December 2003 - Posts
I was watching an interesting documentary on the assassination of JFK and it reminded me of a middle school teacher who was convinced of paranormal linkage between JFK's and Lincoln's assassinations. A quick search on Google yielded this interesting site: http://www.school-for-champions.com/history/lincolnjfk.htm.
I decided to try out SharpReader tonight. I figured, why not just pull down the OPML files from blogs.gotdotnet.com, weblogs.asp.net, and a few others, and plug them on in? What could be the harm?
Having never tried this before, it turns out that there is quite a bit of potential harm.
I am now subscribed to hundreds of blogs--all of which were synchronized at once. None of them seemed to mind, except for slashdot.org, one of the most compassionate, understanding, well-behaved sites on the Web. The messages went something like:
12/23/2003 4:06 AM: You may only load headlines every 30 minutes
12/23/2003 4:06 AM: Your headline reader has been banned
12/23/2003 4:06 AM: In 72 Hours, Your Ban Will Be Lifted
12/23/2003 4:06 AM: Do Not Bother Contacting Us For 72 Hours
12/23/2003 4:06 AM: We Have Located Your Address And Are Coming To Shut You Down
12/23/2003 4:06 AM: All Your Bases Are Belong To Us, We Are h4X0r
(Okay, I made those last two up)
Anyway, I didn't end up getting any headlines from them at all, so there must be others on my shared proxy that were banging on the RSS feed. Ordinarily I'd understand a company's efforts to protect itself and its resources, but it's not like Slashdot has ever given Microsoft a break. Rather than fix the issue with more efficient RSS serving, they just cut people off. Smooth.
Just kidding, I love those guys. Seriously, don't come to my house.
It's just too bad I'll have to limit my daily doses of Microsoft bashing to the comments on Scoble's blog for the next 72 hours.
I'm not sure what we'd talk about, but I think it would be cool. I'm listening to one of my favorite songs, “Albuquerque”, from the “Running With Scissors” album, and it made me wonder what it would be like to meet the man behind the music. I saw him at a local show, although I guess it wasn't very local because I had to drive 90 minutes to get there. He put on an awesome show, much better than many of the expensive acts I've seen lately. As I've thought more, I'm realizing that I've been listening to his music for as long as I can remember. I even named my cat “Superfly”, but decided not to get a second one. Does anyone know what I would have named the other?
Two warnings up front: this is a long post and it's related to work.
As you are all probably well aware, a lot of Microsoft folks have really upped their efforts in the world of “community” over the past few months. One of the benefits we get from this is that there is a lot of product feedback through blogs, newsgroups, meetings at trade shows, etc. While this is really useful feedback, sometimes it’s hard to decide which product changes need to be made or which changes to prioritize based how many developers are affected. Finding a way to quantify feedback can be hard.
Today I’m here to announce the “Longhorn Developer Platform Survey” program. Before anyone gets too excited, however, I’d like to let you know what and who this is for. First of all, this program isn’t giving out Longhorn bits, so please don’t join if you’re only doing it to get bits because I don't want you to be disappointed.
This program is intended to help us get feedback on Longhorn from developers who already have Longhorn bits, whether through PDC, an MSDN subscription, or other channel. (If you don’t have bits, but want them, you can get an MSDN Universal subscription from http://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/.) To sign up for the program, you’ll be asked to fill out a nomination survey that has some basic developer demographic data, such as the size and type of company you work for, the platforms you develop for, and other “classification” data. We use this data to perform pivots on feedback so we can see if there are trends in data. For example, it would be valuable for us to know if developers using WinFS are mostly VB developers (which is just a randomly arbitrary example from me). Then we would take that information and use it to make sure the WinFS tool stuff we do in Orcas fits in with the VB paradigm.
If you continue through this nomination survey and join the program, it might take a few days to be “accepted”. You’ll know you’re accepted because you will receive an exceptionally crafted welcome email (written by me) that will tell you the same.
Every month or so we’ll post a survey (or maybe a few) that contains around ten questions, mostly multiple-choice. You can sign in to take these surveys at your convenience if you’re interested. The questions will reflect the feedback we’ve received from the community, and will range across many topics, from tools to APIs, platforms to samples, and so on. The first survey I’m working on, for example, is intended to help us figure out what to officially call Avalon, WinFS, Indigo, ClickOnce, etc, in the shipping product. We’re going to try to keep all surveys under two minutes each, so it shouldn’t be a time-drain for anyone. The feedback will help us immensely and will give you an easier way to shape the product to meet your needs.
Does this sound like something you’d like to be involved with? If so, please go to http://beta.microsoft.com. Once you get there, you’ll be asked to sign in with a valid Passport account. Once you’ve signed in, click on the link next to “If you were issued a Guest ID by Microsoft, you can sign in by *clicking here*”. The guest ID for this program is “longhornsurvey”, which is all one word and lowercase. Click on the Longhorn logo on the new page. After that there will be directions under “How To Begin”.
The first question you probably have is “why should I do this?“. The best answer I can provide is that this program will give you an opportunity to impact the way we build Longhorn. Developers often say “I wish we had XXX feature“, so we're giving you a better way to send that feedback to us. We also come across a lot of design questions (such as the “URI vs. string“ debate covered at http://www.simplegeek.com/commentview.aspx/95710b54-71ac-4a76-9136-142e801297a1) and we want to provide an easy way for developers to weigh in.
Thanks for taking the time to help us build a better product.
At lunch today, I brought up the observation that I always seem to like movies more a few days after I see them. For example, I saw the third “Lord of the Rings” movie on Wednesday. I thought it was good, but I was also kind of disappointed by the fact that it took ten hours to watch what seems to be a four hour movie in hindsight (this means that I think they could have made a single movie instead of three). Today, however, I keep thinking about how much I liked the movie, although I remember being bored when watching it the other day. As I thought more about this change of heart, I've realized this is fairly consistently across other movies I've seen.
One example is the first “Austin Powers” movie. When I was in college, a group of friends found out that I had never seen it, so they tied me to a couch and made me watch the entire thing. They laughed at every line, but I just didn't find it funny in general. I'll admit that there were a few scenes that I found funny, but I certainly didn't enjoy it as much as they had expected. A few days later, however, I found myself quoting it and started “getting” references to the movie used in everyday culture. My opinion had changed.
Now I'm also reminded of all the times I'm able to convince people to watch “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. I've found that every time I'm able to convince a first timer to watch it, they just don't enjoy it as much as I would expect. A few days later, of course, they're quoting the black knight or the knights who say “ni” or any of a hundred other quotable characters.
My question, in a long-winded way, is “what do you call those kind of movies”?
I bought an Xbox wireless adapter a few days ago--yeah, they do make them, isn't that cool? Anyway, after setting it up I realized that my copy of NHL Rivals 2004 (and maybe others as well) came with a two month trial for Xbox live, so I set it up. I was very impressed. Here are a few things I liked:
1. The quality and responsiveness were awesome. I only experienced lag once when playing NHL Rivals on Xbox, and it went away after one guy got dropped. I remember playing NHL 93 hockey (I think it was that version) over a phone line *years* ago on a friend's Sega, but the experience sucked. Anyway, his mom got pissed because he racked up a $100+ phone bill. I think he ended up grounded. I wonder how that's going.
2. They have headsets that let you talk while playing. Although I don't have one yet, it was pretty cool to hear other people. Lots of profanity, but I guess I'm used to that $#!^ already. Anyway, it's nice to have it coming from someone else for once.
3. I played Counter-Strike for a few minutes before going to bed. It's a lot of fun, reminding me of the old days of Quake 2 in the dorm room (which can run on the .NET Framework). Needless to say, it took my around three hours to fall asleep. Once I did, however, I had about thirty frags before I woke up.
4. Occassionally my ego gets bloated from beating the computer. Going online always corrects that.
5. I finally have enough budget to support a realistic video game habit. I think Xbox Live is something like $6/month, which is a fraction of my broadband rate. All I have to do now is figure out how to expense it as a cost-of-work :-)
Has anyone else played much Xbox online? What games do you recommend?
If not, check out http://www.xbox.com/en-us/live/default.htm.
My wife and I are both auto insured through the same company, but when we consolidated our insurance to the same account, it ended up costing $200/yr less for both of us than it cost for me alone.
I wonder if you can aggregate savings through multiple weddings...
I’ve spent the past few days playing NHL Rivals 2004 (http://www.xbox.com/en-us/nhlrivals2004). There are a lot of things I like about the game, and a few things I'm hoping to see improved in v2 :-)
I'm still getting used to the controls, but I like the way that every button seems to do something, and combinations make useful things happen instead of gratuitous spinoramas that just get you knocked down. I really like the “open ice“ mode that allows you to practice with 5 guys shooting on a goalie without defenders. It makes it much easier than trying to learn how to play in an active game. It has the expected customization, leagues, playoffs, etc, but I'm really looking forward to playing on XBox Live (once I get around to getting a subscription). It's great to get beaten repeatedly by twelve year olds from around the globe.
One of the most impressive aspects of this game is definitely its graphics. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to get screenshots from my TV. Anyway, here are some artist renderings:
Hard Hitting Action!
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