April 1, 2008

blackbird banned at gaming confab: "too bloody powerful"

WTF? This is just hard to believe, who are these wankers? I guess our crew did too good a job designing it?

IPCGA disqualifies HP Blackbird 002 from 2008 International PC Gaming Tournament...International PC gaming association determines next-gen PC gaming rig is simply too powerful for this year’s competition.

Hey, decide for yourself ;-)

Posted by Gene at 8:43 AM | TrackBack

September 7, 2007

separated at birth?


Wired Gadget Lab finds a remarkable similarity between our little Blackbird 002 and...the iPhone. LOFL!!! And they wrote a very nice review saying among other things, "Gaming PC manufacturers take note: The bar just got raised into outer space."


Posted by Gene at 1:06 AM | TrackBack

September 5, 2007

blackbird rising


A little something from the day job...

UPDATED: Lots of good coverage coming out...
* The inside scoop from partner-in-crime Rahul Sood
* CNET.com: “HP's Blackbird 002 earns the highest rating this editor has ever given a desktop PC."
* PCMag.com: "Five Stars"
* Gizmodo: "The Love Child of HP and Voodoo"
* Business Week: "Game On for HP"
* WSJ: "Gaming PCs for the Masses"
* Kotaku: "Project Blackbird Lands at my House"

Posted by Gene at 4:23 PM | TrackBack

May 8, 2007

context-aware mediascape service launches


Over in Shanghai, we just announced the public launch of the mscapers.com web community for development and publishing of mediascapes. Ubicomp and geospatial media folks may know of this work via the long-running Mobile Bristol project and various public deployments (Yosemite, Tower of London, Riot 1831). Pervasive gaming fans may have caught the Sign of the Sorceress video, the alien invasion at 3GSM, or Ere Be Dragons at GDC. So now's your chance to play with the toys, get your hands on the tools and build some context-aware experiences of your own. It's beta of course, so things will start pretty simple and improve with community feedback. But even at this early stage the tools are very sophisticated and the games, walks and tours are immersive and fun.

To get started playing you need a mobile device with windows mobile and GPS capability, something like this is ideal but there are plenty of alternatives that should work. Last summer when I was on sabbatical building 'scapes, I used an old iPAQ with a bluetooth GPS module, and it worked pretty well.

So find some gear and go play -- I'd say start with Always Something Somewhere Else by audio artist Duncan Speakman, or maybe the Hidden Danger UXB minesweeper game. Then you can fire up the tools and inspect the script code to see how they were built. I have to warn you, it's pretty addictive once you get started.

Posted by Gene at 10:18 PM | TrackBack

January 26, 2007

concept video: the future of pervasive games?

If you're a fan of ubicomp street games and mobile experience design futures, check out this fun pervasive gaming concept video from HP, (officially titled "Roku's Reward", although I like to think of it as "Sign of the Sorceress" after the game). And for a good compare & contrast exercise, go back to the interesting Nokia Explore 2012 concept video that Matt Jones posted, which sketches some clever mobile/media interaction ideas.

Figure 1. HP Sign of the Sorceress

Figure 2. Nokia Explore 2012

Posted by Gene at 9:41 AM | TrackBack

September 28, 2006

hp has a new blogger...and a new gaming business


Amid all the noise emanating from Washington DC today, it is great to see some exciting positive news about HP -- high-end gaming machine crafter VoodooPC is joining the HP fold, w00t! Voodoo Prexy/CTO Rahul Sood has a wonderful long post about how this came about. This is excellent, folks, just superb. Welcome Rahul, Ravi & the entire Voodoo team.

Update: Heh, Brian Lam at Gizmodo sez: "And sweet baby Jesus, what kinds of watercooled, monster machines are you guys going to start building with a harem of HP engineers at your beck and call." Dude, how about a gamerz datac3nt3r in a shipping containorz?

And more: Four days after the announcement, Rahul was in Palo Alto for the firehose treatment at Labs. I can't say what we talked about, but I can tell you that he's a very smart guy who really loves geeky stuff, and we are going to have a ton of fun together ;-)

Posted by Gene at 3:49 PM | TrackBack

September 27, 2006

mark hurd interview with peter burrows

Peter Burrows of Business Week was one of the reporters investigated by the HP Board. He has every right to be vindictive, but he has risen above the personal affront in a straightforward and balanced interview with HP CEO Mark Hurd. Burrows asks some pointed questions ("You have said that the reason Keyworth was ousted from the board was that he violated HP standards of business conduct. Did you violate those standards as well?"), but he also gives Hurd a fair chance to say what he is doing to prevent such lapses in the future. I was interviewed by Burrows earlier this year at HP and was impressed with him; this piece reinforces my initial positive impression.

For his part, Hurd comes across pretty well. He accepts responsibility, refuses to jump to easy conclusions, and gives a straight story about the damage that has been done. He is every bit as plain-spoken and direct as we have seen him inside HP over the last 18 months. And I am especially interested in his comment on the opportunity to turn this situation into a force for change:

"I just think we need to put fresh eyes on it, and look at it as a zero-based budget kind of thing. Let's look at this from the ground up, and not try to tweak what we have. Let's try to be a leader here. It sounds absolutely nuts, based on the circumstances we're in. But sometimes when you're in a situation like this, it creates an openness to change. And I can't think of anyone more open to change than us."

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago at the beginning of all this, "...sometimes it takes a crisis to precipitate a catharsis -- and maybe our current board crisis can be turned into a vehicle for purposeful renewal of the HP culture and our presence in the world. It would be hard and painful thing to do, and it would take incredible leadership from Mark Hurd and his team and from every person in HP, but I could see it, I really could." Is it possible that Mark Hurd wants to build the HP Way 2.0?

It's a good interview, go read the whole thing.

Posted by Gene at 9:57 AM | TrackBack

September 20, 2006

as the stomach turns

Given the apparent depth of the mud piling up around the HP Board's long-running leak investigation/scandal, I'm not going to make any comments other than to say that news like this ("Extensive Spying Found at HP", WashPo 9/20/06) absolutely makes me ill.

The Feb. 10 report, obtained by The Washington Post, summarized in eight pages how investigators, to identify an internal leak of confidential HP information, surreptitiously followed HP board member George A. Keyworth II while he was giving a lecture at the University of Colorado. They watched his home in Piedmont, Calif. They used photographs of a reporter to see if the reporter met with him. And they tried to recover a laptop computer stolen from him in Italy so they could analyze its contents.

The report, prepared by a consulting firm in Needham, Mass., hired to investigate leaks to the media, was sent to four HP executives, including HP's ethics director. That suggests that senior HP employees were aware of the spying tactics used as early as February.

...The report described how investigators sent an e-mail to a reporter for the online technology publication Cnet.com that contained spyware software in an attached file. If opened, the attachment was designed to install itself on her computer and track every keystroke.

I feel betrayed.

Oh, and I just noticed the NY Times is reporting the following, based on emails it obtained from an unnamed source:

Concern over legality was reflected in an e-mail message sent on Jan. 30 by Mr. Hunsaker, the chief ethics officer, to Mr. Gentilucci, the manager of global investigations. Referring to a private detective in the Boston area, Ronald R. DeLia, whom the company had hired, he asked: “How does Ron get cell and home phone records? Is it all above board?”

Mr. Gentilucci responded that Mr. DeLia, the owner of Security Outsourcing Solutions, had investigators “call operators under some ruse.”

He also wrote: “I think it is on the edge, but above board. We use pretext interviews on a number of investigations to extract information and/or make covert purchases of stolen property, in a sense, all undercover operations.”

Mr. Hunsaker’s e-mail response, in its entirety, said: “I shouldn’t have asked....”

If true, then "I shouldn't have asked" doesn't begin to describe it, does it?

Posted by Gene at 9:33 AM | TrackBack

September 10, 2006

where are all the hp bloggers?

This isn't supposed to be a blog about HP stuff. I never wanted to go there, and mostly I have managed not to. Unfortunately, this last week I just could not stay out of the HP board story, it was too important and full-frontal to ignore. There's no way I could just pretend not to notice, and just keep posting about ubicomp and music as if nothing was happening.

But after poking around in the usual hangouts, I am starting to wonder where are all the other people like me, the HP employees who run blogs and feel they have to speak up on this? Maybe I just don't know where to look, but I'm not finding them anywhere. In fact, one really weird thing is that if you look at the official HP blogs, out of the 15 or so actual people there (not counting one time event blogs), only 7 have posted at all since the flap started on 9/5/06, and none of those have commented on the situation whatsoever. Zero. Seriously. How can they just say "move along folks, there's nothing to see here" and write about business as usual? I don't understand. Maybe I missed a memo or something.

Posted by Gene at 12:14 AM | TrackBack

September 8, 2006

oh boy, here we go

From the AP, HP Chair: Board Members Want Her to Stay

Hewlett-Packard Co. Chairwoman Patricia Dunn said Friday that several of her fellow board members want to her remain on the job despite a criminal investigation into her efforts to plug a media leak -- a crusade that spawned a ruse to obtain the personal phone records of company directors and at least nine reporters.

"I serve at the pleasure of the board," Dunn told The Associated Press in an interview. "I totally trust their judgment. If they think it would be better for me to step aside, I would do that. But a number of directors have urged me to hang in there."

Batten down the hatches.

Update: The WSJ posted a pdf of a string of emails between Tom Perkins and Larry Sonsini (HP's outside counsel is WSGR). Elsewhere, Perkins has upped the ante by referring the matter to a federal prosecutor and regulators at the FCC and FTC.

I guess HP Way 2.0 is going to have to wait.

Posted by Gene at 12:43 PM | TrackBack

in search of HP Way 2.0

Thank you John Furrier and Robert Scoble for noting that HP has long had a great culture and tradition of innovation, and 150,000 dedicated employees who are just as perplexed and disgusted about the BoD scandal as anyone. I really appreciated your comments, and they helped crystallize an idea for me: what HP needs now is the HP Way 2.0.

The HP Way 1.0 is not dead, but it is certainly under constant siege these days. Here's a good balanced article on the HP Way from the local Palo Alto Weekly dated April 10, 2002, when we were in the middle of the Compaq merger proxy fight (now that was a horrible period at HP). Looking back, I would say that both Carly Fiorina and Walter Hewlett were right about the merger. Consolidation for scale turned out to be a correct strategy for winning in the increasingly cutthroat PC and x86 server businesses, and HP has done very well in those areas. However, the cost of being a leader in PCs is increased exposure to an unforgiving, slow growth, low margin business that in turn demands a ruthlessly lean and efficient operating model. Perpetual understaffing, tight budgets, burnout working conditions, and layoffs all seem to come with that territory. It is a lot harder to maintain innovation, trust, and respect for individuals in that environment, and so these cornerstones of the HP Way have been slowly chipped away.

In addition to the Compaq team, HP has also brought in a lot of new exec talent from places like Dell, WalMart, and EDS. Guess what, they didn't have the HP Way in those places. So it's no big surprise that they aren't playing the game by the old rules. They are trying to change the game entirely. You can certainly debate whether their strategies are correct, but in the meantime, chip, chip chip at the old ways of doing things. In many ways, HP Way 1.0 is no longer relevant to the reality of our industry.

HP has been on a roll this year with improved revenue, profit, and stock price. There are a lot of reasons to be hopeful that the new cost structure and operating model will enable more investment in innovation and contribution to customers, which will in turn lead to exciting new products and renewed employee passion, which in turn will turbocharge the business. This kind of 'virtuous circle' is what the leaders of HP have been trying to achieve for the last 7 years, and if we can pull it off then maybe we will see the rise of HP Way 2.0. You know, sometimes it takes a crisis to precipitate a catharsis -- and maybe our current board crisis can be turned into a vehicle for purposeful renewal of the HP culture and our presence in the world. It would be hard and painful thing to do, and it would take incredible leadership from Mark Hurd and his team and from every person in HP, but I could see it, I really could.

Am I crazy? Inspired? Deluded? Maybe, but I think it's a great question: What would a truly great HP look like, that would be deserving of the term HP Way 2.0?

Posted by Gene at 11:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

some reasonable questions to ask

I don't think it is unreasonable to ask:

If a company orders an investigation of certain reporters, can it then expect to ever have those reporters write about them again, under any positive circumstances?

If a news organization's reporters were targeted in such an investigation, how will they then treat that company in the future?

If a company is willing to investigate the personal communications of its own board members as well as outside parties, then under what circumstances would it behave similarly toward its employees?

Bad mojo, folks.

Posted by Gene at 9:24 AM | TrackBack

September 7, 2006

the damage is Dunn

Update 09/08/06: According to the WSJ ($), "H-P CHAIRMAN DUNN SAID she was "appalled" by the tactics used in the board's probe of media leaks. She has no plans to resign, but would step down if asked by the board."


I don't see how Patricia Dunn can avoid resigning from HP's board at this point. Regardless of the outcome of the California AG's investigation, Dunn's own integrity has been compromised, along with that of the rest of the board and increasingly the entire HP company. Public opinion in the press and blogs is running overwhelmingly against her, and is building to outrage with the latest disclosure that nine reporters' phone records were also targeted. Could she fight to keep her seat? Sure, and maybe she could even win that battle. But at what cost in reputation, and what impact on the brand, from a long and public boardroom storm? For the good of the company she serves, and as a good and principled leader in her own right, it is time for her to do the right thing.

This analysis on Groklaw makes me concerned about where else the trail will lead. Are other members of the Board similarly compromised? Personnel inside HP? It's all speculation at this point, but when you pull on loose threads things can unravel badly.

CNet has pdf copies of two additional email letters from Tom Perkins to Ann Baskins and the HP Board dated July 18th and 28th, which are further revealing of the backstory.

Ugh. I need to go wash my hands.

As always, these are my own opinions and not those of my employer.

Posted by Gene at 11:57 PM | TrackBack

September 5, 2006

wtf hp?

We've had some pretty amazing board-level dramas at my employer over the last several years, but this is baffling. Intrigue in High Places (Newsweek): "To catch a leaker, Hewlett-Packard's chairwoman spied on the home phone records of its board of directors".

The confrontation at Hewlett-Packard started innocently enough. Last January, the online technology site CNET published an article about the long-term strategy at HP, the company ranked No. 11 in the Fortune 500. While the piece was upbeat, it quoted an anonymous HP source and contained information that only could have come from a director. HP’s chairwoman, Patricia Dunn, told another director she wanted to know who it was; she was fed up with ongoing leaks to the media going back to CEO Carly Fiorina’s tumultuous tenure that ended in early 2005. According to an internal HP e-mail, Dunn then took the extraordinary step of authorizing a team of independent electronic-security experts to spy on the January 2006 communications of the other 10 directors-not the records of calls (or e-mails) from HP itself, but the records of phone calls made from personal accounts. That meant calls from the directors’ home and their private cell phones. (Link and emphasis added)

Wow. I guess our PR folks must be pulling an all-nighter in preparation for a lousy tomorrow. HP's going to be pilloried in the press and the blogs, that's for certain.

Update: The director who talked to CNet was George Keyworth, who has been on the HP board for the last 20 years.

More: From the SJ Merc article:

"Fundamentally, it is about accountabilty,'' said Ryan Donovan, a spokesman for the Palo Alto company. ``It doesn't matter whether you are a member of the board or a rank and file employee. We have standards of business conduct and if you violate those, there are consequences.''

Ironically, Donovan was speaking of Keyworth.

And yet more: The Smoking Gun has posted former director Thomas Perkins' letter to the board, and a letter from AT&T to Perkins detailing unauthorized accesses to his online billing records.

"I am hereby providing the Company notice that I consider the Company's Form 8-K filed on May 22, 2006, relating to my resignation to be defective because it did not describe my objection to and disagreement with the Company's operations, policies and practices as they relate to the chair's improper and likely unlawful investigation...

As the Company failed to make a full and accurate report (as required by federal law) and having given the Company several opportunities to correct the record, I am now legally obliged to disclose publicly the reasons for my resignation. This is a very sad duty. My history with the Hewlett-Packard Company is long and I have been privileged to count both founders as close friends. I consider HP to be an icon of Silicon Valley, and one of the great companies of the world. It now needs, urgently, to correct its course."

I find this situation extremely troubling. The very first paragraph of HP's Standards of Business Conduct states:

HP conducts its business with uncompromising integrity. Every member of the HP community—directors, executives, managers, employees and business partners—has a duty to comply with all applicable law and adhere to the highest standards of business ethics (emphasis added).

If Perkins' and Newsweek's allegations are true, then Patricia Dunn and any other members of the HP board or company that were responsible for these acts have done HP a grave disservice and they should stand down from the board. This is of course my own personal opinion and not that of HP. But I don't know how anyone could interpret this story as an example of "uncompromising integrity". Certainly, if I had done this to members of my team, there can be little doubt what the consequences would be.

Posted by Gene at 11:17 PM | TrackBack