Podcasts, Video

Intel Quad Core Chopper

The famous "Quad Core" chopper, created by Orange County Choppers for Intel, is making a stop at Intel’s Jones Farm 3 building, in the lobby. I heard some people talking about it excitedly, and the first thing I did was grab my HD video camera and go down to shoot some video and take some pictures. Check out the video – it weighs 27MB, and is about 2:40 minutes long. Right-click here to download and save it to your hard drive.

You can read more about it in the Intel press release, and you can even "build" one for yourself in Second Life, to ride around on.

The chopper has two V-Twin motors, so it’s truly "quad core". I was kind of disappointed that the touted PC that controls the kickstand, media system, GPS, etc. wasn’t attached, but it is still a very cool ride.

Bill, now’s your chance to have one of these! ;-)Â

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How Twitter got a 30% performance boost from DTrace

Twitter has experienced meteoric growth in the last few months, and as most users of the service know, that has resulted in some stability issues. Growing pains. I just came across this post by one of my cohorts, David Steward, over at the Intel Software Network blog on DTrace, a Solaris feature that Linux people drool over, and how the Twitter devs were able to squeeze a 30% performance boost out of Ruby on Rails using it:

The recent example they used was Twitter. Remember my recent comments about this new micro-blogging application? Well it turns out that the gang at Twitter implemented their system using Ruby on Rails, the new and sexy rapid website programming system. After the article in the New York Times, Twitter has grown in popularity to be the biggest application of Ruby on Rails. And of course, they were having performance problems.

Fortunately for Twitter, they implemented it on Solaris, and thus DTrace to the rescue. Within a few hours, they had identified an issue with how often deep stack back traces were being taken, they get a fix from the Ruby guys and had a 30% performance boost.

Thanks for the post, David. Now, how about getting DTrace ported to Linux (and Mac, while you’re at it!). πŸ˜‰

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WTF? Apple wants 3G radios in notebooks, but not in the iPhone?

It ASTOUNDS me, but according to rumors, Apple is considering putting 3G wireless radios (EVDO/HSDPA) in their upcoming notebook computers, but left 3G wireless out of the iPhone because “the coverage/penetration/adoption/whatever isn’t there yet. People don’t want 3G.”

Sometimes I really wonder what the folks at Cupertino are smoking.

As a long time daily user of 3G wireless (Verizon EVDO for over a year, now on Cingular HSDPA, with Sprint EVDO as a backup), why on earth would I want to have to mess around with carrying and paying for two 3G radios – one in my laptop (with its own SIM card/identity and bill) and one in my phone? Do people not realize that you can EASILY tether a 3G phone to a laptop, over Bluetooth or USB, for use as a high speed modem? I do this every time I travel. Spares me from paying for hotel internet access and saturated/slow conference WiFi. Heck, sometimes I even turn on Internet Access Sharing, and turn my Mac into a wireless access point, to share my bandwidth with others.

Why on earth would I want to pay for two 3G data plans instead of one? Why would I want to be demoted to slow (EDGE) data speeds when I’m only using my phone?

It’s a conspiracy, I tell you. Computer OEMs and cell phone carriers are in cahoots. “Hey, if we embed the 3G radio in the laptops, people will have to activate and pay for a data plan JUST FOR THE LAPTOP! That’s on top of their precious BlackBerries, Treos, and Smartphones! Genius! We’ll be rich twice as fast! Let’s just hope that no one catches on. I hear that Josh over at TinyScreenfuls.com is a troublemaker…”

*sigh*

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Come play Wii with me tonight at BarCamp Portland!

I’m headed out this afternoon to BarCamp Portland, downtown at CubeSpace (622 SE Grand Ave.). They asked me to bring my Wii, and we’re going to set it up in one of the rooms and have it available for whoever wants to play. Tonight is basically dinner/planning the sessions for the main BarCamp day tomorrow, and networking.

If you don’t know what BarCamp is about, check out the site, but basically, it’s a free, open “unconference”, where the sessions and topics are determined by the attendees. If you could make a physical conference have the attributes of a wiki (open, anyone can edit, etc.), you’d have BarCamp. The theme is Tech, Geek, Culture, so if you’re interested in any of those, or if you want to come kick my butt at Wii Sports, come on down! πŸ™‚

Chris Messina of Citizen Agency is going to be there, and I’m looking forward to chatting with him again. And did I mention there’s going to be food? For free? How can you resist? πŸ˜‰ Over 240 people have listed themselves as planning to attend on the wiki, so it should be a great group.

Thanks to Dawn Foster, Todd Kenefsky, Raven Zachary, and everyone else who worked hard to plan BarCamp Portland. I’m looking forward to it!

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Blog, Podcasts, Video

I just posted an awesome HD video on Silverlight over at Intel Software Network

Last week when I was at MIX07, I got to sit down and do a Channel 9-style video interview with Tim Sneath, technical evangelist for Silverlight at Microsoft. The video turned out really well, and I just posted it up over at the Intel Software Network blog:

If you’re at all interested in what Silverlight is (Tim gives a great explanation!), what you can do with it, whether it will ever be released for Linux, how it performs, what you need to use it (hint: a text editor), and lots more, you’ll enjoy the video.

It’s about 40 minutes long, but I posted an index of the topics we talk about and their timecodes, so you can jump around. And I was super impressed at how great the video looks and how small the Quicktime file turned out. The video was shot in 1080i HD originally, and encoded at 640×360 using iMovie. The resulting file is only 93MB (I was expecting hundreds)! I credit the tripod for this – there’s not a lot of motion from frame to frame, so the H.264 compression really shines.

Anyway, please do go check it out, tell your friends, and let me know what you think! πŸ™‚

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My workshop on “Getting Naked on the Web” at Portland Communicators Conference

On Wednesday of this week, I attended the Portland Communicators Conference, put on by the PRSA and OCIABC (Oregon Columbia chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators). I had presented at a monthly meeting of the OCIABC last year, on how they could start to embrace all the new “social media” stuff that’s happening on the web. It was well received, apparently, because I was invited to their annual conference to give a workshop. Thanks, Abigail and the others, for inviting me!

My workshop was provocatively titled “Getting Naked on the Web: It’s not what you think!”. The topic was transparency, the whys and hows. I figured the title alone might draw more attention than the average workshop at a conference full of PR people, and for the most part, I think I was right. πŸ™‚ I called the session an “un-workshop”, to try to encourage conversation and questions, and I think that worked out pretty well, too. I told the folks in my workshop that I would post my slides and links to the things I talked about on my blog, so here it is! You can see all of the slides as a photoset on Flickr here.

I started off with this slide up on the projector while people filed in and got settled. It’s taken from The Cluetrain Manifesto, chapter 3 “The Longing” by Rick Levine. Thought provoking, I hope, and helpful for getting people in the right frame of mind for the kind of conversation I was aiming for.

I saw this quote on Twitter from Chris “factoryjoe” Messina during one of the conferences or something he was attending recently, and it stuck with me. I used it as a jumping off point for some discussion about why transparency matters, and what benefits (and risks) it has. We didn’t spend a lot of time on this, because for the most part, the people in the workshop were a self-selected group that already “got it” on some level, but at the very least, maybe some of them will be able to use this quote as a way of explaining and evangelizing transparency when they go back to their companies and start actually implementing the stuff we talked about.

From there, we started talking about tools, and of course, what the heck is “Web 2.0”, anyway? I really only used this slide as an excuse to show the awesome video that Michael Wesch at KSU did, explaining how “the web is us/using us”. I show this video to people all the time when I’m talking about web 2.0/social media/the human web. It does a much better job of explaining how the web has moved toward a separation of form and content, allowing subscription, mashups, and all the cool stuff we love about the web. This video has been making the rounds – in fact, if you google “web 2.0 video”, it’s the first hit, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s a must watch. And if you have seen it, show it to your parents, boss, coworkers, and anyone else who needs it.

We got even more specific after that, talking more about tools. Again, I just really wanted an excuse to show another awesome video that explains RSS and subscribing to feeds in plain english. Watch it, share it, spread it around:

From there, the discussion was pretty open, which is how I wanted it. I had a couple more slides, talking about tools for using your voice (blogs, photo sharing, video, etc.):

And a slide on “doing it live” – some of the newer “advanced” tools like Twitter, ustream.tv, etc. that all the cool geek kids are playing with these days:

That was pretty much it. I had forgotten to restock my supply of business cards the day before, so I only had a couple dozen in my bag (which turned out to be plenty), so I had this slide up at the end with all of my transparent details, in case anyone wanted to write them down to contact me later. I love it when I hear from people I’ve met at conferences, either asking more questions, or showing off something cool they’re doing, so if that’s you, and you’re reading this, drop me a line! πŸ™‚

I’m not going to post the actual Keynote/PowerPoint slides, since it’s all basically here and in this Flickr photoset, but if for some reason you’d like it, let me know, and I’d be happy to send it to you. Nothing really special, and like all of my photos, blog posts, and videos, it’s available under a Creative Commons license.

And, of course, if you’re interested in having me come speak at your company or conference or meetup or whatever, I love to talk about this stuff, and judging by the number of invitations I get, I seem to do a decent job of it, so let me know. Thanks! πŸ™‚

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Google Reader gets friendly with the Wii

This awesome news made my day, and I can’t wait to get home to try it out. There are also some other interesting implications that I’ll get to in a second.

By way of WiiFanboy, I read today that the Google Reader team has released a Wii-friendly (Wii-specific, even) user interface mode for everyone’s favorite web-based feed reader/aggregator:


You can get to it on your Wii using the Opera browser (bookmark it, so you don’t have to type that long URL again) at this URL:

http://www.google.com/reader/view/?ui=wii

The font size is bigger, and the navigation elements, like the list of feeds in the sidebar, are all hidden. There are even some Wii-specific navigation controls, using the buttons on the Wiimote:


I couldn’t figure out how to simulate/use the Wii buttons in Firefox on my Mac, so I haven’t played around with those features yet, but Joe Siegler put up some photos of the menus and interface from his TV and Wii (thanks Joe!).

This is very, very cool, and I can’t wait to try out reading my feeds from the couch on my Wii and TV. I’ve already learned that using the Wiimote as a pointer to navigate web pages is very relaxed and natural feeling, and there are lots of other Wee-specific web pages (like Wiicade.com and Sofatube.com). Here’s one more to bookmark and add to the list (that reminds me, I need to try out m.twitter.com on the Wii, too).

So what are the “larger implications” I was talking about? Well, here we have a version of Google Reader that sits nicely between the full desktop/browser version, and the stripped down light Mobile version. I think it would be perfect for those “in the middle” devices like the Nokia N800 internet tablet and Ultra Mobile PCs (and Tablet PCs). It’s already been reported by Cheryl Jones via Twitter that it doesn’t work on the N800. I’ll try it out soon on a UMPC, and report back on how it goes (should work fine, just a matter of whether it’s better than the regular version on the smaller screen).

But this opens the door to different “skins” or interfaces for Google Reader. Hey, Google, how about opening the interface up as a API or something, so people can mash up Reader? I’d LOVE to see a Reader implementation in Silverlight or something similar. Let us mash up and remix Reader like we can with Maps. Pretty please?! πŸ™‚

So what do you think? Give it a try on your various mobile web enabled devices, and let me know how it goes! Links to screenshots or blog posts about your experiences are a bonus. πŸ™‚

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Conan gets a peek at my everyday Intel life

This video has been going around like crazy this morning, both in the blogosphere (in my Intel search feeds), and from coworkers. I don’t usually stay up late enough to watch Conan O’Brian, but apparently he visited Intel’s headquarters and “mothership” building, RNB, in Santa Clara. The result is about 8 minutes of video that will make you laugh, and if you are, or are related to, an Intel employee, possibly cry a little, too:

(Updated with the new “official” NBC version on YouTube – thanks Jason and Matthew!)

I’m not in Santa Clara, but at the Jones Farm campus in Oregon. But there are a lot of similarities. Endless seas of grey fabric cubicles and hallways? Check. Extreme concentration of nerds? Check. Chess games in the cafeteria? Check, though I think they play more dominoes and poker here. Really, the only difference is that Santa Clara is a lot “glitzier”, what with the museum and ultra cool decor, but there are a lot more trees and green (and rain) up here in Oregon. You can see some photos I took last time I was at Intel in Santa Clara in this photoset on Flickr. I never noticed the little “stand here with camera” sign, even though I took several shots of that view. πŸ™‚

Now, I wonder if Conan will let me tour his facilities with my camera, making fun of how “Hollywood”, “pretty”, and how slick/vain/fake the whole TV industry is? πŸ˜‰ Nah, probably not…

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For Companies, Having a Blog Isn’t Enough Anymore

I’ve been thinking about what’s going on in my corporate flavored blogging world, what cool stuff my team at Intel Software Network is doing now, and more cool stuff that’s coming, and in general about companies and blogs and “getting it. And I came to a conclusion.

It’s not enough to have a company blog anymore. It’s not enough to just let your employees blog, or even give them a place to do it.

We’ve gone beyond that. It’s expected, now. Par for the course. Conspicuous in its absence. The bandwagon is well and truly populated with everyone and their dog.

Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? No, of course not. No more than you should quit using email or IM just because it’s become the norm. Normal is good – it means the playing field is level, and you are about in the same place as everyone else.

Except, I don’t want to be in the same place as everyone else. Both personally, and in what I envision for my company and my team (Intel Software Network). I want to be extraordinary. I want to be remarkable. I want to lead, not follow. I want to try new things, lots of new things, and fail at lots of them. But fail quickly and cheaply, to find the ones that work. And then excel at those. Teach others how to do it. Bring more people into the fold (whoa, that really is evangelist talk there, huh? πŸ˜‰ ).

So I’ve been thinking, what should I do next? What should Intel Software Network do next, to achieve our goal of inspiring software innovation, and showing developers that we love them?

I have some ideas. I’d love to hear yours. Post a comment, email me, Twitter me, post something on your own blog and mention me. The conversation is well underway. But I want to find out (or invent) what’s next! πŸ™‚

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