Shel Isreal doesn't know how to blog

Isreal and Scoble were unable to stand up to hard questions during a recent talk at Amazon. They've chosen Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon as their target for their alleged mis-treatement at Amazon.

I guess they were hurt that they weren't surrounded in real life by a large group of fawning butt kissers as they are on the Internet. What is shockingly amazing is this statement from Shel Isreal:

"I think there's a nice ironic touch to the fact that when I tried to leave a comment on this post by Werner Vogels, CTO of, his technology would not allow me to sign in."

It only takes a TypeKey or TypePad account to leave a comment on Mr. Vogels blog. Mr. Isreal's blog uses the EXACT SAME REQUIREMENT!

This guy co-authored a book on blogging and he can't figure out how to leave a comment?

Well, that says a lot about his alleged expertise!

Microsoft blogger Scoble wants to censor unfriendly blogosphere

Investor Relations Blog does an excellent job of dissecting the "truth" behind Scoble's demand for censoring an Australian journalist who wrote that 60% of Windows Vista code needs to be rewritten.

Amen, brother! Windows Vista sucks, and I say that as a long time Microsoft consultant.

Pizza in a Cone News

The New Zealanders have finally read their email!
It only took them a week.

Anyway, it turns out that they do not have the rights for me to bring the holy food object, Pizza in a Cone to America.
So they have forwarded my request to the actual Pizza in a Cone inventors in Italy.

Stay tuned.

Oglala Sioux Tribe on the South Dakota Abortion Ban : SF Bay Area Indymedia

Cecilia Fire Thunder, who is a nurse as well as being the President of the Oglala Sioux tribe said that she will establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

More details are the above link.

Who to call when you can't decide for yourself

Stephanie McMillan, the woman behind Minimum Security, created this great cartoon which includes the work and home phone numbers of South Dakota senator Bill Napoli, who pushed through the South Dakota ban on abortion.

March 26 update Stephanie is auctioning the original cartoon on eBay to raise money for Planned Parenthood and the Oglala Sioux tribe.

Vista 2007. Fire the leadership now!

Mini-Microsoft: Vista 2007. Fire the leadership now! So say MANY Microsoft employee bloggers, due to yesterday's announcement that the release date for Windows Vista is now slipping to 2007.

I agree 100% that Microsoft needs a major company housecleaning.

This continuing slippage on product life is seriously impacting worldwide productivity. For some that may be the negative news; for others its positive news as Microsoft's inability to keep up product quality and upgrades is opening the door for companies to sell non-Microsoft solutions to the enterprise.

Pizza in a Cone update

No word from the New Zealanders on bringing "The Cone" to the states.

I've begun my own pizza in a cone experiments, but since I am the only person in the house who is not gluten/wheat intolerant, it has come down to me and my volunteer staff (Toto the 17 year old blind and deaf poodle with 3 teeth and Minnie the Shih Tzu princess of the universe) to do the tasting. Minnie as you will recall was involved in my recent Flamethrower burger taste test.

I'm semi-decent at cooking. I guess the best news so far is that the smoke alarm hasn't gone off although there was a tense moment when I managed to set my oven mitts on fire. Lots of whooping and dancing around the kitchen. You know the drill.

Stay tuned. Something will come out of this. Perhaps not something good, but something.

Max's restaurant and Firestone beer

Ok, so I went to Max’s the other day for the first time in five years. I had not realized there was a Max’s in Roseville, and I had totally forgotten all about their great restaurant chain.

Max’s was packed, even though it was like mid-afternoon, so I just sat at the bar. You know those customized handles they have on beer taps? Well one of the taps, I swear to God was a fish! So I asked the bartender (a woman with really Big Hair. She had so much hair I was afraid that when she turned around she would have an extra face on the back of her head or something) what the “fish beer” was like, and without an answer she just poured me a 16 ounce “sample” and said “Try it”.

Well the good news is that the beer didn’t taste like fish. The name of the beer is Angler’s Pale Ale, but it didn’t really appeal to me. While I was drinking it, the bartender poured me samples of four more beers without me even asking. For a moment there, I think I was falling in love, at least to the point of realizing I was going to give her a 20 percent tip. So I’m sitting there with an empty stomach downing five glasses of various strongly alcoholic beers. Naturally after a while I still had enough sense to know that laying down on the floor was probably a no-no but that resting my head on the bar until it could clear should be ok. I do recall that one of the beers was Drakes and the one I liked the most was Firestone.

Eventually I was able to feel and move my fingertips. I did manage to sit upright as my BBQ sandwich arrived, which was heavenly (like all the food at Max’s).

No dessert though as it was obviously time to head home for a nap.

I must recommend though that eating at Max’s and drinking Firestone beer is a truly wonderful experience.

Just don’t start drinking on an empty stomach.

April 3 update: We went back to Maz's two days later and had dreadful food and terrible service. So we aren't returning to Max's as even the manager was incompetent at resolving our issues.

V for Vendetta

A combination of Orwell’s 1984 and today’s political scene, V for Vendetta takes place in a not so distant future where the UK government rules by fear. The media is censored. Citizens are manipulated into the fear of terrorism and avian flu outbreaks.

A man who has been a victim of government torture and experimentation, rises up to bring down the government. This unnamed hero wears a Guy Fawkes mask throughout the film and sets November 5th (Guy Fawkes Day) as his date to complete the work of Fawkes by destroying Parliament.

I’m not to going walk through the film and unleash any spoilers.

I think this is an important film that above all else deals with ideas and not the dichotomy of one political figure or party compared to another.

My advice for any intelligent person is to go see this film immediately.

Take a day off from work. Stop watching television. In fact just look up the show times nearest you, turn off your computer and go see this film right now.

Microsoft harms world economy yet promotes people-ready ad campaign

Today Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, told attendees at the ImpactPeople conference in New York the new Microsoft ad campaign theme: "Microsoft: Software for the people-ready business." Ballmer claimed that Microsoft software and the new versions of various Microsoft products will improve the productivity of teams within companies.

I disagree 100% with Ballmer’s statements, including those that follow below.

Successful businesses succeed based on the quality and performance of their people.
… We are talking about making the people in the business more productive

Let’s skip quality for the moment and go straight to performance and productivity. It has taken Microsoft over five years to produce an “upgrade” to Windows XP, called Windows Vista. It took six years for Microsoft to upgrade SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005. It has taken four years for Microsoft to produce Office 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007. Other Microsoft products such as Internet Explorer (5 years) are also locked into this lengthy upgrade cycle.

Due to Microsoft’s near monopoly, these 4, 5, and 6 years delays in producing upgrades to existing software products have impacted the growth of economic productivity and performance on a world wide basis.

This is an example of negative productivity and performance on a global scale.

Amazingly in practically the same breath, Ballmer waxes poetically about Microsoft spending $20 billion dollars in the last three years on research and development.

For a CEO who in the past has spoken about “we eat our own dog food” he certainly is not displaying a track record for performance and productivity. As to quality, Microsoft’s best effort in that area is addressed by posting monthly patches to some (but not all) of their products. If you have Office, it’s not in the monthly patch. You need to go to the Microsoft Office web site to locate new patches. For enterprise critical servers such as BizTalk or SharePoint, it’s the same situation; you have to dig to find the patches. That doesn’t impress me as a commitment to quality.

"We think this is a pretty unique vision," Ballmer said. Well a horse wearing blinders has a pretty unique vision too! Ballmer implied that IT people (yes the ones who buy Microsoft’s products) don’t share this “vision” of productivity and performance.

Well that inflammatory statement will be big news to IT people. I would venture that if there is any one group within a corporate enterprise that is productive, it’s the IT department. IT doesn’t drive the quality, performance and productivity of the enterprise; it only provides the tools. It is up to the management to provide the leadership and drive for organizations of any size. Software is simply a tool, not a solution nor an implementation of productivity.
An organization could install all the Microsoft software products available and that would not guarantee one iota of increased performance, quality and productivity.

Microsoft’s “people-ready” campaign misses the whole point: It’s not about software, it’s about people.

A History of Violence and Mirrormask

Two intriguing films are out on DVD this week: Mirrormask and A History of Violence. Ok, Mirrormask came out last week. So what?

Mirrormask, a Dave McKean, Neil Gaiman and Jim Henson Productions film is weird, arty, weird and somewhat weird. Fun to watch although I swear to God that DVD volume levels are intentionally set low so that eventually you will go out and buy a home theater system just so that you can hear the damned things.

Anyway, the sets, costumes and scenery in Mirrormask are impressive. Jim Henson's daughter, Lisa Henson is on the additional material portion of the DVD. She goes on about The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, but as far as I can research she didn't work on either picture. Her father and his company, Jim Henson Productions worked on those pictures. Perhaps now people can inherit their parents film credits. This should be good news for Alfred Hitchcock's daughter.

I liked A History of Violence, especially the high school hallway scene (I'm not going to give out spoilers, but you will know what I am talking about when you see the scene). The gratuitous sex scene goes on far too long. Maybe it was just an over exposure to Viggo's butt on the wide screen that made me feel that way, but I found it lengthy and lacking any contribution to the story line. The film is edgy and I thought it was well acted and interesting. I don't know if Viggo deserved an Academy Award nomination for this film, but William Hurt sure as hell didn't. He was only in the film for what? Five minutes? Maybe people in Hollywood owe him money or something. Make sure you see this film, it was one of the better ones for 2005.

Crossing the Rubicon

This book, Crossing the Rubicon is such a struggle to read. It’s a mixture of extreme fantasy fringe writing (“the CIA killed Robert Kennedy”) and reality. It’s like drinking truth and bullshit mixed into a milk shake, and you don’t know when to swallow or spit.

I’m in the middle of it and enjoying it basically because it forces you to keep running a reality check on your own beliefs.

King Michael Edition of the Excel Bible

In other news, I googled my name the other day (I do this on a random basis) and found that John Walkenbach, author of the Excel Bible for Windows 95, refers to it as the King Michael edition (after moi, the technical editor). That gave me a smile for the day. Come to think of it I was probably being an asshole as an editor but then again do editors serve any other function?

Google Office advances, Microsoft Office fumbles

Google has purchased Sketchup. Well, despite the fact that one of Sketchup’s products ties into Google Earth for mapping, their flagship product, Sketchup, is a $495 3D drawing package.
My question is: Could this become another component of Google Office?
Along with Google’s recent acquisition of Writely, one has to wonder when Google will complete and release Google Office. The biggest question is whether or not Google will charge for Google Office. If they don’t, and Google Office is entirely web based, then it will have a major impact on the revenue stream of Microsoft Office.

The downside for Microsoft is their announcement that Windows Vista, the five-years-in-the-making non-upgrade from Windows XP will not begin shipping until November. That means that Office 2007 is accurately named and probably will not ship until 2007 due to Microsoft’s inept testing methodologies wherein if Office 2007 shipped before Windows Vista, there would be incompatibility risks. Microsoft will not chance shipping Office 2007 before Windows Vista because if there are incompatibilities between Windows Vista and Office 2007, that would require shipping a service pack the same day Window Vista ships. It’s too costly and too much of a time crunch for Microsoft to take on, because their present management structure no longer allows them to rapidly respond to change.

Microsoft has also announced that the minimum entry price for Office 2007 will be $150. That minimum entry price gives Google a lot of space to play in regarding pricing.

Google has the ball. Let’s see if they can make a touchdown with Google Office.

Marilyn Manson wedding in Vogue magazine

The headline says it all. Buy the March 2006 issue of Vogue for a full color treatment of Manson's marriage to his long time girl friend whatshername. Hey! I might like Manson, but I'm not THAT much of a fan!

Updated March 26 so that the Vogue link goes to the photos. I also meant that I am not a fan that can recall his wife's name, although my 19 year old daughter can. She and I have been to three Marilyn Manson concerts together in the last 3 years. I always get a double take when I wear one of my MM Concert Tour T-shirts out in public. Frankly it never ceases to amaze me as to who will come up and talk to me about MM.

Electronic Arts BF2 1.21 patch SUCKS!

Yeah, yeah, you probably don’t play Battlefield 2, but Electronic Arts was supposed to ship an expansion to the game (technically called a booster pack) last month. First though, they had to ship a patch so that the expansion would work. Well that patch, 1.2 was fine except that they found a few little glitches in it. So, they delayed shipping the expansion until they could patch the patch.
Well this weekend (after a month of "testing") they made the patch available for download and it has totaled fucked up game play for users worldwide. For some bizarre reason the ping rates are spinning from 300 to over a million, and once your ping rate goes past 125, the Punkbuster software will kick you off of the game servers. Needless to say, right now no one can play Battlefield 2, and there’s nothing on Electronic Arts web site that indicates that they are even aware of the problem, let alone working on it.
Although EA is even more evil than Microsoft, they definitely need a Scoble-like corporate blogger out there to soothe the masses, especially if they want those same said masses to purchase future enhancements to their games.

Bugatti Veyron

Through a series of corporate mergers, Volkswagen has acquired the Bugatti name. Bugatti was a famous Italian auto maker with an active racing team, whose heyday was primarily in the 20s and 30s. They are now manufacturing 50 Bugatti Veyrons a year. At a price of one million Euros (today's rate makes that $1.2 millon dollars) these are not going to be the first choice for your average driver. The Veyron sports a 1000 horse power engine with a top speed of 220 MPH. I don't even want to imagine what the gas mileage is, but if you've got the wealth to pop $1 million+ on a car, gas pump prices probably aren't even a concern. The styling on these cars is amazing and the web site alone is worth a visit.

Groove, SharePoint and BizTalk

Well, my current consulting contract ends this week so once again I am on the lookout for income producing opportunities. I’ve had the good luck and/or misfortune to become quite expert with Microsoft SharePoint, BizTalk and Groove.

I designed and implemented the world’s largest SharePoint site and at the same time have managed to piss off legions of SharePoint developers all over the world who worship Microsoft like a god due to my article (linked to elsewhere on this blog) pointing out the weaknesses of SharePoint. I like SharePoint but Microsoft needs someone (like me but I can think of others) to manage and direct the product in a professional manner.

I’ve used BizTalk since the day it shipped, but it too needs new management. More importantly, Microsoft needs to figure out how to market it. The product is great but trying to explain it and show what it can do is challenging to say the least.

Please take Ray Ozzie, Lotus Notes and Microsoft Groove and put them wherever Jimmy Hoffa is currently residing. I was present at the Lotus Notes announcement in Boston during Networld which I think was in 1989. Anyway Jim Manzi showed two people on stage with one supposedly in London and the other in Boston, sharing a spreadsheet thanks to this hot new product, Lotus Notes. My thought at the time was Big Whoop. Nowadays whenever I encounter Lotus Notes in a corporate environment, it is being used not for collaboration but because it is viewed as being less likely to be vulnerable to a virus attack than Microsoft Exchange. As for Groove, the only market I have seen it used in to any extent, is law enforcement which also uses SharePoint extensively because it is mandated by the Department of Homeland Security. Microsoft has cleaned up Groove (well what will be Groove 12 which is in beta) to where it is actually somewhat usable for collaboration. It’s still as dull as Lotus Notes though and frankly doesn’t carry that much weight to collaboration except in special circumstances (like law enforcement cases).

So I’m great at building collaboration within companies as well as solving complex business problems. Basically I’m talented at making companies wealthier due to higher productivity.

Maybe I need a marketing manager to sell my skills. Anyway don’t hesitate to contact me if you have an opportunity that I can fill.

DQ Flamethrower vs Carls Jr Jalapeno Burger

I have to admit that every time I see the TV commercial for the Dairy Queen Flamethrower burger I crack up. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a guy accidentally setting his office on fire because he was eating a DQ Flamethrower burger.

Well on occasion (despite the extreme right wing politics of the company) I have had a Carl’s Jr Jalapeno burger. It has real jalapenos and onions on it and is fairly spicy.

So Sunday morning I packed Minnie the world’s most spoiled Shih Tzu into my 11 year old VW Golf and puttered over to Dairy Queen to test out the Flamethrower. I wonder how Dairy Queen manages to stay in business as they seem like the trailer trash of fast food chains. Crummy locations, outdated facilities, and well it just seems like the whole chain could go out of business at any moment. I don’t want them to go out of business because I still like their dipped cones (butterscotch, not chocolate) and also because they seem like something out of the 50s. They’re kind of nostalgic.

I ordered the double meat patty Flamethrower $4.50 or so along with a Coke that would fit into the wee drink holder in the VW. I spend a lot of time eyeballing drink containers as only a few will fit in the VW’s drink holder. In fact, I removed the ashtray years ago so that tall drinks would fit in the holder. Otherwise the only thing that truly fits would be a very small cup of coffee. Do Germans have an issue with drinking in their cars or what?

The Flamethrower was not a flamethrower. It wasn’t even spicy let alone hot. No onions, no jalapenos, just two slices of mild pepperjack cheese on a double burger. It was so mild I gave Minnie bites, not that it was an option as she would have pouted for days if she didn’t get a bite. I was very disappointed. Minnie was ecstatic because she got to go for a ride and eat bites of hamburger.

There you have it. I voted nay on the Flamethrower and Minnie voted yea. It’s your call on whose opinion you want to trust, me or the Shih Tzu.

Google buys Writely

This is a major deal! I encourage people to sign up for the Writely beta. If Google adds spreadsheet/database/presentation software, then they will have an Office suite on the Web.

Considering the entry point for Office 2007 is at minimum $150, this will have an impact on Microsoft's Office revenue stream. Maybe corporations will avoid this due to security concerns but I think this will be HUGE!

I see this as a serious move by Google that can only benefit them while taking away market share from Microsoft.

Microsoft Origami aka Intel UMPC

Microsoft and Intel have announced the UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC). On the surface, the UMPC appears to be a low end ($500-$1000) mini Tablet PC.

Pros: It's lightweight, weighing in around 2.5 pounds.

Too short a battery life (3 hours) to make it practical as a mobile device.
Too big for pockets (like an iPod or a Pocket PC), so how does one carry it?
More expensive than the top of the line iPod or Pocket PC and in the range of low end notebooks.
Ships with Windows XP, but it's an unknown about "upgrading" to Windows Vista.

Regardless of software included with the system, it appears that it will be inconvenient to use due to its form factor. For some reason it reminds me of an Etch-A-Sketch.

International Women's Day

Today, March 8, 2006, is International Women's Day so go forth and do something, um, womanly. March in the streets? Take the day off from work? I have no idea exactly what one should do today to mark the occasion.

I can share that on my current job at Delta Dental they use the Websense Enterprise software to keep employees from venturing to non-work related sites on the Internet. The site for International Women's Day is blocked. The software claims the site is "an Advocacy Group". Wow! I wonder if the local Islamic Imam and his Moslem storm troopers would pay me a visit if I dared to commit the thought crime of thinking about advocating women's rights.

Avoid Franklin Covey PlanPlus

"Are you using Franklin Planner for Microsoft Outlook?
So you are aware, Franklin Planner for Microsoft Outlook is not compatible with USB syncing." -- from Franklin Covey's website.

Let's see, I bought my wife a Palm z22 for Christmas and the Franklin Covey PlanPlus for Outlook from the Franklin Covey store. No one said anything about USB problems between the software and the Palm. The Palm z22 ONLY has a USB port, so it cannot be switched over to serial synching. Even though the Palm z22 isn't listed above, it still eventually hangs and locks up both the PC and the Palm if used with the PlanPlus program.

My advice is to avoid Franklin Covey products based on their lack of up to date technical support!

Peet's Coffee

Peet's FINALLY opened an outlet here in Folsom yesterday, in
the midst of the six Starbucks serving this not-so-big-suburb. Anyway,
we snagged about $50 worth of premium coffees and teas as door prizes
yesterday, and are returning today to snag more door prizes (basically
everyone entering the store throws a small bag of coffee onto a table
and wins something. You can do this every visit). They had a manager there explaining the nuances of various coffee flavors: nutty, earth, spicy, sweet, etc...

So I was wondering if there is some big coffee snobbery kind of taste-off where coffee lovers sip a cup, swirl it around in their mouth and spit it out?

The BIG PLUS is that ALL DRINKS are FREE yesterday and today. Whoopie!

However, so far (and granted, this could change) I still like Starbucks better.

Peet's does beat out Tully's in San Francisco though. Tully's is usually bitter and not too flavorful, at least in my humble opinion.

Capote A brief review

Ok, even though I really don’t like Phillip Seymour Hoffman (is there another Phillip Hoffman that he is concerned about being confused with? I mean what the hell is the requirement for using his middle name of Seymour?) I did see Capote on Friday night, and I have to admit it was a good movie and that he did a great job of acting in it.

Basically the film is about Capote’s researching and writing of In Cold Blood. After seeing the film, I did a bit of follow up to answer a few questions I had, like who was Capote’s "long time companion"? Well the guy was Jack Dunphy, writer of several books that I have never read or for that matter even heard of. Another question I had was to find out if Harper Lee had ever written another book after To Kill A Mockingbird. The answer was no. Then again Capote never wrote another book after In Cold Blood although unlike Harper Lee, he had previously written novels.

I enjoyed Capote and if it beats out Brokeback Mountain at the Academy Awards tonight that’s ok. Just as long as Good Night and Good Luck, Crash and Munich (for what it’s worth I cannot get the Munich web site to open in Opera!?) don’t win squat I will be happy.

Good Night and Good Luck had a good story to tell but it didn’t work. Unless you totally understood the McCarthy era, this film simply did not work. As for the nomination for Best Actor for David Strathairn, I just don’t see it. Sitting stiffly and smoking cigarettes didn’t seem to me like much of an acting job.

Crash came off to me as just another cheap “let’s try to toy with the audience’s emotions” kind of films. No real acting in it either, at least not to the depth of Heath Ledger or Phillip Hoffman.

Munich was just fictionalized bullshit. The book the film was based on, Vengence, was written by a guy who claimed to have inside knowledge of the Mossad’s payback assassination teams, but it turned out that he actually knew nothing about it. Since the release of the film some of the actual Mossad members have come out and said that 1. They didn’t feel any angst about killing terrorists linked to the Munich killings, and 2. That several teams were involved, unlike the film portrays.

Well anyway it will be beer, pizza and chili tonight while we watch the Academy Awards.

Murphy's Red Beer

In a somewhat appropriate manner, my bottle of Murphy's Red Beer from Ireland was the last of my Valentine's Day beers. It was surprisingly good. I never have had much of a thrill drinking Irish beer (Irish whiskey is another story. A real life story too, actually set in Ireland, but alas most of you are too young to hear THAT story.)
Anyway I liked it and now I am off to see the only 2006 Academy Award nominee for Best Picture that I haven't taken in yet: Capote.
Being originally from Kansas I don't know why it's taken me so long to get around to seeing this picture. Well, maybe I will pop up a review here instead of at eOpinions for a change.