Excerpts from the blog It won't be the next Harry Potter, but a quirky little technology booklet has been selling briskly at the University...

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Excerpts from the blog

It won’t be the next Harry Potter, but a quirky little technology booklet has been selling briskly at the University of Washington Book Store and a nearby coffee shop frequented by UW tech staff.

The $3 tract is in the style of an 18th-century political pamphlet, yet comments on problems in a 21st-century information-technology organization.

Only insiders may recognize that it’s a humorous commentary on the UW IT department, where the discovery that the department was $10 million in the red led to a management shake-up and 66 people being laid off in May.

“A Failure of Character, or The Ruination of a University IT Department,” was written by “P.C. MacGoogle, Layoffee of this Borough.”

A sample, from the opening of Act II, Scene I, where the “expanded executive committee” is meeting:

The Twenty-seven Executives: (in chorus)

“We should have resisted

“The rot at the top

“We should have taken a stand

“But our will power is feeble

“We’re gutless and weak

“And none of wants to get canned!

“We avoid at all costs getting canned!”

Ian Taylor, 59, who was laid off from the department after working there 32 years, designed and published the tract this summer through his Crooked Cucumber Press.

“I acknowledge being the publisher and as the publisher, I’m going to protect the identity of the author who wishes to remain pseudonymous,” Taylor said from his home in Shoreline, where he’s spending time gardening before getting serious about his job search.

The UW won’t have an official comment on the booklet, said Norm Arkans, director of media relations and communications.

Arkans did say the school is sorting out the IT department’s financial problems and recently named a veteran school administrator, Kelli Trosvig, as its chief operating officer.

Ron Johnson, the group’s former manager, is now chief technology officer for the university. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

“He’s not going to have day-to-day management and oversight for the organization but he’s reporting directly to the president [of the UW],” Arkans said.

Meanwhile, 500 copies of the treatise have been sold and Taylor just received an order for 30 more. They’re available through the UW Bookstore and the Caffe Appassionato on the Ave. It’s the second title published by Crooked Cucumber. Earlier it published Taylor’s illustrated “Suburban Adventures of a Naked Gardener.”

Next month should see a third title, a longer book by P.C. MacGoogle aimed at IT administrators everywhere: “A Child’s Guide to Executive Leadership in Information Technology.”

At Apple’s core

No summer vacation for Apple news hounds. Highlights from this week:

UBS analyst Maynard Um joined the fray with an initial report on Apple saying that a “sub-notebook” scheduled for release this year has been pushed back to the first half of 2009. His “industry checks” report new iPhone colors by the holiday season and a new phone model early next year. (Via AppleInsider.)

Ars Technica reported on a Steve Jobs memo to Apple troops, saying the flubbed MobileMe launch wasn’t up to Apple standards and could have been handled better.

Does this sound like it was polished for public consumption, like one of those old Gates memos? An excerpt:

“The MobileMe launch clearly demonstrates that we have more to learn about Internet services. And learn we will. The vision of MobileMe is both exciting and ambitious, and we will press on to make it a service we are all proud of by the end of this year.”

Finally, Gartner research advised clients that the iPhone 3G isn’t ready for anything but very lightweight enterprise use.

The research giant said the cult phone’s main weaknesses are wimpy battery life — it won’t last a workday while using the fast network — and security issues, namely the lack of built-in encryption. (Via The Register via Computerworld.)

Is it just me, or does Gartner seem to vacillate on this one? Last year it said the iPhone wasn’t enterprise-ready, then it revised its advice in March, saying “it’s ready for business,” thanks to a software upgrade.

Here’s its latest take, as reported by Computerworld:

The newest iPhone “does not deliver sufficient security for [running] custom applications” commonly used on handhelds in enterprise settings, Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney wrote in a nine-page research note.

The report, “iPhone 2.0 Is Ready for the Enterprise, but Caveats Apply,” concludes: “Enterprises should approach expanded use of the iPhone slowly and with close examination.”

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley’s blog appears Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.