No Santa Claus rally for Wall Street today, with trading activity light and most investors taking it easy before the grind begins anew next Monday.

The markets were down, slightly with the Dow off by 31 points and the NASDAQ down 19 points.

Some odds and ends worth noting, however. Over at Tech Ticker, the self-proclaimed “schoolmarm of the Internet”, Kara Swisher, is out with her grades of the tech industry’s most powerful execs. On the “”most underrated” list is Mark Hurd of Hewlett-Packard (more on Hurd below), Bobby Kotick of Activision Blizzard and ‘every genius at Apple who isn’t Steve Jobs”. “He’s not the only person at that company, as if Steve Jobs makes every iPod and sends it out,” says Swisher. “He’s not overrated but he’s not the only talent at Apple.”

Jeff Bezo’s at Amazon comes in for kudo’s, for its Kindle digital book project and its highly-successful holiday season business model, she adds.

Most overrated tech company? Facebook – “Their growth has been phenomenal but they still need to find a business plan,” adds Swisher.

Dumbest investor in the valley is Yahoo rabble-rouser Carl Icahn, who has lost “a ton of money” in tech, she says.

Commentators on Tech Talk didn’t like the slam at Jobs. Says “Dave”, on Monday December 29, 2008 12:48PM EST; “What an idiot. Steve Jobs is the only one keeping Apple from becoming the next Sun or Palm or Commodore or Atari. She obviously doesn't remember that Jobs was retired for many years before being forced to come back to Apple for 0 salary to save the sinking ship from another MBA screw job. The job is killing Jobs too (just look at him), he's dying in public. Takes some gall of a nobody speck to imply Jobs is overrated.”

Meow . . .

Now about HP’s Hurd. The New York Times has a great piece out on the HP CEO today (I found it at: where Hurd is tackling a brand new – and embarrassing – problem at Hewlett-Packard.

“Shortly after taking the helm of Hewlett-Packard in early 2005, Mark V. Hurd realized that, despite being one of the world’s leading technology suppliers, H.P. had an embarrassing and crippling technology problem. There was no easy way for executives to get a picture of what was happening in the entire company.

“Each unit of the Palo Alto, Calif., computer giant had its own systems for tracking information about crucial areas like inventory, component costs and marketing expenditures. No central system pulled all the data together into what Mr. Hurd liked to call “a single version of the truth.”

So what to do? Hurd, with no grass growing under his feet, is undertaking a data warehousing initiative that could, in the long run, make HP run smoother and give anxious investors yet another chance to get in on an HP stock run up (it’s trading at $35 right now and most analysts say that price is a cheap one). Hurd used to run the Teradata division of NCR and there gleaned a lot of useful information on data warehousing that he wants to use at HP.

Check out the entire story and see why HP is at the top of the wish list of many tech analysts . . .