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Jaw droppers of 2008 - what they'd rather you forgot

From Del-Boy to Ellison's package

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"Visionary" Michael Dell turns Dell-Boy Trotter

In an industry like IT, if you are billed as a "visionary" before you get up to talk you'd better have something good to offer. Step up Michael Dell, introduced as a "visionary" by Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com - a Dell customer - at Dreamforce in San Francisco. Dell was introduced in the same breath as Benioff recalled the appearance of Colin Powell at a previous Dreamforce event, and who Benioff also called a visionary. You might remember Powell: a four-star general who served as secretary of state under George W Bush. After opening with the intriguing premise of investing in, rather than cutting spending on, IT during a down economy Dell coupled his thesis to the need to buy. Buy what? You guessed it: Dell equipment. Dell proceeded to invoke the spirit of another great Dell - Dell-Boy Trotter - by wheeling out all manner of goodies to close the sale. The pitch came as Dell pressured workers into taking unpaid leave, to cut costs. No wonder people streamed out of the visionary's keynote.

Lost emails for "information company" Oracle

Oracle sells databases, collaboration software, archiving and data recovery tools in addition to software that can help you control who has access to your information and emails, and that can also police access. More than anyone else, Oracle can stand by its claim that it is the information company. Ironic, then, that Oracle has destroyed or failed to preserve emails belonging to its chief executive Larry Ellison in a class-action lawsuit against his company, according to a US judge. The judge also said Oracle had failed to produce tapes and transcripts from interviews that a journalist had conducted with Ellison in 2001 and 2002 for a biography about its boss. The judge said Oracle should have figured out a way to comply with an order to produce the information. The class-action case claimed Ellison and other executives had made false statements about the company's financial condition as well as the functionality of its Oracle 11i suite of business management software.

Sun declares for Obama - after polls close

2008 will be remembered as the year America elected its first African-American president - Barack Obama. Sun became the first tech vendor to try and bask in the reflected glory of Obama's victory shortly after the polls closed. "On behalf of Sun Microsystems, I would like to offer my sincerest congratulations to President elect Barack Obama. What an extraordinary accomplishment," Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz blogged. Not content with having nailed his colors to the mast after the polls closed, and with all certainty of a McCain-Palin White House gone, Schwartz made the pitch for Sun. "I would also like to extend my congratulations to his web team for having chosen MySQL as the platform behind their election web site, BarackObama.com."

Microsoft's contorted "support IE 8" argument

From the Ministry of Spurious Arguments came this from one Microsoft evangelist, about why you should be building add-ons for the next version of Internet Explorer: it's such a difficult feat of engineering that none of your competitors are doing it, so you'll be one of the first. And, the barrier to entry is so high, rivals are unlikely to bother, leaving you with a potentially big market share. Never mind that IE's market share is dropping while Mozilla and Firefox are growing, or that IE 8 is already delayed. Oh, also, don't worry that Microsoft faces a fundamental problem in making IE 8 simple enough for non-web-savvy users to handle, while convincing major web sites - such as the BBC and CNN - to actually support it.

Ellison rains on the cloud

Bizarrely, our tip of the hat goes to America's second-best paid corporate executive - Larry Ellison who punctured the hot air on this year's biggest buzz-phrase: cloud computing. As with web services, service oriented architectures (SOAs), and Web 2.0 before it, "cloud" became abused by marketing drones, start ups, and middle-aged vendors desperate to sound relevant. "Cloud is complete gibberish," Ellison told his OpenWorld 2008 conference, noting - correctly - the phrase is being used to describe everything from Gmail to Salesforce.com's customer relationship management and platform. "What the hell is cloud computing? I don't understand what we'd do differently in light of cloud computing other than change the wording on some of our ads," Ellison said. "When is this idiocy going to stop?" Amen.®

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