This is part 1 in my "Blogs I Read" series. I hope you find it useful. Infinite Loop - Ars Technica Staff - Feed I found Ars Technica before it had an RSS feed and it quickly earned a place on my bookmark bar. Infinite Loop is the Apple subsection or "journal" of their main site and they do a good job of finding interesting stuff Apple related. They put it best: "Infinite Loop is Ars Technica's journal devoted to Apple and Apple related ventures." My favorite part about their web site? Their tag line: "Serving the PC enthusiast for over 6 x 10^-2 centuries" Daring Fireball - John Gruber - Feed I really don't know where John came from, just that all of the sudden there was this guy who seemed to continuously have these very detailed and interesting Mac articles on his web site. That was a while back, now he's gone "pro" as a full-time blogger. His business model? Buy a shirt from him, and get full access to his daily links RSS feed for 1 year. I hope he's able to keep it up. His best post ever: Vacation, All I Ever Wanted in which he single handedly explains the joys of being a young Dad, the priceless nature of a single photo and the core reason all of us really need a bullet-proof backup system like Time Machine. FatBits - John Siracusa - Feed John Siracusa does excellent long form reporting of Apple and the Mac OS. Since we moved from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X he has done the most extensive analysis of each of the major OS releases. Even with months of experience with the OS seeds we get from Apple, John still seems to find plenty new and interesting. John's blog is a classic quality over frequency type of blog. Planet Tao of Mac - Various Authors - Feed This is a cool collection blog of many Mac users around the world. I like it because 1) I was asked to be a part of it. ;-) and 2) It helps me keep my thinking about Apple and the Mac OS in a more world wide view point rather than the US centric standard. Slashdot: Apple - Various Slashdot Users - Feed Slashdot's tag line is: "News for nerds, stuff that matters" and that pretty much sums it up. It's also kind of nice to get my daily dose of MS hate and Apple love in one place. ;-) Think Secret - Unknown - Feed There are many Apple rumor blogs, and they all seem to have about the same "quality". I just picked one. It's a never ending pass-time to guess about what Apple might do next. So this blog fills that need, if you have it.
26 October 2006
24 October 2006
I've been reading blogs for over 2 years now. That's not very much time, but enough to really appreciate the conversation that is the "blogosphere." I'm only now realizing that because of my time invested in reading blogs, I'm not getting to read the books that normally I'm able to enjoy. Additionally, since I started working at Microsoft as a teenager, I've never finished my college degree. Now it's time to focus in earnest on completing that bit of my education. (Sidenote: If you have any tips for attending college and working full-time, send 'em my way!) So, in order to make more time in my life, I'm going to unsubscribe from many of my favorite blogs, not because of the content quality, but simply because for this next season in my life, I can't afford that luxury. So the next few posts are going to be a little meta-meta while I blog about blogs. :-) I figure that if I'm not going to read these excellent blogs anymore, at least a few of my readers might enjoy reading them in my absence. Further, it will be interesting from a personal recording standpoint when I come back, to see how my interests have changed. My process for choosing which blogs I read has been roughly this:
- Someone I trust points me to a new blog or blog post.
- I read the post and then skim the rest of the current posts, if most of the posts look insightful, I subscribe.
- If the author posts multiple times each day, I'll often unsubscribe, unless the posts are very short and very interesting. This kind of rapid fire posting might be good for traffic, but the randomization doesn't help me focus or think deeply about the topic at hand.
- Generally, I tend toward long form posts, rather than short pithy stuff. Not that I don't enjoy cleverness, it's just that from my experience most worthwhile topics can't be reduced to a simple sound bite without severe data loss.
- There's always a risk that an author will have a few brilliant posts and then degrade into less meaningful writing. When I see this happen, I unsubscribe.
23 October 2006
I just got this email from Apple: What can I say? Apple, you just made my day. (And pushed me that much closer to a Video iPod...) It looks like there's more content on the way. Did I mention since I attended the conference, all of this is "free"? It will be interesting to see if ADC members who didn't attend will be able to purchase this content. I sure hope so. Update: For a direct link to the iTunes area, click here
20 October 2006
A few months ago we got a bunch of Intel Mac minis (Intel Core Solo). We got 64 for automation and a some others for testers to use. When I saw the pile of boxes sitting in the hall to be recycled, I knew I had to save them. We piled them into my office knowing that there would be something I could do with them, but I just didn't know what or when. A few weeks later, it hit me. I opened up OmniGraffle and sketched out the plan:
19 October 2006
Jonathan Rentzsch is putting on a small developer conference called C4. For various reasons I'm not able to go, but oh how I want to. I'm SO glad it's going to be re-broadcast like Evening at Adler was. Any how, I just found out that one of our Office developers, namely Olof Hellman, is making the trek all the way from Redmond to Chicago for the conference! I'm so jealous. The good news is that he'll be blogging about it on our team blog, Mac Mojo, so if you haven't subscribed to the Official MacBU blog and are interested in C4, I'd subscribe to the blog just for Olof's guest posts while at the conference.
17 October 2006
I've posted before about how much I liked the other Sony Bravia ad and this new water-based-paint explosion ad looked really interesting. Today Sony released it. Check it out here. I'm not impressed. It's an amazing amount of work, to be sure, but it seems like it's too fast and ends too abruptly. Maybe that's what they were going for, but what's up with the clown? There is a good part at the end when all the "colored rain" comes down in different shades, other than that, not very inspiring. I would have liked to see more slow motion paint movement as well as different music that is less agitating. On the other hand, maybe it's just me and everyone else will just love the whole thing. Since many asked last time about the clean up, here's what they have to say:
Our latest TV ad - featuring massive paint explosions - took 10 days and 250 people to film. Huge quantities of paint were needed to accomplish this, which had to be delivered in 1 tonne trucks and mixed on-site by 20 people. The effect was stunning, but afterwards a major clean-up operation was required to clear away all that paint! The cleaning took 5 days and 60 people. Thankfully, the use of a special water-based paint made it easy to scrape-up once the water had evaporated. Keeping everyone safe was also an important factor. A special kind of non-toxic paint was used that is safe enough to drink (it contains the same thickeners that are sometimes used in soups). It was also completely harmless to the skin.
Posted by David Weiss at 10/17/2006 12:44:00 PM
One of the cool things about working at Microsoft is the constant stream of interesting guest speakers. Recently it was Steve Wozniak. It was facinating to listen to him speak about his love for technology. I had my trusty MacBook Pro and took down some notes and fun quotes. On chip design: "I played a game: how can you design it better than before. I wanted to see if I could design something with half as many parts." On wanting a computer: I told my Dad, "I'm going to have a computer." Dad said, "It costs as much as a house." I was stunned and quickly replied, "Then I'm going to get an apartment." About his microprocessor, "I couldn't afford one, but I could build it. I could always build something for free." Woz was giving away his Basic schematics, then when Jobs found out, he said, "Let's sell it." On Human Computer Interaction: "It's a lot easier to design a computer than make it acceptable to people in their lives." On Apple's rank in early computer magazines: "Apple was always at the top of the list, you know, alphabetical order." On the small business owners in the 70s and 80s: "They didn't want a computer, they wanted a solution." On childlike learning: "What's fun for kids can be fun for adults and that's my philosophy." Someone asked what excites you? His response: "Products done really well from the people point of view." "Steve jobs never programmed in his life." Someone asked if he had any regrets to which Woz replied: "Regrets about Apple, no. Regrets about my own life? Yes, I wish I would have put floating point in Basic, but I wanted to get it done quick."
02 October 2006
Today marks the official beginning of sprint number 2 for the Automation Team. Last month was our first attempt at a modified Scrum. I mention "modified Scrum" simply because of the cruel fact that I don't know everything there is to know about the Scrum Methodology. We just kind of picked out what made immediate sense and did it. It's a good change and we are learning. While our team is the first team in MacBU to be using this Agile process, hundreds of teams at Microsoft have had great success with it. We've had daily standup meetings for a long time, but this was the first time we actually did the product backlog and sprint backlog so I thought I'd record some of my personal reactions to the experience. There's a lot to like about what we've experienced so far, and as we figure out better how to apply this "Agile" stuff, I'm hopeful things will get even better. Here are some of my first impressions about the process: The backlog provides an awesome communication vehicle. Before the beginning of September the four of us on my team got together and generated a big long list of all the things we would like to do. We put all of this in OmniPlan, and then selected a subset that we would tackle in September. This did several very good things:
- It got us all excited about the ways our team could contribute to the overall success of the software products we produce.
- Helped us "get on the same page" with respect to the meaning of the individual items. You'd be surprised how different people can interpret even the shortest sentence!
- Allowed everyone on the team to see exactly what everyone else had to do.
- Allowed me, as a lead, to post the sprint backlog in the Lab for everyone to see. If folks wanted to see what we were working on, or how much progress we were making, it became very trivial. Perhaps low tech, but effective.
- It allows time for the customer to really think about the request. By the time the next sprint rolls around what was life-and-death-urgent is now better thought out and prioritized more realistically.
- It gets our "customers" in sync with our rhythm of delivery. The theme becomes, "Get your ideas in the next sprint's backlog, and you'll see some action on it in a month." All the lobbying for changes and design discussions about what goes in next will happen with the Product Backlog owner (me in this case) while the rest of the devs are uninterrupted.