Classics buffs will remember RealPlayer as the first major digital-media player to sweep the MP3 world. RealPlayer 10 (for Mac and Windows ) sees the legacy of managing your digital library and playing tunes, and ups the ante with added features for optimizing tunes and video. Yet information-choked tabs and constant promotions for premium service get real old, real fast--especially when other (truly) free services out there offer most of RealPlayer's features, minus the open, expectant palm.
Anton Chuvakin, Chief Logging Evangelist for LogLogic, gave me a call today. LogLogic is funded by Sequoia and does log management and intelligence. I wanted to learn more about LogLogic's foray into open source and, frankly, I wanted to learn about logs. What the heck is a log? And why is LogLogic's open-source hook...Windows?… Read more
When Michael Kanellos--CNET News editor-at-large--asked me to do this blog, he said, among other things, "people spend their whole lives bitching about work and yet we never read about it."
"Well, yeah, that's true, but I want to write about dysfunctional executives and companies," I complained. "You know, I want to write about train wrecks."
"Sure, you can do that too," he said, the way an adult appeases a whining child. "But I'm telling you, focusing on career and management will be cool. You know the topic, you can be funny about it, and people care about it, yet mainstream media pays almost no attention to it."
As I sat there, pondering the apparent wisdom of his idea, Michael delivered his coup de grace: "Climbing the ladder sucks and everyone is obsessed with it, yet few speak out on it."
Wow, I thought, ain't that the truth. Perceptive guy, that Kanellos.
I had certainly spent a good part of my life obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder, almost lost my marriage over it. And for what? For the money? For the pats on the back? For the knowledge that I'd done something with my life that makes a difference?
I don't know about you, and I never wanted to admit this, but I don't think I did it for any of those reasons. I think I did it because I was programmed to do it. My dad grew up in the Depression and thought he was doing the right thing--drilling into me that nothing was more important than a successful career.… Read more
You read things like this and it makes you wonder why IT departments continue to throw away money on proprietary licenses why you bother paying taxes at all [See note below]. In this case, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) spent $3 million on a document management system from Documentum, and it has been a complete waste of money.
The PCAOB tries to blame itself for the waste, but the reality is that it's a combination of overpriced and overly complex software wrapped in a proprietary license, and an effort to force-feed square-peg technology onto round-peg people.
Open source could have dramatically reduced the PCAOB's risk:… Read more
Think you've got what it takes to become a hot-shot executive but that your boss is holding you back? Or maybe you're just sick and tired of working your butt off while everyone else gets ahead? Well, quit your whining, and do something about it.
No, don't get a self-help book; they're mostly a waste of time. I've got a better idea. But before we go any further, I need to say this: I'm no career guidance expert, I don't have volumes of data, and I'm not here to sell you anything. On the other hand, I do have five hard-learned, real-life lessons from the trenches.
Learning these lessons enabled my success. Yeah, I know, I hate people who say that too, "I was a big success in [fill in the blank] and, if you buy my book, you can be a success too." The only difference between them and me is that I'm not trying to sell you anything.
Will my lessons work for you or anyone else? Fair question. I have no idea. But I do think they're fundamental and not the kind of stuff you're likely to find hanging around a bookstore. These are not obvious "falling off a log" lessons. I learned them through painful trial and error. Speaking of which, if you'd like to know whose advice you're taking, just check out my bio.
If there's an overriding message, it's this: success isn't easy, and there are no formulas. Anyone who says otherwise just wants to sell you something. Everything you're about to read is hard, but I don't know of any work-arounds. If there were an easier way, trust me, I'd have tried it. And, like anything significant in life, just reading it isn't likely to help you much. But if it resonates with you, perhaps it will affect your behavior and then, the sky's the limit.
Lesson 1: Get in the line of fire. Find a way to put yourself in a critical position on a program that can make or break the company. Take big risks, especially early in your career, when it doesn't matter so much. Stick your neck out and test your reach. Management will respect your willingness to put your butt on the line for the company. Don't get hung up on winning. Whether the project succeeds or fails is secondary. Same goes for titles and compensation. Show your capability first. Then see Lesson 2.… Read more
Ever wonder where your career is heading? Well, let me ask you this:
Are you capable of moral flexibility? Good at covering things up without getting caught? Know what plausible deniability is? Then you just might be a candidate for executive management.
Or, are you in a complete state of denial about your future, a goody two shoes content to let management use you for toilet paper for the next 10 or 20 years?
Want to know what the future holds for you? Then get out your pen and paper and take this quiz, if you dare. Scoring is at the end. Hey, no cheating!1. Corporate fraud happens: a) rarely b) more often than you think c) sooner or later d) whenever the greedy SOBs can get away with it
2. Executives who defraud shareholders should be: a) slapped on the wrist b) fined c) fined and imprisoned d) forced to watch reruns of The Anna Nicole Show
3. Greed is: a) what I live for b) for lack of a better term, good c) fine in moderation d) the sin of capitalist dogs; long live Karl Marx and the revolution
4. Most board directors: a) have shareholders' interests at heart b) do a reasonably competent job of oversight c) are bought and paid for by the CEO d) are tired old farts that are desperate to be relevant
5. Executive compensation in corporate America: a) is reasonable, CEOs deserve what they get b) is a little hard to swallow, sometimes c) is excessive and out of control d) inflames my hemorrhoids every time I read a proxy statement
I was thinking through the open source diffusion model over the last few days, and put together this slide. It's not groundbreaking by any stretch (Larry Augustin and John Roberts are much more articulate on this point than I am), but it reflects the way open source spreads.
On the open source side, you start with users and then convert them into customers. On the proprietary side, you start with marketing and sales to create customers. No users until they pay.
The key point here is in the difference in focus.… Read more
Imagine this: a company has a $35 billion market cap, a P/E of 50, annual revenues of $5 billion, annual profits of $500 million, 60% gross margins, and about $3 billion in the bank.
Nice fundamentals, right? Now imagine the same company being characterized as "embattled." What could possibly be so wrong with this picture that an outcry from investors got the CEO booted?
The company in question, of course, is Yahoo. And what's wrong is that archrival Google has figured out how to mint money with search ads and now boasts a market cap of $170 billion and $3 billion in annual profits. The bad news for Yahoo is that advertising, for the most part, is a zero-sum game. Google's good fortunes spell boohoo for Yahoo.
It doesn't help that, in 1998, Chief Yahoo and co-founder David Filo encouraged Google's founders to start a search-engine company. Or that, in 2002, Yahoo had a chance to buy Google for $5 billion and passed.
The irony of those missed opportunities isn't lost on anyone; every Yahoo employee and shareholder has felt its demoralizing effects, not to mention Yahoo's deteriorating share price. All it took was a whopping $71 million executive pay package for CEO Terry Semel to put investors over the edge.
Less than a week after the company's annual shareholder meeting, Semel was out and Chief Yahoo and co-founder Jerry Yang was in. Until then, Yahoo had employed seasoned executives at the top--first Tim "TK" Koogle and later Semel. Still, founders Filo and Yang have remained actively involved in the company's evolving business strategy and technology.
But Jerry Yang as a turnaround CEO? I admit--I didn't see that coming.… Read more
Each time I go shutter-happy, I'm reminded of digital photography's beautiful myth. Yes, impressive megapixel loads deliver in-your-face resolution that elevates photos from the usual point-and-shoot quality. However, there's that time-sucking task of cropping, editing, captioning, and distributing the sprawling photo collection, and those are things even the fanciest camera on the market won't do.
The time and effort it takes to process a large batch of photos can be off-putting, but here are a few media-organization tools from the CNET Download.com library to move along the sometimes-arduous process of getting photos from the desktop to your friends.… Read more