Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bill Gates's email and Ray Ozzie Memo

A little while ago, some documents were "leaked" from Microsoft. These documents give a summary of what Microsoft has done to take advantage of the "internet tidalwave" and outlined a vision of the future. They are very large documents, so I'll just show you the important bits.

First up, Bill Gates's email:

"Ten years ago this December, I wrote a memo entitled The Internet Tidal Wave which described how the internet was going to forever change the landscape of computing. Our products could either prepare for the magnitude of what was to come or risk being swept away. "

"This coming "services wave" will be very disruptive. We have competitors who will seize on these approaches and challenge us – still, the opportunity for us to lead is very clear. More than any other company, we have the vision, assets, experience, and aspirations to deliver experiences and solutions across the entire range of digital workstyle & digital lifestyle scenarios, and to do so at scale, reaching users, developers and businesses across all markets."

"Steve and I recently expanded Ray Ozzie's role as CTO to include leading our services strategy across all three divisions. We did this because we believe our services challenges and opportunities will impact most everything we do. Ray has long demonstrated his passion for software, and through his work at Groove he also came to realize the transformative potential for combining software and services."

Ray Ozzie's Memo:

"In 1990, there was actually a question about whether the graphical user interface had merit. Apple amongst others valiantly tried to convince the market of the GUI’s broad benefits, but the non-GUI Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect had significant momentum."

"Most challenging and promising to our business, though, is that a new business model has emerged in the form of advertising-supported services and software. This model has the potential to fundamentally impact how we and other developers build, deliver, and monetize innovations. "

"We should’ve been leaders with all our web properties in harnessing the potential of AJAX, following our pioneering work in OWA."

"We knew search would be important, but through Google’s focus they’ve gained a tremendously strong position. "

"RSS is the internet’s answer to the notification scenarios we’ve discussed and worked on for some time, and is filling a role as ‘the UNIX pipe of the internet’ as people use it to connect data and systems in unanticipated ways."

"For all its tremendous innovation and its embracing of HTML and XML, Office is not yet the source of key web data formats – surely not to the level of PDF. "

"While we’ve led with great capabilities in Messenger & Communicator, it was Skype, not us, who made VoIP broadly popular and created a new category."

"We have long understood the importance of mobile messaging scenarios and have made significant investment in device software, yet only now are we surpassing the Blackberry."

Key Tenets
"Today there are three key tenets that are driving fundamental shifts in the landscape – all of which are related in some way to services. "

1. The power of the advertising-supported economic model.
2. The effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model.
3. The demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that “just work”.

SEAMLESS OS – "The operating system as it would be designed for today’s multi-PC, multi-device, work anywhere, web-based world. Enabling you to login using any of your service-based or enterprise identities. "

SEAMLESS COMMUNICATIONS – "Communications and notifications – from voice to typing to shared screen; from PC to service-based agent to phone."

SEAMLESS PRODUCTIVITY – "Enabling you to create, find and organize documents and data among all the desktops, devices, servers and services to which you have access, and with all the others with whom you need to work, through ‘shared space’ products that are internet service-based, enterprise server-based and directly peer-to-peer. "

SEAMLESS ENTERTAINMENT – "Enabling you to create, store, organize, present, consume and interact with media of all kinds; accessing, caching and viewing it anywhere you like regardless of where the media resides."

SEAMLESS MARKETPLACE – "Enabling you to research, find, buy and sell whatever you want through a seamlessly integrated purchase, billing & payment & points, advertising & lead generation & sales management system designed to satisfy the needs of both buyers and sellers.

SEAMLESS SOLUTIONS – "Enabling workgroups and businesses to rapidly create and customize any of a broad class of template-driven, semi-structured data-based applications and solutions that “just work” and provide instant value – whether using them from the web, from enterprise servers, or from mobile client PCs."

SEAMLESS IT – "Enabling enterprises to seamlessly and cost-effectively manage many of the things they’ve classically done within their data centers – e.g. PCs, messaging, content and applications. "

No internet connection!

I have no internet connection at home, so I have not been able to update my blog for a very long time. I miss the internet very much, working on the computer is not the same when you don't have news messages popping up throughout the day.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A million monkeys

“We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true.”  - Robert Wilensky

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DIY iPod

This article shows the adventures Keith Axline of Wired news had when he tried to make his own MP3 player.

"For those with curiosity, diligence and a rebel's spirit, it's quite possible to get your hands on a unique MP3 player and avoid selling your soul to tech conformity."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Jeeves loses job

InterActiveCorp, who bought Ask Jeeves in July, has decided to sack Jeeves and use as the focus of the brand. He is still on the site, but we are no longer asking him 'questions'. I'm guessing that they will slowly phase him out. Jeeves is seen by many as a reminder of the playful 'good ol days' of the Internet.

He will be especially missed by children, who will no longer be able to ask Jeeves questions about his hygene, his sexual preferences, or whether not he is 'real'.

Read this article for more info.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Google used to discover ancient ruins and save baby from having a blood transfusion

"Google literally saved our newborn son from having to endure an extremely dangerous, and totally unnecessary, blood transfusion.”

The above quote is from a letter sent to Google by Howard and Melissa, who come from Florida. Some doctors wanted to give their baby a blood transfusion because the hemoglobin, which takes oxygen to the brain, was low. Howard used his cell phone to do a Google search and found out that “it's perfectly normal for preemies to have their hemoglobin levels drop to 7 between the first and third months of life, and apparently this is especially true with twins.” The neonatalogists then did some research and came to the same conclusion.

This article from describes how an Italian computer programmer discovered the remains of and ancient Roman villa using Google earth. Luca Mori was studying maps of the region around his town of Sorbolo, near Parma, when "his eye was caught by unusual 'rectangular shadows' nearby. Curious, he analysed the image further, and concluded that the lines must represent a buried structure of human origin. Eventually, he traced out what looked like the inner courtyards of a villa." Experts at the National Archaeological Museum of Parma confirmed the find. Inspection of the site turned up ceramic pieces that indicated it was a Roman villa.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

First impression of next version of MS Office (Office 12)

Note: This article has been re-written to incorperate new ideas and outlooks on the situation/product.

Microsoft’s next version of the Office suite, called Office 12, is an interesting ramification of Microsoft's 2007 strategy. This strategy will use Windows Vista, .NET, XML, WiFi, and WinFS to completely re-design the computing landscape. Office 12 is due in late 2006 (so expect it to arrive mid 2007), and will be available on both Windows XP/2000 and the new Windows Vista (Longhorn).

Office 12's interface looks completely different from the old version, it uses Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly code name "Avalon"), so if you're using Windows XP you'll be forced to install Service Pack 3. This picture of Word shows the new menu system and if you look closely, you’ll see that the only drop down menu is the file option, the rest are ‘command tabs’ that change the toolbar below it.

The new menu system would be especially helpful for the more complex applications like Excel and Access. Access had spent too long with its clunky interface, so I was especially relieved when I saw the new ‘access objects’ sidebar. I was even more so when I saw the tabs along the top. I also think Excel will benefit greatly from having related tasks grouped together. No more looking for buttons, when you’re doing page layout you only see layout stuff, when you’re doing formula work you only see formula stuff, it’s great.

The PowerPoint interface looks great. This article from Cnet claims that PowerPoint will automate the document process so that users can “quickly create documents that look good”. I can’t help wonder if more automation would create more presentations that look the same and have pointless ‘special effects’. I have seen too many tutors skip through animations that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

The other major feature in the upcoming version of Office is a communications package, which includes Voice over IP (internet phone) and some XML based tools. Very little information has been released on this feature.

Friday, September 16, 2005


“One ought to seek out virtue for its own sake, without being influenced by fear or hope, or by any external influence. Moreover, that in that does happiness consist.”

"We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less”

"Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards"


I’ve been reading about Diogenes of Sinope today, thanks to a quote on my personalised Google home page. Diogenes was a Greek philosopher who believed in living a simple and true life. “He has the most who is most content with the least" (Diogenes). He practiced self-control and lived in extreme conditions for his faith, he went through severe heat and cold and lived on his wit and the kindness of others.

While sailing to Aegina, he was taken by pirates and carried to Crete, where he was sold in the public market. When the auctioneer asked him what he could do, he said, "I can govern men; therefore sell me to one who wants a master." Xeniades, a wealthy Corinthian, was surprised with this reply and purchased him. Xeniades gave him freedom and committed to him the education of his children.