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MIX07 Keynote: All About Silverlight, including 2 new announcements

I’m back in my room for a bit after the MIX07 kickoff keynote with Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, and Scott Guthrie, the guy in charge of Silverlight. The keynote was basically all about Silverlight and what it can do. It’s Microsoft’s new browser plug in that lets you do web apps, video streaming. It’s been called their attempt at a “Flash killer”. Will it succeed? Who knows, but I saw some really cool stuff in the demos that make me excited.

First off, they announced two more major features of Silverlight that hadn’t yet been revealed. The first is that Silverlight contains a .NET CLR – common language runtime. That means that you can write in any programming language that .NET supports, and use that code in Silverlight. Big move here, I think. Kind of a trojan horse. Why? Because Silverlight works in pretty much any browser on any platform. Firefox and Safari on the Mac were highlighted prominently during the demos – the message they kept hammering is that Silverlight works the same everywhere. They also showed off some REALLY cool cross-platform debugging – running a Silverlight app in Firefox on the Mac, then connecting to that process on the Mac from Visual Studio on a Windows machine over the network, setting a breakpoint, modifying the code during runtime, etc. It was mind blowing, and potentially very useful.

The second major announcement about Silverlight is Silverlight Streaming. Basically, you can upload up to 4GB of video content (in 10 minute chunks, like YouTube) for free to Microsoft’s Content Delivery Network (streaming servers and datacenters all over the world). Then stream that video to your Silverlight applications. A shot across the bow of YouTube, blip.tv, and other free video hosting services, though this one is definitely developer focused when you compare features with those other services. Still, a nice move on Microsoft’s part.

Also announced was the fact that Silverlight 1.0 beta is live and available for download, and that Expression Studio (the collection of design tools for all this fancy Silverlight content, which also got lots of demo time) is shipping as of today. MIX attendees get a copy with special commemorative box art, but we can’t pick it up until later, so I don’t actually have my hands on it yet.

There were several demos that were really, really impressive. First, Netflix showed off their instant streaming movie viewer. It was really, really fast, and has some cool features like “shared watching”, where you can invite another person to watch the movie with you, chat with them, etc. And of course, they showed it running on Mac and Windows.

The president of CBS (I think that’s who he was) gave us all a chance to nap as he woodenly read his speech off of a teleprompter, and told us all about “user generated content”, context sensitive ads, blah blah zzzz snore. It was pretty painful. But hey, at least they’re trying to get it, right?

There was a demo of a web-based video editing lighttable application called “Top Banana” from Metaliq. It was a very cool drag and drop video editor, letting you splice together clips, turn clips into timelines, etc. The most impressive part was the fact that the entire application weighs less than 50KB (!), and was developed in three weeks for this demo at MIX. It will be released as a sample for people to play with and improve upon. Get ready for lots of cool web-based video editing apps.

The head of MLB.com (Major League Baseball) showed off what they have done with their Sliverlight-based game player – all the features you’d expect – live streaming of multiple games, stats overlay, chat with a buddy, etc. At the end, he showed a demo of an “unreleased” Windows Mobile phone device (it was an HTC Vox, if I’m not mistaken) running a mobile version of the Silverlight app, including all the stats and streaming video.

I’m not excited at all about being able to play with the MLB player, but I AM excited that there seems to be a Windows Mobile version of Silverlight. I can’t wait to get see what rich(er) mobile web applications come about because of that. Now, if only it was pre-installed on all phones, for a bigger user base.

At the end of the keynote, Mike Arrington came out with Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie for a Q&A session. He asked questions about whether or not Microsoft saw Silverlight as a Flash killer (“Choice is good” was the answer), if they thought they could reach the designer audience, which Adobe dominates, and even slipped in a question about the Zune phone (nice try, Mike). I had to go before the Q&A session was over, but I’m sure it will be covered in detail at other places, like TechCrunch.

Next up this afternoon – breakout sessions on microformats, Dave Winer’s panel on building the perfect podcast player, and who knows what else – we’ll see what comes up!

I’ve been “live Twittering” a lot of updates as they happen, so make sure you check them out at twitter.com/jabancroft. I don’t have incoming Twitter messages going to my phone – way too many of them, it kills my battery. So if you want to ask a question, or respond to one of my tweets, just email me (jabancroft@gmail.com).

I’ll be posting more photos in my MIX07 photoset on Flickr, and my photos and Twitter updates also get blended into my Linkblog feed, so you can get them that way, too.

One last thing – if you’re at MIX and want to share your Really Awesome Software story with me on video, drop me a line (email or call my cell – 503-334-1889), and we’ll meet up somewhere. Looking forward to more cool demos and geeking out! :-)

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I’m here!



I’m here!, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

Having breakfast and exploring.

– Taken at 9:29 AM on April 30, 2007 – cameraphone upload by ShoZu

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Vegas here I come – Going to MIX07 Next Week

I’m wrapping stuff up in the office here today, since I’m going to be in Las Vegas for Microsoft’s MIX07 web conference next week. Gotta get my Canon XH A1 HD camera, tripod, M-Audio Microtrack recorder (which has crapped out on me twice in the last week), and all the cables, etc. that I’ll need. I try to travel as light as I can, because honestly, all of that stuff is heavy, and I’m an out of shape wimp that sweats too much. But the tripod is a necessity, as I learned at GDC. Shaky cam just doesn’t work in HD…

Come Meet Me At MIX

What is MIX07? Microsoft bills it as a “72 hour conversation”, but it’s basically a web technology conference. Microsoft is going to be touting their web tools – Expression editor, Ajaxy stuff, etc., but there are a lot of topically interesting sessions, too. Dave Winer is going to be leading a session on “Building the Perfect Podcast Player”, which I’m looking forward too. There are also some sessions about the “cutting edge” web stuff that all the cool kids are playing with – Twitter, Amazon S3 and EC2, etc. I’ll be hitting those, too, and looking forward to chatting with the people behind them. Channel 9 is providing a “bloggers room”, with bandwidth and a place to chill out, and I suspect that I’ll spend my share of time there.

The Microsoft Mobility and Embedded Developers Conference (MEDC) is going on at the same time, and I’m registered to check that out, too. I’m most interested in any Ultra Mobile stuff they’ll be showing off, but I’ll also check out what’s new on the Windows Mobile front. And who could miss the Sumo Robot competition? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m going to learn, to fly the ISN flag, and to look for and capture “Really Awesome Software and the Stories Behind It”, for reasons that will soon become apparent (as my secret project inches closer to launch). There’s a reason I’m bringing my fancy HD video camera and all the stuff that goes with it, you know. It’s not for exercise, believe me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, if you’re going to be at MIX or MEDC, and want to say hi, or you know of some Really Awesome Software that I should see (especially if you want some HD video of it), let me know. Ping me on Twitter (I’m jabancroft there), email me at jabancroft@gmail.com, or leave a message on my cell phone (503-334-1889).

If you want to keep track of what I’m doing and seeing at MIX, just follow this blog, my linkblog, and my Twitter tweets. I highly recommend that you subscribe to my regular blog feed and my linkblog feed, which aggregates all of my Flickr photos, Twitter tweets, videos, and stuff that I find interesting in reading my 500+ feed subscriptions. It’s kind of like drinking from a firehose, if you’re not used to Scoble-like levels of information but I promise to try to make it all interesting high pressure rapidly delivered information. :-)

You can also get tons of info from the “official” sources – subscribe to the MIX07 feed, add “MIX07” as a friend on Twitter, follow the usual Technorati and Flickr tags, etc.

Next stop: Las Vegas! :-)

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What Google Knows About Me

Google has been tracking my searches (with my permission – I thought it would be interesting to be able to analyze this data, and I don’t care that they have it) since April 2005 – for two years now. I use Google Reader to read almost 500 feed subscriptions, and it lets me look at my reading trends. Turns out I read on average of 780 feed items per day. Today, I enabled them to track the pages I visit (the controversial Web History feature, though it only works where I have the Google Toolbar installed). Again, I opted in to this, and I don’t care that they have the data. I don’t have anything to hide in where I browse, and I’m all about transparency, so to me, the value of being able to mine my own attention data outweighs the downside. If you feel otherwise, I totally understand – you should decide for yourself what you do with your attention data.

So, that said, here’s what Google knows about me. And now you know it, too. :-)

There’s a clear dip in my daily searches around lunch time, and dinnertime, too. And it seems I do more searches in the afternoon. I also don’t do much searching on the weekends. But I do more searching in the springtime. My top searches are for items where I know the name, but I don’t have the URL memorized (like Autostitch). And, of course, my own name, to see where I rank in the ole’ reputation engine. :-)

Here’s my search activity for last month. No interesting patterns here, though it does give me the total number of searches that I’ve done in the last two years – 5,426.

Here are my Google Reader trends/statistics:

Just so you know, I really reduced the number of feeds I read a few weeks ago. I was around 800 feeds before I pruned. At one point, I read as many as 1500 feeds, but that was just too much. The 494 feeds I read now are the result of a years-long process of refining and distilling my reading list.

Again, you can see the dips on the weekends. I tend to spend more time with my family (my wife Rachel, and our kids) on the weekends, and I try not to spend hours on end in front of the computer reading feeds. I’m showing the feeds that I most often mark as “Shared” for my Linkblog, so you can get an idea of where most of the stuff I find interesting comes from. And you can see the list of my most frequently updated feeds, and how often I read every item in those feeds (sometimes I skim for what’s interesting and mark the rest as read, though not often, and usually only on really high traffic feeds). The tag cloud at the bottom shows the folders I have my 494 feeds organized into, but I don’t see any real interesting pattern there. But it’s pretty, no?

So, there you go. A summary of what Google knows about me. What does Google know about you? More importantly, do you know what they know, and are you OK with it? If not, do something about it!

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Intel Software ads in Feedburner

Saw this add for Intel Software (the group I work in) in the TechCrunch feed, delivered via FeedBurner. The ad goes to the Intel Software Products page – the compliers, optimizers, and other tools we sell. Not to Intel Software Network, my group, but we’re closely related.

Huh. I didn’t even know we were buying ads in feeds now. Kinda cool, I guess. I wish we had some sort of way for all of us social media types to keep up with what the other is doing, but that’s a tall order in a company this big. If you’re the Intel folks behind this, drop me a line – let’s talk! :-)

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Video: Intel Menlow UMPC prototype, hot off the camera from IDF Beijing

Some of my Intel blogger friends are attending IDF Beijing this week, and this morning, one of them sent me a heads up for this video they had just shot, showing a brand new second generation Ultra Mobile PC prototype, codenamed Menlow. This is the follow-up to the MID Linux based devices they have been showing, and is supposed to be out in 2008.

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The device that gets demoed has a Silverthorne processor (based on the 45nm Penryn chip), which runs at 0.6 or 2 watts of power consumption. At 2 watts, it delivers the performance of a Pentium M (not bad at all). It’s smaller than current gen UMPCs, and I love the slide-out keyboard. Has a touchscreen. Expected battery life is 4 to 6 hours.

I really, really want one of these, and you can bet that I’m going to be hounding the folks in the Ultra Mobile group to see when/if I can get my hands on one. For now, just check out this video demo, and drool along with me. :-)

(Update: Here’s the original post from Mark Parker, the guy with the hands on experience with Menlow, on the Intel Technology blog).

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Blogging Academy rides again!

Linky. More coming soon. My audience is Intel for now, but I’m all about openness and sharing, so I’ll be publishing lots there that you might find useful. I’m also looking at ways to get more people involved in the sessions, using stuff like live video streaming, Skypecasts, etc. Stay tuned.

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Video: Spitty Gabe

Gabriel is 7 months old now, and he’s so darn cute that we can hardly stand it. Tonight, I was playing on the floor with him, tickling him, listening to him laugh and giggle, and make the new spitty sound that he’s learned. Here’s some video from my Canon SD700 IS camera (640×480). You can download it directly at this link (5.6MB).

You have to agree, he’s pretty darn cute, no? ;-)Â

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