Friday Jul 04, 2008

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of my former employer

cross-posting to

After 11 years at Sun, I hope you can forgive a little sentimentality as I write my last as a Sun employee. I've had a wonderful time here. In the week I joined Sun (SunExpress actually, which although it sounds like a budget travel agency, was in fact an inside sales division), the sales manager who hired me left. Unlike her, I am not making a leaving speech, but were I to, I would say the same thing: it's all about the people.

I've had the opportunity to work with amazing, and more importantly, really good people. Although we may no longer be co-workers, we will still be friends. And happily, we will still be colleagues: I am remaining in the world of free and open source software to work at Mozilla, marketing Firefox in Europe. That such an opportunity was available to me was certainly in part thanks to Sun's credibility in open source. This is the result of the efforts of hundreds, even thousands, of people at Sun, but of course much of the credit has to go to my boss, Sun's chief open source officer, Simon Phipps. Simon is a marvelous man, from whom I have learned a great deal, (but I suspect only a fraction of what he could teach me). I literally do not know how he does what he does, and I will miss him.

As for the new waters Sun is charting in open source, I am proud to have had a small part to play in it. And I believe that Sun's customers and shareholders will have reason to be pleased, even if the ride seems bumpy at times. I like to think that we've moved on from regarding Microsoft as 'evil'. They are no more evil than they are brilliant. It just happens that they've been the chief beneficiaries of the IT sector's natural susceptibility to monopolisation. But by the simple expedient of respecting the freedom of software's users, we have the potential to avoid both the monopolisation or the fragmentation of the network; to keep the network as an instrument of human empowerment and not one of control, and to accelerate the growth of shared wealth in the form of accumulated learning. I feel very lucky to be able to identify this outcome in my work, in both my old job and my new one.

In my interview to join Sun, the soon-to-leave manager innocently asked why it was that Sun had no customers (or at least, relatively few), in my hometown of Liverpool, which was at the time enduring a bout of post-industrial malaise. I didn't have a very good answer for her, but it's nice to reflect that these days, Liverpool is European Capital of Culture (whatever that means, exactly), in Eskilstuna, Sweden, where I now live, there seems to be a higher level of awareness of Liverpool FC than practically any other institution, and even the head of Sun's sales organisation is a scouser.

Finally, I turn to some advice that I got in my early days on the job, on getting my first account to manage. John, a senior colleague, took me to one side and said to me, "Patrick, this is important. Whatever you do, don't f\*\*\* it up." So, if you'd care to join me, I will transplant my blog to, where I will endeavour to keep following this sage counsel.

Friday Aug 24, 2007

Olympic-sized criticism

I saw an interview with a branding consultant discussing the unloved London Olympics logo recently.

He laughably claimed that the question is not, "Do I like the logo?", but rather, "Is it suggestive of an innovative experience?". He said that it met this criteria. It communicates a great deal. His bizarre conclusion was that being unusual and ostensibly unattractive does not a bad logo make. Unsurprisingly, this freak was lambasted as a pseud in Private Eye.

Of course, he was totally right. London's ugly Olympic logo is memorable, distinctive and speaks of an organisation which is thinking differently. It is an unusual, unattractive and a \*good\* logo.

My wife, (who is a marketing manager) once observed that marketing (and especially branding) is the one discipline which everyone believes they can do better than the department charged with doing it. Marketing is not, as they say, rocket science. Equally, it isn't entirely intuitive. And so I observe that much of the discussion about the Sun changing its trading symbol from SUNW to JAVA fails to engage with the reasons behind the decision.

My perspective? Around 2004, Steven Milunovich, a Merrill Lynch analyst, wrote a very report on Sun, in which he labelled the company's technology "irrelevant". I was astonished to see how influential this was. A very old friend of mine (actually, my oldest) works in the City of London, while knowing little of Sun's technology, quoted this one adjective back to me in his assessment of Sun's prospects.

Happily, Merrill Lynch seem a little less gloomy about Sun these days. But what of my friend? Well, he owns a "convergence device" and he uses the internet. He's a lot less likely to accept that a stock is "irrelevant" if he closely associates it with a technology platform that he is using several times a day. And perceptions do, it seems, count.

Elsewhere, I read that if you look at the London Olympic logo long enough, you can see a character from a popular animated series performing a lewd act.

That's some logo.

ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

Tuesday Apr 17, 2007

links for 2007-04-18

Monday Apr 16, 2007

links for 2007-04-17

Wednesday Apr 04, 2007

links for 2007-04-05

Monday Apr 02, 2007

links for 2007-04-03

Sunday Jan 21, 2007

Eskilstuna in January

We moved to Eskilstuna, Sweden in December. It has a reputation as an industrial town, known as "the Sheffield of Sweden" and it is twinned, somewhat unfairly, with Luton in the UK. Like most of Sweden, it is rather beautiful.

I deny, you refute, they attack.

It's in keeping with the Blair government's presumption of its own infallibility that a close aide to the Prime Minister wouldn't know the difference between asserting you are correct and proving it. Ruth Turner, who may well not have committed any transgression and who has some impressive witnesses to her good character but was arrested and released on Friday in connection with an investigation into selling honours, says that she "refutes absolutely" the allegations. How? I haven't seen any proof.

Of course, this wasn't a simple malapropism: senior government officials' careers are made by the precision with which they choose their words. No, this is the government's even less appealing trait of always going on the offensive. The word "deny" simply sounds too defensive for them, so instead they "refute", which sounds as though the accuser's position has been somehow weakened. More attacks followed in the form of senior Labour members criticising the police for being heavy-handed in arresting Ms Turner.

And so now the story (see the headline on the BBC site) is that the police force are having to defend their own behaviour. The Police Federation correctly points out that this policitical interference is totally inappropriate and unhelpful for officers who have the daunting task of investigating senior politicans.

It's all the more ironic to hear allegations of heavy-handedness from the party that had an 82-year-old peace activist forcibly ejected from their conference for (correctly) pointing out that the foreign secretary was talking "nonsense" about Iraq in defending the governments failed policy.

ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer.

Thursday Jan 18, 2007

Where does the irony lie?

There is not taking yourself too seriously, and then there is pretending to be suspicious of a phenomenon from which you have derived incredible benefit in order to promote your continued investment in it.

At the height of puberty I was less self-conscious than this.

ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer.

Thursday Jan 11, 2007

Whatever happened the the Guardian?

When I was growing up, The Guardian was unrivalled as the newspaper of choice for thinking, left-of-centre families. But more and more, it seems to have lost its moral compass in the same place that the Blair Labour government has.

As my Dad pointed out to me yesterday, this editorial is really rather unpleasant:

Britain has sacrificed much - militarily, politically, culturally and economically - ever since March 2003, and has got almost nothing good in return...The prime minister's commitment to the American cause has been total and consistent. But it has brought neither him nor us any rewards...
It was the wrong policy and - in my view even worse - it was a failed policy. It has not been good for Iraqis, to put it mildly. But it has also been politically destructive for Britain, for Europe, for the rule of law, for good government, for Labour and for Blair.

(my emphasis)

Really, this could have appeared in the most venal of tabloids. The ideas that Britain should expect some kind of "reward" for invading Iraq, and that the greatest criticism of the war is its failure to achieve the objectives of its authors, lack any kind of ethical conscience. As my Dad put it, "If it's wrong (illegal, immoral) it's wrong."

ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

We've got an iPhone

Had it for ages in fact. Come marvel at its sleek design, innovative user interface, the elegant simplicity of its display ("you have 1 missed call: view / cancel"). Here it is:

It's a Linksys iPhone, and I gave it to my wife for her birthday (unsentimental, I realise, but it is what she asked for).

Not that I have any view on any definitely imminent trademark lawsuits, but it seems that while Cisco thought they had the iPhone trademark, Apple thought differently.

ps. the news expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer

Friday Jan 05, 2007


as a phoney, it seems. The recent "5 things" meme did rather lend itself to trying to define oneself. I hoped I'd avoided such a pratfall, but Jimi ruthlessly exposed me as a phoney on his rather stunning Ulaanbanjo blog. Alright then, I stuck 5 proper secrets there. Proof positive that people enjoy nothing more than talking about themselves. Enough of this navel gazing!

Monday Jan 01, 2007

5 things you probably didn't know about me

After getting tagged by Simon, here are 5 things you probably didn't know about me and cared less.

1. I have been a vegetarian since I was 14, at which time I believed that it was only a matter of time before everyone would decide to be a vegetarian. It can be irritating to people who eat meat if you advocate vegetarianism (indeed, many like to preempt by probing for consistency in one's philosophy about it), and so I don't do it often. So, for the first and last time in 2007: don't eat meat, it's very unpleasant when you think about it.

2. Although I love football, my favourite sport to watch is rugby league, and it was my love for the Greatest Game that lead me to take my degree in Leeds. I still consider myself honoured to have watched Doug Laughton's fantastic Widnes side of the late 80s and early 90s (which even briefly eclipsed the mighty Wigan). I am convinced that the wretched sport of rugby union only has a higher global profile due to a conspiracy by a bourgeois media (no doubt in league with our lizard overlords).


3. My favourite flavours are vanilla and tabasco. Is there any way the two could be combined?

4. I play blues guitar to a reasonable standard. I sound most like Albert King, Freddie King and Earl Hooker. Being entirely self-taught, I'm useless in any other genre. I play a Fender Telecaster and an Epiphone Sorento, if that means anything to you.

5. My first job involved dressing up like one of Beatles from the cover of Sgt. Pepper.

Sgt Pepper

Right, that's that. I hereby nominate Bart, Chris, Matt, Robert (who doens't have a blog yet and I'm hoping to cajole with this), and Ullambanjo, the Mongolian-based banjo player.

Friday Dec 08, 2006

Geef mij maar Amsterdam

Geef mij maar Amsterdam, dat is mooier dan Parijs.
Geef mij maar Amsterdam, m’n Mokums paradijs.
Geef mij maar maar Amsterdam, met zijn Amstel en het IJ,
Want in Mokum ben je rijk en gelukkig tegelijk.
Geef mij maar Amsterdam.

Oh give me Amsterdam, it is more beautiful that Paris,
Give me Amsterdam, my Mokum [slang for Amsterdam] paradise.
Give me Amsterdam, with her Amstel and the Ij,
Because in Amsterdam you're both rich and happy.
Just give me Amsterdam.

After 10 years, and with some sadness but no reluctance, I'm heading north to Sweden, following in the footsteps of Henrik Hybertsson, but hopefully with rather less disasterous consequences.

I may not be both happy and rich, but happy certainly, very happy, and I'll miss this place. The Dutch are many things and their officiousness is often mistaken for arrogance by foreigners (not that I'm inclined to generalise you understand). But if they are always ready with an opinion, they are also a sanguine and playful bunch.

Tuesday Dec 05, 2006

Why keep a dog and bark yourself?

I'm confused. Tony Blair told us yesterday that Britain needs a nuclear deterrent. Why, then, did we need to invade Iraq, if a mutually assured destruction is such an effective policy?

ps. the views expressed here are not necessarily those of my employer




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