Switched On: Abbott and Costello meet HP's board

Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:

Lou: Hey, Abbott, there's sure been a lot of hullabaloo around HP's board of directors lately.

Bud: That's right, Costello. I've been reading all about it.

Lou: Ah, then maybe you can help sort it all out for me. Now, the person who used to be HP's chairman, what's her name?

Bud: Dunn.

Lou: What do you mean, done? You didn't tell me!

Bud: I just did. Dunn!

Lou: You just did it again!

Bud: Did what?

Lou: Not tell me her name before you finished!

Bud: Oh, sure I did. Stop being ridiculous.

Lou: You're not very nice to me, Abbott. Why can't I be heard?

Bud: Because he's the CEO.

Lou: Hurd?

Bud: Every word you said.

Lou: You mean to tell me the CEO is Hurd.

Bud: Absolutely.

Lou: He's Hurd everywhere he goes.

Bud: Of course

Lou: He's Hurd every time, right?

Bud: Well, if he articulates clearly enough, I suppose.

Lou: What does THAT mean?

Bud: You asked me if the man can speak well.

Lou: I did no such thing! Anyway, this Hurd, he's a good CEO?

Bud: Oh, yes, very good.

Lou: The employees at HP? They respect him?

Bud: Very much so.

Lou: So the HP employees, they follow this Hurd?

Bud: Oh, they'd never do that!

Lou: What do you mean!?

Bud: C'mon, Costello. HP is a very innovative company, They take pride in not following any herd.

Lou: But you just said they respect him!

Bud: They do!

Lou: So they do what the CEO tells them to do?

Bud: Sure, after the CEO is done.

Lou: Dunn is the CEO?

Bud: No, that's the ex-chairman.

Lou: Who's the ex-chairman?

Bud: Dunn.

Lou: You did it to me again, Abbott!

Bud: Did what?

Lou: Ah, forget it! So, why is there so much controversy?

Bud: Well, the Board authorized a contractor that engaged in pretexting.

Lou: Pretexting? But I thought you said HP was innovative!

Bud: I did.

Lou: Their computers can handle music, animation and video, right?

Bud: They sure can.

Lou: So what's wrong with a little pretexting? I do that on my cell phone all the time before I send an SMS.

Bud: Costello, you don't get it. Contractors posed as employees so they could record what was overheard.

Lou: What could be over Hurd? He's the CEO!

Bud: Well, as a Board member, he wasn't over Dunn.

Lou: Why couldn't he be over Dunn?

Bud: Well, if he overdid things, he would be ineffective like Dunn was.

Lou: Why wasn't Dunn effective?

Bud: Because the contractors were off the mark.

Lou: I thought Mark is the CEO!

Bud: Of course he is.

Lou: All right, now I've got it! Hurd is the CEO and Dunn was the chairman.

Bud: That's right, Costello!

Lou: Wow, I've finally got it down pat.

Bud: I'm not Pat. She's the ex-chairman.

Lou: Pat is?

Bud: Of course.

Lou: Not Dunn?

Bud: Actually, I am done.

Lou: You're Dunn?

Bud: No, that's...

Bud and Lou: the ex-chairman!

Lou: Well, it's too bad about this Dunn person. Sounds like she'll need to be looking for jobs.

Bud: Actually, Jobs is... oh, never mind.

Ross Rubin is director of industry analysis for consumer technology at market research and analysis firm The NPD Group and a contributing editor for LAPTOP. Views expressed in Switched On are his own. Feedback is welcome at