Scobleizer Weblog

Today's Stuff Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Being a geek in Silicon Valley is hell on relationships. The computer has its attractions, believe me. It doesn't yell. It doesn't scream. It doesn't make me do chores. It doesn't bring up past emotional pain. On the other hand, there are a few things a computer won't do, but then this is a G-rated weblog. Seriously: I've witnessed the strains of computer geekdom on relationships, both personally, and from afar. It's not easy maintaining a balance between an online lifestyle and an offline one, particularly when you get into "flow state" on the computer.

OK, David Coursey, is someone I respect. Here's his "five forces that will shape mobile tech."

While over at Marc's site, I see an interview with Scott Love. He's the guy who wrote a very cool meeting app for the Macintosh. He claims he has a one-year-lead on Microsoft. So? ICQ had a 31-month lead on Microsoft. Yeah, the kids who developed it made $300 million, but remember, that ran on Windows -- the platform with all the users. What I wonder is: "what's Scott's exit strategy?" Is it to pray that Steve Jobs wakes up and starts helping his independent developers by buying their cool techology?

Marc Canter, founder of Broadband Mechanics, continues the conversation. Hey, Alan Meckler should take notes. Blogging is about conversations. Rapid posting. Linking back and forth. Alan Meckler has only posted eight times in the first 18 days of March. Not to mention, has Alan told me one thing that his conference will do better than Comdex? OK, here's a question for the 15 people who straggle by here every day: is Alan Meckler doing a good job for his company by weblogging?

Microsoft is having a contest for Tablet developers. Supposedly being administered by Fawcette. Of course, the prize is a Tablet. Hmmm. If you're already a Tablet developer, you already have a Tablet. What I really want is a tour of Bill Gates' house. Now wouldn't that be a prize that geeks would go for?

My bets on when the war starts? Either midnight Eastern tomorrow night or 7:59 p.m. Eastern on Thursday night. Why? Thursday is the first day of Spring and we love to do Spring cleaning and 7:59 p.m. is the beginning of the Iranian new year. Symbolic, no? Most Iranians would be happy to see Saddam go. After all, he killed a million Iranians. But, don't expect celebrations. My wife tells me often "you can't understand the horrors of war. You've never had your house bombed." Plus, it's accepted that we'll be going after Iran's nuclear capabilities after we're done with Saddam.

Chris Pirillo writes and reminds me that he introduced me to the guy who'd solve my blogroll problem: Jason DeFillippo of OK, OK, I created my account and am off to play. Changes are a coming.

Chris Hollander asks "can someone explain how ActiveWords is less offensive to the world than Microsoft's SmartTags?" Well, I won't be limited to 15 words, but here's my explanation:

1) Active Words isn't even close to what SmartTags tried to do to my Web sites. (ActiveWords doesn't tag words, doesn't add any user interface elements to my web sites, and doesn't editorially get "in between" me and my readers like SmartTags did).

2) ActiveWords doesn't tag things in HTML and doesn't add a squiggly underline to HTML. ActiveWords are invisible and only come up when a user actively uses an ActiveWord and hits a hot key. It's pretty hard to hit an ActiveWord by mistake. So, if I loaded ActiveWords on my mom's computer, she wouldn't even notice the difference until I actively told her about how to use the new feature. SmartTags, on the other hand, were on by default and would change the user interface so my mom would notice them and think that I put them there.

3) SmartTags are misunderstood, even within Microsoft (as Chris's posting demonstrates). SmartTags are perfectly reasonable things when in Office, or on your own data. I use them often in Office XP and now in Office 11. THEY ARE TOTALLY NOT ALLOWABLE if Microsoft puts them on Web pages in the browser. When I send you my content in a Web browser, a third party MAY NOT interject itself between me and the reader without being invited in by the content producer. Using them on your own files is perfectly fine. Not in the Web browser. When Microsoft tried to move the SmartTag technology from Office into IE, that's when I yelled bloody murder.

4) SmartTags and ActiveWords are totally different. SmartTags put things on existing user interfaces (next to a word, for instance, is a little icon that'll let you pull up a SmartTag). ActiveWords are invisible. You type, hit a hot key, and something new happens. If you don't type AND hit a hotkey when using ActiveWords, nothing happens.

5) ActiveWords are only really useful when a user programs and remembers his/her own ActiveWords. SmartTags change the user interface without a user doing something. More like a push model, instead of a pull model. If you don't type in an ActiveWord, nothing happens. But, on SmartTags, I get SmartTags by default and guess what? Microsoft already included a bunch of default ones for me.

6) SmartTags were done by Microsoft, which owns 90% of all desktops. ActiveWords are done by a little tiny company trying to survive. Microsoft MUST behave differently than other companies (even if the feature is the same, which, in the case of ActiveWords it isn't even close).

By the way, I enjoy reading how pissed off I got about SmartTags. I'm so happy Microsoft pulled them out of Internet Explorer. I actually like them quite a bit for use in Office. So sue me. There's a lot of other differences too, but since the point is moot, I'm not gonna waste any more of your time unless you want me to.

I really hate my blogroll. I don't want to keep it up. Too much of a pain in the ass. I wish I had a little tool to make it easier. Plus, if I really put all the 400 sites on it that I visit regularly, it'd get way way too long. Clearly people get value out of blogrolls, though. I regularly get visits from links to me on other sites.

I like JD's "PBR" (PhotoBlogRoll). Wow, between JD's weblog and Kevin Lynch's, I'm getting some real PhotoBlogging inspiration! My weblog looks so ugly.

Dan Gillmor shows off the latest gadgets from the Wireless show.

Hmm, the Register takes a swipe at Microsoft's WinCE phone strategy. I'll probably stay out of this one, but the article makes several good points. It seems Microsoft has failed to own this category, which is real interesting.

I'm happy to learn that Mary Jo Foley did link to Harry Pierson's weblog. "I wanted to point out that while "main-stream press folks rarely link," Harry says, "the same can't be said of Mary Jo." He also points out that Mary Jo has an RSS feed.

Maybe I'm being too hard on Alan? Doug Fox of EventWeb thinks so. "Robert, Alan Meckler just wrote one of the most honest entries I've ever seen from the CEO of a company."