Grand masters of hype need to chill out

Visiting the Grand Canyon is an experience that makes you re-evaluate the hype that permeates our industry. Today, I'll only mention three hype meisters - starting with Bill Gates - but I'm sure you know of others.

          I was visiting the Grand Canyon last week and it really is a calming, reassess-your-life and consider-what's-important type of experience. Coupled with the events of September 11 and their aftermath, it's an experience that makes you re-evaluate the hype that permeates our industry. Today, I'll only mention three hype meisters, but I'm sure you know of others.

          First of the three is an old whipping boy - Bill Gates. Gates tells the media that Windows XP is the most important development in computing, that it's the foundation for all software development that matters - and he isn't challenged by anyone! So he goes on to say that open source software is only possible because of the Windows platform - even though the beginnings of open source predate Windows.

          It is possible that Billy-boy believes the things he's saying. If that's the case, he should be locked up to protect himself and the rest of humanity. Someone needs to point out the basic nakedness of the emperor of Redmond's hype.

          There's much less ambiguity concerning the remarks of the other two gentlemen. The children of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard have expressed their misgivings about Hewlett-Packard's proposed purchase of Compaq.

          They proclaim that HP's culture, the so-called "HP way" will be devastated if those Texas cowboys are allowed into the company. What they mean is that their ownership will be diluted, and it's possible one or the other might be booted from the company board of directors. They have never really accepted the leadership of Carly Fiorina as CEO, so the cherry-on-top of killing the Compaq deal is that Fiorina also will be gone.

          Although, the real bottom line is that without this deal, HP is in very hot water financially.

          If, as a consequence, Fiorina leaves, there's little hope for HP surviving in anything like its current configuration. It could be acquired by someone else - someone who cares even less about the HP way than Fiorina does. It's time they admitted their real problems with the deal and stopped trying to hype a no longer relevant company philosophy.

          It's past time to cut down on the hype in our industry and get back to providing honest answers to honest questions. I'll point out the outrageous hype when I see it, but you should, too - tell salesmen and vendors when they're being outrageous, and speak both with your mouth and your checkbook.

          Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at

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