Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Monday, June 16, 2003

OK, it's time to give your news aggregators a rest. Tomorrow night Maryam and I are having dinner with Mike Amundsen and a few other folks who are in town (Mike's the guy who did most of the iBuySpy demo and also the Erablog weblogs that I point to often).

Then on Wednesday my dad, step-mom, and son come to town, so my blogging level will lighten up for a few days. Patrick's with us until July 6, so I'll be spending a lot of time with him.

I know you all think I'm posting too much anyway. My wife is, although she's been reading all sorts of weblogs tonight. I sure wish I could get her to do one, but oh well. I can only lead her to the surfboard, I can't make her surf.

Before I go to bed, I wanted to point to a Microsoft executive who's making a difference: Jawad Khaki (he's a corporate vice president of the Windows Networking and Communication Technologies Group). Thanks to Alec Saunders for pointing us to this article about Jawad's winning of the Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award.

Maryam and I had dinner with Jawad a few months ago (before I was even up for the Microsoft job) and found him to be particularly charming, smart, and interesting. He impressed Maryam by speaking Farsi to her, but he even went further when he started a dialog in Japanese with another person at our table.

Chris Curtis: "Tantek, one of the major forces behind the IE 5/Mac rendering engine wasn’t even told by MS that IE/Mac support is disappearing. How’s that for treating your employees?"

My response? Yeah, it's pretty awful. I wouldn't want to be treated that way. So, what happened? I don't know, but am trying to find out. I have my theories, though. I've seen PR like this get leaked before a crew has been setup to deal with it. Just a guess, though. The managers I've dealt with at Microsoft are pretty nice folks, so I don't think this was done on purpose.

By the way, I'm getting more traffic from Tantek's weblog tonight than I'm getting from Mary Jo Foley. Does that show the power of weblogs and its affect on corporate PR? Great info to discuss tomorrow at the weblogger meeting. In the good old days, a link from Ziff-Davis or Mary Jo would swamp any other source.

18-reader survey: I was just wondering, what do you all like about my weblog? What would you like me to do more of? What would you like me to do less of?

Kevin Dente: "That kind of stuff will score big points in the developer community."

Kevin: I think it'll score points in all communities. I'm seeing weblogs move from developer-focused to mass-market-focused. Thanks for giving us feedback! I love getting feedback on weblogs. Why? For a few reasons:

1) I can email around the URL.

2) A lot of Microsoft employees from all over the company are reading weblogs, so you're more likely to get noticed than if you just send me an email. Hint: execs are reading weblogs. Think execs are watching the email that comes into our aliases? Well, some do, but I'm sure it isn't every day.

3) I can have a community-wide conversation. If someone is a wacko, I'll get lots of emails or even comment posts pointing that out. The feedback loop itself helps me prioritize feedback that I give to our teams.

4) I have a relationship with the weblogger. I know where he lives. I can check in on him from time to time. For instance, I visit Dan Shafer every day or two just to see if he's really really pissed off, or just merely pissed off. Just kidding Dan.

5) If Microsoft ignores weblog comments, Google doesn't. They can be dredged up by future product managers, etc. Comments don't get lost in the bit bucket as easily.

6) If a Weblogger's request gets completed, we can make a big deal about it. Everyone saw the request. Then we can answer it publicly. Makes a win-win for both of us.

There's more, too, but I don't wanna give away all the secrets. Our competitors are watching too!

Here's a good example of how a Tablet lets you change how you design software: Loren shows a new Tablet-based photo app underway.

MIT Technology Review: Spam Wars.

Stephen Forte has a weblog: "cut me some slack, I HAVE written code that BillG has demoed!"

I just ordered a Traffic Gauge. It shows where in Seattle area bad things are happening to traffic.

MSDN just turned on a new search engine. How do bloggers like it?

Update: Ooppsss, looks like it isn't live. That'll teach me to try out what I'm linking to. Ahh, it's a preview.

Richard Tallent decries the state of digital photography. Makes lots of good points. Personally, though, a 2mega pixel camera makes great 5x7 prints. In color. That's a lot better than most of my relatives left me looking at.

Loren and Chris talk about the expense of the Tablet PC. I look at it this way. In the mid-1980s, I bought my first hard drive. It was 20MB. It cost $5000.

Today you can get a 20GB hard drive (or more, actually, but the NEC Tablet PC comes with that). Plus an entire computer. And an entire LCD screen. For less than half of what I paid for my first hard drive.

The Tablet PC is only 1.0. The mainstream doesn't "get it" until version 3.0. So, hang out for another five years and then we'll rock and roll.

The Tablet PC is very compelling. Chris will join the Tablet PC revolution sometime between now and 2005, I predict. I'm usually right about these things.

Want a nice camera phone? You gotta go visit Russell Beattie's weblog for a great deal on a Nokia phone.

Mary Matalin and James Carville visited the Microsoft campus today. I couldn't get in -- it was standing room only and tickets were handed out within minutes. They are one of the most popular political acts to visit the campus. So, I watched live on our campus video feed. Hillarious!

Best line I remember, James was telling how his wife sometimes really gets fed up with him (they are on opposite ends of the political scale). One day, coming home from the TV studio, they had their kids and had stopped to get something to eat. Mary was over the top fed up with something James said during the show.

The kids were no help. Their daughter was running around, spilling things, and Mary asked "why can't you behave?"

The daughter answered "I will: for a dollar."

Mary answered back and said "why can't you be like daddy: good for nothing?"

The new "DotNet Rocks" audio show is up, and it features three members of Microsoft's .NET evangelism team. Are they helping you learn to develop, or are they battling a war? Gotta listen.

Harvard Business School: The story behind Dean Kamen’s Segway scooter, and his combustive meeting with the kingpins of Apple and Amazon. Excerpt from Code Name Ginger.

Hey, every few paragraphs I make a mistake. This time I was caught. My breakfast date on Friday morning was Doug Rowan, but he's no longer Corbis' CEO. So, I shoulda said he was a former Corbis CEO. And folks say that webloggers don't have fact checkers? Yes we do: our readers. Sorry about that.

Dave Winer says his dad retired partly because of increased trouble with cheaters.

Oh, so students aren't shamed anymore? Maybe instructors should start a "cheater's log." That'd be up on Google for future employers to find. Oh, I can imagine the lawsuits, though.

By the way, I must say that my first five weeks of weblogging at Microsoft as an employee has been absolutely wonderful. I only had a single discussion with any management about my weblog, and that was an informational discussion. They have neither asked me to put anything up, nor take anything down, from my weblog. Of course, that probably demonstrates that I'm being very careful about what I talk about here. I know I can't represent "the anthill" and that I'm best off representing "the ants' view" of life at Microsoft.

Heh. Mary Jo Foley asks is there a "Microsoft Blog Policy Coming Down the Pike?"

You know, corporate weblogging (and public speech of all kinds by employees) is something that is scary for a lot of folks at a lot of companies. Microsoft is getting attention because its employees are in the public eye a LOT.

Blogging isn't anything new for Microsoft employees. I remember meeting Microsoft employees at user groups (public speaking). In CompuServe (public speech on the Internet). At conferences. On Web sites. In Web forums. In chat rooms. In mailing lists. And other places.

Tomorrow's meeting isn't about a policy. It's an informational meeting, as far as I can tell.

I must apologize to my fellow participants, though. I heard that it wasn't really supposed to be a publicly-discussed meeting (I disclosed that I'd be on the panel a few weeks ago here on this weblog). I figured that I'd let folks know about my participation on my weblog, and Mary Jo picked up on that.

That demonstrates the real power of weblogs.

Webloggers now have the ability to change the discussion point. We have interesting people reading.

Anyway, Steve Ballmer, a few weeks ago, asked Microsoft employees to tell the Microsoft story. I figured that I should be as transparent as possible about any policy meetings regarding weblogging, so you all could follow along from home (and, so, you'd know if Microsoft forced me to do or say anything).

The other funny thing this all reminds me of is that it makes it sound like "BIG OLD EVIL MICROSOFT IS STIRRING AGAIN." Heh. The truth is so so much more boring than that.

Tomorrow really is just a few webloggers and a lawyer talking about life on the Internet. Will a policy come out of the meeting tomorrow? God, I hope not. Will I learn something? I sure hope so!

See ya tomorrow.

Michah Alpern wonders what I think of an upcoming book on Technical Evangelism, done by a former Microsoft employee.

First look? I don't like the battle terminology. War metaphors suck. I don't like war. Ever seen what happens during a war? Both sides usually end up on the ground bloody.

If that's my job over the next two years as Longhorn launches, count me out. I see a different kind of job. I'm a surf instructor. Not a warrior. Longhorn is a wave of new technologies. I'm boning up my surfing skills and will show developers how to take advantage of new opportunities and will show end users how to get more productivity from their computers.

Good surfing ahead!

Discovery Channel will broadcast an "X Factor: Inside the XBox" show this Friday night.

Speaking of Geek Cruises, I see there's a Linux cruise that'll bring Doc Searls, Neil Bauman, and Randall Schwartz into my backyard. Oh, come a night early and we'll go out and "meet the man." You can even evangelize me on Linux, cool?

Dori Smith is at least 60% responsible for me starting a weblog (she was the first to urge me to do it). But, now she's asking for our help -- she'll be in NY this weekend and is wondering what she should do with her son.

What says "New York to me?" Eating a Pastrami sandwich at the First Street Deli.

Seeing a Broadway Play. Walking around Times Square at midnight and stopping into Roxy's for cheesecake.

The Statue of Liberty.

A walk down Fifth Ave.

Dinner in Little Italy. Or the Village.

There's more, too, but that's already more than anyone can do in a weekend. Personally, I'd probably just go to the W's bar, buy myself a good Scotch Whiskey, and cry that I only had a day or two to see the city.

By the way, why do I write and link to cheesy stuff like this on my weblog? Cause, I'm human and cause I love New York. Plus, Dori is the world's formost JavaScript expert and is one of the leading Mac experts (just gave a talk at the GeekCruise's Mac conference).

I miss John Robb's weblogs. He hasn't posted in a month.

Ahh, this week is "Harry Potter's new book is getting released" hype week.

Fortune Magazine: "XM or Sirius." I'm linking to this because my brother owns stock in XM, and has made a decent return in just the past few months. Seems satellite radio is the latest hype technology of the moment.

Jimmy Nilsson begged for his "free first link." Heh. Personally, you gotta even earn your first link -- and, begging for links usually is frowned on in the weblog world. But, Jimmy has earned it. He was a good speaker on a VBITS conference I planned, and now he has a .NET-focused weblog.

While I'm name dropping, I had lunch with David Geller last week too. He's the CEO of What Counts. They do email services for businesses. Not spam stuff, he assures me, but legitimate email things. He's yet another example of the interesting people who are reading my weblogs and who invite me to lunch. I won't turn anyone down for lunch, CEO or janitor, by the way. I always learn something from everyone I meet. It's just that someone else said "you should meet David" and hooked us up.

Just to keep the name-dropping alive (hey, I got a parody to live up to now): I bought Doug Rowan coffee at Victors on Friday morning. He's CEO of Corbis. Very interesting guy. Total digital photo freak. He told me "stop using OFoto for printing" because they charge almost twice as much as PhotoWorks. Ofoto charges $.49 while PhotoWorks charges $.29. I like CEO's who try to save me money.

He went on to tell me about a new app called PreClick and got me access to a beta of an upcoming version. Awesome. Looks sorta like Picasa, but adds in metadata about your photos (directly into the file) so that your photos become easier to find over time.

Since buying my Nikon, I have taken 5300 images. So, I'm real interested in things like PreClick. OK Doug, keep us up to date on the digital photo scene.

I'm watching the "AlwaysOn debate" about whether or not AlwaysOn is a blog or not. I really don't care. There are two lessons I've learned recently about blogging and why blogging is changing the culture of the web:

1) If it doesn't change often, I ain't gonna visit it often.

2) If it doesn't link to other people, it won't be authoritative.

3) If it doesn't get linked to by other people, it won't show up in Google.

4) If it ain't interesting, it doesn't matter anyway.

Here, look at MSDN vs. DotNetWeblogs. Today I visit DotNetWeblogs far more often than MSDN. Why? Because of just the above. The DotNetWebloggers tell me what's important on MSDN to visit. Yeah, I occassionally visit MSDN, just to make sure I don't miss anything, but I do notice that my reading patterns are changing.

As for whether or not Tony Perkins' AlwaysOn is a weblog, I really don't care. If Tony's site is interesting, authoritative, and updated often, then he'll have learned most of the lessons of weblogging.

One thing, though. Everyone gets a free link from me. Even Alan Meckler and Tony Perkins (I've already pointed to both, so no links here -- you all can find them with Google or Feedster easily enough).

They gotta earn my second link. So far, I'm not impressed. Oh, one reason? Always-on has a popup. Screw that. How annoying.

Bill Lazar talks about the Mercury News and its glad handling of Costco, which checks bags as customers leave the store. Fry's and other stores do this too. And, some folks get irked at this behavior.

Personally, I don't think this is really aimed at stopping shoplifting (if you shoplift, you gonna put it in your bag?)

Instead, this practice is aimed at stopping employee theft. Employee theft is far worse of a problem than shoplifting. I once caught a co-worker who had stolen tens of thousands of dollars of camera equipment (he was sneaking lenses out of the store in his thermos). I caught him within a week of getting hired simply by organizing the entire store and finding tons of empty boxes.

One scam I could imagine is a checker sending a friend into a store. The friend fills up a shopping basket. The checker only charges her for some items.

Think this stuff doesn't happen? It does. Bigtime.

By putting another employee at the door, checking bags and receipts, it makes the likelihood someone will try this much lower.

Personally, I encourage stores to take additional steps to help reduce theft of any kind and am happy to take another five minutes out of my day.

Who do you think pays for theft? The store owner? Yeah, right. They pass the additional costs along to you in increased prices.

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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; 2:36:11 AM.