Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Joi Ito: those sexy Iranians.

Hey, now you know why I married Maryam. Grin.

11:35:19 PM    comment 

Jeremy Zawdony is looking to meet up at the Moffett Field airshow this weekend. I'm game for a meet there on Saturday, looking for something to do with my son. Anyone else?

11:09:10 PM    comment 

Note to Joseph R. Jones. Your weblog is a killer source of Tablet PC news, thanks!

I updated this after Christopher Coulter pointed out that he had an RSS feed.

11:04:01 PM    comment 

Paul Thurrott has lots of photos of Longhorn prototypes from the WinHec conference last week.

10:49:59 PM    comment 
10:15:14 PM    comment 

Sean Campbell points to this article by Larry O'Brien: Programming the TabletPC.

10:13:23 PM    comment 

Dylan Greene is linking to all sorts of cool videos from E3.

10:09:50 PM    comment 

Dare Obasanjo gives Google's bloggers some advice.

9:59:27 PM    comment 
9:55:46 PM    comment 

Interesting, TechED is sold out. And I didn't even hype it up!

9:40:43 PM    comment 

Mike Sax: "Frankly, I thought [Scoble] would have gotten himself in trouble by now."

9:33:13 PM    comment 

Cory Smith reviews the new Xbox Live video game: Rally Sport Challenge 2. Sounds like the Live features aren't all that great. I should get this and try it.

9:24:50 PM    comment 

It took me a while to understand what Todd was doing with the Business Book Blog Tour. Now I understand. What an excellent idea!

I think the Longhorn evangelism team should do this. Or, maybe, gasp, the Tablet PC team.

9:15:02 PM    comment 

Seth Godin is guest blogging over on Jon Strande's Business Evolution weblog. I want Seth's book in the worst way.

9:10:35 PM    comment 

Are you a manager trying to cut costs? You MUST read this entry on "A Penny For" weblog.

9:08:02 PM    comment 

Heh, Tablet PC geek Lora Heiny and I are trading messages while watching West Wing. Nothing like using a Tablet PC on the couch while watching TV.

9:05:19 PM    comment 

I don't know how I landed on Dr. Phil's show tonight. He's taking a look at divorce. One of my friends (Buzz Bruggeman) gave me some very specific advice when I was going through mine: "take the high road."

For me that meant not fighting and trying to stay out of courts and stuff. At the time I really wanted to fight. But, I listened to Buzz and today Maryam and Charlotte are friendly to each other. My son is happy. Life is working out far better than I expected it to. Yeah, I have alimony payments that are nuts and I gave up a LOT that I probably would have won in court.

But I watch these two people on TV fighting over tupperware and stupid things and I realize just how valuable that advice was.

I don't know why I'm writing about this, but today is my one-year-anniversary of working at Microsoft, and I'm looking back a bit at just how much has happened in the past three years of my life.

If you're going through a divorce, there's no better advice I could pass along than "take the high road." In fact, I think there's no better advice for life, is there Buzz?

9:03:08 PM    comment 

James Robertson: "Well, the same now applies to Tablets. Ink is nice and all, but it's not $2k of nice. It's a niche product until the price point equalizes."

This is a common thing I hear about Tablet PCs. First of all, one Acer Tablet has a list price of $1499, and I've seen them on the street for far less than that (there are others that are in that price range too). But, it's a common complaint and a hard one for Microsoft to solve. Here's why (keep in mind I worked at an OEM).

Tablet PCs need more expensive components. The NEC, for instance, used a Toshiba hard drive that was smaller than most hard drives. That one cost more money than the bigger hard drives that are in your average six pound laptop. Also, they need a digitizer that other laptops don't need. Let's say that adds $100 to the material cost. Well, $100 in material cost ends up being about $300 in retail price.

Add in better cooling systems (a Tablet that gets hot is worse than a laptop does, because it's being held). Extra cost for a hinge on convertibles. Extra cost for more buttons. Extra cost for the engineering and tech time it takes to properly align the digitizer to the LCD.

Now, you are already starting to see the costs come down. When I sold Tablets a year ago the low end was about $2000 (high end was $3000 or more). Today the low end is under $1500. I know of one manufacturer that will announce $1000 Tablets this fall. The price slope is pretty steep -- it's coming down fast. It's one reason that I'm so willing to predict that the Tablet PC technology will be on nearly every portable computer within two to five years.

It takes time for manufacturers to pay for their investments that they make in R&D. As time goes along prices come down. This has been happening at a consistent rate in this industry since the 1950s.

Now, let's say it's a $500 difference, I think it's worth it. I'll use my Tablet PC for two years full time, another two years part time as a backup computer. So, $500 split up per year is $125 a year. Now, let's look at the ROI.

Every two weeks I'm stuck in an airline security line for about an hour (half hour each way). I can use my Tablet PC there. If you have a standard laptop, you can't. That gains me two hours per month. Let's say I make $30 an hour. That's $60 of extra productive time per month. That's $720 of extra productive time per year. Multiplied by four, that's $2,880 worth of extra computer time.

Think I'm lying? Ask my wife. I often read RSS feeds in line at the airport. And often the time we spend in lines is more than half an hour (one line, for instance, was 1.5 hours one weekend).

Anyway, I've rambled on about the Tablet PC enough tonight. If you don't see the opportunities for new technology to improve your lives, I'm not holding a gun to your head making you buy it.

I'll just meet you in the security line and laugh. Some of you "anti-Tablet" folks spend $500 a year in paperback books.

8:52:45 PM    comment 

Interesting Technet article: Help, I got hacked, now what do I do?

8:17:15 PM    comment 

Peter Rysavy is writing one of the best blogs about the Tablet PC (and other developer-centric stuff) today. He even gives me a lot of heck for my answer to Mary Jo Foley yesterday.

Speaking of Tablet PC blogs, Kollen Glynn has started a Tablet PC Developer blog, well, actually focused on developing rich client software for Windows, concentrating on WinForms with a special focus on Tablet PC development.

8:15:09 PM    comment 

Layne and Lora Heiny cover today's Tablet PC Developer Training that happened in Los Angeles today. He's a schoolteacher who is using the Tablet PC in his classroom and ended up with this comment "well worth the time."

7:54:12 PM    comment 

Rob Bushway, chimes in on the latest Tablet PC stuff (this time in a thread over on "I disagree that the Tablet PC is at a crossroads. Its' right where it should be: integrating Tablet functionality into all notebooks. I do agree, however, that there have been and continue to be marketing issues."

7:50:30 PM    comment 

Speaking of videos and Longhorn, Dave Massy, the Longhorn Evangelism team, and MSDN, have posted a "conference in a box" which covers how to develop applications for the latest build of Longhorn that we've released.

7:47:22 PM    comment 

We've posted the first of the interviews with Samuel Druker of the WinFS team over on Channel9. He reads questions right off of the screen and answers them (from both here and over on Channel9). A bunch more videos to come over the next week or so. Subscribe to the RSS feed and get them all. I can't believe we've posted more than 70 Channel9 videos already.

Sorry for the wait. Getting an editing bay over at studios has been quite tough lately due to the E3 conference. Seems a bunch of teams were over there 24 hours a day nearly getting their video content ready for E3 (which is where Halo 2 was just shown off).

7:41:39 PM    comment 

More good Xbox news. EA is building games for the Xbox, the Seattle Times reports. Awesome! Huge win for the Xbox team.

7:33:40 PM    comment 

Kathleen reminisces about "the old days." Heh, I didn't own a cell phone back then, either. And I think we might have just turned on our email system at Fawcette (in early days we'd pass important memos around with paper).

Oh, those were the days. So much has happened in a decade. I couldn't even imagine something like Halo 2 a decade ago. I wonder what the world will look like in 2014?

7:31:25 PM    comment 

I can't believe this. "I won't even bother putting into words how amazing Halo 2 is, we already know it's going to be the biggest title gamers have ever without further adieu here are the clips. Sit back and watch...and try not to get too much drool on your keyboards."

7:15:00 PM    comment 

Heh, I forgot #11: The Tablet PC OS. Soon to be known as Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005. Includes Windows XP + the inking technology/and recognizers + the user interface pieces + the SDK so that apps built on it will run.

OK, so that eWeek article that said that Tablet PCs could quietly vanish was talking very specifically about #3 -- the hardware, slate style.

Now, I have great love for slates. Bill Gates loves them. Peter Loforte, the general manager of the Tablet PC team, lovingly showed me his NEC too.

But the market simply wasn't ready for a mainstream computer that doesn't have a keyboard. I ran into this at NEC. "How will I use it if it doesn't have a keyboard and mouse?"

Other people would say "I type far faster than I can write."

Even I joined the naysayers. When I had an NEC Slate the first thing I did was buy a couple of keyboards and leave them everywhere I'd sit down. Why? Because I type more than 100 words per minute without needing to look at the keyboard. With the first version of the Tablet PC software I could barely do 10 words per minute. Now, with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 (I hate that name) I can do about 30 to 50. It's now good enough that I write 1000-word-long rants in the airplane with just my pen.

But, right now I'm typing away on my Tablet PC. Why? Cause it's faster and more accurate.

So, it looks like Microsoft has given up on slates, right? We're now talking up the convertible form factor. But, the media is reading too much into some comments taken out of context.

Next week when you see the videos from the Tablet PC team, you'll see Peter Loforte's Compaq Tablet PC. It "separates" from the keyboard. So it is actually a "slateveritble." Yet the press doesn't point that out.

And, even on a slate, you can hook up a keyboard quite easily through USB ports. That's exactly what I did with my NEC.

But, this whole thing points out a disconnect. I'm using the latest latest stuff. It has radically changed my life. I can't, and will not, buy a portable computer without the Tablet PC features anymore. It's changed my life that much.

Why? Well why don't you meet me in Southwest Airlines on Friday evening and I'll show you why the Tablet PC is so superior for air travelers?

All this reminds me of 1986. Remember that year? Remember what they were saying about the Macintosh? "It's dead," they said.

Sorry Marc Hachman, you're just as wrong now as they were then.

7:07:52 PM    comment 

eWeek: TabletPC could quietly vanish.

This, and other press, has gotten all my Tablet PC friends up in a frenzy. My IM has been busy all day long. One thing I've noticed is that everyone has a different idea of what Tablet PC really is. Here's a look at the different "TabletPC's" I've identified:

1) The concept. You know, a portable computer that you could write on with a pen. Alan Kay is responsible for this meme. But some people believe that a tablet concept includes everything from an Apple Newton to a Palm Pilot to Alan Kay's Dynabook. Christopher Coulter has a tablet history here, for more details.

2) The product. You know, a full Tablet PC that you can buy. Like the Toshiba Tablet PC that I'm typing on right now.

3) The hardware, slate style. Like my old NEC. No keyboard. Just an LCD with a digitizer. Note that the hardware alone does NOT equal a "Microsoft Tablet PC." I ran Linux on my NEC, just to see if it'd run. It did. But the Tablet experience wasn't close to the same as when I ran Microsoft's technology on it.

4) The hardware, convertible style. Like the Toshiba I'm typing on now. Looks like a regular laptop in one mode, but then the screen flips around so I can hold it like a pad of paper and write on the surface.

5) The digitizer. Because the digitizer on most Tablet PCs is different from most other digitiziers, some people believe that's what makes a Tablet PC. The digitizer in my Tablet PC is an active style (it requires a stylus). Why is that better? Because you can put your hand on it and it doesn't confuse the cursor. It also gives a far higher sampling rate, and much more accurate positioning. This makes the quality of your inking much better than the digitizers that are included on most palm-style devices.

6) The inking technology. A few of my IM'ers thought this is what really makes a Tablet PC. The inking technology is quite interesting. When you write on your Tablet, the Tablet records the stylus' direction, pressure, speed, and location. The ink datatype is actually a vector graphic, not pixels. So you can enlarge it and keep its shape. It also converts -- underneath -- to text so that you can search through all of your notes using ASCII text commands. This is so cool and is why a Tablet is far more useful than a pad of paper or a book.

7) The user interface (oh, sorry, since I work at Microsoft we're supposed to call this "user experience" now). The user experience is about to get a huge update on the Tablet PC. I can't say "huge" enough. The difference between the old version and the new version is like the difference between TV and Radio.

8) The SDK. Developers use the Software Development Kit to build applications that use the Tablet PC hardware and software.

9) The Team. I noticed that when some people talk about Tablet PC, they are actually talking about the people who work over in building 32. And, some even mean specific parts of the team like management or PR or developers.

10) The future. Some people put all their frustrations and hopes onto a future version of the Tablet PC.

Anyway, now that we've identified all the different "Tablet PC's" we can have a good conversation about the TabletPC.

6:44:58 PM    comment 

Mark Cuban continues doing some damn interesting blogging. This time he asks "why do people love stocks?"

12:32:10 AM    comment 

Kathleen Dollard is on the .NET Rocks audio show. I "discovered" Kathleen back in the CompuServe days when I made her a forum manager. She later admitted that she had only been programming VB for a couple of weeks at that point. Hey, she was answering a ton of technical questions that other members had and she's kept at it for about a decade now. One of my best finds and we've been friends ever since. She's quite appropriate for .NET Rocks cause she rocks!

12:15:10 AM    comment 

While I was away over the weekend TechTV fired everyone working in San Francisco. I wonder what they will do with the network. Leo Laporte is covering the action on his blog.

It's sad, since I knew a few people there, and was a guest a few times.

12:00:39 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; 12:52:12 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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