Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Thursday, April 17, 2003

Programming update: I compiled my first program and am starting to work toward learning C# again.

On KTVU tonight they reported how thousands of people are moving out of Silicon Valley. Who did they use as their key example? My former co-worker Matt Carter, who's leaving the valley for a job with Microsoft Press. Will the last one here turn the lights out?

Funny enough, they had some guy on from one of those Silicon Valley business consortiums (I forget which one, and KTVU doesn't have this story up yet on their web site). He blamed the outflow on jobs. Yeah, that's a major reason, but what's funny is all the people I know who are leaving even though they have jobs. Matt has a job. I have a job. Dave Winer didn't leave cause he needed a job.

I'll tell you a major reason I'm leaving. Microsoft called.

OK, but that's not enough. For one, housing here is still freaking ridiculous. I can get a 2000-square foot home in the Seattle area for about $325,000. My ex-wife just got an offer in the $490,000s for a 980-square-foot-home here in Silicon Valley.

Is the Valley dead? Nah. But it's going through some tough times. The TV said about 150,000 jobs were lost here last year. Everywhere I look I see vacancy signs. My wife is laid off. My brother is laid off. My brother-in-law is laid off. If it gets any worse, they'd have to call it a depression here.

This is a great place to live, though. I'll miss it. Of course, like Larry Tesler told me in the plane, you can always come and visit for a $130 1.5-hour flight.

One question: if things are so bad in the valley, why the heck are housing prices so out of whack? I guess someone still wants to live here.

Scott Johnson just pointed us over to Michael Fagan's RSS Resources page, which Scott says is "just plain excellent." Scott should know, he's the guy who wrote the excellent Feedster search engine that searches RSS feeds.

During lunch Marty showed me something that is pretty cool: Fitaly Keyboard. This is a virtual keyboard for folks who use stylus-based devices (Palm, Pocket PC, and Tablet). He says that by changing the layout of the letters on the keyboard they've made it many times faster. He says some people can get up to 30 words a minute simply by hunting and pecking. I watched him use this and it's awesome.

Today, Marty Heyman introduced me to a killer pizza place in Silicon Valley. You might know Marty. He was one of the founders of Prodigy and today is the president of Symas (here's his bio).

Marty is an amazing guy. We talked about the mainframe days. The problems IBM had with anti-trust (Marty says that IBM wanted to break themselves up back then, but the courts kept them from doing that -- that's a point of view I hadn't heard before).

But, amid the geek talk, Marty introduced me to the owner of Premier Pizza. This guy won "best pizza spinner" in 1985 and was on the Johnny Carson show. He came and joked with us during lunch about his now bald head (he says it's a babe attractor). What really caught my ear, though, was he was asking customers "be honest, anything here suck?"

He was always looking for things to improve. And he'd act. Someone said "yeah, it's too warm" and he instantly went out and opened a door.

Is it any wonder why the place was packed? Let's see. Please customers. Is it any difference if the business is a small pizza place or a multi-billion dollar business? I hope not.

By the way, I don't need to ask "what sucks" at Microsoft or at NEC. Folks are already emailing me tons of things that could be done better. Heh, even Marty spent 15 minutes telling me why he's probably going to switch from CE.NET to Linux. I'll pass that feedback along to the CE group.

Anyway, tomorrow I have lunch with the guys who started APress books. Next week is the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference. That should be a lot of fun. Too bad I can't go during the day.

Tim Bray says he's scared of Microsoft. I totally understand. I've been at the receiving end of Microsoft's power before. I'll never forget that. I'll always try to use Microsoft's resources to make the world a better place and make all of our lives more enjoyable.

I've been getting a bit of reaction to the "sexual metaphor" piece. I should note that it was Dave Winer, an independent developer, who came up with the metaphor in the first place. I'm still uncomfortable with the metaphor. Probably cause in American culture "being a man" and "dating" are seen as negative things by so many people. Ask any father of a girl who's just reaching dating age. Many of them joke around about "locking her up until she's 21."

And, there's the whole "shotgun wedding" thing. I just don't approach my new job at Microsoft like that. I am not going to sell Tim a bunch of bull. And, I'm not going to dress up a pig and make him kiss it.

On the other hand, if there's a way for both Tim and I to win (and I think there is) then I'll be the first one to go show him Microsoft's new stuff. That's what I mean. Personally, I'm going to find a way to make folks like Tim be stars again. To me, this isn't like dating, it's more like Star Search.

I'm "Arsenio Hall" and I'm looking to showcase independent developers again.

See, that's a far better metaphor.

Who's the next star?

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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; 2:21:25 AM.