Monthly Archives: January 2004

New data

New data shows that we are falling farther and farther behind other nations in broadband deployment (we are now 11th).  This should be a factor in the elections.  Who lost the bandwidth race?  It is the new space race and the best way to grow high quality jobs into the next century (across all business segments).  Let's turn on the lights and see what creativity, technology, and new business opportunties spring forth!  [John Robb's Weblog]

The Atlantic

The Atlantic.  Jack Beatty.  Terminal Senatitis.  Over two days I saw John Edwards and John Kerry speak at Dartmouth College. Edwards exhilarated my wife and me and the rest of the audience. We left the Kerry event before it ended and would have gone earlier if we had not hooked a ride with a more-patient friend—for we were bored, disappointed, and angry…  How, we wondered aloud driving home, could a man in public life for decades, running for President for more than a year, not do better than this?

NOTE:  I get the same feeling from Kerry that I got from Gore.  Both spent so much time running for president that they forgot why they ran in the first place.  Passion for the job is replaced by rote response.  At the least, Dean and Edwards have the requisite passion for the job. [John Robb's Weblog]

There are three ways to build a hot weblog.

There are three ways to build a hot weblog.

To be a connection machine (people with huge blogrolls and/or RSS lists that point to other weblogs — they do add their two cents and sometimes their thinking).

To be a name dropper (people that imply they understand what is really going on — and you don’t — given their personal connections that they constantly let you know about).

To be an ideologue (people that support a single cause with unquestioned faith).

Here are the ways to build a second tier (but still popular) weblog:

To be a thinker (people that delve into topics with intelligence and/or wit).

To be a topic owner (people that own a topic and report on it with unquestioned knowledge and depth).

To be a voice of outrage/affirmation (people that critique others as often as they can or are on the bandwagon).

To be a cool hunter (people that find the newest of the new or the strangest of the strange).

Which one are you? Are there more categories? Am I wrong? I will add to this post as new thinking arrives. [John Robb’s Weblog]

Tivo as digital hub?

Tivo as digital hub?. Om Malik thinks Tivo's purchase of a startup called Strangeberry signals its intention to become a hub for digital home entertainment.  Makes sense.  Strangeberry is apparently made up of ex-Sun people, and the idea of universal zero-configuration networking was a big element of Sun co-founder Bill Joy's Jini vision. 

Of course, all the major consumer PC vendors, most notably Gateway, Sony, and HP, have similar dreams, as do Apple, Microsoft, and your cable company.  This probably makes Tivo interesting acquisiton bait.  But for whom?  Tivo is built on Linux, so it probably isn't a fit for any of the Windows-centric companies.  Or for Apple, which has its own Rendezvous networking technology. [Werblog]

OneNote genesis

OneNote genesis.

OneNote started as an email exchange between myself and Steven Sinofsky, the Senior VP for Office, Nov 27, 2000. We were talking about how there wasn't much in the way of software to deal with information that was not yet a document. This coincided with the end of the OfficeXp development project. I had recently become the Group Program Manager for Word halfway through the project. The OfficeXp development cycle had bothered me as I felt we had not really moved the needle enough in terms of solving user problems in Word, at least partly because we were confining our thinking to simply how to make a word processor better. Steven described some thoughts he had about “ephemeral information”, and the idea of outlining. Outlining sort of turns me off, because it is one of those things most people can’t bring themselves to do, but the ones who do it rave about it. It’s a classic “niche”. But I liked Steven's idea that we could build a new app if necessary, rather than be stuck grafting things onto our existing tools.

I thought more about how to dramatically make work easier or better for lazy unstructured people like me, as well as organized people like outliners and users of filing cabinets, and the idea came to me of a tool that would let me manage the tremendous amount of stuff that people tell me in meetings or on the phone, or that I read, or just think of on my own. Most of this ends up being junk anyway, but a lot of it is really valuable, and so much is lost since the only tools I have are my memory (failing) and paper, which I lose pretty quickly. (In fact, I recently cleaned out my office and found four separate paper notebooks with three pages of notes in each. That was all I had got to before losing each one.)

Over the 2000-2001 holidays I thought about this more (not that I thought hard – it was more of a percolation). In January I blasted out a draft “vision” document to describe a new tool that would be what I would want to make my daily work life more effective. Of course it wasn't just for work – it would be useful for all sorts of things. In fact when you break down work into its component parts, your non-work life or student life starts to be pretty similar: things to do, important stuff to remember, things to review, and a bunch of stuff you think you might need some day but can’t be sure. Not to mention phone numbers, passwords, frequent flyer numbers, people’s names and addresses, links, blah blah blah. Things that defy categorization (or do they?). The key insight I had at this point was that whatever this tool was, it had to let you capture the thought or piece of info as you had it without forcing you to deal with any software goo up front. To take a note in Outlook you had to find the place where you were allowed to take notes. But if it was a phone number, you were supposed to use Contacts, but you had to create a contact and name it before you could save the phone number. Post-its beat that hands down. This new tool, which I called “Scribbler” would be as close to electronic paper as we could get to make capturing information easy, but then have much more power than paper to help you deal with the stuff you put into it.

About this time the TabletPC was getting going, and that seemed like an interesting effort. It is always good when there is “synergy’ happening. New hardware that was sort of in the same space as the software I wanted to make would help. But realistically, it would take years for TabletPCs to take over the installed base even if they were a runaway hit, so with Scribbler I decided we should target desktop and laptops PCs, but be sure to be great on the tablet, where you’d have all the power of a laptop but also ink and pen UI. So we had to build a great keyboard app first and foremost. [Chris_Pratley's WebLog]

Structured search, phase two

Structured search, phase two. The next phase of my structured search project is coming to life. For the new version I'm parsing all 200+ of the RSS feeds to which I subscribe, XHTML-izing the content, storing it in Berkeley DB XML, and exposing it to the same kinds of searches I've been applying to my own content. Here's a taste of the kinds of queries that are now possible: [Jon's Radio]

Mac Software Business mailing list

Mac Software Business mailing list. Just about every day I talk with people who want to start a Macintosh software business.

People have all kinds of questions: can I make money at this? How much should I charge for my app? Where should I advertise? Should I do my idea as a plugin or as a separate app? What e-commerce provider should I use? Should I get a booth at Macworld?

I have opinions on some of these questions, but there are tons of things I don’t know about, and I have questions too sometimes.

So I decided to start a new mailing list on Yahoo Groups.

The description: “This group is for small, independent Macintosh developers who want to talk with other developers about the business of Mac development. Questions on pricing, packaging, advertising, e-commerce providers, and so on are on-topic. Note that this list isn’t a vehicle for promotion: announcements and press releases are off-topic.”

(You don’t have to have a business up-and-running already: it’s for people who want to start a business too.) []