Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Monday, May 17, 2004

I'm speaking tonight at the Visual FoxPro User Group here at Microsoft. Everyone's invited.

9:47:22 AM    comment 

Molly Holzschlag points to, and discusses, Moveable Type's response to the angry response to their new business plan.

9:34:38 AM    comment 

Cool! Dave Winer announces that he's going to open source the UserLand Frontier Kernel. (That's the software at the heart of the blogging system I use).

9:30:08 AM    comment 

Mike Padula is analyzing my blog, among others at Microsoft, for a Cornell University project.

Part I
Part II

Interesting perspective. He's very astute that I don't write technical blogs like Dare Obasanjo or Chris Brumme. These guys are very smart developers. Among the brightest in the industry. I'm not a developer, so I see my value being more of a connector. Already we have 570 bloggers at Microsoft and it's just getting harder and harder to keep up with the large numbers of bloggers.

So, I see a lot of value in being a connector role, or someone who'll tell you when there's interesting stuff elsewhere on the blogs.

It'll be interesting to see how I change my approach now that Mike has written about it.

3:12:11 AM    comment 

San Francisco is known for its cultural subcultures, but I bet you never would have thought of San Francisco as home of the sewing geeks. More on that in a second.

After leaving the overly-crowded NextFest, Phil Kirby, my son, and I drove across town to see Tantek Çelik. If you don't know who Tantek is, he's the guy who wrote the rendering engine for Internet Explorer on the Macintosh, is Microsoft's contact on the W3C, and is now working on stuff for Longhorn (he can't talk about it yet).

Tantek, after lunch, gave us a tour of the Haight/Ashbury district of San Francisco (he lives a couple blocks away from Haight street). If you aren't familiar with this street, it's where the hippie movement got its start in the 1960s. The Grateful Dead, and many other famous bands, also were born there.

And, now you know that some of Microsoft's code is being written there too!

Anyway, Tantek took us into the places he hangs out. His local Safeway. The local coffee shops. And then he introduced us to the resident sewing geek.

Sewing geek? I'd never heard of such a thing.

Well, now that I've met Gina Evans of Yolo Designs, I can say I've definitely met the sewing geek of San Francisco.

She has, not one, but two high-tech sewing machines. Now, why didn't Wired have a "NextFest Sewing Display?" Gina woulda been there in a minute.

You think her machine isn't futuristic? Well, you should see it. She can take your design, scan it in, bring it into Adobe Illustrator to convert the scan into a vector graphic, then move it into one of the digital stitching programs she uses (she has three of them). All running on Windows XP, of course (she told me that most of the sewing programs she uses are only available on Windows).

Her home machine, a Bernina 200E, has Windows CE embedded, and does quilts, dresses, and all sorts of things. She trades patterns on the Internet, too, and says there's a huge community of "sewing geeks" who have machines that work off of digital patterns.

Now, keep in mind, Gina runs a small little store above a coffee shop on Haight. The street known for hippies and Grateful Dead. In fact, when we came in, she was helping make coffee downstairs. Not someone you'd ever expect to know a thing about Adobe Illustrator, or digital formats for sewing patterns.

These things are not cheap, either. Her "pro" machine costs $9000, and her home machine cost her $5000. That's a lot of serious sewing geek hardware!

The stuff she does with this hardware is amazing, though. She can do nearly any pattern on any kind of material. Hats, jackets, etc. Her store was full of stuff and she'd happily do something custom for you.

I'll never look at sewing the same way again. Thanks Tantek for the introduction!

2:33:23 AM    comment 

Wired's NextFest made me uncomfortable.

First, there's tons of reports on the blogosphere about NextFest (read them here on

What was wrong?

1) Not much practical value. More on that in a second.

2) Microsoft and Apple weren't there. Big mistake. The crowds were huge and they were VERY tech savvy. Just the kinds of crowds that Microsoft should be marketing the Tablet PC, the Windows Media Center, Xbox Live, SmartPhones, OneNote, and InfoPath to. I met tons of developers, including many .NET and Linux guys (in fact, Phil Kirby, .NET guru for Vertigo Software, met up with us there). The fact that Microsoft wasn't at an event like this was embarrassing.

3) It was too crowded.

Back to the lack of practical value. I find that these kinds of things tend to go that way. There wasn't much practical mixed in with the research prototypes and the really expensive stuff. Between the Sony Robots, the GE jet engine, the Barco $500,000 Linux 3D system, and prototypes from Intel, iRobot, HP, and many others, there just wasn't much that average people could take home and use, or see using anytime soon.

Motorola got the closest with cell phones that'll be here this year, and a prototype automobile system that I could see getting in the next year or two.

My son was even bored, and when he's bored by futuristic stuff, you know something came up short. So, we went across town to Haight/Ashbury district, met up with Microsoft's Tantek Celik for lunch and found just what we were looking for: some futuristic technology that had a practical use. More on that next post.

1:58:48 AM    comment 

I gave my boss some bad advice last week. I'm glad he didn't listen to me.

We were talking about weblogging and he was having trouble getting going. He was scared that people might not understand, or accept his political views. I told him to take the safe road and work to not piss off his readers.

I thought about that advice all weekend long and it bothered me. It's not a healthy way to live.

Why? Go back to my corporate weblogger manifesto. I told myself "tell the truth, the whole truth." It's the integrity question (I love the definition of "integrity:" The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

So, why was my advice bad? Because if you limit your writing to fit what you think other people expect of you, you'll be lying to yourself and your readers. Eventually they'll figure that out. How? Well, either you'll be boring, or you'll slip up and forget which lies you're writing to your readers.

Now, the question becomes: "can you handle the heat?" If you can, start writing a weblog. If not, then don't. But don't do a weblog if you can't write with integrity.

For me, that means that if I believe Microsoft is doing something wrong, I'm willing to say so on my blog and take the career consequences that come with such. For Lenn, that might mean he has to be willing to write about politics or something else that's important to him.

Anyway, sorry Lenn for the bad advice.

12:53:50 AM    comment 

The Web Standards Project's Chris Kaminski: "Don't pee in my pool." (About the W3C's invite to the Atom syndication format group, and the associated noise surrounding that).

Interesting analysis. Here's a question, though. Which came first? HTML or the W3C?

See, we get messes when developers say "I'm gonna stay out of this one until some standards group gets involved." It's sorta like not voting in an election and then complaining about what the elected officials did.

See, the problem is that specs are being written for products all over the industry right now for products that will come out in the future. There's a great deal of disagreement about which syndication standard teams should go with (Kaminski did nail it that both RSS 2.0 and Atom can be considered defacto standards at this point).

My advice as of today? If you are publishing a format, pick one. Only one. Why? Because having two separate icons on your weblog and other pages (like Channel9) would confuse users and needlessly clutter it up. I personally like RSS 2.0, because a couple more aggregators support that format than support Atom at this point (and, personally, that's what MSDN and Microsoft has done so far and no one has stormed us with hate mail for that decision, except for a guy named "pb" in my comments area).

For news aggregators? I believe that you need to support both standards for the indefinite future. RSS 2.0 and Atom. Now, some of you might say "why not all the other flavors of RSS?" My answer? Because it's too expensive to support all weird flavors and build a test case for them. I'd give this advice to a small guy like Greg Reinacker, as well as a bigger effort.

Does that sound sane? If not, why not?

12:34:55 AM    comment 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
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Last updated:
5/11/2005; 12:52:26 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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