Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Thursday, September 29, 2005

Here's the deal. I will switch to the blogging tool that outputs OPML automatically like what Michael Arrington did by hand.

Will it be a Microsoft service? I hope so. Hey, MSN Spaces, you gonna add OPML and categorization, er tagging, support so this will be possible, or will it be Google or Yahoo that does it first?

Michael, this is awesome. I want this for a whole lot of reasons. It looks a darn lot like tagging support, which we added to Channel 9, but is a whole lot more powerful. Why? It lets me again escape the Web browser. See, to me, Web 2.0 is letting me do things in an edge way. I can't use Channel 9 while on an airplane very well. I could use OPML, though.

So, who is it gonna be? Oh, and I'd love it if I could take all the text for those blogs with me on the plane -- hmmm, that would just require a little RSS slurping, no? Why? Anyone hear about desktop search? Yeah, baby. Now you're starting to see the light.

Some caveats: it has to be a service like Typepad, MSN Spaces, Blogger, LiveJournal, or WordPress' new online service. I don't wanna run my own server. Second, the OPML needs to work in Dave Winer's OPML tool. If it doesn't work there it's funky OPML in my opinion and you wouldn't want to be funky now, would you?

6:28:43 PM    Mudpit 

Very interesting afternoon in my life. First I visited the Infopath team. That's a tool that lets you build forms. Very cool. But that's not what caught my eye. What fascinated me is that they started the demo in Firefox. I think it's the first time Firefox will be shown on Channel 9.

And it got better from there. The Web features they are building in the next version of Infopath are awesome. Little things like when you enter a number in a form it recalcs without hitting the server (using AJAX-like techniques) and displays that. Might not sound like a big deal, but I think it is, so there!

Anyway, after doing the InfoPath team I ran off to the Milennium buildings where I walked in on the MVPs who were grilling Larry Hryb. I turned on my camera and what did I see? Another Web browser! What, is this company going all web all the time?

Well, turned out Larry was demonstrating the new Web integration features of the Xbox 360. You'll have to wait until October before I can show you the tape, but at several points in the tape you'll hear cheers about that. After the camera was off Larry asked the team what they really thought. I waited breathlessly for the response because I thought they might have been overly enthusiastic for the camera. But, no, the cheering was even louder with the camera off. Damn.

And then Larry turned on the Xbox and gave a demo. He wouldn't even show me any games on it (the MVPs are getting a secret off-camera look at the games) but, damn. I'm doubly glad I ordered one. Awesome machine.

Oh, and I get to stand in line with Xbox fans twice. First on November 22 I'll be at a store in Redmond with the rest of the Microsofties who are picking up their units. Then on December 2 I'll be in Dublin, Ireland celebrating with geeks there! (Anyone wanna meetup?)

6:09:25 PM    Mudpit 

Over on Channel 9 Paul Mooney is reporting from the Dell press conference where they are introducing new machines -- he met Michael Dell and wrote about that experience on his blog.

The new machines look interesting. Hey, can you ask Michael Dell why he doesn't do a Tablet PC?

1:55:34 PM    Mudpit 

Want to see what your peers are doing? At the PDC we had a "Showoff" where people sent in videos of their applications. We've posted them up on Channel 9's video area (the first two pages on that link have the videos, I'll build a link page to only the Showoff videos later).

10:56:31 AM    Mudpit 

There is a fight underway and it was very clear to me on the floor of the MVP Summit expo hall yesterday. Bryan Stafford took me aside and gave me (actually Microsoft, but I was the proxy available) a harsh talking to. And that's putting it nicely. He's a VB 6.0 developer. And feels like we've abandoned him. But really what he's noticing is that his world is colliding with other visions of how software development should be done and he doesn't like it.

I was working in the Channel 9 booth. Tons of other MVPs were coming along and thanking me for pushing Microsoft into the Web 2.0 world and into the WinFX/Windows Vista world.

You could see markets colliding right in the same room.

And I felt for the first time how Microsoft is being pulled in different directions. Here's the directions:

1) Are the tons of developers who have bet their lives on Windows and have built tons of business apps that use Visual Basic 6.0. Bryan said that there were millions of such developers who still have VB 6.0 apps (even Google has VB 6.0 apps -- the new Word for Blogger plugin was built with VB 6.0)

2) The new developers who see the possibilities that Web 2.0 stuff brings. These are the folks who build Web Services at companies like Amazon and eBay, along with the folks who remix and remash services like Google's Maps, MSN's Virtual Earth, along with Craig's List and others. And the folks who are using AJAX and other Web development techniques (hey, the Hotmail and teams were on the floor too). One guy, for instance, showed me something he's working on that mixes photos from a variety of services like Flickr and others.

3) The new Windows developer who is pushing us to get rid of the "old gray" apps and get into the new .NET/WinFX/Windows Vista world. These were the folks who were coming along saying "dude, that Sparkle video rocked!"

But what got me interested is these three separate communities don't see eye-to-eye. They don't even like each other. Web-focused guys can't understand why anyone would develop a Windows application -- you see that in my comments all the time. And Bryan Stafford didn't want to hear about the "new Windows world" other than he wanted to know how Microsoft was going to get his existing applications into that new world and he certainly didn't want to hear that the world was gonna be run by Google and its band of Web Services. On the other hand the new guys can't understand why the old guys are griping.

It's in these conflicts that there are business opportunties.

Training companies, for instance, will do the hard work of helping Bryan move his apps to WinFX. It won't be easy. If you watch the Sparkle video you'll see that the entire architecture and development process for building these new apps has changed from the VB 6.0 world. That's why Microsoft hasn't built a porting application yet. Just like there weren't good porting apps from Apple II to Macintosh apps. Or why there weren't good porting apps from DOS to Windows. Or why there aren't good porting apps that'll take you from a Windows app to a Web Services app.

There are also business opportunities for companies that make development tools and systems that bridge these three communities together.

Bryan had some very biting things to say. He said something like "I feel like you've left me behind." I told him I'd heard this before in my career. I remember hanging out with Apple II developers and they used to complain about the new Macintosh. They didn't like that they'd need to redevelop all their applications for a new platform. At the camera store I worked at I remembered when Canon switched the lens mount. I had a lot of unhappy customers who said "I'll never switch to EOS and I'll never buy another Canon product again." But today they are the best in autofocus because of that switch. When Microsoft went from DOS to Windows in the early 90s Ethan Winer told me he was done with software development and would never switch to Windows. He learned to play the Cello and joined an orchestra. Even today he's hawking his DOS BASIC add-on products.

I asked Bryan "why don't you just stick with VB 6.0?" I pointed out that your VB 6.0 app will probably run forever just like that 25 year-old version of Lotus that we demonstrate running on Windows Vista and that there are things he could do to modernize his VB 6.0 apps so that newer .NET apps could talk via COM and Web Services. No need to rewrite from scratch. I also pointed out that the London Train System was still running on a character-mode app (translation: looks like DOS to me) even though it was running on Windows XP computers so even with 15 years of pressure to upgrade to newer development methodologies some clients will be perfectly happy sticking with what works.

My arguments weren't working. "My clients won't pay for that," he said. Pointed out that his clients were pressuring him to update his application to have features that only WinFX could provide and look like a top-grade Windows Vista application.

I felt the pain of someone who realized they were going to have to learn new skills to get into the new world.

Me? I'm off to push Microsoft to make it as easy as possible for Bryan. He gave me some great ideas and I really appreciate him for taking us to task for not doing enough.

10:39:10 AM    Mudpit 

Some interesting things on the blogs today (I am linking here to Memeorandum): Om Malik touched off a firestorm of comment with "What is Web 2.0?" NASA announces a bunch of stuff with Google. Interesting! You know, when I got a tour of Microsoft's Research center you can see two guys playing with nano technology (machines on a chip). Those guys believed that the tough problems in software were going to come about because of these machines.

What does NASA in Mountain View have? Tons of people who really understand machines and materials. My dad worked next door at Lockheed and I got tours of NASA often. They let me play with the material that protects the space shuttle. Oh, when I played with it it had been heated up to 2,000 degrees. It was glowing red hot and you could hold it.

So, now the labs that produced that are gonna be working with Google. Scary. Cool. All together.

I'm reading Ray Kurzweil's book, the Singularity is Near. In it he talks about the manufacture of a new kind of artificial intelligence. It's a fascinating book and one that's making me think a lot about the future.

It sounds like Google has already read that book and is working with NASA on building some interesting stuff.

An interesting new world is coming, that's for sure.

10:05:38 AM    Mudpit 

Adam Bosworth says he's scared of posting on his blog. "I find that most of what I want to post these days would rile a fair number of people and then Google would get the blame even though these are my personal opinions, so I chose to keep my thoughts to myself."

It's funny. Yesterday I spoke to a bunch of CTO's and other executives and VCs. You could smell the fear in the room. They were afraid of blogging and bloggers. They were afraid of something new that they didn't yet understand.

Hey, you guys at Google are in the drivers' seat now. You have the world's attention, and you have great technologists like yourself and MarkL. You want to change the world, right? Well, guess what? When you change the world you'll piss people off. People don't like change. They don't like being forced to learn something new.

You think this is easy? Yeah, right. When I came to Microsoft I had a goal of getting us to support RSS.

In every post about RSS over the past three years I had a goal: get Microsoft to use/support/integrate RSS.

You think I didn't piss people off when I said "you should be fired if you don't use RSS?" Go ask Lenn Pryor what kind of email he got. He works at Skype now so he'll tell you the truth.

Statements like that piss people off.

But, on the other hand, today on the Microsoft RSS scorecard we have Sharepoint 12, Outook 12, CRM,, Windows Vista, and many others. It's not due to my work, either, I was just the cheerleader for other people who were doing the hard work. But good ideas, like good teams, need cheerleaders. Bosworth, if your ideas are great, put them out here and let us poke at them! If they really are great, they'll withstand any challenge. In fact, I believe a great idea is like El Capitan. The more you poke at it, the more it stands out as a great idea.

Changing the world is messy work. It's not for those who fear getting fired or fear getting their companies a bit of bad PR or who fear the opinions of billionaires.

It's time for this industry to shed its fear and show some leadership. Please do piss us off. It's good for us.

9:49:18 AM    Mudpit 

Steve Jobs: give Todd Dailey a raise. He just solved iPod's scratching problem with a $4 can of Brasso.

9:32:23 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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