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Carly's exit sparked new hopes for 3000

Newswire Classic

March 2005

After board demands CEO’s resignation, 3000 sites ponder new future

The CEO who hawked change as HP’s new mission — and so sparked the 3000’s exit from the company’s lineup — has left HP in a resignation that made some customers hope for a change in HP to alter the 3000’s fate.

But HP’s board of directors, after demanding Carly Fiorina’s resignation on Feb. 9, have shown no signs of changing the company’s commodity and consumer-driven strategy, one which hurried the 3000’s HP exit.

Interim CEO Bob Wayman told stock analysts the next CEO will need to march to the tune Fiorina composed during the five-plus years she headed the company.

The company won’t change because its board hasn’t changed much. Venture capitalist Thomas Perkins came on board in early February, but the list of directors includes a group of officers who have approved Fiorina’s plans to grow HP. The board said it removed its CEO and chairman because she did not execute HP’s strategy well enough. The company’s earnings growth has disappointed analysts in recent quarters.

Wayman said during an analyst briefing that the board is looking for a CEO to work with the current strategy: Offering a broad portfolio of products while operating a printer business integrated with the rest of HP.

“While they won’t preclude any open discussion on a new CEO’s view of what the future strategy should be,” Wayman said, “we are looking for a CEO who also embraces that strategy, in all probability.”

Fiorina, who earned $44 million in signing bonuses to join HP in 1999, left the company with a $21.1 million payout. Her contract also provides $50,000 in job counseling services, a point of irony that didn’t escape HP 3000 customers who have seen careers ended or altered after the 3000’s cancellation.

“She was the executioner,” said John Dunlop of 3000links.com “She chopped and pruned product lines and employees. Unfortunately for the HP 3000 community, the HP 3000 was one of the early casualties. Thus she became the name synonymous with the death of the HP 3000.”

Another customer said Fiorina represented a strategy of judging a customer by what they’ve bought lately. The 3000 customer has been expected to buy what HP produces after it said it won’t offer the HP 3000.

“Carly was viewed by many to be of the mindset that our value as customers was limited to our wanting to buy what HP had to sell,” said Russ Smith of credit union Cal State 9. “It was not that our value was inherent as customers, period — and that HP should produce what we need.”

The majority of customers were realistic about how much change would filter down to the HP 3000 issues that remain at the company. “HP now has bigger problems such that this issue won’t even be on the radar,” said John Wolff, the CIO at LAACO, Ltd and vice-chair of OpenMPE. “Not only did they break the HP 3000 product line, but Carly broke the whole company — 60 years to build it, six years to wreck it.”

Fiorina was the first CEO ousted from HP in such a public manner: Stories of the forced resignation aired on all major US TV networks; HP called a press conference to explain on the day it removed Fiorina. She was not the first to leave involuntarily, though. Another HP CEO, John Young, “was politely retired when Dave Packard came back out of retirement to put the company back onto the right path in October, 1992,” Wolff said. “Young was paid $1 million for ‘unused vacation time.’”

An enterprise change?

Some 3000 customers said they were hopeful a better enterprise server strategy would emerge under a new CEO. The majority of customers responding to a spot poll by the NewsWire reported they were migrating away from the server, a position that has them considering HP’s server alternatives. For many, the damage has already been done.

“We lost all faith in HP’s strategy some time ago,” said Don Baird, president of EnCore Systems. “We do not rely on anything HP except our 3000s, which we are replacing with non-HP solutions.”

HP’s change of heart is having an impact on a choice of vendor for migration sources. At the Anchorage, Alaska light and power utility, systems analyst Wayne Johnson is moving to Windows — but HP’s moves with the 3000 make the utility wary.

“Part of my company’s fear has been the HP 3000 is going away, so let’s steer clear of any other HP product,” he said. “Could the change mean that the HP 3000 will be resurrected and not meet its demise in 2006? Our Windows platform is not HP.”

Some drew a direct link to Fiorina’s strategy and the slide of HP’s enterprise business. “HP lost its personality under Carly. Their niche was solid, reliable computing platforms, not PCs and not iPods,” said John Lee of reseller Vaske Computer Solutions. “Hopefully, the new CEO will re-focus the company on its core strengths, one of which used to be enterprise computing.”

Even those moving to HP’s Unix systems want to believe more change in management is on the way. “I really hope the shakeup continues down the line,” said a long-term HP 3000 manager who wanted his name withheld. At his firm, HP 9000s are replacing HP 3000s. “Maybe we can get back to a point were the customer and our needs come first, and the profits and sales will follow,” he said. “Since the Compaq-HP merger, the quality of our service programs and sales support have dropped.”

The CEO’s departure won’t change much for Pivital Solutions, a company that signed on for the last year of HP’s authorized 3000 sales and now offers third-party support for the server and MPE. “The only hope I still loosely hold is that they will sell off the enterprise systems group before they run it into the ground,” said president Steve Suraci.

Operator seeks operations whiz

HP’s executives say the company now needs a CEO with better operational skills. Its top sales officer Mike Winkler, quoted in a published report from the recent Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Forum, said HP’s fortunes would rise with a CEO like Lou Gerstner, the IBM leader who came in to turn around that company in 1992. In that same year, HP’s founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard asked LaserJet czar Dick Hackborn to take the CEO reins from John Young. Hackborn wouldn’t leave his home in Boise, Idaho to take the job and retired a year later.

But Hackborn, an operator behind the scenes in most of HP’s business choices since his retirement, played the lead role in bringing Fiorina to HP after the company felt it missed out on the Internet boom during CEO Lew Platt’s watch. Another report, published in the wake of the Fiorina ouster by BusinessWeek editor Peter Burrows, says Hackborn acted as the catalyst to spark the board’s removal of Fiorina.

Now Hackborn and the rest of the HP board will try to find an operational, COO style of CEO. HP will change CEOs because of Fiorina’s inability to execute, not over her direction. “She had a strategic vision and put in place a plan that has given HP the capabilities to compete and win,” HP’s press release assured investors.

The strategy which Hackborn has pulled HP into — commodity sales like printers, with less direct customer contact — relies on resellers and outside distributors to stay in touch with all but the largest customers. Typical HP 3000 shops, working for small and medium-sized businesses, say they have not felt much contact with any HP operation except its support group.

“Working for a small company, I don’t feel that I or my company has ever been part of an ‘enterprise systems strategy,’” said John Bawden of health insurance provider QualChoice, an HP 3000 shop. “Generally we are ignored unless we have the energy and the need to go to HP for something.”

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HP 3000s and the time to end Daylight Saving

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During the 1990s, Shawn Gordon wrote a column for the NewsWire on VeSOFT products and reviewed software for us. He also left the 3000 world for the novel pastures of Linux, long before that OS was a commonplace IT choice. His departure was an example of thinking ahead. Along those lines, Gordon's got a classy article from his website about Daylight Saving Time. DST is a failed experiment that costs everyone more money. California, where the HP 3000 was born, is on the path to eliminating DST. Arizona and Hawaii are already non-DST states.

DST became a thorn in the side of 3000 shops because it had to be accommodated with customized code. The cutover days, into Saving and then out of Saving, were different every year. A handful of clever jobstream hacks lurched systems into and out of time zones that were working perfectly until the law said every zone had to shift forward. Or back.

Here's Shawn's article, as polished as all of his offerings have been in both software and writing. You can write your US Representative to get this clock switching put away for good. The US Senate already is hearing a bill about this, although it's the misguided solution to make DST permanent. The alleged Saving has only been going on since HP first made 3000s. Since HP's given up on that, maybe the US can give up on Daylight Saving.

By Shawn Gordon

One might think that the societal contributions from New Zealand mostly consist of the band Crowded House and sheep-based products, but it is New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson that we have to thank or curse for modern Daylight Saving Time (DST). Benjamin Franklin is often credited with the idea, but it is based on a satire he wrote in 1784 about Parisians rising late in the day. Hudson authored and presented a paper in 1895 to the Philosophical Society proposing a 2-hour shift. This was entirely due to him working a “shift schedule” and not having enough daylight left after work during certain times of the year to collect bugs. His proposal was entirely self-serving. If he couldn’t get the time off, he’d force society to change.

Shortly after, and totally independently, the prominent English builder and outdoorsman William Willett noted in 1905 how many Londoners slept through the beautiful summer days, and as an avid golfer, he also didn’t like playing at dusk. Willett is often wrongly credited as the man who came up with DST. Again, totally self-serving and a desire to control other people's behavior. Willett was able to get Parliament to take up the proposal but it was rejected, he continued to lobby for it until his death in 1915.

DST wasn’t formally adopted by anyone until WWI in 1916 as a way to conserve coal, but again, this only controlled behavior, it didn’t change time. The same results could have been had by just starting everything an hour earlier. After the war, DST was abandoned and only brought sporadically, notably during WWII, but did not become widely adopted until the 1970s energy crisis.

In 1973, President Nixon changed the US to year-round DST, which of course was silly, everyone could just start earlier. The act was repealed when it resulted in a marked increase in school bus accidents. A study done by Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia in 1991 and 1992 showed an 8 percent jump in traffic accidents on the Monday following the “spring forward” time change. After some jumbling around for a couple of years, it was finally settled in 1975 to the last Sunday in April through the last Sunday in October. Making changes to computer clocks in those days was not trivial and this was an enormous burden in the budding technology sector.

In the mid-1980s, the Sporting Goods lobby and associated lobbyists were able to convince Congress to extend DST to the first Sunday in April, which increased DST from six to seven months of the year in 1986. Computers were now far more prevalent and the change had an even larger impact and cost that everyone just had to eat. Simply having to change the clock twice a year was an enormous burden.

The systems I worked on at the time required the computer systems be restarted to change the clocks, which meant making sure all batch processing was completed so you could have a quiet 20 minutes or so to restart the systems in the middle of the night, which required a human being be sitting there.

In 2007, as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, DST was extended another 4 weeks so that the United States and Canada are now on it almost two-thirds of the year. The claim was that this additional 4 weeks would save 0.5% electricity per day for the country, enough to power 100,000 homes. There is a provision in the act to revert to standard time if those savings didn’t materialize. A 2008 study examined billing data in the state of Indiana before and after the 2006 change to DST and showed an increase of 1-4 percent due to the extra afternoon cooling and increased morning lighting costs.

All public safety claims made in the 1970s by the US DOT have been discounted by later empirical studies by the NBS. Similar claims by Law Enforcement of reduced crimes were also discounted as the sample set was too small (two cities) and did not allow for any mitigating factors.

In November 2018, California passed Proposition 7 which repealed the Daylight Saving Time Act of 1949 that approved the clocks in California to stay in sync with changes made at the federal level. This is the first step in allowing California to either (sensibly) cancel DST altogether like Arizona and Hawaii, or (foolishly) staying on DST year-round. If a state as large and influential as California were to abandon DST altogether, you would likely see a lot of adoption across the US and possibly the end of this silly practice altogether. The people that think year-round DST is a great idea, don’t remember when we did it before.

Arbitrarily changing something like the clock has huge effects and costs across society, as previously noted. Major systems can go down from bad date calculations. There was an outage in Microsoft Azure on leap day 2012 because of a simple date math bug. Politicians and lobbyists are oblivious to these costs and concerns and blithely change the clocks around as though they are some Olympian Gods that command time itself.

Ultimately, it is the arrogance of politicians that seem to think they are creating or giving you an extra hour of daylight, when in fact they are just controlling everyone’s behavior. There is no energy savings, quite the contrary. It doesn’t improve public safety, it does none of what it is purported to do. What it does have is a deleterious effect on public health and safety. A negative impact on kids performance in school, as many studies show that kids do better in school by starting later in the day and DST is contrary to that.

DST mandates massive hidden costs and dangers in adjusting delicate computer software systems. Modern life does not require DST. Our lighting energy costs are trivial compared to our other usages like computers and TV. Flexible work arrangements and a global economy makeshift work mostly a thing of the past. It’s time to move to the 21st Century and drop this anachronistic legislative holdover that was developed by arrogant and self-serving men. Write your Senators and your Representatives and let them know what you think.

Photo by Darwis Alwan from Pexels