My New Zune 8

I was hesitant to try and squeeze my collection down into an 8GB "best of" set of music, but the advantages are totally worth it.

  • The load time switching multiple tracks in a random playlist seems faster here than on the hard drive based models.
  • The battery lasts MUCH longer than my 30 GB model.  I can go a couple of days without plugging it in and don’t mind letting it sync wirelessly.
  • Since I wouldn’t get much I kept my Zune 30 and loaded it with a playlist of everything on this zune and my wife’s zune. Good to keep in the car for road trips. 
  • I like the custom art. I went all out and set the zune background to the color version of the engraving. It’s a "Maniac" zune. 🙂
  • The screen is sharper for album art than that the Zune30 since the resolution is the same with a smaller size.
  • It’s a TON smaller.
  • I don’t have to skip as many tracks if I just play the 8gb on random since this is just the best 8 out of 45gb of music.
  • Personally I’ve never gotten into mobile video. The services just don’t seem to have it as baked as Music in terms of complexity and I prefer using my laptop on trips for movies if I want to watch something.
  • I can frame the print that came with my Zune Originals purchase. It will replace the "kitty" art that still hangs in my office. (That was formerly Gretchen’s home office.)

The only complaints I have are with the client software, but it’s nothing that isn’t manageable. I highly recommend checking out a Zune 8 if you are in the market.


My New Years Resolution

I could say it's to work out more, pick up guitar again, code more, learn Spanish, blog more, etc, but the truth is that I needed a resolution that went up one level so I get more time back to do all that and anything else.  So my New Years resolution is simply to watch less bad TV. 

You know the TV I'm talking about. The shows you don't really look forward to, but the Tivo didn't tape anything else interesting for you so you watch them.  I might not even watch less TV  than I do now with this resolution, but my resolution is to simply not watch crappy TV that I'm not excited about.

Switch #2: From PSP to DS

When I got my PSP the DS was the ugly step-child with a limited selection of games and sub-par graphics.  The PSP was sexy, played videos, had better graphics, and a gorgeous screen.

A lot has changed in the last couple of years. The Wii was sort of like a gateway drug into the world of Nintendo products for me.  Sure, the Xbox is king of connected games and entertainment, but there isn't one experience I've seen bring gamers and non-gamers together like the Wii for a party.  The DS has the same appeal.

Pick up the Mario Kart version for your kids and the Brain Age edition with leather carrying case for mom.  Gret and I got the Brain Age edition. I'm currently 37 and she's 32. 🙂 I'm a little worried how quickly I'll improve my age since I have to steal practice time from her.  I guess I shouldn't have gotten the crimson "raspberry red" edition. I also reccomend picking up "my spanish coach". Flashcards have never been so fun.

I'm not sure if I'll sell the PSP just yet, but I'm not sure I see much of a reason to keep it.  Any recommendations for DS games to get after we get our Brain Ages back down to normal? 

I’ve switched

No, not that switch yet, although seeing ScottW get a 5.1 on the Vista experience score on his Macbook Pro sure makes it tempting.

I’ve finally given up on IE 7 as a default web browser in Vista. For some reason it crashes constantly on me. At first I thought it was the Web Developer Toolbar. Removing the developer toolbar solved a lot of problems, but then I had no web developer toolbar on my default browser and it was still freezing when I had more than five tabs open.  So it’s a firefox world for me now. Firebug is much better than the IE equivalents anyway.

I heard IE 8 just passed the Acid 2 test… so I’ll give it a shot when it comes out if I’m not a part of the Mac cult by then. 🙂

They advertise the hell out of scrabble

But do they do it right?


If you’ve played scrabulous on Facebook then you’ve, no doubt, experienced the cramped feeling of your scrabble board surrounded by ads that are reaching out, tapping you on the head, and saying "look at me!" Are they doing this right? What else could they be doing to make money off of this endeavor?  Here are some ideas. Some of them might be a little out there, but maybe worth it. 


Let everyone play, but offer some premium experiences. Maybe your stuck and you’d like to hit up a scrabble solving algorithm.  I’d pay 10 cents not to have to leave the site and get some hints.  Maybe it’s not in the spirit of the game for some people so give hosts the option of not letting people use it… even though you know you are going out there and cheating anyway.  I know as well as you do that you didn’t know what "eath" was before we played scrabble…. ok, sorry about that. Where was I? 🙂

Charge me to set up Xbox live style tournaments. I think that the Live services has proven that you can charge for premium services that used to be free if you make them simpler to use. 

Scrabble Accessories

These people are clearly addicted to this game. Why not have a simple online store or minimally some affiliate sales with Amazon for scrabble related accessories.

Better Ad Targeting


Seriously, you have access to my Facebook profile and this is the best ad targeting you can come up with for me?  I’m married and I don’t think any of my favorite movies have anything to do with David Spade.


Rotating Ads

This isn’t a page I go to, get my information and leave. I’m studying the board and could be spending 20 minutes staring at this page. But the ads never change. Maybe it would be distracting, but the ads should rotate after a while on the page. so I see something new once in a while. 

Ok, those where my four suggestions for the Scabulous team.  I’m not sure why I wrote this. I guess I almost feel slightly insulted by their poor attempt to make money off of an experience that sees people spending hours staring at the same page.

What Apps do you Rock on your Phone?

Apparently the iPhone club ran out of cool people to "tag" in their little discussion about what pages they browse to most frequently on their expensive phones.  Well, since my phone has had an SDK for a lot longer than theirs I’m going to extend it to "connected applications" that aren’t SMS or voice. 

  • Windows Live Mobile Search – This app does my traffic, directions, movie times, and directory assistance… and they just added support to do this by voice!
  • Google Reader – They recently added my favorite missing feature. Being able to share an item to your link blog through the phone. That was missing a few months back.
  • Webguide – Well, this is just the product link. but after installing this application on my media center I can now use it like a slingbox from my phone or a laptop.  Who needs to sync when you can stream content?
  • The Facebooks – Yes, I still use too much facebook SMS, but they force you to log in every day or so to their mobile web site. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.  Your on notice Facebook!
  • – Wow, Joe Torre is no longer a Yankee? 

Now I have to tag people. That’s the hard part of these posts.  I choose Gretchen, J. P.Dan, and YAG.

What I’m Reading and Writing – Testing a WLW Plugin

 image I have a shared items feed from google reader, but I've been struggling with how to share that content more broadly through my main blog feed.  I didn't like mirroring my shared items since it felt like content stealing and I share more than I write, but at the other extreme I don't generally like blog posts that are links without commentary. 

Today, while at the CSDC, I wrote a simple Live Writer Plugin that pulls feed items from RSS or Atom and can clip a summary. I'll release it later this week, but for now I'll leave it as a tease and just tell you that this post was created with it. 🙂 Let me know what you think of the formatting as I'll be adjusting things during the week.

Via EngadgetDebunk: new Zunes will not have text messaging, but Microsoft's Zune Social community site will
We've gotten a small flood of emails from readers today concerned with a certain page found in last night's leaked Zune support training manuals.

I'm personally hoping to see them leapfrog Apple with the whole "Social" concept. They have a real powerful opportunity even if it's not yet enabled in the client.  I know one person who would agree with me.

Via All FacebookTim O’Reilly at Graphing Social Patterns
Dave McClure just posted the video of Tim O’Reilly’s keynote at the Graphing Social Patterns conference.

Another step towards creating rich visualizations of data that's pretty much public.  I picked this post because the video was timely with what I'd been thinking earlier in the week.

Via Penny ArcadeNews: Dunder Mifflin Spokane
Gabe: I'm pretty frustrated with the Dunder Mifflin Infinity ARG. The site functionality is just trash. The biggest offense is the piece of *** forum they've got. It's the one way for the whole branch to talk together and it's absolute crap.

That just about summed up my experience. I'm still waiting to be hired.

Via MSDN BlogsRising Above the Email Swarm
In todays age of receiving dozens to 100s of e-mails a day, quickly processing these is critical. 

This post both sums up what I've been attempting for e-mail triage and also ads a few great suggestions. I highly recommend it.

Via TechmemeiTunes Plus DRM-free tracks expanding, dropping to 99 cents (Jacqui Cheng/Infinite Loop)
iTunes Plus DRM-free tracks expanding, dropping to 99 cents

I don't need an iPhone. I'm not jealous of people with those things. I don't pretend to swipe my finders across my blackjack screen. I can hold out… at least until the 16gb versions come out. 🙂

Via Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Team Blog

Announcing the Community Kit for SharePoint: Internet/Extranet Edition Forms-Based Authentication solution!
As many of you know, one of the best new features in WSS 3.0 (and consequently MOSS 2007) is the way it leverage's ASP.NET 2.0 to support for forms-based authentication or FBA along with the ability to support multiple authentication providers.

 Announcing Community Kit for SharePoint: Virtual Earth Maps on SharePoint
Microsoft's Virtual Earth technology powers the maps on Live Search and many other web-based applications, but many people have wondered how to get VE maps to work on SharePoint.

Announcing Community Kit for SharePoint: Windows Live Authentication!
Ever since the Windows Live ID Web Authentication SDK was announced a couple of months ago, many people have asked when there would be a solution for WSS 3.0 or MOSS 2007 to authenticate Windows Live ID users.

Some big releases for a cool codeplex project.

Note: Below here I made the titles non-bold. Let me know what you like better.

Via VentureBeatYuMe, Blinkx latest video ad companies to make splash
With all the video content online, the video advertising market is booming.

How many ad networks can surve?

Via Digging My Blog – Dan HounshellProfessional Community Server Themes
I had the pleasure of working on a great project earlier this year with two very talented co-workers: Wyatt Preul and Ben Tiedt.

This book was anxiously awaited at the CSDC. I don't think the preview copies showed up in time, but I know there are going to be some people, for which, this becomes thier bible.

Via SimpableDitch Confirmations
James Avery wrote a post, "Modals or No more popups" inquiring about modal solutions.

I'm going to try and keep this plugin both configurable, but fast and decision free for the users.  I'll see how it goes. 

Via Seth's BlogThe truth about Radiohead
1.2 million albums sold, $8 each, no middleman, one week: Radiohead Kicks the Middleman to the Curb.

This answers a lingering question I had after hearing about this promotion. How much money did they make per album. I guess, since they don't have a label, that $8 goes much more directly to them as well.


Via Read/WriteWebMicrosoft's "Me Too" Strategy: Can the Tortoise Beat the Hare?
Microsoft has lifted the lid this week on a number of products that compete to various degrees with popular Google services.

There is a lot of truth to the theory held by one of my former co-workers that Microsoft as been very successful by never being first, learning from the mistakes of others, and being either a cheaper or better second.

Via Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4LifeSocial Networking Site Platforms: How Developers Should Evaluate the MySpace platform (and others)
I’ve been reading recently that a number of social networking sites are rushing to launch [or re-launch] a widgets platform given the success of the Facebook platform.

I tend to agree.

Via Seth's BlogThe wikipedia gap
I wonder who the first teacher was who said to his class, "Okay, we have ball point pens now. No need to use class time to learn how to use a fountain pen."

I always hated the teachers that wouldn't let us use the advanced functions of our TI-85's.  It saved time and made me smarter. Same with a resource like wikipedia. What people are going to have to learn is how to better quickly evaluate the degree of tint and accuracy to the information they are looking at.

Ok, I think the first test post went well. I found at least 10 things I want to make better with this plugin before I share it with any other users. 


Are You Ready for Smarter Spenders Bursting Your Bubble?

Is your company, web site, or business model ready for the smarter customer spending habits being created by data transparency?  The world of data transparency is one where anyone can access, slice, dice, pivot, and extrapolate on their own about your products is almost here. The cost of doing so, like other commodity driven resources is quickly approaching zero. If your business doesn't embrace it then you are going to be one of the people complaining about the "bubble bursting" on Web 2.0. 

What's happening right now is that businesses and customers are on the precipice of learning how to thin slice through what's been labeled "information overload".  Here are eight things you need to know in order to thrive in the age of information transparency and smarter customers.

  1. Your customers are only going to get more access to data every day and never less.
  2. Data is going to become increasingly consumable to people that don't know anything about how to create pivot tables in excel.
  3. Every new bit of data will encourage humans, who naturally seek connections and meaning, to to ask ten times the questions they may have previously.
  4. The data is going to be used poorly while people learn to correctly thin slice.  You might not like the stories customers tell on their own to answer the aforementioned questions.
  5. You will be as unable to control access to the data, metrics, and subsequent analysis as you are able to control your singular corporate messages an PR today.
  6. Because information is so cheap to distribute through the series of tubes it will only take one person to discover and aggregate this kind of information. Really only one customer needs to be smarter and the rest will just listen to the "smart ones", but you knew this already.
  7. The flow of information goes can go two ways.  This presents an opportunity to learn as much or more about your customers than they know about you. 
  8. Thin slicing the data will open more doors to micro-message and micro-target your features, services, or brand to customers.

Here are some examples and trends that demonstrate the approaching freefall in the cost of public data mining.

  • Search engines will make collecting hard data simpler.  Most of them already returns hard numbers instead of guesses in the form of links.  Today you can search for APPL and get a stock price back instead of a link to a page that references the stock.  You can search for ichiro and see his career statistics. How long before "Baconader calories" returns the nutritional information directly or "Xbox Failure Rate" returns the total unique number of "red ring" incidents and the failure rate?
  • Technologies like wiki's make collaborative document editing simple.  Google Spreadsheets has taken the first strides toward collaborating numerical analysis.  What happens when someone opens wikipedia for data  mining?
  • Currently sites are now popping up that encourage this sort of data collaboration. Check out & for collaborative pollitical dirt digging, for public data analysis, or for examples of public health records data aggregation.  The next logical step is for these aggregation technologies to improve over time and enable the users themselves to submit and refine the data.
  • Communities are already starting to do their own data mining to enable self policing. Wikiscanner is a good example of this. How long before they are policing your products, communities, and marketing efforts.

The first question to start asking yourself is what will happen to your business when your clients and customers can go beyond user reviews and can become immediately familiar with your failure rates, cost of goods, how popular your site is, percentage of other customers who repurchase, and how many people actually click through the average ad on your web site?  It's common sense to be looking at these numbers anyway, but the twist is now realizing that this sort of information either is or soon will be public knowledge. 

The next set of questions you should be asking is how can you take advantage of the data transparency. Here are some untested suggestions to think about. 🙂

  • Your own data mining needs to be taken to the next level.  You need to go beyond answering the basic questions and start performing trend analyses and attain the ability to predict what bits of information (good and bad) your customers will discover next. If you don't already have, for example, a tool/process that lets you find out what people are doing and saying in your customer communities then you need one.  It may not seem that way, but there is still a delay between the first person that says "I have a red ring", the next fifty, and it becoming front page news.  The data can just about predict what's going to go from 1 to fifty to millions.
  • A risk/reward analysis could be performed on the data that will be uncovered.  What will happen if the exact failure rate is known or if people know how willing your site visitors are to convert into paying customers? On the other hand; Is this data something that you should be sharing more broadly because you know it's better than the competition?
  • What data and models can you be transparent about? It's may no longer be acceptable to throw out a great customer satisfaction number without showing the numbers used behind the figure.
  • You should consider enabling your own public data aggregation initiatives. Look at how Ideastorm took loud, but separated voices, and gave them lightening rods focus their energy.  Because they are hosting these conversations the cost of data aggregation about customers suggestions went from wildly expensive public surveys and "buzz metric" analysis to near zero in comparison.

What do you think?  Are your customers and clients getting smarter with cheaper data?  Do you see an "adjustment" in spending in the "Web 2.0" space coming?

Have I mentioned we're working on a Reporting Server?