Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Monday, October 25, 2004

Jason Calacanis tells Marc Canter "don't pimp the blogosphere."

Ahh, BloggerCon is gonna be interesting if these two are in the room!

3:50:24 AM    comment 

Scott Guthrie gives you an authoritative look at what's up with the next version of .NET, code-named Whidbey. He's a product unit manager on Web Platform and Tools.

3:48:39 AM    comment 

Jeff Fansler: Windows Media Center 2005 ... I've fallen in love.

Me too, but didn't get started on my project this weekend. Will try to get some traction soon. Thanks to everyone for the cool suggestions. If I buy one, it sounds like it'll be the new HP. I might still build my own, though. Will decide that this week. I can't really afford the $1,900 price tag of the HP.

3:45:31 AM    comment 

Congratulations to Dare Obasanjo: he's joined MSN.

3:28:34 AM    comment 

Having Windows XP Service Pack 2 troubles? Ed Bott is trying to help. He's an authority. Anyone who co-authors a book on Windows XP SP2 that's more than 1,000 pages pretty much has to be. What a book!

3:27:30 AM    comment 

TinyScreenfuls: "this phone is a hit."

Steve Makofsky goes the other way: "To me the form factor just doesn't work for a data device for inputing text."

Oh, in 15 words Steve NAILED why I LOVE this phone! I want a freaking phone! That looks and acts like a phone. If I wanted a keyboard, I would have bought a keyboard. But when I'm in the car trying to answer the phone, I want a phone. When I'm out on the town with my wife I want a device that doesn't make me look like a geek -- in fact, I want it to be small and light enough to keep in my pocket. And I don't want to carry yet another device that'll encourage me to answer emails in the middle of movies, or under the table when I'm supposed to be paying attention to the sweet nothings that Maryam is telling me during dinner.

Remember, I had a Blackberry.

It made my hands hurt I used the keyboard so much.

So, I swore I'd never own another portable device with a keyboard.

So, Steve, thank you for explaining why this device is wonderful. It's a phone first. In fact, it's a better phone than my last phone which was only a phone. Geek device second. And that's just the way I like it.

3:25:44 AM    comment 

I'm seeing raves about Dopplerradio. I'm gonna try that out this week. Here's what Mick Stanick says about it.


3:13:49 AM    comment 

Ahh, my boss spoke to folks over in Europe, thanks to Pashcal L for the report. We're rethinking about how to bring Microsoft's geeks around the world onto Channel 9. Microsoft isn't a Redmond-only company, you know. How can we show that?

"Bring us your geeks!" is our new rallying cray. Can our employees around the world would show us their technology projects? We'll help get cool geek-oriented video up online so that we all can see what Microsoft is doing worldwide, not just here in the US. If you know a Microsoft employee that you think has something to say or show on Channel 9, outside of the US, please email him or her this entry and let's see what happens.

Let's have a tour of the coolest computer stores in everyone's hometown, for instance. Or, did Microsoft build some cool technology for a local client? Introduce us to the developers on the project.

Bring us your geeks!

3:02:27 AM    comment 

In listening to the podcast that Dave Winer and I did last night. Let's continue the conversation here.

For instance, at one point he said "who cares about OneNote?" and "How many people use OneNote?"

And, in reaction to one of my answers:

"I'm getting some marketing spin here."

First, in reaction to his point about no one caring about OneNote, this shows a weakness in thinking on Dave's part. After all, who cared about Google five years ago? How many users did they have? How many does Altavista have, in comparison, to today? How many users did eBay have before 1995? How many users did instant messengers, like ICQ or MSN Messenger, have before November 1, 1996?

In other words, let's not look at what people decided to use yesterday, but rather what they are going to decide to use tomorrow. Will people only use HTML? That seemed to be what Dave was saying. It caused my ears to burn so much that I woke up to write this rant.

Users +are+ going to switch to RSS. Already 80% of the audience at Gnomedex conference is using RSS News Aggregators. That's a trend that's going to be meaningful in the mainstream soon.

The things that users care about can change extremely quickly. It's funny that Dave was arguing about this, cause he's the one who evangelized me on RSS three years ago.

Second, about marketing spin. This shows a weakness on my part. I did give Dave marketing spin in a couple of parts -- in listening to the audio it was very clear when I did that.

In all honesty, I don't talk in public quite as freely as I do in private. For instance, I don't swear in public, but have been known to do so with my friends. I do a few other things in private that I don't do in public too.

I also don't talk about everything I think about what Microsoft is doing in public. Why? Cause I have to think about the dozens of constituencies that are listening and reading. My weblog, for instance, recently was forwarded around a competitor of Microsoft's, who'll stay unnamed here, (a guy who worked there told me that). I know people at Apple and Google and IBM and Oracle who read me. So, obviously, I'm not going to discuss things on my weblog that could help our competitors.

I think that's pretty clear, but wanted to disclose that it wasn't honest of me to say that what I say when the microphone is open is the same as what I'd say when the microphone is off.

"Do you feel you could say anything about Microsoft on your weblog?" Dave asked.

I said I do. But, clearly, that's not correct either. I can't say what's in Longhorn that hasn't been discussed in public (and there's a lot that hasn't been yet). I can't discuss undergoing legal issues. I can't discuss HR issues. I can't disclose financial results (assuming I knew them, which I don't) before they are released by officers' of the company.

I do feel free to criticise the company when I see they could be doing something better (look at my comparison of Google vs. MSN's results, or read my memos to Bill Gates).

At another part of the interview Dave asked me why Internet Explorer isn't kicking out a new version every six to 12 months the way that they were in the late 1990s.

I messed up in that answer by staying quiet, but the reality is that the quality bar has changed dramatically for browsers. In fact, it's changed dramatically for all software (John Zagula talked with me about that yesterday).

Enterprises, for instance, won't install things anymore that are released on such a fast schedule -- Dean has shown me evidence of that. In fact, you can see it in planes when you travel. When traveling I see user after user that still uses Windows 98 and ME and 2000.

Also, security back then wasn't as important as it is today. Finally, the engineers who worked on IE told me that the Windows team needed to go back and fundamentally rethink the underpinings and rebuild some major stuff underneath before the platform could be brought forward in a major way. We're attempting to change the driver model, for instance, so that drivers are more reliable. Imagine building a house on sand. If you want it to stick up you've gotta go back and fix the foundation before adding on a second level to the house.

On Thursday afternoon I took a tour through the CLR team's lab (CLR stands for "Common Language Runtime" which is the technology that is the foundation for the .NET system). In that lab there are hundreds of computers that are rack mounted, many of which are running security tests that didn't exist in the late 1990s. Heck, the CLR didn't exist in the late 1990s. This lab and tour demonstrated to me that the approach Microsoft is taking to software engineering has changed dramatically over the past few years.

The pressure on Microsoft to nail security now is very extreme. It is slowing down all sorts of development -- I've been in team meetings where people spend a lot of time making sure that they've made their products as safe as possible. No longer are developers just building features without thinking about threat models and without doing security testing -- in fact our compilers have been rewritten, our methodology changed.

No longer are developers opening up APIs without really thinking through the consequences of doing that. I hear this over and over and over at my geek dinners and interviews around the company.

Regarding podcasting, I still think Dave is missing a new trend in software: I'm hearing from users that they want things that do one thing and do it well. One app per activity, but connected by the Web.

Mini apps. Why have an aggregator that covers 15 scenarios? Why not have 15 separate aggregators that each do one thing well?

Damn, am I starting to talk like Don Norman? (At Pop!Tech three years ago he told people he thought the world would move toward single-purpose programs and services).

Regarding RSS and HTML renderers.

Dave took me to task and said "you don't get it." About 3/4s through our conversation I realized that he was talking about the rendering engine and not, what, most of us think about when we say "the browser." What I see in NewsGator is NOT "the browser." It +is+ "the HTML rendering engine."

I think that's an important point to make: we need to separate those two in users' minds. It's very important.

Dave again told me that he wants a really kick ass editor in the HTML rendering engine. It would enable a real two-way Web, which would take us dramatically forward.

I say, why do we need to do that in the HTML rendering engine at all? Here, think along with me.

First, look at the ClickOnce deployment technology that'll be included in the next version of Visual Studio.

Now, imagine getting a window in a future version of NewsGator. Let's say it's 2006. You click on an Edit this Page link. Up comes a new kind of kickass form, the kind that you can build with .NET's new WinForms in the next version of Visual Studio. It looks awesome, it remembers your text that you enter (just like Outlook does or OneNote does when you write a new entry). It even could be made to work offline, just like Outlook (I read email at 35,000 feet, and answer it, but the HTML rendering engine just wasn't designed to do that).

This new editor doesn't need to be made by Microsoft. In fact, I hope it isn't. I hope it's built over a weekend by a C# or VB.NET programmer, just like the technology that does my linkblog was built over a weekend by Kunal Das. Or, maybe with a bit more thought like NewsGator, SharpReader, or RSS Bandit were (they are all .NET apps and very popular).

Dave says he doesn't want to learn a new platform. That's fair, but he already knows how to program in C/C++. Dave, you could write a C++-based RSS news aggregator, renderer, and editor, and you'd have a whole new system for publishing to the Web. You could make your renderer spit out RSS, Atom, HTML, XHTML, or whatever format you wanted. You could make the editor work offline, just like Radio UserLand does today. And you wouldn't need to learn a whole bunch of new stuff, except for the .NET Framework, which is getting to be pretty popular (heck, even NASA is using it -- maybe that's not a good example since they are rocket scientists there. Heh).

You could use IE's rendering engine, or Firefox's, or whatever new one will come out (one programmer can still change the world, just ask Bram Cohen. He's the guy who wrote Bittorrent. Heck, look at what Adam Curry, an "on air personality," as you put it, did when creating iPodder).

He also claimed that the Office team is holding back innovation. If that's true, why can you copy Outlook 2003's UI with 100 lines of .NET/WinForms code? Any decent .NET programmer could make a killer editor. Today almost no one does cause it's impossible to deploy it cheaply. That problem will be solved soon with ClickOnce.

Anyway, I'll bet there are lots of holes in our vision, but over the next few weeks there'll be a new beta of the next version of Visual Studio and the .NET Framework/runtime. Try it out and tell us what you need to make your vision come true.

OK, OK, I'll stop being marketing slime now. :-)

2:11:06 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; 12:58:07 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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