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Don't believe everything you read

Marketers and executives are always out there spinning and promoting their stuff. Don't believe everything they're selling.

During the back half of the 1990s, I was in charge of corporate marketing at Cyrix, a Texas-based microprocessor company, and at National Semiconductor, the company that bought Cyrix.

Today, I looked at some of the CNET news stories I was quoted in back then. I couldn't believe some of the blustery crap that spewed effortlessly out of my mouth.

Everything we did was the fastest, most powerful, most highly integrated, lowest cost, blah, blah, blah. The processor gods blessed everything we designed. Customers were lining up around the block. Intel was the devil incarnate. Advanced Micro Devices was just a lowly also-ran, doomed to forever live in Intel's shadow.

As the story turns out, Cyrix imploded and National Semiconductor blew I-don't-know-how-many-billion dollars cleaning up the mess. Intel's still the world's largest semiconductor company, and AMD--well, AMD at least survived.

The point of the story is this: At any given time, there are hundreds of executives out there promoting their stuff. They're really good at spinning a story and making a pitch that makes you feel like you've got to have whatever it is they're selling.

These folks aren't bad; they're just doing their jobs. And some of them are so good at it they can sell ice cubes to Eskimos.

When I was much, much younger--long before I turned to the dark side--I dated a woman named Dawn. Dawn was the ultimate skeptic. She used to say, "I don't believe anything I hear and only half of what I see."

Well, if Dawn read some of the garbage I sold to an unsuspecting public in the '90s, it wouldn't have taken her two seconds to hit Delete. And I'm sure she doesn't have a whole lot of patience for all the hype surrounding today's high-tech gadgetry, either. As for what she might think of the blogosphere, well, let's just not go there.

Smart girl, that Dawn.

The moral of the story is this: a healthy dose of cynicism may save you from buying a whole bunch of unnecessary ice cubes.