Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link September 1, 2006

The most evil team at Microsoft: the WAVE team

Hey, the Channel 9 team found one of my old videos that didn’t get run and it’s a good one. I’m sure it took a while to get it past the PR team — when I shot it earlier this year I thought to myself “this will never make it to the public.”

Why?

Cause it’s the team that builds not only the audio and video functionality in Windows Vista, but it’s also the team that builds (play Jaws movie soundtrack here please) the DRM technologies.

Yes, it’s the most evil team at Microsoft. Damn, and they have a good conversation with me about DRM. We even talk about Cory Doctorow (who hates DRM). At about 19:00 into it the intersections of the interests are mapped out by Steve Ball. “They don’t always align.” That’s PM speak for “they hate each other.”

Oh and don’t miss the demo of Windows Vista’s audio features at 34:40. This is a MAJOR reason why I can’t wait to use Vista, particularly for making videos.

Note: I don’t really think this team is evil, but it shows you the business pressures that teams at Microsoft are under and shows you a little bit about how teams come up with things like DRM technologies.

I hope the Vista team has a bunch more demos like the one at 34:40, too. That was the first time I thought to myself that I had to have Vista. One demo. Now imagine if they have a ton of demos like that?

Where’s the Windows Vista RC1 download?

Yeah, yeah, the compilers over in building #6 on Microsoft’s campus have finished their work (it’s a cool room to visit, by the way). RC1 is done. Where can I download it? I’m not on the beta. I’m not a blue badge (Microsoft employee). I’m not an MVP. I’m not on MSDN Universal. I’m a loser!

Listening to Shelley Powers about women in tech

Shelley Powers asks yet another conference organizer “where’s the women?” I’m looking at my plans for my own video show and realize I don’t have a diverse-enough set of subjects on my show yet.

I realize that I’ve gotten mostly male voices for my show so far. Partly cause that’s just who is running the tech industry. Head of Sun Microsystems? Male. Person who runs Google Calendar? Male. Person who runs Printing for Less? Male. Person who runs JotSpot? Male. Person who runs Flock? Male. Person who runs eBay’s new research arm? Male. There simply aren’t enough Mena Trotts to go around (speaking of which I’d be honored to have her on my show — her talk at TED was posted on her blog the other day). UPDATE: can you name a CEO of a recognizeable tech company that’s not male? It’s hard to do. Apple? Male. Cisco? Male. Intel. Male. HP? Male. Google? Male. Yahoo? Male. Oracle? Male. Microsoft? Male.

But this is my problem partly cause I just haven’t focused on making sure my show has diverse voices. Truth is that +I+ can do a better job here and haven’t, for whatever reason (UPDATE: we have a segment of the show called “Digital Divas”, by the way, but it still isn’t enough and there aren’t enough women who are hard-core geeks — most of the engineering departments I have walked through lately are mostly male).

Thanks to Shelley and others for reminding us all to think of that.

But, on the other hand, I don’t want to change my process, either, and I don’t want to devalue the accomplishments of women (I remember when men would get together and wonder if I hired Deborah Kurata simply cause she was a woman or because she deserved it — I kept having to pull out speaker ratings and demonstrating that she was always in the top tier of speakers, usually #1. I hated getting that question. I always put the best person on stage that I could and I tried not to care about their physical attributes).

I simply want the most interesting geeks out there to be on my show. For instance, are you an interesting geek like Heather Powazek Champ (who works on the Flickr team at Yahoo)? I wanna talk with you.

So, if you’re an interesting geek, or know of an interesting geek, who is doing something interesting, or running an interesting company (especially one that is using tech in an interesting way) please let me know. Male or female.

It’s helpful for the next few weeks if they are in the San Francisco area since I won’t be able to really start traveling for a few months yet.

Who would you like to see on a video show?

One thing I have feedback for Shelley on is that a few times I, and other people I know, got her invited to events and opportunities and she didn’t make it for some reason or another. When a door is opened that seemed to be closed before, it’d be nice for her to walk through it and take advantage of the opportunity. If only to set an example for others and to make sure the door stays open. But maybe that’s just me.

UPDATE: several days ago Maryam wrote “the women who inspire me.” She also let leak that she was working on a “Digital Divas” segment of our show.

Here’s my Google calendar

Just to prove I am using Google Calendar, here’s my calendar (sorry, I’m not sharing details, just showing whether I have something planned or not). It even has an RSS feed. And an iCal version. I’m adding more stuff to it right now, so you can watch it fill up.

From Google to Kaboodle

That’s Courtney Hohne, PR manager at Google (she’s pulling some of the hard-to-come-by Google stickers out of her bag to give to me, gotta love a PR person who hands out swag. I promptly stuck one on my tripod).

Her claim to fame? She was the one who did the PR for the Google Apps for Your Domain press coverage last week. She told me she didn’t have any ulterior motive other than she didn’t brief enough people and got heck for it (even Business Week’s Rob Hof says he wasn’t briefed). I told her don’t brief me, but start with the Z list — a blogger with four readers will get noticed almost as quickly as if Michael Arrington wrote it. She told me that she’ll try to make more use of the email mailing lists that Google is building over on the Google Press Center, so if you’re a blogger you might want to subscribe to their mailing lists if you want to get news from Courtney. Anyway, I respected Courtney a lot for coming out and meeting with me. That’s the sign of a good PR practitioner, they take the bad with the good.

Speaking of good and bad PR, did you see Frank Shaw’s blog? He runs the Microsoft account for Waggener Edstrom and he had to clean up a mess by another PR guy in the UK who said “I don’t get blogs.” If a PR person said that to me I’d say “I don’t get why you’re still employed.”

It seems to me that if you don’t understand something you should work hard to understand it.

Which, brings me to Google Calendar. I wrote last week that I don’t get why I should use Google Calendar instead of Exchange and Outlook. So, yesterday I met with the Google Calendar team to explain why I missed Outlook. Really I do.

Some things that bugged me, though, like how when I just accidentally click on the Google Calendar it wants to create an event for me, are actually features that they discovered in user testing. At least that’s what Carl Sjogreen, the guy who runs the Calendar team, told me. He said that before they added that users couldn’t figure out how to add a new event and after they added that they could.

He also showed me how they build the Web into everything they do, and don’t just make it an afterthought. For instance, I can share my calendar with you in a variety of ways. I could just share my calendar out with you as a Web page (I almost did that, but I realized there’s some stuff on there that people sent me in confidence, so can’t share that, sorry). Or, I can build a specialized calendar and share that with you in a box on my blog to the right. That kind of Web-thought is deep at Google and is going to be how they come at the Enterprise world.

You might not switch your Outlook/Exchange calendar to Google for many years to come, but they’ll come in the back door by getting you to start new calendars that you can share with your family, friends, and with the Internet at large. I’m going to do a new calendar just for my video show, for instance, and share that with you so you’ll be able to see both interviews that are upcoming as well as shows that I’ve both published and that are going to come up. I’ll try to have that calendar done by the end of the weekend.

Yeah, he admitted that they have a lot of work to do on mobile phone sync and the other stuff I asked for (offline, for instance and better email integration). When Google solves those problems they’ll have something very interesting that will see usage inside corporations.

Anyway, after talking with Google yesterday I headed off to meet Kaboodle’s CEO, Manish Chandra. He designed Kaboodle to make it easier to keep track of projects you’re doing on the Web. That sounds pretty cold compared to what it really does though. Let’s say you’re planning out a vacation and you’re visiting dozens of sites, keeping track of the places you want to visit, or the hotels you’re considering and you’re working with other family members. Kaboodle helps you store all those Web sites and pieces of things you’re tracking, and put them in one place, and also collaborate with other people on them. Pretty cool stuff.

Last night Daniel McVicar (who has been an actor on the popular soap opera “The Bold and The Beautiful” had dinner with me last night). I didn’t even realize just how big a star he was until I read his Wikipedia page this morning. He has a funny vlog. Last night he was wearing a Ze Frank t-shirt (I snapped a picture of that on my Flickr feed. Hey, he’s in the ORG! Watch out for those “little duckies.” He can’t get the damn song out of his head either. Heh, Rabbit Bites made fun of his vlog already.

Hope you’re having a good Friday. While I was out meeting the geeks and interviewing people more than 50 more emails came in that haven’t been answered yet (and that’s after cleaning out the ones that aren’t important or were spam). Yikes. I’m gonna take the weekend off and see if I can catch up on my email a bit. Have a great one (it’s Labor Day weekend here in the United States, thanks to everyone who does the work that keeps this world running).

It’s the small things at Google that impress

I visited the Googleplex for the third time yesterday. I’m still thinking through what I learned that was different from prior trips. More later (they didn’t have me sign an NDA, so I can share whatever I learned with you, although one conversation with a friend who works there started out with me asking what he was working on and he answered “that’s sorta confidential.” Heheh, Google still does like keeping quiet about what’s coming next). 

But I was even more impressed this visit than last because of the small things that they do on their campus. One is that the lobby in building 41 had these hanging slivers of frosted glass. You’re looking at one of them. On the glass were Google searches that constantly scrolled up (each word is displayed only for a few seconds as it scrolls up). I hear this is a randomly-selected set of searches with “naughty” searches pulled out.

It’s these small things that makes Google cool. Not to mention the organic food market in the courtyard. The snack bars that are every few yards. The cafeteria that has — by far — the best food of any large company I’ve been in, and it’s all free.

But beyond that, every interaction I had with Googlers this time was different than the last time I was on campus. They seemed more humble. More comfortable. More inquisitive. And, when I gave them chances to say “you’re an idiot” they didn’t take it (and I gave them many opportunities). This is a different Google than I was used to. And it’s the small things that I noticed.

One other small thing I noticed? A lot more blog listening behavior. Carl Sjogreen, who runs the Google Calendar team, told me that the first thing he does every morning is do this search on Google’s Blogsearch service: “Google Calendar.” He says he answers everyone’s questions, even if you’re a kid in another country with only four readers.

Bing. Small things. They are gonna prove to be dramatically important over time.

Daily link August 31, 2006

Video from Burning Man

I knew that traffic in Silicon Valley seemed a bit light this week. Everyone is at Burning Man. There’s a fun video site from there. I wish I was there. It just didn’t work out this year, but it’s one of the things I really want to do.

One thing about Burning Man. I’m told it’s something you need to experience. Watching a little two inch video about it won’t really do it justice.

How do you keep your stuff private on WiFi networks?

I was talking with a geek who’ll remain unnamed and he was telling me how easy it is for someone to sit at a Starbucks, slurp off the local WiFi, and recreate almost everything you do, often gaining passwords and private conversations. I saw this once at a conference where someone up on stage was showing the audience everything that was going over the WiFi networks. For instance, did you know that if you’re using many common Instant Messengers that those send your information over WiFi in plain text? I could be sitting next to you watching EVERYTHING you are typing across the Internet.

So, what do you do to keep your stuff confidential? Any tips beyond this excellent article in Security Focus on this topic? By the way, both this article and my geek friend recommended Off-the-Record Messenging if you want to hold private IM conversations over public WiFi networks.

UPDATE: I had a post here about Browzar, but there are some concerns about it so I pulled that part of the post to protect people.

Channel 9 still rocks: Brian Beckman is a smart dude

I occassionally have been checking in on Channel 9. I’m still a Niner. Anyway, I’m listing to this video with Brian Beckman. That guy is a smart mofo. One of the first guys to join Microsoft Research.

I have dreams of getting videos like this inside eBay. Google. Yahoo. Sun. Cisco. Apple. Intel. AMD. Nvidia. etc.

Daily link August 30, 2006

Have I lost my “blog power”?

Anand M., in India, asks “has Scoble lost his blog power?” (I linked to him and he didn’t get many visits). My read? If I ever did have blog power, it’s gone now. Digg and TechMeme have all the power now.

I think Rageboy has the clue to what’s going on here (the yawning baby cracked Maryam up). I’m boring. Haven’t been linking to enough cool people and cool tech. Too much inbred inside-the-blogosphere, linking. Or, maybe, I’ve been doing too much linking and not enough first-hand-experience. Translation: not enough lists. Sorry. It’s hard to do good blogging when you’re busy all day long. Sigh.

But, Steve Gillmor has it right: this isn’t a game of traffic. It’s about sharing what you love. I love using tech and studying the product of geeks. Whether or not anyone is listening isn’t the reason I’m doing this (sometimes I forget that, yeah, but getting a link from Digg isn’t worth as much as everyone makes it seem). My passion? Trying out new stuff, finding new problems to solve. I haven’t been doing enough of that lately cause I’m just inside an email tidal storm that I can’t get off of me. Seriously, you have no idea how hard it is to keep up with email. I’m failing, and failing horribly. Sorry if I haven’t gotten back to you. Leave a comment instead of emailing.

The flow that’s happening in my life is simply incredible, especially when I compare it to what was going on in my life in 2002 when I worked at UserLand. Back then there were so few companies, very few interesting things going on. Today there’s SO much. I’m not surprised that it’s harder to get people to click on a link.

I was talking with Chris Messina and Tara Hunt on email tonight and said that just the number of events that’s happening in just the San Francisco area is stunning. I can’t keep up. It makes me just want to grab a bottle of wine and go sit on the beach out by the Ritz. Which is why I missed Barcamp this year. I just wanted a small, manageable conversation with a handful of geeks. It was SO enjoyable.

I’m thinking back on the last year and what I really remember and find special. That Swiss Chalet with a handful of geeks. That was it. Out of all the conferences (many expensive, like Mix06 where I had my own Las Vegas suite). All the PR. All the noise. All the events. Getting, what, five guys together in a Swiss Chalet for a weekend was the highlight of the year.

I wonder if we can have more of those types of experiences? I find I learn a lot more from conversations like that, and it helps me out cause then I have something interesting to say to you all.

The power of four people talking is something that’s just fascinated me all week.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. Everyone is getting bored, even me.

Facebook adds APIs

Developers: Facebook (social networking site popular with college students) now has APIs and a blog to boot! Thanks to Martin Lucas-Smith for sending me that

Can you find the little duckie sign on Flickr?

I love the new geotagging feature on Flickr. Check out my neighborhood. Can you find the little duckie sign?

Congrats to the great success Flickr has had with this new feature. Now, when will I be able to add blog posts onto a map? Oh, and is Thomas Hawk’s photography getting better and better? I love his rave about Flickr too, made even better because Thomas works for a competitor of Flickr’s.

I got my blue diode!

Interesting, turns out that blue diodes are gonna be tough to get this year. That’s what’s inside the Toshiba HD-DVD player I bought and what is scheduled to be inside Sony’s Playstation 3’s later this year. My brother says this is making the Xbox team look like geniuses.

Trip to Google tomorrow

Ahh, I see someone is asking “why is the Windows Live Writer blog banned from Google?” They are talking about that over on Channel 9 too.

I doubt it’s banned. There are lots of reasons things don’t get into Google very highly. For one the search term isn’t in the title tag (which, for many searches, is more important than how many inbound links you have). For two someone notes that the HTML on Windows Live Spaces is giving lots of errors on the validators.

Anyway, tomorrow I’m gonna visit Matt Cutts at Google. He loves these kinds of questions. I’ll make sure he gets a good answer. I’ll be the guy wearing my “I’m not Matt Cutts” t-shirt. Just incase anyone gets us confused. Also on the calendar is the Calendar team. Meeting me there will be Scott Mace who runs the Calendarswamp blog. Should be an interesting day!

Bloggers, Vloggers, and Podcasters: do NOT buy this book!

Why don’t I want you to buy this book? Because it contains the secrets to beating me at Technorati (and how to get Shelley Powers and Steve Gillmor to link to you on the same day! Although with Gillmor you really don’t want him to link to you, trust me on this).

It is the best aggregation of tips for how to get noticed that I’ve found anywhere. I hope all my competitors don’t buy this book and I am buying it for everyone at PodTech. Disclaimer, I liked this book so much I wrote the forward for it for free. I am not getting paid for this endorsement (or, anti endorsement, if you will). Well, unless you buy it by following my link to Amazon. Please do. I’m having a house warming party next month and need money to buy wine and beer for everyone. :-)

Latest Windows Vista builds get praise

This post by Rob La Gesse isn’t the first time I’ve heard that build 5536 rocks, but it’s the most convincing that I might be wrong about Vista not being ready by November (which is when it needs to be finished by).

I wish I had time to play more with new stuff. I’ve been using IE7 exclusively ever since RC1 shipped last week, though, and it has only crashed once in more than 40 hours of use so far and it’s dramatically nicer than IE6. It feels good and it’s a good baseline browser, I’ve only found a couple of sites that didn’t look right in it too. One thing I’ve been doing is visiting dozens of “at risk” sites (er, let’s just call them porn and gambling sites) to test its security — these sites usually load TONS of malware, toolbars, and other nasty stuff onto your computer (due to IE6’s extensibility model, er, lack of security). In IE 7? So far no nasties!

Has anyone been testing out IE 7 looking to see how much better its security is? Can you link me to your experiences? So far it’s dramatically better.

Little duckies head to Flock

Every day I pass by this sign on the way to work. Every day I say “there’s Ze Frank’s sign” in my head. Yesterday he taught me why I did that — it’s the aftertaste that resides in my mouth after memories of his show have faded. He branded “little duckies” in my head. A**hole! He freaking put that freaking stupid “little duckie” song in my freaking head and now I can’t get it out. THAT is branding!

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

My brand? It’s the aftertaste you have in your mouth when you first wake up in the morning. Sorry. I’ll try to improve upon that.

Anyway, first thing this morning I headed over to the world headquarters of Flock. Will Pate, community ambassador (pictured here pointing to the Flock logo) met me at the front door and gave me a tour. 

For the two of you who don’t know what Flock is, it’s a Web browser built using Firefox’s code base but that has integration with some fun Web services built in. Translation: if you add a favorite in Flock it doesn’t store it locally like IE or Firefox does, but it puts that up on del.icio.us so your friends can see all your favorite porn sites. Or whatever you mark as favorite. Also, they have a neato (technical term, sorry) photo bar that lets me see whenever you update your photos. And it’s easy to blog from within Flock.

Basically it’s the new hip cool browser that you can tell your dad to load so he can see your Flickr photo stream.

Anyway, Will introduced me to the engineering team, where I learned that it’s a game of inches in the software business. Joe Krauss used the same term yesterday. I wonder, is there some kind of meme generation machine going? Anyway, because everything is open source you can see all the cool new features before the “release” a new version. They swear they put everything out everyday, no hidden stuff. Takes all the fun out of trying to get a good exclusive or a leak of a new feature they are working on.

How did Will get his job? He blogged that he was looking for a job. People linked to him (I was one) and he had 30 companies contact him. Whew! Maybe I should open a job board!

Anyway, I have more than 1,000 emails now that I haven’t answered. I’m suprised that people haven’t figured out the trick yet. Just leave a darn comment. I always spend time in my comment feed before heading toward my email.

Oh, and Ze Frank, can you tell me how to get the duckies out of my head? Thanks!

To everyone else: here’s the song. Now try to get it out of YOUR head. Oh, and if you’re in the Bay Area tonight get your little duckie over to the Flock Meetup in Mountain View tonight.

Java, JotSpot, Better Bad News?

Some days I pinch myself because of the interesting people I get to hang out with and interview and talk business with. Here’s an example.

This morning I interviewed Joe Kraus at JotSpot’s offices (JotSpot is a really interesting Wiki set of services, which to my eye looks like a whole lot better than either Google or Microsoft’s vision for the future of how Office workers will work together, but maybe that’s just me).

Anyway, we talked about everything from whether we’re in the middle of a bubble: “yes” to what his favorite Google keywords were (he explained how JotSpot’s employees brainstorm interesting new keywords, then measure them, and get rid of any that don’t work after a couple of weeks). He wouldn’t share his favorites, though, saying that was his competitive advantage. That’s the third time I’ve heard that from CEOs this month, by the way. Until my video gets up sometime in September you should check out TechCrunch’s writings about JotSpot 2.0. Why take that long to get a video up? Cause I need a bunch in the bag so that I can bootstrap the show. Plus editing and compression are a real PITA. Nothing like slamming out a text blog.

I should have bugged Joe about why he hasn’t been blogging lately. But he’s a busy CEO so I was happy to get an hour with him.

Then it was onto visit Better Bad News, a funny video show. They have me under NDA, but their latest video hints at what I was meeting them about. The thing they showed me? Definitely interesting, I hope to use it soon. Oh, and Jeff Clavier, they said they’re interested in your money too. I’ll hook you and them up, you should see what they are doing. My pitch to them? “Better music and drugs.” Hey, a four-word pitch, what can I say? I told them I was really there to get them to sell their souls to me for $1 a month. They were tough negotiators, though, and talked me up to $1.50.

Then tonight I met up with Simon Phipps and Terri Molini after talking on the phone with Steve Gillmor who told me “don’t send me any traffic” (which promptly make me want to link to him and send him all the traffic he doesn’t want, heheh).

Simon is one of Sun Microsystems’ guys who are working on open sourcing Java and Terri is one of Sun’s PR chiefs.

Simon told us all about the cool places he’s visited and the open source computing trends. He asked me if I was going to get outside of the United States and I told him that I’d like to visit India and China. He’d just been, so figured he’d be excited. He, instead, told me that the bigger computing stories were happening in South Africa and South America where interesting open source movements have taken hold.

I hear Simon has started a blog for the PR team (I couldn’t find it cause it’s too new, but I’ll try to get the URL tomorrow) and that she has a new way to “command and control” bloggers inside Sun. Instead of sending them nasty notes she’ll just call them out in public. Hmmm, if she really does do that that’ll make her blog one that we’ll definitely follow. She was just kidding, of course.

Anyway, now I’m even further behind on answering email. Sigh.

Daily link August 29, 2006

More from off-the-grid: what a printing company in Montana can tell us about leadership

Christian Long was one of the people who came on the tour of Printing for Less. He wrote up his thoughts (with a slant about it teaching him a lot about school design — Christian runs a company that explores that topic, so you can understand his filter there). I too came away with the same impression. This is — by far — the most impressive business I’ve been in. Not because it makes a ton of money (it only has $24 million in sales) but because of the approach it takes. I’ve spoken to executives at many of the world’s best or most respected companies like Target, Boeing, Nestle, Google, Amazon, Sun Microsystems, and fell in love with this little company. I hope to help make Podtech even 1/100th as fun a place. Also because it is being built in the absolute middle of nowhere without ANY geek infrastructure around it.

Andrew Field is my business hero.

Awesome post Christian. Thanks for putting to words thoughts that have been rattling around in my head ever since that tour.

Oh, and I love their dog policy. At the end it simply says “no cats.”

Avoiding work? Jeff Pulver has a list of Internet TV shows

Are you trying to avoid work? You know, by watching stuff like Ze Frank and Rocketboom? Yeah, me too. Heheh. Well, Jeff Pulver, VoIP guru, has a list of Internet TV shows. Damn, if I watch all of these my own show won’t get done, won’t get on this list, and I won’t make my $.02 off of Google ads. Damn. Hey, Maryam, tell John I’ll be finished soon. I gotta do more, um, “market research” first. :-)

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© Copyright 2006
Robert Scoble
robertscoble@hotmail.com
My cell phone: 425-205-1921

Robert Scoble works at PodTech.net (title: Vice President of Media Development). 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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