Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Monday, July 14, 2003

It seems everyone complains about Dave Winer's modus operandi. Heh, hell hath no fury like when you've done something that Dave doesn't like. I know that better than anyone. Sometimes I've been the beneficiary of Dave sticking up for me, other times he's ripped me a new one because of something I've done. I take it, because he's earned the right to tell me off.

I realize that Dave is just trying to make things better. I keep going back to when I had a private tour of CNN (I was writing an article on their IT systems back in 1995 for VBPJ). They let me sit in the director booth for a while and listen to how the news gets made. This was back in the Ted Turner days.

This was not a job situation you bring your kids into. A director (a woman, by the way) was giving directions every two seconds to various videotape operators, to the people reading the news, to the folks working the graphics, to a bunch of other people scattered around the newsroom.

I've never seen a work situation anything like it.

"Take camera two, on mark, now."

"Roll graphics, from xyz, now."

"Start reading, now.

Then something went wrong. You probably didn't even notice it at home. The screen was black for maybe half a second.

The director started screaming a string of four-letter-word laden invectives at a bunch of people. I'd put them here, but then someone would probably call into question my judgment, and you all can imagine.

Terror insued for maybe 15 seconds. Then someone gave a meek answer "I slipped up."

"OK, make it better next time."

So, why did I share this story? Because sometimes when you're doing things that matter, human emotions get the best of the people who are leading the work. Sometimes it takes a nasty director. A person who everyone fears. To get the stuff done.

Personally, Dave has earned the right to tell me off. He's welcome to do it anytime. Even if he's wrong.

By the way, gonna be in Silicon Valley next weekend. Maybe we can do another weblogger dinner?

Heh. Now, just take my "Signs Scoble has Drunk the KoolAid" and put it in PowerPoint, and add a pretty background and you're done. For extra credit, make the words fly in from the side. For tons of extra points, tell me which Microsoft executive hates flying text on his slides.

Andy Ruff has a bunch of great PowerPoint tips. I'm a minimalist too, but Microsoft's corporate culture is to develop a project on PowerPoint (sending that around to get buy off). So, I put way way too much stuff on most of my PowerPoints, and then if I ever get approval to present it to someone, I'll rework and make it minimalist.

To tell you the truth, I hate PowerPoints. But, they are a great way to organize your thoughts in an outline.

I remember sitting in conference keynotes at VBITS and wishing they'd just dump the PowerPoints. Microsoft's execs would come out, do 50 minutes of PowerPoint ware, which usually setup the demo. I'd rather reverse it, do 50 minutes of demo, and then have 10 minutes of PowerPoints that explain the demo.

How do you tell you've been drinking the Microsoft Koolaid? You start thinking of PowerPoint bullets that either debate the subject, or affirm it.

Here, check it out: Signs that Scoble is on the Koolaid

Posts too much about Microsoft

Brags "I've seen the secret NDA stuff and you haven't"

Kisses up to Steve Ballmer

Tells Linux Penguin jokes

Writes "lock em up in the trunk -- especially Dave Winer and Jeffrey Zeldman" on all his emails

Carries his employee badge everywhere

Tells friends "Bill Gates and me are gonna kick your ass"


Funny enough, today I had lunch with Frank Boosman, who was one of the original program managers for Adobe Acrobat.

Frank now is working for a company that's building simulators for the government. Interesting sounding stuff.

We talked about Linux and Acrobat and Microsoft while munching on salads. Not much that was useful to anyone. Mostly throwing around ideas of things we both might mention on our weblogs.

Anyway, it's hard to have an interesting lunch and do much more than mention that you had an interesting lunch. Especially one where there isn't a single theme. Sometimes you just wanna let your hair down and have a great conversation, which is what this one was.

Jakob Nielsen: "[Adobe] PDF is Unfit for Human Consumption."

Heh. I remember when Alan Cooper told me that Acrobat's user interface sucks. He knows a bit about user interfaces. He was the guy who developed the "Visual" part of Visual Basic (which was the root of what is now known as Visual Studio).

Yeah, it sucks, but the article totally misses the point of why I put content up in PDFs. For that, let's go back to 1995.

Back then I worked for "Visual Basic Programmer's Journal." The Web was new, and we needed a way to get our content out of Pagemaker docs into a format that everyone could read.

Back then FTP was, let's say, resource constrained, and there wasn't money to hire an army of folks who could turn PM5 documents into HTML. I had a data store of more than 800 documents to convert. Not something I wanted to spend a year doing.

PDF was, I figured, about 10 times less expensive than converting to HTML. I could do a single PM5 to PDF conversion in a few minutes (these were BIG files). Moving to HTML would take an hour and couldn't be scripted.

The PDFs had an advantage: they were very faithful to the original. When you printed them out, they looked exactly like the original magazine page. On screen they were awesome too.

Yes, they suck compared to if I had spent the money to convert them all to HTML. But, here's the point that Jakob is missing:

My choice wasn't to spend the money, but it was between doing nothing, or doing PDFs. I chose PDFs. So shoot me.

Here's a thread on the "VB" topic on DevX. By the way, DevX was sold today to Jupiter Media. Congrats to everyone involved! (I almost went to work for DevX, and my NetMeeting site that I produced is still there somewhere). reviews RSS News Aggregators. If you've been wondering what RSS is, or what a news aggregator is, this is a good place to start.

Grr, yet another prediction that VB is dying is in Gag me with a spoon. VB has never been better. Remember for the past decade all the VB'ers asking for "real power." Well, now you got it, and everyone is saying "oh, it's dead."


Engel: "According to Scoble, Longhorn does everything already and is perfect, so why does he need more input?"

When did I EVER say that Longhorn is perfect? We definitely want to hear your ideas on what you'd like to see. That's the only way we can get Longhorn as close to perfect as possible.

Personal note to Dave Winer: I sometimes edit my content after I've posted it too. Maybe Mark Pilgrim should pick on me too.

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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; 2:43:45 AM.