# Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My personal experience and more recently working with Fresco Capital’s startups has taught me that no matter how different each business and start-up process might be, nearly all new co-founders and CEOs eventually pose the same important, inevitable question: When do I hire a VP of Sales?

My response is always the same: When you really need one.

So, what does that mean?

Co-Founder and CEO Talent and Time Management

Most co-founders and early CEO's prefer to focus their talent and energy on conceiving and building the new enterprise. The most successful CEOs come from backgrounds in finance and operations.Only 20% of Fortune 500 CEOs started out in Sales or Marketing.

Yet many company leaders also necessarily take on the crucial task of generating those early sales. While a CEO may excel at creating connections and relationships, few are sales experts and are typically overwhelmed with the task’s time commitment. So, during start-up and initial operations, when CEOs think in terms of building the company by building a stellar leadership team, they want to pass on those vital sales responsibilities as quickly as possible to a proven sales expert. After all, a good leader should hire other good leaders, right?

Not yet.

This Is Not The Time to Buy The Rolex

Although a new CEO and leadership team typically want to hire a proven VP of Sales from a very successful company, making a "Rolex" hire early in the company development -- and paying Rolex prices for the talent -- is not the answer. In fact, poaching an expert VP of Sales by offering a sizeable opportunity and compensation package is counterproductive.

Here's why.

An extremely successful VP of Sales has become successful because they effectively manage a sales force. A new VP will want to replicate that success by building their new sales team and developing a sales process, complete with expensive sales automation tools. In the long term that is exactly what your company needs. In the short term, however, that is a potentially dangerous waste of resources for your new company during a crucial period. (Yes, I am saying that Google Sheets is a perfectly good CRM at this stage.)

While the VP of sales is putting together a team and developing long-term strategies, nobody is focusing on making actual sales.  Lots of money going out, none coming in. The results can be disastrous. The VP of Sales and the team are either fired, quit, or the company runs out of money.

 Build Your Sales Team from the Bottom Up

There is a much better option. Build your sales team from the bottom up.

It may feel counter-intuitive, but the bottom up process is more logical and practical for new companies. It makes much more sense tohire a junior salesperson - someone who will one day report to the VP you eventually hire.

The junior salesperson is expected to be out there making contacts and making sales, which is - at this point in time - what the company needs.Look for someone in the industry with knowledge and experience, demonstrated success, and capacity to learn.

I know that the CEO is eager to offload the sales process, but recognize you will need to spend time mentoring your new hire, and plan to give them at only 25% of the labor the first month or two. Don't expect them to do all your sales work -- understand that the CEO may still want -- or need -  to close these early, important deals and the new hire will only shadow the CEO for the first few weeks, growing into the role.

The point is that a co-Founder or CEO should be doing primarily what the CEO alone can do -- especially in sales.

 After the salesperson starts to take over more and more responsibility and sales start increasing, hire another junior salesperson and start slowly building your team. Most importantly, keep the team focused on generating sales. At this point, allow the team to start building a sales process and choose some tools that fit your environment.

Now You Need A VP of Sales

So, when do you hire the VP of Sales?

The answer is simple: Hire your VP of Sales when you're generating enough sales for a VP to manage and your process is starting to strain at scale. That's when you really need one.

That's when it makes sense tohire a mega-talented VP of Sales with exactly the qualities and skills you need. That's when you're ready to recruit a proven, effective leader, someone qualified to create the big vision, continue building a sales force, make the strategic long-range plan, and facilitate the team's success.

And that's when you can afford to invest in the best VP of Sales you can find.

In the meanwhile, the "Bottom Up" strategy is a better short-term approach in terms of all primary company resources - money, staff, time- and it leads directly to stronger company success in the long term.

posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 12:21:25 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, December 10, 2015

A few years ago I was sitting in a classroom at the London School of Economics debating unemployment with my nobel prize winning professor. The conversation was centered around another LSE nobel prize winner, Ronald Coase, who in 1937 observed in his scholarly paper, The Nature of the Firm, that firms exist in order to reduce transaction costs and take advantage of economies of scale. Barring external forces, firms will tend to grow larger and larger over time. This is the fundamental economic framework powering the world economy since the industrial revolution, driving corporate behaviors such as: corporate structure, the rise of M&A, and 20th century management theory.

Global workforce

A few weeks later, Ronald Coase at 101 years old, would go on a podcast and declare his 80 year old nobel winning thesis obsolete. No longer do you need to scale the size of a firm just to obtain efficiency, with modern technology and today’s demographics, you can capture the same value with much smaller firms. Companies will still grow to be larger over time, however, they won’t grow as large as they have in the past.

Since then I have been thinking deeply about what has broken down Coase’s theory which was the fundamental underpinning of the world economy since the Industrial Revolution. After several years of reflection on this, I have come up with four forces:

  • The rise of the freelancer economy

  • Millennials’ behaviors and impact

  • IoT and lean hardware

  • SaaS economics and the democratization of IT

The Rise of the Freelancer Economy

According to a report by Intuit, by 2020 approximately 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be working as freelancers. Another study predicts 50% by 2025. As more members of the workforce decide to freelance, the number of marketplaces to facilitate them will proliferate. In the past you would hire the reputation of a Brand. Tomorrow freelancers will build a reputation on a marketplace and the marketplaces will build a brand.

This trend will lead to more commodity based and strategic outsourcing. Commodity based outsourcing will consist of outsourcing HR, legal, accounting/finance, manufacturing, and software development. Strategic based outsourcing via the freelancer economy will outsource product development, design, and even management.

Millennials’ Behaviors and Impact

By 2020, Millennials will consist of 20% of the workforce, and by 2025, 75%.  Millennials were born mobile and digital; their behaviors will change the way companies interact with their customers as well as how companies interact with their employees. Everything changes from preferred methods of communications (messaging) to marketing (social media) to commerce (mobile first). Traditional management models start to break down with Millennials managing Millennials and selling to Millennials.

IoT and Lean Hardware

At the same time the Millennials are taking over the workforce, we will have 26 billion IoT sensors in production and connected to the internet by 2020. Cheap sensors and widespread availability lead to more big data driven analysis about everything from the lighting in your office, self-driving cars, the temperature of your home, to how your dishwasher runs. Abundant sensors combined with cheaper and small batch manufacturing will drastically change business models, pushing them to be more service oriented. Robotics and AI will eliminate most unskilled jobs, driving employment to be more skilled and knowledge based.

SaaS Economics and the Democratization of IT

While the move to the cloud has already begun, over the next few years, it will be massive. The economics of SaaS software has shifted the decision making power to the line worker from the management and IT. Since you can swiftly deploy cloud-based software within your organization with a free trial, cheap monthly credit card payment, and no physical installation, employees are now making the purchasing decisions, not the IT department. This is breaking down siloed data, enabling remote/distributed teams, and creating more capital efficient companies.

The Next 10 Years

As we enter the post-Industrial era, the dynamics of the firm and the workforce are going to change radically. As the forces that are breaking down Coase’s model only grow stronger, many companies are remaining stagnant. The success of a company no longer depends on growing larger, but now depends on being the optimal size in order to fend off the disruptive smaller companies. Google figured this out when it broke the company into smaller pieces and formed the parent holding company, Alphabet.

The larger this gap between big and optimal sized companies grows, the less chance there is of survival for companies trying to grow by growing bigger, opening up great opportunities for disruptive startup companies. Even more interesting is that this transformation will happen in the next ten years. How tomorrow works is radically different than it is today.

posted on Thursday, December 10, 2015 1:36:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, November 23, 2015

 No one talks about how important it is for your CTO to learn the business side of things. That needs to change. If you’re a co-founder or senior executive at a startup or growth stage company, you need to be more than just an expert in your area.I know that’s asking a lot. Becoming an expert is a massive task. But it’s not enough. Each senior leader needs to be familiar with engineering, marketing, sales, and accounting if you want to maximize your chance for success.

 This concept has been popularized for non-technical founders for some time, through efforts like Mayor Bloomberg’s Learn to Code and Business Week’s magnum opus What is Code. But I’ll wager if you’re a CEO, you suck at social media. You probably don’t understand it, even though it’s the future of customer engagement. That needs to change. And this change needs to extend beyond giving non-technical founders technical skills. We need to help CTOs get business savvy.

 Image by Flickr user foam 


Perform a Self Assessment


If you had to take over any of your company’s functional roles (marketing, sales, etc.) for a short period, would you be able to lead effectively? If the answer’s yes, great. Proceed. But if not, you’ve identified a major need.

Things happen, and you need to prepare for contingencies. Not only that, how can you screen and hire the right person if you can’t speak the same language?

Non-technical CEO’s should code so they can:

  • Understand how the sausage gets made

  • Talk to their team with the right vocabulary (i.e. Agile, Scrum, and Kanban)  

If you’re the CTO, don’t you want to be relevant in business meetings? You won’t be as strong in marketing as your CMO, but you can add value and influence decisions.

If you outsource business decisions to your non-technical co-founder, there will be consequences. Best case scenario? You disengage from the business side.

Worst case: your disengagement leaves your CEO to feel lonely and stressed. And then one day, you wake up to a phone call from that person saying, “Hey, we’re out of money.”

Don’t let that happen to you.

Jump into the Business Side

 I love founding teams comprised of engineers because:


  • Less technical risk

  • Solve their own problems

  • Shared background with me

I’ve been a CTO many times in my career, and I’ve exited multiple companies. But heading back to grab my MBA still made me a better CTO.

I don’t think all developers should get an MBA even though, unlike many of my peers, I think there’s value in one. Instead, I’d suggest creating your self-study MBA.

Design Your Personal MBA

Here are my suggestions for a practical education that will make you a better leader in every functional area.


 All techies should read The Essentials of Finance and Accounting for Nonfinancial Managers by Edward Fields (who was my Accounting professor in business school).

It’s not exactly A Song of Ice and Fire, but you shouldn’t want to put this book down. You’ll get familiar with:


  • Balance sheets

  • Income statements

  • Cash flow statements

  • Budgets and forecasts

  • Annual statements

I know. It’s dry. But the book is so necessary.

If you want to supplement it, take an online accounting and finance crash-course like this one at Udemy.


 Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. The book was published over two decades ago, but it’s still essential. Learn from real world case-studies.

And remember this lesson: if people don’t read your website or emails, they’ll never buy your stuff.

To improve your copywriting, try the great Gary Halbert’s Boron Letters.


 Sales makes the world go round. Here are two great books:


And finally, for our non-developer friends who’ve stuck through this:


 Read the Bloomberg article What Is Code that I mentioned before. It’s an interactive history lesson that walks through everything developer and even delves a little into philosophy.

At the very least, you should get familiar with HTML & CSS so you don’t need to bother your developers on trivial tasks. Brush up over at Codecademy.

 Take Action

 You’re never going to be an expert in all of these roles. But at a minimum, you need to be conversational.

Have a bias for action and carve some time out for learning. Let me know how it goes.

posted on Monday, November 23, 2015 4:08:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, April 4, 2013

Similar to collage application season, it is accelerator application season with many major accelerator’s deadline looming. (AcceleratorHK’s own deadline is April 15th.) Since Paul and I run two accelerators, we get bombarded with questions from people applying to accelerators with the same question: “what do you look for in an application?” Here are five things to think about.

Criteria 1: The Optimal Team Size and Dynamic

Yes, you have to be be a “rock star” or a “hacker” to succeed. That is a given, however, when I see an application with only one applicant, I usually stop reading it.  Too many times I see a tech guy who stumbled across a cool piece of IP and thinks that they can “build it and they will come.” Or a smart “business guy” who underestimates the technical aspects of the problem and thinks that they can just outsource the IT (big mistake, see my opinion here on why you need a tech cofounder.) You can’t do this alone.

The optimal team size is two, one tech guy and one business guy as equal partners. The working relationship between them should be ideal, and they should like each other and be able to joke around with each other. Lastly, and equally as important, they should be passionate about the problem space that they are in. If you don’t have two awesome cofounders that compliment each other and work well with each other, don’t even bother applying.

Criteria 2: “Fund for the Pivot”

The reason why we like good people and solid teams is that you most likely won’t be working on the same project when you leave the accelerator then what you have applied with. So don’t try to convince me that you are the next Facebook, show me your 5 year financial projections, and god forbid, your patents (immediate rejection.) The whole purpose of an accelerator is to put you through the process of customer development and have you via MVPs/prototypes and rapid iteration from feedback build something that people actually want, not what you think they want.

First you need to have smart and talented people that are open to coaching and changing their offering. Second you need them to be in a hot space with huge opportunity.  If the original idea fails, but you are in a hot space, most likely you will “pivot” into something really awesome. As Paul Grahm of Ycombinator famously says “fund for the pivot”, so sell yourself and your space, not necessarily your idea.

Criteria 3: Demonstrate That You Will Take the Program Seriously

Accelerator programs are full time, not nights and weekends. If you can’t commit 100% of your time for 14 weeks, don’t bother applying. When I see the note on an application that says only one member can come to the program full time and the other guys will “drop in from time to time”, I usually stop reading. The value of the program is the time you spend in it. I get it that you have friends, family, and other obligations, but if you wife is due to have a baby three weeks into the program, you may want to consider sitting this round out and applying next year.

Criteria 4: Rock Your Elevator Pitch

I have watched hundreds of application elevator pitch videos. You have to rock it. Again, don’t sell the startup; sell your ability to sell the startup. Show me that you can sell snow to Eskimos. Be creative. One team filmed their elevator pitch in an actual elevator! I still remember one video where one team sat at a table and introduced themselves, the coder never looked at the camera and only  looked up when called on to say “I code” and the biz dev guy said that he also did pyrotechnics (and a funny explosion animation triggered.)

Skipping the video, producing a piece of crap, or focusing just on the product is an almost automatic rejection.

Criteria 5: Demonstrate the Ability to Execute

At the end of the day, can you do the job? You have to demonstrate your ability to execute. Also make sure you are not in love with being in a startup (a vanity entrepreneur) and actually want to run this business forever. We all want to be the next Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, so remember they also stayed at their companies for 20+ years. (Steve even came back after he was kicked out.) Mark Zuckerberg has been working at Facebook for almost 10 years. Don’t do this because it’s cool, do it because you want to change the world!

posted on Thursday, April 4, 2013 8:18:49 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, July 13, 2012

I’m a software guy. While I am more than comfortable rooting and flashing a custom ROM onto my wife’s Galaxy S III, I need help setting up a printer. Lucky for me, my career’s arc also coincided with the rise of software.

Back when I graduated university oh so many moons ago, software was literally rocket science. I entered the industry at the cusp of the transition from the mainframe/minicomputer eras to the client/server era. When I started coding at a Wall Street firm in the early 1990s, software was controlled by “men in white coats” in the mainframe room. I use to send jobs to CICS via JCL (not a Java class library for anyone under 40) and had to wait for approval, then for execution time. Software was complex to build, expensive to produce, and had way too many moving parts. In short, software sucked and only NASA and big banks invested in custom software development.

Lucky for me, that quickly changed and the client/server era, followed by the .COM era liberated millions of software developers like me. The last twenty years have seen a revolution in the ease of building software and the economics of software development, changing the lives of just about everyone on the planet. Software’s liberation from the men in white coats in the Mainframe room has made entrepreneurship far easier (and cheaper) as I have described here.

Over the past few months I have realized something, just as I thought that the software revolution was only catching its stride after 20 years of liberation, I noticed that everyone around me was building something physical. Maybe this is because I live in Hong Kong and the high tech manufacturing center of the world is a 30 minute train ride away in Shenzhen, China. Or maybe it is because my mentor is obsessed with 3-D printers and has had a 3-D printer the size of a washing machine in his basement for a decade. But no, something else is happening: Hardware is the New Software.

My eyes started to open on a day trip to Shenzhen earlier this year to the Huaqiangbei Electronics market. My friend who brought me to the market made it sound like a giant Frys or even Best Buy, however, what I encountered was astonishing. This is how I describe Huaqiangbei to people: imagine the largest shopping mall you have ever seen. Picture it filled with just a single component of motherboards. Then picture an identical one next to it containing just the internals of a USB port. Then picture an identical one next to it filled with just WiFi radios. Then one for cell phone screens, wires, LED displays, etc, etc. The place is enormous and supports the supply chain of the large contract manufacturers in Shenzhen, like Foxconn building your iPad.

The side effects of the radical growth of consumer electronics and its suppliers ecosystem are huge. Hardware has gotten cheaper and componentized. Hardware has been liberated!

Earlier this year I was helping out and mentoring a company in an accelerator in China. This was no ordinary accelerator, it was the first ever hardware accelerator, HAXLR8R. HAXLR8R took in a cohort of ten companies and had them spend three months in Shenzhen building their prototypes and had the final “demo days” in Silicon Valley. The company that I helped mentor put their project on Kickstarter and raised the required $200k in less than a week and have raised well over $350k in three weeks.

Earlier this week, I was judging the Imagine Cup, an international software competition for university students. After well over 200 teams from 75 countries was narrowed down to six finalists, here was the breakdown:

  • 3 teams were a hardware solution that was supported by custom software that they wrote
  • 1 team built a piece of hardware and connected a Kinect to it
  • 1 team was a software solution that had a Kinect component to it as well
  • 1 team was a pure software solution

Five out of the six teams incorporated hardware, and four of those built their own hardware! For a software competition! By students!

Just as software was once hard to build and expensive to prototype years ago, as recently as three years ago, hardware was difficult and expensive. Just as software was liberated 20 years ago, hardware has been liberated, thanks to componentized supply chains, the economies of scale, and open hardware facilitation co-work spaces in many cities such as Dim Sum Labs here in Hong Kong and SEED Studio in Shenzhen.  Now just about anyone can rapidly and cheaply prototype their hardware solution and seek a first production run by an eager factory in the developing world funded by putting the prototype up on Kickstarter. The DIY (do it yourself) revolution has begun!

The software revolution changed the world in some pretty dramatic ways. The hardware revolution will be even more dramatic.

posted on Friday, July 13, 2012 3:45:24 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Monday, January 2, 2012

I’ve been using the Kindle Fire for three weeks now and figured it was time to post my thoughts on the Fire.

Getting Started

Living in Hong Kong, the Fire is not available here, so I had to order one (the day it was announced) and have it shipped to my mom’s house in New York. I couldn’t wait to go home to New York to visit for the Christmas holiday and get my Fire. As soon as I got there, I opened it up and got started. Out of the box, the experience was great.

Almost immediately I was up and running. Since I use the Amazon App store in my Nexus One Android phone, I was able to immediately log in and download all of my favorite apps. Since I am an Amazon customer and “normal” Kindle owner, I was also able to load up my Amazon cloud stuff right away (my Kindle books, MP3 music, and videos that I have purchased via Amazon.) I like the carousel/bookshelf UI of the Fire and found it easy to navigate (and to be fair, my Fire was updated, so I did not have the swipe problems early owners had.) I also seem to be the only person on the planet who likes the UI, but the iPad and Android UI of icons just bores me, reminds me of Windows 3.1.

I started using the mail client and web browser as well as Pulse to aggregate news and content in the popular e-magazine format. Loaded Twitter and Facebook of course. I also installed my favorite app of all time, Evernote, and immediately started to use it. I also fired up the Amazon Cloud player and got to all of my stored MP3s and videos. Using the Amazon Prime account that comes with the Fire, I was able to watch a bunch of movies and other video content. (But since I live in Hong Kong, I have to push my internet connection via a VPN to fool Amazon that I am in the United States as they don’t have distribution deals internationally.) I sat with my dad and watched a news commentary on YouTube about the street protests in Europe. Lastly, I transferred some of my Kindle magazines over to the Fire as well as all of my books and started to supplement my Kindle Touch reading with the Fire. Reading with the Kindle Fire is just like reading with the iPad or another non e-ink device.

The Fire has a tremendous amount of games. So many that I think they are going after the family segment. (I don’t play games all that often, but at times when I am bored on a plane, you can find me playing Angry Birds.) This is real smart, every kid wants an iPad, but what they really want is a tablet to play games and surf the web. My nephew wants an iPad, so I gave him my Fire to play with and he found Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja in 10 seconds and then disappeared with my Fire for a few hours. I don’t think that he needs an iPad and at $200, families can buy Fires for each kid.

As a frequent traveler (with a laptop) and huge content consumer, the Fire is perfect for me. The smaller size makes it easier to hold and read and travels better than a 10 inch tablet.

The Elephant in the Room

Since the Fire is a tablet, it will get compared the grand daddy of the category: the iPad. While it is only natural to compare the iPad and the Fire, I am not sure it is the right thing to do. While in different categories, they are selling to different segments. Similar to a BMW convertible and a four door Toyota sedan, they are in the same category (autos) but sell to and appeal to different segments (single men for the BMW and a family for the Toyota.)

The iPad appeals to the tech elite and folks who have already made a significant investment in iTunes or the Apple ecosystem. The Fire will appeal to those people who have not yet bought a tablet and like the Kindle, kids, and folks who like to play games. In addition, the Fire will appeal to uber tech geeks who will want to root it and play with the underlying Android OS (like me).

As an iPad 1.0 user, I am not missing anything with the Fire, except the Economist application, but I can side load that on the Fire if I get impatient waiting for that to be available (or break down and buy the Kindle version). Everyone complained about a lack of a webcam on the Fire, but as a iPad 1.0 user I don’t miss it. When I am on the road, I travel with my laptop and tablet, so I don’t need a webcam. The Fire will replace my iPad (at least for now, who knows what the future will bring…)

I won’t say that Apple is in trouble, since Amazon has attacked the bottom segment of the market. Traditionally, vendors eventually work their way up after they conquer the bottom segment, so expect to see higher end Fires in the future.


posted on Monday, January 2, 2012 10:45:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Monday, October 11, 2010

Microsoft is launching Windows Phone 7 today and I fear it may be too late. I, like many Microsoft watchers, was an early adopter of Windows Mobile. I used my Windows Mobile 6.x phone until it broke, and even then, I put tape over it and got another 6 months out of it.

I held out until I arrived in Hong Kong last summer to buy a new phone, a HTC Magic running Android 1.7. I liked it so much, I was one of the first people in Hong Kong to buy a Nexus One back in January-this after I had one of the first sneak peeks at WP7 on Microsoft’s campus in January.

As I used my “Google Phone” as I call it, I soon became dependent on Gmail for my main email communication, and other Google applications for my other daily chores. I use to use hosted Exchange and POP with Outlook and Outlook Web Access, now I am 100% Gmail, I don’t even have Outlook installed on my machine. I frequently show a Hong Kong taxi driver where I am going on Google Maps and use Layer (and a little Foursquare) to find new places to eat and such in Hong Kong all the time. I use the camera on the phone so much that I don’t even carry my point and click anymore. I sit at Starbucks and use the WiFi hotspot from Android 2.2 to work all day. The list goes on.

Google lured me in with a new phone and then before I knew it, I was deep inside the Googleplex and outside of the Microsoftplex.

Today, Windows Phone 7 ships. The problem with Windows Phone 7 is that it is one year too late. Last summer all the people like me with a Windows Mobile 6 phone had a new contact, or broken phone and went with an iPhone or Android. Those customers may never come back. I may not.

posted on Monday, October 11, 2010 7:21:22 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Friday, June 25, 2010

The battle for mobile supremacy has really heated up. Apple and Goolge had round 1 back in January with the release of the Google Nexus One. With the release of the iPhone 4 and the Droid X we are well into round 2.  I am not going to debate which device is better or worse, that is for the market to shake out. Rather I want to comment on how the popularity of each device is strengthening its underlying platform. The iPhone 4.0 and iPad 1.0 run on iOS 4. Google’s mainline devices run Android 2.1 or will be upgraded to Android 2.2. “Froyo'”.  It has been reported that Google will release an iPad style “Google Pad” based on Android 2.x as well. Developers are lining up to write applications for these two platforms, each expanding from the phone to a slate/tablet device. It is possible you may see netbook style devices running iOS and Android soon. That said, looking ahead 5 years from now, which one will “win” the most mindshare?

Apple’s iOS is quite popular since the iPhone and iPad are selling so well. Developers are turned off by the AppStore’s approval process and Objective-C in general. Apple also maintains complete control over iOS and you can’t license it and put it on your own consumer electronics device. Android is more open and easier to program for since it uses the more mainstream Java language. It is also possible that you can use Android on other devices (I know a company here in Hong Kong building a consumer electronics device based on Android.) Also, Google’s marketplace is not restricted (hence you can download porn apps if you like.)

In the long term my money is behind Google for two reasons: it is easier to code for and it more open. Eventually what you will see is applications appearing first on the Android then on the iPhone, with some never making it over for AppStore reasons or for Objective-C reasons. (This already happened with several World Cup focused applications.) Applications are what make a platform, you can have a more “cool” platform with less apps and the less “cool” platform with more apps will still win. Think Mac v PC 15+ years ago.

Speaking of PCs, where is Microsoft in all of this? The Zune based Windows Phone 7 is not slated to come out any time soon. By the time WP7 ships we will be talking about iPhone 5.0 rumors, Android 3.0 rumors, and the next generation iPad. Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do.

posted on Friday, June 25, 2010 5:40:43 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Wednesday, March 10, 2010

While there is a Nobel prize in other scientific fields, there really isn’t one for computing. Instead we have the A.M. Turing Award, the next best thing. According to Wikipedia, the award: is given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The contributions should be of lasting and major technical importance to the computer field".

Past recipients have included legends such as EF Codd and Fred Brooks. This year the award went to Chuck Thacker, a technical fellow at Microsoft Research for his lifetime achievement and for his work in the early 1970s on the Alto, the first PC. (When he worked at the Xerox PARC.) More on Thacker and the award can be viewed here.

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posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 10:07:22 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, November 20, 2009

As I sit in my hotel room recovering from my PDC Hangover and reflecting on the past week, the Day 2 keynote by Steven Sinofsky was the highlight for me.

You may be thinking, yea yea, lucky bastard, you got a free laptop. Sure that was awesome, but that is not what stuck out most in my head. The most important thing that Sinofsky did was to be brutally honest with the audience. This represents a new attitude from Microsoft.

Sinofsky admitted Vista’s flaws. To prove that he got it, he even showed some of the annoying dialogs and videos of customers doing useability testing with those annoying dialogs. (He did follow up with some of the changes Windows 7 made and some of customer useability tests.)

Then he moved to IE 9 development. I remember the Microsoft of the browser wars era. The one where Bill Gates would get on stage in front of 20,000 people at COMDEX and never say the words “Netscape” but rather “down level browser.” At the PDC keynote, Sinofsky  said the words “Firefox” and “Google Chrome”. Not only did he say those words, he showed charts at how slow IE 8 is compared to Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Of course he was also showing how IE9 will be just as fast, but he is openly admitting in front of 5,000 people and live on streaming video that IE 8 sucks.


He also talked about how IE 8 fails the ACID 3 Standards Test. I ran it here and IE 8 gets a pathetic 20 out of 100:


Then Sinofsky talked about IE9 and the Acid 3 test. IE 9 gets a pretty sad 32, but he showed it anyway and promised to get better.


I also like Sinofsky because he is accessible. When Win7 went RTM to MSDN last summer, I sent a message complaining about what I thought was a bug to an internal Microsoft email alias. Sinofsky replied to me personally with a solution (on a weekend), and it was soon clear to me that the problem was caused by something that I did, not Win 7. I followed up with some thanks for the solution and told him that the real problem was somewhere “between the chair and the keyboard.” He even replied back again saying no problem and we had a few more mails in the thread and a good laugh. This is a very busy VP in charge of one of the most widely used products in the world taking time out to talk and troubleshoot with a customer.

You may be thinking, sure Steve but you are an MVP and RD. Well at the PDC in the afternoon after they gave us the laptops, Sinofsky spend about an hour or two walking around looking for people in the cafe playing with their new laptops. He stopped and chatted with each person asking how they liked it, did the touch live up to their expectations, etc. Then he went to the expo hall and did a book signing (with free copies of his book) and even posed for photos with anyone who wanted as he signed the book.

This level of accessible and honesty is simply amazing. Keep it up Microsoft.

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posted on Friday, November 20, 2009 4:31:29 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, September 24, 2009

Those of you who know me know that I love Nepal. My first of four visits to Nepal was in 2002 and I have been hooked ever since. My Everest expedition in 2003 changed my life and my base camp expedition in 2008 was my first time acting as a professional guide. We also raised over $20,000 for charity on that adventure. I am leaving tomorrow (Friday Sept 25th) on a new challenge: building a school and library in the remote village of Chyangba in Nepal. Chyangba is a special place since it is home to my lead (sidar) Sherpa, Ngima. Ngima just summated Mt. Everest for the first time in May. Ngima has been at my side each and every trip I have made to Nepal and he is family to me.

The village where he grew up, where his mother lives, and where most of the Sherpa he hires for my trips live is Chyangba. Last year volunteers built a school there. This year we raised enough money to get a lot of books and get every kid a uniform. Now we are building a library. The structure is mostly built, we are headed there for the next 10 days to complete the project.

Joining me are:

Notice that 4 MVP are coming (including myself) representing 3.5 countries (since I am from USA but live in Hong Kong.) The four of us have decided to adopt Chyangba and will continue to return and donate to the village. I hope to create an endowment for the school and library and enable them to have internet access so the school in New York that we raised money for last year will be able to become a sister school and allow the kids to web cam each other. Next year we hope to bring running water to the village (we need $20,000 for that.)

I hope that as a community we can also help out. We are fortunate to have great jobs and great opportunity. When I told geeks in Germany this week at Basta! about my adventure, several handed me cash on the spot. (And due to the strength of the Euro it turns out to be a lot of money.) Individual members of Telerik have given me money as well and the company as a whole has supported my efforts. I spoke to the boys at arch-rival DevExpress and they are game too. If you want, you can donate here.

In addition to the 4 MVPs that are going, we have the organizers of the charity coming and Richard Campbell is bringing his wife and friend Roger from Vancouver. Roger is a carpenter, who brought about 90 lbs of tools and supplies. We spent all day today in Hong Kong looking for containers to pack the equipment in. (We found a good sturdy bag to get it all there.)

I’ll be going offline for two weeks, see you in early October….


posted on Thursday, September 24, 2009 9:45:33 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, August 28, 2009

Apparently iPhones explode. There is a report today of a 15 year old in Belgium who’s iPhone exploded. In addition there was a report about two weeks ago of an iPhone in France and there have been other reports in the UK and across the US. Luckily only minor injuries have been reported.

The European Commission is starting to investigate. Apparently Apple has not issued a warning and it could be a fluke.

posted on Friday, August 28, 2009 10:39:59 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Saturday, November 1, 2008

Why not? I got home late last night from PDC and decided to stay up late, watch some TV and install my pre-beta version of Windows 7 on my spare laptop. The installation went very well and I decided to take some of the new features out for a spin.

While there are some bells and whistles out there for the consumer, however, for a developer I really like the the virtual machine support. I was able to load up my VHDs really fast and even set a VHD as a boot partition (wow!). The VHD support is so good that I am considering bringing this Windows 7 laptop to TechEd in Barcelona and do all of my sessions off the Win 7 laptop.

It has only been one day but Windows 7 appears very stable, has good power management, and is fast. It also is pretty slick looking with the Avalon UI stuff turned on. If my experience changes, I will report it back here.

posted on Saturday, November 1, 2008 9:34:39 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My view of FireFox 3.0, about 10 times a day.  Still waiting for a service pack...

posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 10:54:18 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, March 3, 2008

I just got a new tablet PC and am loading it up for my upcoming trips to MIX, and TechDays in Lisbon, Portugal. When you load up a new computer you realize what you really need. So I figured that I would list them here, besides the common denominator of Windows, Office, Visual Studio, and SQL Server, here are the five pieces of software that I can't live without, software that I use on a daily basis:

1. Skype. I use Skype daily to drive the evil telcos out of business. For example I just loaded up Skype on my new computer today and had two conversations with people overseas for over an hour all for free. I pay for SkypeIn and SkypeOut and SkypePro, very valuable tools when I travel.

2. Netvibes. I use Netvibes to create a custom home page as my start page. It aggregates all of my RSS feeds as well as the typical sports, news, stocks, and weather.

3. Trillian. I use Trillian to have 1 IM client for all of my accounts: MSN, Yahoo, AOL, etc.

4. Snagit. Great for screen captures, great for telling developers what is wrong with their pages.

5. SQL Data Compare and SQL Compare. These tools from Red Gate software keep your SQL Server databases in sync. Invaluable!

posted on Monday, March 3, 2008 3:12:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I got a brand new Zune for Christmas. Anyway, subscribing to Podcasts on a Zune has been, well challenging. Actually almost impossible for mere mortal. I have figured out how to do this and will explain it below. Before I do that, I have to tell you a story.

I found a great Podcast courtesy of my friend Robert Lazo. It is the Stanford University Educational Corner’s Entrepreneur Podcast. It has great content. (BTW, it this content interests you, here is the link.)

I downloaded it to my Zune and after I listened to a few of the Podcasts, I told Kathleen that she needs to listen as well. She has an iPod. But she was too lazy to download them to her iPod so she kept borrowing my Zune. After not finding my Zune where I left it the other day I suggested that she just subscribe to the Podcast. She did. Boom, just like that I sent her the link and 1.3 gigs of data started downloading to her device in a very organized manor.

Not so easy with the Zune. So here is what I had to do.

Step 1. Subscribe the RSS feed manually via Internet Explorer 7.0

After I paste in the link to the RSS feed into the browser, IE 7.0 allowed me to subscribe to it. Since I am running Vista and Office 2007, the RSS feed tried to show up all over the place, the annoying sidebar and downloading in Outlook. (As if Outlook 2007 isn’t slow enough.)

Step 2. Setting up the Feed to Automatically download the content

You have to then click on the “view feed properties..”  link to bring up the properties dialog. Here you have to check the box that says “Automatically Download Attached Files.”

Step 3. Finding where IE decides to put your files

Next you have to find out where IE will store the downloaded content. You can do this via selecting the “View Files” button. This will open the folder where IE stores your content. Copy the location from your Windows Explorer address bar. Here is where IE stores it on my computer: C:\Users\StephenForte\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\TemporaryInternetFiles\Enclosure\{620E20DE-0D04-449C-B2FD-B0E9B19C852B}

Step 4. Adding that Folder to Zune’s Library

Open your Zune software and select Options|Add Folder to Library from the main menu. At this point you can see what folders Zune syncs and you will have the opportunity to add the folder.

That’s it. Just four painful steps. There are also many other problems. If you clean out your temporary internet files, you lose your podcasts and have to start over with the downloads. Also once you listen to a podcast, Zune and IE have no idea that you don’t want it anymore.

Luckily there are some 3rd party tools to help with this problem, like FeedMyZune. They basically do a version of what  I just did behind the scenes for you. You may want to try that.


posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2007 4:56:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, April 26, 2007

Yesterday Microsoft released BizTalk Services CTP to the public. This one little CTP changes everything. Honest.

In the Beginning

It used to be very hard to build a distributed application. The pioneers in this field were Napster, Seti@Home and ICQ. To make applications like this work, you needed to have clients identify themselves and a message relay on the back end. Think of a switchboard for your applications telling user 1 how to communicate to user 2. If you wanted to build these connected systems, it would require a lot of infrastructure-a tremendous amount if you your application became popular. This has always been the barrier to entry. 

The Enterprise Service Bus

As time passed and web services came on to the scene, things got easier. A lot of the hard part of the pluming was taken care of; transport was easy via HTTP and speaking the same language was easy with SOAP. As time moved on and things got easier, people started pushing Web Services to the limit and the vendors started to really support building connected systems. After nearly a decade of XML and SOAP, most developers take it for granted. Enterprises now rely on this technology.

Enter the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). ESB is an acronym (we always need a TLA, don’t we?) that is hot right now. The notion is that you have a set of shared services in an enterprise that act as a foundation for discovering, connecting and federating services. This is the natural evolution of the technology, as enterprises rely on the technology and themselves grow more federated, enterprises will standardize discovering, connecting and federating services.

Internet Service Bus

As Clemens argued yesterday, the release of the BizTalk Services CTP creates the first Internet Service Bus. Clemens says:

Two aspects that make the idea of a "service bus" generally very attractive are that the service bus enables identity federation and connectivity federation. This idea gets far more interesting and more broadly applicable when we remove the "Enterprise" constraint from ESB it and put "Internet" into its place, thus elevating it to an "Internet Services Bus", or ISB. If we look at the most popular Internet-dependent applications outside of the browser these days, like the many Instant Messaging apps, BitTorrent, Limewire, VoIP, Orb/Slingbox, Skype, Halo, Project Gotham Racing, and others, many of them depend on one or two key services must be provided for each of them: Identity Federation (or, in absence of that, a central identity service) and some sort of message relay in order to connect up two or more application instances that each sit behind firewalls - and at the very least some stable, shared rendezvous point or directory to seed P2P connections. The question "how does [MSN] Messenger work?" has, from an high-level architecture perspective a simple answer: The Messenger "switchboard" acts as a message relay.

Changing Business Models

In order to build distributed applications (and make money!) you have to scale to support the load your users and customers will add. This forced businesses to spend a disproportionate amount of money on hardware and too much time building the plumbing software.  Let’s take my business Corzen for example. Corzen collects specific data from the internet via spidering (like Google.) Corzen then crunches the data: we de-dupe it, aggregate it, match it with Dun & Bradstreet and US Govt data, and then apply some statistical models. We then deliver this “crunched” data to customers on a weekly basis.

The value add is the “crunching” of the data. Where do you think 75% of my technology budget goes to? You guessed it, the spidering infrastructure. We spider 24X7 and collect between 4-10 million records each week from spidering. As you can imagine our customers want more and more sites to be spidered and more frequently. We spent a year building an amazing XML based, queue and batch based, distributed application with WCF.  We can load URLs into a queue and then go to a web page where we can send that job to several spider servers via WCF. Our spider servers are low cost Virtual Private Servers on ISPs around the world running a simple spidering engine that uses reflection to dynamically compile C# code instructions and apply RegEx patterns. When Corzen was young, we manually started these engines via RDP. As we scaled, we had to build this system.

How does an Internet Service Bus change the Corzen business model and cost structure? Every few weeks we get new requests by customers to add more sites to our list of sites and we have to add spidering capacity. Since spidering is so basic, I have always wanted to have our customers spider for us (or fan out the spidering to 3rd parties for a small fee). I can then offer our customers a discount on their monthly fees based on the amount of spiders they will run for us.

This is win win win, they get more data faster, and I lower my overhead and pass that savings on to the customer. This drastically changes my focus. I spend 50% of my time managing the spidering, worrying about capacity, and expanding the spidering infrastructure. Corzen’s cost structure changes as does the relationship with our customer-we become partners in the data acquisition “plumming” and Corzen can focus on the analytics-what the customers really want us to do. In other words we get out of the raw material business (spidering) and focus on the manufacturing of the product (the analytics.) Corzen was recently acquired by a company that does spidering as well, but not the analytics. This is an exciting move since we can join forces with the spidering capacity and Corzen can focus more on the analytics.

Today, the problem with having our customers do spidering (or paying you on your idle time to do some spidering for us) is simple. With over 100 customers, you try getting our WCF application to work on all of their servers through our firewall  and their firewall. BizTalk services solves this problem. BizTalk services will provide a globally addressable name for Corzen’s service and securely expose that service to the Internet from behind a firewall or NAT as shown here.

As Dennis argues:

Use the Relay at http://connect.biztalk.net. We’ve shipped an SDK with a few samples showing you how you use the relay and identity services together. If you’re familiar with Windows Communication Foundation, you’ll find this trivial to use (by design!). Basically, your service opens at a URI on the connect.biztalk.net machines. Then a client connects to that URI and can start sending messages. We don’t want to be in the way of your app, so our relay will immediately try to establish a direct connection between clients. More details on this how this all works in a later post. Here’s a quick diagram that describes it at a high level.


Microsoft vs. Google

Everyone always likes to compare the “war” between Microsoft and Google. Maybe it is Google’s stock price or the popularity of its search engine or Gmail system. I look at the companies as light years apart. At its core, Google is an advertising company (highlighted by its recent acquisition of DoubleClick.) Sure Google will expose some APIs for developers, however, everything it does from Gmail to search is to gain more eyeballs for its ads.

Microsoft is a company about selling Windows. What has made Windows so popular is that Microsoft gives developers amazing tools to build applications around Windows, Office and the Internet. The strength of Microsoft is the developer community surrounding its products. You always hear about the next great thing that is going to “take Microsoft down.” The only thing that will take Microsoft down is a company with a compelling platform that also provides tools for developers to create applications on that platform.

The latest thing to come to take Microsoft down is Software as a Service. Think Google Spreadsheet. Businesses will all use the Spreadsheet in the sky and store its data on Google’s servers. Ditto with Gmail, why bother with Exchange?

Microsoft does have a cool differentiating factor: its hybrid approach. Microsoft is offering Software + Services.  As I said in eWeek, with such a huge commitment to the OS and other installed software already, Microsoft is actually in a position to deliver software and a service on top of it.

The marketplace wants a hybrid solution and Microsoft is the only one who can deliver it in the short to medium term, giving Microsoft a competitive advantage. Everyone thought Google Docs would kill Office but in reality, Google docs are cool but Enterprises have issues today with using it offline and inside of a browser (copy and paste is strange, so is right clicking in a cell). Personally I use Google Spreadsheet to keep track of simple things but Microsoft Excel to do the more processor intensive operations.  In addition, I work offline a tremendous amount as well don’t trust Larry and Sergey to store my very sensitive documents.

Think of Excel as software + services. Excel can be sold and run on your computer. You can store your documents locally or up in the cloud. Processor intensive operations can utilize your local super-fast Pentium 1million Processor and your 2 GB of RAM. Collaborative efforts can be handled by the cloud.  Additional services like statistical number crunching or anything that needs to be distributed can be handled by the cloud. Multiple editors and viewers, in the cloud. You get the point.

This is where BizTalk Services come in. It is an early way for developers to deliver Software plus Services.

The Future of Business

As I said, this changes everything. We can all agree that distributed applications are the future. In order to make money you have to scale to support the load your users and customers will add. This forced businesses to spend a disproportionate amount of money and focus on technology (and pay CTOs way too much!)

We are so focused on technology that CEOs and Venture Capitalists are desperately trying to learn about the basics of technology-time they should be spending working through business models and looking for competitive advantages.

BizTalk services and ultimately all of the Software plus Services (including other vendors, not just Microsoft) will change the way we do business in 5-10 years. Imagine if we had to run a switchboard to run our phones in the office? So an oil company or a bank would have to develop the technical expertise to run the phones. This infrastructure is solved by the phone company (and now VoIP!) In the future, businesses will only have to focus on their core businesses and most software will run locally with services up in the cloud, drastically reducing the investment in core IT infrastructure internally. It’s a brave new world out there.

posted on Thursday, April 26, 2007 3:33:17 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, February 1, 2007

As published 10 years ago in Advisor:

Forte’s Hierarchy of Technology Adoption

Whenever a new technology comes out it goes through phases of adoption.  When the new giga-wiz bang techno gadget comes out it follows a predictable pattern. The same is true for technologies such as XML and other Java.

The hierarchy is this:

·         Porn

·         Black-market

·         The Geeks

·         Gadget Men

·         Mainstream Society

·         Mom and Grandma


The Porn industry adopts technology first. If you are a uber geek, you need to get into porn. When I was CTO at Zagat during the .COM boom, a dirty little secret of all CTO’s was that we watched the Porn industry very carefully. Porn is responsible for every technical innovation on the internet in the last 10 years. Credit Card transactions, micropayments, high speed access, chat, video conferencing, just to name a few.


Next (and sometimes simultaneously) comes the black market. They are the next to adopt. This is not just crime syndicates or terrorists like al Qaeda using the latest IP blocking technology, this is kids downloading movies on bit torrent as well.

The Geeks

After the porn and hackers cut their teeth, the Geeks pick up the new technology. These are the guys that understand the fundamentals of technologies and want the new toys and tools and are willing to risk the blue screen of death to get it.

Gadget Men

You know who you are, the early adopters. You must have the plasma TV or new Bluetooth PDA. You will spend anything to get it, no matter how much you are already in debt.

Mainstream Society

After the Gadget boys have worked through the kinks, Apple or Sony will make it easy for the rest of society. This is usually when the wives of Gadget men stop complaining. Prices come way down at this point as well.

Mom and Grandma

When technical neophytes adopt a new technology, or have even heard of it (my mom knows about RSS) then it has truly been adopted and is as standard as a telephone.

Let's follow MP3s.

MP3s are “motion pictures group level 3” files. Digital audio to go with digital video. Porn was first to adopt this over 10 years ago!.

Then came the illegal-Napster comes to mind!

Then the geeks like me, we encoded MP3 manually and had the first players. This was about 1999. A few years later with Creative and others we got the Gadget men on board.

When the iPod (with its mini, shuffles, etc) and ultimately iTunes the mainstream society adopted and the price points came down and the attention was huge. Lastly, my Dad has an MP3 player, so even Mom, Dad and Grandma have adopted!


posted on Thursday, February 1, 2007 1:48:23 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, January 31, 2007

One of the smartest database computer scientiests, Jim Gray is missing at sea. Please have your thoughts and prayers with him.

posted on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 7:29:38 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, September 7, 2006

BarCamp is coming back to New York City for a second round!  I'm happy to announce that BarCamp NYC will be hosted at the Microsoft office in midtown Manhattan.  (The first round of BarCamp in NYC took place last January.)

What is BarCamp?  BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment.  It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees.  Check out BarCamp.org for more information

I'll post more details about the event as it draws closer.  However, watch the BarCampNYC2 site for the latest information.  In the meantime, if you're interested in helping out by speaking, please visit the site and add a session to the Proposed Sessions list!  The session schedule gets hacked together on the morning of the event. 

posted on Thursday, September 7, 2006 2:29:20 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, June 2, 2006

Do you know what pisses me off more than the French falsely accusing Lance Armstrong of doping in the 1999 Tour de France? People who litigate, not innovate.


I would like to draw your attention today to Adobe. Adobe is trying to prevent Microsoft from implementing the File| Save As PDF feature of the next version of Office. (Office 2007.) But wait, it gets better. They want Microsoft to charge more money to customers who use this feature, even though it's a feature in both Wordperfect Office and Open Office! So it is free to use in Wordperfect and OpenOffice, but not MS Office!


The use of the PDF spec has ALWAYS been free for everyone to use, Adobe says that PDF is an open spec. So Microsoft should be able to implement this feature for free. Adobe is considering suing Microsoft for anti-trust reasons in Europe as well is a cheerleader for others who have sued Microsoft for antitrust.


Microsoft is not perfect. But this is the pot calling the kettle black.

posted on Friday, June 2, 2006 5:09:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tomorrow is the 12th annual Technology Enterprise Forum here in Manhattan.

I was a judge this year in the outsourcing category. It was fun to judge the submissions, you can submit yourself for a best practice award next year here.

posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 3:46:32 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bill Gates yesterday announced that Microsoft will ship an update to Internet Explorer, IE 7. It will focus on Security and Features and only run on Windows XP SP 2. In addition, IE 7 will include Microsoft’s AntiSpyware technology for free.


This is all good. FireFox has been gaining market share since it is newer, more secure, and has better features; I was dreading waiting until Longhorn to have a new version of IE.


Looking forward to installing it...

posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 2:47:13 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [10] Trackback
# Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I stated using Google proper (www.google.com) since it was faster (and still is) to type in DataReader.Read() into Google and get to the MSDN page than search MSDN itself. This was back in about 2000 when Google released the www.google.com/microsoft.html page that indexes all the Microsoft specific sites (including blogs and 3rd party sites besides MSDN content).   


I installed the Google toolbar as well as the Yahoo, A9 and MSN toolbars and played with them the best I could, but I always came back to Google. Until after its IPO, it removed the “search Microsoft” from its drop down list and I had to bookmark www.google.com/microsoft.html.


I was very excited about Google Desktop and installed it right away. I was marginally impressed. I did not like the web interface-why bother with creating a web server on the user’s machine, if you are going to install custom software why not something easier to manage? That said I started to use it anyway. After some time of using it I came to notice that all I was really concerned with was email and attachments in email, so on the advice of Adam Cogan (gulp) I installed Lookout (which Microsoft has since purchased) and used that extensively-as it is better than Google Desktop for email searches and it integrated into Outlook, I even uninstalled Google Desktop from machine.


So when Microsoft yesterday announced the new MSN toolbar that also performed Desktop Search I was not immediately excited. Like the curious cat that I am, I installed it anyway.


I was surprised! MSN Toolbar/Desktop Search is a far superior product than Google Desktop (and Lookout). Here is why:


The toolbars have the same functionality but Google took about 3 days to archive and MSN about an hour.

MSN search has English Questions Ask it: “What is the capital of the Netherlands” and Encarta will come up along with the answer as well as web links below it. Google just has links.

 MSN has superior local search, but Google is catching up fast.

**Google does have that super cool autcomplete in beta and announced today that it was scanning in textbooks and university libraries.

True Google has Newsgroup archives, but I rarely ever use that-old Newsgroups are not as interesting to me as current ones which now MSN can do via indexing Outlook Express (you have to subscribe to them first though)


Using MSN Toolbar on the desktop is great. I usually don’t have this sort of reaction to software. It has autocomplete and immediate feedback as you type. I typed in “Clem” and it knew I was searching for Clemens Vasters.

It is super smart and real fast. It even indexes data better than Google. It even picked up an XML file of some old sample data from a Conference-Google Desktop did not.


It is still in beta and not perfect (why not index .CS files???), but I am already using it as my main search for the web and desktop. I had been hard code Google user for 4 years-it has not come to an end. 

posted on Tuesday, December 14, 2004 5:59:41 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [12] Trackback
# Monday, September 20, 2004


But bloggers are better fact checkers than Dan Rather, so I guess you can say that bloggers are other forms of news sites, opinion sites, and technical resources.

posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 5:46:49 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [24] Trackback
# Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I have a Motorola MPX 200 SmartPhone. AT&T sucks-ass and will only sell the phone with the SmartPhone 2002, quite possibly about as good an experience as airplane food. The next version is out, but AT&T refuses to sell it until its MPX 200 inventory is all sold out.


I got one anyway on eBay figuring I can flash it to SmartPhone 2003 at TechED or the MDC. Wrong. AT&T told Motorola to stop flashing the phones so people won’t upgrade. Well someone got pissed off and put the software to flash the phone up on the internt and my buddy the Toy Boy Richard Campbell downloaded it and gave it to me before it went away.


I pluged in my phone to my laptop and ran the software. It flashed to SmartPhone 2003 without incident.

Now I have two illegal phones that I did not buy from AT&T Wireless.

posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 4:27:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [22] Trackback
# Monday, August 30, 2004

There was a party for the Regional Directors and the Microsoft Developer Evangelists on Friday night and let me say that it was epic.


It was on a boat. This was no ordinary boat. After they fed us and opened the bar, a DJ and go-go dancers started to rev us. Clemens and I pulled up chairs and pretty much held court.


Then they announced there would be a belly dancer. They started to play Turkish music. Then building on the RD belly dancing traditions (me in Cairo and Clemens in Casablanca), Goksin Bakir decided to get up and dance. He was GOOD. Unfortunately they asked him to stop and the real belly dancer got up and started.


While that was all fun and games (and Clemens and I still holding court, but now about 8 or 9 beers later), the DJ decided to play some awesome Punjabi remixes and that got fellow RD Sanjay Shetty and I on the dance floor pretty hard core. (It has been almost a year since I learned to dance to Punjabi music in India.) We danced our brains out. SQL Hera also got down with Goksin, Michelle and I.


Richard Campbell did his weekly Toy Boy bit for .NET Rocks via Cell Phone on the boat as we passed Bill Gates house. I was too drunk and drooling over the belly dancer to participate.


Hours later (and buckets of sweat later too), the boat docked (and I headed to the airport for a redeye back to New York.)


See the team at TechEd in Kula Lumpur in a few weeks!

posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 1:44:37 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [20] Trackback
# Tuesday, August 24, 2004

 I installed Windows XP SP2. It ran without issue. Many people complain (most recently the Wall Street Journal) that SP2 does not include as part of the offering anti-Spam, anti-Spyware and anti-Virus. These are the same exact people who would complain that Microsoft is putting these independent third party people out of business. You can’t have it both ways.


XP2 is good enough. It automatically puts on your firewall and adds a pop-up blocker to IE, even though I run the google and msn toolbars, now I have three pop-up blockers. My  system seems stable and they have worked on the WiFi dialogs, lets see if it is any easier to connect to a local access point. The new “Security Center” may not be perfect but at least is a step in the right direction and future versions of Windows I am sure will build on top of this.


As for programs not working, we all knew this. If you are doing remote debugging with VS .NET or SQL Server you may have to tweak your system to accept the client requests, etc, but most non-developer and non-admin stuff will run fine. Microsoft has a list here.


So go install the damn thing.

posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 8:37:08 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [15] Trackback
# Friday, August 13, 2004

Ok sorry you can’t have it both ways. The industry has been bashing Microsoft for the last 5 or 10 years about being soft on security. Then when Microsoft releases the Windows XP Service Pack 2 which is a security focused SP, people whine about it breaking apps and being a chore to deploy to large corporate users. Stop the whining, just install the damn thing and make your system more secure. You can’t have it both ways. If you want Microsoft to respond to your security complaints, you have to make some sacrifices. I think these people have been bashing Microsoft for so long on security that now they are not sure what they will do with their newly found free time. (I am not saying that SP2 fixes very single hole but it does an amazing job. XP will be secure by default and much more focused on Security as a priority.)


The people who don’t install it and get hit with a virus or bug that is fixed by it are in my book like people who don’t vote but complain about the government.


And come on now developers. Quite a few applications will break under the new security-focused service pack. Many shouldn't have been written that way, and developers have had plenty of warning that things would change. Let me see, I personally delivered this message twice, once at DevDays in February and once at TechEd US in May. Combined over 50,000 people attended those developer conferences. Plus all the MS warnings on the web and in the press. SP2 will force you to develop more secure applications, so why not just get started…

posted on Friday, August 13, 2004 8:03:40 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [17] Trackback
# Wednesday, August 4, 2004

So my trusty Dell Inspiron 4150 is just over a year old. It has flown 157, 403 miles (thanks aa.com). It has been to strange places like Alaska and Mt. Everest. Egypt twice, Morocco, Tunis, all over Europe and Asia. I have delivered countless Tech*Ed sessions and the like on this trusty thing.

It has revolted against me! I think it is sick of flying. (Or of the TSA thinking it is an evil terrorist bomb.) Two weeks ago I had to replace the power supply. Then the screen went pink (I blame Kathleen, girl's like pink.) and the keyboard was all shot. So Dell came and gave me a new screen and keyboard last week.

As of Friday I can't turn it on. So Dell is coming today to give me a new motherboard and power button. Stay tuned. Before you know it I will have a whole new computer!

posted on Wednesday, August 4, 2004 12:04:49 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [15] Trackback
# Wednesday, July 14, 2004

It was a long night, but the rack is all set up and installed. I did some heavy lifting and even got my hands and clothes dirty. This is a new side of IT for me.

RAID all ok. I've got app servers talking to the SQL Servers. Only problem left is the VPN router. Stay tuned.

posted on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 10:58:30 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [12] Trackback
# Tuesday, July 13, 2004

In the process of installing Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition on three Dell Power Edges. Quite simple actually. Just wait the blog post when I have to install the RAID controller drivers. :)

posted on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 3:12:14 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [12] Trackback
# Thursday, July 8, 2004

Today I get to start playing with my new toys. Who said that Richard Campbell is the only one who can geek out and build a rack. (But he has helped me pick out my rack and given me good advice.)


So I got three PowerEdges from Dell, one big momma database server with RAID 5 and all the works and two thin ones. They are all redundant power and the processors are hyper threaded. So this is going to be a fun task setting this all up, getting the UPS power supply to the correct amps. Installing the correct rack rails. The router. VPN/RDP. RAID. And of course I have to install Windows 2003 on each server. I think I will use the Dell Open Manage Assistant for help with that. See you soon…

posted on Thursday, July 8, 2004 12:19:38 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [21] Trackback
# Friday, June 25, 2004

Forget Iraq, the real thing that happens on June 30th is the Microsoft ends support for Windows NT. There are over a million NT 4.0 clients out there. Good, the world need to upgrade to at least Windows 2000.


I am not a fan of big companies forcing upgrades down your throat, and nobody is forcing anything at all, you can still use the produce Microsoft will just not support it, but this technology is over 7 years old. Time to bite the bullet and upgrade.


Upgrading is a no brainier. Microsoft got it right with both Windows 2000 Server (2003 server is pretty rocking too) and Windows XP Client. I bet the people who “hate” Microsoft and complain most about the “crashes” are the ones running the oldest software. Well starting June 30th you can’t complain anymore. If you don’t want to upgrade try the “free” Linux. Please report back to me how that works out for you. :)



posted on Friday, June 25, 2004 4:19:27 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [14] Trackback
# Thursday, June 24, 2004

Please end the trial of Oracle. Let them merge with PeopleSoft. Right now SAP owns the largest market share of ERP/EAS systems with 34%, if the merger were to go through it would create an Oracle of 38% market share.

For starters Oracle is losing market share in the database field and needs something else to survive. If not it will dwindle in importance and IBM and Microsoft will own the database market. Second, in the ERP/EAS field SAP would face stronger competition and the customers would benefit from more innovation and better prices. The market works-only if you let it.

Besides are you going to let a German company be the market leader? Aren't they against us in the war on terror? (Sorry Clemens, couldn’t resist!) :)

posted on Thursday, June 24, 2004 4:38:27 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [21] Trackback
# Thursday, May 20, 2004

My pal Tom Howe always seems to be reformatting his computer at conferences the day before he speaks. I always mock him. As I leave for the most important conference of the year, TechED US in San Diego on Saturday, I am reformatting my laptop and reinstalling the OS.

I had some major issues. Boot sector issues (Richard Campbell gave me a few ideas, including messing w/ my BIOS). Video driver problems in XP. WiFi problems in Longhorn. The drive not being NTFS. SHall I go on? I seem to be in for a long night.

Thankfully we are doing our TechED demos off Ricahrd's laptop!! I usually follow my own advice, but the machine really needed a reformat. How many Dell laptops have been to Mt. Everest? I guess like me it just wants to go back.

posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 3:30:29 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [17] Trackback
# Monday, May 17, 2004

My favorite TV show, “Law and Order” is a very good show. I Tivo it and it is basically the only show I really watch on TV. One problem, for the last 5 years there have been various spin-offs and there are reruns for Law and Order on like 7 days a week. So there is just way too much Law and Order on TV!! Law and Order overload.

Same problem in blogland. My mom has a blog. Bill Gates is considering blogging. Your mom has a blog. George Bush as a blog. My dog has a blog. Where does it end? When such stong willed people like Richard Campbell feel that they have to blog you know that the end is near.

Blogland is way too crowded. Now I have to keep up with the web, emails and blogs. Information overload. Help. I don't think it will get better anytime soon.

Suddenly I wish it were 1994 and we all had 14.4 modems.

posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 5:44:22 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [15] Trackback
# Wednesday, April 21, 2004

CA’s Chairman and CEO Sanjay Kumar has stepped down and resigned his position from the board. Enron/WorldCom style accounting scandals have reached our industry.  It is a sad day. In a strange move, CA has created a new position for Kumar as chief software architect. Why keep him around at all? Did he do something wrong? If not why did he have to resign then? Investors and customers want to know.


Sanjay is also the co-owner of the New York Islanders NHL team, is there something going on there too? I mean they just lost in the first round of the playoffs.


A sidebar, I have always wondered what it would be like if CA were based in Canada. Their home page would be www.ca.ca



posted on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 4:16:45 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [7] Trackback
# Thursday, March 25, 2004

That was Sun Microsoft’s CEO Scott McNealy’s response to an IBM open letter to Sun to open up Java and make the Java language open source.


Many people have urged Sun to open up Java. After Eric Raymond’s open letter last month, Scott replied: “We’re trying to understand what problem does it solve that is not already solved.”


You make me laugh Scott. Too bad everyone else thinks you, your Linux strategy and desperate attempt to hold on to Java are a joke.


C# is open. J

posted on Thursday, March 25, 2004 3:57:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [28] Trackback

$613 million that is? The European Commission has fined Microsoft a record $613 million. What are they going to do with the money, further subsidize Airbus? Further subsidize French farmers? Lower German taxes? Give the money to Linux “research”? Send troops to Iraq?


I think that Microsoft is victim of anti-American sediment in Europe right now. The fine is excessive. It surpasses fines the Commission has imposed on price-fixing cartels and it sends the wrong message about antitrust enforcement priorities.


The US Attorney General’s Office agrees with me. "Imposing antitrust liability on the basis of product enhancements and imposing 'code removal' remedies may produce unintended consequences," US Assistant Attorney General Pate said. "Sound antitrust policy must avoid chilling innovation and competition even by 'dominant' companies. A contrary approach risks protecting competitors, not competition, in ways that may ultimately harm innovation and the consumers that benefit from it."


Come on now, Media Player? It sucks. Everyone downloads MusicMatch or WinAmp anyway. IE beat Netscape since Netscape took way too long to innovate (was years in-between releases). Media Player sucks and nobody really uses it.


So European Commission you showed your true colors Maybe the US should fine Airbus for dumping and price fixing.

posted on Thursday, March 25, 2004 9:12:04 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [12] Trackback
# Tuesday, March 23, 2004

This new virus is really causing problems. I am getting a fair amount every hour. ORCSWeb blocks them at the gateway and sends me a warning. Time to hunt down virus writers and throw them in jail.

The Declude Virus software on orcsweb.com has reported that you were sent an E-mail from ca@digsigtrust.com, containing the : W32/Netsky.P@mm virus in the document09.zip attachment. The subject of the E-mail was "Re: Proof of concept".

The E-mail containing the virus has been deleted to prevent further damage.

posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 3:55:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [11] Trackback
# Friday, March 19, 2004

Silly me did not know that there was a dasBlog 1.5 up at the gotdotnet workspace. All systems go.

I got my final Tech*Ed Assignment today. I am doing a session with fellow RD Richard Campbell, this should be huge:

From Interoperability to Migration: SQL Server and Linux Databases Working Together
"They" say it can be done, now see it in action! This session demonstrates how SQL Server can acts as the gateway to interoperability with Linux databases such as DB2  and Oracle! You'll see a fully functioning Linux-based web application using Red Hat Linux, Apache, PHP and Oracle sharing data with an identically implemented ASP.NET application using SQL Server. This session shows not only how to interoperate, but to use these interoperate capabilities to facilitate a seamless migration from the Linux based system to SQL Server and Windows . This is how migration was meant to be!

posted on Friday, March 19, 2004 12:15:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [15] Trackback
# Thursday, March 18, 2004

Today I updated my blog s/w to 1.4 since Clemens forced me to. :) I have some issues so comments don't work yet and such. I am going to also make some changes to the source code, maybe make it SQL Servere based and call it die Blog. hee hee

posted on Thursday, March 18, 2004 3:20:43 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [15] Trackback
# Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Nobody likes terrorists, something that I was unfortunately reminded of during my time here in Europe. Basically violence is not the answer to getting your cause heard.


I made the same claim against Environmental Terrorism. Most people would consider themselves an “environmentalist” (as I do) but prefer to protect the environment by recycling and giving money to organizations like the World Wildlife Fund. I do hate when Greenpeace or some other more radical group blows up a McDonalds or performs some other act of Environmental Terrorism.


Last month Microsoft was the victim of Corporate Terrorism plain and simple. Its source code was leaked in the Internet. I have no proof, but I bet it was done by people trying to prove a point that Open Source is “better” than closed source. These are nothing more than Corporate Terrorists, trying to hold a company hostage or bring it down.


I do not condemn the Open Source movement (doing so would force me to condemn many people important to me, including my roommate) just like I don’t condemn all Environmentalists when there is environmental terrorism (and I am not going to touch the hot potato of Islamic terrorism in this entry, stay tuned for my thoughts on Madrid in a later piece). But this clearly is a gross violation of IP and just plain old wrong. Whoever did this can you look at yourself in the mirror anymore? Who do you see back?


(This report was done via the free Internet in Paris, yes the Internet should be free everywhere!)

posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2004 9:44:58 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Monday, March 15, 2004

Well, Duh.


eWeek ran an article on Friday saying how users are willing to wait for Yukon and Whidbey. Well duh.


I blogged on this last week and someone disagreed with me, but I stick by my original statements. Think of it this way, Whidbey is due in early 2005 (1st half so let’s estimate April/May). Visual Studio 2003 shipped in April 2003, that is ONLY 2 YEARS between cycles. Part of me wants them to push it back again. I think it is a good thing that product cycles are getting longer. Software is more complex and needs the time for feedback and QA.


I showed off Whitehorse today in the Netherlands at CTTP. Whitehorse’s European debut. Developers were super excited but did not care that it was a year away, they wanted it done right. I had to demo Whitehorse today from an AVI I took of the screen shots on my computer back at the office, I could not get the Virtual Image to install without issue on my laptop, more a problem with my laptop than the image. (I hate DELL). So the Dutch were treated to the same demos I did at DevDays just without any bugs, errors, crashes, etc!


So my blog is apparently very well read in the Netherlands, it was quoted in a Dutch paper last week.


There was a moment of science today at noon all across Europe for the victims of the Madrid bombings on Thursday.

posted on Monday, March 15, 2004 8:20:06 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, March 11, 2004

Microsoft Ship Dates Falling Like Dominoes-STOP


Yesterday Microsoft announced that Whidbey and Yukon will now have a ship date of the first half of next year. Whidbey’s official name will now be “Visual Studio 2005” and Yukon’s official name will be “SQL Server 2005”.


Predictably, blogland and the media made an event out of this. Why I ask?


So do we as developers care that the ship dates have moved? Not so much. We are still learning all the new stuff in the current versions of the products! Also anyone who has ever worked on a software project knows all well about management promising products before even talking to the development team about how long the development effort is going to take.


I very feel sorry for Microsoft, but whenever they announce a “slip” in a produce schedule, I get reminded of like the million times I had to announce a slip in a development effort to a customer of mine.


There are lots of things to beat up Microsoft about, but not this one. Let it go.

posted on Thursday, March 11, 2004 4:48:52 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [2] Trackback
# Monday, March 8, 2004

Let the Sun Shine (Part II)


A while ago I predicted that Sun Microsystems was headed to disaster when Moody’s lowered Sun’s credit rating to that of a Junk bond. Well Friday S&P did the same. Hopefully Sun will wake up and smell the coffee on Linux, when they have a real Linux strategy, they will no longer be doomed.

posted on Monday, March 8, 2004 5:16:28 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Monday, March 1, 2004

I’m an IntelliSense Junkie


At least according to my quote in InfoWorld, I was interviewed as part of an article on the .NET Report Card (view it here in PDF.)


So after 2 years (.NET shipped just over 2 years ago), where does .NET stand? According to InfoWorld, we are looking at about a B to B+ grade overall (see the report for the details). I speak at lots of conferences and user groups and only talk about .NET and the developers I meet around the world only want to talk .NET and seem to love it and dig in deep. I am also the CTO of a financial services company, where I use .NET every day. I have forgotten what Visual Studio 6.0 even looks like and don’t have it installed on any machine. Am I normal?

posted on Monday, March 1, 2004 7:16:12 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, February 9, 2004

Sure it is Fast, but How Much does it Cost?


I was quoted today in eWeek saying that the SPEC benchmarks for Web Service performance are useless unless they include price per performance statistics. Come on IBM, show us the money.

posted on Monday, February 9, 2004 3:46:31 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [22] Trackback
# Monday, February 2, 2004

Mandatory Death Penalty Required


The author of the MyDoom.b virus has left an apology inside of his code saying that he is just doing his “job”, which implies that some other evil person is paying him to write the virus.


How about this: I am sorry that you are and your employer are still alive and breathing. I propose a mandatory death penalty for internet virus authors. That will sure deter people from funding and writing them. On top of that a $100 fine for every individual who opens an email virus and spreads it around. You can pay that $100 to some global organization to pay for a reward to lead to the virus creator’s capture.

posted on Monday, February 2, 2004 5:52:19 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The New Virus


There is a new email Virus going around. Don’t blame Microsoft or even the person who created the virus. It has been 5 years since the Melissa virus, if users are still propagating the email viruses, then let’s blame them (us).


More info, I already got about 10 emails from friends saying “test” and stuff like that:




posted on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 6:59:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Wednesday, January 14, 2004

New Years Resolution


I never really  make them. But I do like to do things each New Years. One is reformat all my computers and reinstall everything. A nice clean start. I also like to clean the hard to reach places in my apartment, like take the refrigerator out and clean in the dark abyss back there. Also change the batteries in the smoke detector, you get the idea.


One thing I do along with the reformat of the hard drives is clean up Outlook. I archive ootles of mail and go through my contacts and try to keep them in order. I always have a few friends who have like 3 or 4 entries in my contacts because they have a work mail, pop, and hotmail/yahoo. I had well over 500 contacts in my contact folder in Outlook. I have no idea how up to date it is, I know in 2003, I moved twice and had 4 different mailing addresses. I am also one of those annoying people who have a work email, personal pop email and a hotmail account (which is basically a porn only account). So I must be causing others problems, how many of my contacts are the same.


So I ran a cool tool that I have been playing with for a while called Plaxo. It is basically a free tool that allows you to mass email your whole contact list and have people verify their data over the web. It works cool and they don’t spam you, I have been a member of Plaxo for months. Your contacts don’t have to even join, just verify on a web form their info is correct. Of course as my pal Conor says “You give me control over my own Contact record, watch out, evil things may happen!!!”.


After I ran it, many people had changed information, or gave me more info than I had before. Also lots of old friends saw me in their inbox and emailed to say hi. I also got 36 bounces that I have to track down the owners through other means. All in all, a great experience.


How does Plaxo make money? Beats the hell out of me. I do hope that they stay around tho, I want to run this again next year.


So check out Plaxo if you have the time.

posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 8:44:07 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, December 22, 2003

Microsoft Office 2003 Install/Setup, A- Grade


I turned on my computer this morning and something strange happened, my Outlook and Excel were just waaaay too slow. I have a superfast machine with over a gig of RAM, should be no problems. I started poking around and realized that I was still running the Office 2003 beta! So I inserted the RTM Office 2003 DVD and held my breath.


Well it did a great job. Install prompted me to uninstall automatically the old version. (This is where I got scared, I have tons of settings I wanted to keep.) Installation offered me the option of a “complete” install which is cool. After the install was complete (no reboot required), all of my settings were restored to where they were when I left, except the email signature (which was preserved but not set up by default after installation.) I had a ton of custom settings, so this was quite impressive.


Overall Setup/Installation gets an A-. Good job MSFT.

posted on Monday, December 22, 2003 6:27:41 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [21] Trackback
# Saturday, December 20, 2003

Open Letter to Real Networks CEO


Dear Robert Glaser,


I use WinAmp to listen to my illegal MP3s. I don’t use Microsoft’s Media Player because it sucks. Nor do I use your crappy software because, well it sucks. Big time. (While on the topic of your sucky software, what is the deal with the installation, you have to fill out my life history, etc.)


Your lawsuit is a sham. I did a find and replace with “Netscape” and “Real Networks” in the court papers you filed and guess what? I know why your company is suing Microsoft, it is because you have a personal vendetta against Bill Gates (are you mad that he yelled at you in that meeting in 1995 and you quit your well paying MS job?) . Get real.


How about this one? Build better software and drop the damn lawsuit.



Stephen Forte

posted on Saturday, December 20, 2003 3:05:19 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [3] Trackback
# Sunday, November 30, 2003

I am Your Slave


For those of you who know me personally, you know that I hate Political Correctness-I call a spade a spade. If you also know me personally, you know that I hate-despise actually the city of Los Angles. So those of you who know me personally don’t have to read anymore if you heard about the LA County who recently asked computer and video equipment vendors to consider eliminating the terms "master" and "slave" from equipment because they may be considered offensive.


PC has gone too far when the PC Police are starting to talk about device drivers and the like. The terms are an industry standard. Will someone please just tell this guy to get his nose out of my industry.

posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 9:41:02 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Computer Randomly Plays Classical Music

Just when I thought I have seen it all.


Computer Randomly Plays Classical Music

View products that this article applies to.

This article was previously published under Q261186


During normal operation or in Safe mode, your computer may play "Fur Elise" or "It's a Small, Small World" seemingly at random. This is an indication sent to the PC speaker from the computer's BIOS that the CPU fan is failing or has failed, or that the power supply voltages have drifted out of tolerance. This is a design feature of a detection circuit and system BIOSes developed by Award/Unicore from 1997 on.


Although these symptoms may appear to be virus-like, they are the result of an electronic hardware monitoring component of the motherboard and BIOS. You may want to have your computer checked or serviced.

For aditional related information, please see the following DFI Technologies Web site:


Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.

The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional
  • Microsoft Windows 95
  • Microsoft Windows 98
  • Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0
posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 8:51:51 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback