Free astronomy book

The reaction to my post, last night, about the Celestron device has been interesting. One email I got was from Fraser Cain who is the publisher on Universe Today, a free 407-page skywatching ebook (blog here, ebook download here). It has an entry for what to see in the night sky for every night this year (saves you $400 on the Celestron gadget, although the gadget is a whole lot more fun). That’s cool!

Paying for dinner…

Hey, Jeff (my boss), I was just about to write a report on why I sent through a $400 expense report for dinner the other night, but Loren Heiny did a better job than I did. There’s more on Memeorandum.

Oh, and don’t miss the Heiny teenage podcasters! They were all over the show interviewing people. Here they interviewed Chris Barry who manages part of the Tablet PC team (five minutes). It’s a cool thing when everyone, including some teens, can be reporters at CES. They were really fun to talk with and hang out with. What a family! (I think there were eight members of the Heiny family at CES).

Scoble’s boring, Tom says, but Phillip ruins it with 3D RSS reader

I am going to MacWorld on Friday. Why? To be a little less boring. Huh? Well, Tom Bridge says I’m boring cause I’m not a Mac fan. Oh, where were you in 1989 when I was fighting for Macs? Or, in 1991 when I was in an Apple commercial? (I actually was, someday I’ll let you see that).

Personally, I’d rather hang out with Phillip Torrone. Why? Cause he has a 3D RSS reader (photos here). Point your Tablet PC (boring!) toward the north and my blog comes up. Point it south and Dave Winer’s blog comes up. Point it east and… 

Phillip used a Tablet PC that has tilt sensors to build a pretty wacky RSS reader. Why? “It’s pretty fun,” he told me. Oh, Phillip, you’re gonna ruin this whole boring post, aren’t you? Heheh.

Don’t know who Phillip is? He is an editor on Make Magazine which definitely isn’t boring.

My final thoughts on CES…

I was just talking with Buzz. We’re both exhausted. I didn’t do much of anything until late in the afternoon today.

Buzz and I gave Shel a whirlwind tour yesterday (ever try to see 600 exhibits in the Sands in about an hour? We did. And, no, we’re not talking about the adult show. The Sands is where we saw the Celestron and the SlingMedia booths. Both of which were rated by CNN as a “top 5 of CES”. The new SlingMedia running on PocketPCs is killer, by the way. Why did we go to the Sands? The Microsoft exhibit was simply too crowded to tour, Shel wanted a look at Windows Vista, but I told him I’ll come over and give him a personal tour later so off to the Sands we ran). The much smaller Google booth was also similarly packed, here you can see Shel and Buzz talking with Googlers. Personally, it was nice to get over to the Sands where there weren’t many crowds (but the companies were smaller and the technology was cooler).

On the way over to the Sands we saw this gas pump powered by Microsoft Windows CE and a car full of gadgets all driven by Microsoft stuff. Over at the Sands we saw this cool game seat (my photo, Web site).

If you’ve never been to a mega show like CES, or CeBit, you have no idea of the scale. It’s like having 400 BestBuys lined up in a row.

Anyway, if you really wanted to see the toys, watching Engadget is actually a better way to go. In fact, I was watching Engadget on my cell phone as I was walking around. Well, that and I kept running into the Engadget crew. I ran into Jason Calacanis at one party on Thursday night and he said “did you see that Toshiba Gigabeat?” I answered, no, cause it hadn’t been on Engadget yet.

I wondered why I hadn’t run into any Gizmodo folks. And I realized it’s cause I never have met any of them anywhere else. While Jason and Peter have had public events, and shown up at conferences from Gnomdex to Reboot and had introduced themselves often, I never have met Nick Denton or the crew that does Gizmodo.

Which one do I trust more? Which one do I have more brand affinity to? Which one do I link to more often? That’s right, Engadget, cause I have a personal relationship there.

Anyway, thanks to Waggener Edstrom for opening up a suite in the Wynn for bloggers. That was a great place to relax and get on the Internet and post stories. Hope they do that again in the future.

To tell you the truth, I’m not so excited about these styles of shows anymore. If it weren’t for the fun people I met at CES Camp, or on the show floor, I would be perfectly happy to miss the event and watch it on Engadget, CNET, Gizmodo, Google News, or Gear Live.

Oh, on the way home last night who was sitting next to me? Jay Greene from BusinessWeek and Charles Walker, senior vice president of investments for Oppenheimer. Interesting and nice guys both. Earlier at the airport Jay introduced me to Stephen Manes, columnist for Forbes.

How did you watch news coming from the CES?

“Just say no to Microsoft” an interesting read

Publishers occassionally ask me whether they can send me books so that I can review them. Increasingly I’m turning them down (it makes me feel guilty when I don’t write about them).

But, I met the publisher, William Pollock, of NoStarch Press at BarCamp over the summer and liked him and his books sounded interesting, even if they were mostly about tech topics I wasn’t that interested in.

Anyway, they asked a while back if I’d like some books and I said sure. So, today when I get back from CES I found one waiting for me titled “Just Say No to Microsoft.”

Now, on first reading, you might think I should be offended by such a book. After all, the basic premise of the book is to live life without Microsoft. Switch to a Mac or a Linux machine and all that. The subtitle of the book is “How to Ditch Microsoft And Why It’s Not as Hard As You Think.”

But, I find that I learn more from contrarian approaches than from the “everything is hunky dory” approach and this one hasn’t disappointed yet.

Every Microsoft engineer and product planner should read it.

Why? It’s a great specification for where our products fall short and demonstrates very well how our products and company are being perceived on the street.

If that was the extent of it (to be a bible to people who hate Microsoft, and to be a spec for Microsofties for how to improve our products) then that’d be a fine reason to have this book, but there’s more.

I actually am learning how to do stuff on Microsoft’s products that I didn’t know before. There’s a ton of tips in this book about how to use Microsoft stuff. Which, is sorta funny, given the title and premise for the book.

Oh, and John Dvorak says he isn’t getting paid attention to by Microsoft’s PR folks anymore in the foreward. Oh, John, I thought you were a blogger now and Christopher Coulter keeps telling me not to pay so much attention to bloggers (and particularly to ones that don’t seem to write much about tech)! Just kidding, you know you can just write me an email if you aren’t getting good info from us anymore. I’ll go shoot a video and get all the answers you need.

And, to Tony Bove, you never expected an endorsement for your book from a Microsoft employee, did you?