Gnomedex 5.0 Afternoon 2nd Day

Today is a lot better than yesterday

Until we started talking about weatherbug, not only were the speakers good, but the questions have been great, and Marc Cantor has mostly kept his mouth shut. I thought Steve Rubel’s talk was pretty good, but then the audience just started complaining about the product he was using as a case study. I finally asked a question, so I’ll be preserved for eternity in the podcast, but of course I forgot to say my name. For the record, I was the one who asked about “bad employee” blogs.

In general today was much, much better than yesterday. The speakers were interesting, if they were promoting something, they were willing to wrap it within a greater topic, the questions were on topic. It was much more interesting.

On a side note, most of the MSFT people that were here yesterday weren’t here today, so there was also a lot less pro-microsoft propaganda in the room which was a relief as well.

So to sum up…

If Gnomedex is about users and developers partying together, as a developer, I think it was pretty much a waste. I learned nothing really new. I heard opinions that I’ve heard expressed before, expressed again. I spent way too much time hearing about specific feature requests and bugs in software that I didn’t happen to use, and I had to listen to a lot of self-promotion and ego stroking.

If Gnomedex is a people aggregator, then I think it is more successful as an event, just maybe not for me. While it was great putting faces to voices that I’d heard on podcasts, I’m a bit too much of a wallflower and I didn’t really make any useful connections. Then again, there wasn’t really anyone there that was worth connecting to professionally, and while I respect the hell out of a bunch of those attendees, I really don’t need to play sycophantic fan-boy to any of them.

Will I go to Gnomedex 6? Maybe, but probably not. It depends on what I’m doing. There are a lot more interesting technical conferences that would probably be a better use of my time. If I have something that I want to promote, it would make a lot more sense. maybe.

Gnomedex 5.0 Morning 2nd Day

Chris Pirillo says that he loves us. Aww…

I’m doing a bit of a geek test today. I’m wearing my Dark Castle t-shirt that Delta Tao made when they resurrected the game. For those who aren’t aware, this was a way cool game for the 1st generation macs and then Delta Tao bought it and resurrected it in the mid 90s. This shirt is at automatic geek cred that is perfect because it selects out Microsoft people and the youngsters. We’ll see if anyone recognizes it.

I just tried the Lektora aggregator for Firefox OS X and it doesn’t work at all, so avoid it.

some links (mostly inspired by Phil Terrone and come from him or Make Magazine):
The PSP-Packs website
The iPod Linux website
del.icio.us
The Comic Art Effect in PSE3
Classic 78 RPM records MP3 feeds
PubSub – a service that updates RSS feeds of search results as new results appear (great idea!)
Engadget’s article on the new PSP bootstrapping
Edgadget’s article on a new low-cost media PC

Posted: Sat – June 25, 2005 at 10:09 AM

Gnomedex 5.0 Afternoon first day

fucking Microsoft

Microsoft did a very funny ad-skit for their hive blog crap. While it was quite funny, I’m already getting tired of Microsoft and their kind of viral marketing stuff would work a lot better at PDC then here. We’re constantly bombarded by Microsoft logos all day long and now having an informercial between sessions is too much. It is great that MS is sponsoring the conference, but you know we, the participants, contributed a lot of cash ourselves.

The future syndication session very quickly turned into a bitch session about the lack of OPML synchronization tools. A reasonable topic of discussion, but the original one would have been more interesting to me.

I’m glad that my badge doesn’t have my job on it, but my blog. No one has heard of my blog so that gets me out of a lot of annoying conversations, but it makes it a bit harder for me to get the attention of some of the starfuckers I actually do want to talk to.

I thought Phil Terrone was cool before, I think he is cooler now.

having a conference about rss and blogs with crappy intermittent web access is sucky. That isn’t gnomedex’s fault and they are trying to fix it, but it is still kinda lame.

Gnomedex 5.0 morning first day

just my opinions…

this is one of the geekiest things I have ever done.

Dave Winer is cool, but I kept thinking during his talk “It is just a fucking file format, not a lifestyle.” Of course, for him it is a lifestyle. This was more directed at some of the obnoxious comments coming from the audience.

Dean Hachamovitch and his team are being extremely patronizing to us.

This place is lousy with Microsoft people who like to cheer for each other.

They’ve added some RSS stuff into Longhorn. Big Whoop. The one thing that is slightly interesting is that Microsoft will now own your “Common feedlist” so that all your apps with RSS will share a single list of feeds. This is a good idea, but it doesn’t do anything that apps couldn’t do already if they could agree on some stuff (they’ll still need to integrate the MS system-level stuff anyway).

Marc Cantor is still as obnoxious as he was the first time I met him 10 years ago.

Microsoft is embracing and extending RSS and making it available under the Creative Commons license. Good luck with that. More details on the ie blogs.

At Gnomedex

So far, not so good

I’m attending Gnomedex this year. Given that I’m blogging and it ties in with my job and I live three blocks away from where it is being held, it was pretty much a no-brainer. I stopped by this evening to pick up my badge and attend the Google beer-fest, but unfortunately I brought my wife who wasn’t allowed in, so I didn’t get to actually walk into the room (that is kind of shitty, don’t you think?) I did get a free google trucker hat. Big Whoop. So far, I’m not so impressed. I don’t think I’m going to be live blogging (I think I’d rather be a participant than a reporter, thank you). I’m pretty sure that all the talks will be available from itconversations pretty soon and that will be more valuable to you than any goofy blog synopsis. I’ll try to give an update or two tomorrow and Saturday. If you are at the conference, drop me a line and we’ll hook up.

I’m mostly over podcasts

Podcasting is like, so last year.

Last year, it was kind of fun. There were not too many podcasts and it was kind of exciting and new. I subscribed to a bunch of them and tried to keep up and as new ones (even those which were only slightly interesting to me) came out, I’d subscribe to those too. I was getting hours of new audio every day. Pretty soon, I couldn’t keep up. These days, I’m pretty much only listening to the KCRW and WFMU podcasts with the occasional BBC or Adam Curry podcast thrown in. I’m kind of tired of listening to the equivalent of bad college radio downloaded to my hard drive if I’m interested in a specific episode or not.

I think now that the podcasting is established, it is time to move to the second generation of podcasting clients. I think that IT Conversations has it right. IT Conversations gives you a text RSS feed with info about new shows and then you can add any show you are interested to into a custom podcast rss feed. It isn’t that I don’t like Dan Klass or Dawn and Drew, it is just that I don’t have time to listen to every one of their shows to find the stuff I care about. It isn’t like text, I can’t scan it and it takes too much time to listen to the whole thing. I’m hoping that iTunes 4.9 will work more closely to this.

My tell-all Microsoft entry

or not

A few of my (very few) readers have connected me to Microsoft via my posts or my resume and wonder why I don’t dish more dirt like MiniMSFT or Joel On Software. It isn’t that I don’t have the dirt to dish. Believe me, I’ve got plenty. Also, after eight years there, I have some of my own strong opinions on where the company lost its way.

There is one main reason that I don’t talk more about Microsoft: I live in Seattle and I write software for a living. Although I’m not working there now, I can’t ever be sure if I won’t be knocking on the door again someday and the last thing I need is some nasty blog post I wrote about the place to be shown to me during an interview.

I’m really happy that MiniMSFT exists. He (she?) covers a lot of stuff I’d talk about and the comments from current and ex-softies are as informative as the original posts. I don’t get the sense that the author has been at Microsoft that long though. If they had, some of the trends would be a lot more obvious to them.

My hope as a shareholder and (not if I can avoid it) future employee is that Microsoft will wise up in regards to making their employees happy. You can’t expect people to put in 70-80 hour weeks for months at a time when they are making less than industry standard wages and the stock price hasn’t budged in years. A lot of the best people I’ve worked with at Microsoft are gone and many of the rest aren’t sticking around out of loyalty or joy in their work… There is a reason Google, Adobe, and Amazon are having no problems recruiting senior Microsoft engineers away. There are also reasons why the ex-Microsofties (including me) are much happier since they left… but as I said I wasn’t going to dish any dirt right now. 🙂

A classic example of crummy software testing

Microsoft unleashes a poorly tested version of windows media player on the macintosh audience

I have to put in a little disclaimer here. I worked on the Windows Media Team for (PC) version 7.

That said, tonight I tried to install the newest version for the macintosh, version 9 onto one of my macs. I installed it through a non-admin account (I didn’t want it in my account), it seemed to install ok, except that it didn’t give me an option of where to put it and it demanded the admin password. When I try to run it from this account, I get a “you do not have privileges to run this application” error. I switch to my admin. All the ownership and execute attributes on the application are fine. I can run it from my admin account just fine (remember that I didn’t even want to be accessible from any other account), but in this lower permission account I can’t run it. Even though that is the account I installed it from.

Now this is, of course, a bug. A bug I have caused myself in the recent past. It is also a very easy bug to fix and a very easy bug to find if you are testing your product. It is testing 101 and one of the first things a good tester will catch. An important note is that the WMP for mac wasn’t developed in the Mac BU during my time in Windows Media, it was part of the Windows Media Team. This might explain why the quality might not be up to the Mac Office standards. MSN suffers from this problem too, I’ve heard.

Bugs get through, it happens. There is no excuse for something this obvious to get through the cracks though. Especially in a politically sensitive area for Microsoft like this. Microsoft needs to improve their quality on non-windows platform for their media player if they expect it to be any sort of real web standards. Until their quality gets better, I’m going to bug the websites I view to embrace a real cross platform video format like Flash, or Quicktime.