YouTube Deletes Raw Videos of Aged Electronics Repair

July 9, 2020

A loyal fan of DarkCyber sent me a link to a video called “Youtube DELETED Jordan Pier’s Electronics Repair Channel!” For those hip to the zippity dippity world of Silicon Valley and Googley decisions, the decision makes perfect and logical sense.

Jordan Pier and his disgusting old electronics represent the past which must be removed. I think of vintage electronics in the same terms I frame statues of people whose names I don’t know.

Imagine. Rip open a wooden box. Expose disgusting and old fashioned capacitors. Wires have fabric on them some time. Bare wires should be sealed in epoxy so an independent repair person can just watch YouTube videos, not make them.

DarkCyber understands that digital and unrepairable electronics are the future. What if your beloved smart Pixel phone goes to the digital grave yard. Throw it out. Don’t even think about repairing that device or your MacBook Air or your friend’s father’s John Deere tractor.

Take those offensive repair videos down. Snuff out information about the past. Stalin would be proud. Naked electronics require revisionist action.

Stephen E Arnold, July 8, 2020

High Schoolers: The Cafeteria Jibes Continue

July 7, 2020

I read “What’s Really Behind Tech Versus Journalism?” The write up’s goal is to explain that the Silicon Valley crowd is not happy with “real” journalists.

The article asserts:

Let me start with a brief recounting of events — and acknowledge that I played a role in some of them.

Okay, an autobiographical account of the origin of the high school cafeteria spat. The combatants are the whiz kids in Science Club. This is the organization which may have served as the inspiration for the film “Revenge of the Nerds.”

At the other table in the lunch room are the writers, the wordsmiths able to melt the hearts of English teachers and inflame the school’s administration with poems, pamphlets, and pulsing pellets of prose.

Now the two factions are grown up. The science club crowd wants to do what it wants. That’s the move fast, break stuff group informed by its interpretation of the smartest people in the room.

The pulsing pellets of prose group wants to right wrongs. That’s the we know better than you faction. Those required readings provide the tinder for burning outrage.

As adults, the members of these groups no longer skirmish in the close confines of an 18 minute lunch break for hyper active teenyboppers. The battle is on a bigger stage. The science club members have done bad things. The pellets of prose crowd becomes the target for the anger of the whiz kids. Confusion and chaos ensue. After 20 years of doing whatever, the science club folks want their status quo to remain, well, static.

The prose pellet pals want the wrongs of the science club fixed and fast. I can hear the taunts grinding in the background.

The write up reports:

Workers still face significant obstacles as they lobby to create more fair and equitable workplaces.

The notion of “workplaces” seems quaint, almost old-fashioned. That’s just one of the oddities in the write up. Add that pre-Covid stance to the autobiographical spin.

The administrators get involved. And who may these respected individuals be? Venture capitalists, the skin in the game crowd, the MBA torpedoes blasting their way through mere social norms:

Certainly, the worlds of tech and venture capital have complaints about journalism that go beyond hit pieces. … The exasperation is real, even if the scrutiny is a natural consequence of starting a company that aims to change the world.

Let’s step back.

I have used the phrase “high school science club management methods” to describe the approach to governance evidenced among some of the high-tech, high-performance companies. The HSSCMM — which one upscale, bug buck “real” journalist did not understand when I explained the concept — is one way to approach decisions which have unintended consequences; for example, Facebook and its dealings with those involved in the Cambridge Analytica matter. As I recall, exactly zero changed at Facebook. Also, there’s innovation starved companies like Google buying an obscure maker of semi functional Google Glass devices. I can almost hear the inner voices of Googlers whispering, “We are behind, we are behind. Buy the company, buy the company.” Will this deal be a Dodgeball II reprise.

The “real” journalists, for their part are wordsmiths. The idea the pen is mightier than the checkbook lives on.

The dispute is one more example of how one faction of high school achievers responds to another faction. The issues require more than jibes, knee jerk reactions, and “I told you” so’s.

That’s one of the consequences of allowing a particular mind set make decisions because of this rationale: “We can just do it. So there.”

Both the technology wizards from the science club and the wordsmiths from the writing club see themselves as informed individuals. Both in their view are “right,” which is a nebulous concept in a relativistic world of dynamic data.

The problem from my point of view is that these views emerged fully formed from a 15-year-old brains, were refined by conversations with fellow travelers, and encouraged by those who could make money from these young achievers.

After decades of ministrations by nurturing venture capitalists, what have we got? A food fight, but is a food fight is not what’s needed to address significant issues about governance, ethical behavior, and professional conduct.

Net net: Watch out. That angry teen just threw a Twinkie at the principal.

Stephen E Arnold, July 7, 2020

The Legacy of HP Management Expertise: Quibi

July 1, 2020

When I hear the name “quibi”, I think of Hewlett Packard in the era of Meg Whitman. My focus narrows to some interesting decisions by the Board of Directors, a somewhat high-profile acquisition, a vendetta which targets a feisty computer scientist, and a great big lawsuit. The lawsuit by the way is of the variety that is likely to be a source of income for attorneys for years to come. You know the litigation matter: Meg Whitman’s former outfit and the Cambridge engineer/scientist Mike Lynch. I will name the word: Autonomy.

I read “The Fall of Quibi: How Did a Starry $1.75bn Netflix Rival Crash So Fast.” What’s interesting about this “real” newspaper’s “real” news story is that it mostly misses the boat or, at the very list, trips over the step when boarding the tube.

The article identifies what anyone listening to chatter in the line up to buy a Starbuck’s confection knows: Short videos, free for some people, no one cares, and an oddball selection of content without programs like Cheers or Seinfeld.

What catches the attention of would be financiers is the number $1.75 billion. What catches the attention of those with Hollywood in their DNA is the name Jeffrey Katzenberg. What catches the attention of the DarkCyber research team is the co Big Dog Meg Whitman.

The “real” news story cares little about Ms. Whitman and her management “successes.” I assume that those researching the story were unaware that some individuals with first hand information about her management expertise were just too difficult to reach. What’s the distance? Maybe a mile, maybe less.

The write up states:

Notionally, Quibi endeavored to industrialize a new frontier of television: short-form narratives – that is, episodes of 15 minutes or less – at its shortest and most expansive.

Okay.

Here’s a promising factoid, courtesy of a Murdoch-owned “real” news outfit:

Meanwhile, several unflattering reports have depicted internal strife behind the scenes. The Wall Street Journal detailed longstanding friction between Katzenberg and Whitman’s working relationship.

DarkCyber believes that there is a ton of useful information floating around about Quibi. There’s a gold mine of information about Ms. Whitman and her approach to guiding a business. There’s even information available to put some meat on the bones of the launch during the pandemic.

What do we get? “Real” news.

Stephen E Arnold, July 1, 2020

Knowledge Management: Still Floundering? Absolutely

June 21, 2020

I spotted this knowledge management write up: “How to Hold on to Critical Knowledge When Employees Leave.” The recommendations on the surface seem like common sense. However, there are a couple of typical knowledge management oddities.

First, the main recommendation is to create a more management oriented workplace. Management, in the KM world, means recycling MBA think from the 1970s.

Helpful, right? These tips include:

  1. Do the mentor thing and cross train workers. (How does cross training work when a person is hired to perform one type of work; for example, perform stress testing for Inconel variants?)
  2. Plan for people quitting. (In today’s business climate, how are those plans working out for organizations other than Facebook, Amazon, Google, and the other FAANGs?)
  3. Create a New Age organization chart. (Remember the hierarchical charts? Useful? Sure, but the charts did not match the territory. Great fun creating these charts, however.)

Now the flaw. Here’s the recommendation from the write up:

Conduct longer, more thorough exit interviews.

The hitch is that the person doing the exist interview typically does not:

  1. Have domain expertise. Therefore, the interviewer cannot probe in a way that reveals the needed information. Remember: One does not know what one does not know. Gnostic indeed.
  2. Have a system in which to store the information. Sure, there are notes, but the person departing may be involved in a non verbal domain of expertise. How about converting a mathy expertise to some words on a paper or digital form?
  3. Understand the context of special “knowledge.” (The departing employee may speak one language and the interviewer another. The result? No useful “knowledge” is obtained.)

Net net: MBAs are likely to be blindsided when a person quits. Think about Disney’s top guy hitting the bricks. The captured “knowledge” is not knowledge. The more sophisticated the knowledge, the lower the probability that the interviewer will know what the heck the person knows if anything.

Ah, managing knowledge. Excellent.

Stephen E Arnold, June 21, 2020

Microsoft: Some Employees Express Discontent

June 12, 2020

Microsoft — yep, the outfit which cannot update its Windows 10 operating system without killing some computers — has another hillock obscuring its vision of cloud dominance. The obstruction is not Redmond’s other friendly jungle environment Amazon.

The mound of woe may be composed of employees objecting to whom and which entities the masters of JEDI sell the ever-reliable and entertaining digital products and services. Taking a less than 365 view, “Microsoft Employees Urge Nadella to Cancel Contracts with Police” reports:

Several Microsoft employees have written a letter to CEO Satya Nadella, urging the company to cancel contracts with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and other law enforcement agencies in the wake of police brutality episodes during the Black Lives Matter protests. The internal email with the subject line “Our neighborhood has been turned into a warzone” seen by the portal OneZero, nearly 250 Microsoft employees have asked the tech giant to formally support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and calls for the resignation of the Seattle mayor.

Interesting. Similar employee “suggestions” have been respectfully and not-so-respectfully submitted to other high-technology outfits.

The basic idea is that employees either perceive the right to influence what the company sells and to whom and which entities.

DarkCyber wants to note:

  1. Employees may have a hand in creating software like Windows 10 which, when updated, fails. It seems reasonable that [a] the employees cannot do work that “works” or managers cannot manage so that products and services “work”.
  2. A company with internal difficulties is likely to find itself vulnerable to sabotage or work slowdowns on certain projects which staff determine do not deserve full commitment. If this assertion is accurate, some entities may lose confidence in the Redmond outfit, assuming that confidence has not begun to erode due to other factors. (Possibly the Zune effect?)
  3. An operating environment which increases uncertainty can undermine stakeholder confidence. The appearance of “management effectiveness” is necessary to prevent feedback which escalates uncertainty. Such uncertainty can influence the behaviors of partners, shareholders, prospects, existing customers, and employees. (Yikes, employees.)

Net net: A small perturbation may presage a larger seismic event. To be frank, it is more difficult to envision worse news that Forbes’ Magazine publishing “Microsoft Confirms New Windows 10 Upgrade Warnings.” Imagine a news service for business people warning that a forced upgrade will kill devices and services like Internet connectivity.

Didn’t Microsoft roll out Bob (a graphical interface for Windows) and the big, bright, and failed Windows Phone?

Yeah. Management, governance, confidence — a trifecta.

Stephen E Arnold, June 12, 2020

IBM: Watson, What Is Happening?

May 22, 2020

I like to think about the wisdom of IBM Watson. A large company developed smart software able to beat mere humans in a TV game show. Amazing, but I asked myself after Watson “won” jeopardy, “What about that post production process?”

Now IBM’s actual production process is visible. A new Big Blue dog Arvind Krishna is controlling the pack of huskies. Such is the success of the racing sled in a time of Covid that IBM will not cut its five percent dividend, according to the “real news” service Fox Business.

IBM hedged by declining to make a forecast for 2020. IBM’s future is bright, but apparently it is not that bright.

IBM to Cut Thousands of Jobs As Coronavirus Plays Out” reveals that some surplus employees will be reduced in force. Fox reported:

“IBM’s work in a highly competitive marketplace requires flexibility to constantly remix to high-value skills, and our workforce decisions are made in the long-term interests of our business.  Recognizing the unique current conditions, IBM is offering subsidized medical coverage to all affected U.S. employees through June 2021” a company spokesman said in a statement.

If one is not terminated, what’s the people process at IBM look like? Think bare knuckles boxing maybe? “IBM Says It’s Giving Employees the Opportunity to Compete for Positions” explains:

“As part of IBM’s regular assessment of how we work, we are simplifying how we operate to position our business for high value growth opportunities and better meet client demand,” a spokesperson said. “Employees will have the opportunity to re-skill and compete for positions where roles are available.”

Unlike some Silicon Valley outfits, having employees work from home is the first step (a generally gentle one) in eliminating surplus. The office space will go and then the less productive work from homers will be invited to a Zoom meeting for a “Find Your Future” elsewhere session.

Big Blue is more direct, more gladiatorial: Get terminated or get into the octagon. Fight Ralph, the slightly overweight and near sighted OmniFind expert for a paycheck.

Wouldn’t it be more interesting to have Watson battle Facebook, Google, and Microsoft in a smart software battle to prove which company is Number One?

Watson, what do you think of my suggestion? IBM’s approach to returning to glory is interesting, but it seems old fashioned: Layoffs and internal competition. Very Darwin.

Watson, you know about Darwin, right?

Stephen E Arnold, May 22, 2020

British Wit: Carry On

May 15, 2020

Love the tone this person takes. Very person centric. If you want a sign like this, you can get it with a click. Do you have control over what’s output. Of course not.

image

Get your own carry on sign at this link. Heck of a guy that Olaf Falafel because he hits on many of the management characteristics of Silicon Valley companies and some governmental bureaucrats.

Stephen E Arnold, May 15, 2020

Zooming: Uber Lets Off Some Passengers

May 13, 2020

DarkCyber does not know if this story is spot on, but it is interesting. The estimable UK tabloid the Daily Mail (yes, the one with the videos one cannot turn off without five or six clicks) published “Today will be Your Last Working Day with Uber.” Other firms allegedly have used Zoom videoconferencing to inform the surplus humanoids that they can find their future elsewhere. (DarkCyber loves that phrase “Find your future elsewhere, don’t you, gentle reader?)

According to the estimable news service:

At least 3,500 Uber employees learned that they were being laid off in a three minute Zoom call last week.

The online version of the story includes the allegedly “real” video of an Uber person (still employed at the time) bid farewell to the Übermenschen.

The person nuking these individuals has a fascinating title; to wit:

Head of Uber’s customer service at Uber’s Phoenix Center of Excellence.

Zoom is in the news, but in this instance, it is not the insights of the video conferencing firm’s security advisor. The use of Zoom by a go go Silicon Valley firm makes the headline. DarkCyber wants to add that the Daily Mail’s headline is very Googley.

Stephen E Arnold, May 13, 2020

The Cost of High School Science Club and Its Management Method

May 6, 2020

I read in Forbes, the capitalist tool, “Google’s Top Quantum Scientist Explains In Detail Why He Resigned.” The write up is an interview with a a high profile expert in quantum computing. His name? Dr. John Marinis. The interview contains a number of interesting factoids plus some PR, but that’s the norm today.

DarkCyber noted this statement by the former Googler:

I think it was hard on people in the group to focus on quantum supremacy because it meant they couldn’t work on other things they wanted to do, and most importantly, we could fail. And it seems tension comes with focus.

I use the phrase “high school science club management method” to describe how a group of young men and women who are usually exceptional in math and science behave in a club formed and run by themselves. There may be an adviser, but that person is in my experience a former member of a high school science club.

The club is insular, operates with considerable freedom because other people are “stupid,” “don’t get it,” or are “wasting time on silly things.”

Google has become one of the foremost proponents of the HSSCMM, and the efforts of the Google CFO attest to the difficulty of reigning in the spending in a science club management environment.

Observations:

  1. The quote from the quantum expert underscores Google’s inability to tolerate focus.
  2. IBM (a content marketing fog machine) and Google found themselves squabbling about quantum supremacy.
  3. The HSSCMM essentially forced a focused and talented wizard to quit.

Net net: Google’s management method generates revenue but if the cost is a loss of talented specialists, what’s that say about the efficacy of the high school approach?

Stephen E Arnold, May 6, 2020

The Bulldozer and Bray: Amazon and Its People Policies in Action

May 4, 2020

I read “Bye, Amazon.” The author is Tim Bray. Some may remember him as one of the spark plugs of Open Text. He did some nifty visualization work. He did the Google thing until 2014. From 2014 until a couple of days ago he worked at Amazon, the Bezos bulldozer, the online bookstore, and all-around economic engine of Covid America.

The write up states:

I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19.

When Amazon terminated with prejudice the Amazonians protesting.

Mr. Bray’s reaction was

Snap!

Mr. Bray was upset, went through Amazon channels, and resigned.

He states about the warehouse worker action:

It’s not just workers who are upset. Here are Attorneys-general from 14 states speaking out. Here’s the New York State Attorney-general with more detailed complaints. Here’s Amazon losing in French courts, twice.

On the other hand, he points out:

Amazon Web Services (the “Cloud Computing” arm of the company), where I worked, is a different story. It treats its workers humanely, strives for work/life balance, struggles to move the diversity needle (and mostly fails, but so does everyone else), and is by and large an ethical organization. I genuinely admire its leadership.

In his penultimate paragraph he offers:

At the end of the day, it’s all about power balances. The warehouse workers are weak and getting weaker, what with mass unemployment and (in the US) job-linked health insurance. So they’re gonna get treated like crap, because capitalism. Any plausible solution has to start with increasing their collective strength.

Several observations:

  • Mr. Bray has a moral compass. DarkCyber finds that of value.
  • Amazon’s “power” has been largely unchecked since the mid 1990s, and only now are actions building like storm clouds on the horizon.
  • Mr. Bray was able to continue working for the Google but he could not continue working at Amazon. That’s interesting in itself.

Net net: Will Amazon take steps to deal with what seems to be the Tim Bray situation? Do Prime customers get orders delivered on time? Not if warehouse employees put sand in the Bezos bulldozer’s differential.

Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2020

Next Page »

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta