NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Fire and rain: IT staff get canned

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Fire and rain: IT staff get canned

Madison really took the gift I gave her the wrong way. I bought a box of Special K cereal because the doc said I should lose a few pounds to take some of the pressure off my knee. Little did I realise that I would be an instant winner in the Cindy Crawford makeover contest.

I missed out on the first prize: the trip to New York with the full makeover. I got second place: $90 worth of beauty products "personally selected by Cindy".

But Madison took it the wrong way when I told her she could probably make better use of a makeover than I could. Yikes! Not one of my slicker moments. My face-cream faux pas put her in such a huff that she's stayed out in the field all week following up on tips.

Of course, she's not the only one who has felt under pressure lately. I see rainclouds gathering over Redmond . . . During his keynote speech at WinHEC, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates didn't mention the Department of Justice or a breakup of Microsoft or the company's stock slide, which made Oracle CEO Larry Ellison supplant him as the world's richest man. But it was obviously on his mind.

While Microsofties exhibited this or that Windows advance, Gates stepped offstage to have a seat. But thanks to a transparent divider and some backlighting, half the audience could clearly see a silhouette of Gates seated in a folding chair with his back turned, rocking back and forth in that Rainman-sort of way he does when he's deep in thought. Or deep in denial, as it may be.

Meanwhile, I keep hearing from more and more readers in IT whose jobs are being outsourced. It seems that several large companies, and even government bodies, are following this trend.

The US Navy is reportedly going to outsource its own IT operations, with about 120 people competing for 45 positions. The cost of the outsourcing project? Only $4 billion to $6 billion.

And here's some more of the scoop on Hewlett-Packard's IT outsourcing project. Since Carly Fiorina joined the company as CEO, HP has reorganised its internal IT groups at least four times to streamline the support infrastructure. The last reorganisation had HP outsourcing IT support to its own Support and Services Group. One HP-reorganisation victim says the company is positioning to outsource IT support to someone else full-time, such as IBM Global Services or EDS.

"HP never fires people," the reader says. "That's what they're known for, but boy do they sure make it hard to stay."

Mike Goija has found it hard to stay in any one job recently. The former director of development at I think perhaps Madison needs a self-esteem makeover. Maybe flowers will do the trick.

Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld

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