Blogging the personal Saga

John Montgomery continues the saga of the not-quite-broken-but-possibly-defective Maytag washer.

I’m not sure why I’m drawn to this story, but I read, and am either interested or amused by every post. Maybe this is the blogosphere’s answer to reality TV.

I like the effect that these types of posts have on the blogging community. I know some people complain about people posting about their dogs, their vacations, etc. I think it adds humanity to the information network. The catch is that you have to have valuable content in addition to the “personal fluff”. When I like the content someone provides, then it’s fun to get some context about the person at the keyboard.

National Hurricane Center has RSS feeds!

There are subscription links here.

Now I’m speculating that they devised this as a good way to get information to other weather folks, but it’s great that it’s available to the public as well. I’m left longing for some customization options, however. I ended up setting my notifier to ignore this feed, since the volume is a little crazy. I really just want to know when the maps are updated.

It’d be great if other information clearinghouse type organizations would offer feeds like this. Maybe they do and I haven’t found them yet? (…pause for Googling…)

Ok, here’s one more:

Any other good utility feeds out there?

Does Grandma Need Longhorn?

Ok, I’ve been following Longhorn pretty closely, and I’m excited. I think that the new features are going to bring some pretty awesome capability to the desktop. I’m wondering if it’s really going to mean much when it comes to the overall computer market.

Everything I’ve read about Longhorn so far makes me think that it’s going to be a great platform for developers, but in order for it to be truly useful to those developers, it needs to be spread to the masses.

On one hand, the “rich experience” that can be built under Longhorn may draw in consumers. On the other hand, I know many folks who still use Office 95 because “it’s good enough”, and who run their Windows 95 boxes behind a firewall, with current AV, and that’s “good enough” too.

So that’s my question: what is going to make Longhorn a compelling upgrade for the masses? Or is it just going to be a slow process of adoption through attrition? Could you convince your Grandma that she needs Longhorn? How would you explain the benefits to her? How about the CIO of a 10,000-workstation company? Can the same platform really serve these two markets well?

If grandma’s computer usage breakdown is: 25% reading / writing email, 50% browsing the web (news, hobbies, vacation planning, etc.) and 25% working on a novel, what is the benefit of Longhorn. I can _contrive_ examples, where the “vacation planning” task utilizes that advanced capabilities of Indigo, and the presentation capabilities of Avalon, but will Grandma really care? Does the improved experience make it worth the upgrade to Longhorn? What if she has to upgrade her computer to see the benefit, is it still worth it?

I think what it comes down to is that many people are already happy with their computing experience. Beyond that, they’ve gotten used to doing things a certain way. Even if the experience is better, if it requires relearning, there is going to be a huge impediment to adoption.

What I’m expecting from Google

Scoble discusses the blogspace speculation on Google’s plans. Here are my guesses:

gMessenger – Google Branded Instant Messaging. They’re late into the fray on this, so I could see them putting together a pretty decent IM client, building on the successes of others. Targeted ads based on content…

gDocs – Online Document Collaboration and Delivery. Imagine if you could log into _ANY_ computer, go to a website, and work on documents, spreadsheets, presentations. No floppies to carry, or even USB keys, and no pricey licenses. Just a username and password. WYSIWYG, decent print output, etc. Targeted ads based on content of course (they need people to get used to this idea with gMail first).

gBrowser – Maybe later… I think everything that Google does in the near term will rely on other browsers. They’re going to hit a wall with functionality at some point, and that may be when they decide to bring out their own browser. Basically, they’d be saying: You can use gmail/gdocs/etc. with any browser you want, but if you use the gbrowser, you’ll also get better printing, advanced collaboration, etc.

Google could really make some waves in the industry over the next decade. Imagine if they produced a complete set of alternatives to the Microsoft Office suite, and all were web-based, available anywhere, they-handle-the-backups solutions.

Just my 2 cents…

Gmail Invites and Community Building

I woke up to another six gmail invites today, so I distributed them through the Channel9 GmailRequestList Wiki. It’s a great place to give/get gmail accounts!

I _think_ the invites are rolling in (I’ve gotten 18 so far) because I’m _actively providing feedback_ to the gmail team. If you want invites, make good suggestions, or report a bug! I can’t guarantee it’ll work for you, but it seems to be working for me! I also had 6 waiting when I first signed up. Not sure how the system works, but it’s still fun to spread the joy.

I received a heartfelt thanks from David Ochoa, and a link to his game development site ( It’s always fun to connect to random people on the net! Good luck with the game David!

Update: Ok, it’s getting a little ridiculous, I just finished sending out 6 invites, and I’ve got another 6 available now. If you want an account feel free to email me directly or add your name to the Channel9 GmailRequestList Wiki.

Microsoft MSNtv article on Gizmodo

Credit goes to Karim on Channel9 for pointing this out…

It looks like the target market is the “non-adopters”, or the folks who wouldn’t be on the internet otherwise, similar to WebTV. This is a small market, but I’m thinking the low price will make it fairly hot in the gift arena.

If this is too successful, Microsoft might even run into a situation where it cannibalizes other product lines. For those of us who provide “free tech support” to family & friends, this might be a lot more attractive of an option than repeatedly cleaning spyware of the old PC that we cobbled together from old parts, just so that someone can browse the web & write email. Granted, Micrsoft would probably love to see someone signed up for a subscription based service rather than have them using old licenses of Windows98 and Office97…