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HP Witch Hunt Also Targeted Reporter's Father 149

Posted by Zonk
from the should-have-thought-this-out-more dept.
theodp writes "Patriciagate gets even stranger. In a twist that indicates the extent of HP's investigation, the CA Attorney General's office said HP's investigators also targeted the personal phone records of CNET reporter Stephen Shankland's father, Thomas, a semi-retired physicist in New Mexico. The scandal prompts CNNMoney to ask Chairwoman Patricia Dunn: Are you lying or incompetent? An emergency HP Board meeting is scheduled for Sunday."
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HP Witch Hunt Also Targeted Reporter's Father

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  • by NJVil (154697) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @07:23AM (#16071117)
    Why does this always seem to be asked as an either-or question? Judging from experience, all too often, the two seem to go hand-in-hand.
    • by billsoxs (637329) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @07:56AM (#16071164) Journal
      I would agree. I see 'lots' (a few percent) of people in jobs for which they are not competent. Typically those people lie and cheat (and (\@#$ the boss) to stay there. This particular example however is very extreme = and reminds me of what Sony did with the root kits. I still don't trust Sony - If HP thinks that this sort of action is OK, I will now worry about what HP will do to its end products. What sort of spyware are they going to put in their printer drivers....
    • by Falcon040 (915278) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:27AM (#16071216)
      Well, its an 'OR' question as opposed to a 'XOR' question...

      ___OR__
      0 | 0 = 0
      0 | 1 = 1
      1 | 1 = 1
      1 | 1 = 1

      __XOR__
      0 | 0 = 0
      0 | 1 = 1
      1 | 1 = 1
      1 | 1 = 0

      • by khallow (566160) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @09:22AM (#16071290)
        Yes, let's get into a semantics argument. "or" as it is used in English means "xor" while "and/or" means "or". Now you know.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 09, 2006 @09:40AM (#16071330)
          Are you being treated [webmd.com] for your Asperger's?
          • by khallow (566160)
            No, but I deeply regretted the grandparent post, the very moment I hit submit. It is time to Pretend This Never Happened.
        • by timeOday (582209)
          Not necessarily. If somebody asked me if I had time for an appointment Wednesday or Thursday, and I said "no" because I was available on both days, that would be wierd.
        • by AhtirTano (638534)

          Yes, let's get into a semantics argument. "or" as it is used in English means "xor" while "and/or" means "or". Now you know.

          Incorrect. English "or" frequently means "xor", but not always. Consider: "Do you have a dime or two nickles?" Your answer can be "yes" if you have a dime, two nickles, or a dime and two nickles. Or: "Do you want something to eat or drink?" You can say "yes" if you want something to eat, or if you want something to drink, or if you want both.

      • by mysticgoat (582871) * on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:54AM (#16071519) Homepage Journal

        Hmm, it is interesting that someone on slashdot thinks truth tables are 'funny'.

        Yep, I agree with parent: in formal english, 'or' alone is the non-exclusive OR (and an exclusive XOR is phrased as 'either ... or ...'.

        That said, in sloppy english where the XOR is clearly implied by context, the word 'either' is often dropped. Thus the question: "Is she a lying blackhat or a truthful whitehat?" (But note that two possible replies are "She is neither," and "She is both"-- and either of these would be a denial that the implied XOR is an appropriate model of reality.) So a good practice when encountering the word 'or' is to see if inserting 'either' in front of the first clause can be done without changing the sense of the sentence.

        Another thing: in typical english conversations, short-circuit evaluation of non-exclusive OR clauses is permitted. Thus with the original question "Is Patricia Dunn a liar or incompetent?" there is no need to explore whether she is incompetent if it is shown that she is a liar, and vice versa.

        In this particular case, events have already demonstrated that Patricia Dunn has been so incompetent in handling this investigation that she now finds herself the cause of a major scandal that is damaging HP stockholders' interests. So whether she is also a liar is no longer an issue (wrt the scope of the article): since she is incompetent, she should do the only honorable thing left for her to do and fall on her sword.

        When she is out shopping her resume around again, other potential employers might be concerned about whether she was also a liar as well as being incompetent. But that isn't in the scope of TFA.

        • Hmm, it is interesting that someone on slashdot thinks truth tables are 'funny'.

          You mean interesting as in sad, right?

          Cool links. [blogspot.com]
        • by Potor (658520)
          Hmm, it is interesting that someone on slashdot thinks truth tables are 'funny'.
          rephase: only on /. are truth tables considered funny.
      • by GweeDo (127172)
        I hate to nit-pick, but your third line in each of those tables should be: 1|0=1
      • by imidan (559239)

        __XOR__
        0 | 0 = 0
        0 | 1 = 1
        1 | 1 = 1
        1 | 1 = 0

        Did you, by any chance, work for Intel around about the time of the first Pentium release?
    • by Teun (17872)
      Worse, it often requires a very peculiar and flexible interpretation of truth to run a company of this size.

      Of course a top managers knows best how to delegate :)

    • by dave562 (969951)
      I think it gets asked as an either-or question to give the respondent some chance to save face. If someone is simply incompetent, they can work on that and become competent. If someone is branded as a liar, they are simply a liar. Or put in another way, "Is your skillset defective, or is your character defective?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816)

      Yes, people who lie and people who are incompetent are often the same people. But so what? The dichotomy is not between two kinds of people, but between two motivations.

      For example (any similarities with a certain world leader are strictcly coincidental!): suppose I'm a police chief and I announce that I'm going to devote most of the resources of my department to busting a certain criminal mastermind because I believe him to be behind most of the crime in my city. So I take the dude down,and it turns out

    • Some thoughts that are bubbling up in my mind:
      1. I can't help but wonder who tipped off the press to Sunday's meeting.
      2. The ancient saying, "First the Gods give you the gift of Pride; Before they make you fall." - Unknown
      3. Question; Has HP's Chairwoman Patricia Dunn contacted the legal staff that helped Martha Stewart?

      "slowly, one by one, the penguins steal my sanity" - Unknown
  • WHAT? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Expertus (1001346) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @07:27AM (#16071130)
    HP's reputation has been damaged by a leaker who refused to come forward knowing this investigation was going on," she said, a person who "lied to the rest of the board, by omission and commission, about the fact that he was the source of this information for a long period of time.
    Does she hear herself when she talks? HP's reputation has suffered far more from this mess than it ever could have from 'leaked information' - I don't care how sensitive it was (baring forced anal probes of random citizens). This hypocrisy will not die when she is inevitably forced out. The other members of the board that did not resign in protest bear some of the responsibility as well. The indifference of those men is as inexcusable as the action itself.
    • HP's reputation has suffered far more from this mess than it ever could have from 'leaked information' - I don't care how sensitive it was (baring forced anal probes of random citizens).

      Well, she did something that a lot of people with a lot of power have historically done. She assumed the moral high ground. In our society, it's illegal to murder people. Well, unless you're in Texas or Virginia where they appearantly take it upon themselves to murder someone as a penalty of justice. Kind of ironic tha

      • by cunina (986893) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:20AM (#16071206)
        Kind of ironic that if someone commits a crime, we as a society take it upon ourselves to then commit what would normally be considered a great crime unto them.

        That's not ironic. We as a society regularly accord the government rights and duties that are denied to an individual - if we didn't, there would be little point of having a government. I think we can all agree that kidnapping someone and keeping them in your basement is bad, but nobody should be surprised when we punish the perpetrator by essentially doing the same thing to him.
        • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @09:51AM (#16071350)
          I think we can all agree that kidnapping someone and keeping them in your basement is bad, but nobody should be surprised when we punish the perpetrator by essentially doing the same thing to him.
          One big difference is that the government doesn't just "kidnap" people all the sudden and hide them away without telling anybody where they are, there's due process and the accused can defend themselves against the accusations. Um, I mean, unless the President doesn't feel like it.
          • One big difference is that the government doesn't just "kidnap" people all the sudden and hide them away without telling anybody where they are, there's due process and the accused can defend themselves against the accusations. Um, I mean, unless the President doesn't feel like it.

            I think the original point is well put, when agents of the government arrest people there is likely a period of time where there has been no prior process and no announcement. So, say the police arrest someone for observing them
            • the difference between arrest and kidnapping becomes merely the identity of the person doing the action.
              Or political expediency. In the Western media, generally Israel "arrests" while Hezbollah "kidnaps." Without getting into the merits of both sides, you can bet the slant is reversed in other parts of the world.
      • by Rich0 (548339) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:23AM (#16071212) Homepage
        Well, she did something that a lot of people with a lot of power have historically done. She assumed the moral high ground. In our society, it's illegal to murder people. Well, unless you're in Texas or Virginia where they appearantly take it upon themselves to murder someone as a penalty of justice. Kind of ironic that if someone commits a crime, we as a society take it upon ourselves to then commit what would normally be considered a great crime unto them.

        Uh, without going into a dive into the morality of the death penalty, you do realize that it isn't just a few people in power who are enforcing it, but rather the democratically-established laws of the government? There is in fact a difference between the chair of the board of some company "assuming the high ground" and the voters of a nation writing laws. Sure, just because it is law doesn't make it right, but the people of a nation have a far greater moral authority than individuals acting in their own capacity or as heads of businesses.

        If the phone records had been retrieved under warrant as part of a criminal investigation (into something other than exercise-of-free-speech) nobody would be complaining about it - this is a normal function of government. The issue is that some private citizen decided to exercise power in violation of the law in order to make money.

        Now, the morality of capital punishment is obviously a controversial one, but you can't equate the actions of government endorsed by the voters with the actions of a lone person. It doesn't make it right, but the fact is that the voters of the states you mention do in fact support capital punishment - which makes your analogy flawed.
        • Uh, without going into a dive into the morality of the death penalty, you do realize that it isn't just a few people in power who are enforcing it, but rather the democratically-established laws of the government?

          Funny how it's "democratically-established laws" when one agrees with it, but a 'corrupt, rigged, anti-democratic assault on personal rights' when one doesn't, isn't it?

          No, not trolling. I do find this sort of thing genuinely funny. The ability of the human mind to hold two contradictory points o

          • Funny how it's "democratically-established laws" when one agrees with it, but a 'corrupt, rigged, anti-democratic assault on personal rights' when one doesn't, isn't it?

            I do believe I stated clearly that majority rule does not make right. However, it does place the matter into a different category.

            There are tons of laws that I disagree with. However, I don't view a local police officer enforcing an order of the court repossessing a car from a grandmother to give it to the RIAA in the same way that I'd vie
          • There is a difference and you miss an important point.

            Any government must maintain it's monopoly over such things (violence, killing people, imprisoning them etc), otherwise you will have vigilantism, lynching, mob justice, anarchy and/or someone else takes over and forms a new government.

            This applies whether the government is democratically elected or otherwise (evil dictatorship).

            When an individual or group tries to usurp the powers of a legitimately elected government, the government and the people shoul
        • Despite living in a democracy, over 50% of the population saying that the Earth is flat, that evolution is false, or that toilets spin opposite directions in different hemispheres is correct. Same goes for murder-for-murder. Popular support has no sway on any concept of "right" or "just". Maybe "allowable". These aren't variant concepts, there's just what we perceive at the time and our difference from that and the truth is how much we are wrong. We're getting closer, though.

          I don't think you can make
          • Uh, I was not advocating that capital punishment was logical, appropriate, or justified. I was merely pointing out that it is a bit of a stretch to compare the well-debated position of a society to the unilateral actions of a corporate boardmember.

            Popular opinion does not determine morality, but clearly the majority position does command a far greater moral authority than an individual acting out of greed.
        • ... and the voters of a nation writing laws.

          Whoa, whoa, WHOA there pardner! That's anarchy, son, and we'll have none of that here!
      • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:47AM (#16071240) Homepage

        The other members of the board that did not resign in protest bear some of the responsibility as well.

        Not entirely true. How do we know that we have all the details to this whole story? Perhaps everyone there watched her assume the moral high ground and gave it to her?

        That they didn't stop it, and apparently thought it was acceptable, is exactly why they bear part of the responsibility.

        Remember, they didn't just spy on and illegally obtain phone records of the board members, but also on at least 10 reports, and at least one father of a reporter. It's not up to the board to pardon that.

      • by DingerX (847589) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:48AM (#16071241) Journal
        There are plenty of questions that will be asked.
        The director that resigned (Perkins), didn't resign because of pretexting, but because the chairman unilaterally ordered an investigation of the board of directors, and only informed the directors when the "leak" was found. As head of the Nominating and Governance committee, he was, or felt he was, the one responsible for the Governance of the board.

        That the other directors didn't resign doesn't say anything about their position on the matter, especially since they did not have Perkins' unique position.

        The "pretexting" allegation came after Perkins resigned, and hired counsel to investigate the investigation. Perkins informed HP counsel, and they didn't act.

        Dunn's now made the dumb-ass mistake of calling this a personal issue, a power struggle between Perkins and herself. Undoubtedly it is, but that doesn't make the matter any less severe. In a power struggle, when one side strikes publicly, you have to respond to the public, not to the person.

        Did the other directors let Dunn take the "High Ground"? No -- they didn't follow her advice and remove the leak. So what does that give us? One alleged leaker, Dunn with an investigation on it, and now the Directors find they've been the victims of fraud, along with a bunch of reporters and a geophysicist.

        She still has a job until tomorrow. Directors are directors because they're insulated from management. Management spied on the directors, without their consent, at the unilateral behest of Patricia Dunn. Patricia Dunn tried to use the results of this espionage to alter the composition of the board of directors. Nobody contests these facts. During the investigation, someone may have "exceeded the bounds of legality" without their superiors' knowledge or authorization, but their results were used, and were used unquestionably.

        You can't tolerate that in a boardroom.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          The recent NYT/ IHT article gives a different and more detailed account of the current HP mess.

          From Leak, inquiry and resignation rock a boardroom [iht.com]
          By Damon Darlin [Miguel Helft contributing] The New York Times / September 7, 2006
          Reprinted in the International Herald Tribune

          >>
          [....]

          After Hurd succeeded Fiorina, the leaks stopped.

          But in January, an article appeared on the technology news Web site CNET about a management meeting. The report described the company's strategy in dealing with the chip makers
      • Well, she did something that a lot of people with a lot of power have historically done. She assumed the moral high ground. In our society, it's illegal to murder people. Well, unless you're in Texas or Virginia where they appearantly take it upon themselves to murder someone as a penalty of justice. Kind of ironic that if someone commits a crime, we as a society take it upon ourselves to then commit what would normally be considered a great crime unto them.

        So chaining people up and putting them in cages ag

      • "Well, she did something that a lot of people with a lot of power have historically done. She assumed the moral high ground."

        She most certainly did NOT assume the moral high ground. She in fact did what many people with power have historically done: she abused that power, probably breaking several laws in the process, thinking herself superior to those working for her.
    • Re:WHAT? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @09:25AM (#16071295) Homepage Journal
      By the way, this case has interesting parallels to government attempts to obtain intelligence.

      Increasingly the government is turning to private contractors, not to mention foreign intelligence services, who are in theory not bound by the laws the bind the government, or who ignore the legal, ethical and political implications. You treat this whole mess as a black box into which you put questions, and get answers back; you may know very well what the methods being used are (e.g. torture), but you don't know in an official way.

      Ms. Dunn is quoted in an NYT article as saying: "It wasn't implemented well. But I had no choice but to follow this violation. It fell to me to do it."

      So, she is saying she had a moral duty to act on this information. But is it moral to use information that was obtained immorally, illegally, and by means you would never want to be associated with publicly?

      Augustine of Hippo, in his book "City of God", tackles the problem of how a just God allows evil. His answer is philosophically interesting to ethicists, even if they are atheists. Augustine posits evil as not a thing in itself; if it were then God would have had to have created evil, or evil would have to be (as the Manicheans viewed it) somehow equal with God.

      His answer was that evil was not something that is present, but something that is absent. Evil is a form of privation. How does privation come about? Because of free will, we have the ability to choose. This entails making bad or irrational choices. In particular, privation comes about because we choose a lesser good over a greater good. Personal wealth, for example is good, but the rights of others to use their property is a higher good. Stealig is choosing the lesser good over the greater. Augustine's view of sin bears close resemblance to what modern economists call "opportunity costs".

      In this case, Ms. Dunn may have had a moral duty to stop the leaking of proprietary HP information. But she had a higher duty to defend the fundamental norms of behavior that protect every member of society.

      Of course, it was just plain stupid to muck around with the privacy rights of rich people.

      Speaking of people with a chip on their shoulder and resources to do something about it, lovers of irony take note. Thomas Perkins, the HP board member who blew the whistle on this, has hired a lawyer. Being rich, he can afford a very good lawyer, practically any lawyer he wants.

      His choice: Viet D. Dinh. Mr. Dinh, you may recall, is the chief architect of the PATRIOT Act.
      • In this case, Ms. Dunn may have had a moral duty to stop the leaking of proprietary HP information.

        That is a meaningless statement. WTF is "proprietary HP information"? Without specifics we can't say who's wrong. If the leak was about Fiona's $21,000,000 severance package, the leaker followed their moral judgement to inform stockholders against the will of a corrupt board. Lying to get phone records to punish a whistle blower is both immoral and against the law. When the AG gets finished with this

    • by jthill (303417)

      Yah. I've got exactly that text on my clipboard right now. Typical hierarchy-worshipper logic, sneaking their lies in with their premises. It's his fault that we suborned crimes.

    • it is just PLAIN OLD NOT RIGHT to spy on people in this country. every member of the board and HP staff who were in on this fiasco must go, publicly, noisily, NOW.

      or HP must go away.

      if the first doesn't happen, the market will make the second happen.

      ball's in your court....
      • by Pig Hogger (10379)
        or HP must go away.
        if the first doesn't happen, the market will make the second happen.
        The market doesn't care about that. All it cares about is whether it's the cheapest or not.
        • by dave562 (969951)
          The market doesn't care about that. All it cares about is whether it's the cheapest or not.

          Not entirely true. I've been a dedicated Compaq customer because of their Proliant server line. When HP acquired Compaq I was scared that the Proliants were going to disappear and that HP was going to push their NetServers. Luckily HP realized that the NetServer was inferior and decided to rebrand Proliants. So long as the quality stays the same, I don't give two shits about what goes on in HP's boardroom. It s

    • Here we have yet another company who's big bosses have gone to the dogs.
      No suprise, the success of HP depends on those who design and build the products, and market them.
      The people in the boardroom, that have not resigned, probably don't do any of that.
      Is it possible for the stockholders to get rid of them?

      If not, then HP is screwed.

      Imagine the effort required by those HP employees that actually make the company run, and do the work, in the face of having to deal with an embarrassing board like that.

      I'll b

  • by jeffs72 (711141) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @07:54AM (#16071162) Journal
    I'm impressed to see such a harsh but true write up on CNN about this. None of this liberal 'think about her feelings, criminals have rights too' bullshit here. The article was totally on target.

    And I agree with the other OP's here, lying and incompetent go hand in hand, apparently she's both. I mean, I give her credit for fighting off breast cancer and melanoma, that's impressive, but her running of the HP board, uh, isn't.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      None of this liberal 'think about her feelings, criminals have rights too' bullshit here.

      Since we're talking about big business and spying, I think the word is "conservative". The touchy feely liberal stuff usually only applies to shit-poor petty theft criminals, not to meglamaniacs.
    • One of the disadvantages of respecting human rights is that you have to respect the rights of all humans, not just the ones you approve of. Treating criminals like animals may seem right in the short term but that leads to all sorts of unpleasant consequences, from prison riots to abuse of people with the 'wrong' political opinions.
    • None of this liberal 'think about her feelings, criminals have rights too' bullshit here. The article was totally on target.

      We shall see who is convicted, right now it's just an embarrassingly well documented accusation [thesmokinggun.com] that the AG and most sensible people believe. It's only on conviction, when guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt, that your rights end and only in a manner prescribed by law. That said, shame on Forbes.

      You can go to the MBA porn glossy, Forbes [forbes.com], where Tom Van Ripper writes an unab

  • by Yehooti (816574) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:06AM (#16071181)
    Where I work, in a technical field, the old HP had a long history of excellence. Our test equipment was mostly HP, and we liked it. Then it went down hill. I'm curious if the products went downhill first or the quality of their management did. I'd have to guess that management did. Sad that they are still sliding down that slope. When the masters, Hewlett and Packard, had control things were superb but once they left and the investors took over everything turned into crap. Looks to me like this is the way of great companies though. I remember what happened to Northrop, Douglas, Hughes, and other old biggies and have to wonder if when the spirit that guided them to greatness is gone, can any maintain the excellence they had once that inspiration is gone. A formerly great company like HP acting as desperately as this tends to make me think that it cannot be done.
    • It'll be interesting to see how bad, or if you'd like, how much worse, Microsoft will get now that Gates is pulling away from it.
      • Like the GP says, perhaps without the original driving force behind the success, the company will 'turn to crap'. In the case of Microsoft and the ethos behind their market success, that could mean that they'll stop their creativity-stifling, monopolistic business practices.

        And then I woke up.

        Cool links. [blogspot.com]
    • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:58AM (#16071262)
      I'm curious if the products went downhill first or the quality of their management did. I'd have to guess that management did.

      And you'd guess correctly. I worked at HP for over 21 years. When I started Bill and Dave were running the show. I even got to meet them because they made it a point to travel to each division annually to keep tabs on things. Things began to sour in the early 90s as Bill and Dave retired. However, I do take issue with your statement "the investors took over everything turned into crap". I think it would be better stated "the MBAs took over everything turned into crap". They started all those silly "quality" process improvements, one after another, that were so in vogue at the time. This turned the focus away from employees (which was demonstrated by their annoying habit of refering to us as "resources"), and towards process. They had the false belief that with great processes you can create great products, irrespective of the people doing the work. In the end, they systematically dismantled the HP Way http://www.amazon.com/HP-Way-Hewlett-Built-Company /dp/0887307477/sr=8-1/qid=1157806093/ref=pd_bbs_1/ 102-7106367-8277765?ie=UTF8&s=books [amazon.com], which was at the core of the company's success. The slide reached its peak the day Carly Fiorina basically declared the HP Way obsolete. Now, sadly, HP is just another company. People ask me why I left HP after 20+ great years. I tell them, actually, HP left me.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:15AM (#16071407)
        You are so right!

        I speak not as an HP employee, but as a long-time customer. I've worked in the calibration business for 22 years, using and servicing mostly HP test equipment.

        As a customer I saw a sharp decline around 2000 when the company split. Web services that I depended on disappeared completely, not to return for years. All my Agilent website bookmarks get broken on a regular basis as they constantly re-arrange their website. Broken linkes on their site, too. Complaints to the webmaster go unanswered and unresolved, I don't even know why they bother to provide the webmaster email link. Telephone support has been largely outsourced to people who can barely speak English. (Maybe my complaints to the webmaster went unanswered because they don't speak Englinsh either?)

        The test equipment products used to be designed for reliability and servicability, back in the HP Way days. Solid, best-of-class test equipment made by engineers for engineers. Availability of complete manual sets with full schematics and decent service documentation. No more. We have HP equipment more than twenty years old that is still useful in a calibration lab. Already Agilent equipment less than five years old is failing and parts and service are no longer available. I'm starting to see numbers of Agilent ESA series spectrum analyzers with worn-out internal relays (they chatter constantly during everyday use as the instrument self-calibrates between each sweep by default, and few users know how to turn that feature off), and you can't even get replacement relays for these any more, and Agilent won't fix them either. As Agilent has focused on low-cost rather than high-reliability, I've had to tell my customers to consider Agilent products good for four to eight years of daily use which must be completely replaced the first time they fail, and budget accordingly. In the meantime, Agilent obsoletes the model they originally bought and the customer ends up having to accomodate a different replacement model, whether that means re-writing some ATE code or allowing for wasted employee time as they learn to navigate the new user interface, with it's nested menus. And I tell my customers NEVER EVER buy used Agilent equipment - it's probably not got much useful life left in it.

        Every single aspect of Agilent products and services is far, far inferior to the HP of the past, from the view of this customer and third-party support provider.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TheWoozle (984500)
        This is exactly what happens when MBAs are allowed to run things. When will management learn that they are not there to tell people how to do things, they are there to serve the people who actually make/do the things that earn the corporation money.

        Middle management in corporations concentrates on the process because they don't understand or know how to improve the people. They don't know how to tell a good engineer from a bad one. They certainly don't understand how to facilitate and develop the abili

      • by johansalk (818687)
        All those "MBA" scum care about is cooking the short-term sheets to get their bonuses. They'll happily screw up whole departments and mess up the future of a company for that. I think that's why once-great American companies like HP and Ford are now going down the drain.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pipingguy (566974)
      Where I work, in a technical field, the old HP had a long history of excellence.

      The HP RPN calculators were top of the line and loved by engineers, but I guess that wasn't good enough for the "new" HP. Shame on you, HP management for marginalizing and abandoning true fans.

      I'm not smart enough to know how the 11c buttons actually worked (tactile feedback), but, man that was a great customer experience. I recently ripped-out my employer-provided genuine Microsoft keyboard and went back to a lame old "cra
    • by jcr (53032)
      You should reada book called the Peter Principle. It's a very well thought-out explanation of how organizations become incompetent over time, as people get promoted until they're not competent to do the job and then remain there impeding the work of the organization. Very few companies succeed in avoiding this problem altogether, but some manage to delay it for as long as their founders are in charge, or manage to shake it off after the company has a near-death experience.

      -jcr
    • by Pig Hogger (10379)
      Where I work, in a technical field, the old HP had a long history of excellence. Our test equipment was mostly HP, and we liked it. Then it went down hill. I'm curious if the products went downhill first or the quality of their management did. I'd have to guess that management did.
      What happenned is that when the founding engineers retired, the company was taken over by the bean-counters and marketoïds. This is what brought down HP.
  • Who is responsible? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 15Bit (940730)
    If i break into someone else's computer or obtain information by deception (or ask a friend to do it for me) and then use the information gained to my advantage, its my understanding that in most western countries i am personally liable in law (usual IANAL disclaimer here). However, it seems that if i do it on company time, then my employer is normally held responsible? They get a fine, a slap on the wrist and i might or might not get sacked, depending on where in the managerial structure i sit.

    However, th

    • by jc42 (318812)
      If i [commit a crime] and then use the information gained to my advantage, its my understanding that in most western countries i am personally liable in law (usual IANAL disclaimer here). However, it seems that if i do it on company time, then my employer is normally held responsible?

      Exactly. If you dig around in the historical record, you'll find that that's why the concept of a "corporation" was invented. Its original purpose, and one of its primary functions nearly everywhere in the world, was to insul
      • Exactly. If you dig around in the historical record, you'll find that that's why the concept of a "corporation" was invented. Its original purpose, and one of its primary functions nearly everywhere in the world, was to insulate people committing profitable crimes from prosecution. The legal argument was and is "I didn't do it; the corporation did." It's a variant of the "I was just following orders" defense, but it also applies to those giving the orders. Incorporation is usually used to protect the top o
      • by spun (1352)
        Initially, "limited liability" meant limiting the possible loss of investors to the amount invested. This was done to encourage long term and potentially financially ruinous investment into colonization. Imagine owing all the debts incured by a failed colony, rathe than just what you put in. It had little to do with limiting liability for crimes. In fact, the monarchs of the day realized they were creating landless fiefdoms, which could grant immense power to those recieving them and potentially challanging
    • by jcr (53032)
      However, it seems that if i do it on company time, then my employer is normally held responsible?

      When there's a criminal act, the corporation may also be held responsible, particularly if the court finds that the management of the corporation was aware of the criminal behavior, but that culpability of the organization doesn't shield any individual.

      -jcr
  • Reputation... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by burnttoy (754394) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:28AM (#16071217) Homepage Journal
    HP's "reputation" was damage by leaking "the truth", more specifically I think Intel (not the general consumer) were pretty annoyed with that leak.

    It seems it has further been damaged by "the truth".

    They didn't learn last time. Theses boardroom idlers think they are very cosy where they are e.g. out of the eye of public scrutiny with their nice fat paycheques. Large corporations now have more (or at least as much) power and influence over the general population as governments do yet are unaccountable and unelected. Frankly, if it takes the press spanking these people daily to get them in line then the more the merrier.

    Dunn should be fired immediately and, preferably, the police should determine if criminal charges can be brought against her.

    I barely tolerate this sort of intrusive spying by government security agents. When private enterprise gets into spying on all and sundry I think maybe modern society should sit down, talk openly, figure out where we are going instead of fighting each other for every last dollar in a climate of escalating paranoia.

    Whatever... I've just worked for 11 of the last 12 days - I'm fried.
    • Large corporations now have more (or at least as much) power and influence over the general population as governments do yet are unaccountable and unelected.

      Would you say that elected officials are accountable when 95% of incumbents get re-elected every election cycle? Isn't that basically the same as not being elected, but rather having a lifetime appointment? At least large corporations have competitors (well, most do ;-)) and shareholders, both of which force them to be accountable to some level.
      • by burnttoy (754394)
        They're _theoretically_ accountable... ;-)

        Now... Somehow you need to get a rocket up the electorate to get them to think AND get out there and do something.

        *sigh*...
        • They're _theoretically_ accountable

          Yes, I agree. But in my view, large corporations remain significantly more accountable than elected officials, at least in the US. When I delineated the entities that hold corporations' feet to the fire in my first reply, I forgot to mention the biggest one of all: the government. Now we can debate how effective they are (after all, as you acknowledged, they themselves are barely accountable to anyone), but they do play the role of a regulator on the behavior of busines
          • by BCW2 (168187)
            The big question is how do we get the voters to just vote against ALL incumbents? The Patriot Act, and all spending bills are passed by Congress, the President only signs them into law. Congress is responsible for 90% of the stupidity in Goverment. The Constitution calls for a "Citizen Legislature" that is supposed to go to Washington, do it's business and then the members return home to "real" jobs, NOT stay in Washington forever as a permanant ruling class.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by LaughingCoder (914424)
              The Constitution calls for a "Citizen Legislature"

              Here, here! Having spent most of my life in Massachusetts I get to experience the bitter taste of what things are like when you have "professional politicians" acting as a "permanent ruling class". I did spend one wonderful decade living in NH, and the contrast was striking. Of course NH has a citizen legislature (its members get paid a few hundred dollars a year as I recall, are only in session part time, and must hold "real" jobs to survive). I can tel
              • by Pig Hogger (10379)

                Here, here! Having spent most of my life in Massachusetts I get to experience the bitter taste of what things are like when you have "professional politicians" acting as a "permanent ruling class". I did spend one wonderful decade living in NH, and the contrast was striking. Of course NH has a citizen legislature (its members get paid a few hundred dollars a year as I recall, are only in session part time, and must hold "real" jobs to survive). I can tell you from personal experience which system works bet

                • Not sufficiently paying public officials (elected or not) is a guaranteed path to corruption.

                  I agree if we are talking about public employees (ie, not politicians or legislators, but the folks that do the work like inspectors, fireman, policeman, teachers, etc). However, I think we were specifically talking about elected officials. If you read the preceeding comments you will see that the discussion was about the accountability of politicians versus the accountability of business leaders.

                  I really don'
                • by burnttoy (754394)
                  "Pay peanuts, get monkeys"
  • by lancejjj (924211) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:32AM (#16071224) Homepage
    Fellow shareholders,

    Sadly, the board cannot be trusted with the task of cleaning it's own house, given the events that have transpired. Who knows what was said, and when? Clearly some board members are covering their tracks. This board is further damaging the HP brand. We need some serious house cleaning.

    So it's time for the shareholders to do something that the board cannot do: clean itself out. Here's an idea: I say we hire a subcontractor to obtain all the phone records of all the board members and their families and friends. When we find dirt, we can wave it in front of the board members so that they will resign on their own. Otherwise we'll have to trust the board. And as you know, that's a lost cause.
  • by d0ktorbuzz0 (962667) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @08:52AM (#16071250)
    I am a US citizen working in the defense industry. The work I do requires that I provide a large amount of very personal information to the US DoD. They ask for and get the names of family members, friends, past coworkers, etc. as well as sworn testimony regarding any criminal activity, chemical dependency, and on and on.

    It is reasonable to believe that many people would be unwilling to provide this scope of personal information to a government agency just to be employed. That said, there are some very seriously protected rights that every submitter of such information is entitled to as a citizen, with the US government liable for any unauthorized use of the sensitive information it requests and obtains in these sorts of background investigations.

    Now consider the following creepy factors in play with HP's investigation:

    1. Targets were not informed that they could be investigated prior to or during the events that led to the "pretext" investigation.

    2. Outside personnel (a law firm and some unscrupulous PIs) were given the personal information of HP's own employees and journalists not employed by HP as well as the personal information for said journalists' family members!

    3. All of this was motivated by a corporate information leak. No government secrets were involved, and the assertion that a competitive advantage was compromised (I am assuming such an assertion was made by Frau Patricia even though those exact words were not used) has, to date, not been proven.

    4. We're already more than a few days along with this story and I haven't heard even one executive of another large firm defend any of the behavior of HP's board members or their soon-to-be co-defendants in this matter. Although the "pretexting" approach is not something pioneered by HP's clown college, they just seem like the largest name yet asociated with such an attack.

    5. Hello, you run a major technology corporation with millions of customers and tens of millions of potential customers watching this entire story unfold. Think information security and privacy issues aren't a hot topic yet? Now they are!

    6. Oh yeah, and your own employees are watching, too.

    I could go on. Others here will make more and better observations than I.

    I think it is my obligation as a US citizen and a technical professional (read: today's equivalent of a production-line blue-collar worker of the 60s and 70s) to express my abhorrence of HP's behavior in this matter and of the "pretexting" tactic that was used to invade the privacy of US citizens (and maybe some non-citizens too for that matter), all within the borders of the United States. I think any assertion on HP's part that this was justified is disgusting and wrong. Heads absolutely should roll and they should start from the very top.

    I can't help wondering if the increasingly strident attitudes regarding the surreptitious gathering of citizens' personal information that are expressed by many people and agencies of the state and federal governments of the US has started to leach into the corporate mindset. Not that I thought that they were honest and fair before... just that they weren't so brazenly foolish as to risk discovery of illegal behavior sanctioned by highly placed management and their well-heeled legal advisors.

    Needless to say, I will never work for HP, not after this. How the mighty have fallen. HP used to be one of my top future career destinations, based on their technical aptitude and their culture of innovation and excellence. That all must be long gone by now.

    And I will definitely ask any future employer about their policies in this regard. At least I know where I stand with the DoD and my rights. These corporate goons, on the other hand, are making things up as they go. Bad... in the end the only ones who will win are the lawyers and raider traders.

    • This might be the biggest corporate privacy scandal ever. Given that the proper consequences of the government privacy scandal have yet to unfold, I wonder if this corporate one will have sufficient consequences.
    • by jcr (53032)
      HP used to be one of my top future career destinations, based on their technical aptitude and their culture of innovation and excellence. That all must be long gone by now.

      That HP went away about 20 years ago. I hear that there's some remnants of it at Agilent.

      -jcr
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Gobiner (698872)

      I can't help wondering if the increasingly strident attitudes regarding the surreptitious gathering of citizens' personal information that are expressed by many people and agencies of the state and federal governments of the US has started to leach into the corporate mindset. Not that I thought that they were honest and fair before... just that they weren't so brazenly foolish as to risk discovery of illegal behavior sanctioned by highly placed management and their well-heeled legal advisors.

      I can't hel

  • by Anonymous Coward
    much work on the investigations into all the ongoing scandels in washington(valarie plame, Sibel Edmunds, halliburton, etc).
  • by EnsilZah (575600) <EnsilZah AT Gmail DOT com> on Saturday September 09, 2006 @09:08AM (#16071275)
    Is that like a physicist past his half-life, only you haven't checked if he collapsed to his retired state yet?
  • Particia Dunn is incompetent and also stupid. She should resign and criminal charges filed.

    Now, I want to know, why in hell this crap started?? HP as a company went down hill since Carly's hiring. I just bought a HP printer and the ink carts are incredibly small and the casing of the printer is so flimsy. HP USED to make good printers. I ain't saying it's not working and does not have good output.....it does.....it's just I don't see it lasting as long as my Photosmart P1115 has (6 years and 2 computer
    • by Dexx (34621)
      There's an incentive for the company to make crappy products - if your printer lasts for 6 years, there's not as much income as one printer every year.
  • I don't seem to see it mentioned in the article, but what was the context of this whole story?
  • Dear HP, (Score:5, Funny)

    by sokoban (142301) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:20AM (#16071419) Homepage
    I would like to submit an application for the position of CEO of your company. I have no experience or qualifications, but honestly how can I be any worse than Carly Fiorina or Patricia Dunn. I promise that in my time as CEO I will line my own pockets with cash from the company's coffers, "Change the company's direction and focus" several times to make it seem that I am really doing something positive for the company, and maybe even pull some sort of shady shit to make the stock price go up a little bit. I can assure you HP, I am the man for the job. If you are really stuck on the whole female executive thing (Chairwoman is not a word), I know some doctors who could totally make it happen.
  • I'm very grateful for this whole hullabaloo, mostly because it taught me the word "pretexting". Can someone honestly explain to me how "pretexting" is different from "fraud" or "lying"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by novus ordo (843883)
      Lying is not illegal pretexting is [ftc.gov].

      Under federal law -- the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act -- it's illegal for anyone to:

      • use false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or documents to get customer information from a financial institution or directly from a customer of a financial institution.
      • use forged, counterfeit, lost, or stolen documents to get customer information from a financial institution or directly from a customer of a financial institution.
      • ask another person to get someone else's cus
  • If you have HP products and are on an automatic driver update list you can hit the "unsubscribe" in the last update email - and that will log you on associated with your product or products (making you a high-value feedback / validated customer) and then you can send "real" feedback through the Contact link. Select the CEO and select business suggestions from the pulldown menu (no - you can't give your own subject). If you don't have HP products you can send low-value feedback here http://www.hp.com/hpinfo [hp.com]
  • First Fiorina, now this.

    If I was an employee at HP, I would be searching dice.com right now, because this distraction is obviously going to mire ongoing project work within the company. Too bad the competition with the 10,000 laid off Intel employees is going to pose a bit of a competition for EEs and PMs working at the company.

    Perhaps it's time to wipe off the board and start over--or take the company private so that it doesn't have to worry so much with the intense SEC and Wall Street scrutiny. It's not
  • Hypocritical media (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ingolfke (515826) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @06:40PM (#16072948) Journal
    I love how the media hates it when someone else obtains information under "false pretenses" or illegally and yet they do it all the time and call it tough journalism. They'll pretend they're children to trap child predators (I'm not defending child predators...), they take classified information from informants, I expect they do some of the same things that happened during this investigation.

    That doesn't make HP right, but the media is certainly hypocritical.

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