Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Kinda Big MS Research announcement that makes Scoble cry coming?

Posted by Fred on February 15, 2008

What is Scoble talking about here?

It’s not often that I see software that really changes my world. It’s even rarer that I see software that I know will change the world my sons live in. I can count those times pretty easily. The first time I saw an Apple II in 1977. When Richard Cameron showed me Apple’s Hypercard. Microsoft’s Excel. Aldus’ Pagemaker. And something called Photoshop, all in his West Valley Community College classroom. Later when I saw Marc Andreessen’s Netscape running the WWW. ICQ and Netmeeting which laid the ground for Skype.

Like I said, these things don’t happen often.

Yesterday was one of those days. Curtis Wong and Jonathan Fay, researchers at Microsoft, fired up their machines and showed me something that I can’t tell you about until February 27th. I’m sure you’ll read about his work in the New York Times or TechCrunch, among other places. It’s too inspiring to stay a secret for long.

While watching the demo I realized the way I look at the world was about to change. While listening to Wong I noticed a tear running down my face. It’s been a long while since Microsoft did something that had an emotional impact on me like that.

Kevin Schofield says you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself:

But I want to be clear: we don’t have some huge product announcement planned for the end of the month. Microsoft Research doesn’t do product announcements. And we certainly don’t roll out “______ killers” (fill in the blank with whatever product or company you choose) just in case you were hoping for something like that. Coincidentally, at the end of the month there IS a big product announcement from Microsoft for three products that ALL happen to have technology from MSR in them. But Microsoft’s product teams do those announcements, not MSR. We did have a big announcement two weeks ago about the new lab that we’re starting in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (and thanks to everyone who sent their good wishes!) And we will be showing a whole bunch of new cool things to some reporters, bloggers and visitors at our annual MSR Techfest event in March.

All that said, the research project we are showing at the end of the month is exceedingly cool and we hope it will have an impact. Will it make you cry? Well, your mileage may vary. But in any case you’re just going to have to wait and see.

Anyway, what do you think it is? MSR says it’s not a product per se. Scoble follows up by calling it a service, not a product. An inspiring service, which would make it a change for MS, which makes a lot of nice products, but whose services are less than inspiring (Skydrive, Hotmail, Spaces, all the Live stuff).  Scoble lives and breathes social networking, so it probably has lots of social features, but then again he chokes up a little bit about iPhones and photography, so who knows? Maybe it’s a web service that runs on the iPhone, lets you take photos like Thomas Hawk and microblog them to your 6,000 closest friends. I’m more interested in what makes Scoble cry. Probably puppies, unicorns and rainbows.


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Top 100 PC Tech Innovations of All Time

Posted by Fred on December 4, 2007

Maximum PC has a list of the Top 100 PC Tech Innovations of All Time.  Diggbait to be sure, but these things do inspire debate.  Here’s their top 10:

10. DirectX
9.  Doom
8.  IBM 5150
7.  Hayes Smartmodem
6.  Quake
5.  Windows XP
4.  NCSA Mosaic
3.  Intel Pentium II
2.  3dfx Voodoo 1
1.  USB

Needless to say, the list is driven by the inherent bias of the source – if you’re not a hard-core gamer, you’re unlikely to put the Voodoo, Doom or Quake in the top 10.   Maybe not even DirectX.  I’d say that in terms of impact on today’s PC user, DSL (#88) and the cable modem (#23) have had far more impact.  So too has the 3.5 inch hard drive (#64), MP3 file format (#11) and WiFi (#13).  And what about the home broadband router, which has encouraged many people to have two, three or more computers in the house, all easily sharing a single broadband connection?  Remember the bad old days when you either paid extra to your ISP for a networking package or used Internet Connection Sharing?

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Do You Flock?

Posted by Fred on October 30, 2007

Harry McCracken loves Flock.  I tried Flock out a couple of years ago, back before there was a Facebook or YouTube or Flickr for it to integrate with, and came away unimpressed.  I still don’t do Facebook, but it sounds interesting, so I’m downloading again to see what’s changed.  The pace of development is better than it used to be, but still pretty darn slow.

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