Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Sunday, May 30, 2004

Jian Shuo Wang talks about the IKEA in Shanghai, China. Sounds pretty similar to the ones here. Do they serve Swedish Meatballs there too? I love those things.

11:53:37 PM    comment 

Appropriate reading for Memorial Day tomorrow. Jeff Jarvis sends us to the Wall Street Journal for a heart-rending story about the heroism of a soldier who saved his buddies from a grenade blast. Thanks to David Weinberger who linked to this (Jeff Jarvis links to David too).

11:50:47 PM    comment 

Scott Hanselman gives us a template for writing a disaster movie. Heh.

11:21:25 PM    comment 

You know, Blogger's new designs really are nice. I love how the quotes show up on TheLearner's blog, for instance (and the topic is worth reading too -- covers why people blog).

11:03:48 PM    comment 

Russell Beattie, in a critical blog post about an article in Newsweek: "If Newsweek wanted an American take on things, why don't they call someone at Motorola?"

Yeah, or point people to Neil Enns (he gives a good demo of the Motorola SmartPhone here).

10:57:50 PM    comment 

Leon Bambrick: Your .NET daily affirmation.

Thanks to Julia Lerman for this link.

Here's a sample:

"You do NOT have to refactor all your code.
You do NOT have to keep up with the latest news from microsoft, and know everythnig there is to know about longhorn, whidbey, avalon, XAML, indigo and star wars III.

10:50:09 PM    comment 

Glenn Fleishman raves about the new Seattle library (and has pictures).

10:41:30 PM    comment 

At lunch today Gabe showed us a little blog viewing tool: Memeorandum.

"memeorandum presents a distinctly readable and relevant hourly synopsis of the latest online news and opinion, combining weblog commentary with traditional news reports."

Dan Gillmor, when he saw this on my Tablet PC, turned to me and said "this is cool."

I've been playing with this and I still don't know how to describe it. Is it a blog portal? An aggregated view? A blogbot? Oh, wait, MSN already has that name for something similar that MSN is coming out with.

10:30:52 PM    comment 

Mark Tosczak: "But I'll add one other thing to this: Pros also have the advantage of distribution systems that can still function fairly robustly even in the face of natural disasters."

Yup, good point!

On the other hand, in the Mercury News' backyard are major datacenters for Google, Yahoo, Ebay, Apple, and many other companies (Knight Ridder's headquarters are in Silicon Valley now too). If the infrastructure here gets that wiped out there will be far more to worry about than whether bloggers can blog.

"Bloggers and amateur photographers may have lots to contribute during a natural disaster, but I don't think the power grid, telephone and cable networks and wireless infrastructure are yet robust enough for them to match the distribution capacity of pro media during a disaster. That said, Scoble is mostly right, "There are always opportunities to work together ..." During those live broadcasts, people called into the news operations to say, live, on the air, what was going on in their little corner of the disaster."

Good points. Like I said, I don't expect to be competing with any professional. I don't have the audience, the brand, the fact checking, the network, or the resources to rent helicopters and get more computers or generators.

Dan Gillmor's new book covers this topic very well, though. He has a great view of how grassroots journalism is changing the profession of journalism.

10:23:32 PM    comment 

Loic has some nice pointers:

He points to BlogPulse, which lets you compare visually search results over time on two different words.

He points to a variety of stats on how much money various bloggers are making with advertising.

He points out that he received a galley of Dan Gillmor's upcoming book "We the Media." I did too -- today Dan came to the geek lunch I hosted and gave me a copy. I read a bit of it and so far it's awesome (even though he doesn't treat Microsoft very nicely, but then our software ate a chapter of his so we deserve a tough treatment).

10:08:13 PM    comment 

Tomorrow is Memorial Day here in the US, so today Maryam took us to Los Gatos Memorial Cemetery to visit her dad's grave. When we got there I was reminded that you can always find a good story, even in a cemetery.

As we arrived, I noticed a car with a license plate that said "POW" on it. Turns out California gives free plates and registration to former prisoner's of war. I looked around, and saw an older gentleman quietly tending to his wife's grave.

I watched him for a while and debated with myself about intruding in on his quiet moment. But, it was Memorial Day weekend, and I've been struggling with myself about this weekend. Usually Americans have BBQs and parties (most, actually, are doing that this weekend) but with people dying over in Iraq and other places, I wanted to find some more meaning to the weekend than just celebrating a day off work.

So, I gathered up the courage and walked over and asked "what war?"

He looked me in the eye, sized me up, and answered "Germany."

Turns out the guy (I am kicking myself for not writing down his name, but I believe it was Eddie R Foster) was a B-17 pilot and was shot down the week before we stormed Normandy's beaches.

But that was only the facts of the story.

He actually was grateful for being able to tell his story to someone who cared. I told him I wanted to say thanks for what he did for me. His eyes lit up, and I could tell that that day was burned into his brain the way 9/11 or the earthquake is for me.

On the mission he was shot down in they had lost 60 B-17s. Now, each plane held 10 people. 600 people lost in one mission. One mission. It was Eddie's 25th flight. "I never did learn to fly a B-17." He explained that the Americans were sending everything they had into the war at that point. "The engines I had were original, they should have been changed after 100 hours. They weren't cause they wanted to kill as many Germans as possible before D-Day."

He told me that the Germans were able to aim their anti-aircraft weapons because they all flew about the same height and they were told to follow a previous wave of bombers into position. Imagine being in a slow aircraft with flak bombs going off all around you. I can't even imagine.

His B-17's engines gave out and the crew needed to bail out. He spent the next year in German prison camps, ending up in Nurnberg (I believe that's what he said, he through out so many interesting info so fast and I wasn't interviewing him or writing any of it down -- this is where if I were a professional I'd do some fact checking, and some homework to clean up my story).

Anyway, he completed the story by telling how General Patton liberated his camp (they hid under beds because Patton's troups were firing at the guard towers and they didn't want to die after surviving a year in prison). He said Patton swaggered into camp wearing two pistols on his belt.

Weird, just as I was finishing this post, the fireworks at Great America started going off.

Thanks Eddie R.

Update: I fixed my misspelling of "cemetery." Dang, you'd think I could spell better.

9:02:53 PM    comment 

Nicholas Reilly is asking why Channel9 is having problems with Safari (videos don't play). I don't know. I'm having the problem here too. We're trying to debug it and fix it, but we aren't sure what's causing the problem. It's inconsistent, and it looks like it's a programming error being introduced in the ASX stage (that's a text file that points to the video file on the streaming servers). I'm trying to go through those files now and figure out what I need to fix.

I also am behind on my tasks. I need to upload all the videos to a non-streaming server so that you can download them. That'd fix this problem for everyone.

8:31:22 PM    comment 

The New York Times, this week, wrote an article reporting that for many bloggers, blogging is an addiction (the article made it seem like bloggers are weirdos who have no social lives).

Fred, A VC, counters the article.

My response? I'm addicted. But let's compare addictions:

Blogging vs. Illegal Drugs. Drugs are illegal, so you can get thrown in jail. So far blogging has remained legal in the US (if you're blogging in countries like Iran or China, though, watch out). Drugs make you feel good. Blogging makes me feel good. Drugs eventually reduce your brain size. Blogs make your brain bigger. Drugs make you feel crappy the next day. Blogging doesn't have a hangover, unless you count all the comments and email that a good blog generates. Drugs cost lots of money and you have to visit substandard neighborhoods to get them. Blogs are free (or almost so).

How about gambling? A family relative is addicted to gambling. He's spent a million dollars that he didn't really have in gambling casinos. Enough said.

How about alcohol? See drugs, above, except for illegal part.

How about tobacco? Ever been around a smoker? They make your clothes smell (and many health professionals even claim that second-hand smoke is dangerous to your health). Reading blogs won't make your clothes smell and, other than making your heart beat faster when you read someone who challenges your ideas, I doubt there's much of a health impact either way.

Anyway, my addiction has brought me so many great friends and so many great experiences. I'm off to meet some of them for lunch.

10:53:38 AM    comment 

Steve Rubel interviews San Jose Mercury News journalist Tom Mangan.

I was suprised to see that Steve asked him about my suggestion that bloggers and professional journalists should work together, especially during big events like earthquakes.

I was even more suprised to see Tom's answer.

"Well, we have a generator so our lights will stay on. It'll be hard for all those bloggers to post when the power grid's down and the batteries on their laptops go dead. Access to professional resources will always divide the pros from the volunteers. But there will be volunteer bloggers for the same reasons there are volunteer firemen. In the firefighting trade the volunteers are a given, but in the news trade they are newcomers on the scene. Over time they'll figure out the best ways to work together and stay out of each other's way."

Tom, were you in Silicon Valley for the 1989 earthquake?

The San Francisco Chronicle's plant's power failed and they were forced to produce a limited newspaper at some editor's house with a couple of Macintoshes.

Tom, have you been to Home Depot lately? A generator is less than $1000. Lots of my friends have them.

Tom, did you remember that the San Jose Mercury News didn't "find" the real damage in its backyard for a couple of days (it was in the Santa Cruz mountains, which were inaccessable due to blocked roads -- and wasn't as interesting as the more "important" news story of the Bay Bridge falling down and the Marina on fire). It's in these "less important" news places that bloggers will provide better coverage.

Tom, go back and look at the Santa Cruz Mountain coverage in the San Jose Mercury News back in 1989. Did you realize that many of the photos you guys printed were done by amateurs? I know, cause several of my customers at the camera store had photos printed by the Mercury News (one guy had an offroad motorcycle, so were able to get up into the mountains before the professionals were able to -- remember, my college professor couldn't go home for 72 hours because the Santa Cruz mountain roads were closed down).

It's funny too. Right now I'm staying in a home owned by an Apple Computer employee. Right next door (I'm in San Jose real near Sun Microsystems' buildings in Santa Clara) are two Microsoft employees (they are working on Microsoft TV down here in Mountain View). Between just the three of us we could get access to our corporate networks (have you seen the corporate networks in Silicon Valley?) and be publishing our blogs within an hour or two (most of that time would be due to the traffic dislocations caused by a disaster).

OK, yes, professional journalists do have some advantages. They have great equipment (particularly camera equipment). They have access to helicopters. They have a network of hundreds of people that they can use to figure out where the big news spots are. They have millions of readers (and readers will call in with news tips).

Tom, one last thing. The cell phone network in Silicon Valley stayed up during the 1989 earthquake. So did the wired phone network (I called my family minutes after the quake and got through to everyone). Power at West Valley Community College (15 miles from episcenter) never went out. The myth that a big earthquake will take down all infrastructure just isn't true.

But, it's not a fight Tom. There are always opportunities to work together, too bad you didn't take that opportunity to open a dialog between the amateurs and professionals.

10:35:28 AM    comment 

Silicon Valley Geek Lunch. It's on. See ya at Bucks in Woodside at noon. My cell phone is 408-314-8233 in case you need to get ahold of me.

Everyone's invited. If you haven't been to Bucks before, this is a good chance. Lots of weird stuff there.

12:08:43 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; 12:53:22 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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