Rich Dad, Model Dad…

A news report I just read quotes Microsoft founder Bill Gates as saying that allowed his two children only 45 minutes a day for PC activity. It pushed the respect I have for the world’s richest man a notch higher. He must have been alarmed by the way kids these days are spending their time — soaking in the transient joys of the negative side of the computer and the Net (lured by social networking sites, for instance).
The best part of Gates’ stricture is that the kids are believed to be abiding by it. To me, since the PC became all pervasive, children have lost interest in life’s more desirable pleasures — such as reading, listening to good music, taking time to play / watch sports and embracing creative pursuits. Anyway, let me not get into something that can very easily be dubbed stereotypal. I liked his focus on enforcing some discipline on his kids despite all the riches they are blessed with. A model dad, perhaps! A model philanthropist as well, donating billions to worthy causes worldwide.
Microsoft told to Pay US$1.5 billion to Lucent: But is he a model in business? Not sure there, given that Microsoft has often been charged with usurping the patents of other companies and has even had to pay hefty damages on a few occasions in the past. Microsoft used to fashionably call it their “embrace and extend” strategy. That is, embrace the inventions of others and extend its application so much that the source is shoved aside over time.
One such aberration is what has led to Microsoft’s alleged infringement of four patents of Lucent Technologies (before the latter’s merger with Alcatel) relating to MP3, phone and computer systems. Lucent sued Microsoft in 2003 and the court has just awarded US$1.5 billion to be paid to the former. For more on it, please head to:
Perhaps, if the verdict had been made earlier, Lucent may have avoided the merger with Alcatel!
Apple Settles Dispute with Cisco: But there are other technology giants who shamelessly steal the copyrights of others. Just as journalists and authors also at times resort to plagiarism! I am referring to Apple’s abuse of the iPhone trademark owned by Cisco Systems.
But the two reached an out-of-court settlement a few days ago– this is believed to be a happy ending for both although I believe Cisco is understandably a bigger victor.
Back to Gates, I have always thought he was one of the most maligned super-heroes (he deserves the epithet for he has been, and will continue to be, an inspiration for millions of youth worldwide). As a journalist, I have covered press events addressed by some of the most vocal critics of Gates. They include Jim Clark, founder of Netscape and Silicon Graphics, Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems, and Oracle’s Larry Ellison. Unfailingly, they will spill vitreol on Microsoft.
Gates hardly came up with any retort against them. When I was the Deputy Editor of Microsoft Magazine more than a decade ago in Singapore, I didn’t find anything wrong singing the glory of Microsoft in every piece I wrote for it. I had no illusions of being an objective writer then as the magazine was all about Microsoft and users of Microsoft products. That was when I stopped being a journalist, and I don’t regret it!
–G Joslin Vethakumar 

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