Wednesday, February 24, 2010

(Editorial) Confessions of an Internet “Shock Jock”

Note: Please see my follow-up post which sheds more light on what InfoWorld knew and when, including an email thread that proves the publication’s complicity in the Craig Barth ruse.

Public falls from grace. We all love to watch them unfold. Whether it’s a golfer with libido issues, or some blowhard blogger getting his comeuppance, we just can’t get enough of it. The sordid details. The backroom double-dealings. The questionable motives.

I, of course, I fall into the latter category. I am Randall C. Kennedy, former internet “shock jock” blogger for InfoWorld and current holder of the title “Most Reviled Person on the Internet, 2010 Edition.” In the past 72 hours, I’ve been humiliated, chastised and kicked to the curb by virtually every one of my contemporaries. My personal and professional credibility is shot, and my part-time career as an IT journalist is over for good. Can the urinal cake with my face on it be far behind?

Still, like every good tabloid story, the villain still wants his day in the sun - a chance to tell his side so that the record is truly complete. And while the future may see my name relegated to the role of punch line for a crude party joke, it wasn’t always this way. I once had a name I could be proud of, one that was associated with highly successful projects at some of the biggest firms in IT and finance. That it could all come crumbling down so quickly should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone in a similar position. So here, without further ado, is my story.

I’ve been a professional in the IT industry for over 25 years. I got my start in the mid 1980’s pulling wire and installing servers for a Novell Gold reseller in Southeastern Massachusetts. It was there that I cut my teeth on technologies like NetWare, LAN Manager and SCO UNIX. And after 5 years of often grueling work in and around the Bay State, I emerged with a strong appreciation for the difficulties faced by those working in the IT trenches.

My next stop was also my first real gig as an IT journalist. The year was 1993. Windows Sources magazine was about to launch as a new Ziff-Davis publication, and Editor-in-Chief Gus Venditto was looking for talent that could write authoritatively about Windows-related issues. I was brought on as a Contributing Editor – along with John C. Dvorak and others – and carved out a niche covering Windows data communications, among other topics.

IBM Comes Calling

In 1995, after two years of writing for Windows Sources, PC Computing and some extensive work at ZD Labs, I was approached by IBM about doing some consulting work for their Personal Software Products (PSP) division. Jay Sottolano was an acquaintance from the trade show circuit, and he was looking for someone to help write positioning papers and other collateral in support of their OS/2 marketing efforts. Knowing this would signal the end of my career as an IT journalist (back then, the industry frowned on such conflicts of interest – now writers just “disclose” them), I took the leap anyway, forming my first corporation – Competitive Systems Analysis, Inc. – with my new wife as my business partner.

Together, we spent the next year travelling the world on IBM’s behalf, giving stump speeches to the PSP and PSM (Personal Software Marketing) faithful and providing competitive marketing advice to the company’s Software Solutions Group (SWS). Along the way, I got the chance to brief a number of high-level IBM luminaries, including CEO Lou Gerstner and CFO Jerry York, and I was also fortunate enough to work with some exceptional executive talent, including Alan Fudge. It was a heady time for a young professional barely out of school, and I did my best to make the most of every minute.

Settling Down for a Spell

But, eventually the rigors of nonstop travel and feast/famine contract cycles – plus the arrival of my first child – prompted me to seek out a life with greater stability. So I did what most consultants do at this juncture in their lives: I bought a house in the Bay Area (Danville – finest town in the USA, IMHO) and got a real job. Specifically, I took a position as a Senior Industry Analyst with Giga Information Group (now part of Forrester).

It was circa 1997, and I spent the next year working closely with some top notch IT analysts, like Richard Fichera, as well as with more than a few egotistical blowhards (I’m talking to you, Rob Enderle). I also got to spend some quality time working with Gideon Gartner, the legendary founder of the Gartner Group. For whatever reason, Gideon took a liking to me, and I was able to learn a great deal about the inner workings of the IT research industry under his sage tutelage.

But the truth is, I was bored at Giga. The type of content we were asked to produce – dry, color-free analysis of IT trending minutia – was taxing to produce. I missed the chance to get my hands “dirty” working with technology directly, especially Windows NT, which was my first true love. And it was during this time that the pseudonym, “Craig Barth,” emerged for the first time: As a pen name I used while moonlighting for Windows NT Magazine as their News/Analysis Editor.

Note: Contrary to popular opinion, I am – and always have been – a huge Windows NT fan. I was one of the first journalists to jump on the Windows NT bandwagon, even going so far as writing a book promoting IT’s “Migrating to Windows NT” (that’s the title – from Brady Books - look it up) in 1993. In fact, by the time I left my first gig at Windows Sources, I was writing the “Windows NT” column for them on a monthly basis. And, of course, the potential synergy with Windows NT Magazine was a no-brainer.

Intel Comes Knocking

So when Intel Corporation came knocking in mid-1998 with an offer to work with them as a performance engineering consultant to their Business Desktop Marketing (BDM) group, I once again took a leap of faith. I resigned from Giga and resurrected CSA (which had lay dormant during this time), then spent the next two-and–a-half years designing and testing new benchmarking scripts to push Intel’s high-end hardware through its paces.

During this time I worked on numerous projects involving chip launches (the Pentium III, Mobile Pentium II/III, the Pentium 4), networking gear (desktop GbE), and multiprocessor systems (in conjunction with Dell Computer, another client of mine). An overarching theme throughout this engagement was the concept of “Constant Computing” – i.e. the idea that PCs are never really idle, especially under more complex OS like Windows NT/2000 – and I produced over a dozen white papers for Intel cataloging my findings and conclusions.

Note: My primary contact throughout this time period was Tom Harper, a maverick technical marketing manager who reported directly to Pat Gelsinger. Pat was also aware of my work and even used one of the test cases I developed as a Constant Computing demo piece for his keynote speech at the 2000 ISMC (International Sales and Marketing Conference). They later licensed the test case code from me for a tidy sum.

Eventually, my services were farmed out to Intel’s Desktop Architecture Labs (DAL), where I continued to refine my methodologies and also began formulating the idea for my first stand-alone test tool: Benchmark Studio.

The Wall Street Connection

Note: The following section has been heavily modified at the request of our client. It is a violation of our contract to identify them publicly, and we are hereby honoring that request.

They say that all good things come to an end, and when the dot com crash hit silicon valley I found myself out of my primary consulting gig and looking for a new challenge. Working for Intel had left me flush with cash (all told, they poured nearly three quarters of a million dollars into my small, two-person consultancy), so I had time on my hands to work on my test tool ideas. Eventually, I released the first version of Benchmark Studio as a low-cost, commercial test suite. And, lucky for me, it caught the eye of the lead tech in the PC Engineering group at a large financial services firm in NY.

That foot in the door turned into the biggest success story of my career. But back then, circa 2001, I was just happy to have them as a customer, period. And eventually, after cultivating a strong support presence and generally proving myself as a reliable technical resource, my contact recommended me as the best person to help one of the company’s largest divisions develop a new performance monitoring framework for their high-end Windows-based trading workstations.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance, and over the next three years I developed and refined what ultimately became a commercial performance monitoring product known as Clarity Suite. And as we moved from pilot project, to limited production deployment and finally a business unit-wide site license in 2006, I was rewarded with a steady stream of consulting contracts culminating in the aforementioned licensing deal.

And while I’m not a liberty to discuss the value of these business transactions, suffice to say that they far exceeded my total compensation from Intel. Add to this a smaller scale deployment at CSFB (Credit Suisse First Boston, which was what they were still called in in 2001) and a pioneering study of workstation scalability conducted at Kent State University (under the direction of Hewlett Packard and Intel Corporation – the white paper is still available), and I was quite busy during the first half of the last decade. Again, heady times for a now older and more seasoned IT veteran.

Devil Mountain Software Emerges

It was during this timeframe that I decided a new corporate presence was required to help differentiate my consulting past as Competitive Systems Analysis, Inc., from my long term goal of productizing Clarity Suite and bringing it to market. So I once again collaborated with my wife and long time business partner, and together we created Devil Mountain Software, Inc. – with me as the public face of the company and her as the silent partner working behind the scenes to manage the business.

Eventually, we brought in other partners to invest in the venture, but we kept the management team limited to just ourselves. And when a site license came through from one of our biggest clients (essentially guaranteeing we wouldn’t have to work again for the rest of our lives), I started thinking about alternative ways to leverage what was now DMS Clarity Suite – options and scenarios that existed outside of the traditional commercial resale channel.

One idea that I had always wanted to explore was taking DMS Clarity Suite online – essentially providing the same kinds of monitoring and analysis functionality we were delivering to our commercial clients on their in house servers, but in a more limited, less feature-complete format. The goal would be to create a community of users around a set of free tools and services, and then to mine the data they uploaded in order to gain insight into trends and developments affecting the broader Windows community.

Thus, the was born. But not before I made a fateful detour back into the world of IT journalism – a wrong turn I would eventually regret in ways I could never have imagined.

Early InfoWorld Involvement

Throughout the early part of the recent decade, I kept a toe in the water of my old haunt, IT journalism. It started quite small. From time to time I would collaborate with contacts at the InfoWorld Test Center – then still a real, physical lab space in silicon valley. I got to know some of the lead contributors, like PJ Connolly, quite well, and we’d get together at the lab sometimes to run benchmark tests using the aforementioned tools I developed for Intel, etc.

Eventually, the lab was shuttered, and InfoWorld started drastically downsizing its operation. It was during this time that I struck up a collaborative relationship with Doug Dineley, who to this day remains a class act and the one person I had the most respect for at that publication. But back then, it was all about product reviews and testing. Doug would present me with a list of possible story angles and I would pick and choose based on what struck my fancy at any particular time. Eventually, I became one of his more regular contributors, and he remained a good friend and close confident right up to the bitter end of my involvement with the publication.

But even when I started splitting time between my day job supporting my commercial clients’ deployments (now pretty much just a software maintenance role), my hobby building and these occasional freelance reviewer gigs, the relationship with InfoWorld remained casual. It wasn’t until 2007 that things got serious. And that year, more than any other, will go down as one of the worst I can remember.

Wooed by the Dark Side

Late 2007 is a time period pivotal to this story because it signaled a series of beginnings. It was when I first started thinking about blogging for InfoWorld. And it was also when I first approached the publication about partnering with DMS on the promotion of an online service, one built around the still evolving precursor to what would ultimately become the

And at first, neither venture went very well. Newly promoted Editor in Chief Eric Knorr, who I had never met and had barely heard of prior to his ascension, was resistant to the idea. He didn’t think it would fit with their still undefined editorial focus (InfoWorld had only recently decided to drop print and go online only). Meanwhile, the blog became tedious to maintain, especially since I wasn’t being paid for the work.

But eventually, things changed. Eric settled in as Editor in Chief, and a new Executive Editor, Galen Gruman, emerged to forever change my life. For starters, Galen took a liking to the idea. He began championing the idea internally, working with me to refine the messaging and coordinate with the various sales and marketing groups to achieve buy-in. At the same time, Galen took it upon himself to become the primary editor of my now paid blogging gig. He helped me to identify which topic areas were having the most impact – and thus started me on my descent into internet “Shock Jock”hell.

You see, what Galen and I discovered was that the topics that were most effective in drawing readers were also those that skirted the edges of both legitimacy and taste. For example, if I wrote an entry detailing some deeply held belief about a particular IT vendor or technology, nobody paid any attention. However, if I simply vented about something that was bugging me – a mysterious crash in Vista or some piece of VDI “marchitecture” coming out of VMware – the attention level shot through the roof.

Eventually, I found myself enjoying the buzz that my “angry missives” would generate. Little did I realize how quickly such a model could deteriorate or how much it could damage me, personally, once it fell apart.

A Slippery Slope

As the missives kept coming, and the traffic numbers kept climbing, Galen and I – along with Eric Knorr – worked to evolve the persona of “Randall C. Kennedy.” I was now to be the lightning rod of the publication, the guy who puts the most provocative spin possible on every story with the intention of aggravating as many zealots as possible. The net result was gobs of page views – I was the single biggest draw, site wide, for all of 2009 – and also a great deal of  scorn from my contemporaries.

Ironically, It was the growing disapproval of my peers in the industry that first gave me pause. I realized that I was now regularly espousing opinions and viewpoints that had almost nothing to do with what I truly believed. Rather, they were simply extensions of the RCK persona. I became the “Microsoft basher” when, at heart, I held the company in the highest regard. I became the “Vista basher” and the “Windows 7 basher” when, in truth, I used both every day and found them to be excellent products (yes, even Vista). The whole persona had taken on a life its own, and I was terrified that it would ultimately spin out of control.

Which of course it did, in the most spectacular fashion, and just in time to nearly destroy the one project that I truly cared about and believed in: The

As my blogger star rose at IDG, it became easier for me to obtain the kinds of concessions from management that would help me promote my new pet project. Galen Gruman, who had worked with me from the start to develop internal momentum for the project, was now actively helping me to integrate it with InfoWorld’s web presence. While I provided the back-end data collection and analysis engine, Galen crafted the InfoWorld side of the equation, including the various registration pages, widget wrappers and javascript code that helped to glue the whole solution together.

In fact, Windows Sentinel (the co-branding nomenclature that Galen came up with for our collaboration) would never have happened if my colleague Mr. Gruman hadn’t pushed it through the various layers of IDG bureaucracy. The man was a bulldog, and working together we managed to launch Windows Sentinel in April of 2008 to little fanfare and even a few snickers.

Note: It’s important that the public understand the nature of the contractual relationship between DMS and IDG. The arrangement was strictly one of cross-promotion – DMS would provide the service and InfoWorld would promote to its readers. And while both parties would share in the registration data and collected metrics, at no time did any money change hands.

This was strictly a marriage of convenience, and the only side to ever see even a dime of revenue (from advertisements and sponsorships associated with the registration pages and related collateral) was IDG. So my detractors can put away their evil conspiracy theories of greed and avarice – they simply do not apply here. I gave everything to make Windows Sentinel a reality, and got virtually nothing in return.

The Return of Craig Barth

But back to the story. From the beginning, Sentinel had a credibility problem. Though it was being promoted as an independent service and research entity, it still had my name attached to it. In fact, InfoWorld made a point of identifying the solution as the product of a collaboration between the publication and its Contributing Editor, Randall C. Kennedy, the founder of Devil Mountain Software, Inc.

They even plastered as much across the registration page. It doesn’t take a genius to tell you that having the industry’s most notorious internet “shock jock” as your only front man was not a formula for success. So I took drastic action. I created a fictitious spokesperson by resurrecting my pen name from days gone, Craig Barth, and assigning him the title of Chief Technical Officer for Devil Mountain Software, Inc.

It all started fairly innocently. I would receive an email inquiry from some media person asking about a piece of research I had published through my official, and I would reply – not as Randall C. Kennedy, the “shock jock” that nobody took seriously anymore – but as Craig Barth, the ever helpful and deeply knowledgeable CTO of DMS.

Over time, these interactions became more frequent, and I began to enjoy my newfound anonymity. No longer fearful that my hard research would be rejected out of hand, I became bolder, even going so far as utilizing my alter ego when fielding phone calls from the likes of Gregg Keizer and others.

And all the while I wondered to myself why nobody was making the connection? How could a legitimate service that was so publicly launched by one of the most reviled personas in the IT media sustain such a ruse? Couldn’t they see the absurdity of it? Devil Mountain Software, Inc., was the company that Randall C. Kennedy formed. There was no attempt to hide this fact.

Of course, someone did see through it all. And it was with fear and trepidation that I fielded a phone call from my close colleague and co-architect, Galen Gruman. He had seen one of Gregg Keizer’s earliest mentions of me – a report on on benchmark results that showed Vista SP1 failing to provide a promised performance boost – and he wanted to know who the hell this Craig Barth guy was.

After all, if anyone knew me well, it was Galen. He was there when I first pitched the idea for Windows Sentinel. He was there as I wrestled with how to separate the hard data from the “shock” persona. And since he was intimately familiar with DMS and its management team of 1+, it was only a matter of time before he made that call.

To be fair, Galen was not pleased when I confessed my actions. He felt that I was pushing the ethical boundaries by misleading the public in this way. However, for whatever reason – personal loyalty, a desire to maintain the status quo with the “shock jock” persona – he agreed to keep it to himself.

Frankly, I’d figured he’d expose me on the spot. But instead, he turned a blind eye, even as I referenced my own research in my blog –data that had been promoted by Craig Barth and consumed by countless other media outlets ignorant of the ruse at play. Somehow, Galen managed to hold his tongue for over a year, even though secretly he must have wondered when it would all come crashing down.

Note: While I can’t say unequivocally when InfoWorld Editor in Chief Eric Knorr was made wise to the ruse, I’m pretty sure it was well before the whole mess spilled over. Eric was as intimately familiar with the nature of DMS as Galen, and for him to pretend to have been oblivious to the situation – when the persona of Craig Barth from DMS  had been plastered all over the Internet for a year or more – makes such a claim hard to swallow. And despite Galen’s apparent loyalty to me, I still can’t see him keeping this from his immediate superior, if for no other reason than he would need a way to cover his own ass during the inevitable implosion.

Crash and Burn

And implode it did. After publishing a particularly alarming set of findings – which I still stand behind while continuing to evaluate new data – the internet became engulfed in controversy. As the furor grew, and as more and more media outlets questioned just who this Craig Barth fellow really was and what made DMS tick, the house of cards came crumbling down. The persona of Craig Barth was exposed as one Randall C. Kennedy, and the entire web of half-truths and misdirection was exposed as the ruse that it was.

Frankly, I was relieved it was over. Balancing the two worlds had become almost impossible, and I longed to escape from the “shock jock” persona that had been created for me so I could once again embrace my core beliefs. But what surprised me was the level of anger expressed towards me for what I saw as nothing more than a very poorly executed attempt to escape from the proverbial rock and hard place. Simply put, the level of vitriol expressed felt way out of proportion, and the claims of “egregious ethics violations” and “insufferable breach of trust” were simply over the top.

After all, it’s not as if I had trafficked in nuclear secrets or or stolen someone’s credit card information. I merely tried to shield what was important to me from the fallout of the world that had been created for me. And in the end, I failed miserably. It was a dumb move, born of frustration at feeling painted into a corner of my own making. I should have just walked away earlier – it’s just a blog in the end – but I lingered too long on the edge of the razor, and eventually it cut the heart out of everything I had tried to accomplish.

Please note that I’m not looking for sympathy or even understanding. My goal here is simply to clear the air – to tell my side of the story and to hopefully clarify both my professional background and the nature of the very legitimate products and services I’ve developed.

At the end of the day, this whole affair is just a blip in the timeline of a a career that spans two decades, one which saw me working with a bunch of amazing people at a some of the most revered companies in the world. I’m proud of my many accomplishments, and I’m happy that I can finally close this chapter of my life.

It’s been one hell of a ride…


So, what next? For starters, neither the or Devil Mountain Software, Inc., are going anywhere anytime soon. I will continue to develop and expand what has become my true labor of love, but now with a renewed commitment to the integrity and authoritativeness of the data that makes the service so special.

What I will not be doing is venturing back into the field of IT journalism. Not because I couldn’t do so if I chose to – you’d be surprised at how many emails I’ve received offering to host my “shock jock” persona on a different site (some people will stoop to anything for a few page views) – but because I never want to compromise my integrity that way again.

At the end of the day, I really am Randall C. Kennedy – a passionate fan of all things Microsoft Windows-related. Thank you for taking the time to hear me out.


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Daniel H said...

Its very interesting to get insight into how the online journalism work, thanks. Ive always suspected it works like this but never got to read it from someone in the know before.

I would love your service on Linux for all the servers i manage but for now i suppose i will have to suffice with the Windows boxes being monitored.

Good luck and thanks for taking the time in writing this down, its always interesting to hear both sides of the story.

Unknown said...

Well, with everything all said and done, it is nice to finally hear your side of things. Ultimately I think your goals and ideals were in the right spot, but as you said, the means of maintaining all this were definitely poorly executed. Its really a shame it all had to unfold like this and that your name has been drug through the mud; but its nice to see that you are taking it for what it is, accepting it, putting what happened into your own words, and, most importantly moving on with what is really important to you. While I will most likely never, ever install your DMS Clarity Suite, I wish you all the best and hope that your business continues to grow and move past this dark point.

Randall C. Kennedy said...


Thanks. I will definitely keep the Linux angle in mind. It's simply a matter of expertise. I know Windows development inside and out. Linux...not so much. :-(


Randall C. Kennedy said...


Thanks for the kind words. And I understand your reluctance to ever participate - I'd probably do the same in your shoes. However, I hope that someday you reconsider, if only to show us any areas you think we could improve the service. But regardless, I appreciate the non-flame feedback. It's been rare of late... :-(


Buback said...

All the favorable comments are posted by Randal c Kennedy, and I'm Randall c Kennedy too.

AKaizer said...

Randall, thanks for clarifying from your point of view. I was always curious as to why I agreed so much with you in your early blogging career at InfoWorld and then started to diverge as you were molded into a "shock jock". I always knew you had some soft spot for Microsoft, even if your later blogs didn't show it as clearly as you would have liked!

I am looking forward to seeing what comes out from your renewed focused on your venture and hope that this storm blows over for you sooner rather than later.

-Andrew Kaizer

Paul said...

The biggest mistake you made is assigning your "pen name" to your job instead of to your writing....

But I couldn't care less. I don't pay too much attention to to shock jocks of any sort. Instead, I am interested in your analysis and your work. Keep it up, and hopefully all of this will blow over.

Randall C. Kennedy said...


That's great! I always wondered what it would be like to meet myself!


JTD121 said...

While I was following this story, and had no interest or even knowledge of the goings-on of either your shock jock blog persona, or the DMS side of things, I like this resolution, if you could call it that.

I am with Daniel and Joel in the hopes of your business flourishing.

As an aside, looking for any help? ;-)

Unknown said...

Sounds like you set yourself up to throw out your baby with your own dirtied "bathwater" of online vitriol... I hope you got paid really well for all those page views.

quixote said...

I haven't followed this story closely since I'm a longtime Ubuntu user and generally notice Windows news only to gloat.

So I was surprised by this sentence: "After publishing a particularly alarming set of findings – which I still stand behind while continuing to evaluate new data."

The ethics of using different personas aside, Windows memory usage actually has some practical implications for millions of people.

In a rational world, there would be lots of people worrying about that, and not so many moaning about their wounded vanity in having been fooled into not seeing the man behind the curtain.

Because, let's face it, if there were really that many people who cared about ethics in journalism, news and blogging on the web would look very different than it does.

I'd like to see some knowledgeable discussion of the practical significance of the memory leaks, whether this is a problem that corporate-owned Ars Technica slightingly says goes back to Vista or not.

Adam said...

I still don't see what the big deal is all about. Facts are facts and as long as your not manipulating the facts I could give a flying F*** less when it comes to who it was posted by. Craig Barth or Randall C. Kennedy are just names to me, I can see how there might be a possible conflict of interest but none the less FACTS ARE STILL FACTS.
That being said, I don't know whether or not you may have manipulated data, nor does anyone aside from yourself. I still agree with your original findings though. As a system builder performance is a number one thing for me and even though all I use is Windows MMC with the ActiveX System Monitor Control plugin I have noticed more page writes then necessary with XP - Vista - and 7. Having 8 gigs of ram and finding out 1GB of the page-file is being used and there's 5GB free physical memory pisses me the hell off. It's gotten to the point on my personal XP desktops I just disable windows "virtual memory" all together. Sorry about your job loss btw. I support you!

Unknown said...

The hard lessons in life are the one's that make us better. They are also the easiest to ignore when judging the risk in something you really want.

Unknown said...

I have to say that I'm not surprised by anything you've written. I sensed from the start that you were on-the-level with the report. It's the nature of the beast that when you step on anyone's toes on the web, they will attempt to crucify you in the court of public opinion. It's one of the sad characteristics of life online that people behave like raving lunatics when they don't have to face you in person.

That said, I think the major mistake you made was in writing the article as one persona, ostensibly quoting another persona. That was the single largest error, although it doesn't change the substance of the report in the slightest. We all make mistakes, and certainly I've made some blunders that were at least this big. The other aspect of online life, fortunately, is that people have very short attention spans, and this will blow over in short order.

For my part, I think you've been very professional in your disclosure, and I would be glad to work with you should our paths cross in the future. You probably have more integrity than a lot of the folks in the corporate world. If nothing else, you may have drawn some positive attention to your site, albeit in a very convoluted way. Best of luck with it.

Scott Jones said...

Randall, I'm glad you took the time to write this.

Based on my interaction with you as a vendor (Altiris/Symantec), I was surprised when the "shock jock" persona started to emerge. I figured you were way too smart to be saying some of the things you were saying against MS.

So this all actually makes sense to me! And I wish you great success with DMS and whatever else you undertake.

Btw, my comments from four years ago stand: Your writing ability and your ability to comprehend technology are tops. While you may avoid professional media, I do hope that you will continue to blog your (genuine) observations and opinions.


Unknown said...

Well this saga is proof that people can get themselves into one hell of a mess just through doing nothing to rectify a past mistake...

I hope that your business will survive this particular blip and believe it or not I hope that you do not give up on writing altogether...

...for what its worth I would now be interested in reading some *new* stuff but this time posted as *you* (maybe some thoughts on your first impressions of linux perhaps and how it compares to mac os and windows)

interesting post btw...made me think :)

Randall C. Kennedy said...


Again, thank you for the kind words. I'm truly inspired by the outpouring of support I've received in the few hours since I posted this. On the phone, via email, here on the blog - it's encouraging to know that my attempt to come clean and refocus on the positive aspects of what I was trying to accomplish has not fallen on deaf ears. I genuinely appreciate your support!


Randall C. Kennedy said...


Don't worry, I'm going to be getting plenty vocal in the coming days and weeks. The web hasn't seen the last of me, regardless of how hard ZDNet tries to make it so.


Thanks for dropping by, man! I mean it, I genuinely appreciate the support and encouragement. It's times like these that you figure out who your friends really are in this business. Glad to know I earned your respect and, more importantly, didn't lose it as a result of my misadventures with InfoWorld.

Stay in touch!


Unknown said...

It's probably also worth pointing out that far and away the biggest consumer of memory on my system is not the OS at all, but Google Chrome. In other words, the memory usage would be substantially the same regardless of which OS I used. Of all my committed memory (around 4 GB total), Chrome accounts for 1 GB of it.

Next up is Windows Live Mail at 250 MB, Digsby at 198 MB, SQL Server at 125 MB.

None of those, you'll note, are parts of Windows either.

Finally a Windows process; one of the svchost processes, the one for services in the LocalSystemNetworkRestricted group (i.e. privileged, but not networked), at 115 MB. This instance contains 11 running services, and is the host for several more that are currently stopped (my services all use the default configurations).

Then Windows Live Messenger at 112 MB, then Outlook at 98 MB. Again, not part of Windows.

Next up is another Windows process, DWM. DWM normally has lots of memory charged against it because it maintains the image buffers used for desktop composition. Windows 7 + WDDM 1.1 substantially reduces the system memory usage of DWM, but if you only have WDDM 1.0 drivers (or are using Windows Vista), this process will grow in proportion to the number of open windows.

Anyway, this is not especially exciting. Everything remaining is below 100 MB comitted per process, so not very big. The only other large allocation is the kernel itself; this is currently 223 MB pageable, 83 MB non pageable, so not tiny, but still quite small compared to all the applications I have running.

It seems abundantly clear to me that even if my system is low on memory--which it isn't--it has that status due to the applications I am running, not Windows. Windows itself is using only a small proportion of the committed memory.

DT said...

Get over yourself already.

Anonymous said...

I love it when a Gartner alum succeeds.

Gideon Gartner

pa said...

Randall, did you learn what memory cache means yet? The high percentage of ram use by win7 is a performance enhancer, preloading things from disk while idle. When memory is needed by other apps, the cache is dropped, instantly. I don't see how you could miss this being such a "veteran".

Unknown said...

"I know Windows development inside and out. Linux...not so much. :-("

Yep. The shoe fits alright!

The Goat said...

You screwed up big. That being said - you stood up and took some accountability for your part.

Not 100%, but I you earned some respect back. You are human after all.

Fred In IT said...

Randal, or is it Barth - whichever it is, by baring one's soul in a most public place, in a most public manner indicates your heart is in the right place. You value the truth above all else.

In today's day-in-age, with Toyota, financial industry, government and everyone else trying to skirt what is right - and just owning up when they are wrong your words are a refreshing reminder to the humanity in most of us.

For that, you can sleep good tonight. You are a good person!

Your child can be proud of their father!

For the definition of 'good' read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and it's sequel, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals.

- Fred in IT.

cmholm said...

Interesting perspective. Given what we broadly know about the ethics of trade reporting (hellooooow Dvorak!), this situation doesn't shock me. I can't help but feel that Mr. Kennedy can literally afford to come clean. It looks like he's set well enough that even if he were somehow blackballed from the IT industry, it wouldn't really matter.

Randall C. Kennedy said...


But that doesn't mean I'm willing to just roll over and give up, either. The beauty of the internet is that it's a great equalizer. My colleagues at IDG are always complaining how hard it is to differentiate themselves from the "great unwashed masses" and to attract eyeballs to their "superior, professional" content.

I think it's time I jumped over to the *other* side of that equation by becoming one of those independent sources of content that competes with them, but does so without all the editorial constraints that come with being a a small cog in a great big corporate media machine.


Paul Eccles said...

I'm sorry, I have no sympathy, you have no integrity as proved by your willingness to trade facts for page hits.

This whole memory issue or whatever you claim to have discovered with Vista & Windows 7 is just another case of your "shock-jock" blogging.

Unknown said...

Just curious: given this "confession" -as yourself named it-, how much M$ was involved in your fallout ( A few days ago you said that there was no big deal in using a false identity but the hidden reason was that your "discoveries" were damaging M$ interests, so Knorr and IDG in general were following M$ directions to silence you. This time you seem to admit you shouldn't have fallen so low with your alter ego but if you did was because IDG pushed you for page hits, to also say things in a way you actually don't think like that (about who? M$?). How does M$ play in this confession?

Randall C. Kennedy said...


Microsoft has attacked DMS before. They tried to discredit our OfficeBench test script when we published benchmark numbers that were unflattering to them. So it wouldn't be the first time.

Also, the lengths to which ZDNet has gone to try to destroy us - painting every "discovery" in the most snide, cynical and suggestive light possible - reeks of corporate sponsorship. Otherwise, it's just not that compelling a story. A guy uses a pen name to distance himself from a manufactured persona. Not exactly headline grabbing, but they did their best to turn it into the next Watergate affair.

Note: The only other plausible explanation is that they used the whole event as an opportunity to damage IDG, which is one of their chief competitors. And with that task I am only too willing to assist them - by naming names and making sure that those who were complicit (and yet stood by while I got hung out to dry) get singled out and (hopefully) disciplined.

As for the rest of that post, it was mostly focused on what I admit were bad judgments in continuing with the blogging gig even when it had clearly spiraled out of control. Had I walked away sooner - and thus preserved what had previously been a respected name in IT circles - not of this would have happened. So it's a cautionary tale - in the pursuit of fame, be careful not to sell your soul along the way.


Unknown said...

I was with you up until you started pointing fingers at your former colleague who also kept your secret. Whether he was covering his own ass or not he was also covering yours. Smearing him in public was not cool.

Additionally, posting as one persona and referencing the work of the other shows a deep lack of journalistic integrity. You are showing outside support for a viewpoint where no such support exists. If I published a scientific paper where I referenced myself to support my own findings I'd be publicly tarred and feathered, which is what is happening to you here; what you did was stupid and you deserve it.

That said, I understand how easy it is to slide down that slope. It starts by compromising on integrity, which is always disastrous.

Unknown said...

Paul (above) has it exactly right: The mistake here wasn't to use a false name, but to use a false name for a source instead of for an author. After all, hasn't InfoWorld had a series of guys named Robert X. Cringely writing for it for decades? And isn't there a blogger named The Macalope haunting the halls of Macworld (another fine IDG publication) after an extended run at cnet (a fine IDG competitor)?

InfoWorld's mistake was to try to have it both ways: "Respected Silicon Valley tech veteran Randall C. Kennedy writes a blog for us!" "Hey, kids, check out what that outrageous Windows-bashing clown Randall C. Kennedy has to say on his blog today about some manufactured controversy!"

Since Mr. Kennedy now disavows much of what the blogger "Randall C. Kennedy" wrote in recent years, it seems clear that--back when it began pressing him for lively, provocative click-bait instead of measured insightful commentary--InfoWorld should have distanced the blog author from the Silicon Valley expert. Simply by changing the blog author's name to "Fake Randall C. Kennedy," InfoWorld could have continued to promote the blog without loss of name recognition; and Fake Randall C. Kennedy himself could have referred to data and analysis provided by Real Randall C. Kennedy whenever he wanted to, without subterfuge.

Alternatively, Mr. Kennedy could have continued to use his InfoWorld blog (written under his own name) to express views that bore little connection to his real opinions, if only he had presented the insights gleaned from his sober, analytical self under an obvious pseudonym--"Mr. Ego" might have been a good choice.

Either way, InfoWorld and Mr. Kennedy would have gained all the advantages of character separation and ironic distance without seriously deceiving their readers. I see their failure to do so as a failure of imagination.

Unknown said...

Hi Randall, gotta say even I was guilty of spreading this news to my wife and others, but that is because the news posts I read never made mention that you actually did represent DMS. The story was interesting since it was "blogger impersonates CTO of unrelated tech company", not "CEO of tech company uses pseudonym" far less sexy gos and not really a point of conte.

Any ways it looks like the kicking you got was much bigger than you deserved. Good luck with DMS, though I suspect it might be a little while until you can restore the image.


supercilious said...

Ironic how you don't allow anonymous comments here. ;)

Anyway, good read. I liked hearing your side. Sounds reasonable. You're all right with me. Hope you can still afford that crib in Danville ;)


Randall C. Kennedy said...


It's my blog. I don't have to let the trolls run all over it if I don't want to. Post something constructive and I'll moderate it into the mix. Otherwise, it's boink time!

Anyway, thanks for the kind words - and stay tuned, because all of the dirt hasn't come out yet. :-)


supercilious said...

Oops I forgot Blogger doesn't allow the mod flexibility WP does. My bad.