Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Monday, June 09, 2003

Web designers: A List Apart is back. This time pandering to the weblog world with an interview of SixApart's Anil Dash.

Oh, great, a friend of mine emailed me "the blog parody to end all blog parodies." Or, as he put it, here's the "Simple Guide to the A-List Bloggers." The author wants to remain anonymous, but it's so hilarious that I got his permission to post this. Yeah, he takes a good swipe at me too. One problem, I don't think I've really moved off of the "C" list yet. But, it's nice to be included with Dave and Doc. By the way, what's the best way to respond to a parody? Laugh!

What has four huge air conditioners, 60 terabytes of data, two huge UPS's, 70 servers, and 3.5 million photographs? Corbis. Today I had a tour of Corbis' state-of-the-art server farm. So, what did I learn? That Corbis doesn't own a lot of the images that it's selling. It plays as a middle-man between the owner and a buyer.

Buyers can be people or companies who want images to use in advertising.

Showing me around were Systems Engineer Hubbard Benedict and Director of Technology Bill Radcliffe.

They led me through their data center. Mostly run on Windows boxes, but they admitted their search engine was running on Linux.

They showed me some awesome new Isilon storage devices. These things look like nodes of hard drives, which is pretty much what they are, but they go further. If a drive fails, the software routes around it. No data lost. If a node fails, it routes around it to another node. No data lost. When you are storing the world's photographs, that really matters.

I didn't take notes on everything. They had a huge tape backup system. Hubbard said that in a 9/11 scenario it'd take them two weeks to get back up and running. The funny thing is that the data center is in an old bank building (Corbis had just moved into the building in January and some of the offices are actually located inside the old bank vault).

I saw a few Heidelberg digital scanners, which were hard at work scanning in some 35mm negatives. Bill said that they are definitely seeing the trend that photographers are switching to digital cameras. He says that digital cameras now have, for all intents, passed film and are giving better images than film-based cameras.

The UPS system was something I always like to see. It instantly would take over the power in case of a power outage, and would enable the entire data center to run for about 176 minutes. Oh, wait, that's if only one of the two UPS's stayed up. If both stayed up, you can double that number. Plus, they have a generator that kicks in after 30 seconds of no power.

Anyway, I'm bummed cause my digital camera's battery died right at the beginning of the tour. I'll see if I can save an image and put it up here.

Any questions? I can get them answered if you want to know more.

I had lunch today with Jack Richens. He's a dev over on the SQL Server team. I got an update on Yukon and WinFS, both of which we'll talk about more at the PDC. But, he said something that I found very interesting. He said he is scared of weblogging because he's scared of people figuring out his address and doing something bad.

You know, after reading the accounts of the brutal in-home attack and kidnap in Silicon Valley, I wonder if Jack doesn't have a point?

But, then, I start using rational thought. 1) The attack and kidnap was by someone who knew the family, or, possibly, a totally random victim. Picked by casing a neighborhood.

2) couldn't someone pick their victim based on Internet information? I doubt it, but who knows?

But, I'll tell you why I'm not too worried about it. Weblogging gives me a platform to talk to the world and tell them about something rotten going on in my life. Let's say my son was kidnapped. Who is in a better position? A weblogger who could instantly write about the event, and post pictures, and relevant information, or a parent that needs to really work to get the news media interested in their predicament? Speed saves lives in these situations and weblogging gives you access to a really great network of people who could help out.

What do you think?

Mike Sax and G. Andrew Duthie are raving about the new Sharp Reader. Dang, there is sure a lot of work being done in the aggregator space. I just downloaded a pre-release alpha version of Nick Bradbury's FeedDemon too (Nick told me to try it out) and that looks very nice. I should write up my ideas of what news aggregator is best. I still use Radio UserLand too and News Gator too. Anyone else collecting news aggregators like trading cards?

Sean Alexander points out that the Windows Media Team has some cool software that sells for less than it costs to write on Chris Pirillo's chest.

Drew points out that one way a conference weblog can live on after the event is over is through its OPML blogroll. Hmm, downloaded!

You know what? I've been swimming in the Koolaid and none of you are calling me on it. I've been linking to more Microsoft employees than to interesting outsiders. Why do I say "swimming" and not "drinking?" Because, when you're up in Redmond it's nearly impossible to get away from Microsoft. Microsoft so dominates the cultural landscape here in Redmond. That's one of the really big differences here when compared with Silicon Valley. In SV, there's far more diversity in terms of companies. No one company is dominant in the landscape. If you walk a block, it's very rare, for example, to find more than one Apple employee. Here, it seems like three out of six residents are Microsoft employees (I've met tons, for example, while house hunting).

We saw "Finding Nemo" on Sunday. What a cute movie! At the end, a four-year-old behind me said "thank you papa for taking me, this was the best movie I've ever seen." You know, I sure wouldn't argue with a four-year-old. Steve Jobs' Pixar sure has another hit on its hands. The computer generated graphics are lush and the story is even better.

Chris Pirillo opens a "Weblogging Traffic School" and his commenters dissent. Many of them think that the only reason to weblog should be "just for the fun of it." Heh. Why do this for only 18 readers when you can maybe get 19?

Oh, great, Haloscan is down again. Looks like they need to pay their bandwidth bill. They are the folks that provide my comments here. I guess I need to look into new comment system. Sigh. In the meantime, if you have something to say about my weblog, do it in email or on your own weblog and I'll point to you. My email address is

I find it interesting that Beth Goza, a weblogger who works at Microsoft (and was parodied by the Register), was invited to be on a panel discussion at the weblogger conference, but i wasn't. Now, look at her weblog, and look at mine. Why was she invited to represent Microsoft's corporate weblogging side? Oh, right, she doesn't make snide comments about Alan Meckler's weblog as being boring.

Either that, or I need to get parodied by the Register to get invited next year. Heh.

Well, it's work time. I wish I was at the weblog conference, though.

Dare Obasanjo, on my comments, decries the "blog mania" that's going through Microsoft right now. (He works at Microsoft himself, and he too has a blog). He thinks Chris Brumme would be better served by posting his stuff up on MSDN.

I see it another way. Publishing is too hard for many Microsoft employees. Blogging makes it easy. Would Chris even bother if he needed to figure out who was responsible for publishing stuff like his over at MSDN? Would Chris bother if he needed to have three meetings just to get his stuff approved to post up? I wouldn't. Note: I'm not gonna publish on or unless I have to. The process is just too daunting and I already have Chris Brumme beat since I know Chris Sells, Sara Williams, and others at MSDN. Think that most of Microsoft's 55,000 employees know how to get something through the publishing system at MSDN? I don't think so. Blogs take up the slack.

Put it another way. Would I rather have Chris Brumme spend an hour working on .NET architecture for Longhorn, or would I rather have him in an hour of meetings with MSDN trying to talk them into posting his stuff?

This story, about a nine-year-old kidnapped brazenly on Friday, was front page news in Silicon Valley over the weekend. Glad she came home alive. It's one of the most brutal home-invasion/kidnapping stories I've ever heard of. I imagine people in the Valley are locking their homes at a much higher rate than they ever did before.

I didn't get Mike Sax' report about Larry Ellison stealing trash linked before, so I'll point to it again so it gets in all the aggregators.

Today I get a tour of Corbis. Can't wait. Of course I'll have my camera and I'll blog what I learn. They own the rights to many of humanity's most famous and historic images.

Paul Boutin has a real interesting story in Wired about Slammer. This worm hit Microsoft hard, since it was aimed at our SQL Server product. Funny enough, I sat next to a security consultant on the plane ride home last night. He says Microsoft is hiring tons of people like him to visit corporations and perform security audits to try to prevent things like this from happening again. And, when I started at Microsoft about a month ago they gave us a stern warning about security and the importance of loading patches and doing other things.

One thing that employees have warned me about: lock your computer whenever you leave it alone, even for a minute. I've been told that execs at Microsoft sometimes will find an open computer and will send a message to the entire company saying "hi there, I'm "bob" and I don't care about Microsoft's reputation or security and I left my computer running without locking it, so anyone can come and sit down at my computer and have access to our network."

If there's one thing that I'm suprised about Microsoft's culture, it's this security advocacy (it's not the only example, either. Product development teams that I'm involved in start out with a discussion of how to build a secure product -- I hear that's a sea change over a few years ago). It's one place that the public image and the internal culture aren't meshed yet.

Conference teams often wonder how to keep an audience engaged after the conference is over. I notice that the TechED Weblogs (TechED was last week's big conference) have petered out and that everyone is back over at the DotNet Weblogs.

Should conference organizers try to keep audiences engaged after their event is over? Or, is that an impossible goal?

Let's see what happens this week with the Jupiter weblog conference. I bet that by mid-week next week most of us will stop talking about it and move onto the "next big event."

Mike Sax reports on the time when Larry Ellison was caught with his hand in Mike's cookie jar. Er, stealing trash. Interesting story. I know Jonathan Zuck and Mike Sax and a lot of the other folks.

DotNet Guy Brad Wilson points us at a new Iranian Weblog aggregator. Sorry, it's in Farsi. Sometimes I write weblog posts only for my wife. This is one of those times.

Chris has a Nokia 3650, by the way. Same phone that Lenn Pryor has. I love how easy it is to get pics up on the Web. Chris just pointed the phone at me, took a pic, and it was instantly on the Web for all to see. I wish my Nikon did that.

I was moblogged yesterday by Chris Pirillo. He pointed his Nokia phone at my Longhorn hat. Hey, I'm an evangelist. I should keep track of everytime I get the Longhorn logo on the Web. Also in the pics is my wonderful wife, Maryam. We tried to get into the famous Bucks, but it was too busy. (Bucks is the place where Netscape was incorporated). So we went next door to the Woodside Bakery.

James Edelen says he links to me a lot and asks me to add search to my weblog. Hmmm. I find Google works really well. Just add "scobleizer" to any search term at Google and you'll probably find where I wrote about it. For instance, here's a search for Jim Allchin, an executive at Microsoft.

I'm always pretty tough on Alan Meckler. I find his weblog is still pretty boring so I won't link to that. On the other hand, his analysts now have permalinks and they are saying things that are more interesting. But, Meckler deserves credit for being the first one to do a weblog conference that seems to have a decent sized audience (here's Michael Gartenberg talking about it). I wonder how many paid attendees there really are, though. I know Microsoft sent a couple of people.

Conferences are high risk/high reward kinds of things. Most people don't recognize that. I do. Meckler deserves credit for investing in the space.

Denise Howell, by the way, takes the best conference notes.

How do you get a link from me? Flattery always works. David McNamee says "Scoble is amazing" and "he's definitely becoming one of those public faces that Microsoft needs." How could I not link to that?

Christopher Brumme As I mentioned a few days back, Chris Brumme's weblog is one of the ones done by Microsoft employees that I keep hearing praises about from developers both inside and outside of Microsoft. So, I'm studying it -- I would like to do something similar for the Longhorn team when we're able to discuss the next version of Windows publicly. Part of studying is actually meeting the guy who does it. So, last week I trudged off to building 42, which is where Chris is busy working on architecting future versions of the .NET platform.

He started weblogging because another employee thought he might find it useful. "I was getting tired of answering the same questions over and over," he answered. "I had no idea there was a whole weblogging world out there."

What was the reaction to his blog? "On the first day I blogged I got an email from someone [giving good feedback]" He told me how he's now watching his comments that people leave in the comments areas on his blog (and hates the current comment system where he has to look back at old posts just to see if someone commented -- I told him some commenting systems, like Haloscan, put all the comments into an RSS feed, so you can watch them all from one place).

One thing I found interesting is that Chris' weblog is so different from most of the ones that show up on Chris said that wasn't really planned that way. "I just hadn't read anyone else's weblog before I started doing mine." Turns out Chris is very busy (and is one of the most important people on the .NET team) so doesn't have much time to be surfing the web and/or weblogging. He's just starting to get into watching RSS feeds. Plus, he thinks the way he can add value to Microsoft's customers' lives is by giving them some deep technical details on .NET, so his posts tend to be long and don't tend to talk about personal details or point to other weblogs.

He also admits that some of his style is due to his inability to push around his blog software. "I'm frustrated by my lack of knowledge of blogging software," he said. He wishes he had more time to really learn how to make his blog better.

Since he's one of the main architects on the .NET platform, we chatted a bit about that -- Chris has been hard at work on the underpinings of what's code-named "Whidbey" -- the next version of Visual Studio -- and also an even more secret project for what'll be built into the next version of Windows. Both of which, he said, will be shown publicly at Microsoft's Professional Developer's Conference. He told me that he's working hard to make it possible for a much wider variety of programs to run on .NET (one of the key things they are trying to do is make it possible to use .NET managed code to do nearly every task in Windows itself). They are also working hard on adding features to the framework to make it even more secure and perform better. "We have a lot of stuff to do."

Since he sometimes reveals technical details about the direction that Microsoft is heading, I asked if he's ever worried about inadvertently leaking something he shouldn't. "I have more than hinted at a number of things we may or may not do. It's not that I am worried about leaking things, but I am worried about randomizing people."

On the other hand, when I read Chris' blog, I always feel quite random. His technical depth is really aimed at the most technical of Windows developers, and not code newbies like me. I thought his way he ended a blog entry the other day was quite on topic: "but even I think this blog is getting way too long."

Anyway, it was quite an honor meeting Chris and if you're an advanced Windows developer, you should definitely subscribe to his weblog.

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Robert Scoble works at Microsoft. Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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© Copyright 2004 Robert Scoble Last updated: 1/3/2004; 2:35:20 AM.