Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Saturday, January 03, 2004

Why isn't CNN Headline News reporting Spirit down on Mars? As of 9:15 p.m. they still aren't reporting it on TV. LAAAAMMMMEEEEE. Oh well, MSNBC is reporting it. They have a great photo. FoxNews is reporting it too.

I'm going to go to the NASA Mars Center at NASA Ames tomorrow. Wanna meet there? I'm sure there'll be some exciting things to talk about there.

The geeks win!!! And the webloggers beat CNN Headline News. CNN still doesn't have news of the mars rover but Susan Kitchens has news that our rover has successfully landed and is talking back to us from Mars. Awesome.

Jeff Sandquist's mural is nearly completed. Yes, Jeff, you're a geek because you're online on a Saturday night. Can't wait to get back to work with you on Monday.

Lauri Evans: "Is it necessary for a president to attend each and every funeral of the soldiers who die in a war?" No. That's not what I pay him for. And, at 500 dead already (another today) he wouldn't have time to do anything else.

I don't know why I'm posting this. I'm reading a bit of political stuff lately. From Robert Rubin's book (he was treasury secretary for Bill Clinton - here's a review from Forbes about his book) to blogs like Instapundit, and the Howard Dean blogs, among others.

I'm trying to reengage in the political process, but find I just can't keep my usual optimistic outlook. So, generally avoid them. How about you? OK, now off to have a Saturday night...

Susan is doing a great job blogging about the Mars landing. I'm off to watch TV and relax with Maryam.

I hope it goes well for the geeks who built the rover. Imagine launching a basketball 78 million kilometers and expecting to hit a target about 50 kilometers long by two kilometers wide - oh, and the basketball has to survive a six-minute deceleration from 12,000 miles an hour to zero in a hostile atmosphere, no less. I'd like to see Michael Jordan top that!

Jon Galloway iterates through web sites where you can share code with others.

Ever post something and forget to link to what you wanted to link to? I hate when I do that. Blame it on the merlot.

Laughing that I am blogging on Saturday night? You should see all the geeks who are online right now. It's a sad world. :-)

I'm watching CNN and Maryam last night was watching Iranian TV here in Silicon Valley. It's interesting the two stories that they report and just how different they are. For instanceCNN is reporting that Americans are hoping that America's help to Iran will help relations between the two countries. Iranian TV here in Silicon Valley, though, is reporting that Iranian TV won't show video of an American Hospital, along with hundreds of personel, donated by our people and government.

Maryam tells me just how one-sided their schools and media are. For instance, she didn't learn about the Holocaust until she came to America when she was 16.

And Americans can't understand why the rest of the world hates us. Well, let's see, watch every negative thing we do, and none of the positive, and see how you feel.

Two nice links pages for developers tonight:

1) Erik Thauvin's weblog.
2) Karl Martin's weblog.

So many great links on those two sites that I can't cover them all.

Ken Camp takes on my claim that RSS is more productive than HTML (more in my comments here).

Standard refrain that evangelists hear. "Prove it's better." Roger Karraker got it in the 1980s. No different today.

Ken's right. It's arrogant of me to tell everyone that RSS is better for him than HTML. But, what the heck, evangelists have to be arrogant, no? Think Roger Karraker wasn't arrogant when he brought a Kaypro into his classroom and said "this is how journalism will be done?"

Anyway, I've identified several things that RSS does better than HTML. Here they are:

1) RSS is faster to display. Why is this? Well, HTML (er, your web browser) needs to call a Web server. Wait for it to respond. Then wait for it to send its stream of HTML. Then wait for it to display what it gets. On some weblogs that process can take as long as 1.5 minutes!!! Yeah, mine is faster, but only cause I've tried to optimize it a bit. Most webloggers don't know what CSS is. Or what optimization is. Or, even, what HTML is.

2) With RSS I only need to read one out of 10 sites. Why is that? Because with a web browser you need to visit every single site. With RSS you only read the sites that have changed since the last time you've read the feed.

3) RSS is faster to read. Why is this? Well, if you visit my weblog in a web browser, how do you know what's new? You need to look at the dates. Now, what about a page like Quick, tell me what's changed in the past 24 hours. In the past week. In the past month. With RSS I INSTANTLY know what has changed since the last time I visited.

4) RSS is more efficient to read. Most RSS feeds only give you the content. Not the advertising. Not the color banners. Not the crappy links. Not the weird fonts. Not the bizarre color background.

5) RSS lets you escape the browser. Maybe the browser isn't where you want to read. Maybe you like Outlook better. Maybe you like a Mac OSX app that Brent Simmons wrote. Maybe you wrote your own app on Linux. RSS is XML, which lets you programmatically import it and deal with it anywhere you want (Howard Dean's supporters wrote a little RSS app, for instance, that gives Windows users a little "toast" alert at the bottom of the screen - far nicer than if that same app were forced to use a web browser).

Now, where does RSS go wrong?

1) Many feeds don't give you all the content. So, this forces you to use a Web browser, with all the problems therein.

2) Many feeds don't give you images, or other features on the web page (some don't include comments, for instance).

3) If a web site is more of an application (like, say, eBay) than just delivering words, then RSS is not as good a solution as visiting in a browser (not saying RSS doesn't have a part to play here, just that to order a book off of Amazon, or order something on eBay, you'll need to visit a web site, not an RSS Feed).

Anything I've missed? I'm having a bit of merlot, so have probably missed something.

Don Box: WinFS and Roach Motels.

Tim O’Reilly has a wish list for 2004. #7 on his list is that applications stop hoarding their data. While it has zero chances of shipping in 2004, this is exactly the premise of Longhorn’s WinFS.

Bill Humphries, who works in Apple's HR department, also told us at lunch how he built Apple's intranet using UserLand's Frontier, and he asked me to ask Don Box to release his XSLT transform that converts a Word XML file to SOAP and XHTML. Don, what about that?

The Geek Lunch today was really great. A diverse set of geeks having a great time on a spectacular California Wine Country afternoon. But, one older guy sat by listening intently most of the lunch and as he got ready to go he started talking. The first thing he did was he noted the differences between him and the rest of the table. He was non-technical, he said (a bit of a stretch of truth, we'll come to learn later). He is older (about two years away from retiring). He teaches journalism at the local community college. Most people would write him off as a nice old guy but not really important in the history of technology, right?

"Do you know Rich Cameron," I asked, not really expecting him to know. "Yes, I know him."

"Where do you teach again?" I asked, trying to remember names that I learned 15 years ago (I'm horrible with names). Turns out that it was Roger Karraker, who teaches at Santa Rosa Community College. Now, I haven't been in Rich Cameron's class since 1990. But, I remember him talking a lot about Roger.

Roger told why. Roger was the first community college journalism teacher in the world (he claims) to introduce personal computers into the classroom and use them to fully paginate a college newspaper with Aldus Pagemaker (that was only three months after Pagemaker was released).

I'll knight him today as probably the second evangelist in the world, after Guy Kawasaki. How many Macs has this guy sold? How many students has he influenced? What would the newspaper look like without Roger? Probably a lot different.

Roger had been the one to introduce Rich to PCs. First he showed him a Kaypro in the early 1980s. Later a Radio Shack TRS-80-100 (Aside: Bill Gates wrote much of the internals of that machine). Finally later to Macs.

Frequent readers know that I credit Rich Cameron for getting me excited about computers and about journalism. I owe my career to my experiences at West Valley Community College (which is where I met Steve Wozniak for the first time).

And here was the guy who had evangelized Rich.

"We had resistance," Roger told the table at lunch today. "We were told that isn't how journalism is done" when he first showed off his Kaypros at the Journalism Association of Community Colleges' annual meeting.

Occassionally when I meet people I realize I'm in the presence of greatness. Today was one of those days. Why? Because certain people have done something to change the world in a noticeable ways. Roger is one of those guys. He might not have changed the world like Gates or Jobs or Wozniak, but he changed the world nonetheless.

For that I'm grateful. Meeting Roger was like meeting the taproot of a whole generation of journalists who switched from typewriters and typesetting machines to using personal computers to practice their craft.

One other note. In a day where I saw many teachers who were bidding their time until they retired, a small group stuck out in my mind because they always looked for a better way to do things. They believed in life-long learning. In sharing what they knew. Roger is one of those.

You note that Roger came to lunch. You can read more about Roger here and he told us he's playing with TypePad and weblogging. He continues to learn, even as he goes into his 60s. I hope I'm that good in 20 years.

Rich gave me one thing: a love of lifelong learning. Now I know where he got it from. Hats off to you Roger!

If you were a student of Rich's or Roger's, please leave a note about them here.

Thanks too for Dori inviting me to lunch and thanks to Shaan Hurley of Autodesk (another Tablet PC evangelist!) and Dan Lyke for writing up the lunch. Let's do it often! Healdsburg is a ways out there, but it's a beautiful town at the top of California's wine country.

What a wonderful day. I wish every day was filled with so many great geeks and so much sunshine (you should see the weather here, you can see for 100 miles).

Susan Kitchens is blogging the Mars Rover Landing. She has pictures of the explorer being built.

It should land just about the time that this post hits the Web (at 8:35 p.m. eastern time).

We won't know if the landing is successful until (at best) 11:30 p.m. eastern tonight and (at worst) sometime tomorrow.

Update: Tonight Susan is at Pasadena Civic Center tonight at a Mars event there. So, she should have some interesting reports.

Have a great Saturday!

One last thing. What's funny is I've spent a bit of time making my weblog more efficient for the folks who read my blog via a Web browser. What's really weird is that people are still using browsers to read blogs at all.

Why do I say that? Because if you read my blog via an RSS News Aggregator, it's at least 10 times faster to read there than to read via a Web browser. How do I know that? I have been timing how long it takes to read an RSS feed vs. reading the same thing in the browser. There is at least a 10x difference.

So, if you're reading this via a browser, you're wasting your time. Thought you'd like to know.

How significant is this? I now read more than 600 RSS feeds in less than an hour.

Here's a good article on blogging and RSS (from an educator's standpoint).

I'm off to go to the geek lunch in Healdsburg with Dori Smith and others -- you're invited. Have a good Saturday!

Occassionally I get a comment that I think just needs to be on the front page here. This is one of those times. Here's Neil Cowburn's comment (from this thread about open source) in full:

I read the comments about and felt I had to add my own two pennies worth.

I'm one of the co-founders of an open source software house that develops against the .NET Compact Framework. was formed a couple of months after the official release of the .NET Compact Framework and since then has grown trememdously over the past 8 months or so. Our bread and butter is to fill the API space left by Microsoft. Initially, we did this by releasing individual UI controls and class libraries via our web site. That has amassed us more than 25,000 downloads so far. Now we're currently beta testing our own framework that compliments the .NET Compact Framework.

The support we get from our peers and from Microsoft is immeasurable. In fact, we owe Microsoft a huge debt of gratitude for being enthusiastic about We even got mentioned by one particular Microsoft speaker at the PDC during one of his presentations. That was definitely a Keanu Reeves-style "Whoa!" moment for me.

Our team consists mainly of MVPs who are dedicated to the platform we develop for and we don't mind giving up some of their free time to help make the adoption path for the .NET Compact Framework a little smoother. We work hard on producing the best code we can -- all for free -- not so that Microsoft can make more money (like the .NET Framework, the .NET Compact Framework is free), but so that will see the possibilities of the platform and become as enthused by it as we are. We want to see Microsoft succeed with the .NET Compact Framework. We will do whatever we can to help Microsoft to achieve this goal. We don't ask for money. We don't ask for recognition). We code because we want to. It's what gets us out of bed in a morning.

As a side note, we all have day jobs. Most of us are work with Mobility day in, day out. Such is our love for what we do.

Boston Globe: Job blogs hold perils, opportunities. The author mentions my blog, among others, as an example.

While we're talking about optimization, Andy King's Web Site Optimization site and book are my favorite places to go for squeezing out extra performance.

Want to see the difference weblog optimization makes? Open my weblog and then compare the time it takes to open it when compared with Sean and Scott's weblog, which also is done in Radio UserLand. Now, look at their code. First off, they have indents in their code that are done with spaces. Get rid of the indents and you save 5% or more on file sizes. Then, look at all the MS Office stuff.

Is optimization important for weblogs? You be the judge.

Omri Gazitt covers what the relationship is between WSE and Indigo.

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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: 1/5/2004; 11:12:46 PM.