Critical Section

Archive: September 21, 2003

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PDC: Oh, not Oooh

Sunday,  09/21/03  08:17 PM

I'm attending the Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference in October.  The big subject is Longhorn, the next version of Windows after XP, and the underlying technologies.

All the pre-PDC talk about how great everything is and how complicated and how cool and how mystical is scaring me.  (I'm talking about the PDC bloggers and the .NET guys…).  I know a lot of these guys are young and excited, so perhaps it is forgivable, but I hope the older cooler heads will remind them that the purpose of the PDC is to communicate new tools to the developer community so they can use them.  MS is best served by having developers say “oh, that’s easy, I could do that”, rather than saying “oooh, how cool, I wonder if I could ever do that”.  You want people to say “oh”, not “oooh”.

If you look at any technology which targets developers, the adoption rate and ultimate adoption percentage are a function of how easy it was.  HTML was easy, the adoption rate and percentage were very high.  Java was pretty easy, and the early adoption was good, but J2EE is not easy and the later adoption has not been that good.  (Many more people program in Java than build applications using J2EE architecture.)  COM was not easy.  COM+ was not easy.  DCOM was not easy.  So far I have not found .NET to be easy, in fact even just understanding what it is was hard, let alone how you use it.  MS does not have a history of making things easy, and this has hurt them.  The things MS did which were easy were the most successful – look at VB, for example.

In the blogging world, Movable Type is easy.  RSS is easy.  XML-RPC is easy.  Meanwhile RDF and SOAP are not easy, and nobody uses RDF and SOAP.  This Atom thing is going to die a quick death from lack of adoption, because the guys behind it are nerds who don't understand easy.  Dave Winer understands easy, it is his biggest virtue.

My sense is that the attitude of a lot of the MS presenters and attendees at the PDC is not “let’s make this easy”.  Instead it is “let’s show how cool this is” (and by extension how cool we are).  And that isn't going to make for fast adoption.

Why do I care?  I want it to be easy.  I've been programming for thirty years, I can do anything.  But I don't use tools which aren't easy, because I firmly believe W=UH (wrongness = ugliness times hardness), and if something is hard, it is wrong.  Right now Longhorn and all its associated technologies feel hard.  I hope the PDC changes my mind, but I'm not optimistic...

[ Later: considering reactions, More Oh not Oooh... ]


Sunday,  09/21/03  08:36 PM

Happy Birthday, Jordan!HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful daughter Jordan!  Seventeen!!  Yay.

Victor Davis Hanson writes that These Are Historic Times.  Comparing the present day state of America in Afghanistan and Iraq with Lincoln in 1864.  "Our real challenge is not the conduct of the war, not the money, not even the occasionally depressing news from Iraq...  No, it is more a psychosocial malaise, a crisis of confidence that is beginning to creep back into the national mood a mere two years after September 11."  Yep.  Hopefully we'll have the persistence Lincoln did and push through.

Steven Den Beste considers Analyzing the Genome.  "We've disassembled the code of life.  Now we have to reproduce all the comments, and that's a lot harder."  True.  The key is going to be understanding the machine language to which the code is translated - proteins - which will allow the function of each gene to be reverse-engineered.

A NYTimes article on Testing Handicaps considers the possibility of "norming" SAT scores.  This is so wrong, on so many levels, I don't know where to begin.  Why don't we just give SAT tests to monkeys, too, and then if they score higher than the average monkey, we let them attend Stanford?  [ via razib ]

A girl in Oakley, California wants to start a Caucasian Club at her high school.  Heck, why not?  "Darnell Turner, first vice president of the local chapter of the NAACP, says he thinks the club will create racial tension."  Now isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?  [ via Rob Smith ]

Philip Greenspun suggests we Send Our Underclass Overseas.  "Rather than figure out a way to fix inner city schools and turn these folks into productive citizens it is cheaper and easier, apparently, to give the teenager mothers AFDC and collect the young men up into our growing population of prisoners."  I don't think the solution is to send them away, and "fixing" inner city schools won't do it either.  We need to "fix" inner city parents.

This is pretty funny: the Accordion guy's date from hell, part 5.  [ via Cory Doctorow ]

Star Wars IIIPhotography for Star Wars episode III is complete!  Now it's on to an eighteen month post production.  If you're into spoilers, here's a possible early version of the script.  I haven't read it - don't tell me what happens.  Although I must say episode II left me less interested in episode III than I used to be...

An interesting interview with Michael Powell, Chairmen of the FCC.  Lots of good stuff about Tivo.  "How has Tivo changed your life since you got it?  I think there's something going on in the world that's very profound.  We're moving to a world of incredible intimacy in mass media.  I'm my own programmer, not NBC."  Read it.

HP sunglasses cameraYou know how people are buying cell phones with cameras?  Well, here's something even better - sunglasses with a camera built in!  It takes pictures continuously to capture a record of everything you do.  Hmmm...

Intel fastap keyboardA big downside of cell phones is the lack of an alphanumeric keyboard.  Intel might have the answer - the Fastap keyboard.  "The design puts letters of the alphabet on raised buttons that fit between the keys.  Words can be typed by pressing the raised keys, and numbers by pressing the four keys that surround a particular number."

Kineto has a WiFi cell phone - it is "dual band" in a funny way, it can use WiFi and VoIP if available, otherwise a standard GSM or CDMA cell network.  An interesting solution for business users, probably doesn't help consumers in any way, though...  Unless they forgo wired phone altogether, in which case this could be similar to a broadband VoIP solution like Vonage.Sony Vaio video player

By the way, I found out the correct pronunciation of Vonage is von'-aj.

You knew this was coming - a Sony handheld video player.  Billed as a "video iPod".  Plays MPEG2 and [probably] will play DivX, too.  Excellent use for those tiny 40GB hard drives!

Want to see what a new 15" Apple Powerbook looks like inside?  Here you go.


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