I wanted to say thanks to the iPodder team for supporting Windows. You know, without great developers building great software for Windows, my Tablet PC would be nothing more than a worthless piece of plastic and glass.
iPodder has changed my life. Can a small team of developers change the world? Ask these guys. They have. You might not see how. You might think it's just a useless fad. But they used to say that about GUIs. They used to say that about personal computers. They used to say that about blogging.
Anything Microsoft can do to help you build something new? Email me.
I just talked with Frank Shaw, vice president over at Waggener Edstrom. We were talking about what was cool/interesting in the blogosphere and he wanted me to do some thinking about what was the next big thing. (Update: I thought Frank told me he was meeting with Gates, but I misheard him there, he's preparing a report for the executives, but not meeting with Gates-- sorry for the confusion, that doesn't change my advice below, though).
"Yeah," I said. "Tell Gates to get me a Tablet PC that rocks so that I can keep my job cause I really don't want to work for Donald Trump."
Actually, I didn't really tell him that. There is something far more important than the Tablet PC that's happening.
It's a trend that will wash over the tech industry over the next three years.
I told him to understand the content-creation trend that's going on. It's not just pod-casting. It's not just blogging. It's not just people using Garageband to create music. It's not just people who soon will be using Photostory to create, well, stories with their pictures, voice, and music. It's not just about ArtRage'ers who are painting beautiful artwork on their Tablet PCs. It's not just the guys who are building weblog technology for Tablet PCs. Or for cell phones. Or for camera phones.
This is a major trend. Microsoft should get behind it. Bigtime. Humans want to create things. We want to send them to our friends and family. We want to be famous to 15 people. We want to share our lives with our video camcorders and our digital cameras. Get into Flickr, for instance. Ask yourself, why is Sharepoint taking off? (Tim O'Reilly told us that book sales of Sharepoint are growing faster than almost any other product). It's the urge to create content. To tell our coworkers our ideas. To tell Bill Gates how to run his company! Isn't this all wild?
Now that everyone is creating content, we want to consume it. That's where news aggregators come in. NewsGator. FeedDemon. NetNewsWire. Bloglines. Radio UserLand. RSS Bandit. SharpReader.
And services that help us find content. Feedster. Technorati. Pubsub. Google. My Yahoo. MSN.
And services that help us organize our content. Del.icio.us. My Yahoo. Outlook. And MSN? Google?
And systems that help us deliver our content. Bittorrent. iPodder.
Tell Bill that if he understands this, and figures out a way to feed this ecosystem with the new base class (Longhorn baby!) that he'll make back all the friends he lost when he beat Netscape. And then some.
I told Frank to start with podcasting. "But I don't know that podcasting will have legs," Frank pushed back. "Oh, that doesn't matter" I answered back. It's the ecosystem that's being built. And note that Microsoft isn't a big player in this ecosystem yet. Look at the list above. Where is Microsoft? Where is Bill Gates?
Hint: Microsoft should be the fertilizer for this new garden. We should offer new platforms. New ways of building applications. New ways for developers to participate in this new garden.
The impulse to create is strong. The impulse to share is strong. The impulse to consume is strong.
These are the trends for the digitial decade. Next week you'll see the new Media Center. It has an RSS aggregator available for it.
It's interesting, at Gnomedex (a geek-centric conference) about 90% of the audience uses a news aggregator already. Do you see the trend? Is this a trend that gets Microsoft's attention?
It's time for another memo Bill. Just don't take so long this time.
At Microsoft, it's giving time. Every year they challenge us to find a charity we like and give either money, or volunteer our time, to the cause. Shawn Morrissey urges us to register for the bone marrow registry. I can't think of something better than saving someone's life.
I'm a failure as a Tablet PC evangelist. Bill Gates, you should just fire me now and make me go to work for Donald Trump or something.
Here's why I'm a failure.
Four friends have not taken my advice to buy a Tablet PC. Lenn Pryor. Jeff Sandquist. Dave Winer. Buzz Bruggeman.
They all bought Sony Vaio's (except for Buzz who bought an IBM Thinkpad).
Now, one thing I do is to try to learn from failure. The weird thing is that all of these guys told me that they wanted to buy Tablet PCs, but ended up with other machines for a couple of reasons:
1) Battery life. The newest Toshiba Tablet PC lasts three to four hours. The IBM and Sony machines are getting seven to eight with their extended battery (which is what they all bought).
2) Small width and height size. The Sony Vaio is about 75% of the width and height of my Toshiba Tablet. Why does that matter? It fits into a smaller case. All four of these guys do a lot of traveling.
3) Screen resolution. Only the new Toshiba has high enough screen resolution. Geeks want more screen resolution than most Tablet PCs have.
So, Tablet PC team, how are you going to solve these three issues? I'll continue being a failure until you do.
And don't answer "Electrovaya." I'm sorry to the fine folks who work at Electrovaya, but you don't have a brand name that gives geeks the warm and fuzzy feeling like Sony, Toshiba, or IBM do (and the Electrovaya machines don't have high-resolution screens anyway).
I love clued-in teams at Microsoft. Steve Lacey, who works on Flight Simulator, says "we have a philosophy."
"As real as it gets."
And people wonder why Flight Simulator has been an industry for more than 20 years? That's it!
Can you get better than "as real as it gets?" Nope. That philosphy drives that team. You gotta use Flight Simulator to see it. Here's just one thing I remember from watching an expert Flight Simulator user play with it: smoke curled off of the tires when you landed the 747.
Now, I'm sure that little detail took hours to code to get right. It really didn't add much to the act of flying the 747. But if it weren't there, it wouldn't be "as real as it gets."
Did the Flight Simulator team take the easy route? No. They had a philosophy and stuck to it, even though I bet that some programmer or four gave up some nights and weekends to get that into the product.
Over on the link blog:
Om Malik breaks news again. Six Apart gets more funding.
Nick Bradbury raves about the new Green Day album. Hey, Adam Curry, can you play a song? Also, Adam, while I have you on the line, can you give me some stories about Sting? Maryam and I are seeing him in concert on Friday. Would love some behind-the-scenes stuff that only you can do.
Yesterday I had two lunch dates. So many great people to meet with. First, Bill Taylor, founder of Fast Company magazine came to have lunch with me and John Porcaro. Wow, what an honor. Interesting conversation, too. John has the details.
Also had a separate lunch with Andy Edmonds. Inspiring. He works over on MSN's search engine and is smart, smart, smart.
Lots of podcasting and MSN Search Champs news is over on the linkblog too.
More coming to the linkblog later.
Congratulations to Dave Winer for 10 years of doing DaveNet. Dave, along with Dori Smith, was my inspiration for starting my weblog almost four years ago. (They both were speakers at the CNET Builder.com Live conference that I was helping Dan Shafer organize and they kept telling me to get a blog. I remember asking them "what the heck is a blog?").
Steve Makofsky just linked to some amazing USGS pictures of Mount St. Helens' throat clearing last week.
On Tuesday I, and a small group of other people, had lunch with Sanjay Parthasarathy. He's my boss's boss's boss. Has lunch every few weeks with a different set of people from around the group he manages (several hundred people).
He questioned MY philosophy. Told me not to put anything on Channel 9 or on my weblog that +I+ didn't deeply believe in.
Wait a second. Is this a Microsoft executive telling me not to help out Microsoft? Not to talk about just any random Microsoft technology or product?
Now you understand why I love working at Microsoft.
He just told me to work hard on my credibility. My reputation. My authority. My philosophy. And make sure I don't screw it up just cause some team needs some PR.
Along those lines, yesterday I interviewed the PhotoStory 3 team (their site will have Photostory 3 up around October 26). PhotoStory 3.0 is amazing. I say that with no reservations at all. Can't wait to show you what they are up to (I was on the beta, and they gave me a demo yesterday). What I like about Channel 9 is that I get to meet the developers and testers of the products. Their geekiness comes out. Their passion comes out. But you also get to see why having a program manager who can crystalize their ideas into easily-understood language is very important too.
This is powerful marketing. You get to look in the eyes of the developers and you get to see if they really believe in their product and the work they've done for the past several years.
But more on that soon. By the way, this was a team with a very strong philosophy. You'll see that oozing out through the video screen.
Speaking of Channel 9. Tony Goodhew, the guy who is planning the version of Visual Studio that comes out after the next version (it's code-named "Orcas") is talking about some of the things he's thinking about. This is new for Microsoft too. Usually Microsoft won't admit there's a team working on something until after the version before theirs will ship ships. (Whidbey is the code-name for the next version of Visual Studio, which will come out next year).
This is important, because what Tony is doing is building a philosophy. And you can have a great deal of impact on his team's philosophy right now. So, tell him why you hate Visual Studio. What you'd like to see.
Also on Channel 9? One of the forum members, prog_dotnet, posted new box designs for Microsoft Word -- just for the younger generation. Funny!
The world just changed again. A coworker, Jennifer Ritzinger, just sent me email from 32,000 feet somewhere over the North Sea near Norway. She was using Lufthansa's new "FlyNet" wireless high-speed Internet service, through Conextion by Boeing satellite technology. Cost? $29.95 for the entire 10-hour flight.
She says the service isn't quite as fast as her DSL, but it is still high speed.