I know I am not the first person to post about Microsoft Surface, but I am not going to not post about it just because of that.
This is a product that will take us closer to full interactive computing. Think Matrix + Minority Report + Real Life (sorry....for that link, go stand in front of a mirror).
I want the full experience of being able to take a digital camera and placing it on the "table" and being able to download my pictures to it. for that matter, let me place a CD or DVD on it and have the Table rip the content to a centralized storage area (Home Server). Let it analyze ANYTHING I place on the surface and give me options for how I deal with it....pictures, music, data (think about dropping a business card on the surface and having the information be added to Outlook contacts). Just don't go so far as to analyze my DNA....yet.
Some of these things are demo'd at the site....plus a bunch more. But don't let the demo's keep you from fantasizing about what you would like to see this be able to do.
I know about as much as what the general public does so far, but I am not going to let that stop me from suggesting what I would like to see it be able to do.
What do want it to do?
I have had several requests to post the video of the First IT Pro Ever that I have shown at a few of my events. Well there ya go.....
For the record - I didn't create it. I found it while cruising around the web. I don't recall what site I grabbed it from but a query to your favorite search engine for "IT_Pro.wmv" will find it.
It has been brought to my attention that comments are not working on my blog....I will get some emails sent to see if this can get resolved. I will update this post when it is good to go.
Comments are now working. It seems my Technorati search box interferes with the ASP.Net coding used in the blogging software. I have temporarily removed the search box till I locate a workaround. Comment away!
There is some timely information posted on a blog managed by some of my Canadian counterparts regarding certification I wanted to let you know about....
Certification Related Webcasts The Value of Certification Do Managers Care About Certification? Does Certification Really Matter Anymore?
Certification Related Webcasts
The Value of Certification
Do Managers Care About Certification?
Does Certification Really Matter Anymore?
Windows Server 2008. It finally has a name. Giving our upcoming server release a real name means we can all start planning for the next round of MCSE certification tests. There isn't anything on the public Training and Certification site yet except for a mention that if you get Windows 2003 MCSE certified by June 30th, 2007 you can get a 40% savings voucher toward MCSE 2008 testing.
If you are already certified and you have access to the MCP Member site there is a preview of the new certification there. There are also a few Webcasts coming up in June on the new Windows 2008 certifications if you are interested.
Introducing the Windows Server "Longhorn" Certification Roadmap (Session 1)
Introducing the Windows Server "Longhorn" Certification Roadmap (Session 2)
At this point I want to go on a bender about standardized testing (particularly the testing my daughters have to go through every year in the US public school system) but I will leave that for some other time. I am more interested in your thoughts right now.
I am not a big fan of putting a bunch of letters after my name on my business cards or email signatures. So even when I get my Windows 2008 cert, you won't see any obvious indication of it. I know some people will, but I personally ignore all that stuff. In fact, the more letters I see the less I care, but that is just me. But I would like to know your thoughts on the importance of me being certified.
How important is it to you that *I* be certified on the current products?
I am now catching up on email and blogs topics. Look for a flurry of activity over the next few days as I am off the road now for a few days.
My wife and i were in Chicago for the weekend (had never been there) and went on the Frank Lloyd Wright tour of homes. It is a once annual tour of homes in the Chicago area that Frank Lloyd Wright either designed or otherwise influenced. We were were a little disappointed that only 50% of the homes on the tour were Wright homes. The other 50% he had no hand in at all. They were designed by other architects and not necessarily even influenced by Wright. But they are fantastic homes none-the-less. We haven't pulled the pictures off the camera yet but I will post a few once we do.
I just read yet another article on how the RIAA sent out letters to university students threatening to sue those who have downloaded and shared music without paying for it unless they pay a settlement. I have seen dozens of similar articles over the past couple of years. According to this most recent article, a student was asked to settle for $3000 - about $7.87 a song - or get sued.
When will this kind of bullying will stop? My guess, not any time soon.
The music industry is hemorrhaging money like blood in an overly gruesome episode of Grey's Anatomy due to piracy. It's their own fault too. I can understand why they want to re-coup some of those losses but I don't believe bullying college students who have little to no money is the way to do it. They need to keep in mind that the students they are targeting today are the lawyers and policy makers of tomorrow. Pissing them off is going to lead to a backlash down the road.
$7.87 a song is insanity. I personally think $1.00 a song is robbery but that is just me. But almost $8 bucks? I don't want to upset the recording artists who burn the midnight oil recording music they think people want to hear, but what single song is worth that much to anyone? I suppose an artist who spends a year (or even 3 years) creating music might feel like the music is worth that much. To those artists I say go talk to Jack White of the The White Stripes and learn how to make record a kick ass album in two weeks. The artists aren't the ones who are profiting from the RIAA's legal onslaught anyway. Recording artists receive only a small percentage of the overall money received from album sales.
Yeah....I said "album". Twice. I am old.
Most of the money goes into the coffers of the record labels themselves. They can argue that they use the money to promote artists and sponsor tours and blah, blah, blah but since when should the money given to the artists who create the content be only a fraction of what it costs for the consumer to purchase it? Since forever actually and it really needs to change.
The world has moved on. The digital age is now. The record industry has been as slow as a snail climbing Mount Everest in adopting digital distribution methods. It should have been the record companies that created the Napster's, BitTorrent's and Kazaa's of the world. But since they didn't have the foresight to see how quickly the world was changing and other people did, those other people did the hard work for them. Brick and mortar music stores are closing in droves. Getting music online is THE way to disseminate music (and increasingly just about all visual and audio based content).
The industry has also demanded that companies like Microsoft, Apple and others implement digital rights management (DRM) systems which, on the surface sound like an effective way of combating piracy but only muddy the waters for consumers. Different companies implement different DRM methods and the music gets locked to specific devices or platforms and reduces portability and consumer choice. You can argue that companies should work better together to come up with a global standard but that is a whole other problem to tackle. Why are the latter forced to fix a problem created by the former?
The music industry (and ALL industries where intellectual property can be easily disseminated online) needs to understand WHY students (and others) pirate media.
1) Cost - The cost to purchase a CD is crazy. $15-20 bucks for 45-60 minutes of music? Come on! Figure out the online model and get the cost down to a point where poor college students can afford it. They are your target market most of the time anyway.
2) It's Easy - Why get in a car, drive to a mall, fight to find a parking spot, fight the throngs of people, just to MAYBE find what you want when you can DEFINITELY find everything you want in seconds online? I can download a song I want faster than it takes to pump the $10 in gas it will cost me to get to an from the store.
3) DRM sucks - IPods are cool. Zunes rock. But they don't share music with each other because of formats and DRM. For that matter, it should be easy to move that music from my portable player to my PC to my Media Center to my car just like I can with a CD. Stop making me purchase the same song 4 times in 4 different formats so I can listen to it in my car, my home stereo, my portable music player, and my PC's.
4) The social aspect - When I hear music I like, I ask about it. I am a consumer. Consumers are the best advertising there is for music. We blast it in our cars, we play it at parties. We ask then they go try to find it or we send links to each other. We want to listen to what we hear other people playing and we want to share it with others with similar tastes.
But.....I don't want to just bitch and moan about this. I want to offer up a solution. And here it is.....in two short paragraphs.
The recording industry needs to spend some of their own money on R&D to develop a standardized electronic distribution methodology instead of relying on third parties to manage their mess. Either develop their own system or work with the major players in the peer-to-peer world to refine and license existing technologies. Get with the digital age! This will address the cost factor and since it is already easy, that is in the bag as well.
While I think DRM is the worst thing ever for music and movies, I might support it if it was standardized and let me move my music between different devices easily without having to purchase multiple licenses/copies. It should also be tied into the social aspect of this. Cut me in on the action. Develop a DRM scheme that allows me to send a digital copy to someone else, and automatically deducts a (small) payment from the receiver and deposits a small chunk of that in my account, a big chunk in the account of the content creator, and some percentage into the account of the recording industry. That alone would probably solve the problem.
I am on the road today (like that is a big surprise....) in Redmond, OR at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds for the local Technology Showcase. Lots of local vendors and some big players showing off some cool technology. I will post more about that later.....
To get here though, I had to get on a plane which means I had to pass through security. I carry a substantial amount of electronic equipment with me. I have two laptops, a gaggle of spare drives, mice, cell phone, network cables, blah, blah, blah.....On this trip the TSA people decided they needed to sort through my backpack and in the process dropped two of my hard drives on the floor. I knew that meant trouble but didn't know how much till I arrived on site and started booting up my machine.
One of the drives was my core system drive (which I just rebuilt last week btw) which was out of the machine because I was building yet another system up for some other demos. The other drive had a virtual machine of SBS2003 R2 Premium installed to for one of the sessions I am delivering today. Both are toast. The core drive actually booted up, promptly blue screened and then never booted again. The other drive just doesn't spin up at all.
BUT! Since I do Complete PC backups about every 2-3 days, I was able to drop in a spare drive, boot my Vista Ultimate DVD and restore my 3 day old backup in about 30 minutes. I lost a couple days worth of stuff I dropped on the desktop, but nothing that isn't easy to recreate of find again.
Vista Ultimate Rocks!
Heads up! (btw......ever wonder why in baseball, basketball, football......all the sports with balls that can fly amuck.....people yell "head's up" when a ball is heading for people?.....Usually coming in from the sky.....They obviously think that getting hit in the face with a heavy object is more desirable than getting knocked in the top of the head.....any doctor's out there? what is more likely to cause brain injury.....top of the head or face injury? My guess is top of the head since there are seams in the plates at the top of the head......too many hospital drama shows. The ego in my wants me to protect my ugly mug....)
Oh yeah....I am supposed to be telling you I will be going on vacation in June for almost the whole month.
The first week I will be on a camping trip with my brother, father and uncle - the first time ever the Avis men have gotten together (just us that is) for a trip. We are heading to some cabins in Wyoming to do some hiking, fishing, and male bonding.
Second week of June I am back, but that is followed by two more weeks of vacation when my kids come up from Texas to visit. This is big deal for a few of reasons....they have never flown before, and they have not been to our new house since we moved to Washington, they have never been to Washington, and they have never been this far from home before. Doesn't seem like a big deal on the surface, but when you frame it in the minds of an (almost) 8 and an 11 yr old it takes on a different scope.
If there is anything I am working on for you that needs to be resolved before Jun 1st, please let me know so I can prioritize it and get it knocked out before I go offline.
I am working on a project to do some screen casts for Vista. I also want to do some for Longhorn as well to post through my blog. But I don't want to show you things that *I* think you want to know. I want to show you things that *you* want to see....drop me an email or a comment and let me know what features in Longhorn you would like to see....
*** Update -- All three have been claimed! ***
I have three (3) Technet Plus subscriptions that I am offering up to the first three (3) people to respond to me via email. I can only send these out in the US though so my apologies to my international readers.
email me - firstname.lastname@example.org
I will update this post when they are claimed....
(subtitled - too much time on my hands....)
Sometimes I can't help but laugh at some of the comments I get on evaluation forms from my events. Today's chuckle comes in the form of....
"too much time spent on stupid video..."
Now and then I break up the monotonous drudgery of a 4 hour technical session with a humorous picture, joke, and yes, on occasion, a stupid video. I don't take any issue with the "stupid video" part of the comment. It is silly. But I do wish the address the "too much time spent" part of the comment.
The video in question is exactly 2:36 (2 minutes, 36 seconds). Add in the setup (30 seconds tops) and the wrap-up (30 seconds tops) and we have a grand total of 3:36 spent dealing with a stupid video. *IF* my sessions we 30 minutes long, I can see that taking up 11% of the session in a stupid video as a valid concern. But in a session that is 3.5 hours long (take 30 minutes out for breaks) we are only chewing up about 1% of the session with the stupid video. I am trying to think of what topic I could have gotten into regarding Vista that I could have meanigfully conveyed without prompting any further questions in 3:36. I think it was a valid use of time....
Now, I don't want to sound like I don't take customer feedback seriously. In fact I would really appreciate it if people who rate a session as a 5 out of 9 would spend 60 seconds in the comments section telling me "why" so I actually have a clue as to why they didn't like the session. But I can't help but think that some people just need to lighten up.