The Man in the Rockefeller Suit | vanityfair.com

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit | vanityfair.com.

Last weekend, in Seattle, the topic turned to McKinsey and did I know the story of Clark Rockefeller and his wife, a McKinsey partner and Seattle native ….

I had lunch with Clark Rockefeller in the fall of 2000 in a little outdoor cafe on Park Avenue. We talked about the perils of raccoons nesting in fireplaces.

Now he is in jail.

“While the alleged kidnapper’s prints were being analyzed, the bureau, in hopes that someone might recognize him, released pictures to the media, and soon a lifetime of carefully constructed identities began emerging. Some people knew him as Chris Gerhart, a University of Wisconsin film student. Others said he was Christopher Chichester, a descendant of British royalty, who had charmed the residents of a wealthy Los Angeles suburb in the 1980s, only to vanish after being sought for questioning in the disappearance of a California couple and their possible murder. Still others remembered him as Christopher C. Crowe, a TV producer, who had worked for at least three Wall Street investment firms in the late 1980s before suddenly vanishing. Scores of people knew him as Clark Rockefeller, a Boston Brahmin and scion of industry whose friends included important artists, writers, producers, physicians, financiers, and members of prestigious private clubs.”

Freaky. There’s talk of him being tried in a court on Cape Cod.

OS insights and rantings ….

Having rebuilt two machines this weekend and not having the restore CDs  that shipped with the boxes, I have dropped $300 getting certified versions of XP installed via the Net and Microsoft’s Genuine Authentication thingy.

$150 for a XP license after I’ve paid for it in the past — but was too stupid to create recovery discs — is a) a lesson to myself and b) a warning to Microsoft that free beats the pants off of paid any day and that in this day and age, with Ubuntu getting better with every rev, the Giant of Redmond might want to go sit on the mountain and think real hard about a Windows 7 model that includes a free-kernel. The Win7 beta is free — and early adopters are reporting positive things. But come September, when it ships. The free ride ends.

Most vendors, like Lenovo, no longer ship physical XP discs with their systems, but instead ask their customers to create their own backup CDs during the system set up. I, of course, do not create these damn discs, and like most other aggrieved users, only rue that day when the hard drive fails (as all hard drives inevitably fail).

Combine a few things and Microsoft is in a perfect storm. 1. It’s the Economy Stupid: No one wants to pay for anything if there is a free alternative. 2. Track record. Vista is being written off. All eyes are on Win 7. Consumers are   looking at OS alternatives and coming to the conclusion that an operating system should be as irrelevant to them on a PC as it is on a phone. E.G. — give me a device that doesn’t need to boot, have patches, get viruses, or otherwise require a full time nerd to babysit.

Consumer Linux is becoming more and more attractive. If Linux can get some solid driver support rolling for consumers’ peripherals, hide the heck out of the kernel (a consumer user should never be aware of stuff like GRUB and Wine) with a friendly GUI skin …. I could have rebuilt both of these two ThinkPads with Ubuntu but didn’t, and paid $150 per machine to build them back up on XP for one simple reason:  the people who will be using these machine expect to see XP on them. Me? I’m more than happy to mess with Ubuntu. My wife is not.

Microsoft can buy a lot of time and hearts and mind with one simple solution — go free at one level and make it up in volume on upselling. Seriously. Whack a consumer for a credit card in this market and free starts to rule. Give me a free OS to enable a device, and when I decide I want some added benefit … then hit me with the credit card. If Microsoft can get on the free-bandwagon and get free into the corporate mindset, they buy another decade of success without any problem.