Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Thursday, June 16, 2005

Rebecca MacKinnon, on Harvard Law School's Global Voices blog, has screenshots on what gets through the MSN/China word-blocking mechanism and details on how to get around it in both English and Chinese.

8:03:31 PM    comment 

Tablet PC Thoughts: Apple's First Tablet PC.

Damn, it looks like I'm gonna lose that $100 bet I made (I was betting on an Apple Tablet this year) but if I do lose it, looks like I'll lose the bet by a matter of months.

Oh well. The $100 goes to charity anyway, so it's a good cause.

7:56:54 PM    comment 

The Seattle Times, about Chris Pirillo: "If you're a geek, you like him," said Robert Scoble, a Microsoft employee known for his online blog and a longtime friend of Pirillo's. "If you're not a geek, you're like, 'What?' "

Thanks to Steve Rubel for linking to this and a bunch of other blog stuff.

7:10:40 PM    comment 

Hadi Partovi, what are you thinking?

Your team built this really killer RSS Aggregator. OK, OK, it does a lot more than RSS, but I knew that'd get Dave Winer's attention.

I thought "oh, some GM over in MSN probably took 50 people to do this." After all, it's Microsoft, right? This isn't Mountain View. We work on long-term schedules here. With hundreds or even thousands of people on teams.

Today I found out the truth. You let this thing ship with only two people working on it. With no testers. No document people. No marketing. No PR.

What are you thinking?

Today I ran into the two people. Sanaz Ahari and Steve Rider.

I don't know how Eric Schmidt missed these two. Every single executive at Microsoft should come and study their methodology. Well, on other hand, don't bother them, they are busy shipping software. Instead, go take a class from Jason Fried and slow him down a bit. Heh.

They are weird animals: they are focused on shipping software that makes users smile.

They told me they didn't write any specs. Hey, is someone listening to Jason Fried at Microsoft? Freaking A. (Believe it or not, these two didn't know about Jason until I told them today, but I swear they went to the same software development school -- Maybe Jason has a brother and sister that were separated from him at birth and Sanaz and Steve are them).

What are you thinking Hadi?

Then they blew my mind. There aren't any advertisements here. "Will you add advertisements?" I asked. It's Microsoft, after all, and there needs to be a business model, right?

Yes, they told me, but they won't let anyone run traditional banner type advertising. Pinch me. Is this MSN? Is this Microsoft? "We have a philosphy that advertising shouldn't bug users."

What are you thinking Hadi?

It got worse.

Then they told me all about how they use Ajax. How they kept everything from having many dependencies. How they add features in an afternoon. How they have fun and added a little quiz to "build some buzz on the blogs."

Wait a second. Don't you need to hire advertising agencies to do that? Isn't this Microsoft? How dare they use Ajax techniques! Oh, we did invent that stuff here, but we didn't mean for anyone to actually use it, right?

Hadi, what are you thinking?

I don't know which way is up anymore. Are execs reading Mini-Microsoft? The world is spinning. How can this be happening at Microsoft? What is going on in MSN land? Will Microsoft survive Hadi's little band of developers?

Hadi, bring me more, please! Kudos. Awesome. My jaw is dropping. But, what are you thinking?

Aside: I predict this team will be on the cover of Fortune Magazine or Fast Company or Business 2.0 soon.

Update: they even have time to blog. Steve Rider's blog is here. Sanaz Ahari's blog is here. She's Persian too! Hey, Maryam, let's get together for dinner somenight.

5:58:38 PM    comment 

Here's something fun. A former NeXT employee, who didn't want to be named, told me that IBM actually did the work to get the NeXT OS to work on Intel. That work was done in Palo Alto. Hmmm, doesn't Steve Jobs live in Palo Alto? :-)

That work never shipped, but it has to be ironic that IBM's own work enabled Apple to move from IBM chips to Intel chips.

2:17:01 PM    comment 

A couple of things folks have emailed me today:

Michael Gartenberg is having troubles getting his Tablet PC setup. Oh, oh. I'm meeting with the team this afternoon. I'll see if we can fix him up. On the other hand his headline is hillarious: Microsoft gave me a RAW deal from Microsoft today.

Poynter Online: the Duke iPod Report. Brock Read reports that the project had limited instructional merit. Open Source Smack-Down. "IBM apparently has grown tired of having a freebie program eating away at its sales." Heh! Isn't IBM the one who is going open source?

1:14:44 PM    comment 

A lot of my workers have been giving me good-natured ribbing for my "fight" with Joel Spolsky this morning. But, Matt Carter had the best line I've heard so far:

" had nicer chairs than we do at Microsoft too."

And to the rest of you who think I was pissy. Well, I couldn't sleep at 5 a.m. and decided to get up and read feeds. Sorry. Next time I'll wait to have my coffee first.

12:46:10 PM    comment Microsoft invited a bunch of hackers onto campus.

"Matt Thomlinson, whose job it is to help make Microsoft engineers create more secure code, noticed that some of the engineers were turning red, becoming obviously angry at the demo hacking incident. Yet as painful as the lesson was, he was glad to see the crowd of engineers taking things personally."

Good to see.

12:08:13 PM    comment 

I just found a cool blog about maps: the map room.

12:03:40 PM    comment 

Joe Wilcox: in response to your post about the fragmentation of the Windows user base it's worse than it appears. When I was in London last week I noticed that the entire London train station was running on fairly new Windows XP machines. But, then, I looked closer and saw that it was a DOS app running on all those machines. Same at Hertz rental car.

This is one reason why Windows can't radically change. There's no way we're going to break those enterprise-level apps and if we do anything to the UI that breaks the training those workers have received they'll reject the new thing and stick with the old.

It makes designing and developing Windows a tricky business and makes the jobs of CTO's very difficult. How do you convince a CTO to throw out a DOS app that's working just fine? I haven't found the trick yet.

8:41:35 AM    comment 

Alex Barnett notes (and links to the relevant blogs and sites) that the BBC has had 600,000 downloads of the Beethoven MP3 files in a few days. I met quite a few of the BBC'ers in London and they are doing some impressive stuff.

9:50:17 AM    comment 

Bob Cramer, CEO of LiveVault, is now blogging. He's focusing on data protection issues, primarily for SMBs and businesses with remote offices. Subscribed!

9:45:55 AM    comment 

Joel's forum participants are great. Very quick, too. They are responding to me here.

Pissy huh? Yeah, I haven't had coffee yet. I'm ornery, too.

Not sure it'll ever come across well when you get into "my toy pile is bigger than your toy pile" arguments. But, oh well, who said I had to be grown up all the time? Rah rah rah. Go team! Heh.

9:28:47 AM    comment 

The excellent Change This site just posted another interesting manifesto: What is Open Source Marketing?

9:07:39 AM    comment 

Joel Spolsky dances on our dirty laundry.

My reply?

Let's visit David Ornstein's office (I just filmed him recently). Now, look at his computers. He has a nice big monitor, just like Joel's interns have, but he has a Tablet PC too. Do you give your employees one of those? I didn't see any when I visited your offices recently. Oh, I guess you don't want your employees to go and work on code somewhere else other than in your office. But, remove that for a second, do your employees work with a projector like he, and quite a few other employees do?

Do you have any hardware toys like our hardware division has? Or our research division has?

If your employees get bored, can they go over and talk with some of the world's top experts on Linux? Oh, and think no one wants to come work at Microsoft? Well, the founder of Gentoo just came to work here. Sorta invalidates your theory that the Slashdot crowd won't come to work here too, don't ya think? Do you have any people who've written operating systems where you work? This Microsoft employee has written two. Do you build tools that let you build a new OS in minutes?

Do you have neat hiking trails for your employees to use?

Can your employees work in Redmond, Silicon Valley, Cambridge, Denmark, China, New York, North Carolina, India or any other number of places in the world? I met several former Americans working at our offices in Denmark. They wanted to live in Europe and were able to do so without moving companies and without changing benefits (although, damn it, they have black licorice candy in their offices! I'm starting a protest to get that world-wide. Heh.)

I didn't see any labs like this one when I visited your offices that employees can use.

Do you have guys like this on staff? Or this. And were you able to buy them a Terrabyte of datafarm space back in 1998?

As to whether we can ship compelling new versions of Windows. You might ask these guys. They shipped several versions of Windows Media Center. And sold more than a million copies. Have you sold a million copies of anything?

Or, talk to famous blogger Joshua Micah Marshall about how compelling the new Tablet PC is. He's above you in the Technorati Top 100 so maybe he onto something?

Or talk to this woman. She, and her team, shipped XPSP2. It's on more computers today than you can count (I'm not sure I'm allowed to share the number, but, it's a big number).

I don't remember seeing an HP Superdome computer when I visited your offices. Heck, that one computer is BIGGER than your offices! Yes, our senior developers work on THAT. So much for your theory that your interns have better computers than we do. When you give your employees a 64-way 64-bit computer then you can dance on our dirty laundry successfully.

But, let's keep going. I'm having fun.

You brag about the movie you're having filmed in your offices. Very cool. But, come on over to our studios and compare, OK?

Do you hate Windows and Linux? Well, go work for our Mac Business Unit. Check out all the toys they get to work with. And they get to work in Silicon Valley's weather too!

Do you have a co-creator of XML down the hall that you can chat with about a hairy XML problem? I do.

How about time for a little Flight Simulator?

Do you buy your employees computers like Jeremy Collins and Scott Napolitan have to work on in the Enterprise Engineering Center? And check out their new Sun Microsystems' Solaris machines. Multi-million-dollars worth.

Have you abused your employees for 20 years or more? Do they brag about it and still love coming to work? Even though they don't need to anymore for financial reasons? Ask Jim Allchin. Or Larry Osterman. Or any of our old-time employees.

Do you buy your employees Hummers? So they can do their jobs?

Would you get mad if an employee paved over your office or pulled another prank like what we do here?

Do you buy all your employees all these kinds of mobile gadgets? Or, how about all of these gadgets?

Speaking of monitors, some of our interns don't even need them. I don't remember seeing any monitors like what Bill Hill has on his desk: it's an $8,500 200 DPI job that's stunning.

Some of our developers even get to do research on large screens.

Do your employees work with the guy who came up with Borland's TurboPascal, Delphi, and C#? How about Christopher Brumme?

Do you work with the guys who helped define what extreme programming is? Or, who invented the Wiki?

Do you work surrounded by great art? I didn't see much when I was in your offices.

Do your employees have membership in one of the world's best fitness clubs?

My wife just had very expensive surgery. What came out of our pocket? $0. I just picked up new cholesterol medicine. Out of my pocket? $0. Our medical plan rocks.

Our stock price is flat, yes, but new employees get given stock that vests over several years. What do your new employees get? Options? Nothing? I won't get rich off of my stock, you're right, but it's more than I've gotten at the previous companies I worked at (they all gave me options which later proved to be worthless).

Did Malcolm Gladwell come to your offices to do a speech and sign books? He did here. And we put that up on our intranet for all the employees to watch. Along with thousands of other speeches done by smart people, many of which we bring here to speak.

Did the Prime Minister of Indochina visit your offices a few weeks ago? How about Hillary Clinton? She signed my Tablet PC when she visited. Yesterday Scott Stanzel, former Bush-Cheney Press Secretary spoke here.

Regarding furniture. I've had my behind on Aeron chairs in the past. They are cool. But the furniture in my office works and is comfortable. I know, I park my behind there a lot of hours.

And, it's the same chair that Jim Allchin has. So, we all suffer similarly, whether we're a sub-$100,000 employee or an executive who's at the top of the game.

Regarding cutting features from Longhorn. Yeah, shipping is hard. We still are learning how to do it when you have thousands of developers. Let's get together at Gnomedex next week and talk again, shall we? The story about features in Longhorn will start changing there.

Regarding offices: my office has a door. It's a very valuable thing. I can listen to music in my office without disturbing other people. And, I can close the door and ask not to be disturbed. Important for when you have a bunch of creative stuff to do.

By the way, while you're dancing on our dirty laundry, note that we allow our employees to share their dirty laundry. Hint: every company has dirty laundry. Every company is screwed up in some way. Even Apple. Even Google. Even, gasp, your company. None of us are perfect. But our company lets us talk about all the ways we aren't perfect and work to fix those things. How about at your company? Will those interns be able to blog about the things they don't like about your company? So that we can dance on your dirty laundry?

One last taunt for Joel: we have Raymond Chen in our camp. Enough said. :-)

8:07:49 AM    comment 

June 2005
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30    
May   Jul

(On Bloglines)
(From NewsGator)
(On TextAmerica)
Naked Conversations
(Book blog)
Main Feed
Link Blog
Microsoft's Channel9
Comment Feed
Referer Page

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
Are you with the press?
Last updated:
7/1/2005; 3:37:32 PM.

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.

Be the first to comment! Free real-time blog alerts via MSN Messenger, mobile, or email.
Technorati search

PDC'05 - Developer Powered