Monday, May 21, 2012

Fools for NonStop!

From the moment I kicked-off the LinkedIn group of the same name, it was a given that there would be a T Shirt developed. It’s a part of our heritage as well as our tradition dating back to Tandem Computers.  Look for me at HP Discover and get yours!
I was only a few week ago that I flew into San Francisco, and from my window I could see the marinas that dot the water’s edge around the airport. For a number of years, soon after I had arrived in Cupertino, I had the pleasure of being part of his crew on Ray Walker’s catamaran “Two-Up”, as I recall it was called.  Ray was a product manager working in Bill Heil’s organization and had spent some time in Australia, and so we had an early connection – for much of the 1970s I regularly raced the summer program on Sydney Harbor.

I was really excited   when Ray called one day and asked if I wanted to sail on Steve Schmidt’s yacht – a magnificent Santa Cruz 70, much bigger than anything else I had sailed. Designed for the TransPac race, a mix of serious racing as well as attracting those keen on sailing the Pacific, where yachts pulled out of Long Beach “turned left” and then ran a reach all the way to Hawaii – “reaching” for most yachts being the fastest way they can travel.  To capitalize on this event, the Santa Cruz 70 (SC70) was long and very narrow offering very little wetted surface and hence little resistance – these yachts were designed to simply “fly” across the ocean to Hawaii.

Unfortunately, for many sailors, taking this yacht anywhere else to race, or using it for any other purpose, was considered somewhat reckless. There is a level of instability that comes with such a narrow beam for a yacht of this length – as the name SC70 implies, it was seventy feet (21.34 meters) long. To my surprise, any changes in wind direction or strength could have disastrous results as I quickly found out – easing a headsail brace past the mast so as not to catch on anything, the wind strengthened before I could let go and I was catapulted into the Bay. It was very cold that overcast day in September,
1994 and I felt very foolish as they pulled me back on board, wringing wet and suffering the early onset of hypothermia.

But foolishness comes in many guises. Followers of the morning television show from CNBC know all too well the central characters from the investment advisors, Motley Fool, (with the web site, fools.com), who provide contrarian opinions about the financial performance of many companies. The tag line on their web site simply states “to educate, amuse and enrich” but more often than not, their advice proves more accurate than that provided by other, much larger investment firms. Not easily fooled, they have developed a knack for being able to discern a company’s real position when it comes to meeting investors’ expectations.

It
was a little more than six months ago when, in the post of September 7, 2011, “Foolish aspirations!” I wrote of how the LinkedIn group “Fools for NonStop” had just been created. It came about, as I noted at the time, following the observation from a participant in an online forum where I contribute who responded to one of more upbeat predictions for NonStop with a dismissive  “there is one fool exists in LinkedIn whose name is Richard Buckle!” As I wrote in that post, clearly my passion gives me away!

In that post of September 7, 2011, I also wrote of how there’s almost a sense of inevitability that the subject of foolishness should be raised among those who are fervent supporters of all things NonStop. Certainly, if my passion for all things NonStop suggests that I am a fool, then yes, I will wear that insignia with pride – and continue to welcome the more than 100 members who have now joined with me as Fools for NonStop. So, too, it should come as no surprise that I will be able to wear that insignia not only with pride, but on a T Shirt – yes, the T Shirts have arrived!

My other memory of Steve Schmidt, apart from his magnificent yacht, was of the time he took the helm of Tandem Computers R&D organization. As I mentioned in a private client newsletter recently, when he brought the organization together for the first time around a special beer-bust, T Shirts were distributed. In yellow, they featured a buzzard with a wry smile and with the directive “Patience, my ass, I want to kill something” – a T Shirt that is now firmly cemented in the folklore of Tandem. But we have moved on, and now we are a community anchored by NonStop and the time is right to bring back the T’s!

When I first floated the idea, in the LinkedIn group, Fools for NonStop, the reaction was immediate – yes, put me down for one! Fortunately, a group of vendors stepped in as sponsors of the T Shirt and with their support and following a number of design reviews they finally arrived on my doorstep this weekend.  The picture at the top of the page is of me wearing the first one pulled from the box. Again, thanks need to go to comForte, Integrated Research, Merlon, OmniPayments and Randall Consulting – a really good cross section of vendors within the NonStop community.

These T’s will become available at the upcoming HP Discover event in Las Vegas with a number on offer at the comForte booth in the exhibition hall, others given away to attendees at the NonStop Community Reception at HP Discover 2012 on Wednesday, June 6 – and yes, as participants head to the many social events planned for the Conference, they will find wearing the T Shirt the appropriate apparel for the
occasion. These T Shirts will also be available at similar events planned for Europe later in the year.

It should be obvious to all that there’s an element of humor in all of this; a tongue-firmly-planted-in-ones-cheek expression of just how passionate the NonStop community continues to be. And for good reason – there’s little alternative to what NonStop provides as it’s uncrated, powered on, and the first TACL prompt appears. Well, at least, with the latest BladeSystems I am assuming that this is still de rigueur for new NonStop installs. The NonStop community is passionate, but not out of naiveté, but rather based on experience and knowledge, and it’s not going unrecognized.

The HP business leaders associated with NonStop – from Pauline to Martin to Winston have all recognized this about the community. And it came as no surprise that in his first editorial in The Connection it didn’t escape the attention of incoming leader, Ric Lewis, who observed “what I am quickly learning – is how passionate and dedicated the employees, customers and partners are.” Yes, we are all foolishly enamored with NonStop, but this should never be confused with being fools.

It takes considerable awareness of all that is happening within the industry to be able to recognize the special place NonStop occupies in all that we do for the businesses we support, and as fools, it is our responsibility “
to educate, amuse and enrich”. I did survive my fall into the Bay off of Steve Schmidt’s yacht, as foolish as I had been at the time; now all I need to be concerned about is surviving HP Discover 2012 – I hope to see many of you there and look for me later in the week, sporting a very blue T Shirt, Fools for NonStop!

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