Daily Archives: December 16, 2005

Typography in Windows Vista

I’m on my way to the airport, but just loaded up a video I did with Bill Hill and the ClearType team — they showed me the latest fonts and stuff for Windows Vista. This is the interview where we learned about research into aesthetics too. It’s a long one, but I could talk with this team for hours. After all, there’s nothing you look at more than the fonts on screen.

Anyway, I’m outta here to see my son. Will be back online this weekend sometime. Hope you’re having a good one!

Slate: The Great Xbox Shortage of 2005

Interesting analysis of the great Xbox shortage from Slate. One of the more interesting internal email aliases lately is the Xbox one. Turns out tons of employees can’t get them so they are scurrying around trying to find boxes.

Jeff Sandquist, my boss, found one in Canada. His dad called him from a store there and said “they have two, you want one?” Jeff has been raving about his ever since. I asked him “has it crashed?” He says he hasn’t had a single crash yet in dozens of hours of play. He says it’s the best device he’s ever purchased. We’ll see if he says that five days from now (he has a famous test where software has to prove valuable over seven days for him to praise it).

Scoble hired to keep you from looking at Microsoft’s dark side?

Jim Fawcette (my old boss and the guy who is very responsible for me being here today) recently posted something I just ran across (I don’t read his feeds cause they are partial text). Anyway, he was trying to make a point that Microsoft is practicing great PR (in an evil way). Pretty usual “the PR committee is using bloggers” kind of stuff until he got to this paragraph:

“A great example of astroturfing is an internal blog by a paid PR person that ostensibly criticizes Microsoft. The business press has lapped this up. I’m not criticising either Microsoft or the blog. It’s brillant! But let’s not pretend it is something it is not. This isn’t open criticism; it’s a distraction, like what magicians do to keep your eye off the real trick, or a pressure release value on a steam cooker.

“The paid, semi-critical blog distracts people from forming a nexus around an external blog, or from reading real, insightful, internal criticism of Microsoft, such as mini-Microsoft or Joel Splosky (with his great piece on How Microsoft Lost the API Wars). Check them out if you want criticism with more bite than gums.”

Now this sounds a lot like he’s talking about me. Oh, great, I alone am saving the world from harsh Microsoft criticism! Ouch!

But, let’s look at Jim’s claim a little deeper.

First, I was blogging before Mini (Joel, though, has been blogging longer than me) and I was hired before he started, or before Joel posted his famous API War piece. I was also one of the first bloggers to link to either of those. And, my employee goals state nothing about trying to keep people from paying attention to negative PR about Microsoft. Which, might explain why I’m not in the PR department.

Speaking of which, yesterday was my fifth “blogging birthday.” I started blogging December 15, 2000.

By the way, according to Bloglines, Joel Spolsky’s API War blog has 695 links. Now, quick, find a post of mine that has that many links. Even my most linked to post, my Corporate Weblogger Manifesto, has only been linked to 280 times. So, if I were supposed to keep people from reading Joel’s post, I have failed, and failed miserably.

It gets worse (or better, depending on how you’re following this).

When I visited Microsoft Ireland a couple of weeks ago and got a tour with my camcorder, every employee there said they read Mini. Most of the .NET user group members there said they read Mini. He’s been in Business Week (on the cover even!) And his posts get many times more comments than mine do. So, on the face of it, Jim Fawcette’s claims just don’t hold up to scrutiny.

So, if it’s Microsoft’s goal to keep you from reading those who disagree with Microsoft in some way, I’m failing miserably.

But, that’s not my goal. Thankfully. My goal is to listen to them, have a conversation with them, and see where we can improve.

Here’s some other posts asking Microsoft to improve.

Ed Bott is asking for Microsoft to open up its Office 12 NDAs. I’ll talk to the team about that. I think NDAs are often too restrictive and are ultimately counterproductive.

Kim Greenlee wants Microsoft to explain more clearly what the differences are between all the MSDN Subscriptions and the Visual Studio 2005 Team Editions are.

James Governor is worrying about what Microsoft will do with DRM in the future. Don’t worry, James, I’d quit if Microsoft ever put a kill code that it could call in your software like that.

Vinit Carpenter wrote a review of domains.live.com but wants us to remove the restrictions with the usage of Outlook.

Anyone else have anything that they want Microsoft to improve?

Corporate and political blogging — get rid of the fear, be yourself!

The Marketing Sherpa has five steps for major corporations launching blogs. Oh, joy, we’re gonna get more committee-run blogs.

That’ll be one heck of an exciting corporate blog, for sure! Hey, Mini, do you agree with any of these suggestions? Heheh!

Wrong first step, too. The right first step is to read blogs!

Funny, I didn’t start blogging by checking with the stakeholders. Or having any goals. In fact, I still don’t really have any goals for my blog. I meet cool people. See cool tech. Experience life. And write about it. If someone shows up here, great, if not, no biggie. I blogged when I had no readers and now that I have readers, I feel blessed and definitely have had better experiences, but I’d still blog either way.

It’s funny, this morning I had breakfast with Darcy Burner. She’s running for Congress. We talked about the world of politics. I told her about Memeorandum’s political/current events page.

She told me that there really are only 40 congressional districts that are “in play” during the next election. Hers is one of them. It’s amazing just how few voters can change the world.

The world of politics is interesting cause I really don’t care that much about it, but it’s not every day that you get a personal email from someone running for Congress asking to get together for breakfast.

She wasn’t looking for money from me, or even a blog post. She just wanted to talk about the modern blog world and see if she should try some other things like podcasting and videoblogging. Yes! See, the world of a political candidate is a world of making time choices. Does she speak to this group or that? Which reporters should she spend time with? Which potential donors should she call?

Time is against her.

And, so, blogging doesn’t seem that important to most political candidates. After all, very few of her constituents read blogs.

So, why do them? Well, scale. Spend an hour blogging or an hour talking to an audience? Which one will give her the most scale? And, which one will let her talk to her most passionate members about what caught her eye in Memeorandum this morning?

But, back to marketing sherpa. I think that totally misses the power of participating in the conversation. Totally misses the power of the word-of-mouth network. Totally misses that blogging is just people trying to share their lives. Having a policy just is so antithetical to what this is all about. Blech.

Every day I metaphorically wave to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer on my way to work (they work a few hundred yards from where I’m sitting) and say “thank you for not making me blog in a committee.”

Oh, Darcy, your blog is interesting, but you need to let your constituents get to know you the way I got to know you in an hour today. We had a great conversation. Screw what the Republicans are gonna do to you. Don’t let them drive the conversation. Invite us over. Turn on comments. Post pictures from your travels (feature your constituents, they love the attention!!!) Post videos. Have conversations with serious political types. I’d love to hear you strategizing. Be transparent! Yes, your competitors will use that against you, but the more transparent you are, the more of a movement you’ll build.

Oh, she did get something right, though. She promised me she’d keep blogging if she gets elected. Why is that important? The guy she’s running against has only come back twice to have a conversation with people in the home district.

Bing, bing, bing! Darcy is not Howard Dean (who never blogged himself and stopped talking with all of us after he lost the Iowa primary).

I just donated $100 because of that pledge alone.