Musings on technology: Grand Theft Auto 5, Excel, and Chromebook

Microsoft and Xbox One
Recently I made three predictions about Microsoft, in an article titled “What’s wrong with Microsoft? As the old Meatloaf song goes, “two out of three ain’t bad”, but I did get one prediction completely wrong. First, I predicted that Microsoft would backtrack on their Xbox One rules, which prohibited selling or sharing disks and required logging into the Internet at least once a day. They backtracked in record time. I also pointed out that Steve Ballmer was the common denominator in many of Microsoft’s blunders, and sure enough, he announced his retirement and the stock soared…..I wish I could do that—quit a job, have the stock soar, and make a billion dollars in one day (this actually happened), but I don’t have enough shares of anything to have that happen. However, my third prediction, that Xbox One pre-sales would be below forecast, was wrong.

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New Contender for Biggest Technology "Foul" Up

Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last few years, you’re aware of two things. How and what news is presented varies dramatically by the source of the news, and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is having extreme technology problems. Therefore, to remain apolitical and yet get the point across, here are some recent headlines from new sources across the political spectrum:

Headline: $93M ObamaCare website may face months of glitches, experts warn. Source: Fox News
Headline: Slow-bamacare: Tech fixes planned for health exchange. Source: CNBC
Headline: Wonkbook: Obamacare’s Web site is really bad. Source: Washington Post
Headline: Obamacare Enrollment Slowly Begins As Insurance Exchanges Still Face Technical Problems. Source: Huffington Post

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Local graduate sells company for $305 million

In November 2009 my wife and I attended a charity event to benefit our local public schools, and after participating in nearly every possible raffle and auction, won a trip to Middlebury, Vermont and a chance to visit the Woodchuck Cidery. The trip was donated by an ex-local, Bret Williams, who now lives in Vermont but graduated from Oakmont, our public high school. It was actually a fun prize—we stayed in an old Middlebury Inn, rumored as usual to be haunted, ate at a wonderful restaurant, and also went on a tour of the cidery that had donated the trip……we decided we’d write about it for “the Vine”, the news magazine we then published.

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Customer Service and the Rise of Social Media

Customer service has for years gotten a lot of lip service but very little respect…..”it’s your company’s face to the world”, “it takes years to win a customer but only a minute to lose one”, and other similar sayings abound, but then why is customer service so often the poor stepchild, left behind when marketing, sales, and the executive team go off to play? It’s not unusual that the customer service group is the department most underpaid, least trained, and most technically ill-equipped in the whole company,yet they are the people who deal most with your customers.When a company is looking to save money, what department has the best chance of relocating to India? In many industries these days it’s a lot of departments, but customer service is consistently in the top 3. Why?

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What's going on with Microsoft?


What’s going on with Microsoft?

A few years back people referred to Microsoft as the “Evil Empire”, which was a backhanded compliment—Microsoft ruled the tech world. Their browser, Internet Explorer, dominated. Their operating systems ran just about every computing device made except mainframes. When Microsoft moved into a market, the competition quaked.

Not anymore.  Something is amiss in Redmond, Washington. The back office technical products like SQL Server and Active Directory are continuing to flourish and Azure is gaining momentum, but their consumer/user products are one disaster after another. Windows 8--what was that all about? The Surface tablet and the MS Phone—too late for the dance and always playing catch up.

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School Committee Meeting: Buckle up…..we’re going over the falls


AWRSD School Committee Meeting held June 26, 2013 in the Oakmont Regional High School Library:

The School Committee meeting of 6/26 wasn’t called to order until 7:10, when the committee reached a quorum, as a number of committee members were late arriving from the wake for Ron McGuire, a well-known Westminster resident who had died unexpectedly. The meeting then started, as always, with the Pledge of Allegiance, but from there on it was a different type of meeting.

First of all, there were a large number of concerned citizens from both Westminster and Ashburnham in attendance, quite unusual for school committee meetings, which often play to an empty house. The reason for this surge in attendance was concern for the school system, after the failure of the school district’s funding override in Ashburnham-- if nothing is done this means yet again more cuts to our school district. Not counting the upcoming year, Ashburnham Westminster Regional School District (AWRSD) has had to cut staff and services for 5 of the past 7 years. This override failure would make it 6 for 8, higher even than Jose Iglesias’ batting average.

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