bags of cash,” said DoJ deputy assistant attorney general Bruce Schwartz.

Fascinating when I put this business approach in the context of HP’s actions related to Autonomy.

Third, I read “Former Autonomy Execs Turning to Unusual Strategy in Fight with Hewlett-Packard.” The article reports that Autonomy asserts that “HP grossly overvalued their firm.” That makes sense to me. HP appears to have been bitten by the Big Data, predictive analytics and search bug. Like Ebola, the infection can lead to some challenging problems.

Also, I read “HP: We Will Eradicate the Color Grey from Our Market.” HP seems to have some folks who are selling HP products around the formal partner procedures. The article reports:

Alex Tatham, MD at HP distributor Westcoast, said he is “delighted” that HP is tackling a market that has the potential to suck profits from the authorised channel. “All vendors need to police the grey market; it is their responsibility to create as level a playing field as possible for resellers,” he told us. Some in the industry will say that the grey market is, at least, partly fuelled by the vendors themselves, whether it be leaky supply chains or the temptation to sell to brokers to make kit disappear amid slow sales.

Net net: HP is a company able to capture headlines. I wonder if Kim Kardashian’s media impact has inspired the $100 billion company?

Stephen E Arnold, September 13, 2014

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