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1/4/2002
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IT Confidential

What's the view inside Hewlett-Packard of the controversial merger with Compaq? At least one HP employee can see both sides of the argument, to judge from an E-mail sent to a longtime acquaintance. On the pro side: "We need [Compaq's] Wintel server install base to sell our IA-64-chip-based servers into," the HP salesperson writes. "When those Microsoft guys have a 64-bit OS and database, they are going to put the hurt on HP/UX, Solaris, and AS/400 servers. [Compaq] is No. 1 in PC servers." On the con side: "Will retailers want to support two [PC] brands (Pavilion & Presario) from the same vendor? A sure combined market share loss." Also: "Vax and Tandem are declining businesses. Except to move them to HP/UX, we don't need them." Finally, there's support for the anti-HP-culture argument from the families of the two founders, that the economies of scale dictated by the merger will come only at the cost of significant (25%) layoffs. Writes the HP insider: "A successful business plan based on firing so many people is something Bill & Dave would never have done."

"Human error" was the reason for a glitch at FleetBoston Financial that caused online postings on New Year's Day to be double-credited or double-debited, according to a bank spokeswoman. "Someone input the date variable incorrectly into our automated scheduling package," says the spokeswoman, who declined to name the particular software. She says the problem involved postings "in the 5 a.m. time frame" and was rectified by 10 a.m.

George O'Leary, the Notre Dame football coach who resigned after he was caught padding his resume, has nothing on IT execs, to judge from a survey of 7,000 executive resumes involved in 500 executive searches conducted by recruitment firm Christian & Timber. The survey found that about 23% of executive candidates misrepresent themselves on their resumes, and many of the offenders were seeking IT posts, such as CIO and chief technology officer, says Bill Trau, a VP at Christian & Timbers. The good news for IT recruiters is that tech execs tend to pad their resumes slightly less frequently, because it's difficult to fabricate certain expertise. "Education background is critical to job specifics in IT," Trau says. "If you can't code, how can you have that master's [degree] in programming?" What IT execs fabricate most frequently is the significance of their job accomplishments, such as the impact and success of an IT project. "That's harder to verify," Trau says."It takes more digging."

There have been many reasons advanced for the failure of the dot-com boom, but Randolph Bias may have a unique one: "A lot of [Web] businesses have gone out of business because their users were too stupid." Bias is a cognitive psychologist and co-founder of Austin Usability, a Web-site usability test lab. Bias says many Web sites were too complicated for the average consumer, and developers are to blame. For about $10,000, Bias will put together a group of typical users, run simulations, write a usability report, and make suggestions to create a more consumer-friendly site. "The software developers can't imagine how ignorant and uncaring we users are about their cool technology," he says. "I just want to buy a shirt."

Ed McVaney retired last week-again. The co-founder of J.D. Edwards & Co. nearly 25 years ago, McVaney gave his exit papers to the board of directors, which then tapped Robert Dutkowsky as the new president and CEO. McVaney remains a member of the board, and Dutkowsky, who comes from Teradyne, will add the title chairman at J.D. Edwards' stockholders meeting in March. McVaney retired the first time in late 1998, joking how he loved casting for trout in the streams not far from J.D. Edwards' Denver headquarters. He returned when the company was struggling in April 2000 to replace his replacement, Doug Massingill.

Two retirements? Based on my 401(k), I'm wondering if I'll get one retirement. I started my working life at McDonald's and, from the looks of things, I'll probably end up there. I'll supersize your order if you send me an industry tip to [email protected]com, or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about human error, padded resumes, or stupid customers, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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