Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Mike Hillyer: Note to Microsoft, show your human side.

Personally, I wanna show you the room full of evil spongmonkeys we have working here. Heh.

11:57:42 PM    comment 

Alan Bailward is asking about a Windows crash that he's having. These are very frustrating, I know. I've had them in the past too. I fixed one just like what Alan's seeing by upgrading my video driver. I don't know if this will fix Alan's problem, but it's worth a try. And, please always hit "send" whenever you have crashes. Microsoft is using that data to fix these kinds of problems in the future.

11:52:42 PM    comment 

Slate has an article about those weird fuzzball characters in the latest Quiznos ads. Pretty funny! Maryam and I are laughing while looking at the video.

11:39:46 PM    comment 

Rob Fahrni has a question for the .NET gurus at Microsoft: "If I'm writing a .NET based WinForms application and want to use VBA as my scripting engine how would you recommend getting started?"

11:37:03 PM    comment 

Since I have the #1 result on Google for Offshoring, I feel compelled to point to Tom Peters' list of offshoring observations (quite interesting and will make you think about this issue).

This issue brings up more visceral reactions in people than any other issue (including gay marriage). Politicians beware.

11:35:07 PM    comment 

Order your free Windows XP update disk here.

11:31:09 PM    comment 

Talking with my coworkers we can make each other crack up just by saying this word:


10:42:06 PM    comment 

MicrosoftMonitor asks us to "pull back Longhorn evangelism" and "revamp our XP marketing and evangelism."

I have taken that to heart. Whenever I fly I interview customers who still are using Windows 2000 or 98. I want to know why they haven't upgraded. I'm talking about Longhorn far less now too.

So far the answer I'm getting is "we're stuck with what our company gives us." But, when pressed, most of these people couldn't name three new features in XP that don't exist in 2000 or 98.

I wish we'd come out with a new TV and magazine campaign that'd focus on "the joy of software." And point out specifically new features in our currently-shipping software.

It's interesting. My coworkers and I talk about our advertising a lot. I haven't found ANYONE who likes the latest Office ads. Admittedly my sample size is small, but let's show off our software! Search folders in the latest Outlook, for instance, are REALLY AWESOME yet we don't tell anyone about them.

Most people don't know what ClearType is either.

Joe and Michael are right to keep pressure on us to market our current products better.

10:32:09 PM    comment 

If there's any Web designers/developers still reading me (I got a bunch of them mad at me earlier this week) MezzoBlue has an excellent article about Internet Explorer's CSS's shortcomings and how to work around them: Side-stepping IE.

10:23:00 PM    comment 

Matt Goyer just started as a Microsoft employee. It seems so long ago that I went through new employee orientation. Ten months.

Matt, why don't you want to blog about work? Let's talk.

10:18:53 PM    comment 

I learned at lunch (I was with a bunch of evangelists who speak often to user groups and such) that if you are speaking and your voice starts to go that nothing cures the throat problem better than honey. Sounds weird, but more than two people at the table swore it works wonders.

10:16:33 PM    comment 

Microsoft's John Lawrence is tracking news from the Speech Server launch.

9:55:11 PM    comment 

Longhorn Feature Request: Jelle Druyts wants transactional and secure FTP.

I link to well-thought-out feature requests like these for a couple of reasons:

1) I know the WinFS team is reading my blog.

2) By pointing to requests like these in public the rest of the world can add their two cents in.

No promises, though. Adding new features to Longhorn is getting tougher and tougher. We have to ship it sometime in the next decade. :-)

Update: John Porcaro talks about our talk last night at the blogger dinner on just this topic.

9:36:13 PM    comment 

Tons of weblogs are talking about George Bush's proposal to change our constitution to make homosexual marriages illegal. Tim Jarret points at some of the "up in arms" comments. Add me to the list.

I realize that I might lose some readers for this stance but that's OK. Sometimes you have to take a stand and sign your name to an unpopular opinion. Lots of people in the past have given their lives for my right to free speech. If I didn't do that, even when it could cost me personally, their sacrifices would have been made in vain.

Homosexual couples should be treated by society the same as heterosexual couples. Certainly opening up our constitution to an amendment is a dangerous thing to do.

Anyway, I know there's another point of view, and there are plenty of places like "TheRightSociety" to discuss the conservative point of view too.

9:20:18 PM    comment 

Jan Tielens has written an RSS-displaying webpart for Sharepoint.

How about a webpart that creates RSS feeds on a Sharepoint server?

9:08:42 PM    comment 

Congrats to Greg Reinacker, author of my favorite news aggregator, NewsGator, for getting a nice review in PC Magazine.

8:56:56 PM    comment 

Hendrik Mans worries that I'm putting a strain on the Internet because I watch 1300 feeds. I turned off automatic scanning. I scan my feeds once per day, right before I start reading through my feeds.

8:49:43 PM    comment 

Jason Haley: "It is amazing what blogs have done to create a some-what virtual and real community around the globe." He also talks about how he and a friend both were talking about how bummed they were that I went on the "blog vacation" a few weeks back. Heh.

It's really weird when people I barely know come up and start talking to me about stuff I've written on my blog. Speaking of which, Maryam and I are sitting on our red couch eating cheese and grapes and watching the Tivo. Jason also shows that blog communities often form around one or two people (in his case most of the blogs he watches were pointed to by either me or Don Box).

8:45:45 PM    comment 

Rick Schaut has a lengthy post about Mac Word 6.0 on the Macintosh.

This post was very interesting to me. I was a hard-core Macintosh fanatic back then. We used Mac 5.1 at San Jose State, and I remember trying Mac Word 6.0. Boy did it run slow on our Macs (SJSU's journalism labs stayed on 5.1 for years because of that). This was all 1992.

Yup, Rick gives the story behind the product.

8:33:50 PM    comment 

Ever want to see how Nikon makes its cameras? Here's a tour of a Nikon plant on DPMac's site. Thanks to for pointing me there.

7:16:11 PM    comment 

Ed Sims is a venture capitalist. And a blogger who answers the question "why would a venture capitalist blog?"

7:06:44 PM    comment 

Shaan Hurley, resident geek at Autodesk, is taking a trip to the Amazon and is taking along a ruggedized Tablet PC and other geeky toys to document and weblog the experience. I sure hope we don't see him getting eaten by piranhas.

7:05:28 PM    comment 

I've been using my Etymotic ER6 headphones more and more lately. If you're using an iPod or other music device, you really need to hear the difference between these and the headphones that came with your device. It's an amazing difference. Yeah, they are pricey, but worth it. When I wear my headphones I can't even hear myself type.

Now I see that they have a new cell phone headset. Buzz Bruggeman is telling me this rocks too. I'll have to put that on my geek toys to purchase list. Ahh, if only I had a bigger geek toy budget (Maryam makes me save up).

Update: Ars Technica has a review of six different headphones, including the Etymotics.

6:55:17 PM    comment 

Cory Smith reports on his weblog that Desaware is now shipping source code with its products. For those who don't know, Desaware was founded by Dan Appleman. I liked his products (and Dan) so much -- they were always readers' choice winners at the Visual Basic magazine I worked at -- that I helped do some of their first ads (my son, in fact, appeared in their ads back in the mid 1990s). Glad to see that they are still doing interesting things.

6:41:37 PM    comment 

LiveJournal now is exporting FOAF (Friend of a Friend) data. I need to learn more about FOAF and the scenarios it opens up. I still don't get social software. Who's my friends? It's the people I link to. Linking to someone is a far stronger social statement about someone than saying "yeah, they're my friend" to Orkut or Linked Up.

6:34:06 PM    comment 

Werner Moise asks "what happens to Linux after Longhorn ships?"

Oh, please, let's not get the "OS battle" hype going. Two years is an awfully long time in the software business. Apple and Linux developers aren't stopping work just cause Microsoft has been working hard on Longhorn.

Am I excited about Longhorn? Heck yes (of course I'm paid to say that). Why? It opens up new scenarios and fixes many existing problems. But, should the industry be looking at a new "OS War?" Oh, please let's not do that again. Certainly not until it ships.

Linux will be good for some things. Longhorn will be good for others. Does a Toyota Prius mean that a Ford F-150 is unneeded?

Yeah, I'm an evangelist for Microsoft's Windows, but let's just stay focused on the job at hand and leave the war talk out of this industry for once.

But, it is healthy to ask yourself where the best business opportunities will be in three years. Let's have debates about that. .NET and Windows have a very healthy future ahead of them. So does Linux. But, figuring out where the business opportunities are is tough. So, let's work together there. After all, who among you saw the Tivo happening three years ago? Camera phones? Robotics?

How many of you understand the coming display revolution? I saw my first flexible screen a while back. I know most of you get the coming syndication revolution. Heck, Forbes wrote about that today.

What about RFID, how will that open up new opportunities? Let's talk about opportunities. Longhorn will open up many. Let's get the tech industry excited about going forward again. Leave the war talk for the other guys.

6:31:44 PM    comment 

Chris Prately, who has become one of my favorite bloggers (yeah, cause he was the guy behind Microsoft's OneNote product) asks "why should I keep blogging?" and, taking it further, why does ANYONE keep blogging?

Isn't the answer going to be different for everyone? In fact, if you asked me three years ago, I would have said "cause I'm making cool friends cause of my blog." (I was invited to Steve Wozniak's superbowl party by Dave Winer just a few weeks after starting to blog).

Last week several venture capitalists walked up to me at Demo and said "I love your blog." Today I had lunch with Microsoft employees from around the world and one guy said "I was a little afraid of riding in your car cause you're such a superstar." That's wacky. Bill Gates is a superstar. Steve Jobs is a superstar. I'm just a guy who likes hanging out with geeks and using technology and writing about it.

Why do I keep posting? Because I have found no other way to meet as many geeks, see as much technology, have as many interesting conversations with interesting people, and make things happen for so many people, as my blog.

Remember, I was a Microsoft MVP and over the past decade I wrote probably 100,000 newsgroup posts. I've been on Prodigy, AOL, CompuServe. On home-built BBS's in the 1980s. But nothing has changed my life as much as writing on the blog.

Now, I won't guarantee that it'll change your life that much, but I believe that the world's most influential and most interesting people (who are often the same) are only reachable via weblogs.

And, Chris, get over the "working for Microsoft" thing. I read you cause you changed my life (I use your product and would use it whether or not I worked at Microsoft). That makes you interesting and what you have to say to me interesting. It's why I read Bram Cohen, who wrote BitTorrent, or Greg Reinacker, who wrote NewsGator, or Dave Winer, who wrote a whole bunch of things I use, or ... the list could go on for pages.

Really the weblog metaphor lets you do some really interesting things.

1) It lets you share. I bet you know OneNote tricks that no one else does. Tell us! We'll hang on every word. (If you are doing a personal weblog, it lets you share your life with other people, say, your family members).

2) It lets you reveal. You could tell a world-wide audience about the next version of OneNote. Why on a blog? Because of the influence of who reads here. Mary Jo Foley, for instance, tells me she reads all the Microsoft blogs looking for information about Microsoft. (If you're writing a personal blog, you might reveal something cool about your life. A photo of the sunset out your front door, for instance).

3) It lets you reward others. Do you know the social power of a link? I've had people come up to me at conferences all giddy saying "do you realize what happened after you linked to me?" Certainly I'm aware of the GooglePower that I send someone when I link to them. But it's more than that. I've made powerful friends after I've linked to them. It's a social thing. Dave Sifry, the guy who founded Technorati, is right. It's a social gesture. (Personal bloggers, it's a far more powerful act of friendship to link to someone on your blog than it is to say "that guy's my friend" in Google's Orkut).

4) It lets you have conversations. One thing I'd say to Chris is to put "OneNote" and "Pratley" into and subscribe to those two feeds. Then, when someone says something about OneNote or Pratley, respond. By showing you care about people's opinions, they are far more likely to give you feedback that'll make your product better. (Personal bloggers, if you respond to people who talk about you, you'll find you build real and lasting friendships).

Anyway, it's up to you Chris. I hope you don't stop. What you're doing is interesting on all sorts of levels. I wish that designers of every product I use would blog. I'd love to talk with the guy who designed our Toyota Corolla, for instance. I have a ton of product ideas that'd help them make a better car.

What do you think, should Chris keep blogging?

Wesner Moise thinks so.

5:51:50 PM    comment 

Bill Gates visited Cornell today, and Ajay Juneja weblogged about it (he wasn't impressed with Gates' speech). Fun things? Someone handed him a Linux CD and there were some anti-Windows protest signs around campus (Ajay's blog has pictures).

What are interesting problems in computer science? That's an interesting question. How would you answer it?

As to Gates' speaking style, it's not why I enjoy listening to him (I'm more partial to the Don Box school of speaking). I remember interviewing Gates and he was solely focused on the business aspects of his life. I tried to get him off track, even meeting him over beers at a GeekFest at Comdex once, and couldn't. His focus, when on stage or meeting people, is notable. As someone said in Ajay's comments, the results are hard to argue with.

By the way, I've heard Wozniak speak a couple of times and I didn't find him overly inspiring either, although speaking with him in person (and studying with him several mornings in the cafeteria at West Valley Community College) is an event I'll never forget the rest of my life.

5:17:57 PM    comment 

Heh, Ken Levy's boss and teammates (hi Alan Griver) are joshing him cause I made it sound like Ken spent $600 to play old Mattel games on his PocketPC. But, in Ken's defense, he had an RSS reader (PocketFeed) and was reading his email via the free WiFi feed in the food court at the mall we meet at. I was most jealous.

What do Microsoft employees do during breaks? We surf RSS on our PocketPCs. Lenn Pryor was showing me Egress, another RSS reader for PocketPCs, which he says is better than PocketFeed because it doesn't make him horizontally scroll.

4:38:56 PM    comment 

Don Browning says that Subversion is the next generation of source-code management.

4:25:59 PM    comment 

ZDNet's David Coursey: Why Microsoft hasn't taken over cell phones -- yet.

I'm still waiting for the perfect SmartPhone. I'm jealous of my coworkers who show me their new phones, but I'm still holding out. I want one with a camera and with bluetooth and with the 2003 software that includes the .NET Compact Framework. I hear that by the end of the year I'll have a new phone. Let's revisit this topic then.

4:24:38 PM    comment 

Hmmm, Darcy Burner takes on Jim Fawcette after he wrote that the increased programmer productivity that tools like Visual Studio brings is what is causing developers to get laid off.

I too disagree with my old boss. At Demo last week VCs were telling me that they are having trouble finding good programmers again that knew .NET (many of the new products/services shown there were done in .NET). As we get closer to Longhorn (yeah, it still is a long ways off) you'll see that economic pressure increase too on .NET sides of things.

The Almond/Pistachio processing factory I visited at Christmas time is a good example. The whole factory is run on .NET. They now employ more programmers than they did before. Why? Because the work is changing from one where manual labor does the tasks to one where programmers can squeeze more efficiencies out of new machines and processes (and offer new kinds of products and new quality levels).

Every CEO I talk to is planning on hiring more programmers, not fewer. Look at REI's CEO that I met on the plane. He has a team of programmers working on building a "store of the future." That's for a sporting goods store. He thinks programmers will let him outrun his competition. And, the fact that he can get more productivity out of each programmer makes it MORE LIKELY he'll hire more programmers.

4:20:30 PM    comment 

Korby Parnell has a report on last night's geek dinner. He forgot the best part, though. Ken Levy brought his new Toshiba PocketPC. That sucker has the coolest screen and design. See, I do notice nice design. It felt like a black iPod when I held it in my hand. It has a 640x480 screen that you need to see to appreciate. At $599 it's out of my price range.

What was he playing on it? LEDhead, old Mattel games for Windows.

4:05:26 PM    comment 

Oliver Fisher reports there's a developer here at Microsoft who has learned the phone number of California Governor Arnold Schwarzennegger (his is one digit off) and he's getting weird messages meant for the Governor. Oh, you could have so much fun with that!

3:48:33 PM    comment 

I like getting new features. Now if you sign into you can see who has feeds that are most like mine.

3:45:08 PM    comment 

eWeek's Steve Gillmor in an article titled RSS Anonymous: "Scoble's typing speed frequently causes sonic booms, while decrypting my handwriting has overcome Moore's Law." and "My name is Steve Gillmor. I am an RSS addict."

Steve, if you're addicted, I have no idea what I am.

3:34:45 PM    comment 

Another cool tool for building optimized syndication feeds: FeedBurner. The service just turned on today. There's a blog about the service here. It lets you build different kinds of RSS/Atom feeds from your original feed. For instance, you could build a feed that's optimized for mobile devices. And you can get new kinds of data from your feeds (for instance, they can turn on stats about your feeds, so you can learn more about who subscribes to you. Interesting idea. I built a feed for you here with some of the features turned on. It looks like the service is still having some startup problems. But, looks interesting. RSS/Atom is getting more mature with services like these.

3:32:01 PM    comment 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
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Last updated:
5/11/2005; 12:46:46 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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