Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Thursday, January 17, 2002

Andy Fragen's PrintOutline Tool: It takes an outline, runs it thru a renderer (you can override the default, by specifying which one -- you could even write your own renderer, if you stare at the code of the other renderers long enough).

Lawrence Lee: Cool Radio tip -- To see your page as it will be displayed up on your server, click this link:

Joshua Allen just wrote and reminded me that Microsoft plans to make Passport interoperate with Liberty Alliance. Even sent me a link to the InfoWorld article. On another angle, did I ever tell you about the time that Bill Gates personally promised me that Visual Basic would be ported to the Macintosh? He did, and it still hasn't.

Max Christian Hansen: "Now, if you want people to come visit your blog, and is where they'll find out about you, don't you think you want to appear near the top of the list of recently updated blogs? Of course you do."

Scoble's comment: Yes, yes, that's what I want! More traffic. More fame. More email. More money. More women. More wine. Oh, sorry, I'm getting a little carried away. Blame it on my narcissistic nature, what the hell! If you're not gonna love yourself, who will? OK, I do love you, especially if you're writing a good blog right now.

Max Christian Hansen: "I believe that Radio will be to knowledge management what the auto loan was to Detroit."

Ryan Tate: "A few thoughts on the Passport/Visa thing."

My response? I think that Microsoft will eventually gain the trust of consumers. After all, won't it be cool to go to eBay and be able to buy something using your Passport? Think five years from now when there are hundreds of thousands of sites that accept Passport. Once you get the online world to accept Passport, getting the offline world to accept it isn't that hard. I can imagine a day when I can buy Starbucks coffee by using my PocketPC device and my Passport.

My question isn't "if?" it's "when?" and that's all up to human behavior. We don't change our buying behavior as fast as marketers would like us to.

Steven Vore: "I had tried writing offline at one point last week, encouraged by Scoble's on-the-train writing, but didn't have much luck. Tonight's different. What did I do differently? I didn't tell Radio or IE that I'm offline."

Ken Hagler: "I created this weblog simply as a test of Radio Userland 8. I didn't expect to make more than two or three posts before abandoning it--after all, that's what happened with similar and Free Conversant sites. Much to my surprise, I've been actively posting for six days now, and I will probably continue indefinitely. What makes Radio 8 different from other weblog tools? I believe it's the news aggregator. The convenience of this feature has kept me using Radio, and as long as I have it running anyway for news, I might as well comment on the news. Thus, the aggregator subtly encourages the user to also maintain a weblog."

Good evening Radio fans.

Nice try Jonathan on getting the number one Radio weblogs spot. I just got a link on Dave's site, so will probably stay at #1 for another day. Hey, there's always tomorrow!

JY Stervinou: "Are you very very busy? Are you willing to run a Weblog but you don't have time to set up one? Cool! Then go there : Radio Userland. Download the set up quickly. You'll be posting your first hello world in less than 5 minutes."

Radio Weblogging Fun

Hey, Jonathan Delacour kicked me out of the #1 Radio Weblog spot. Oh well, now begins the slow slide down the "top Radio weblog" list as better webloggers pass me by.

It's a game I enjoy cause I get to read them all as they get higher and higher on the list. Now that we have thousands of people using Radio we're starting to see some darn interesting webloggers show up. Very cool. I get to sit back and link to them now. Hey, so do you!

Why don't you start a blog and challenge us? Hey, I'm in a linking mood. Do you have a weblog that you think is interesting? Tell me:

Jonathan Delacour: "I know that one of your most important goals is to produce tools that will encourage us to write. Radio has done that for me in a way that I honestly hadn't anticipated when I installed it last Sunday. I can only imagine the frustration of busting your butt to build a wonderful piece of software then to have someone use it to criticize you. Radio is a superb writing tool. I genuinely appreciate it. But I doubt that I'm the only one who'll use it to say things you don't like."

Alan Reiter: "Wishlist of Top 10 Instant Improvements for Radio."

I'm back. I love conferences. I always meet such interesting people. After Dave left Adam Bosworth came up to me and talked for a while. "You mean Dave hired a marketing director?" Yep.

I gave Adam a demo of Radio (Adam's the guy who spearheaded Microsoft's early XML efforts) and he was impressed. He talked to me about his early days on the Internet Explorer team and was impressed that we used the editing features in Internet Explorer as part of our WYSIWYG editor.

Marketing Dude's Lesson for the Day

One of my tasks for this morning was to make sure things went smoothly. Usually this requires simply having a smiling face. This morning, however, I relearned a lesson I learned long ago in the conference business (probably after I erased Jim Fawcette's computer and all his email): always have a backup.

Turned out that a few minutes before Dave's talk we figured out it wouldn't work with the projectors that InfoWorld has there. No problem, says I, pulling out my ThinkPad. We were up and running in a few minutes and Dave gave his talk using a completely foreign computer (it was the first time he had used Windows XP).

How was this possible? Easy. All his slides were on the Internet and Radio was already loaded. Hey, works the same on my computer as it does on his (and on yours). Heheh.

Anyway, if you're a marketing guy, always carry a backup and be ready to rock and roll. That way you'll keep your job and you'll be able to have quite a nice lunch without feeling any stress.

My favorite point from Dave's talk

Dave was talking about bootstrapping and made the point that if a technology is too complex it will fail in the marketplace. I totally agree with that. So much of programming today is hard stuff. What happened to the easy-to-use Hypercard or early Visual Basic's? Oh, it's right here in Radio! I just put a macro in my page and it works!

Damn, and I'm just your typical marketing slimeball who can't program his way out of a paper bag. What's wrong with this picture?

Blah, Blah, Blah, Web Services, Blah, Blah, Blah

I'm listening to blah, blah, blah, Web services talk at the InfoWorld Web services conference. Why "blah, blah, blah?" Cause if you've been living in the weblogging world you already know more about Web services than most of the panelists seem to know.

Let's see. Authentication services? Let's get real. Passport is kicking ass here. They asked the audience what the authentication service of the future would be?

1) Passport. 2) Liberty Alliance. 3) None of the above.

The audience says: "none of the above." But what did it mean by that? I read it as "we know Passport is really the future but we wish it were not so."

Letting Microsoft own this future is scary. Especially if you're a bank or Visa. Think about it.

Let's make some big assumptions:

1) That Passport will be proven over time to be secure and scalable. 2) That Microsoft won't fumble the football and do something like use the data in that database for spamming customers with email.

OK, if you look five years down the road you can see that Passport is going to own a large chunk of the world's Web sites. Already if you go to you'll need Passport to download software and do other things.

Now, imagine a world where every Web site is like that.

Why would we need Visa anymore? I can imagine Microsoft starting its own credit services. Hell, Bill has enough money to start a credit card company. And, once every Web site has Passport Gates will be able to make Visa look like a second-rate credit card.

How? Well, Visa charges every retailer about 3% to run transactions.

I think Gates could afford to run Passport on only 1%. So, he can offer customers discounts and incentives that Visa could never offer.

My answer to Passport? It's not Liberty Alliance (which is the alternative plan for authentication services that's being planned by the banks and credit card companies and Microsoft's competitors).

Instead, I'd like to see government intervention. Microsoft is getting a monopoly in authentication services because of its monopoly on the desktop.

I'd like to see Microsoft get ahead of that possible government intervention (which will probably take 10 years, hell, the DOJ can't even close up a case that they've already won). If Gates really wanted to make Passport ubiquitous he'd spin Passport off into a separate company from Microsoft. If I were Gates, that's what I'd do. Maybe that's what he's thinking of, but he knows that Passport needs to become Microsoft's ubiquitous authentication service first (I'd guess Microsoft is about 65% there).

Anyway, Weblogs are now Web services and most of us don't even care. Hey, see that XML button to the left? What the heck do you think that is? It's certainly not for humans to read.

Glue, Shmoo

The panelists seem to think that Web services -- at least over the next year -- will mostly be "wrappers" on existing applications.

Is this really true? Most of the corporate apps I've seen are pretty badly written apps (most done in Visual Basic) that weren't architected to share their interfaces with Web browsers.

On the surface that seems to be a bad idea. Isn't it? If you have a corporate enterprise application, say an expense report application, isn't it easier to rewrite that app to be a real Web service application?

I know Joel Spolsky says that programmers shouldn't rewrite their code, but if you take a poorly-written Windows application that was done fast and dirty by some junior programmer with Visual Basic 3.0 and targetted Windows 95, won't that app probably really suck if a new programmer comes along and tries to port that to .NET and Web interfaces?

Wouldn't it be better to move that application to a platform that was made for Internet Web services from the ground up? How about looking at .NET and UserLand's Frontier?

Hint: if you have a Visual Basic 6.0 app and you want to move it to .NET you'll need to rewrite your app anyway. Did you know your code won't work?

So, if you're gonna be stuck rewriting your app from scratch, why not look at other platforms that let you make rich Internet applications. Say, for example, UserLand's Frontier? Hey, UserLand's store at was built in Frontier. You can do that in .NET too, but Frontier runs on Macs. .NET doesn't. Frontier is about a 4MB download. .NET is more than 100MB download (and is far larger if you want to get the Visual Studio.NET development environment).

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Robert Scoble works at Microsoft. Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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© Copyright 2004 Robert Scoble Last updated: 1/3/2004; 1:25:14 AM.