The non-GYM plan

I’m going to try to get back to talking about non-GYM (Google/Yahoo/Microsoft) sites — even my coworkers were saying that my writing was more interesting when I did that. But, let’s just get the Xbox stuff out of the way. Michael Gartenberg has some, including a link to the controversial “guns” commercial that the team decided not to run on TV. Memeorandum has the rest. My college friend Nick Paredes says “The game itself was phenomenal. You could see the sweat on the players faces. The graphics were so incredible it was like watching a real football game.”

On other Microsoft stuff. Christopher Byrne defends Microsoft against a new book named Phishing Exposed.

SQL Down Under has a podcast with A.C.M. Turing Award winner and Microsoft Distinguished engineer Dr Jim Gray discussing the Future of SQL Server.

Sam Ramji of Microsoft’s Emerging Business Team interviewed me about what I see happening in Enterprise Mash-ups. Of course, that got Harry Pierson, an architect at Microsoft, to say “I hate the term mashup.”
Oh, heck, since I’m pimping myself out here, let’s put in a couple of book things too.

Lance Dutson, of Maine Web Report, just gave us a glowing review and Tom Raftery interviewed Shel Israel, my co-author on our book. Shel’s a lot more interesting than I am. He’s been a Silicon Valley startup/PR guy for decades. Helped get Creative Labs, Napster, and now Riya off the ground.

Eating our way across Europe

Maryam and I leave for Europe tomorrow. Looks like we have a full schedule. You’re invited to eat with us, of course!
November 30th we’ll be in Cork, Ireland.
December 1st we’ll be in Dublin, Ireland.
December 8th we’ll be in Brussels, Belgium.
December 4th we’ll be at the sold-out Les Blogs Conference (I’m sure there’ll be a dinner in Paris, but not sure when or where yet).
December 10th we’ll be in London, UK.

Looking forward to seeing you all and having some good times!

Does being happy make it easier to solve problems?

I just spent a wonderful hour with the Cleartype team. But that’s not why I’m writing to you. On the team is Kevin Larson, who is a cognitive psychologist.

But that’s not why I’m writing to you either. After I shut off my camera we started talking about some of the research he’s doing. He (and other researchers in the field) have found something very interesting: that being in a happy mood makes people better problem solvers.

It’s interesting. Earlier today I was talking with someone about conference planning. I told them my experiences with conferences. What was the most important thing? Making the first hour absolutely entertaining.

Now this all makes sense. An audience that’s thrilled can learn faster and can solve problems better.

I wonder if this same research could be applied to Web site usage? If you are happier are you more likely to click on ads? If you’re happier, are you more likely to read a long article or watch a long video?

Ever think that Google’s secret weapon isn’t their search engine, or Google Base, but rather Dennis Hwang? He’s the artist that draws the fun things around the logo.

I wonder, does making people smile make them better searchers?

Hey, Bill Gates, wanna make a billion dollars on services? Sounds like the research is telling you to hire this guy: DeepFun.com.

Seriously now, back to Kevin. This guy is a serious researcher. He sticks people inside an MRI machine and asks them to read two pages of text. One with fonts that are ugly and poorly designed. One with beautifully designed fonts and aesthetically laid out.

He says they can’t see much difference in reading speed, but there’s a massive difference in the part of the brain used on each kind of page. Also, they measure the various facial muscles used when reading text. Turns out people frown more when reading the poorly-laid-out text.

Oh, and they are doing a bunch of eye track research on fonts too. Turns out that ClearType increases reading speed and comprehension by about seven percent when compared to a machine that has ClearType turned off. More when I get the videos up next month.

A better permalink? Or is that “purplelink?”

Doug Engelbart mentioned purple numbers last week during dinner and I was just reminded about that again so I went and did some research on what they are. I guess I missed that whole meme, which demonstrates yet again just how hard it is to get the world to change. We’re being thrown so much information it’s hard to hear every idea. Anyway, Eugene Kim’s blog has the details and his site has more. You can see Doug’s Website with purple numbers here.

I think they’d drive me nuts because I often add a paragraph after publishing, or edit things, but, realistically, that’s just a tool problem. Keeping these from breaking would be difficult. What do you think?