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Code/red: Steve Ballmer, the Nutty Professor

Plus, Windows Mea Culpa and a drone-assisted Ice Bucket challenge.


  • reports earnings after market close.
  • Atari founder Nolan Bushnell is doing a Reddit IAmA.

For PhysEd? I Dunno, I Picked Something Called Monkey Boy Dance 101.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is going back to school. Ballmer, who stepped down from Microsoft’s board this week, is scheduled to teach a fall class at Stanford — the school he dropped out of in 1980 to join Microsoft. Its topic: “Leading organizations.” A fine choice for a guy who has spent years overseeing a company as large as Microsoft, but not nearly as good as the seminars in interpretive dance, late-to-the-game product launches and squandered major market opportunities he could have taught. Perhaps they can add those to the curriculum at USC, where Ballmer will teach in the spring. Oh, a word of warning to students at both schools: Probably best not to sit in the front row.

They Should Just Call It Windows Mea Culpa

September 30 is Blasphemy Day. It’s also the day Microsoft is planning to uncrate the successor to Windows 8, which will presumably be called Windows 9, but is currently referred to as Threshold.

Actually, That Was an Amazon Drone Beverage Delivery Test

Surprised it took this long for someone to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge using a drone.

Point/Counterpoint: PayPal and eBay Are Better Together vs. Hey, Maybe Not!

John Donahoe, eBay CEO, January 2014: “Based on what we see today, we continue to believe that the company, our customers and our shareholders are best served by keeping PayPal and eBay together.”

Jessica Lessin, The Information: “eBay has been telling potential recruits for the position of PayPal CEO that it’s considering spinning off the payments business as soon as next year, according to two people briefed on the conversations.”

Regardless of Whose Statement Is 100 Percent Accurate, the Idea of Another Verizon App Store Remains 100 Percent Silly

So that Information report about Verizon’s discussions with partners “to create a different kind of app store”? The company shot it down Wednesday afternoon, telling Re/code, “We have no plans to do that.” But The Information is sticking to its report, which it insists is “100 percent accurate.” And that may well be the case, because in the semantics-heavy world of PR, those two statements can easily coexist without negating one another. Note that Verizon never said it didn’t discuss the idea of creating “a different kind of app store,” it just said it had no plans to build one. Note, too, that The Information, by its own admission, sat on this story for at least three weeks — time enough for a carrier responsible for not one but two dismal app store failures to scrap plans for a third and reasonably dispute the publication’s report on those grounds. I have no idea whether that’s the case, but the vehemence of the arguments on either side make this read like another silly game of PR semantics.

Crowdsourcing Our Self-Esteem

Michael Harris, author of “The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection”: “So it’s like if a tweet gets retweeted a couple of hundred times, that must mean that my thoughts are worthy. If my Facebook photo is ‘liked,’ that must mean I am good looking. One of the things that concerns me about a media diet that is overly online, is that we lose the ability to decide for ourselves what we think about who we are.”

Patent Office Delighted to Have Its Waste Measured

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office couldn’t be happier about an investigation into widespread and ferocious abuse of its telecommuting policies by employees. Called out by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform following the Washington Post’s publication of an internal USPTO inquiry that found many of its employees routinely do “little to no work” and get bonuses for it, the agency issued a statement saying it “welcomes this opportunity to demonstrate [its] award-winning telework programs … which have been integral to reducing the backlog of patent applications and the wait time for applicants.” Even leaving aside a current backlog of about 600,000 patent applications and approval wait times that typically fall between four and five years, this is an odd reply to allegations that dozens of USPTO employees collected full salaries while they read and did laundry.

This Year, We Even Brought a Few Protesters to Vomit on the RVs

An anonymous Silicon Valley entrepreneur on attending Burning Man: “We used to have R.V.s and precooked meals. Now, we have the craziest chefs in the world and people who build yurts for us that have beds and air-conditioning. Yes, air-conditioning in the middle of the desert!” (Sidenote: Are we allowed to nominate a man to burn?)

Off Topic

Goliath grouper munches big-ass shark and the Julian Assange coloring book.

Thanks for reading. Send tips, comments and chairless chairs to, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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