The quietest room at Microsoft

Charlie Owen, of the Windows Media Center team, gives us a look at the quietest room at Microsoft (cool place to listen to music, it's totally soundproof and has anti-sound-wave-reflection treatment on the walls) and then gives us a taste of what's coming from the Media Center team in Windows Vista in an interview I did with him for Channel 9. Then they show how to develop your first Media Center application.

Update: On his blog Charlie links to a couple of people who got Media Center running on their new Macs.

Daily Kos crashes Microsoft’s gate

Tamara Pesik has the coolest job at Microsoft. She arranges for cool speakers to come on campus as part of her efforts over in Microsoft Research. Today she had Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga over to talk to Microsoft employees (here's a picture of her introducing Markos, left, and Jerome, middle). They wrote an excellent book (yes, I have read it, thanks to Raines Cohen for giving it to me at SXSW) about the state of politics (from the progressive view) in America. Those who don't recognize these names might not know that Markos started the "Daily Kos" site. Very popular. Gets half a million visits per day. Jerome started MyDD political site that gets more than 50,000 visits a day and they both worked on Howard Dean's campaign.

I didn't realize that many of these talks are put onto the "ResearchChannel" site. If you visit there you'll see all sorts of technical talks given by leading experts around the world with a few business and political talks (Malcolm Gladwell has a talk up there, for instance) interspersed. There's a ton of talks there done by computer scientists (most of whom don't work for Microsoft) that you might find interesting too.

Tamara says that the talk today should be on the site in a few weeks, so I'll point that out when it appears. In the meantime there's a treasure trove of good stuff to watch.

Oh, and if you want to see Jerome or Markos, they'll be giving two more talks in the Seattle area. One tonight, one tomorrow. Details are on their book site.

They worked on Howard Dean's campaign and have many interesting insights about the state of American politics. If you care about that topic, this is a "don't miss."

Markos was on the Colbert Report last night, the CrooksAndLiars blog has links to the video.

The many feed icons of Microsoft

Lots of people assume that Microsoft runs as a single entity. That we are lock step going in one direction. The truth is often messier. We're actually more like 100 companies all under the same roof. That messiness is showing up in the RSS icons we're using.

The IE team uses the same icon the Firefox team does.
The Windows Marketplace team tries to confuse all of us and uses both the Firefox icon, and the Orange XML icon that Dave Winer would like the industry to use. Just for added confusion they add the "My MSN" subscription button. (By the way, Windows Marketplace rocks other than its confusion on which feed icon to use).
The Channel 9 team uses the orange XML icon.
The team uses the Firefox icon with the word "subscribe" added on.
The new Port 25 open source site (opened just yesterday) uses an orange button with the letters "RSS" on them instead of XML.
Our employee blogs on MSDN don't even try to use an icon, instead just have the word "RSS" in text.
MSNBC uses the orange XML icon.
Microsoft's site for the press uses an orange icon with RSS along with the word "subscriptions."
MSDN, the site for developers, uses an orange "RSS" icon.
MSN Spaces, blogs for people like Maryam, my wife, doesn't use any icon, rather has the words "Subscribe to RSS feed."
The Expo Live team (classified ads) uses an orange "RSS" icon.

Whew, this certainly isn't a good user experience. What do you think? Which way do you want Microsoft to go? Why?

Update: the next version of Outlook and Sharepoint will use the Firefox icon.