Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Microstiff -- Jesus Christ, Superstar…Who Are You What Have You Sacrificed!

Mini-Microsoft and his readers have talked of the very Limited I and II Kim’s of the organization. Isn’t it time for equal time for the Superstars? I mean, hey, they’re people, too! Let’s give them some of that there Blog-arrhea time.

But first, I ask that you not confuse the title of this expose with the 1960’s play or album. I am simply imploring so-called Microsoft superstars to step forward, with a little help from an expletive, to identify yourselves and claim your kudos. Step right up, ladies and gentlemen!

F’rinstance, which of you superstars brought us Zune? Please step forward. Applause, please. Hmmm. Sounds faint here in Redmond. Oh, wait, it’s coming from Cupertino! Unplugged Apple Corporate giving thanks!

And, what stable of superstars kept us in pant-wetting suspense over the new OS, Vista, only to produce a product which, at this point in time is literally WORSE than XP in almost every respect; eye candy to the bored? Oh, that’s right, Jim Allchin headed that stable. He’s leaving in January, by the way. And...he's not sure what he’s really going to be doing. Not much of a way to retire, is it? It’s time to clean those stable floors of all the horse shit and make those remaining Vista superstars…Partners.

And, what possessed a bevy of real-live 100% true blue superstars over in Office, to rip off their blue tights and red capes and wrap them around the new Office 12 like an obfuscating ribbon of learning-curve hell? Why, it’s Superstar suicide I tell you!

My Point

It’s easy to see that there are two (2) levels of superstars at Microsoft: Limited I and Limited II:

  1. Limited I Superstar – Good Old Boy Ivy Fraternal! (GO BIF!). Superstars by proclamation. Peter principle is suspended, indefinitely. Modern day examples: All those mentioned above plus Donald Rumsfeld. Prognosis for leaving the company: Highly unlikely. Loves the money, power, facade and will willingly, gladly hurt profits to keep the status quo.

  2. Limited II Superstar – Outperforms others in the department. Go-to person for help and ideas. Loves Kim’s who can get things done. Limited ONLY by Limited I, GO BIF!’s who will move heaven and earth to prevent their growth. Prognosis for leaving the company: Highly likely unless their visibility for changing the world and making a difference is HIGH.

2nd Point

Everyone at Microsoft is currently LIMITED. Why? Because, as long as the VERY LIMITED GO BIF!’s are in place, the masses of talented Limited I and II Kim’s and Limited II Superstars will be prevented from doing good works and will continue to be measured as LIMITED by the very people at Microsoft who are LIMITED THE MOST!

Final Point

There is only one person that this author knows of at Microsoft who is not somehow LIMITED by the GO BIF!’s or the system: Ray Ozzie. Will it only be a matter of time? GO RAY!

Mini-Microsoft: Limited Round-Up, New Souls, and Old Problems
Mini-Microsoft: A Peanut Butter Manifesto for Microsoft to Chew On
Mini-Microsoft: No-so-limited Kim

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Microstiff – Yahoo!’s Game Plan Missing One (1) Essential Ingredient for Success

Yahoo’s Senior Vice President of Communications, Communities, and Front Doors, Brad Garlinghouse and his courageous call to arms says, “The plan here is not perfect; it is, however, FAR better than no action at all. There are three pillars to my plan:

1. Focus the vision.

2. Restore accountability and clarity of ownership.

3. Execute a radical reorganization.”

Not so fast! It’s a fine three-pillared vision without MENTION OF A FOUNDATION!

On what are we to build our three pillars? In other words: “What continually and everlastingly SUPPORTS our pillars of success? The following:

1. Mission – purpose, business, values. Why do we exist? What do we do and what are our values in place for pursuing those goals?

2. Policies - that provide employees with guidance and company-wide expectations regarding company issues pertinent to our business, customers, suppliers and stockholders.

3. Procedures – Effective and efficient ways to accomplish missions, policies and business plans.

The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where Robert Kennedy was assassinated, was built upon a solid foundation. Today, after years of decay, it is now a new public school with parts of its original “pillars” in place.

The government of the United States is built on a solid foundation known as the Constitution and its amendments. The mission and policies and some procedures are clearly spelled out for all to follow. Leaders of all three branches come and go but the government successfully moves on. Feedback is constantly provided by constituents to provide laws and amendments, where necessary.

And so, it is the FOUNDATION which must be reviewed and shored up, FIRST, by Yahoo and Microsoft in order to provide a safe and sturdy site for rebuilding their dreams; so that buildings and people may come and go but…the mission, with its policies and procedures…lives on. Without this, there is nothing.

The Military Model

Why is it that troops can come and go and no matter where or who they are, the mission can be accomplished with effectiveness and efficiency…time and time again? And it doesn’t matter the branch: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. I am not talking battlefield here, since implementation and planning of battles is a very creative and precarious undertaking.

I am talking about the day-to-day successful running of the military. For those of us who have been in, we remember occasional waiting but more likely, clearly stated goals and means to achieve them. Clean chain of command. Clear career path. Few politics. Little overstaffing. No hidden agendas. No hiding. Accountability. Camaraderie. Closeness. Merit-based raises and grade changes.

Why? Clear mission statement. Clear Policies. Clear Procedures backed up by clear consequences for non-performance (reduction in rank, courts martial, brig, confined to quarters)


That before Yahoo begins to rebuild on three pillars, they take a hard look at their foundation:

1. Mission Statement - purpose, business, values. It is here where they can discover their true purpose and weed out the dead ends and pet projects.

2. Policies – revitalize and reexamine the “rules” that provide employees with guidance and company-wide expectations pertinent to those helping to carry out their mission.

3. Procedures – An ongoing fine tuning of the ways to get business done.

Strong Leadership Needed

The new and energized “foundation” must be embraced wholly by the CEO and sold upwards to the board of directors and downward throughout the company. Although amendments are encouraged, a fierce loyalty to the “foundation” -- the constitution -- must be fomented and thereby protected by the CEO.

Good Foundation? The Pillars Can Change

Employees, Troops, Tools, Buildings, Innovation can come and go but, the “foundation” remains intact. How else can the Twin Towers grow into a magnificent structure to pay homage to those who lost their lives and at the same time, conduct new and exciting business as usual?

First Things First

And so, Yahoo!, your pillars have changed. Time to build and/or reshape new ones. Do so in the knowledge that a solid foundation all but guarantees the success of your new business pillars. After that, the price of pristine pillars is eternal vigilance. Hmmm. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Mini-Microsoft: Limited Round-Up, New Souls, and Old Problems
Mini-Microsoft: A Peanut Butter Manifesto for Microsoft to Chew On

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Microstiff – New Yahoo! Coup…Beaucoup?

Michael Arrington’s Blog at TechCrunch speaks of Yahoo’s Senior Vice President of Communications, Communities, and Front Doors, Brad Garlinghouse and his courageous call to arms at Yahoo as a “power move.” Arrington also says:

Yahoo PR isn’t saying much, other than to point out that the very existence of the memo shows that Yahoo has an open culture: “The memo itself highlights that we have an open, collaborative culture and a senior management team that is intensely committed to helping Yahoo fulfill its potential as an Internet leader.”"

To me, it’s moot that this is a power move. After reading Yahoo’s PR response and Garlinghouse’s “leaked” memo, I say…more power to yah, Brad!

Arrington goes on to say:

My guess is that Yahoo senior management has been discussing these types of changes for some time…"

If so, Brads’ their man and the power coup motive is…well…irrelevant, if not altogether mistaken . This can be supported by Arrington reporting the following:

Either way, at this point, I don’t see how Semel and Garlinghouse can both remain at Yahoo. From what I’m hearing, Semel may be the one to lose. The WSJ reports that Yahoo COO Dan Rosensweig has put Garlinghouse in charge of a working group to review how the points in the memo can be put into action."

That’s why this writer believes Yahoo’s Lieutenants, its top management team, of which Garlinghouse is a member, in effect, staged a courageous and much needed coup to begin to turn the company around.

Stay tuned for more as we dissect this startling memo and talk about how it can help or hurt Microsoft.

Mini-Microsoft: A Peanut Butter Manifesto for Microsoft to Chew On

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Microstiff – Your Trip on the “Redmond Limited” – A Pragmatist’s View from 80 Miles Up

First, One Basic Premise – You don’t have to see “how others in industry do it” to know if it’s good or bad; you just “feel it in your gut.” This simply means that, when something’s wrong, like the “Limited” label, it will take more than a truckload of HR apologists to spin it right. So, I use nothing more than good old common sense and red-blooded American ingenuity to make my case. You decide.

Your trip on the Redmond Limited begins at the station, of course. This station is like many at Microsoft…newly designed, austere yet filled with gratuitous, name-etched-on-every-glass-pane arrogance. Oh, and the station just “magically appears.” No announcements, no fanfare, just a new station, built just for you on your trip to nowhere.

The stationmaster is the campy-casually dressed Beesa Lee. Beesa does best when she’s not talking and just mastering the station. Oh, she’s seen many a train come through her station but this is her favorite: The Redmond Limited; quick and stealthy with a powerful diatribe. But it’s nothing more than Gilly-speak, a kind of canned rhetoric that emanates from a Muzak-quality speaker with little round grill holes just beneath the surface of this wind-up-Gilly-doll with the robust demeanor.

Gilly-speak is the brain child of that brainy child known as Gilly Bates, the wealthy tycoon industrialist “railroader” also known as the “Commodore”; the man-boy who likes to think he runs more than your business lives. Gilly-speak goes like this: Money and Power trump Civility and Love. Pure and simple. You say there’s no room for love in business? At Microsoft, you’re right. And, if you think there is, then…you’re Limited.

Let those words sink in. You’re Limited. LIMITED! Make you feel good? I didn’t think so. That’s because, try as he may, Gilly doesn’t know how to make you feel good. You can’t give what you don’t have. Gilly don’t play that!

Commodore Gilly created the Redmond Limited because it fits the programmer’s paradigm: Problem - perceived deadwood. Solution - a series of finite, instructions designed to repeat, again and again, with a minimum of overhead and a maximum payoff with no human intervention. The Redmond Limited! All a-booaaarrrd!

Board it and you are Soylent Green: A little green biscuit of your former self; eaten up by the hungry Limitless Ones, your cube mates on a better track.

How did you get so limited? Your reviews have all been good. Your job? Well, somewhere along the way Beesa, keeper of all things HR, forgot to provide a safety valve, a way out, a way up. So, here you are, doing good but dead wood…at least according to the Gilly-man.

A week or a month or two ago, before they wanted to turn you into crackers of the green kind, things were so…well…limitless. You could actually do good in a dead end job and feel good about yourself. Now, not only did Beesa define your job as dead end but, Gilly says your good work is now bad. It’s like Gilly and Beesa…they…well…tag-teamed up to just beat the livin’ HOPE right the hell outa yah! All a-booaaarrrd!

What is it, Gilly? Your kids not listening to you? Wifey too independent? Tablet computers not selling like hotcakes? American educational system not jumpin’ at your millions? Vista condoms not solving the African HIV problem? What’s goin’ on, Gilly-boy? Just how can you explain this absolutely ridiculous response to a totally erroneous assumption that multitudes of Microsofties are hiding under their desks.

And…how can you call someone Limited and expect them to prosper? Perhaps, Bubby, it’s YOU that are Limited. All a-booaaarrrd!

Meanwhile, if the rest of us are feeling Limitless while others see us as wearing a big, red “LTD” around our necks, we DO have some choices:

  • Don’t buy into it; i.e. – don’t get on the train. Leave.
  • Don’t buy into it; i.e. – don’t get on the train. Stay and change the system.
  • Don’t buy into it; i.e. – don’t get on the train. Stay and hide under your desk

NOTE: Each choice and any you can think of, all begin with “Don’t buy into it; i.e. – don’t get on the train.” This is PARAMOUNT! As Mini says, if you believe you’re limited, you’ll act that way.

Of course, being known as a “Limited” will foster a culture of “haves and have nots”, so should you decide to fight the good fight, it won’t be easy. You may not win this fight but you WILL be empowered! You ARE Limitless! All a-booaaarrrd for the Redmond Limitless. This train is bound for glory...this train!

Mini-Microsoft: No-so-limited Kim
Mini-Microsoft: Microsoft Academy
Mini-Microsoft: Microsoft FY07Q1 Results

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Microstiff – A Nirvana Moment in Journalism

Occasionally, someone comes along and says in one paragraph what I and others would take reams to say, if at all. That someone is Whisperycat.

Whisperycat left a great message at the Mary Jo Foley site in response to the question: “Can Microsoft brand its way to coolness?”

Corporate thuggery and bullying aren't really cool. Flouting EU law because the fines don't make a dent in their profits, isn't cool. Entering into meaningless pacts with Novell in an attempt to undermine Linux ain't cool. Supporting SCO through Baystar wasn't cool. Selling hugely expensive licenses for buggy, virus prone software that needs ever more resource to run it, isn't cool. Paying people to astroturf on user groups and forums isn't just uncool, its creepy. And any organisation that's ever stooped to using the names of dead people on its astroturfed letters to US senators, is very uncool. Microsoft can't be cool in the same way that the IRS or a Debt Collection Agency can't be cool. You can't buy cool, you can't infiltrate cool, steal all its secrets and then pretend you've become it.

BONUS: And now, on the same day, a "second coming" of Journalistic Nirvana? Synchronicity? Serendipity? Hope? Read here, from the WSJ, how just one person can actually and painfully "get 'er done" at Microsoft. And...notice the candor of the article. Ray Ozzie's alive and well after all. Wow!

Mini-Microsoft: No-so-limited Kim
Mini-Microsoft: Microsoft Academy
Mini-Microsoft: Microsoft FY07Q1 Results

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Microstiff – Bill Gates says McAfee, Symantec -- the Great Vista Castrators!

“BRUSSELS, Belgium - Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates SEARCH
said Thursday the company's upcoming Windows Vista operating system has survived antitrust complaints by rivals who aimed to "castrate" it.”

Hmmmm. Looks like them two security guards, Mac and Sym, aren’t gonna have access to the kernel anytime soon, huh Bill? No siree! Them boys is gonna be outside with their noses pressed up against that there Aero glass just a waitin’ and a waitin’ for the kernel to open his doors. Ain’t a happenin’! No Kernel for Competitors (KFC) any time soon!

To hear Bill tell it, that would amount to castration! “Yah see, (Dubya-esque), Vista’s got all this testosterone that’s just a boilin’ up inside, dyin’ to git out!” Come January, yah see, we’ll release this cauldron of steaming, burnin' churnin' funk upon the world. Why, women will swoon! Balding men will grow hair! Body builders and professional baseball sluggers will burst like Fenway franks!

Why? Because Symantec and McAffe were each issued a 50 yard restraining order to stay away from the kernel’s huge testeronical balls! And, lord knows they’re big what with all the testosterone of them new features and everythang! (sss-shrink).

Yup, there’s Aero, with those shiny translucent, Apple-like windows and a hefty ram/cpu overhead fee (shrink). Why, there’s the brand new security features. Every time I use Vista, I’ll be thinking of them (Of course, I don’t have to now because everything works fine with XP and with the help of Sym and Mac "The Castrators"!) (shrank)

Let’s not forget all them programs and drivers that worked so well with XP. Gone! (shrunk).

Well, looka here! Them huge Vista balls done shrunk down to the size of a couple of M&M’s. Quick, do something before they melt in...

Moral of the story? You cain’t castrate what ain’t there, Bill. You just cain’t de-nut a neutered eunuch such as the likes of...Vista.

Mini-Microsoft: Microsoft Academy
Party Hearty!

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Microstiff – Microsoft Scurrying for Vista Features…None In Sight!

What do you do when you have a new product that has a NEGATIVE BUYING PROPOSTION?

I’m talkin’ about Vista, rhymes with Mister and makes us pissed-er with a capital “P”! Step right up folks…only a thin dime to see the greatest boondoggle of this century and the last. The earmark of all earmarks, conceived from the collective minds of every special interest bureaucrat at that late, great American corporation – Microsoft!

Such is the case of the five year plus saga of the late-and-not-so-great Vista; an OS whose time has…well…passed. Whose features are non-existent unless you upgrade three things: your computer, your Vista version AND your tolerance level of the definition of what is considered a useful feature: Aero.

Let’s look at the buying proposition, here. Let’s use an analogy we all understand: The American Dream – a shiny, new car!

We’ll use Toyota, BMW or Lexus. Make your choice and then listen to your Vista-trained salesman:

Folks, here's our very latest and greatest! It does exactly the same thing as last year's model, no more, no less. We’ve made minor cosmetic changes to the outside and inside and, oh yes given it a new model name: Vista.”

“We’ve also made some important security changes to our onboard engine computer which you won’t notice but, nevertheless, makes it harder for the engine to fail. Took us three years for that one. I know you’ll be thinking about that feature while you drive down the road.”

“Now, because of our intense 5-year-innovation plan, we’re charging you MORE for this new car. Incidentally, we’re working out (quite) a few bugs that the old car doesn’t have but the new Vista model…does. All we ask is your patience and an occasional return to the dealership for repairs.”

“So, whadaya think? Do we have a deal?” Huh? Shall I repeat the benefits?”

Seriously, how is this analogy any different than the current Vista buying proposition? What’s frightening here is the attitude of militant ignorance that Microsoft takes when presenting this giant step backwards to the American public. The Inquirer staff writes:

Steve Ballmer, interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News, said Windows XP had a lot of "happy users" and it will be a challenge to get them to buy a new PC or upgrade the OS.

But the interview also reveals that Ballmer hopes it will inject new life into the PC industry. He said Vista will be a "boon" for PC manufacturers. Graphics card makers like NVIDIA and ATI certainly hope so, that's for sure.

Ballmer didn't talk about the large existing user base of corporate users, many of which still haven't shifted to Windows XP, never mind the as yet unproven Microsoft Vista.”

Has the world gone mad? Ballmer’s telling us, if we do our homework, we’ll soon see that Vista has no buying proposition! Have we been so numbed by the carnival-huckster-three-walnut-shells-and- the-pea wokka-wokka that comes out of Ballmer’s mouth that this particular one fell on deaf ears…too?

And, if this is the Vista outlook, what about Office 12? Tie a yellow ribbon ‘round the corporate neck…and hang me! Please! Ray…Ray Ozzie…I’m beggin’ yah. Lift your head up, get up from your desk, start walkin’ the halls and for God’s sake…do something! Now!

Mini-Microsoft: Microsoft Academy

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Microstiff - Building Microsoft Academy

I’m beggin’ yah, Microsofties…listen up for a few minutes.

Your idea to build a Microsoft Academy is a truly noble one and would make a great difference in the lives of programmers, testers and developers at Microsoft. Surely, there would be a renewed sense of commitment and teamwork and spirit that would pervade your ranks. And…that’s where it would stop!

It’s a sad truth, mostly anecdotal, that your boss and your boss’s boss and your boss’s boss’s boss at Microsoft AREN’T and WON’T BE ANY TIME SOON…interested in your growth as a Microsoft employee. And, unless a Microsoft Academy will somehow put a feather in their tiny little political, façade-managing caps, you are pissing into the wind!

With all due respect to Mini and you guys and gal, why do you insist upon creating these wonderful ideas for these people only to have them fall upon their little deaf ears and clogged cerebral passageways? THE HANDWRITING IS ON THE WALL; has been for some time.

Sales courses and books of all types speak of talking in terms of the other person’s interests; of painting a “word picture of your prospect using your product and benefiting from it.” How is Microsoft Academy going to improve the business lives of the spiritually bankrupt legions of sycophantic Billboot lickers? Hey, talk to someone who cares!

I mean, are you you still in shock...or something ? What’s it going to take for you to move past this denial-bargaining stage into the appropriate anger and acceptance stages? This wonderful plan that would work in any sane business organization is doomed to failure where you work. Why? Because, as speech writers, you fail to know your audience! You continue to attempt to bargain with your captors if only to return to the way things were.

Trouble is, dear Microsoftie, things were NEVER good at Microsoft. Hey, once you learned that partners and managers with good business plans rated the success of their plans, when presented to Bill Gates, by the fewest number of times he said, “fuck”; that good plans hung on how well you caressed the ego of this self-possessed genius-madman...weren’t you just a TAD suspicious?

Hey, some of us come from upbringings where our parents were cold and distant; where hugs were non-existent and our spiritual growths were not a consideration. Welcome to Microsoft! Your quest for nurturing and happiness is genuine and respected; your ideas are good; your desire to make a difference, honorable. You simply have the wrong corporate family!

So, I suggest that you do what most of us in our families of origin eventually learn to do: Create a new family. Oh, you can visit the toxic ones from time to time but, you must remove yourself from the toxicity of this environment. Unless, you’ve got a good boss; one who buffers you from the evil…sorta like a big brother. Then, stay, learn, then go.

Meanwhile, don’t give up the dream for a Microsoft Academy. Just take out the word “Microsoft”.

Mini-Microsoft: Microsoft Academy

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Free Accounting Express 2007 -- Thanks for Nothin’!

You get what you pay for? Could be with Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007.

I am an accounting-type geek – Great Plains, QuickBooks, Solomon, Peachtree, SBT -- which means I can teach people how to write programs AND do accounting. Crazy combo, I know, but that's just how the brain cells twisted around each other to create that entity known as me!

Yesterday, my accounting side got the better of me when I saw FREE Microsoft software and I downloaded the 300Mb + express version to my Gateway 3.06 HT, ATI Radeon Express 200, 2048Mb memory, 200Gb HD system. Express version means, mostly, no Inventory Parts Control, Job Costing, Asset Management, and Dashboard and Cash Flow Analysis. Other than that, you’re good to go with a very hearty accounting system in the QuickBooks genre, for a very nice price…FREE!

Oh, if I only could discover if it works for me! Yah see (George-istic), it’ll work for a while and then, Pfffffftttt! Here’s what’s gone wrong (now, mind you I’ve got a pristine hardware setup here; high speed, plain vanilla):

  • After initial download and program launch, my free, bundled AOL firewall asked me if I wanted to let the Evil Empire through; I said sure. Hung up and stayed hung, trying to register online with MSFT. O.K., I’ll give you that, sorta. Maybe everybody hitting at once. Solution: Warm boot, ostensibly because included SQL server will not give up the “End Now” ghost.
  • IPL again and got same. Decided to try in morning.
  • Morning. IPL lets me past, this time and I am in the driver’s seat. I put on my green arm garter, green visor and turn on my green accountant’s lamp. Choose a sample company and proceed to create an invoice. All’s well until I want to look up customer credit history. Pffffffttt! Hangs up. Solution: Cold boot. Sometimes warm boots don’t work (old computer operator wives’ tale).
  • IPL and want to create a Quote (convertible to an Invoice later). All’s well until I want to lookup tax information. Pffffffttt! Hangs up. Solution: Cold boot.
  • IPL and now I get the dreaded all-links-are-in-light-gray-you-can’t-choose-a-f#*king-thing application window. Solution: Cold Boot.
  • Chose Data Files on the Express 2007 menu and repaired them. Says there “were no errors”.
  • IPL and now I can’t get past the original problem of signing in with MSFT.

Bottom line. Thanks for nuttin’, Microsoft. And I’m a computer guy. Most SMB owners would have given up a long time before I did! Sometimes FREE means you get what you pay for!

Moral: Free download is the very same thing as a new product launch. Everything should be seamless and transparent…ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE TALKING SMB OWNERS. Shame on you!

Mini-Microsoft: Microsoft FY07Q1 Results

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