Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Thursday, January 29, 2004

Speaking of Tantek, check out his blog. He's doing a different design every day, based on Technorati's top 100 blogs. All in CSS. All without changing any of the content of his blog.

Cool. And finally a reason to visit a blog in a browser rather than in an RSS news aggregator (News aggregators don't usually display design of blogs).

4:41:26 AM    comment 

Sebastien Lambla was IM'ing with me tonight. He was at the blogger dinner with Chris Anderson and Don Box and a few others in London the other night. He asked the folks who came to the dinner a couple of questions:

"Who here reads Scoble?"

Every hand went up.

"Who here enjoys it?"

Far fewer hands went up.

Sebastien's theories? "Your blog is more of a marketing blog and not of the old Scoble and it sounds sometimes less personal."

That got me thinking and I wrote down these excuses:

1) I'm reading too many feeds. It's overloading my brain and I'm not able to focus on any one issue the way I used to.

2) I'm not getting much sleep lately. Partly cause my wife is away. Partly cause I feel this pressure to keep up with everyone (internally generated).

3) I have even more internal pressure going on to be perfect. In the old days no one read me except for a small group of people. Now Fast Company and Business 2.0 are doing articles on me. Makes me a bit more self aware.

4) I have too many audiences. I know execs are reading. Coworkers. Family members. Competitors. Influentials. Customers. Press. It's hard to write well for any one audience when you're trying to please them all. In the old days I didn't have disparate audiences, I just was talking to my blogger friends.

5) Microsoft example. A lot of people inside Microsoft are looking at me as a guinea pig. A proof of concept, if you will. So I don't want to screw it up.

6) Teams are now calling on me to help them out with marketing. Now that I'm getting a traffic flow, and that blogging is getting more and more visibility, teams are asking me for help in learning the new world. Not to mention that I'm getting invited to speak at industry conferences like Demo.

7) I really am losing touch with technology. I used to use one piece of software all day long. But now I'm doing far more, and not able to specialize as much. It's making me lose my voice on specific pieces of software.

8) I used to only have one or two thoughts per day that I wanted to get across. Now I have dozens. Just today I had two very interesting meetings, then went out to dinner with Chris Wilson and Tantek Celik, two of Microsoft's top people. When you're around people of that caliber your brain gets pulled like taffy in all sorts of interesting directions.

9) I'm getting tainted. I was talking with someone about some of the problems that my readers were asking to get fixed and I asked him why he doesn't blog and he said "I'm tainted, I know just how hard it is to do that, but people on the outside think it's easy." Some call this "drinking the Koolaid." It happens naturally, even if you try to resist it. Why? Because when you talk with the people who've been doing things that make you mad they all have very rational reasons for why it was done that way. It makes it hard to write provocatively when you know that there are real humans you're aiming your words at.

So, what do you hate about my blog?

In fact, make it broader: what do you hate about all the Microsoft employee blogs you've read?

4:21:16 AM    comment 

Frans Bouma writes a long rant about how Microsoft isn't solving his problems and is overhyping tomorrow's technology. "Stop it" he tells us.

With apologies to Frans, I don't see this happening.

The reality is that once we ship a version, we start on the next version. In fact, in some cases, we're already working on the version after the next version (I recently talked with a researcher who's already working on some concepts for Blackcomb, the OS that'll come out after Longhorn).

This is a problem, and I don't know how to solve it.

3:43:12 AM    comment 

Heh, Jelle Druyts has a "SPOT watch for treehuggers."

OK, I've had my SPOT watch for three days. I'm liking it even more ... and less.

It's great for being warned that your next meeting is about to start when you're eating lunch and you're talking too much with your coworkers.

This is really a "glass is half full or half empty" kind of product, depending on how you look at it.

If you just compare it to my old watch, this is an unabashed winner.

But, if you come at it from a point of view that you want it to do things like RSS, or give you far more news and stock choices, then it's a loser.

That explains the disparate reactions to the watch. I've found that people either love them or hate them.

By the way, I've gotten 20 IM's on my watch so far. Thanks to everyone who's sent one. It's frustrating, though, cause it's hard to write back. Include your email address in the body of your message and I'll send you a ping back.

3:33:47 AM    comment 

StopDesign: The IE Factor. This is the guy who redesigned Wired's site, if I remember right.

Yes, I will make sure the IE team and other stakeholders see this. Thanks to Bryan Bell for pointing us to this one.

3:26:32 AM    comment 

James Clarke asks a provocative question about Longhorn: "Can we expect to see applications such as the Shell, Outlook Express etc fully utilizing this "pillar" [Avalon] in the B1 timeframe (complete with native Avalon toolbars, native Avalon listviews etc)? This will be my measure of Avalon's readiness for serious app development."

Hmmm, old apps getting rewritten? You might see pieces done for Avalon, but I wouldn't expect to see wholesale rewriting of existing stuff.

He also asks about Office. I'd rather the Office team talk about their plans than me.

That said, you will see some really great uses of Avalon in Longhorn. The clock that we shipped at the PDC is built in Avalon, for instance. There will be plenty of examples to prove to you that it's ready for serious app development.

3:18:40 AM    comment 
3:10:46 AM    comment 

Dave Pollard points to his favorite photoblogs. Really nice stuff. Inspiring.

Since we're talking about digital photography, last Friday morning I, along with 1000 other Microsoft employees, showed up at work at 8 a.m. to attend a two-hour class on digital photography by the Nikon School. Highly recommended. Great instructors. Awesome photography and stories. Great workflow and color management tips.

That's one benefit of working in a big company like Microsoft. They bring all sorts of interesting workshops and things onto campus.

But, mostly, I am excited to see just how passionate our employees are about digital photography. For me, it's FAR more important than the music debates we've been having here lately.

3:05:17 AM    comment 

ComputerWorld: Blogs bubble into business

I really want to get on this bandwagon, but I don't see it happening yet. Does anyone else? Are you using blogs inside your business? (Not on the public Internet, like the one I write, but inside your company?)

3:01:07 AM    comment 

Dylan Greene found out the secret to Microsoft's success: we reuse words, he says.

His point is: "Stop making the world of computing more confusing by overusing names, terms, and abbreviations. Please start creating new words, preferably words that aren't in our dictionary to make our searches for products, support, and recommendations easier."

2:57:57 AM    comment 

MIT Technology Review's Simson Garfinkel: Cleaning your Windows. Tips on how to strip away annoying features and enhance usability.

2:55:14 AM    comment 

Security expert (and friend) Dana Epp points us to the new Windows XP Security Guide.

2:51:05 AM    comment 

The SXSW blog is awake. I wish I could go, but I'm already going to too many events.

Thanks to Paul Bausch for letting us know.

2:49:37 AM    comment 

eWeek: Oracle sets sights on Microsoft.

Like the tons of advertising in Seattle's airport didn't tell us that. :-)

2:45:58 AM    comment 

New York Times: The trend of vanishing tech jobs

Thanks to Mike at TechDirt for pointing us to that (and giving us some more commentary on top of it).

By the way, if you search Google for "offshoring" you'll find my weblog at the top of the list. Crazy. Am I the world's formost authority on offshoring all of a sudden?

2:43:50 AM    comment 

SearchWin2000: Longhorn may bridge the thin, fat client worlds.

Look at how RSS and Atom are now revolutionizing weblogs and marketing. Same trend Longhorn is trying to take advantage of on the corporate side of things.

2:40:09 AM    comment 

Groklaw reports: "The Inquirer highlights a Yankee Group study that finds 43% of small and medium businesses are worried about being dependent on Microsoft and of that group "72 percent said that they are actively seeking other vendors to diversify their portfolios", according to the Yankee Group press release about the report. Here are the relevant portions from the Decatur Jones report."

Also in the blog is a troubling prediction: "Desktop Linux will affect Microsoft faster than expected."

So, should I get out my résumé? Oh, now I know why Joel handed out résumé tips on his blog the other day. :-)

Seriously, I'm not worried about my job. But, this is a challenge to us to ship better products and service. Are we up to the challenge? The market will decide, and if this article is right, it'll decide quickly.

2:35:06 AM    comment 

Heh, the guys over at Google have quite a sense of humor. Look at this. Search Google for my last name. Now look at the Category at the top of the page. You'll see:

Society>History>By Region>South America>Guyana

Quick, what's Guyana? That's the nation where Jim Jones moved his cult and where they killed themselves by drinking a flavored drink laced with Cyanide (many believe it was KoolAid, but it was a flavored knock-off drink named Flavor-aid).

So, Google is trying to say "Scoble drank the Koolaid" in a creative way.

Thanks to Scott Mace for pointing this out to me (someone else did earlier, I think John Robb, I forget, though).

2:21:44 AM    comment 

Any Visual Basic 6.0 users out there wanna discover Visual Basic.NET? Here's a 15-part class that starts on February 3 to do just that.

Thanks to MSDN's Duncan MacKenzie for the link.

2:12:17 AM    comment 

A friend in the conference business wants to know if anyone knows where he can rent 25 Tablet PCs for a week for a conference. Anyone know?

2:10:03 AM    comment 

Ahh, my pleadings in the office to start a blog are spreading. This time I got the guy three doors down from me (Charles Torre). He's also on the Longhorn evangelism team (very passionate about security, by the way, although his blog hasn't yet shown that). Alright, 55,000 more employees to go before my job is done.

Charles: use your newfound Google power for good, not for evil.

2:05:26 AM    comment 

My former boss Robert Hess hosts another .NET Show. This one is all on Longhorn. Even I learned a lot.

2:01:39 AM    comment 

Heh. I thought I had the unofficial Microsoft blog, but I guess I gotta go legit now that there's theUnofficialMicrosoftWeblog.


1:42:58 AM    comment 

Since I played the Longhorn card, I guess I should also point to the new Longhorn FAQ. Very nice Stuart! And, yes, I learned about this on Chris Sells blog.

1:41:03 AM    comment 

Joel Spolsky wants a .NET Linker.

I've been hearing this request for more than a decade now. Let me explain.

In the beginning there was Windows. To build Windows apps you needed Assembly, or C, or C++. You compiled your app into an .exe and it ran. Everything that that app needed to run was included in Windows itself. So, apps were small.

Then along came Visual Basic. Visual Basic had one goal: make it easier to program Windows. Dramatically easier. But, that had a cost. To make it easier to program, Visual Basic needed to include a runtime library so that programmers didn't need to do things like memory management. Among other things. To run a Visual Basic app, you not only needed Windows, like the C or C++ apps did, but you needed the Visual Basic runtime.

So, shareware guys who needed to distribute over modems didn't like that. They needed to choose between the quick development time of Visual Basic, or the quick download time of C++.

Obviously I'm simplifying things a bit. But stick with me.

Today we have .NET. Same problem, but worse. Now the .NET runtime is more than 20MB. But, with that runtime, programmers still get a productivity boost when compared to C++, or even Delphi. At least that's what they tell me. Note that many of the best RSS News Aggregators are built in .NET (NewsGator, IntraVnews, SharpReader, DesktopDean, RSS Bandit, and a few others).

The argument still exists. Do you go for the better programmer productivity of .NET? Or do you go for the faster download speed of, say, Visual C++ or Borland's Delphi? (Nick Bradbury wrote FeedDemon in Delphi, for instance).

I hate to play the "it'll be fixed in Longhorn" card, but I'm going to. Why is that? Longhorn requires the .NET runtimes, because parts of Longhorn are being built in .NET itself. In other words, Longhorn won't run if the .NET runtimes aren't there. Translation: we're finally eating our own dogfood.

Now, what does that mean? .NET apps on Longhorn are gonna be smaller (and easier to distribute) than Delphi or Visual C++ apps. Why? Because when you compile a C++ app, it links in stuff that it needs to run that app.

One way to solve this problem is the way that Greg Reinacker solved it for NewsGator: he has two installs. One for people who already have .NET. One for people who don't (and he has a little app that figures out which install you need).

So, the question becomes a business one. Do we spend programmer time building a linker, or do we spend programmer time on adding more performance to .NET, or more features, or better security?

1:36:06 AM    comment 

More "Scoble is wrong" links. They just keep coming.

Michael Gartenberg: Scoble is still wrong about the iPod. Michael, where did you get those numbers? According to NPD flash-based music players have 70% of the market, not 30%. On those players you want to store as much music as possible hence the ability to get the same quality at half the bit rate of MP3 ... whether it is secure music or not.

Derek Slater: "What amazes me about Scoble's follow-up comments is that he doesn't address any of Cory's criticisms." See below for a partial answer.

Peter Rysavy: Apple still does it better.

By the way, I was in a meeting today. Two funny things happened:

1) At the beginning of the meeting (with 50 Longhorn developers) the guys running the meeting said "please do not blog this meeting."
2) At one point feedback from bloggers was put up on the screen.

This isn't the first time I saw this happen. Oh, yeah, and the two guys from the Windows Digital Media team are reading every comment in my blog over the past few days.

Are we learning from this process? Absolutely. Do you realize why the Windows Media team has such a straightforward contract? That came directly out of feedback like what I'm getting here.

One last thing on this music thing (and a half reply to Cory). If you read my comments in the past, you know that I personally feel very strongly that consumers should be able to use the music they buy in whatever way they want, if it's for their own use. Obviously not everyone agrees with me (especially in the record industry). But, it's not time for me to run my own campaign in the public eye (look what happened to Joe Trippi when he did that). One thing I do want to do is always remain legal. Right now if I want to buy music online (which I do, for a whole raft of reasons, most of all because I'm a geek) it comes with DRM. If I'm gonna be stuck with DRM, I wanna pick the best system. I'm comparing iTunes and Napster and will write more after I see the pros and cons of each.

One thing I learned in college debate class is that if you really want to learn an issue, learn to debate forcefully on both sides of the issue. The tons of feedback I'm getting here is really helping me out and I appreciate every bit very much.

One last bit: every device I've seen that plays WMV/WMA files (even those that play the DRM versions) also plays MP3.

UPDATE: the team just wrote me with this in reply to a belief that we won't let Linux folks build WMA or WMV support into their systems: "we have no issues with WMA or WMV support on a Linux device as some of your readers implied - we have many in the market today."

1:16:57 AM    comment 

Business 2.0: Why blogs mean business.

"Blogs will soon become a staple in the information diet of every serious businessperson, not because it's cool to read them, but because those who don't read them will fail."

Fast Company magazine is doing an article on corporate bloggers (and me) too. Oh great, now Dare will really get on me for hyping up the blog world. ;-)

Thanks to Business 2.0 columnist John Battelle for the plug!

12:20:31 AM    comment 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
Are you with the press?
Last updated:
5/11/2005; 12:45:29 AM.

Robert Scoble works at Microsoft (title: technical evangelist). 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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