Of mice and blogs…

Today I took Maryam and Patrick over to see Douglas Engelbart. He’s the guy who invented the mouse and a whole lot of other things we all take for granted every day.

Anyway, we were there to talk about blogging. After all, we’re a blogging family. Doug had invited us over to his house, along with Bill Daul’s NextNow group. About 15 people showed up. Anyway, I think we got some more bloggers to start. Doug showed his engineering thoroughness. Took meticulous notes. I can already tell he’ll be a great blogger — if he starts.

I got lots of questions about information overload. How do I keep up? How do I answer all my email? Answer: I don’t, but I try (166 are waiting, sorry for not getting to them).

Anyway, at the end of the very interesting discussion Doug disappeared for a few minutes. When he came back he was holding a little box. He sat it on the coffee table in front of him and gingerly opened it. He called Patrick over and said “I have something to show you.”

Slowly he took out something that looked like a wood block. He said “this is the first mouse.” I couldn’t believe it. This thing belongs in the Smithsonian. If put up on an eBay auction I’d expect it to get $250,000 or more. It is one of the most important computer artifacts I’ve ever seen. And here it was sitting in front of us and Doug was encouraging us to play with it.


What a start to 2006. Here’s another picture with a Channel 9 guy sitting on top to give some scale.

By the way, you can see Doug (and other famous geeks) on NerdTV. That’s really a cool program.

The anti-RSS hype

Over on Slashdot it’s useful to read all the anti-RSS comments on this post that revealed a survey that Yahoo and Ipsos did that found only 4% of users are using RSS.

Heh, I LOVE this thinking. Let’s go back to 1978. How many computer users were personal computer users back then?

These guys remind me of the Unix system administrators who, back in 1991 when I was in school made fun of me (I kept evangelizing the Mac to them) saying “who needs a toy computer with a mouse and menus?”

Yeah, who does? 🙂

In the meantime, you try to read 743 Web sites in a browser. Go ahead and try. I dare you.

Apple stores powered by Windows?

I see that Sven saw that Windows machines are running some of the transactions at the Apple store he went into. Oh, Sven, that’s cool, but the truth is Microsoft relies on Apple stuff too. Remember the Xbox developer kits? Yeah, they were all Macs.

I remember talking to Virginia Howlett, who did the UI work on Windows 3.0. She said she used a Mac. By the way, she’s now an artist in Seattle. Here’s an interview with her. She also did a lot of the UI on Windows 95.

So, thank you Apple!

One wish for 2006…

Now that I have a sooppeerr dddoooppppeeeerr new cell phone (the Cingular 2125, it’s freaking awesome) I am looking at a lot of Web sites and RSS feeds.

One thing I wish is that Web site developers/designers would look at their site on a small screen with limited bandwidth.

So many sites suck really bad. I’m going to call these sites out with increasing frequency in 2006.

If your site makes you scroll for 20 minutes just to see your content, it sucks. It’ll get called out.

If your site squeezes a column so that it’s only one word wide, it sucks. It’ll get called out.

My wish? Please try your site on a cell phone (tonight I was comparing sites on a Treo, on a Blackbery, and on my phone. My phone was best, but there were lots of sites that sucked on all three).

Millions of Web users are out there with cell phones. If you don’t get your site to work properly with a cell phone, you’re turning away customers and that sucks. It’ll get called out.

Who should be first getting called out?

Oh, I got one. The Google Blogoscoped’s Philipp Lenssen calls out trends that should die in 2006. One of them even talked about the same trend I do (that mobile is now hugely important).

Well, on my cell phone this blog has a column size of a few characters forcing me to scroll forever just to read the article.

That’s unfortunate because I totally agree with the other points that Philipp makes.

Another guy who says there’s lots of bad business books

Bob Pritchet, founder of Logos Research Systems, wrote me tonight and said he agrees with me that there are lots of bad business books. Proceeded to tell me about his new book: Fire Someone Today.

I was being inspired by his blog and found this entry that talked about a store that closed early, pissing off customers. Oh, that brought be back to the 1980s. My boss would usually open the store back up if there was a customer in the parking lot (we delivered refrigerators together after the store closed in evenings). He told me “someday you might wish you had that customer back.”

Do you fight for every customer? It’s hard to do.

I’m looking forward to reading Bob’s book. Oh, and Bob’s company? Has $9 million in sales, hundreds of employees, and hundreds of thousands of customers. Well done!