Jeremy Kuhne on his blog says "the new version of Acrylic available." (He has an image that he did with it. Wow, that's one cool graphic tool.
Jamie, a customer/graphic designer who hangs out on Channel 9, takes that tool and does some fun images.
A couple of quick hits before I head to dinner.
John Walkenbach has been doing some comparisons of search engines and has some suprising results.
"In terms of sheer number of links returned, MSN Search is the surprising winner. For the experimental URL, I don't think it found all of them, but it did better than any other single search site. Based on this little experiment, my opinion of MSN Search went up a notch or two."
Larry Hryb, Xbox Live program manager, reports on his blog about Xbox executive J Allard's recent nasty bike fall. Includes photos. Ouch.
What, is everyone at Microsoft having bad bicycle experiences? Raymond Chen reports "I was attacked by a sidewalk."
Be careful out there!
Steve Gillmor: the RSS crisis.
"Try this thought experiment the next time someone tells you about the RSS Crisis: If RSS is so popular, why does it need to be fixed? If it's too complicated, why is it so popular?
Danny Sullivan tells search engine companies "your index size doesn't matter." I totally agree. I absolutely don't believe the numbers anyway. Do you? Come on. You don't really believe there are 6,040,000 pages that have "Windows Vista" on them, do you? And, no, I don't believe there are 2,565,945 pages either. And 42,200,000? Come on! If you do, I drove across this nice bridge yesterday that I'd like to sell you.
Peter Merholz has a post that's very deep. He says, "No. Really. It's not *about* the technology."
This is why I often ask "what is your philosophy?" when talking with teams about new products.
Why is that question effective? It gets to whether they really thought about the whole thing or whether they are just putting together a checklist of features.
It's so much easier to evangelize things that have a philosophy.
I hope every product developer at Microsoft reads Peter's post. Does your product/APIs/services stand for something? Or you just putting together features to appease your boss?
The official PDC site is reporting 100 seats left and counting. Translation: we're hours away from selling out. The conference sold out faster than in 2003.
I got halfway through Adam's show and just was bored. Adam's on vacation with his family, so he has a good excuse, I guess, but I miss those early days where Adam was going through discovery process with Dave Winer and talking tech and bringing us music we might not have listened to otherwise.
I switched to .NET Rocks where Rocky Lhotka is a guest. I'm a geek. This is a much better show for me. I haven't seen Rocky in a while, but he used to speak at a ton of the conferences I helped plan in the 1990s.
Congrats to Adam Curry and Dave Winer for podcasting for a year. I'm playing his show right now on my Tablet PC's speakers in the Microsoft cafeteria in Silicon Valley. Speaking of which, I switched Tablet PCs last week. I have a new Toshiba M4 behemouth. Did I say this thing is big? But, I like the keyboard on this one and it's definitely faster.
One thing I noticed when using it in the plane here. Having a big laptop is completely unusable in a plane. But, when you switch to Tablet mode it's very comfortable.
Time Europe: Taming the Wild Web.
"The explosion of personal content has every big online firm buzzing. But can anyone make it pay?"
They call this new world the "referral economy."
I don't like that name, but I don't have a better one to put forward.
InformationWeek: The Web Moves.
"Web video isn't perfect. But it's good enough that now is the time for businesses to give it a close look."
I always knew Microsoft was from the dark side. We even wear Stormtrooper uniforms at Linux conferences. Heh!
Jeremy Allison tried to get me onto that panel but it didn't work out. If I was there maybe I could have helped Microsoft's team beat Google. I knew that Windows 1.0 came out in 1985. Oh well.
On this topic, Bill Hilf and team have a nice writeup in News.com today.
The Gillmor Gang we recorded last Friday is now up. Steve Gillmor gives me heck about my comments about Adam Curry's Sirius radio show.
Speaking of Sirius, we scored at Hertz this week. Got an Infinity G35 for only a few dollars a day more. What a great car! And it comes with Sirius built in.
I was listening to Grateful Dead yesterday with Patrick on the Sirius while driving through San Francisco. What a trip! Oh, if you're a Grateful Dead fan, did you know there's a stash of their music over on the Internet Archive? Awesome, just don't make me wear tie-die, OK?
I'm seeing referers from Google's intranet on my referer page. I have no idea what they are saying about me internally (I only can see that someone has linked to me from an intranet page), but I can imagine it goes something like this: "who the heck invited a Microsoft blogger to come to campus tomorrow?"
It gets worse. I have a hand-signed letter from Eric Schmidt for a different event that'll be happening at Google's campus in October.
What I find funny is no one has started any interesting rumors about what I'm doing there. Sigh. People start all sorts of interesting rumors about Technorati, what does it take to get some creative writing going on?
Oh, and if you're inside Google and worried, don't worry, I'll be on my best behavior. I'm really there to check out the cafeteria. I hear the food you have there is awesome.
Speaking of which, my office for the next three days is the cafeteria here at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus. Jeffrey Richter just had lunch next to me. He didn't see me at first, but finally saw me and said "what are you doing here?" He's teaching a .NET class to a bunch of Microsoft employees. If you don't know who Jeffrey Richter is you probably don't program on Windows. He was one of the top tier of speakers back when I was helping plan the VSLive conferences back in the 1990s.
Speaking of PR, Doug Free just sat down. He does PR for Microsoft down here in the valley. Gotta go.
I should hang out in cafeterias more often.
Dwight Silverman, in Houston Chronicle's TechBlog: What's wrong with RSS. Read the comments there. That's where RSS needs to go next.
Steve Rubel links to a Nielsen/NetRatings study that points out that blog readers are not RSS readers. The benefits are there, but only highly passionate readers can see them (among influentials RSS usage is far higher -- which is what gives it its power -- at all the conferences I've spoken at this year usage is about 80%). It's far more productive to read a set of blogs and Web sites in an RSS aggregator than in a Web browser. But, it's not for everyone. If you don't visit more than 10 sites a day I don't think you're gonna be able to see the utility of RSS.
Blogging, though, gets us close -- because it increases the number of sites everyone wants to keep up on. What happens when everyone in your family has a Flickr site and a blog? How many people are in your family? At my wedding there were more than 50 family members and I don't think that's atypical. If you're trying to keep up to date on 50 people email and Web just doesn't cut it. Will you really want to visit your brother's site every few days just to see if he's posted a new picture of his kids?
Susan Bradley says there's something more annoying than the RSS feed debate: Orange XML icons that don't go to the RSS feed itself, but to a page with links to feeds. Oh, I TOTALLY agree! See how an inconsistency drives users nuts?
The Hotmail team has posted a few details about an upcoming update of theirs. I'm getting a look this week while I work at Microsoft's Mountain View office (anyone wanna meet up? I'll be hanging out in the cafeteria in building 1). By the way, I didn't realize that the Hotmail team has a blog. It's getting harder and harder to keep track of all the blogs at Microsoft.
Chris, on Incoherent Babble blog: Scoble Doesn't Suck!
That's very nice! I'll work to keep your respect Chris.
James Kew makes a good point with his "twice-as-good" rule. He says to really get great buzz you've gotta be twice as good as anything that came before it.
Ahh, the world of maps continues at a torrid pace. Why do developers matter? Well, look at all the cool stuff that has been done for Google Maps in the past few months. And, look at David Yack's blog. He just did a real estate app for MSN Virtual Earth and wrote about it on his blog.
Here's a prediction after talking with a few developers who are doing map apps for both Google and Virtual Earth (I did an interview that'll be coming up soon): we're just seeing the absolute start of this new world. Hang onto your maps, the next year is gonna see some really fabulous stuff.
Interesting geek dinner observation. I make my dinners open to anyone. But it's mostly men who reply. Same thing today. Why is that? These are fantastic networking opportunities. Companies are literally being born at these dinners (and funded too).
Job opportunities are discussed and more.
But, only men show up. I even paid for dinner tonight. Yet only men show up.
Here, let's try this again. I'm having another geek dinner tonight. We're meeting in Mountain View at the Starbucks on Castro street at 6 p.m. then we'll walk to Casa Lupe for dinner. Anyone is invited and welcome. No one will be turned away. Everyone will be included.
Update: in London there's a tech women-only geek dinner (guys can come if they are brought by a female) on Tuesday night. Sounds like fun!
So, this RSS thing has been weighing on my mind all day. Talked with Dave in the morning. First, let me link to Jim Moore, who has some good links and thoughts: Reporting on systems evolving.
Whenever I'm torn between two approaches I try to get back into the role of a user. What makes the most sense for a user? And, if that doesn't help, what does prior art look like? Consistency helps users. As someone who will probably own both a Windows Vista machine and a Macintosh in the future, I want consistency as much as possible. Why? The lack of consistency infuriates me (I was reminded of that when I kept reaching for the non-existent mouse wheel on the Macintosh mouse I was using at the Apple store today).
To get into the mindset of a user, Patrick and I visited the Apple store in San Francisco where we hung out for a couple of hours. I listened to Dave Winer's podcast there on one of the display Macs which was a surreal experience in itself.
But, while surfing the net I checked out Safari and how it handled RSS feeds. Doing prior art research. In Safari, whenever you are on a page with an RSS feed, a little RSS icon turned on in the address bar which showed there was something to subscribe to. I visited Google's news page, which now sports both RSS and Atom feeds. If you visit an Atom feed the RSS icon turns on. Hmm, why have two separate feeds in that case? Why not just have one? This stuff is confusing to normal users.
Anyway, Mike Torres of the MSN Spaces team did some more prior art research yesterday. Looked at how Firefox, Bloglines, Newsgator, Six Apart, and Blogger deals with the issue.
Remember, IE hasn't shipped its RSS aggregator (and won't for quite a while still).
I'll talk with the IE team this week. I'm giving a keynote with the guy who runs that team on Friday at the Blog Business Summit (Dean Hachamovitch).
I haven't talked with anyone on the team, so don't even know what the full story is. I've only heard Dave's side of this.
Being inconsistent makes it harder for users, though. What's the prior art here? Dave Winer is the prior art. He's the one who popularized RSS. So, you should do it the way he does it. He uses Orange XML icons. Seems that anyone who comes along and tries to change that is actually making it harder for users, not easier.
It comes back down to consistency.
The problem is that all the players are doing different things. Look at Mike Torres' blog again where he enumerates how RSS is treated by the various players.
So, what should Microsoft do? Who should Microsoft be consistent with? Dave Winer? Six Apart? Bloglines? Firefox? Safari? Newsgator?
And, we haven't even started thinking about localization yet? Wait until you get the Chinese to argue over what the Chinese symbol is for RSS. Or the Iranians. Yikes.
I think I'm gonna vote for the artist-formerly-known-as-Prince solution: make me a graphical icon and forget this argument altogether.
So, this morning I put my cell phone on my Web site and said "call me if you wanna get together." Four people did, three of whom met me at Cha Cha Cha on Mission tonight for some tappas and margaritas.
Lots of fun. Who was there? Micah Alpern, an interaction designer at eBay, Dan Gould, a social software entrepreneur, Nick Heyman, manager of operations for Face Book.
Face Book was particularly interesting to me, because every college student I've met lately says they use it religiously. That's a demographic that makes advertisers eyes light up. Nick shared with us the challenges of his job. He says that running a data center today is all about heat and power. Says that most data centers weren't designed for blade servers and the heat and power loads that they bring to bear in a data center (basically servers are getting smaller so you can fit more to a rack, but the power and heat capacity of data centers were designed in the 1990s for far bigger machines).
Funny story: at the beginning of the dinner Nick saw someone walk in and said "hey, isn't that Aaron?"
Turns out it was Aaron Boodman, the author of Greasemonkey. When I was introduced to him, I still had no idea who he was. I just knew his name was Aaron. Then Nick introduced us and said "he wrote Greasemonkey." I answered "I'm not worthy."
Now I remember why I love San Francisco.