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542REVIEW: "In Search of Stupidity", Merrill R. Chapman

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    Nov 8, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      BKISSTPD.RVW 20040802

      "In Search of Stupidity", Merrill R. Chapman, 2003, 1-59059-104-6,
      %A Merrill R. Chapman rickchapman@...
      %C 2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219, Berkeley, CA 94710
      %D 2003
      %G 1-59059-104-6
      %I Apress
      %O U$24.99/C$35.00 510-549-5930 fax 510-549-5939 info@...
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1590591046/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/1590591046/robsladesin03-20
      %P 252 p.
      %T "In Search of Stupidity"

      The book is presented as a treatise on management and marketing:
      direction on how to succeed in the high tech environment where so many
      have failed. In that regard it, too, fails. As a lightweight piece
      of comic relief it might have a place.

      Chapter one, an introduction, makes fun of "In Search of Excellence"
      with 20/20 hindsight, but is short on detail. Overall, the point
      seems to be reminiscent of Deming's (cf. BKDEMING.RVW): companies
      succeed in some situations because they could hardly fail, and then
      think they've done something right. For all of his anecdotes
      supposedly proving that Chapman "was there" at the beginning of the
      microcomputer revolution, he makes numerous mistakes. Orange Computer
      was based in Ontario rather than Taiwan (the Peel 1.1 model was named
      for the Peel Board of Education) and used a disk based load of much of
      the material from the Apple boot ROM (not "BIOS") to avoid legal
      issues over compatibility. The reduction in production of Apple
      clones in the mid-1980s was not due to legal battles, but the
      diminution of the entire Apple II market due to the introduction of
      the IBM PC and the Macintosh. Chapter three rails against the
      "chiclet" keyboard used on the "PC Jr" computer, but fails to note
      that most computer keyboards are now this type. A confused and
      erroneous discussion of versions of Microsoft Windows surrounds an
      oddly disjointed account of how the author was smarter than everyone
      else at a failing company, in chapter four. We get more of the
      author's job history in chapter five, where interesting anecdotes and
      brilliantly poetic writing mask the fact that we really aren't given
      any substantial information about the marketing of dBASE. Chapter
      six, supposedly about OS/2, starts with strange stories having nothing
      to do with the operating system, and then follows an obscured and
      often misleading timeline of events in the history of that system.
      Chapter seven retails anecdotes about Borland. The story of the
      infamous Pentium floating point unit problem is given in chapter
      eight, but stripped of the (admittedly amusing) verbiage the relevant
      bits could have been contained in only a few paragraphs. A
      disorganized set of stories from Novell is presented in chapter nine.
      Chapter ten is mostly about Microsoft public relations, with some
      pieces from Netscape as unrelated add-ons. A few "dot com" busts are
      described in (rather fittingly) chapter eleven.

      The lessons in this book are confused and sometimes contradictory,
      failing to present any clear direction to those who do not want to
      follow in the steps of failure. The material is self-promotional, and
      is amusing in most cases but not analytical. A great number of
      evident errors make many of the other assertions in the work suspect.
      As bedtime reading the volume is interesting, but very little will be
      of use.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2004 BKISSTPD.RVW 20040802

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
      No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single
      experiment can prove me wrong. - Albert Einstein
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade