Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Sunday, June 01, 2003

One more link before I go to bed. Glenn Reynolds, over at Instapundit, is talking about the post-war malaise in the blogosphere. Good night!

Well, it's time to go to sleep. Hope your week is a good one!

Keep in mind, Mickey Williams is a software developer. Tablets just aren't good yet for programmers. At least if you set the argument that tightly. Compilers only understand ASCII. They don't understand ink. So, trying to draw on the screen just wouldn't be an efficient way to program.

But, I'm watching programmers at Microsoft figure out Tablets (many of the programmers here have purchased Tablets). I'm getting emails that are done completely in ink.

I'm seeing people architect systems in ink and then email the drawings around. That kind of conceptual work is just better to do in ink than when typing.

I've seen that using a pen and a tablet is a little nicer in meetings. I sure like taking notes better with a pen than with typing. Why? Because it's hard to show relationships with typing and when you're in a meeting you often want to put things in boxes and connect them graphically. Like a flow chart. Or, someone will draw something on a whiteboard, and I'll want to copy that down.

The problem is that most people frame the argument as "tablets will kill keyboards." That simply isn't true. Stop framing the argument that way, and you'll see the value in tablets. Not to mention, I regularly read stuff on my computer while waiting in line. Can you read a weblog on your laptop while standing in line at Starbucks or at the cafeteria? If I spend 10 minutes a day in line, that's quite a bit of time that I get back in my lifetime. Let's say I get paid $40 an hour. That's $6.6 worth of time that I get back every day (not to mention that I can collaborate with people while waiting in line).

Mickey Williams in my comments: "Maryam, smack Rob around. He's not doing his best work." (About my posts on tablets).

The GadgetGuy: "Hey, Scoble, if Tablet PCs are soooo cool, how come Bill Gates still uses pen and paper in meetings???"

Well, I don't know. Maybe his Tablet was being loaded that morning with some new software. Maybe his batteries needed to be recharged (the NEC only gets two hours on a charge).

On the other hand, I've heard enough from other people that he loves his Tablet and has used them in many other meetings.

But, while we're on the topic of Tablets, did you see Alan Kay's quote about the Tablet? He's the guy who came up with the Dynabook while at Xerox PARC.

Here it is: "Microsoft’s Tablet PC, the first Dynabook-like computer good enough to criticize.” (Source: Steven Levy, Newsweek - “Bill Gates Says, Take This Tablet”, April 30, 2001, pp.67-70)"

Thanks to Christopher Coulter for sending that along in my comments.

Here's another good article "Tablet PC skepticism misplaced."

AskTog: "Fitt's law." This is a must read for all OS designers. Longhorn team especially. I'll be looking at Longhorn betas with these guidelines in mind.

David Weller: "see me invoke Death-by-PowerPoint during my "Strategies for J2EE Developers" on June 5th." David has lots of other stuff too. You know, conference blogs are getting more interesting. Especially when the speakers are starting to do them.

Noded: "It looks like we keep almost normal hours. Except for Robert Scoble, who seems to never sleep."

Sleep? Why sleep when you're having fun? I can sleep when I'm dead. But, I usually do get in eight hours. Sometimes I just wake up in the middle of the night and say "I gotta blog."

TechED starts tomorrow, and already there's plenty of posting going on on the TechED Weblogs. Reading this, I really wish I was there.

O'Reilly's Brian Jepson: "OK, time to come back down to earth: I think Microsoft won't get in the business of shipping Unix. Instead, they'll point to the Virtual Server technology and say, "bring any x86 Unix you damn well please; it will run in this sandbox, and SCO won't sue you because we licensed Unix from them.""

Alfredo Octavio asks "Why would you want to use your laptop standing up?"

Some scenarios -- remember, before I came to Microsoft I was a Tablet salesperson, and the group I worked for sold thousands of Tablets:

1) An Indy Car pit crew. The Tablets were used in the pits last week.

2) Lawyers who need to walk around the courtroom and bring their notes over to the jury box.

3) Salespeople who need to make pitches to clients in elevators and other places where there aren't necessarily desks.

4) Teachers/professors. These folks don't do their best job sitting at a desk and stuck in one place. Ever watch Don Box teach? He runs around the audience. Well, OK, he gave a talk in a bathtub once.

5) Newsbabes on TV. You know, the folks who stand in front of a wrecked building reporting the news. No desks there.

6) A factory worker. Ever see how people build cars? They don't sit at a desk. They need to enter data while standing up.

7) A retail salesperson. Imagine a salesperson coming over to you with a Tablet and showing you a wide range of choices of shoes that they don't have space to put on display.

8) Restaurant workers. There's a restaurant in Las Vegas that has tens of thousands of bottles of wine in stock. All displayed on TabletPCs.

9) Hospital workers. Last time I watched a nurse work, she needed to stand up and couldn't stop at a desk to look at and enter information.

10) Digital photographers. I watched a photographer at the World Series do photo editing on a Tablet. Much better than using a mouse. And he didn't need a desk. You got a desk out in center field?

I have a lot more too. You want me to continue?

I was just thinking. What's the perfect religion? One that doesn't need you. Think about that. If something is already perfect, then adding a third party to the ingredient would explicitly make it less than perfect.

What I'm evangelizing needs third parties to make it better.

I'm an operating system evangelist.

I have a webcam at work (bought it with my own money) and am playing around -- maybe someday soon you can see if Bill Gates comes in my office. Someone recommended this webcam software. Anyone else have anything better?

OK, I did something really stupid yesterday.

No, even stupider than what you're thinking.

Yesterday my wife and I went to visit Lenn Pryor. When I approached the door, there wasn't a doorbell ringer. But, instead, there was a fire alarm thing. Now, I thought, maybe Lenn has a weird sense of humor and replaced his doorbell ringer with a fire alarm thing. So, I pulled it.

Well, that was pretty stupid. Alarm bells went off. Neighbors came running. And, even the fire department showed up with two trucks and sirens blazing. (We had called them almost immediately, but it seemed they wanted to get out into the rare Seattle sunlight and wanted to make an example of the boob who had pulled the alarm).

I felt mighty small. It's definitely not a good way to get something interesting to write about for your weblog.

I'm sure I'll hear that story quite a few times. Oh well, at least it isn't like the woman that's in the video they played at our new employee orientation. She scraped up Bill Gates car accidentally and sent him a note saying she was sorry. He replied "don't worry, I did the same thing to someone else last week."

Here's a good page for how Asian's do their word processing. Pretty tough, and it's why tablets are getting more popular over there.

Update: here's more on Japanese Word processing. Here's a link on how the Tablet greatly helps folks who use non Roman character sets.

Jamie Cansdale teases developers by adding Reflector to Visual Studio.NET. He says it's a hint of an NUnitAddin spin-off project. Thanks to Ingo Rammer for clarifying that.

Shawn Morrissey and I had lunch on Friday. He runs MSDN's content. Or something like that. He's psyched about doing something with weblogs at the PDC. That's evangelism too. It's weird. I'm just meeting with a ton of people inside and outside Microsoft. And mostly listening. Sometimes I come up with some wacky ideas. What if we invited a Linux guy like Doc Searls to weblog at the PDC? Hmmm.

I find that I'm getting the quesiton quite often: "what does an evangelist do?"

Well, I'm like those folks who knock on your door and say "would you like to talk about your life path?" on Sunday mornings.

Some seem to think that I should only show off what's good about what I'm trying to evangelize. That's not really true. How would you react if someone from a church came and said "our religion is perfect?" You wouldn't believe him, even if you were predisposed to join a religion.

Anyway, I'm almost done with Adam Barr's book "Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters." He worked at Microsoft for 10 years. Interesting read.

One last thing. I'm an evangelist for Victor's Coffee now. Did you know that Victors did the coffee for Bill and Melinda Gates' wedding? Now that's evangelism.

Wait a second, Doc Searls says he can use his laptop while standing up. Uh huh. Right. OK, you're a newsreader on TV. You're standing in front of a destroyed building. You have no desk to put your computer on. You're gonna stand there with one hand and be able to hold it, and type on it, and be comfortable? Yeah, gotcha.

I've tried it. I guess it's possible. But not probable. And how much does your PowerBook weigh again? 4.6 pounds, according to Apple's Web site. Now, try the NEC Tablet. Note how much easier it is to use while standing up. Note its 2.2 lb weight.

Ever seen an executive hold a laptop during his entire one hour speech in front of a crowd? I haven't. I have seen a speaker hold a Tablet during his entire session, though.

By the way, Prospect High School in Saratoga's class of 1983 is planning a 20-year reunion for late October. I won't be able to go (I'll be at the PDC) but if anyone knows of a Prospect graduate, have them check into and register their name and such. In fact, it's a good idea that all of you do that. It's amazing how often people want to find out what you've been doing.

Adam Kalsey asked us to write about our early computing experiences. Here goes:

It was 1977. I was in seventh grade at Hyde Jr. High in Cupertino. A new box had arrived and word quickly got around that the school had received its first personal computers. I think it had 8KB (kilobytes, not megabytes) of RAM. No hard drive. No high resolution video card. No mouse. No floppy drive. Programs were loaded by typing them in and then storing them to cassette tape. You could buy software on cassette tape too.

One of the counselors started a computer club. It wasn't all that popular, as I remember. A few students here and there.

A few months later I had a tour of Apple's only building at that time. At least I think it was the only building. There might have been two over on Bandley drive at that time. The rest of the area was completely orchards. Except for the R Cali Brothers grain factory (torn down in the 80s for more Apple buildings).

I remember the first day the Any Mountain store opened. I remember for one of their Labor Day sales they trucked in a ton of snow and let people try their hands at Cross Country skiing.

Some other Apple history. You know the Donut Wheel that's on De Anza right near the Apple headquarters? Well, that wasn't its original building. It originally owned a far less swanky building about 100 feet to the North. The problem was that the city needed to build a road through there. So, it bought the donut shop a new building and built the road. Some businesspeople get lucky just by being in the wrong place at the right time, I guess. Here's a look at the really old days, by someone who arrived in the valley in 1943.

Anyway, back to my first computer experiences. Did you know our family actually built several hundred Apple II mother boards at home for the Hildy Licht company. I just searched Google and found that Hildy Licht is still in business. Crazy. She was just getting started back then. Apple couldn't keep up with its demand, so it hired Hildy to train and hire housewives in the valley to build motherboards at home.

My mom would get a hundred motherboards, or so, and thousands of components. My dad built a soldering desk out of iron. Took a welding class to learn to weld it together. We'd sit around watching TV at night plugging components into the mother boards. Then my mom would soldier them into place. After a while I even learned to soldier them. That was a skill that proved useful when I got a summer job working an assembly line at HP as a sophomore in high school.

Anyway, I remember staring at the design of the motherboard and thinking it was a work of art. Later I learned that Steve Wozniak had been the one to design those boards. I couldn't believe my luck when I ran across Steve while taking college classes in 1989.

I asked Steve if he knew of Hildy Licht and he said he had. He said that Apple had fewer failures on those boards than the ones they had manufactured in more traditional plants.

Of course my dad bought the family an Apple in 1979 or so. Our first one had a floppy drive, a color screen, and 16KB of RAM. I think he spent a couple of grand upgrading it to 64KB or 128KB. I forget. Later he souped up a newer IIe with a CPM card.

I remember Apple's ads that they ran in the San Jose Mercury News when IBM first announced its PC. I'm pretty sure the ads said "Welcome IBM." Here's some of the early Apple ads. I remember reading some of these and attending the West Coast Computer Faire with my dad.

I had an Apple poster and stickers in my room and I even had some on a trunk that I still own today.

Of course, my association with Microsoft also started in the 80s. When I first started playing with the Macintosh in the late 80s, I learned Microsoft Word and Excel. Here's some of the history behind those.

It's interesting to go back and look at all the history that I've seen since I first was a 13-year-old kid interested in playing video games on the school's Apple II. Here's a good list of links of Apple history.

Now, when was the first time I played on a Microsoft OS? That was in the late 1980s when I took a computer science class at West Valley Community College, and they were still using DOS 3.0. I thought "why am I learning this when I know the future is gonna look like the Macintosh?"

Later, when I got to San Jose State University in the early 1990s, I saw a beta version of Windows NT and talked with some Windows enthusiasts at one of the computer shows I attended. They evangelized me on Windows with their enthusiasm. My life has been Microsoft focused pretty much ever since.

There are about a dozen other people who are writing about their early computing experiences. Hey, why don't you write your own? It'll be really interesting to hear from the kids, like my son, who will never know what the world without an Internet was like. Heck, my son is younger than Netscape.

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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; 2:34:38 AM.