Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Alex Scoble: The great laptop vs desktop debate, Part 2.

I look around the room here. Everyone has a laptop. From the poorest blogger to the smartest developer. Why? Cause we can move around!

That said, our researchers who work on large and multiple screens have found that having multiple high-resolution screens will make you about quite a bit more productive. I notice that as I walk around campus I'm seeing more and more multiple screens.

Me? I have a bit of both. I have two computers, each hooked up to a separate screen. That way I can encode videos while doing something else. And I have a Toshiba M4 Tablet PC which is a third screen that I can grab quickly and take off to meetings. That's what I'm typing on now.

Oh, and Alex, you can use multiple monitors with your portable computer too. My Toshiba has video out and lets me use two screens. That's how Maryam has her computer at home setup. So she gets the advantages of both a laptop and multiple screens. There's an article on Microsoft's AtWork site that talks more about how to do multiple screens.

Oh, and look at software like MaxiVista or Ultramon that lets you use multiple computers as a single screen.

What kind of setup do you have?

11:56:48 PM    Mudpit 
11:31:47 PM    Mudpit 

Raymond Chen is here coding away at the GotDotNet Code Slam. Along with dozens of other geeks. We're here all night. If you wanna come by and you're in Redmond, WA, call me up for directions. 425-205-1921. Maryam and Chris Pirillo and Ponzi are here too!

11:20:45 PM    Mudpit 

I'm sitting with Sam Gentile (Microsoft customer and C# MVP). He just told me stories of being a member of Ward Cunningham's first Wiki way back in 1995. I got him and Ward on video. That'll be a fun one.

Ward said he almost named it "Fast Web." He said that if he had done that no one would ever have known about him.

10:51:12 PM    Mudpit 

Motley Fool: Why I Fear Google WiFi.

I fear Google's WiFi for a whole nother reason: I fear they are using their Wifi to build a better search engine.

Here's what I'm thinking. You know TV networks? How do they know a TV show's rating? They have a very small number of people that they call up and ask what they are watching.

Well, now, let's say you own an ISP. You are required by law to track everything that goes through your network. Google could actually be mining this information.

It goes back to how search engines are gonna get better at relevancy. See search engines' algorithms have steadily advanced.

MSN's engineers last week showed me how their system actually evolves without any human contact. It learns from usage patterns.

That's new for search engines. Remember in the mid-1990s? Search engines basically only did text lookup. You know, if you searched on a word or phrase like, say, "search engines" it would search through all the text until it found a match. Yeah, I'm oversimplifying, but stick with me. That's why AltaVista was so easily gamed.

Then Google came along and added to that algorithm one that tracked linking behavior too. That made it harder to game and made the relevancy of Google much better.

Now search engine designers and developers are trying to find "the next algorithm." What they really need is more metadata.

What's next? Using what users are actually visiting and clicking on. Steve Gillmor calls that attention data.

If one engine can get more attention data than another engine they'll win in the relevancy scores. Folks like me will notice that big time and talk about it. Heck, you can already see that I've noticed that MSN's and Yahoo's quality has really gotten better in the past few months.

So, what is my point?

Well, if you are trying to make things better for 100 million people, you don't need to track 100 million. You only need to track a very very small number. Certainly if you could get only 5 million to give you their attention data then you could get enough data to really make a new kind of search engine.

So, why do I fear Google's wifi? Well, if you own the last few yards in between people and the Internet you can really learn a lot. You can watch everything those people click on, what pages they visit, what browsers they use, how often they turn on Skype, and a lot of other stuff.

Now, on Google's side they have a pretty straightforward privacy policy, but that really doesn't cover a lot of stuff, or does it?

Anyway, it sure has me wondering what kinds of things they are going to learn from folks who sign onto Google wifi stations.

10:35:57 PM    Mudpit 

Here's the replay of the MSDN Webcast about blogging that I did with Jeff and Julian on Monday.

10:07:27 PM    Mudpit 
9:59:05 PM    Mudpit Microsoft, JBoss link server software. Slashdot is reacting to it.

Nice to see this! Oh, it's nice to see that even Open Source developers can make money on Windows. Jboss has about half of their customers on Windows.

9:51:19 PM    Mudpit 

The blogs are talking about iTunes for Windows Mobile 5.

9:32:06 PM    Mudpit 

Apple responded to iPod nano screen concerns. I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment further although someone should interview my son about his iPod 20GB model.

Update: he's an Apple fan. It's his way of rebelling against me. Calls me "Microsoft boy."

9:29:09 PM    Mudpit 

The MVPs are here! The MVPs are here! The MVPs are here!

I'm sitting on the floor of our visitor center right now meeting with a group of MVPs. The Italians just walked in. We're seeing a future version of GotDotNet. Very cool, the MVPs are asking very tough and biting questions. That's what I love about MVPs.

Over the next three days there are thousands of MVPs (they are people who are the best at supporting Microsoft's customers).

It'll be interesting to see what they learn. I'm gonna tag along with several groups to see how customers are interacting with Microsoft.

By the way, this event is called the GotDotNet Code Slam cause the MVPs are actually going to code. We're gonna be here most of the night if you wanna drop by (you have to know where the Microsoft Company Store is, though). We have free food and drinks.

Ward Cunningham, the guy who invented the Wiki is sitting right in front of me. How often do you get to write code with the guy who invented the Wiki?

9:25:01 PM    Mudpit 

Kudos to Google for removing the index size count from its search engine. I hope MSN does this too. Let's just be honest, these numbers didn't have much to do with reality. They were estimates. And that's being nice. I totally expected a lawsuit to be filed someday because of these numbers. Hmmm, I wonder if the lawyers got wind of how off these numbers really were?

Oh, does being more comprehensive really matter if your top 10 links aren't the best 10 links possible? After all, we know through eyetrak research (watching how users use search engines) that most people don't look at more than 10 results.

So, does having a million results for a search term really matter to anyone? No. Having the best top 10 results for each search term is what really matters.

Luckily this lets us get back to what really matters: those 10 results.

Oh, and happy birthday to Google!

10:09:25 AM    Mudpit 

I see a bunch of bloggers are talking about O'Reilly's Web 2.0 Meme Map. TechCrunch does about the best I've seen so far when he says "keep it simple."

Personally how can you put a version number on the Web? It's changing every day and it really is bigger than the Web. RSS, by the way, is missing from this chart. At least they got the color right (orange is in the middle). Heh.

But, it's fun to go up to someone and ask them "what does 'Web 2.0' mean to you?"

10:01:55 AM    Mudpit 

It's interesting to watch the reactions to the Wall Street Journal article about how messed up Windows development processes were. Many bloggers called it a "puff piece" but now on Memeorandum the headlines that are attached to it say "Microsoft Windows Officially Broken."

Neither view is really accurate.

Windows isn't what whas broken. Windows DEVELOPMENT PROCESSES were what was broken. I really hate headline writers who don't get the facts right and/or sensationalize a story beyond what it needs to be sensationalized. The two are different things.

Either way, I'm glad the story is getting out. The short view is that last year we threw out the code that had been written for Longhorn and started over with a fresh code base (they restarted with Windows Server 2003's codebase, by the way). Then they started checking in features one at a time, albeit with higher quality bars. It was a very painful time. I had been sold on how cool Longhorn was going to be too, and last year I couldn't really say much as they rebuilt the entire product.

That said, I'm still being mostly quiet. Why? Cause I'd rather you get the bits and judge the product for yourself rather than me mouth off about how I think we're doing -- which might be a mistake too. Two years ago I got caught overhyping because I didn't know that they'd be forced to back up and "reset." This year I'm underhyping and staying quiet. My new view? Me mouthing off really doesn't matter that much either way. What matters is whether you like Windows Vista and what you'll tell your friends and family after you get a good solid look.

You'll hear my excitement about Windows Vista, though, in videos I film with the dev teams as I take you along to discover new features. The last chapter on this book hasn't been written yet and I believe business students and computer science majors will be studying this period in Microsoft's life for a very long time.

9:50:08 AM    Mudpit 

Joe Wilcox looks into the three announcements Microsoft participated in yesterday: Windows Mobile Treo; MSN adCenter; HD-DVD.

Joe sees a coming battle between Intel and Microsoft vs consumer electronics companies. I wonder what Apple's gonna do now that they have a strong relationship with Intel going?

I had dinner last night with David Geller and Chris Pirillo. Chris told me that Sony always seems to back the most proprietary standard and usually ends up losing because of that in the end (beta vs. VHS anyone?). But it will be an interesting competition, that's for sure!

I TOTALLY disagree with Joe that HDTV's future remains uncertain, though. If you've ever talked with an HDTV owner (my boss just got one) they are worse than Tivo owners. Jeff tells me his HDTV has totally changed how he watches TV. Says when you get one you will seek out HDTV content like never before.

Mark Cuban, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, is also an investor in HDNet (a distributor and producer of HD programming. On his blog he talks through his thoughts on this topic.

Me? I want an HDTV. The Xbox 360 is the driver in the seat here.

9:31:43 AM    Mudpit 

Yesterday Dave Winer noted that Yahoo's RSS aggregator lets you export your list of feeds to OPML which is really great cause you can then try out other aggregators. That really is a statement of strength when aggregator producers let you easily leave to go to competitor's products, as Dave reported Yahoo told him.

So, yesterday, I was interviewing Sanaz who is one of the people who works on the team ( is a Web-based RSS aggregator and news page). I asked "why don't you do what Yahoo does?" She answered "we already do."

Yeah, lets you both import and export OPML lists of your RSS feeds.

So, now you can easily compare Yahoo vs. and see which one you like the most. Is this a new attitude at Microsoft? Competing on the sheer power of features and quality? Not on lockin? Hmmm.

9:16:28 AM    Mudpit 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
Are you with the press?
Last updated:
10/1/2005; 12:42:58 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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