NOTES FROM THE FIELD: HP terminates, IBM spins down

It is with great pride that I announce my candidacy for governor of California. Don’t laugh — I’m the perfect compromise candidate. I’ve got the brains of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the brawn of Gary Coleman, and the moral fibre of Larry Flynt. Besides, I can field-strip a Winchester drive in 32 seconds. Can Arianna make that claim? I think not.

HP is saying “Hasta la vista, baby” to its network of independent service centres, says one of my sources, who got his termination letter last month. HP is reportedly dropping the number of authorised repair shops for the Presario and Pavilion lines from about 1000 to about 40, all big electronics chains.

Better back up your data before your machine breaks, my source warns; diagnosing problems at these chains usually means wiping the OS. I know: Let’s call this one Eraser II.

IBM: Collateral Damage

A few years ago, IBM’s Deskstar hard drives were so unreliable they were dubbed the “Death Star” by users, some of whom were ticked off enough to file a class action suit. Last December, Big Blue sold its hard drive manufacturing operations to Hitachi for $US2 billion, but apparently things haven’t improved much. One member of the Cringely crew says he’s had at least 10 Deskstars die on him, including several manufactured or “repaired” this year. Maybe Hitachi needs to consider a Total Recall.

Network Solutions: Kindergarten Cops?

One of my spies recently tried to get his name off Network Solutions’ opt-in email lists. When he contacted its support department, he was asked to email his password — not exactly what you’d expect from NetSol, whose parent company, VeriSign, claims to make Net communications “more intelligent, reliable, and secure. A NetSol spokesmodel said the company recently stopped asking customers for passwords (I guess this techie didn’t get the memo). No problemo — shall I email you my credit card numbers, too?

Pammy says I’ve got her vote. A few dozen more and maybe I’ve got a shot. “Gov. Cringely” has a nice ring, don’t you think?