Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Jason Alexander gives a great .NET testimonial: converting

Stefan Smalla liked one of my quotes in the PI. Thank you. Actually, I learned how to get good quotes from Steve Wozniak. When I interviewed him, he spoke slowly. Deliberately. And gave me a single thought per sentence.

It was easy to quote him. He'd obviously had some practice (my first interview with him was back in college back in 1989).

So, whenever I talk with a reporter, I try to do the same. I try to make his job easy.

Some other guidelines about being interviewed:

1) Know your company's policy on talking to the press. Microsoft has a PR department and they want to be contacted before you talk to any press person. Of course, being a weblogger makes that stickier. I talk to "the press" every day here on my weblog and anything I say here can be quoted in an article.

2) If you talk to the press, make sure you know the ground rules. If you don't want your name used, agree to that up front. Obviously a journalist can burn you, so keep that in mind. (Usually they don't, though, cause they want to keep working with you in the future).

3) Be nice. If you can't talk, say so and try to get them to someone who can. If you're nasty, or evasive, you just put them in a bad mood for the next guy and it's more likely to turn into a situation where the journalist is gonna teach your company a lesson.

4) Be honest. If you're gonna get quoted, might as well get quoted truthfully. Why? Because lies will come back to haunt you.

5) Speak slowly and thoughtfully and with short sentences. I've been a journalist, believe me, it's a lot nicer if you can get a few good quotes down. Tim Berners Lee, for instance, talks in runon sentences. I couldn't get a quote out of the guy. I believe that really hurts his ability to sell his ideas to people.

6) Pause often and ask questions of your own. This lets the journalist catch up with his note taking and increases the chance that he/she will care about you and will build a repoire with you.

7) Find out the premise of the article before you start talking. Every journalist comes into an article with a premise. A theory. Usually you can figure out whether or not this will be a nice article, or a negative one very quickly. But, you have to ask the questions and you have to listen yourself.

Most journalists dealing with big company folks understand the game. They won't be put off if you say "can I call you back after lunch so that I can talk to our PR department first?"

8) Use the justification method I use when weblogging when talking with the press. If you can justify this to your boss, your coworkers, your CEO, and your family members, it's probably safe to talk on the record.

9) Know your role. My quote about giving an "ant's perspective" is a good one. It's very easy to slip up and start giving "the anthill's perspective" though. Or, as Lenn Pryor puts it "the royal we."

Anyone else have good ideas for dealing with the press?

John Porcaro demonstrates to me why he's a marketing manager at Microsoft. He finds great links! Like this one where Eric Sink writes about "marketing for geeks -- act your age!"

Here's a version of the video that the rest of you might be able to see.

This is the funniest video I've seen in a long time. Yeah, you need Windows Media player to see it. It's a video of two guys playing table tennis, "Matrix style."

Susan Bradley put together a really great page of Microsoft RSS Resources. Fire up your aggregator! Thanks Susan for doing this! Yet another example of MVP goodness.

I was a Microsoft MVP for five years, and stories like this one about the MVP community spirit make me proud. Kudos MVPs! (MVPs are not Microsoft employees, just everyday folks who enjoy helping out Microsoft customers).

Personal note to Peter Walker: hope your life goes better tomorrow. I appreciate all you do.

So, I happened to be over in building 32 today. That's where the Tablet group is located. I was walking the corridors, looking for someone's office (I was there to pick something up) when I saw my face staring at me. Someone had tacked the article about webloggers to their office door. That's weird. I'm not sure what kind of statement they were trying to make (I didn't get their name, sorry).

Also, while over there, I ran into Fritz Switzer. He exclaimed "are you Robert Scoble?" I answered "yes" wondering what kind of trouble I was in now.

He then told me that he'd gotten into blogging because of my blog and his company has created "blinx" for "blogs with ink" for Tablet PC users.

It was quite flattering. Mostly cause you had to see the excitement he had when he found out he was meeting me.

Wow, it was a stunningly nice day. I call these days "Mt. Rainier days" because I can see Mt. Rainier, which is about 100 miles away.

Speaking of which, I took Maryam to see the mountain on Saturday. What a wonderful thing our National Park system is. And the Rainier cherries we bought were just like the cherries I remember from my childhood back in Silicon Valley. Large. Ripe. Soft. Sweet. Juicy. Wonderful.

Marc Canter is always a fun read. He's the guy who started Macromedia. Yes, they did kick Microsoft's behind. Let's see, Microsoft tried to lock in developers into our own proprietary DHTML tags and failed, but Macromedia's Flash format is all over the place. Who won that battle? What caught my eye about Marc's weblog today? Where he exclaims that there is money in tools. Damn straight there is. Let's see, Adobe makes money off of Acrobat. About a billion a year (Acrobat is funding an entire additional Silicon Valley skyscraper, Adobe's CEO said in a recent magazine article I read). Macromedia makes money off of Flash. Borland makes money off of tools. One of Microsoft's biggest buildings (#42) is full of guys writing tools.

Then Marc talks about the gender of Longhorn. Awesome stuff. Yeah, my wife is different than me. Thankfully!

What does Longhorn need more than anything else? Tools!

Why? Well, as an evangelist, I want tons of great apps for my wife to use on Longhorn (Longhorn is the code name for the next version of Windows). How is she gonna get those great apps? Developers are gonna have to create them. How are devs and artists gonna create apps for the operating system most of us will use in 2005 and beyond? Tools!

Translation: Marc, we gotta get you to sing at the PDC.

Deep translation: Marc, if you can't get funding with such an opportunity ahead of you, the valley must really be messed up. Here's your chance to kick our behinds again!

Oh, great, Nick already moved to a different blog hosting service. Heh.

Jan Karlsbjerg gives me some more feedback on motivations of open source developers.

My college friend Nick Paredes started a blog today. We were on the college newspaper at West Valley Community College together. My most vivid memory is the 1989 earthquake where we stayed at school for something like 70 hours to publish the school paper. It's weird, but at times like those your mind records the scene in technicolor. I remember grabbing Nick, handing him my Nikon, and telling him what to take pictures of, while I took notes.

It was one of his first times taking pictures, and he won a state award for the picture he took of people digging out the school library. Those 70 hours were among my favorites in life. Just a handful of us, along with our instructor Rich Cameron, stuck at West Valley (Rich couldn't get home for three days because all the roads over 17 were closed).

I remember printing the paper at Nick's house on our trusty Mac Classic and our LaserWriter Plus. Interesting story: the San Francisco Examiner was being published nearly the same way after its newsroom computer's power was cut.

Glad to see you writing Nick!

Adrian Mendoza is a photographer in Modesto California and he has an interesting blog about his life making images.

Can a blogger be fooled? Yes! I don't have a ton of fact checkers. I try to do a little research before posting something, but a thread over in Arstechnica forum has me wondering if I got the facts right. The guy I posted yesterday (Martin Moore) said he worked on Linux' kernel, when I talked with him on the phone (he was calling from the UK). But, now, someone is questioning the accuracy of that information. Martin, if you're there, can you provide more details about your work in the Linux community? Thanks!

Is it easy to get me to print something incorrect? Absolutely! I make mistakes. I'm human.

But, unlike most publishing media, my readers can call me on the carpet, can correct my mistakes, and I can admit them and correct them within 24 hours or so.

Try getting a retraction printed in a newspaper, or on radio. Very difficult.

JY just sent me this neat Japanese weblog (done in English) that features new tech toys.

Joel Semeniuk's world is rocked by InfoPath.

And, if you doubt for a minute there still aren't places that automation should be done with tools like InfoPath, go and visit your local customs office. A friend (Heidi Corcoran) told me last night that almost everything done in every customs office in the world is done with paper and by hand. I remember being stuck in Frankfurt at the customs office there. They wouldn't even take a credit card. You know how difficult it is to find $1,500 cash to get your conference books outta customs?

Matthew Reynolds is on Carl Franklin's .NET Rocks audio show this week. I love this show, even though I'm still stuck on chapter three of "Learning C#."

JY just sent me a text message to my cell phone. Heh.

Sebastian Lambda: "I hate the web because it sucks."

OK, I'm being unfair to Sebastian by doing sensationalistic linking. His point is that by using a news aggregator (at Microsoft we call Internet apps that aren't in the browser "Smart Clients"), he can make better use of the information we're all putting out there. I totally agree.

Lowest-common-denominator approaches to applications just leave you feeling blah. A lot of things that are being forced into Web browsers right now (and Microsoft has built some of the best -- have you ever seen Exchange's Outlook Web Client, it's freaking an awesome example of DHTML and other stuff) just aren't well served.

I'm sensing that we're about to see a new level of "non-browser" Internet applications. Of course, I have a nice view, since we get to see tons of stuff like what Joe Modica over at Infragistics are working on (not to mention all the big companies like GM, Boeing, etc).

Why is that? Because the browser was designed to be always connected and is stateless. Webloggers hit this all the time. Ever had a browser refresh in the middle of typing a blog entry? I have. My entry goes away. It wasn't designed to keep state. Yeah, Microsoft could fix that, I guess, but the Web browser was designed for browsing information, not as an application platform.

A much better example is Outlook. The Outlook Web Page that exchange spits out is awesome, but the Outlook client is still many times better. Particularly if you are walking around and are in between wireless networks. The "Smart Client" (translation: app that isn't in a browser) always stays up, always is usable, and always lets you get at your data. The browser has major problems when offline. Translation: it's unusable.

This is exactly why I originally chose to do my blog using Radio UserLand instead of a centralized approach like MSN Groups or Blogger (or UserLand's other product, Manila, which is where I used to publish my blog). It's a "Smart Client" that sits on your desktop. I can enter a blog entry, even when I'm on a plane and completely unconnected from the Internet.

I had lunch with Joe Modica, Vice President of Infragistics yesterday. Infragistics is one of the oldest and most successful component vendors. They started out selling VBXs for Visual Basic 1.0 and now sell components for all kinds of programming tools, but most of their customers use Visual Studio.

He told me that .NET is finally getting real adoption and that the component market is starting to heat up again, after being really dreadful for the past few years.

This is great to hear, because it shows that the health of the ecosystem around Microsoft's platforms is returning. OK, is hell freezing over? Here's a self-avowed Linux advocate, Martin Moore, in my comments, saying he has switched to .NET. I talked with him on the phone yesterday, and he seems for real. He says he worked on the Linux kernal for almost a decade now and has been a great supporter of the open source movement, but that he moved to .NET because he simply could get more done in less time. A lot less time, he claims.

Maybe now we know why the Slashdot guys are so anxious about .NET.

While we're on this topic: I talked with another long-time Linux supporter last week too. He doesn't even own a Windows machine. He doesn't want me to talk about his name, because he's scared of retribution from the Slashdot crowd. He tells me that a lot of the "Linux old timers" are getting tired of the movement. "Why?" I ask? "Because big companies are making a freaking lot of money off of our work and we don't get anything," he said, while noting that IBM (a bigger company that Microsoft) and HP/Compaq are making billions off of the free work that he, and others, have done on nights and weekends to make Linux what it is today.

But, he said, Linux supporters will never admit this feeling in public. I'm wondering what they will say, though. Do open source developers like working nights and weekends for free so others can profit without even giving them credit?

Or, is the whole open source economy a myth and the thing will just turn out to be turned over to companies who are making revenues somehow off of Linux (like Tivo, for instance) and their developers will be the ones doing the work?

Scott Mitchell has a blog. Long time ASP community member and author. He has an interesting post about the economics of writing computer books.

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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; 2:42:30 AM.