Its troubles have put the former Treasury secretary in the awkward position of having to justify $115 million in pay since 1999, excluding stock options, while explaining Citigroup's $20 billion in losses over the past year and a government bailout of at least $45 billion.
Mr. Rubin's salary made him one of Wall Street's highest-paid officials -- and a controversial figure among Citigroup shareholders and some executives, who questioned whether his limited duties justified the big paydays.
"Even though he has no 'operating' responsibilities, he still has a fiduciary responsibility as a board member," said William Smith, a New York money manager and frequent critic of Citigroup's current management and board. "He has overseen the entire meltdown, yet been compensated as an operating employee while bragging about having no operating responsibility." Mr. Rubin can't "have it both ways," Mr. Smith added.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Posted by macbeach at 8:54 AM
Friday, November 28, 2008
"The cumulative result is huge. A study by the European Commission found that Europeans waste €7 billion ($9 billion) a year paying for appliances in standby mode, which account for about 10% of total energy use. The drain can be higher. A study by the University of California, Berkeley, found that such snoozing machines consume as much as 26% of electricity used in gadget-stuffed homes in California."
Posted by macbeach at 3:27 PM
"Plimer says creationists and climate alarmists are quite similar in that 'we re dealing with dogma and people who when challenged become quite vicious and irrational'. Human-caused climate change is being 'promoted with religious zeal … there are fundamentalist organisations which will do anything to silence critics. They have their holy books their prophet is Al Gore. And they are promoting a story which is frightening us witless using guilt and urging penance.'"
Posted by macbeach at 11:09 AM
Thursday, November 27, 2008
"The vote in the Senate was 82 to 13. Mr. Obama missed the roll call issuing a campaign statement saying that the bill was 'far from perfect' and would have preferred 'tighter payment limits.' However he added that 'with so much at stake we cannot make the perfect the enemy of the good.' And he then went on to rake Mr. Bush and John McCain who opposed the bill for 'saying no to America s farmers and ranchers no to energy independence no to the environment and no to millions of hungry people.' In other words given the chance to support cuts in farm subsidies for the rich Mr. Obama chose instead to attack his Republican opponents for doing precisely that."
Posted by macbeach at 4:47 PM
"Barack Obama and George W. Bush seem to have come away from their study of the Great Depression with similar conclusions:
To wit: After the Crash of 1929, the Federal Reserve did not move fast enough to save the banks and inject cash into the economy. Second, the New Deal, far from being wastrel deficit spending, was not bold enough. So it was that America wallowed in depression for a decade until the unbridled spending and mammoth deficits of World War II pulled us out.
Bush and Obama seem determined not to make the same mistake.
We are all Keynesians now."
Posted by macbeach at 1:36 PM
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Posted by macbeach at 12:52 AM
Despite Bells and Whistles, 'Office of President-Elect' Holds No Authority - FOXNews.com Transition Tracker
"President-elect Barack Obama is looking very presidential these days. When he makes an announcement he is ringed by American flags and stands behind a lectern that has a very presidential-looking placard announcing 'The Office of the President-Elect.'
But the props are merely that. Under the Constitution there is no such thing as the Office of the President-elect. Technically Obama will not even become the president-elect until the Electoral College convenes after the second Wednesday in December and elects him based on the results of the Nov. 4 general election as stated in the Constitution."
Posted by macbeach at 12:10 AM
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Musical Chairs at MSN: Here’s a Partial Scorecard of What’s What | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD
And Macbeach kicks Microsoft in the gonads. Again.
Posted by macbeach at 4:54 PM
"Big music ignored digital music for a long time. But over the last few years, that’s changed. Now the industry is hoping that fast-growing digital revenue can help it overcome slumping CD revenue.
That has yet to happen."
Some apocryphal points:
I have an Apple computer with iTunes, and a Linux based machine. I’ve used iTunes in the past to download music, and then go through a two step (burn to CD and then rip to make files to play on my Linux based machine). Amazon now makes it easy to download unencrypted MP3 files directly (Apple has this option for some things too but at a premium).
I gave an iPod to a Windows user who loved the device, but hated iTunes. While I like it just fine on my Apple machine, I can see why it might not quite fit in with everything else for a Windows user. They made iTunes for Windows simply to tap into the large non-Apple marketplace. It shows. If Amazon can make a downloader for Linux, so can Apple. They need to
stop trying to make Apple computer users out of iTunes, iPhone and iEverything-else product users.
Bundling a dozen tunes into an “album” is a dead concept, just as justifying higher ad rates for a magazine based on the cost of lumber is a dead concept.
While it is true that our youth have been purged by our school systems of any basis for ethical behavior, they are also too too lazy and too spoiled to steal an MP3 file when they can more easily pay 99 cents for it. Hidden behind industry claims of losing money to theft is the reality that they are losing $15 off the sale of an “album” with three good songs on it.
Music production equipment is dirt cheap compared with what it used to be. Nobody is fooled by the notion that the middlemen in this industry are earning their keep. Someone needs to tell them that continuing to wear those party hats simply makes them look like dunces.
Monday, November 24, 2008
"So I hope the best and the brightest who will be joining the new president will at least entertain the possibility that a lot of what they think they know is wrong. I trust they’ll remember that successful economic policies in the past have pulled together elements from unlikely sources, and that they’re as likely to find wisdom from reading political economists like Friedrich Hayek or Joseph Schumpeter, or Keynes himself, as from poring over the latest academic paper in a peer-refereed economics journal."
Posted by macbeach at 4:44 PM
"RPX, in response, plans to become what it calls a 'defensive patent aggregator,' buying patents to keep them from firms that might use them as the basis of lawsuits or to press for licensing payments. Companies that pay a fixed annual fee receive licenses to the patents purchased by RPX, which pledges never to assert them."
Posted by macbeach at 4:26 PM
Saturday, November 22, 2008
"'We have been notifying Microsoft about this for some months now at a high level that the abuse at livefilestore.com we believe now exceeds any genuine use of that service that may exist,' Cox said. He added that while Spamhaus has not yet listed any major Microsoft properties on its block list, it has listed a couple of smaller Microsoft domains to get their attention."
Posted by macbeach at 5:36 AM
Thursday, November 20, 2008
UPDATE 1-New York Times cuts dividend, 'reevaluates' assets | Deals | Mergers & Acquisitions | Reuters
"The company is under increasing pressure from declining advertising revenue and circulation as more people get their news online. It also is under pressure from Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp (NWSa.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) international media conglomerate bought The Wall Street Journal with a mission of knocking the Times off its perch as the U.S. newspaper of record."
Better than the story are the comments, sampled:
In what may be the most difficult year in the past 50 or so, the one bright shining light may be the demise of the New York Times. Let's just all hope this worthless rag goes under, wipes out the family financially, and leaves the sarcastic, miserable Maureen Dowd looking for some two bit blog to spew her liberal trash. A fitting end to a piece of garbage.
Cancelled our subscription after 20 years due to the over-the-top bias in this election cycle. Happy to have done our part in bringing the NYT to heel!
What!? You mean people aren't willing to pay for the exact same liberal bias they get bombarded with everywhere for free? Astounding![On the green side think of all the trees saved and the tons of CO2 not dumped into the atmosphere when the NYT presses finally grind to a halt.]
I couldn't have said it better.
"The Justice Department last month backed off the embassy bombing accusations, but said the six men were caught and detained before they could join terrorists' global jihad. The Justice Department said it needed to be proactive against threats, especially in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
The detainee's lawyers denied the men ever planned to join the battlefield. Even if they had, the lawyers argued, they did not fit Leon's definition of an enemy combatant because they never joined the terrorist fighters.
The cases of more than 200 additional Guantanamo detainees are still pending, many in front of other judges in Washington's federal courthouse."
Think very carefully about this. It means we are going back to a system of treating terrorism like just any other crime, mainly in that the crime has to be committed before any law enforcement action can take place. It's very rare in this country or elsewhere that you read about people jailed for planning to commit a murder or robbery. While there are laws that could be brought to bear in such situations, it just isn't practical to do so. Why? Because doing so would in almost every case involve law enforcement people "spying" on the populace. Since 9/11 not so much the law has changed, but the methods and emphasis have been changed to give law enforcement people a bit of wiggle room. It may well be that thousands of lives and millions of dollars worth of infrastructure have been saved in the process.
"The energy team at Google has been analyzing how we could greatly reduce fossil fuel use by 2030. Our proposal - 'Clean Energy 2030' - provides a potential path to weaning the U.S. off of coal and oil for electricity generation by 2030 (with some remaining use of natural gas as well as nuclear), and cutting oil use for cars by 44%."
I'm not sold on this carbon as devil concept, except in that cutting carbon cuts a lot of other what might be called "real pollution" along with it. If it can be done, AND save money, I'm all for it.
It remains to be seen whether we are saving ourselves from "global warming" while our world is actually entering another ice age. We may yet see a day where pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere becomes yet another government mandate.
"The idea of customer-owned fiber may seem odd at first, but it is important to remember that many items that consumers buy today would have seemed very strange not long ago. Until the personal computer, a computer was something that only large companies owned. For decades, telephones were available only for lease, not for purchase. Fiber to the home could be the next technology that moves into the realm of consumer property."
Posted by macbeach at 8:55 PM
"What brought Vilar down ultimately, was the dotcom bust. He rode big bets on Amazon.com, eBay, and Yahoo in the '90s to make billions of dollars, and his net worth peaked at $950 million. After the Nasdaq crashed in 2000, though, investors say Vilar promised to put their money in safe interest-bearing accounts — and instead, kept investing it in hopeless tech stocks. All the while, he kept giving away money to charities that he didn't have."
Posted by macbeach at 5:25 PM
"Maybe a few years down the road Microsoft will simply move on to option three, and make software that doesn't require separate security software."
Posted by macbeach at 2:07 PM
"The January 2009 issue (Volume 28, Issue 1) of PC Magazine will mark a monumental transition for the publication. It is the last printed edition of this venerable publication. Of course, as with any technology-related enterprise, this is not the end, but the beginning of something exciting and new.
Starting in February 2009, PC Magazine will become a 100-percent digital publication."
Posted by macbeach at 2:03 PM
"That's why, despite all the virtual high fives and creative rooms everyone has enjoyed in the last four and a half months, we've decided to shut Lively down at the end of the year."
We hardly knew ye!
(actually never knew ye, as I don't have a Windows machine)
Posted by macbeach at 1:31 AM
"One imagines Facebook as a geek utopia, where hackers who dropped out of college play Rock Band all day, then stay up all night coding. The reality: It's as depressingly Dilbertian as any other company — and COO Sheryl 'No-Fun' Sandberg is making sure it keeps getting more boring every day."
Posted by macbeach at 1:04 AM
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"The Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; The Mansell Collection from London; Dahlstrom glass plates of New York and environs from the 1880s; and the entire works left to the collection from LIFE photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt, Gjon Mili, and Nina Leen. These are just some of the things you'll see in Google Image Search today."
Posted by macbeach at 2:53 PM
"I think it's more likely that Gartner's biggest concern is that open-source software firms (and communities) pay it little money for its research. The biggest danger from open source may actually be to Gartner's P&L statement, not to the enterprises that adopt open-source software."
Posted by macbeach at 2:47 PM
Monday, November 17, 2008
It is hard to find a precedent in American history. Ronald Reagan was a marquee star because of his Hollywood career, but mainly among older voters, since he made his last movie 16 years before winning the White House in 1980. Jack Kennedy was a more formal figure after winning the 1960 election -- "trying to look older than he was, because he thought youth was a handicap in running for president," Beschloss says -- but quickly took on larger-than-life dimensions.
"The Kennedy buildup goes on," James MacGregor Burns wrote in the New Republic in the spring of 1961. "The adjectives tumble over one another. He is not only the handsomest, the best-dressed, the most articulate, and graceful as a gazelle. He is omniscient; he swallows and digests whole books in minutes; he confounds experts with his superior knowledge of their field. He is omnipotent."
Soon afterward, Kennedy blundered into the Bay of Pigs debacle.
Posted by macbeach at 4:42 PM
"How have intellectuals managed to be so wrong, so often? By thinking that because they are knowledgeable— or even expert— within some narrow band out of the vast spectrum of human concerns, that makes them wise guides to the masses and to the rulers of the nation.
But the ignorance of Ph.D.s is still ignorance and high-IQ groupthink is still groupthink, which is the antithesis of real thinking."
Posted by macbeach at 3:25 PM
Suggested alternate title: The Audacity of Arrogant Asshats
"Spared a criminal charge, Mr. Spitzer is now re-emerging to offer advice on how to reregulate Wall Street and to assert that he was right all along about everything (save the call girls). The man who forced new management on Marsh & McLennan and AIG, to the great detriment of their shareholders, now points to AIG's failure as evidence of his success. But of course no one knows what would have happened to AIG had Mr. Spitzer not forced the company's board to fire Hank Greenberg as CEO on dubious grounds; what we do know is that the managers who replaced Mr. Greenberg three years ago, to the pleasure of Mr. Spitzer, had no idea what they were doing."
Posted by macbeach at 3:11 PM
"What’s particularly puzzling is that the explanations for under-representation of women that were assembled back in 1991 applied to all technical fields. Yet women have achieved broad parity with men in almost every other technical pursuit. When all science and engineering fields are considered, the percentage of bachelor’s degree recipients who are women has improved to 51 percent in 2004-5 from 39 percent in 1984-85, according to National Science Foundation surveys."
Posted by macbeach at 1:08 PM
"My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it's not newspapers that might become obsolete. It's some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper's most precious asset: the bond with its readers," said Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp. He made his remarks as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Australian Broadcast Corporation.
Posted by macbeach at 11:10 AM
Friday, November 14, 2008
"The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote."
It's for sure we all are at risk. Catholic or not.
Posted by macbeach at 1:10 PM
"Joining the US, the erstwhile Soviet Union and the European Union, the 35-kg Moon Impact Probe (MIP) hit the moon exactly at 8.31 PM, about 25 minutes after the probe instrument descended from the satellite in what ISRO described as a 'perfect operation'."
Posted by macbeach at 12:05 PM
Thursday, November 13, 2008
"Microsoft has not set a launch date for Office Web -- Office 14 is expected to debut in late 2009 -- nor has it said whether it will be available to users free of charge, as is Google's Docs, and if not, how it priced the service.
A private technology preview of Office Web will begin later this year."
Posted by macbeach at 7:01 PM
"And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times."
Posted by macbeach at 5:48 PM
Sunday, November 09, 2008
'As the 20th century drew to a close,' he warned, 'the connection between hard scientific fact and public policy became increasingly elastic. In part this was possible because of the complacency of the scientific profession; in part because of the lack of good science education among the public; in part because of the rise of specialized advocacy groups which have been enormously effective in getting publicity and shaping policy; and in great part because of the decline of the media as an independent assessor of fact.'
Posted by macbeach at 2:32 PM
Thursday, November 06, 2008
"Ultimately, to think the feds could effectively promote true educational innovation would be to conclude that the Department of Education — and any office within it, such as Rotherham and Mead’s proposed Office of Educational Entrepreneurship and Innovation—would not be staffed with human beings who have preconceptions, opinions, or experiences that bias them toward one thing or another, and that educators don’t have biases that tend to be skewed in particular ways. They do, and that is why having a single entity try to pick innovative winners just results in “the status quo with a new name.” People know what they like, and when you make just one set of them into innovation gate keepers, what you tend to get is what they would have given you anyway."
Posted by macbeach at 8:20 PM
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Fact: There has been one Category 5 Tropical Cyclone in the Northern Hemisphere in 2008 (Jangmi in the WPAC). A total of 8 Category 4+ developed in 2008 (winds > 114 kts+)
Record inactivity continues: Past 24-months of Northern Hemisphere TC activity (ACE) lowest in 30-years.
Still, it seems the NOAH people were working overtime to assign names to gusts of wind in the Atlantic so as to prop up predictions of increased activity made in the last few years.
Posted by macbeach at 5:57 PM
"Sen. Barack Obama won for a simple reason: historical amnesia.
I once asked a room full of college students who the father of capitalism was.
Crickets began chirping as blank stares shot my way.
“Oh, come on,” I prompted. 'Does anyone want to take a guess?”
Finally, one bold student blurted out, “Isn’t it Karl Marx?”
(That creaking sound you’re hearing is Adam Smith rolling over in his grave.)
Sadly, this is a true story. And sadly, this kind of economic and historical amnesia goes a long way toward explaining how the most far-Left candidate in American presidential history wound up in the White House."
Great article. I couldn't' bring myself to quote any less.
"In some respects, raising a new standard was made easier by yesterday’s rout. The Republican Party is not bound by election-year promises made by its presidential nominee. More important, the party is finally untethered from the ill-fitting and unworkable big-government conservatism that defined the Bush administration."
If, that is, we as a country don't become used to yet bigger government as we always have in the past. From higher property taxes, sales taxes that started as a penny and are now in some places looking like a second income tax, to taxes taken out so many places most of us can't keep track of them all.
I'm skeptical that there is any going back, simply because there have been so few times when we have gone back except in token ways. And the left still has so many new ideas for growing government that they'd like to try. There isn't much to stop them now.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
"If you go to Brussels you see how seriously the Eurocrats take their mission to bureaucratize the entire continent. It is as bad as Washington, D.C. Worse, actually, since at least the U.S. is a country and most people view themselves as Americans. But the only way the Eurocrats can consolidate a government in Brussels is by preventing anyone from voting on it. Only Ireland out of 27 European Union members allowed its people to vote on the treaty/constitution, and they voted no. So now the Eurocrats spend half their time dreaming up strategems to force the Irish into line."
"I guess I’d expected to see something like 80 to 90 percent of companies engaged in encrypting laptops, databases, file shares, backup tapes and removable media. I was really wrong. Here are the percentages of survey respondents that have implemented these technologies: laptop encryption: 50 percent; database encryption: 55 percent; file share encryption: 48 percent; backup tape encryption: 47 percent; and removable media encryption: 40 percent."
"The girl's father challenged a drunken Lin, who offered to pay him off.
'Yes I did it, so what? How much do you want, just tell me. I'll give you the money,' Lin said according to footage shown on the sina.com website.
'Do you know who I am? I am from the Ministry of Transport,' he goes on to tell the father, according to the website.
Lin, who was only identified after appearing on the Internet, lost his job and is now the target of a police investigation."
Monday, November 03, 2008
"In the U.S today, the combined federal and state tax on corporate profits averages 40%, which is increasingly out of line with the rest of the world. The average corporate tax rate dropped to 25.9% in 2008 from 37.7% in 1996 among 97 countries surveyed by KPMG, and to 23.2% from 38% in the European Union. Corporate tax revenues typically increased as a share of GDP after tax rates were reduced. Countries with corporate tax rates from 12.5% to 25%, such as Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark, routinely collect more corporate tax revenue as a share of GDP than the anemic 2.1% figure the Congressional Budget Office projects for the U.S."
"It was very clever of the TV networks back in 2000 to insist on red for Republicans and blue for Democrats; it had often been the reverse in earlier elections. David Brinkley spoke of Ronald Reagan’s “sea of blue” in 1980, and Time wrote in 1984, “On NBC’s national map, a spreading sea of blue represented Reagan’s triumph, and little islands of red symbolized Mondale’s meager winnings; on ABC and CBS maps, the color symbolism was reversed.” NBC that year — like other networks in previous years — was in keeping with the worldwide use of political colors, where typically red represents communism, socialism, and social democracy and blue is associated with conservative parties. But when the dominant U.S. media all decided to paint the Democrats blue and Republicans red, they got rid of that pesky, lingering association of red with socialism."
'Would he like to be more popular?' Fleischer added. 'Of course he would. Of course it bugs him. But it doesn't guide him or drive him.'
There is little outward sign of irritation from Bush, who has maintained a sense of good cheer in many of his less-formal public appearances this year. During a celebration honoring Theodore Roosevelt's 150th birthday last week, Bush joked: 'People ask me, 'Do you ever see any of the ghosts of your predecessors here in the White House?' I said, 'No, I quit drinking.'
|Discontinued Product||Status||Transition Plan||User reaction|
|AOL Journals||Dead||User allowed to automatically transfer content to Google Blogger||What users?|
|MSN Groups||February 2009||Point users to Multiply||Lynch Mob|
|AOL Pictures||December 31, 2008||American Greetings® PhotoWorks®||What users?|
|Yahoo Live (whatever that is)||December 3, 2008||Everyone go home and mope||We hardly knew ye!|
|AOL XDrive||January 9, 2009||Screw You||???|
|Google's Lively||December 31, 2008||What 3D technology?||???|
If things go as predicted there will be no shortage of fertilizer.
Google recently published a Sitemap file containing the URLs of public Google Account profiles. Now, they've also started to offer a special profile search.
The next thing that needs to happen is for more people to be comfortable actually being found on the Internet using their real name (as I am not).
The more you connect these things up the more likely it is at some point that you reveal everything about yourself by one slip of a setting somewhere.
Is there a guru at Google making sure that by posting my blog or photos under a pen name I don't in some way make available my medical records, even if I think I've isolated the two things?
I have yet to see evidence that someone at Google is minding a barrier of privacy between what I am willing (and should be willing) to share and that which I am not willing (or should not be willing) to share.
It looks muddled to me, and of course it isn't only Google making it so.
The question isn't one of intent (are they evil?) the question is one of competence, and in this arena they need to be almost infinitely competent. Passwords having gotten out can be changed. Much less easy to change your home address and impossible to change your medical status or criminal record. What possible upside can compensate for all the possible downsides? And I say all this as a longtime supporter of Google. I just don't see evidence that they are paying attention to where these things could go.
Worth a visit. (Before Tuesday)
"Based on the unsolicited yet copious response to my design dissent effort last month, the clearest lesson I learned was that the vast majority of designers have no respect for political dissent; only for Leftist political dissent. Further, the vast majority of designers respect criticism only when we’re all criticizing the same thing in the same way. In other words, hypocrisy and jingoism are far more fundamental design values of our “community” than intellectual honesty or individual objective evaluation. Apparently, designers are required to either run with the pack or get run over by the pack."
Sunday, November 02, 2008
"But, if as appears may be the case Microsoft is letting people have Dell XPS M1330 laptops with 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processors and 3GBs of RAM on 'indefinite loans (wink, wink) then it's a bribe in my book. What do you think? If you knew someone had been given a PC with a list price of $1,956 and then wrote nice things about the operating system that came with it would you be inclined to think that they might be just a wee bit influenced by the almost two grand worth of computer?"
At first glance, I have a USB data acquisition driver in the kernel that originally some company in Germany created and they wanted to get it in and we realized that about four different companies' drivers all do the same thing, so we all merged into one. Now none of those companies have to maintain it; they all get their support for free. Users benefit in the fact that they all have one tinier code base and so the original German company is very happy about it, so they're ecstatic. They don't have to worry about it anymore and it just works for them. Actually there's another company here in Portland that uses that same driver and they're very happy about it too, so it makes people realize over time that the Linux development model has benefits but it's really hard to convince them until they've gone through that.
"Imagine if John McCain had whispered somewhere that he was willing to bankrupt a major industry? Would this declaration not immediately be front page news? Well, Barack Obama actually flat out told the San Francisco Chronicle (SF Gate) that he was willing to see the coal industry go bankrupt in a January 17, 2008 interview. The result? Nothing. This audio interview has been hidden from the public...until now. Here is the transcript of Obama's statement about bankrupting the coal industry..."
Saturday, November 01, 2008
"Top Obama adviser Charles Ogletree says that America is to blame for 9/11 and that Americans are stupid. He also says that America is a racist country, and that Americans will only vote for Obama because he is half-white."
DE: Foreign ministry: 'Cost of Open Source desktop maintenance is by far the lowest' — Open Source Observatory
The Foreign Ministry in 2001 began migrating its back-end IT systems to Open Source in order to provide all embassies and consulates with Internet access and email. 'Our strategy was to use as far as possible Open Standards and Open Source. Reduction of costs was the main reason for this decision.' Upon completion of this project, the ministry decided in 2004 to also migrate the desktops.
The biggest hurdle proved to be to convince the two hundred IT workers a the ministry. 'Their issues were not technical. They just did not know anything about Linux and Open Source and we had to change their views. We took all of them on a crash course of using Linux servers and configuring Apache. There they discovered that it works.'
About 3 p.m. on Oct. 16, Niekamp said Carrie Brown, assistant deputy director for child support, asked her to run Wurzelbacher through the computer. Citing privacy laws, Niekamp would not say what, if anything, was found on "Joe."
On Oct. 23, Niekamp said Doug Thompson, deputy director for child support, told her she had checked on "Joe the Plumber." Thompson "literally demanded" that she write an e-mail to the agency's chief privacy officer stating she checked the case for child-support purposes, she said.
Thompson told her that Jones-Kelley said Wurzelbacher might buy a plumbing business and could owe support. Thompson said he replied that he "would check him out."
Niekamp, 38, a senior child-support manager, said she never heard any discussion of politics amid what her supervisors told her about the checks on Wurzelbacher.