Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cleaning Palm Treo buttons

I've had some problems with Palm Treo buttons -- i.e., keypad keys. I guess they get dirty down inside, and need cleaning. The symptom is that I have to press the key very hard to get it to work. That makes typing difficult, of course.

I bought some contact cleaner --



that seems to work. I removed the Treo battery, sprayed the cleaner on the keypad and from the back, and let it drip out. Then it dried for about eight hours. The buttons work fine now.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Mergers and Acquisitions


I'm a huge skeptic of mergers and acquisitions. It seems rare for something good to actually happen when one company buys another.

My experience is observing service providers and computer/networking vendors who merge. The creative people who work in the companies can get completely distracted. (Witness the BellSouth BTAC when the AT&T purchase of BellSouth was announced). The companies purchased are sometimes run into the ground. (Witness DSS Online, SurfSouth, and the other service providers bought by Duro/Volaris). Investment money seems to act like a drug that relieves smart people of good sense. The vast sums of cash changing hands seem to promote a lot of wasteful spending.

Sometimes the newly larger company wants to transfer a promising project from one group to another. But experience shows that doesn't work. Fred Brooks (the Mythical Man Month author) has observed that technical development projects cannot be moved between groups. The receiving group always restarts the development.

Sometimes purchasing company wants to move the purchased people and their project to a different location. In Peopleware, Demarco and Lister note that it's hard to move creative-technical people.

My hunch is that M&A often happens because (a) the management people at the purchasing company are looking for some excitement and a challenge, and (b) the owners of the purchased company want cash for the stock they own. I can't fault either motivation.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Spam filtering and the demise of Email

Email is rapidly losing its usefulness as a business communication
method. Many businesses I work with have spam filters, and the spam
filters reject ordinary email very aggressively.

This is really very regrettable. As a result, people routinely fail to
to get email that I have sent to them.

In my opinion, this type of spam blocking is unprofessional. The
messages I'm sending are not spam, yet they are blocked. So we know
the spam filter is not working perfectly. Why even advertise an email
address if you're going to configure your email servers to discard
valid business email from people you've contacted in the past?