Scobleizer Weblog

Today's Stuff Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I was interviewed for this Washington Post article about Steve Ballmer and how he's trying to change Microsoft. My quote didn't get in, but it's definitely a look at how Microsoft's execs are trying to steer Microsoft in a new direction.

"Open and respectful" is now a Ballmer mantra, the article says. Kudos Steve, it's what I'm trying to do here.

Congratulations Dave Sifry on tracking more than one million weblogs with your service Technorati. A new weblog is created every 12 seconds. Wow. Technorati rocks.

Over the weekend a new version of ShareKMC became available. Several of us at Microsoft are using this to make our Tablet PCs become a second screen for our desktop computers. Very cool.

One thing I'm proud of is how Microsoft's employees give to a variety of causes (we're among the world's largest corporate givers). I've seen this over and over again in my first four months here (Microsoft encourages us to donate money to charities and matches our contributions as well). Another thing I'm proud of is the diversity of viewpoints that are represented among employees. Despite all appearances, we don't look alike. We don't think alike. We come from a large number of backgrounds and belief systems. Laura John's post explains this all in one post.

Derrick Story on O'Reilly totally misses the point about Tablets. They are NOT about handwriting recognition. The doctors apps I've seen have totally removed handwriting from the user interface. Whoa, how did they do that? Ever hear of a drop-down list box? Geez.

Seriously: Tablet PCs are all about letting you compute where you want to. Try using that PowerBook in line at the airport. I can use my Tablet to surf while waiting in line. I do often. And I always get questions "how do I get a computer like that?"

It's about reading on the couch, or in bed, in a comfortable position. I often read while holding my tablet over my head. Why? It gets uncomfortable to read in the same position for hours on end. I have 533 weblogs to read every night.

Also, I can use the Tablet PC for doing things that are pretty impossible with a mouse. That goes far beyond drawing pictures. But, I hear these kinds of criticism all the time.

Want a Longhorn Blog? E-mail Robert McLaws at

I should warn people that the Longhorn blogs are gonna be pretty boring until the end of the month. Why? Because we aren't releasing any information until the PDC.

Another Longhorn blog. Heh, how many will there be in the first week?

OK, here's a story of Microsoft getting locked in. Hey, you think you're the only one that gets locked in? Nah.

For the past few weeks I've been working on a little desktop publishing project. Since I'm a Microsoft evangelist, I tried eating the dog food, so to speak. I tried to do it with Microsoft Publisher.

Well, problem is, publishing professionals are mostly people who grew up on Macs and Adobe software and they aren't real keen on trying things from Microsoft. I thought I could overcome this bias with my most excellent evangelism skills. But, my Microsoft mind tricks just didn't work with the publishing industry. Heh.

So, tonight, I gave up and purchased Adobe Illustrator. Man, that's expensive (more than five times more than a copy of Windows).

But, am I mad? No I'm not! I'm joyful. Why? Because Illustrator is easily the hardest application I've ever learned. I blame that all on a trip I took into a now defunct Los Gatos computer store back in 1988. That's when I saw Illustrator 88. I had to have a copy. Luckily my instructor or someone had one.

See, Illustrator was the first app that let you do hard-core Postscript programming without doing any programming! Postscript was the page description language that our Apple Laserwriter had back then.

Here's the secret that took me about a year of fiddling with it to really master Illustrator: everything is a wire.

"That's it?" you're probably asking? Well, look around you. Do you look at a tree and say "I can draw that tree with one piece of wire?" I don't think so.

Now you understand why Illustrator is something that only a few people master. It's gotten easier over the years, but it still doesn't change the fact that it's a vector drawing program.

Why are vectors important? Why not do everything in Photoshop? Simple: resolution independence.

With Illustrator I draw a graphic once and it can be used on a billboard, or on little trading cards like what I'm doing for the PDC.

Here's a little hint: vectors are going to be much more important in the future than they are today. Why? Resolution of new types of monitors. Look at John Robb's weblog for a new 4000-line resolution monitor coming soon.

Also, vectors take a lot less memory than bitmaps do. Look at a good Flash movie (Flash movies are usually all vectors).

And, what's more, vectors can be printed with much better quality than bitmaps.

But, many people hate vectors because they don't see the world that way. Digital cameras, for instance, create bitmaps. Not vectors. So, getting things into vectors is real important.

Now, when you get that PDC build of Longhorn, take a good long look at the clock in the new sidebar. It looks like a bitmap. Here's a hint: it is not.

Anyway, back to the theme of this now rambling post: I'm locked into Adobe and I don't mind. Adobe has a monopoly on desktop publishing software. If you don't have Illustrator and Photoshop on your shelf, you're not a desktop publishing professional.

Looking at it one way, they are very expensive packages (Illustrator at CompUSA is about $511 after tax, Photoshop is above $700). Looked at another way, though, I get thousands of person-years of work for less than what I make in a week. I think that's a fair deal. Plus, I can make great looking graphics for all sorts of different things. Yes, that's another hint. Heh.