Ahh, Maryam and I found one of the last Nintendo DS systems in the Seattle area. I got the last one at Crazy Games in Redmond (one of their other stores still has some, but they are going fast). Two guys ahead of me bought all the remaining stock. Toys R Us: sold out. Best Buy: sold out. EB Games: sold out.
Nintendo has a hot one.
Update: Maryam also says that she called KB Toys, Walmart, and Target, Amazon.com, and all were sold out. We just happened to get lucky by driving around to various stores tonight and asking if anyone knew where some stock was located.
Misanthropyst is even switching to Windows (read about it in "giving the Devil his due." He's a hard-core Linux dude. Damn, I've gotta find more anti-Microsofties if this keeps up.
Ahh, but I still have work to do. He didn't switch to a Tablet PC and he hasn't written me a killer .NET app yet. I'll take the victories as they come, though. One inch at a time.
Don't worry, Misanthropyst. Your secret is safe with me. Welcome to the blue side of the force!
Hugh Macleod: "After you reach a certain age you start resenting being told to "think different" by rich, khaki-wearing Californians."
Hey, I thought that being a creative artist type meant you had to love the Macintosh. Wacky. Lately, though, I've been hearing from more artists who have been going against the tide (at Fawcette's magazines all the art types were definitely pro-Macintosh).
Is this a trend? Hmmm. Will have to watch.
Oh, and Hugh, I don't wear khakis and I'm definitely not rich.
Oh, the MSN search builder is fun to play with. Try it out. Perform a search, then click "search builder" and then click on "results ranking." (After playing with the sliders you'll need to click on Search again to see the new results).
Awhile back I asked the search engines to give me access to the variables and let me clean up the searches. This is an interesting start.
What do you think? Is this useful? Does it help you get better results for the searches you are doing?
Hmmm, did anyone notice that MSN is the only engine of the three biggies to display in XHTML strict? Do a view source. Interesting.
The search engines are continuing to change over time. I just did a search on "Microsoft Blog" and found that the three engines have subtle differences. Which one do you like best? Why?
Personally, I still like Google the best. Why? MSN and Yahoo push their results down with too much advertising.
It's funny, I should appreciate the advertising on MSN more. After all, it helps pay my salary. But the thing that Google did great was to take a customer-centric approach.
Sorry MSN team, I'm still not switching.
Another reason? Google takes me to blogs.msdn.com. MSN and Yahoo take me to the Seattle PI's blog. That's still relevant, but the blogs.msdn.com URL is more relevant, because that's where the employees are blogging.
I like MSN's new look, though and Google does lose points by having Dennis Cheung's blog in #2 position. We all know Raymond Chen or Larry Osterman belongs there instead.
On other business blogs, Jeremy Zawodny, blogger for Yahoo, takes those of us who are pointing out Target's little server problem to task. Says we're overblowing the whole thing.
Of course Jeremy is right, if you look at it that way. No children are dying here. No customer is getting hurt.
But, I wrote Jeremy back in his comments and said that Target's lack of attention to what people are saying online about it is an opportunity lost.
Here a company could, with just a couple of nice comments left in a comment on one of the five blogs involved so far, tell the entire blogosphere that they are clued in. That they care. That they are listening.
But, they haven't answered. Funny thing, though. Yahoo saw the value in hiring Jeremy to blog. Why? Cause he's listening, participating. He demonstrates that Yahoo is clued in.
The contrast between Yahoo and Target is like the contrast between white and black.
But, what do I know? I'm just a lowly blogger.
Personally, any company who hasn't assigned someone to follow what the blogosphere is saying about them is blowing it. Bigtime. Just wait until the PR crisis is real. Then it'll be too late to figure out Pubsub, Feedster, and Technorati.
Before I go to bed I remember back on something Shel Israel and I were talking about when he was sitting on my red couch yesterday.
Why can't I take my Portable Media Player into a Virgin Record store and pay them, say, $500 to give me 20GB worth of music that I choose from?
I always wondered that. It's funny, but in San Francisco there's an Apple store. If you walk out of the Apple store with an iPod you can't walk across the street and fill it up with music. Isn't that stupid?
I'd be happy to pay $500 for 20GB worth of music. Heck, DRM it to death so that I can't give it to anyone else, but at least make it possible.
And don't tell me that it costs $1 to produce a song. We all know that's BS. I bought Eminem's latest CD (ugh, only for Blue States, Red Staters would go into spazms if they knew the lyrics) for $11. It came with two CDs with a total of 23 songs.
Come on, you are telling me that we can't figure out a way to charge $500 for 20GB of music that I select all at one time and download all in one place at a store?
Just a crazy idea at 6:15 a.m. after staying up all night. What do you think?
Last night Nathan Grigg, musician at Monolith Productions (he does music for video games) took me to Iron Composer (here's a writeup in the Seattle PI). What a weird show. Two composers are faced with writing a song from scratch in 45 minutes or so.
Quite a crazy time, but proves to me that if you wanna discover a city's musical culture you should find a musician. I'd never have gone to this on my own.
By the way, I was the least hip person in the joint last night. But they let me stay anyway.
Well, I've overdone myself. I gotta get some sleep. See ya later.
Russell Beattie predicts Apple will launch a mobile phone within 18 months.
Every day that delays is another day that the Audiovox SmartPhone revolution is taking hold. You hook DopplerRadio up to this thing and it freaking rocks. I'm still fondling mine after owning it for almost a month. It's a product that just keeps getting better and better as you use it.
My son wants a Nintendo DS for Christmas (here's an early review on Engadget). Anyone know where to get one?
Heh, Geoff Appleby is trying out my blogging theory. You know, the one where I said that to get more traffic you need to send your readers away. I think he takes it a bit too far, though. But, you know, I did click on all those links. Which just proves that you can't get me to go away even if you try.
Laszlo is doing really interesting stuff for blogs. Instead of doing an entire system like Blogger or TypePad they are making little "blox" that you put on your blog's sidebar. They can be a photo block, a sound block, a link block, or a Weather block.
Hey, where's the search block? How about the archive block? The referer block? The "random blogger like you" block? The news block? Thanks to Tony Euser for sending that one along
I am a HUGE fan of Doug's. His stuff is first rate. I don't have any good answers for him either. It's hard to get sponsorship money for anything out of groups at Microsoft. Particularly for something that's new like blogging or podcasting or streaming audio shows.
I'm sensing that's changing but it still is hard. I'm glad Doug's asking the question in public, though. He's getting some excellent ideas.
Ken Levy gave me a demo of this last week. It's a very impressive tool. Has visual inheritance down to the button level where Visual Studio only has inheritance down to the form level. Among other things.
Someday I'll tell you the story of how I almost went to work for DevX.
Marini also compared searches on job sites for SharePoint, WebLogic Portal, and Plumtree. That's an interesting metric to use to see the relative popularity of your product.
Speaking of Quark, Joe Marini used to work there and here he gives a good argument for corporate secrecy. He now works at Microsoft (I interviewed him for Channel 9). Oh, I could tell you what Joe's working on but then I'd have to, well, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty.
Interesting way that a newspaper has gotten its readers involved in producing content for it.
Keith Hurwitz sent this one along. The Windows Server team is looking for feedback. Interesting site. I wonder if it'd get better, and more, feedback if there were a team blog there, though, and they were writing about some of the things they were thinking of for the next version.
A guy named Scott has been sending me business ideas for months now. And once in a while I asked him "why don't you blog this?" I wanted to share him with the rest of you. Well, he still won't sign his last name to anything. Wants a bit of anonymity. I can't blame him there. He's not real slick or always the best, or clearest, writer, but he has some interesting insights into the future of search. But recently he started a blog titled "The Pondering Primate."
He did know how to get my attention, though. Would write me with email titles like "here's what Google's missing" or "what happens when search and advertising go mobile?"
I love customers who challenge us to do better and see things that we aren't yet seeing. That's why I subscribed to Scott's blog. His editorial mostly exists of questions, but, boy, what questions!
Matt Croydon is a C++ developer and he wrote me all excited by the NASA's World Wind application (that was done in .NET, by the way). He wrote up a whole long blog about some of the things he'd like to do with it and how he was inspired.
A great app is like that. It'll inspire you. When Shel Israel and I were comparing notes he said that for him one of the hardest apps to learn was Quark XPress. I said it was Adobe Illustrator. Learning that was like learning to water ski on one ski. That took me probably 20 painful tries to learn. But once you learned it you never forgot it. Illustrator's epiphany for me was "the world is a wire." When I realized that, I could do anything in Illustrator.
Once I grokked that the world was opened up to me. Illustrator still inspires me 15 years later.
While we're talking about Tablet PC stuffs, David Parmet, the US PR manager for Alias, gets how to use blogs. Wrote me a nice note and asked me to try out Alias Sketchbook Pro, a painting, drawing, application for Tablet PCs. I love their customer testimonials. The artist for Penny Arcade uses their product. That sells me right there. Nothing like a great customer testimonial.
Just a few days ago Mike Wendland wrote "I'd never buy a Tablet PC". Now he's completely turned around. Wow. And what did it? A customer evangelist. Larry Larsen. He's the guy who put a Tablet PC on his Segway.
Thanks Larry for giving Mike a demo. Thanks to Christopher Coulter for telling Mike he should reconsider as well (and I know a few MVPs played a part too, thank you!).
OK, this is crazy. Mobile DJ software for your SmartPhone? I wish I had more time to try stuff like this. Anyone out there try it? Thanks to Sam Henderson, mobile device evangelist, for sending this one to me. I bet Sam gets the coolest phones.
This one caught my eye. RedHat's Fedora Core 3 goals, IRC style, from the community's point of view.
Cyrus Farivar sends this one along: the Central Database of Shoah Victims' names from the Holocaust Museum.
It indeed is incredible. Yet another great example of what's right about the Internet.
I love Cyrus' tagline too: "Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet." Oh, so true, so true!
That's interesting. IT Observer says they have a million visitors a month and all you need to do is blog over there. They'll deliver you the traffic and you get to put your own ads on. That's weird. What do they get out of it? Oh, you really will be getting your own traffic through your own skills and they are hoping that your readers will click around on your blog and visit their stuff as well.
Thanks, I'll pass.
Marc Canter has been pushing a different money-making scheme for bloggers on his blog lately. This is interesting, but I won't partake in it. It's hard enough for my readers to factor in my Microsoft bias (if you are here for the first time, I work for Microsoft).
I have a policy: I don't have any other financial instruments here. If I link to Amazon I don't do it with an affiliate link, for instance (you can join their affiliate program so that every time you link to Amazon they'll track who comes there from your site and they'll kick back a portion of every purchase made). I think all that stuff really messes up blogger credibility.
If you lose your credibility it'll be very hard to get it back. I expect that readers are gonna start treating bloggers very harshly. Learn from my readers. Everytime I even get close to criticising a competitor my readers give me a hard time. Justifyably so too. But it'll be 10x worse if you aren't upfront about who is giving you money.
Personally, I'd disclose EVERYTHING you were making money with. If you're getting paid, or getting gifts, or doing anything that could constitute a conflict of interest, then I'd disclose that. And, I will disclose my business dealings here as well (or gifts that I've received).
By the way, I love that Jeremy and Darren Barefoot are selling their services to the highest bidder on eBay. I wonder what I'd get. Probably 1/10th of what Jeremy's getting. Maybe I'll hire Jeremy to do the blog for a day. Oh, yeah, I'd disclose I was doing that too.
Chris Coulter says that NewsRaider rocks. So, of course I just downloaded it and tried it. Cool, but I won't use it. I want the news to come where I want it, not into yet another browser replacement. See, this is what I'm getting at. I don't ever want to leave Outlook. When will developers hear me? I'm in Outlook 14 hours a day. I don't want to leave. I know how strange that sounds to some of you since many of you don't use Outlook and many others don't even use Windows, but that's the way I am.
But worse than that, this doesn't give me the productivity benefits of weblogs. You know, reverse chronilogical order. Like this. But maybe I'm missing something that NewsRaider does well.
ArmySteve (Steve Smith) has a fan on the Xbox team. Oh, do I have to play professionals in Halo 2? Yikes.
Gauarav Bhatnagar is blogging from New Delhi, India. He's a former Microsoft developer and writes about the local scene as well as general geek stuff. I've subscribed.
I expect the tech blogger scene in India to grow exponentially over the next year.
Visual Studio developers: anyone try Protocube's GradientPanel for .NET? It's free. Andrea Gelati of the team sent that one along and says more free stuff is coming. Looks nice. I wish everyone had a simple Website like Protocube's too. Videos, nice screen captures, and short crisp text.
I'm still looking for a killer SmartPhone RSS aggregator. Yeah, I'm playing with Bloglines and NewsGator. I hear NewsBreak (which has a PocketPC reader out already) will have a SmartPhone version out soon. I can't wait. Anyone else?
What happens when you mix a search engine with Macromedia Flash? You get Kartoo. Fun to play with for a few minutes, but I don't see giving up Google, MSN, or Yahoo for it.
Another fun Flash site? Music Plasma. Shows relationships between music artists. I've written about that before, but it's worth repeating.
Entrepreneur.com "What not to do."
A seasoned entrepreneur reveals the 17 most common mistakes startups make and how to avoid them -- plus the five things you MUST do to ensure success.
A coworker sent this one over: AudioScrobbler. It builds a profile of your musical taste using a plugin for your media player. Plugins send the name of every song you play to the Audioscrobbler server, which updates your musical profile with the new song. After you've played enough material (>100 tracks, he says) it will start to recommend other artists for you. It also shows an interesting view of what you play. He says, though, that the site does tend to be fairly unreliable.
Alexandre Rafalovitch, on my talk at BloggerCon: "Unfortunately, [Scoble] did not contribute enough of his own methods to provide the enlightment."
Good criticism. I should have given more of a demo of how I read feeds. In NewsGator I have 957 folders. How do I read them every night?
Well, first, not every folder has something to read in it. A folder turns bold (tells me that there's something to read inside) only if that person or entity has actually published something since the last time I read feeds.
I do most of my feed reading on a Tablet PC in Tablet mode (I use a Toshiba M200 that switches from a laptop-style mode with a keyboard to a tablet mode where I use a stylus). Why? It's far more efficient to read with in portrait mode than landscape. This has to do with how the human eye works. Scrolling up and down is more tiresome and takes time for the eye to find where it left off reading.
By doing it in portrait mode I need to scroll a LOT less than if I read in landscape mode. This is why, by the way, almost all books and newspapers are higher than they are wide.
Also, by using a stylus I can "poke" at items a lot faster than using a standard desktop mouse. Why is that? Because direct manipulation on screen takes less hand-eye coordination than using a mouse that's separate from the cursor on the screen.
So, I poke at the bold folder. Then I see usually one to five items that are bold in the folder. The first one is automatically displayed on Outlook's preview pane. So, I can already read the first one. Most folders only have one item in it (I'd guess 70% do) so I can read most blogs just by poking once. If they have three items, it takes three clicks. Once to display the root folder. Once to display the second item. Once to display the third item.
I'll be honest, though, sometimes I don't read the second or third item. How do I decide not to do that? If the headlines are something like "my cat photos."
I've learned over time that the likelihood that an item with a headline of "my cat photos" will have any value to me or my readers is pretty low. Yes, this means that once in a while I miss something. But, remember, I read 1000 blogs. So, if something important is missed, the chances are that other people will talk about the same thing. Repetition helps me catch things.
Some people claim I only scan things. That's true. I'm reading for enjoyment at this point. But, once in a while, an item will catch my attention. Maybe it's a well-written headline. Sometimes it's an interesting story. I do, though, read almost every item that comes into my aggregator and don't feel that I'm just scanning it. As people who talk with me at geek dinners can attest, I can probably tell you something about what you wrote the week before.
Finally, if something gets through that whole process, and then I think it's interesting enough for my link blog, I drag it over to a "blog this" folder and it's automatically published to my link blog.
I'll try to get someone to videotape me, though. That way you can see this whole process for yourself.
I love how he attempted to avoid detection by my Pubsub and Feedster search queries by spelling my name with hyphens. Didn't work, though. A spy of mine forwarded Lionel's ranting to me.
Other people have been asking me the core question, though: "how much personal stuff should you put on your blog?"
That's a question I can't answer. For me, I write what makes me happy. If that causes all my readers to unsubscribe and go away, that's OK with me. But I'll be true to myself here.
I noticed that a few people in my comments thought that I should just stick to Microsoft or technology topics. Sorry, that won't happen here. That's what separates this from a press release.
You get me, shortcomings and all.
I'm reading Guy Kawasaki's new book, Art of the Start. Hey, I wish I could pass page 173 around Microsoft. The page's subhead is "recruit evangelists." That page, and the next four, which focus on fostering community, achieving humanness, and focusing on publicity, are torn right from the Channel 9 playbook. So much so that I'm wondering if my boss snuck off for some midnight moonlighting writing for Guy.
On nearly every page so far I've either learned something, or been reminded of something that I forgot that I should use in my daily life.
For those who don't know Guy, he was the first evangelist in the high tech industry. Worked at Apple getting companies to develop software for the early Macintosh.
I'd love to sit down with Guy someday. That would be an interesting meeting. Hey, Guy, anytime you wanna sit on my red couch, let me know. I'd love to interview you for a podcast.
I got a note that Netdoc 1.0 just shipped. Looks like an interesting content management, er, blogging, system.
Is anyone doing comparisons of blogging tools and systems? I'm getting more and more requests about which blogging system or tool to use and I'm not sure which ones are best anymore.
What's the best page to send newbies to?
Who will be next to visit my red couch? Shel Israel was there today. He's done lots of things in Silicon Valley over the years. Made fortunes. Lost them. Worked with Regis McKenna (the PR firm/guru that launched Apple).
Oh, Molly Holzschlag is the first confirmed speaker for the BBS. Cool! Molly has forgotten more about XHTML than I'll ever know.
Anyway, Shel wanted to hang out for the day to learn more about blogging and Microsoft. He says that we have changed his opinion of Microsoft more in the past year of blogging than he would have thought possible. That's quite a nice thing to say. It'll be very interesting to see how the whole corporate world changes over the next 12 months. I was honored to have Shel spend some time with me. Can't wait to see who visits the red couch next!
Someday we'll have to do a podcast from the red couch. Hmmm, that's an idea. :-)
Oh, yes, Chris, I do live in an echo chamber. Hello. Hello. Hello.
But, here's where that meme breaks down. Everything in the tech industry has been in the echo chamber. I remember when the personal computer first came out and the market said "so?"
I remember when BBS's were all the rage and everyone else said "so?" Of course that turned into Prodigy and AOL and Compuserve, which for almost a decade there were on top of the world.
I remember when the Macintosh came out and everyone other than Guy Kawasaki and a few of his friends said "so?" Today we all use a mouse and menus and a laser printer.
I remember when email came along and all my friends said "so?" Today Hotmail has 200 million users.
I remember when the Web came along and much of the world said "geeky thing for scientists at universities," er, "so?" The kids who started Yahoo saw it. Not many of the rest of us did.
I remember when ICQ came out in 1996. Chris Pirillo and I were excited about it. We IM'ed each other frantically back and forth in those early days. Now hundreds of millions of people are on AIM, or MSN Messenger, or Yahoo's IM.
I remember when blogs came out in 1999 (yeah, there were a few before then, but even the echo chamber didn't understand what Dave Winer and Evan Williams were doing). Most of the world said "so?" Today there's, what, 10 million bloggers? Heck, if you only count the ones that Dave Sifry can find, that's 4,784,343 as of 1 a.m. today.
Today, what's the bleeding edge? RSS. Nah, that's not the bleeding edge anymore. The world's top-selling video game supports RSS. So does my cell phone. It's podcasting. It's been written about in the New York Times and Adam Curry is on the BBC this week. Yeah, the echo chamber is getting bigger and louder.
What's next? Just listen to everyone asking "so?" Then filter them out. Oh, but that's the echo chamber. Heh.
"There is a tendency among some bloggers to try and make this stuff way more important than it really is."
Hmmm. Doesn't that sound a whole lot like Chris just stated "so?"
Funny, though, that I read Chris's words in a PubSub feed that came into my RSS aggregator (which, if you ask a "outside the echo chamber" human being doesn't look ANYTHING like IE or Firefox or Opera).
Has the world changed again? Yeah. Chris will figure it out in a few years, just like everyone else will. How do I know that? I've heard the naysayers before. My question to them is "so?"
Julien Couvreur is talking about screen recording and publishing.
I'm interested in that topic because I've gotten a few requests to use screen recording software (like Camtasia or Windows Media's screen capture capability). But, I'm refusing. Here's why.
When I do a Channel 9 interview I want a non-scripted session. I want people to give me the same kinds of answers that they'd give you if you happened to meet them and ask them what they do. It's why we don't use lights. Why we don't make them wear makeup. Why we do it in their messy office rather than in some studio. Why we use cheapo camera equipment and only one person does both the interview and the camera (with a few exceptions where we share the duties).
See, we noticed that when we tried to do it the "professional" way people started getting scripted. They started preparing their PowerPoint deck. They started working out "talking points" with their marketing teams before hand.
No. No. No. No.
I hate it when I start getting "program manager" answers. You all know when this happens. They start using marketing terms. Talking about scenarios. Talking points. Messaging.
They sit up a little straighter than they usually would. They suck in their guts. They start acting. They talk faster than usual. They aren't relaxed.
We hate it. There's nothing worse than someone who has had time to prepare a spiel.
Sometimes people ask us for our list of questions in advance. I tell them I don't have any questions. It's the truth. I don't prepare for those interviews and even if I did, I certainly don't want to let them have a week to prepare their answers. It's worse than that. One team had a meeting before we showed up to discuss "talking points for Channel 9." We aren't gonna use that tape. If we did, you'd see a bunch of people afraid they'd say something stupid.
Sometimes that means I ask a stupid question or two to get things going and get them to relax. So? Those don't run (although sometimes they end up being the best questions and answers). Interviewees often start relaxing when they realize I'm just someone interested in their stories and I'm a enthusiastic user.
But back to why I don't use a screen capture. I've found that when people load a screen grabbing program on their computer they have more time to think through the "demo script" in their head. And now that the computer is capturing every single thing they are doing they start talking in "script mode."
Oh, please, shoot me, the boredom is getting to me!
No, I'd rather shoot video of your face as you struggle with your software. Just the same way we all struggle with your software. That's where we become empathetic to you and start believing you. "Hey, that guy crashed, this must be real!" is what I'm thinking. I bet you do too.
You know, I wish I could get everyone a lesson with Nathan Gold, the Demo Coach. He just got to the heart of this whole rant: the three most effective words you can use during a demo are "I don't know."
Why is that? It's because you demonstrated you're human. That's exactly what I go for with my Channel 9 camera. It's why I don't use screen capturing software.
Oh, but if I did, Techsmith's Camtasia is excellent. I've used that for other projects and it's never failed me.
One of the really great perks of working at Microsoft is that you get access to Bill Gates' reading material that Dave Burke is wondering about. For employees, just search on "think week" internally on our intranet and you'll find it.
So, Dave, all you have to do is get a job at Microsoft and you can read what Bill Gates is reading!
Oh, and it's better than that. If you think you have a better way to run Microsoft (or a technology you want Microsoft to work on, or just something cool that you want to teach Bill about) you can write up your ideas as a think week paper. He has two "think weeks" per year.
I've been personally involved in this process thanks to my writings being included in one of these Think Week papers (thanks to Lili Cheng and Sean Kelly over at Microsoft Research) and it was an amazing process.
Bill does, indeed, read them (and so does his staff, and anyone else at Microsoft who cares enough). I've been asked not to write about my think week experience (it didn't end with just being included in a paper, by the way, and I'll always remember the experience as one of the highlights of my career at Microsoft) but it's amazing that anyone who works at Microsoft can get an idea in front of BillG.
How many companies explicitly ask employees to send in new ideas, have the founder/leader of the company read them, and then put those ideas out on the intranet for all the other employees to see and talk about?
John Montgomery, director of developer marketing at Microsoft, today posted an official Microsoft position statement about Avalon and Windows Forms. Blogs are now being used for executives to deliver official PR to the Web before it is released anywhere else.
Why post it? Because customers were asking for guideance on when you should use these technologies. They were telling us that our messaging wasn't clear.
What's even better is that Montgomery is answering questions in his blog's comment field. How many companies do you know have their marketing teams online and available over Thanksgiving break to answer questions.
Now you know why Mary Jo Foley noticed that Microsoft is opening up.