Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Sunday, May 01, 2005

Just a quick report before I jump onto the plane to go to NYC. The day was absolutely wonderful. California is just so beautiful this time of year. Everything is green, but turning brown quickly.

Anyway, had a wonderful afternoon at the new Passalacqua winery in Healdsberg. A small winery, only produces 4,000 cases (you need to visit the winery to buy their wine), but georgeous estate and owner Jason Passalacqua is a lot of fun (former tech guy, too, used to work as an engineer at several Silicon Valley semiconductor companies).

We stayed on their grounds the afternoon, and my dad paid a photographer to shoot family photos. Can't wait to see that. The photographer, A.V. Ervin, was shooting with a brand new Canon 20D. Eight megapixels. A.V. is a lot of fun. By day he's a mechanic in Oakland and is a semi-pro photographer on weekends. He works cheap, and I'll let you know how he does after I see his results, but looking over his shoulder he has a great eye.

Well, they are calling my row, gotta go. Talk to you tomorrow from NYC.

9:10:22 PM    comment 

I'm off to go wine tasting and then off to New York. Next time I write you I'll probably be sitting with Joel Spolsky in his office (he invited me over to see his offices). As always, if you need something, I'm on cell phone at 425-205-1921. Yes, I actually do pick up the phone, unless I'm in a meeting. A couple of weeks ago an entire marketing class called me up. They couldn't believe I put my cell phone number out there.

10:52:02 AM    comment 

Dave Winer's 50-th birthday party is tomorrow. Hey, now you know why we're holding the dinner in Grand Central Station. I wonder what we should do for Dave? A link just isn't enough.

10:22:45 AM    comment 

I've been asked to restart "Team 99." What was that? Well, Longhorn got its name from the bar that's between Whistler and Blackcomb up in British Columbia. 99 is the road you drive from my house to get up to the Longhorn bar. So, Team 99 is the team that'll take us to Longhorn's launch.

Now, before today, Team 99 was secret. I've learned from my messups with Jim Allchin's dinner not to do secret stuff anymore. Make everything transparent. Transparency is good.

The problem is, Microsoft can't deal with millions of people all at once. It's impossible to listen to that loud a crowd. So, let's start small. 20 people to start with. Why 20? It's how many can fit into an average conference room at Microsoft.

I want some developers there. Some "super users" like we were talking about last night.

All will need to sign NDAs cause there are things in Longhorn that we don't want to leak out, but they'll be your proxies. They'll tell us where we're screwing up, what we're doing well, and will be world's top authorities on Longhorn.

We're in the early stages (I just got an email from Vic, who is on vacation, telling me to do it).

So, instead of me picking the Team 99 members (cause I'm bad at it and everytime I pick someone I piss off someone who wasn't picked) why don't pick the members?

How would you nominate members? How about leaving me a note over on Channel 9 on the Team 99 thread? Nominate someone you think would be a good proxy for you and who would tell you the truth about what Longhorn is all about. Tell us why they'd be good for us to invite to Team 99.

Some factors? Are they trusted by the community? Are they visible? Do you think they'd give good feedback on your behalf to Microsoft? Some requirements I have? All members must be bloggers.

I don't have a formal process in my head yet, so I'm looking for help on how to pick a great group of people who'll properly represent the community.

Now's your chance to make sure there's good diversity on such group, for instance, instead of just fat white guys like me.

Another requirement? Must be passionate and authoritative about computers.

10:09:11 AM    comment 

My dad is taking the whole family wine tasting in Sonoma today, then I take the Red Eye to New York. The geek dinner on Monday evening is really starting to turn into one of those "must be there" dinners. Joel Spolsky wrote me and said he'd make it. Mary Jo Foley will be there. Dave Winer. Steve Rubel. The Rocketboom folks. Bob Wyman. And a bunch of other people.

Details for the 6 p.m. dinner are on Steve Rubel's blog.

2:48:53 AM    comment 

Buzz Bruggeman researches whether or not search engine companies are not telling the truth about the number of pages that actually come back for searches.

I'm off to try his experiment for myself. How about you?

1:30:56 AM    comment 

A few of my friends who went to the first Code Camp said they learned a lot. I just saw there's a New York Code Camp coming in June.

1:23:17 AM    comment 

Brandon Paddock: "[Chris Pirillo] is upset that there IS NO WinHEC for users (or Power Users, or users enthusiastic enough to care that they’re being ignored)."

Um, there's Gnomedex. Last time I was at Gnomedex it sure felt a lot like Winhec for users.

And I know a few teams at Microsoft who are planning on being there! And it's right about the time that Beta 1 is supposed to be coming out.

And Dave Winer and Adam Curry are gonna be there. Among other famous geeks.

I haven't been asked to speak yet, but I told Chris that I was gonna give the first keynote at 1 a.m. in the bar. Heh. After a few drinks I might start talking about Longhorn.

1:17:20 AM    comment 

Chris Pirillo: "Microsoft is all about the developer, and seldom seems to cater to the true enthusiasts."

Paul Thurrott: "Why Longhorn is a Train Wreck."

My answer to Chris: we didn't set your expectations for Winhec properly. I'm very sorry about that. Winhec is a conference aimed at hardware driver developers. It should never have been hyped up as the place where you'd see end-user features in Longhorn (and someone should have brought down your expectations before you came).

That said, your words are very challenging and it's clear we have a lot of work to do to win you over.

Paul, same thing. I totally understand why you think Longhorn is in disarray.

Funny enough, but this is exactly why people inside Microsoft are afraid of total transparency. Seeing how the sausage is made, they tell me, might turn you off to the whole process.

I hear you'll be back up soon. I'd love to give you a tour and make sure you see inside Longhorn as deeply as possible.

12:49:46 AM    comment 

Joe Wilcox takes on Longhorn and Tiger.

Like I said, I'm gonna stay quiet on Longhorn until Beta 1 is in your hands.

"But I see the worst mistakes being messaging and marketing, rather than dramatically falling behind in innovation."

Joe: I take the blame on the messaging. I could help with messaging, but I've gotten burned by Longhorn the first time around (I got excited about early versions of Longhorn, and talked about those with my readers, and then had to backtrack when plans were redrawn) so I'm just staying quiet until you have beta 1 bits in your hands.

Lots of the market confusion is coming from that lack of transparency. Truth is, Longhorn last year went back to the drawing board. Did you watch the Jim Allchin video I did on Thursday? Did you notice that he said he's only been using Longhorn for three months? That's quite brave transparency there. He's admitting that Longhorn wasn't usable until just three months ago -- read between the lines and you can see we went back to the drawing board.

That said, teams are now rolling in their changes, and I'm excited about the direction again. I just don't want to talk about features in particular (especially when Jim wasn't willing to talk too much, I'm really keying off of him and other senior executives).

I think back on the days more than two years ago when I was invited to a secret Longhorn preview (this was before I was a Microsoft employee). What I saw was really Avalon and WinFS with a new UI (which I later found out was a prototype of Aero). Well, Avalon now runs on XP, so it's not Longhorn-specific anymore, and WinFS has been sent back to the shop for more work, while a new search feature is in Longhorn that's pretty cool (that works quite differently than the one I saw in the early prototypes -- truth be told, it's better in many respects!)

Aero is still in Longhorn, but no one outside of Microsoft has seen Aero yet and even inside of Microsoft most of us aren't running with Aero yet (they really do want to keep the UI as secret as possible and don't want screen shots to leak out).

Joe's right, though. Microsoft doesn't do enough to put Media Center and Tablet PC front and center. Those two are gonna play huge roles in the future. Why?

Let's come back to the movie theater again. Portable devices and entertainment. Those are two areas where you'll see big growth over the next few years.

One area, though, that isn't very sexy is reliability. Right now those of us who are running Longhorn are also running stress tests on our machines. In fact, those tests are running right now on many machines at Microsoft in a distributed fashion.

Tim Sneath, for instance, showed me his machine running the stress tests. His machine is sent a bunch of instructions that just run everything at 100%. If something nasty happens, an engineer can get into the machine and see what happened.

I wanna get an interview with the team that's doing that work. It's a cool way that the engineering teams can use our standard office PCs for stress testing during nights and weekends.

One last thing, there's some confusion about whether or not there will be a build of Longhorn up on MSDN. It's clear now: there won't be another build up on MSDN until at least beta 1.

12:21:29 AM    comment 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
Are you with the press?
Last updated:
6/1/2005; 8:53:59 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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