Why I love what I do

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This conversation demonstrates why I pinch myself every morning.

I have a quick chat with Larry Magid of CBS News (and PodTech) and Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

Don’t know who he is? He is one of the most celebrated old-timers at IBM. Just retired but is chairman emeritus. You should read his bio. Dr. Irving isn’t your average geek.

He talks about virtual worlds and large systems. It takes two interviewers to keep up with him. And I’m only halfway joking about that.

I could listen to smart people like this for hours. Even better, he has a blog so we can read what is on his mind.

Hope you enjoy. Tomorrow you get to hear the story of how Microsoft got the operating system business instead of Digital Research. I am still amazed at that story and you’ll want to listen along.

Covering an Apple press event

I had about 250 people in my Kyte.tv chat room. I think Engadget said they had something like 40,000 unique visitors in an hour. Now you know why Peter Rojas gets the big bucks.

But I am a newbie at this press conference thing. I didn’t understand why Engadget sat in the back. Isn’t up front the place to be?


The folks in the back could take pictures. Up front Apple PR people were telling me “no pictures.”

So, I did what I could.

I sent some video to my Kyte channel before we went in. I shot that with my Nokia N95. I have the Kyte app on it and it uploads video within a few seconds. Really great.

Once inside I found no wifi I could use so I plugged in my EVDO. Ran great. So far so good.

During the keynote I couldn’t really get photos off because PR was giving me the evil eye.

So, I resorted to text chat. You can go back and look at the chat.

One thing is that TechMeme will never link to video, streamed or otherwise, so if you’re hoping to get on TechMeme and you’re at a hot news event you better have at least one person live blogging it. To get noticed, though, you’re going to have to do something better than Engadget does. For me that means you’ll need to have a team covering events like this. One person blogging. One person taking pictures and pushing them up to Flickr. One person videoing and pushing those up. And one person chatting with all the peeps. Oh, and doing marketing during the event. Twitter, Pownce, Facebook, etc.

In other words the single blogger or journalist doesn’t have a chance. If you can get a team to photo/video/chat/market/and blog all at the same time then you’ll be able to attract an audience and stay relevant to the conversation.

Some things I’ll do myself next time. 1) Bring more batteries for my laptop. 2) Bring an ultra small camera on a bendable neck so I could sneak it in between people and position it well. 3) Band together with other people so that we can split up tasks and have someone at home wrap them all up.

Oh, and Steve Jobs granted interviews to people with notepads after the event but wouldn’t let himself be videoed. So, be flexible. If you can’t get one kind of interview done, switch to another kind.

But, seriously, when you are competing with 200 of the world’s best press you have to find an angle that no one else sees. I’m not sure I got up to that level today, but the people in the chat seemed appreciative that I was chatting live during the event.

Anyway, that’s all from Apple. Now back to work on other stuff.

The Steve Jobs tax: Hardware

I want one of those new wireless keyboards. Thin like a razor. I want one.

I’m not an iMac customer, though. I have a great desktop computer at home. I never use it. Instead I use my laptop for everything.

But, this gets to something I’ve noticed lately. Everytime Steve Jobs gets on stage several hundred dollars disappear from my wallet. It’s the Steve Jobs tax.

Like I said. I want one of those new wireless keyboards. That’ll look just awesome on my desk at work.

Apple’s iMovie goes YouTube

You can always tell what a company really wants you to pay attention to. They always put it up front.

Well, when you walked into Apple’s product gallery today after the press conference the first thing I saw was iMovie.

It makes me want to give up our Final Cut Pro copies and sell them on eBay.

Why? Well Steve Jobs demoed. You bring in your video. It shows it on a canvas. You mouse over your video and you see it instantly displayed up above. Skimming taken to the ultimate level.

Then you click and drag on a video and it builds an edit box. Click another button and it puts that selected piece of video into your workspace.

It’s magical. I can’t do it justice in text.

But I smiled when Steve Jobs said that it can now export that cool video that you built in a few seconds to YouTube.

Apple and Google are doing some interesting things together.

Microsoft should get “Numbers”

Microsoft’s Office team should run, don’t walk, to the nearest Apple store and buy the new iWork, which includes a spreadsheet app called “Numbers.”

This is the iPhone of spreadsheets. Lots of wow. Cool. Kickass.

But no developer API. Yet.

No collaboration. Yet.

Hey, this does sound like the iPhone. 🙂

But when you sit down to use Numbers as I did today after the press conference you see a few things.

1) You can have multiple spreadsheets on a canvas and you can resize and drag them around.
2) It feels very comfortable if you’re an Excel user.
3) Writing formulas rocks. Yeah, you can write syntax like “=sum(D2:F22)” but Apple goes one further. Uses the names of rows and columns you come up with. And has a nice little auto sum feature. Underneath it writes “=sum(monthlyreport:employee)” instead of the more obtuse (D2:F22).
4) Lots of templates aimed at regular people and what they tend to use spreadsheets for. Budgeting, lists of things, etc.
5) The UI feels much nicer than Microsoft’s stuff does. Much more interactive and easy to use.

But it is a 1.0 product. No macros. No pivot tables. Microsoft’s profits are safe for now.

This does provide a sizeable poke in Microsoft’s ribs, though, and reminds us all that even a spreadsheet can be made a lot better if you take a new look at it. Apple has sent us all a gesture that they are working on their own office suite. It’s one that everyone should take a look at.

“Skimming” Apple

The coolest feature that Steve Jobs demonstrated to us this morning was “skimming.”

This is where you have a picture under which exists a whole pile of other pictures.

On Flickr you see these all the time. Click on a picture at the top, like this one shot by Steve Keys:

What do you get? More photos, right?

But skimming lets you see the photos below just by running your mouse pointer across the photo without visiting the page below it. The picture just changes as you drag to show other pictures. It’s one of those things you need to see demonstrated. I’m sure over at Apple.com you’ll see lots of video of this. The new iMovie makes a lot of use of skimming. So does iPhoto and .MAC’s new Web Gallery.

It’s one thing I saw and instantly asked “why doesn’t Flickr have this?”

More analysis to come. In the meantime every blogger who was there is going nuts over on TechMeme. Apple sure does know how to get the world’s attention.