Plea For Your Vote on Productivity in Office 2007

Just a quick plea to pass on links to vote on my Office Productivity Poll.

I know I'm begging for hits here but am shocked at how few people actually find it useful considering how much time and money was spent on Focus Groups to redesign the product.

A big sticky point for Microsoft Office has to be people's familiarity with the product. I knew having gone through school using their older suites that I'd have success using them once I started working full time in the business world - BUT - as the interfaces have been redesigned I no longer believe this to be the case.

With other alternatives like Google Docs available for free to students I wonder if we are going to see some sort of paradigm shift whereby students tag their resumes with that skill set. University is expensive enough in tuition and books and I can't imagine any student wanting to shell out beer dollars for MS Office when they can use and collaborate on Google Docs for free.

While you are here be sure to check out my other related opinons on Office 2007:
Your opinions are appreciated!

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Get an MIT Education For Free Online

For all you non-Digg readers please check this out.

You can get an MIT degree online for free.

Click here for more information

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The iPhone is a Piece of Shit and So is Your Face!

Oh Man Oh Man ... If you don't read The Best Page In The Universe you really should start. This guy is just hilarious.

Which is why I point you to his pointed article entitled: The iPhone is a piece of shit, and so is your face.

I thought it was pretty funny, but then again I wasn't too excited about the iPhone hype and I really like my Blackberry.

The following animated gif is property of The Best Page In The Universe and I will remove it at their request:

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Cnet.com Commenting Problem: Comment 6 of 5

This isn't very funny but I like pointing out inconsistencies in other peoples work. Any developer knows that fixing stupid problems like the below is one of the most frustrating things about being in this line of work. Can you spot the problem:

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Microsoft vs. Open Source = Hilarity

I wanted to comment on some amusing quotes from a C-Net article titled Microsoft Resumes Bashing Open Source. Firstly, Clint Patterson, public relations director for Microsoft's Unified Communications Group says the following:
"The open-source development model has yet to demonstrate the ability to support profitable software businesses that can drive the coordinated research and testing necessary to sustain innovation," Patterson said. "Many in the open-source software community have shifted to hybrid business models. They are making the same business decisions as any commercial software company in terms of what products and services to give away, what intellectual property to protect, how to generate revenue, and how to participate in the community."
I wonder if Microsoft recognizes that the Mozilla Foundation (Firefox) with 90 employees made over $52 million dollars in revenue in 2005. I don't want to suggest that's almost $600K per open source developer but I just did. Not to mention that Firefox has pushed browser innovation further than any other company could have anticipated VIA Extensions, Themes, Dictionaries, Search Engines, and Plug-Ins - Something Microsoft claimed was not possible.

I laughed pretty hard when I read this quote from Matt Asay, vice president of business development at open-source document management company Alfresco:
"The open-source community has actually been shifting away from hybrid models," he said, pointing to Alfresco, Funambol and MuleSource as examples. "Hybrid was yesterday's model, when people were still trying to get comfortable with the shift. Tomorrow's is 100 percent open, with 'proprietary services' on top."

Those services, Asay predicted, could be either for support, as in Red Hat's case, or as in Internet-hosed services, the kind of thing Yahoo is getting more serious about with its $350 million acquisition of open-source e-mail software maker Zimbra.

This is the way I've thought of Software recently, so I guess it's tough to take MicroSoft seriously when they seem to again be nothing more than one step behind the pack. Any how ...

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(Powerset vs. Google) vs. Search Industry

Powerset has positioned itself as the company that is going to bring down Google.

The reason I'm excited isn't because Mark Johnson looks like Bill Gates, or because he has a super high voice, it's because its natural-language technology is being licensed from PARC (the Palo Alto Research Center and susidiary of Xerox Corp.). Renowned for hatching breakthroughs such as the computer mouse and the graphical interface for personal computers, is it possible they are up to their old tricks?

If you haven't seen the somewhat limited promo video you can view it here on YouTube. There is also a demo from the TechCrunch40 conference here (part 1) and here (part 2). I'm not convinced yet but there are tons of other video's talking about it: CNBC, Get Connected, Kron 4.

When Google launched I wasn't much of an Internet Evangelist. But after nearly a decade they are a part of my daily life. I'm not too sure how natural-language search will trump a simple keyword search. Is it really easier to find what you are looking for using natural-language? I'm not too sure that it is. In the 1990s, Ask Jeeves was founded on the premise that Internet search requests should be presented as simple questions. It then frustrated users with too many irrelevant answers. After nearly failing in the dot-com bust, the company embraced the keyword approach to search and abandoned its mascot, a cartoon butler named Jeeves, to distance itself from the days it relied on natural-language algorithms. It is now known simply as Ask.com.

Google was a huge success because they were so simple. They only had one search box and their name on their home page. With more slower connections back then, users like myself found Google the best bet for quick searches. I've never looked back since (although I really do like Yahoo!). But I'm not sure that this is the case anymore. If I can't find something on Google that I can find using Powerset then I'd be happy ... Any how ...

Powerset is gradually opening its testing ground, dubbed Powerlabs, to 16,000 people who signed up to get an early glimpse at the search engine, myself included. During this test phase, Powerlabs is only indexing material from Wikipedia so it will be interesting to see how the natural search term Who is Matt Stark? produces results.

The San Francisco-based startup is so confident that its methods are superior to Google that they will present some answers alongside what its rival returns when asked the same questions. Powerset is requiring its users to vote on which engine produced better results before they are allowed to enter another search request.

There is a site called Hakia that already does natural-language search but I'm not sure it is as fast or comprehensive as Google. Understanding the meaning of many words is difficult without people involved. Unfortunately for Powerset, I'm not sure there is demand for this type of search at this point in time! But nonetheless, good luck Powerset, good luck! Can't wait to see you guys integrate this over voice using integrated GPS on a mobile phone "Where is good Chinese food?".

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Yahoo! Finance Update

Hey Ya'll ... I just happened to notice that the Yahoo! Finance site has been updated and boy oh buoy do I like this one!

It's almost 100% AJAX which makes sense to me as this site is really a destination site for finance not a search-able knowledge base. It also has some very non-abraisive animations on the site which work really well to show / hide content.

It would be very nice to see some of the tabs other than the Home tab get a refresh. One feature I'd really like to see is more news or headlines in the Investment tab - possibly a nice little slider animation like the home page to show me more news.

Very nice work Yahoo!

New Features Include:

1) Global Market Summary
Yahoo! has added a really nice summary tab at the top of the page so we can see how the over sea's markets are performing.

2) Easy Access to My Portfolio
They have embedded a stock ticker style list with every stock that I am tracking in my portfolio - or imaginary portfolio. This should be a widget and I should be able to put this list onto any web page I like.

3) Collective Intellect
This is basically the current state of opinion on different investments. Based On postings from Yahoo!'s popular message boards, you can now see which stocks have had significant increases in bullish, bearish or neutral postings in the past 24 hours. This should all tie into Yahoo!'s social network. If I could have the opinion of all my trusted advisors show up there I'd be super happy.

4) New Market Movers Overviews
Shows information on which stocks or industries are the most active during the trading day. Further this identifies stocks that appear in the news more often than usual, most active, most price % changed, industries on the move and unusual trading volumes.

I really really like this new site. I hope we see more like this out of Yahoo! in the future. We all know their stock could use a little help!

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Firefox The Most Common Browser To Hit This Blog

I installed w3counter a couple days ago on my blog and I'm shocked to see that the vast majority of the hits are coming in from the Firefox 2.0 browser.

Check out the graph below. Firefox 1.5 and 2.0 account for about 52% of the hits on this site leaving Internet Explorer 6.0 and 7.0 with a measly 37%.

One thing that shocks me a bit is that there is actually a Blackberry Browser hitting the site. Sweet Sweet Sweet

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Microsoft's New Mobile Phone: The phonIE

Microsoft's entry into the Cell Phone market is called the: phonIE.

This is a phony post.

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4 Reasons Internet Service Companies Will Beat Device Manufacturers In the Mobile Race

About 8 years ago, wasn't there some perception that Software companies shouldn't get into hardware? Didn't IBM and Apple fail with spectators citing their hardware businesses as being huge cash sinks? Wasn't it around that time that Microsoft really took off after building an OS that could run on pretty much any hardware?

In the past 5 years Apple has been riding the successful iPod all the way to the bank! Microsoft and Nintendo are destroying (sales) on everything coming out of the Sony arena and Dell and HP saw falling profits in 2006 only to be saved by Microsoft's Vista OS.

Is now the right time for software companies to once again pursue the hardware market? I'd say yes, and I'd cite the following 4 reasons for why Software companies will be very competitive against device manufacturers in the next five years.

1) Information Communication Device: A cell phone is primarily a communication tool. A cell phone is almost a perfect information consumption device. I can read my www.NetVibes.com feeds on my blackberry, I can text my friends, I can send and receive video's, images and pictures. I can email. I can MMS. I can Google Talk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger etc. all from within my device. It isn't a huge shock that this is what I use my phone for. The device serves to consolidate these services into one umbrella. And I don't much to distinguish between the services I use to communicate anymore. They all seem the same - and they work perfectly - my phone has replaced my PC / Laptop for all of these channels making it next to impossible for any single device manufacturer to offer me a more compelling communication option. It’s the Internet Service providers that have enhanced my communication options and device manufacturers would be stupid to compete with the above services - with the exception of Blackberry Messenger I've not seen much that is even decent manufacture provided software. Thus, Device manufacturers cannot do much to make my communication experience better. The big Internet players carry the most schwag: More people in their networks, more connections to other information sources / destinations (kind of like why I quit Wayn, and Beebo when I realized 95% of my friends were on Facebook). They can even take that communication experience back to the web or make it shared with my phone or a device of the future. Why should RIM / Nokia / Rogers be involved if I want to check my gmail? They shouldn't. The internet should.

2) No Manufacturer's Proprietary Software: Windows made the PC UI consistent and this lead to their OS being the OS of choice. Nothing like this exists in Mobile, and this is because first the Hardware manufactures use their own proprietary software avoiding a license fee for the OS, second carriers want to load their proprietary software and charge a usage fee - you get a dually branded device - "Blackberry Pearl by Rogers Wireless" with Rogers Blackberry TV. The Manufactures have tried to partner with the Internet Players: Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google, but then the Carriers have the option to remove all the software before selling to customers – after all they are the resellers. Obviously this totally undermines the competitive landscape of mobile software. Further customers DO NOT seek out and INSTALL applications on their phones. Window's Mobile OS has not been a hit for MSFT. The Internet players are all pissed off at the device Manufacturers, the device manufacturers are frustrated with the Internet players and then came the iPhone. To AT&T the iPhone is a Data hog, to Apple where PC meets the phone, and to the consumer - a breath of fresh air and a severe disconnect from these ghetto manufacturers proprietary software applications. In fact, most of the iPhone sites work on my Blackberry Pearl (when the Opera Browser is installed). I've read other people can view the iPhone sites on their Nokia's (when the Opera Browser is installed). This all comes down to: When the Opera Browser is installed. And that folks, is why Device Manufacturers are doomed. I can install one single 3rd party application on my phone and it unlocks 100% of the internet functionality that I need to exist. The Blackberry browser pales in comparison to Opera Mini - it's not even close to as good. Using the built in Blackberry browser is like showing up to a Formula one race with a Toyota Prius and expecting to take the pole. In this high speed, consumer facing RIA world we call the web - we need specialized software built by companies with experience. Not junk ware built by Device Manufacturers and tossed on their platforms just because they can. We need standards – after all we did design them. We need cross platform. We need interoperability. But especially as a developer, if I can write one mobile web site and not care which device it’s running on. That just makes sense – and developers will not go back to writing stand alone mobile applications for one specific platform because of this. Device Manufacturers make nice devices, but their software sucks.

All of this information consumption leads to another problem still, bandwidth, how to charge and how to collect, how to keep the pipes open and flowing all the while keeping them full.

3) Advertising Revenue and Service Plans: We purchase Cable TV and basically pay to have people advertise to use. Genius, whomever thought up this scam is pure genius! We get a questionably better and wider range of shows, and they get a wider range of shows to advertise to us on. But seriously think about this: the more mobile bandwidth we consume, the more information we consume, the more information we consume the bigger the range of information there is to advertise to us on. When you perform a mobile search on Yahoo! on your cell phone your carrier doesn't get a cut of the advertising revenue. The carrier builds the sidewalk for you to walk to the store on and then charges you for walking? Isn't there a problem here? The store keeps getting richer and richer, and I pay to walk to the store? No wonder nobody's walking. If Google / Microsoft / Yahoo! end up developing in house Mobile Phone Hardware products then they can get people walking by providing mobile users 1/2 or 3/4 or 7/8 of their advertising revenue to the carriers to help support the bandwidth use. This provides incentive for consumers by making it cheaper to consume bandwidth on particular sites (the bigco sites) than it does on other sites (the littleco) and provides value through the entire “digital supply chain” - sustenance. With the privatization of the internet – or at least private channels – this concept will only continue to grow. The real money in mobile correlates location to advertisement relevancy in that the advertisement viewed is more applicable in one geographic location over another. The big internet players are in much better position to be able to leverage these trends. They already own geographic tools, they own advertising networks and they have far more total cash on hand – they are much more agile businesses and they are far more use to working with their customers than say Nokia, Motorola or RIM. Simply put, Internet companies are in position to subsidize your viewing experience through the advertisements you consume and view. Carriers must work with the Internet Companies but not the Device Manufacturers to spread this wealth – So doesn’t it make sense to have the Internet Companies be the Device Manufacturers? Or at least be borderless against them?

4) Hardware Innovation: The cell phone manufacturers are no longer technology innovators. Hardware is basically stuck waiting for other bottlenecks to work themselves out. Sure sure, there is innovation to be had - I mean come on, the most successful part of the iPod was the scroll wheel – big deal. The Carriers support the huge costly 3G networks. Hardware can far outperform 90% of the capabilities of the networks it runs on. In many cases software actually correct these hardware issues. It is technically possible to watch an HD movie on my wireless device – but if everyone did it the cell networks wouldn’t be able to support it. So, it appears as Marc Cuban said – the internet is dead (I say it with a grain of salt). At least, there is no next revolution on the immediate horizon, just time for the array of technologies that have been building up to actually mature together leading the next software standard or should I say consumer software standard or what becomes the norm. In this type of a business climate, how is it possible for a company that supplies hardware (and arguably a bunch of crappy proprietary applications) to continue to drive growth? They can attempt to start their own social network or sharing sites, they can try to hook these into their devices, they can try to leverage enterprise software like a BES to drive unit sales inside the enterprise. They can’t do it by innovating on hardware because it’s already done. They can make their iPhone red, say it’s for AIDs and sell it, or use whatever gimmick to drive unit sales –BUT They CANNOT innovate in the arena’s that make the internet the internet: Consumption of information, Search, and Communication. With Hardware Innovation more driven by other technologies, this really means they can’t innovate (Camera innovations from camera companies and sold on license to phone manufacturers etc…). Even if RIM purchased Ask.com, I’d still use Yahoo! Mobile for search! With the release of the iPhone manufactures face an obvious ultimatum: connect your devices to the internet or die a slow cold death. But connect them using robust SOFTWARE like Opera Mini – Hardware is done – we are connected. Firefox – Make a Mobile Browser!!! Look what the internet has done to the music industry, look what it’s doing to television. It’s about to do the same thing to the mobile phone – and it’s all about consolidation and consumption of information – not hardware innovation – that makes our lives more convenient and simple given this is the norm we have to deal with.


It seems the only way to get total and complete mobile platform dominance is to make a mobile hardware device and put interfaces into all your internet services on it then force it down the carriers throat. So what if it’s built by Nokia – it’s branded and supported by Google, or Microsoft, or Yahoo!. It’s a gPhone, yPhone, or phonIE.

This is no longer about the Telephone, it’s a realization that we can make laptops so small and powerful that they look like phones, act like phones, and perform the same functions as phones. I’d welcome Google providing me a device that I can actually do stuff on, as opposed to this technologically advanced Blackberry Pearl that still can’t read bloody HTML emails.

Over and Out

Task Manager 2.0

No No not Web 2.0 ... Process Explorer for Windows v11.0

Please download this amazing Advanced Task Manager application from Microsoft. It's just too good to pass up. It's free and there is no installation so you should be able to deploy it even without admin privs. You can even replace the existing Task Manager with this super sweet utility.

Process Explorer
works on Windows 9x/Me, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Server 2003, and 64-bit versions of Windows for x64 and IA64 processors, and Windows Vista.

Here are some cool new features:

  • New treelist control for better UI responsiveness
  • Asynchronous thread symbol resolution on threads tab of process properties
  • More flags on groups in security tab and SID display
  • Thread IDs on threads tab
  • On-line search uses default web browser and search engine
  • Vista ASLR column for processes and DLLs
  • Vista Process and thread I/O and memory priorities in process and thread properties
  • Vista Process and thread I/O and memory columns
  • PROCESS_QUERY_LIMITED_INFORMATION support on process permissions on Vista
  • Run as limited user runs with low IL on Vista
  • Reports information for all object types on Vista
  • Show details for all processes elevation menu item on Vista
  • Supports replacement of task manager on Vista
  • /e to launch elevated
  • /s switch to select a process at startup
  • Compiled w/ASLR, DEP
  • Faster startup
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes and minor improvements