danbricklin.com/log

Starting February 14, 2000
Content vs. Connectivity, Email back up, Move problems, Posting less frequently, How Microsoft thinks, More about ChiaPaint, An old funny demo, Funny demos
14-29Feb00
2000_02_14.htm
Tuesday, February 29, 2000
Content vs. Connectivity
Bob Frankston has a wonderful new article about why content companies should not be allowed to control connectivity infrastructure because of a conflict of interest. He talks about how the failed reasoning behind Interactive Television is being applied to the Internet by people with television backgrounds. A quote:

The Internet has been a primary factor in creating the current economy. Even as we see increasing opportunities we are already in the longest economic boom in our history.

The biggest threat to this growth would be to stymie the continued innovation in the sadly naive assumption that we have a mature marketplace. It's like looking at the Golden Goose and seeing only foie gras.

Read Bob's paper: Content vs. Connectivity.

Email back up
Email is back up here at Trellix, as of this afternoon, and I'm almost all unpacked. It may take a little longer for the new IP numbers to propagate -- I'm slowly seeing old mail trickle in. Thank God I don't have a pacemaker that depends on the Internet.

We may be trying a new cell phone carrier that penetrates our building better. What a pain.

For those that care, our new address and phone number went on the Trellix web site in the "Contact Us" page just before we moved.

Monday, February 28, 2000
Move problems
We're moved into the new location in Concord, Massachusetts, but our new ISP is not connected yet. No email, no browsing, etc. So, I'm posting this by dialing in through another ISP. If you need to reach me, use the phone. (Oh, cell phone reception here isn't as good for my carrier until the new towers come in...) frownie face

Here are some pictures from moving out Friday:

Moving crates in the hallway  Mover pushing cart with monitor  Monitors on carts
Moving day pictures

Wednesday, February 23, 2000
Posting less frequently
As I spend more and more time involved in the release of Trellix Web Express, I have less and less time for this log Frownie face. When I have time (such as during this flight back from a short visit to relatives over the Presidents' Day weekend) or I find some special material that I just must publish, I will. There should be something new at least weekly. Connected with this, Trellix Corporation has been making frequent announcements: not only the bundling with Compaq and Kodak and the Lycos/Tripod relationships that we unveiled at Demo 2000, but also a relationship with CompuServe last week and Dell this week. Worse yet for my time since I haven't packed yet, we're moving the company to new offices this weekend.

How Microsoft thinks
Here's a little more from Demo 2000:

Man at podium gesturing
Tod Nielsen of Microsoft
Tod Nielsen, VP Developer Relations at Microsoft (the group there that most developers like), gave a humorous talk reminiscing about the last 10 years and the Demo conference. One joke he told about competing in a head-to-head demo a while back was illustrative about the way Microsoft thinks.

Here's how he told his joke: As part of figuring out how to win the competition, which was to be judged using an applause meter, they determined that the applause meter was especially sensitive to high frequencies. They arranged for whistles to be placed under everyone's seat so that at the appropriate moment the presenter could say "If you liked our demo, reach under your chair and use the whistle to show your appreciation". The whistles would ensure that people who liked them would create lots of high frequency sounds to score high. The joke centered on the poor choice of words silk-screened onto the whistles, which kept them from being used. (Tod had several self-deprecating jokes -- not uncommon for Microsoft these days to show they're regular people.)

Whether or not the story is true (it was presented in a way that sounded like it was), I was struck by the general thinking portrayed that went into looking how to win. Microsoft may play fair (or is that "legally"?), but they play to win with whatever means they can. To them, the game of winning isn't just restricted to the obvious game board. Competitors had better know and understand this.

More about ChiaPaint
Having shown the ChiaPaint demo recently, I realize that many people today won't find it as funny as in the old days since the shortcomings of client-side Java it predicted have proven true. At the time it was first shown, though, I was hearing radio advertisements telling software developers how much time they could save by writing applications for end-users in Java (I heard one in a cab on sports radio -- I have no idea what the cab driver thought of it). People (including investors) thought Java would change the world. You had to explain in business plans why you weren't using Java. We don't hear that as much any more. Watch out for promising technology that hasn't proven itself in large-scale, real world deployment.

Wednesday, February 16, 2000
An old funny demo
Julianne Chatelain of Trellix Corporation, who sometimes helps me with this log by proofreading and commenting, commented this morning on the "Funny demos" posting and how it related to my old funny demo. I received my first "Demo god" award at the Demo'96 conference for a satirical demo, completely faked, about the potential problems with "paging off the net" with Java downloads-on-demand. It was called "ChiaPaint". Given what often happens today, four years later, it still is topical. With her reminder, I'm mentioning it again.

Dialog box with Error loading component message
ChiaPaint "demo": Partial screen shot
It's interesting to see that, once again, humor can make your presentation stand out, if it's received well.

You can recreate the actual demo yourself on a Windows machine. The original demo was done in Dan Bricklin's demo-it!, and still runs on most Windows machines. I have included the script of what I said. Try reading the script while running the demo.

A copy of the script, and a link to download the 650 KB ZIP file with all the components, is in the Writings section of this web site. Feedback I've gotten is that it's worth going to the trouble to show the real thing to others.

It sometimes has problems with certain video cards, and works best at 256 colors 640x480 or 800x600, but it's running fine on my Win98 IBM ThinkPad today with 24-bit 1024x768. The problems show up as black areas or very slow operation.

Go to "ChiaPaint" to get the demo.

Monday, February 14, 2000
Funny demos
I've written up two of the Demo 2000 "Demo god" award presentations, Handspring and Trellix. Both of them were for showing a lot of product in a very short time. Handspring showed three totally different new modules for their PDA, and for Trellix, Don and I created a very personal, multipage web site in 2 minutes. (You can read my script or watch the video, if you'd like.)

Two of the other award winners, though, got their awards for using a time-honored way to woo the audience: sight gags. I've seen this at other conferences, and it can be very effective if pulled off well. These people did.

The first was TeleVend Limited. They "...focus on the development of value-added mCommerce [mobile commerce] applications and solutions that interface with existing technologies..." Their demo mainly consisted of calling a soft drink vending machine on stage and ordering a can of soda by pushing buttons on a cell phone:

Man holding cell phone next to vending machine  Man holding can of soda
Calling the phone number on the machine to get a Coke
To add humor, they had a display on the front of the machine. They showed us "how it really works inside" by doing the demo again, this time with a video image of a woman inside, all huddled up, answering the phone and dropping the cans while shivering:

Woman with knit hat standing in front of cans of soda trying to talk on phone
Woman "in" the vending machine
It was very funny thanks to her acting. The "Demo god" award really went to her.

Another sight gag was done by the people from DoDots, Inc. They "...provide technology that enables online companies to package and instantly distribute Internet applications and media..."

To demonstrate the value of packaging stuff you can get in other ways (what their company does), they relied on two tried and true sight gags. First, their CEO and CTOs, George and John Kembel, are twins. Second, they used a messy food demo -- that type of demo is always appreciated from what I've seen. They showed how caesar salad became easier to buy when all the ingredients came in one package:

Twins, one holding a head of lettuce, the other the box with the stuff to be shown  One of the guys holds the lettuce and pre-packaged salad
Salad before and after packaging
Then they showed how shortening (lard) used to be packaged, and is currently packaged. The guy on the right stuck his hand into the box and came out with a big glop of dripping white stuff ("before packaging"). Then his brother took out a nice clean container of Crisco. Before they could continue and actually do the demo, there was a bit of hand-wiping...

Two guys, one with a messy hand, showing shortening  Another view of the two, this one shot of the TV screen in the hall
The advantages of packaging to shortening
When it comes to engaging an audience, messiness counts.

Finally, uTOK Inc. got an award for pure enthusiasm. They had such drive and belief in their product it just made you smile:

Young man and woman on stage  Woman on TV monitor doing standup presentation
uTOK's cofounders
Their product lets "...users post and read notes on any Web site, turning sites into thriving global bulletin boards."

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