Random musings, observations, squeaks, whimpers and perhaps the ocassional rant. About what, I'm not sure.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Blame Dem Democrats For a Change...


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Jeff Raikes for President...

Raikes-2Caught a Ziff Davis news alert about a Microsoft reorganization this afternoon.  Jeff Raikes, former VP of Microsoft’s Information Worker and Business Solutions group, will be one of three group presidents under the new plan, and I think he got the juiciest piece of the pie.  This is a good thing.  Raikes has a solid vision of what Microsoft is and should be (notice these are two different things) to businesses and users who employ what we used to call “office automation” software and systems to drive their jobs and businesses, and giving him more power to close the “should be” and “is” gap should accelerate more success in this arena.

Microsoft is growing up in a variety of ways.  I caught another headline the other day about prominent departures from Microsoft.  That doesn’t bother me – the company is evolving, they’re still highly profitable and are sitting on a literal mountain of cash, so what’s to worry about?  I do wish the stock would do something positive, though.  It was flat on the news and has generally been a lack-luster performer of late… and certainly more folks have taken to everything from whining to taking some (purported) dirty laundry public to predicting doom and gloom.

The PC market and PC software markets as we have known them are becoming very mature, I think, and innovation will be one of the key engines that drives any of the current tech players forward.  Look at Apple (whose stock’s performance has been anything but lack-luster) – anyone who still wants to sing the old tune of “but they have a tiny piece of the market ” is looking at the wrong sheet of music.  What the company is executing very well on is targeting and exploiting niches they can and will continue to win in, grabbing both mindshare and what I’d call “heartshare” with products that blow the consumer and competition away, and they’re doing it the old fashioned way.  Hell, Scott McNealy’s even praising Jobs… but then again, his real beef has always been with Microsoft.

I think Microsoft will benefit from a new executive leadership structure, and will also place a series of big bets that will yet again realign vendors/ISVs and consumers, albeit not along OS lines.  I’d watch for electronic forms and structures like them, automation of business process and then managing those systems become much more prominent in their messaging and product offerings.  It should be an interesting ride, if bumpy for some.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Politics, From (A)bercrombie to (Y)oung...

FoleyI spent a good part of my day today doing something I’ve never done before – writing my elected officials.

Representative Mark Foley (R – Florida) had an OpEd piece in the Stuart News today on separating FEMA from the Department of Homeland Security and moving it to Cabinet-status. He’s sponsored a bill to that effect in the House… Its not a new idea… he originally suggested the move some time ago, but his resolve to do so has been steeled by issues related to Hurricane Katrina. “FEMA may be stuck and trapped in the bureaucracy," Foley was quoted as saying in the Palm Beach Post in April 2004. "That may not be helpful if we get a natural disaster.” To which I say… “You think?”.

In articles here, here, and here, the distinguished gentleman from Florida highlights his issues, as below:

Wednesday, September 7, 2005
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (FL-16) announced today he has introduced legislation separating the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“This is not solely a response to the tragedy in the Gulf; it is the result of the increasing evidence that FEMA should not be hindered by a top-heavy bureaucracy when needed to act swiftly to save lives,” said Foley. “After suffering through three direct hurricane hits last summer and watching my friends in the Gulf weather Katrina, I have seen one consistent problem—red tape and bureaucratic obstacles getting in the way of saving lives.”

Foley added, “Decisions that were once made quickly and efficiently at FEMA now have to go through a web of paperwork, authorizations and releases before they can be made -- adding further risk to people. We need to make FEMA the gold standard of emergency relief. Our goal is to turn that agency into the rapid-response and long-term response disaster agency that FEMA wants to be.”

Without going into the details, friends of mine literally spent the past 10 days on the phone with FEMA while the agency tried to figure out where they wanted them, and never really did make up their mind. The result was a lot of hungry first responders and FEMA personnel not getting hot meals during those 10 days, which is absurd. It wasn’t the GSA contracting officer, it was his chain-off-command, we expect.

Less Federal bureaucracy during a time of crisis would be a good thing, I think. Don’t get me wrong… DHS has an incredibly wide and important mandate, and I think they’re generally doing a great job. But FEMA is too large and has too discrete and critical a mission to be under the DHS umbrella, IMHO. Moving the agency to Cabinet-status, in addition to this week’s appointment of R. David Paulison, former director of the US Fire Administration, should help focus the agency on quick and effective response.

I hope Congressman Foley’s idea gains steam. Maybe the 539 letters we’re mailing tomorrow on that subject will have an impact… I hope so. Yup, we printed, folded, and stamped a letter on the subject to every US Senator and Congressman. You’d like to think the American political system responds to pressing needs, and to the will of the governed. I’m sure a lot of people feel like I do on this topic – I hope they speak up too.

Make a difference… write your Representatives and Senators today…

FYI - The Honorable Don Young represents Alaska in the House, and the Honorable Neil Abercrombie represents Hawaii. They're the senatorial/representative bookends, by name...