Archive for the 'microsoft' Category

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Eulogy for SearchMonkey

This is indeed a sad day for all of us, for on October 1, a great app will be gone. Though we hardly had enough time during his short life to get to know him, like the grass that withers and fades, this monkey will finish his earthly course.

Updated SearchMonkey logo

Photo by Micah

I know he left many things undone, for example only enhancing 60% of the delivered result pages. He never got a chance to finish his life’s ambition of promoting RDFa and microformats to the masses or to be the killer app of the (lower-case) semantic web. You could say he will live on as “some of this structured data processing will be supported natively by the Microsoft platform”. Part of the monkey we loved will live on as enhanced results continue to flow forth from the Yahoo/Bing alliance.

The SearchMonkey Alumni group on LinkedIn is filled with wonderful mourners. Micah Alpern wrote there

I miss the team, the songs, and the aspiration to solve a hard problem. Everything else is just code.

Isaac Asimov was reported to have said “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” Today we can identify with that sentiment. Keep typing.


Monday, July 26th, 2010

Microsoft’s new slogan

I wanted to say something snarky about Microsoft’s new slogan, but the comments on the linked article did a pretty good job already. Ahh snark, the unthinking-man’s eloquence. -m

Monday, November 30th, 2009

The best thing you can do…

The best thing a user can do to advance the Web is to help move people off IE 6

— Ryan Servatius, senior product manager for Internet Explorer.

Source. -m

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Are Windows 7 reviewers logic challenged?

At the risk of sounding fanboy, are Windows 7 reviewers logic challenged? Not to pick on any one in particular, but here’s the most recent one I bumped into–I’ve seen similar qualities in other reviews. Under the reasons to get it:

1. Your computer can probably run it. Unlike Vista, which proved a giant slop-feeding resource hog compared to XP, Windows 7’s system requirements haven’t changed much at all since Vista,

So if Vista was a “giant slop-feeding resource hog”, and the Windows 7 requirements haven’t changed much relative to that…how is this a plus again?

2. It costs less than Vista did. Microsoft really seems to have learned its lesson with Vista pricing, which was way too high at first. Although Windows 7 is hardly cheap…

Similar to #1. The argument amounts to ‘it’s not as ridiculous as Vista’. Yay.

3. You’re not stuck with whatever version you choose first. There are a lot of versions of Windows 7 , all with different combinations of features. If you buy Home Premium and decide at some future point that you really need Ultimate—who doesn’t need BitLocker at some point?—you don’t have to drop $319.99 on top of the $199.99 you already spent the first time.

Remember the version chart? If for some reason you choose “Professional” over “Ultimate”, saving a cool $20 at retail price, you can always go back and upgrade for a modest $129.99. Remember, this is from the list of reasons to choose Windows.

5. You don’t have to give up Windows XP. Yes, exiting any long-term relationship can be difficult, but sometimes it has to be done.

A reason to upgrade is that you don’t have to give up the thing you are probably upgrading from?

7. Comedic value. Even if Windows 7 can’t be hailed for anything else, it inspired an enlightening and truly hilarious column from Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff…

Comedic value? Seriously? The comedic value in Windows 7 reviews seems to be entirely unintentional… -m

(Posted from 30k feet. Hooray for Virgin America)

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Breaking news: Jerry Seinfeld still unfunny

And Microsoft still unhip. I’m not even bothering to click through the second ad… -m

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

The deal that wouldn’t die

Commentators, having long since run out of useful things to say about YHOO+MSFT, only bemoan how it continues to drag out. In reality, deals of this size do tend to take a while. Microsoft (and specifically Ballmer) aren’t walking. Why?

Because they need Yahoo. They need search share–the deal with Google only puts on more pressure. But they also need a non-schizophrenic brand under which to put all their audience attractors. In short, I’d say MSFT has been terrible at tactics (and non-intimidation-based negotiating), and YHOO has been mediocre at strategy and terrible at execution. Maybe they are meant for each other…

Prediction: by the end of the year 1) some kind of deal happens, and 2) Yang is out as CEO. $28.

Disclosure: I still hold long YHOO shares

Disclosure: The irony of this post is not lost on me


Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Bill Gates as the new Yahoo! CEO

Even though the timing is about perfect, it’s not gonna happen But if it did, would that be awesome or what? -m

Monday, June 9th, 2008

The comedy stylings of the Windows Vista Blog

For instance, The Business Value of Windows Vista. Seriously, Vista for “speed and security”? Or mobile? The comments on this post alone are worth the click. -m

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

How to negotiate

Tips from Leo Reilly in How to Outnegotiate Anyone (Even a Car Dealer!).

  • Be patient. If you insist on having something today, know what you want and be prepared to pay for it.
  • Never disclose your deadline.
  • Cultivate a positive relationship with the other party.
  • Don’t make the other side look stupid (for a prolonged period of time).
  • The best negotiators talk only 40% of the time.
  • The most intimidating thing you can do to someone trying to intimidate you is to not be intimidated.
  • Never be the one to make the first offer.

The most critical aspect of negotiation is the opening offer. Four opening gambits are possible:

  1. Lowballing. Offering substantially less to create psychological downward pressure on the price.
  2. “Up against the wall.” Forcing the other side to make more concessions than you do.
  3. Anchoring. Having both sides make equal concessions.
  4. “The Kiss.” Like anchoring, except allowing the other side to take one final (often minor) concession.

If you want to find out what Leo says about how to buy a car, in 5 minutes, below dealer cost, you’ll have to pick up the book though. :-) -m

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Deadlines and connections

I’m not involved in the the corporate wrangling about Microsoft and Yahoo! talks. Which leaves me relatively free to comment on it. [Disclosure: I am, not too surprisingly, a Yahoo! shareholder.]

Lots of things have been happening lately. A deadline of, well, today. Talks of Google adsense trials. And all kinds of merger speculation involving Rupert Murdoch in some fashion, or else AOL.

But I haven’t seen anyone point out this connection: Google owns 5% of AOL, having invested a billion bucks and taken over search there a couple of years ago. So if Yahoo! and AOL merged, there would already be a Google advertising connection in place. Running pre-trials now is just due dilligence on something that might happen anyway.

Having both an in-house advertising network and an outsourced one has some advantages too, namely in the form of “knobs” that can be adjusted to tune margins as conditions warrant. And maintaining the in-house system keeps Google honest and makes sure that relatively good deals can be negotiated in the future.

Lots of pundits talk about regulatory scrutiny, but honestly, it’s been years since any antitrust machinery in this country has been effective. And the recent spectrum auctions showcased Google’s skill at turning regulatory tables in their favor. If it came down to it, the smart people on both sides of the table shouldn’t have a problem crafting an agreement in a way that meets muster, even in the stricter EU.

Summary: based solely on public reports, it seems like the AOL connection might be a credible threat to Microsoft’s appetite. The ball is firmly in Steve’s court now. We’ll see what he does.

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

At that moment, I knew my business was Machine Ready

I fell asleep one night while reading Ray Kurzweil, and had this crazy dream where the internet called me up (over VOIP, naturally) to complain that none of my web pages made sense. Par for the course, I thought at first. But then I told the internet a few things, to let me worry about my own domain of concern; he/she/it grappled with a response when a loud noise awoke me–my chirping alarm clock. I reached over to pound the Snooze button, but I stopped when my eyes focused on the display, which read in segmented LED letters: I rtFm. -m

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Mobile search compared

Here’s a great comparison site. Try out some searches you might run from your phone and let me know: which one did you prefer? Why? -m

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Windows Live Search for Mobile

Spotted under the headline Windows Live Search for Mobile Goes Final, Still Great (like they were expecting it to suddenly plummet in quality?) on Gizmodo. It’s a 114k jar file that runs on my SLVR, where Yahoo! Go isn’t yet available yet, so points for that. Search suggestions show as you type, hugely useful on a klunky 9-key entry situation. They use an interesting UI to hold search results, densely packed–6 down the screen–with a status bar on top, and each search result marquee-scrolling back-and-forth as needed. A detail page can zap you in to map mode or set up a call.

My standard test search–a little offbeat but still plausible–for mead near Sunnyvale produced disappointing results. The meadery within walking distance didn’t show, and of the top 6, two were duplicates. Scrolling down to the 10th result, though, did show an interesting, useful result, albeit 60.15 miles away: Knowne World Meads. I wanted to visit the web site, but here lies another problem: there’s no web integration. None of the search results include a URL or clickable link.

For all the hassle, I’ll stick with Opera Mini and my favorite search engine, thank you. -m

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Microsoft frees 35 standards

I got this link from Eve, and to think, I never even knew there was a The Microsoft Open Specifications Promise irrevocably lets any interested parties implement and use a list of technologies without fear of getting sued (at least sued by Microsoft). It is similar in tone and scope to earlier declarations about the Office XML formats, and the declaration from Sun about UBL. I’m not a lawyer, so if I’ve described this badly, get a real lawyer to explain it. :-P
This is a smart move; since obviously a great deal of work went into producing these standards, I’m sure Microsoft plans to benefit more by growing the “whole market” (in the language of _Crossing the Chasm_) then they would by nickle-and-dime asserting patent rights. They also come out far, far better in public opinion, especially among those most affected by these standards.
There’s another angle worth considering–the defensive. Giving away patent rights carte blanche might at first seem like a funny kind of defense, but here’s how it works: after today, what would happen if BigWebServicesCo started shaking down implementers of WS-Whatever? The attacker would be savagely torn apart in the court of public opinion, that’s what. Submarine patents are dirty business, so for a bigger target, creating an environment more hostile to such bad behavior is a powerful strategy.

Of course, smallish parasitic patent troll companies won’t be deterred much, but then again nothing seems to.

I’m optimistic that this is part of a positive trend. I’ll even refrain from further opinions on the WS-* technologies. :-) -m