danbricklin.com/log

Starting November 6, 1999
Open Access, PR day continues, Personal web sites for PR and everyday life, More on being tall, Being a judge and a webmaster, When's the next big thing, Body shop, What did the Bible have to say about MS/DOJ, Microsoft and the Department of Justice, More of the season, Pondering weblog prose-style
6-11Nov99
1999_11_6.htm
Thursday, November 11, 1999
Open Access
I'm involved in some discussions on crafting telecommunications policy that will be good to foster innovation. I've been putting together some links for others to read. I decided to share some of that here on my web site. You'll find them in my Writings section as Open Access thoughts. It includes a new essay by Bob Frankston trying once again to communicate in yet simpler terms what he means by IP Infrastructure. Read it and send him comments. The design of our society's telecom infrastructure will have more impact on innovation in the long term than whatever happens to Microsoft. The issues with Open Access with respect to innovation are much greater than the unimportant one of whether or not AOL or AT&T is your ISP.

Wednesday, November 10, 1999
PR day continues
Webb Chappell, a photographer in Boston, came by the office to take the picture to go with an interview I did ages ago for a magazine. For those of you who don't get your picture taken professionally much, here's what it looks like:

Me standing in front of a white sheet  Him looking up from his camera  Me holding a camera
The overall scene in our conference room, my view of him, and a Polaroid test shot of me photographing him
Notice that I've started using descriptive ALT tags on the pictures the last few days, not just the same as the caption. I'm trying to make this web site a bit more accessible to both visually-impaired (who can't see the images) and bandwidth-deficient (who won't download them) people.

Personal web sites for PR and everyday life
I just got off the phone doing an interview with a national publication about my feelings on a particular topic. The reporter had done her homework and checked my personal web site (www.bricklin.com) in advance so I got none of the normal background questions, saving us both a lot of time. I also was able to send her to citations on books when I recommended them (I keep them in my Resources section). If she asked my feelings on a common question, I might already have an essay to help set the context of my quotes on the phone.

I find that having a personal web site, with your own personal FAQ so to speak, is quite helpful. I think this is true for more than just those of us who deal with the press. How many times are you visiting someone and you get on a topic where you'd like to pull out a picture you have to show them? (For example, "Yes, he was at our reunion -- do you have a web browser? Let's go look at a picture I have of it.") What about a recipe when you bring it to a pot luck? Links you've found in a moment of need to useful things (like how to remove skunk smell from a dog)? Resumes. Directions. The list can get long. The URLs can be secret. If we just get used to putting things on web sites, they can be shared more easily when we need to.

More on being tall
I stumbled across my judge's name plate from judging the Miss Tall International pageant while cleaning a desk in my attic home office this morning (something I do every year or so...). The Tall Clubs web site came back online, too. Indeed, they do date from 1938 and claim responsibility for king-sized beds (see the FAQ in the About section of their site). The winner my year was over 6 feet tall. I'm too short to be a member as a male.

Wood name plate
I still have the name plate
People keep asking me how I got picked. Here's what I remember. A person I had met in the summer of 1978 at Prime Computer as a summer intern between business school years was in charge of the event that was in Boston in 1993. Being in computers, he added me when making up his "celebrity" list to ask to be judges. I said "yes" feeling it might be fun to look back on it years later (and to meet Dave Cowens). That same summer at Prime I met Steve Coit who, when he was at Charles River Ventures years later, was the first venture capitalist to sponsor Trellix for funding.

Tuesday, November 9, 1999
Being a judge and a webmaster
Today is Tuesday, so it was time to be one of the judges of Trellix's contest for web sites built with Trellix Web and hosted on Tripod. We do this each week, giving out a camera and eventually a new VW Beetle (yes, we're going so far as to give away a car). The winners are posted on the winners page, and this week's should be up tomorrow. Judging contests is an art. I've done all sorts of computer software judging, and even judged the Miss Tall International event several years back (believe it or not -- along with fellow guest judge Dave Cowens the basketball player -- though I'm "short" at almost 5'11').

(The Tall Clubs International web address www.tall.org isn't working tonight [it came back the next day], so I'll also link to the New York club and the Phoenix one, too. Founded by a woman in the early part of the century, the Clubs were responsible for king-size beds and other things that make tall people have an easier time living in our shorter-centered world. I'm told that the "Miss Tall" winner each year has an interesting PR challenge representing the clubs and tall people, as well as being a role model for young kids who are being teased for being different.)

The main thing we noticed about this week is that the web sites entered in the contest had much more depth of content. Some of them had hours and hours of writing, in addition to the web site creation (which Trellix Web makes easy :) -- smile!).

I also spent the time I scheduled for this log on adding a few new features. (Remember, I'm using this log to learn about weblogs and journals and how to use Trellix Web to make them, both as it is now and in the future.) This log now has a calendar on the right border for getting to old pages and a placeholder page for current content. What this means is that I'm pre-creating the page that will contain the content you read on the home page at the URL where it will end up. You can link there for specific content. Until the content moves off the home page it will have a "click here to go to the home page" link. (I could make it frame the front page, but I thought that might be too confusing to first-time readers.)

Monday, November 8, 1999
When's the next big thing?
The Microsoft/DOJ case keeps getting into timeframes, as I point out in my General comments. What is the normal timeframe for major new additions to our technological landscape? First there is the time to get the basic technology right, then there is the time to make a commercially viable version, and then the public has to accept it. Here's a picture that reminds you how long some things take:

Three smiling faces
Bricklin, Metcalfe, Engelbart (13 Oct 99)
Doug Engelbart (inventor of the computer mouse), Bob Metcalfe (Ethernet and LANs), and I (spreadsheet) were inducted into Upside Magazine's Hall of Fame last month. The spreadsheet took a few years to catch on, but while it spurred the PC revolution, it really took from 1979 to 1985 or so when Lotus 1-2-3 was mature for the spreadsheet to be well accepted in business. Remember how many years it was the "Year of the LAN"? Networked PCs took years after Ethernet was invented to become common. And the mouse? Invented in the 1960s, the first commercial products (Xerox Star, then Apple with the Lisa and Mac) came in the early 1980s, and widespread acceptance was in the early 1990s (Mac, Windows 3.1). There's no reason to think technologies like Java (a portable byte-code system kind of like the old UCSD Pascal) will go much faster. New technologies need a lot of nurturing to mature and then catch on (and patient investors, too).

Body shop
Well, the car went into the body shop this morning to fix the dent from last week (Nov 3). I've got a rental car 'til it's done. While we always talk about how you can get into any car and just drive because it's so standard, that only refers to the basic act of driving and stopping. Learning how to turn on lights, set the seat, or even turn off the headlights (they stay on for how many seconds automatically in this car?) takes a while.

Auto body shop
Where my car's being fixed
Sunday, November 7, 1999
What did the Bible have to say about MS/DOJ?
I added a new section to my Microsoft/Department of Justice log. In addition to some new general comments about monopolies, I added a page entitled "Ethical issues".

I was planning to write something along these lines using my limited knowledge of Jewish law when I heard that Temple Emanuel in my city had a seminar Sunday mornings on Business Ethics and Jewish law and that monopolies were going to be covered. By luck the subject was previously scheduled for today so I went. The session was led by Rabbi Wesley Gardenswartz, a Harvard Law School graduate who practiced law for 6 years before going back to school to learn to be a rabbi. He's also the son of a small-business owner. He's now an assistant Rabbi at Temple Emanuel. The Talmud part of my essay came from what I think I learned at that session. Here he is afterwards talking with another participant:

Rabbi holding papers talking after class
Rabbi Gardenswartz
I also asked him a bit about a Biblical quote I planned to use, and he told me that it was a good one to use -- he had used it the week before in the first session of his seminar. I went with "ethics" in the title rather than "Talmud" since I felt "Talmud" wouldn't have meant much to most people. To read what I wrote, see Ethical issues.

Saturday, November 6, 1999
Microsoft and the Department of Justice
The judge released his Findings of Fact in the MS/DOJ case last night. I got a few calls from the press asking for quotes, all needed within minutes of the release. It's pretty hard to comment on 207 pages that fast. I decided to take a little time and slowly put some thoughts down. Rather than pepper them throughout this log, I've created a new section, the MS/DOJ log section, where I'll put those comments. I'll let you know here in my main log when I make additions there. (Those pages will also be easier to link to, since they will start out with a permanent URL.)

More of the season
I got to go running through the woods near my house today. I love running through leaves and it's that time of year. I love the feel, smell and sound. Here's what the front of my house looks like this week:

Leaves  Close up showing brown and some red
Lots of leaves and a close up
For those of you who can't run through leaves now I recorded me running and walking through the ones you see here. It's in RealAudio. Click here to listen to it (55KB).

Pondering weblog prose-style
Robot Wisdom linked to my eJournals vs. eColumns item. It has moved off the log home page and is now on the 3-5Nov99 page. Thank you Jorn for linking!

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