Tuesday Jun 03, 2008

Sun is in the Movie Business!

It's a little known fact that I never wanted to get into the technology business.  I always wanted to be in the movie business.  Ever since I saw Star Wars 15 times in the summer of 1977 I've loved movies.  In 1985, when I got my first Mac, I bought a piece of software called Videoworks (screenshot below) that allowed you to make animated movies on the computer.  I actually turned that into a job for a while by developing animations for corporate advertising and training (Apple itself being my largest customer).

However, I later got sucked into other things and wound up working on Enterprise software.  However, I still like the idea of making movies -- even if it's just of my kids playing in the back yard...

That's why I thought it was so much fun to see Sun had helped to produce a new, open source, animated movie.  You can check it out below.  Super fun!

Friday May 09, 2008


OK, I had dinner with Ken Wallich (aka Mr. JavaFX) the other night during JavaOne.  He (perhaps unknowingly) convinced me to try out Twitter.  Twitter is a "microblogging" service.  If you don't know what that is then you'll just have to sign up and find out.  If any of you want to keep up with what I'm doing, feel free to follow along.  I'm VirtualSteve on twitter now.  See you all there.

Friday Feb 08, 2008

Second Life Video

The folks at Dr. Dobbs seem to have liked my Second Life presentation on Sun xVM so much they've used parts of it in an online commercial.  It's pretty neat.  Check it out.  My avatar is the guy on stage in the brown.

Friday Feb 01, 2008

My Trip to Second Life

 A few days ago I posted that we were planning an event on virtualization in Second Life.  It was actually great fun.  The team at Sun equipped me with a first class Avatar, and Dr. Dobbs provided a super cool venue.  I got to give a 30 minute presentation on Virtualization and Sun xVM to a bunch of interested and engaged people.  The folks in the audience were really engaged, cracked some good jokes and asked good questions.  I may have to go back to Second Life.  My thanks to everyone who helped set up the event, or attended.

One of the folks from Sun took a bunch of screen caps.  A couple of cropped shots are shown below.  Click on them to zoom out and see the full scene.


Tuesday Dec 25, 2007

A Year of YouTube

On December 26, 2006 I posted my first video to YouTube.  It was a fairly pointless demonstration to prove I could do it, and I posted some instructions on how to get started.  It's fairly shocking over 1,000 have people watched that first little clip so far.   Over the course of the year, I found bits of time to put together more and more sophisticated videos.  Some of my favorites are:

One of the most fun parts of my year of video blogging wasn't a video at all.  In June I made a posting where I encouraged some of the writers at Sun to give up their pens and pick up their cameras (at least for a while).  As you can see from the comments on that posting I ruffled a few feathers.  In fact this lead to a series of discussions on others blogs.  While the writers haven't given up the written word, I'm pretty pleased to see more of them embracing new media concepts like blogs and videos.  I hope to see more of that in 2008!

Monday Aug 20, 2007

LinkedIn is Facebook for Dinosaurs

I've been a fan of LinkedIn for a couple of years now.  In the past, when I've encouraged some colleagues to sign up, I would explain that LinkedIn is like MySpace for grown ups.  People I work with generally know kids who use MySpace, but they really don't know what these kids do.  It's sometimes enough to get them started.

In the past month, I've been playing with Facebook.  It's so much richer than LinkedIn.  The interactions are richer, and the overall tone much more personal (enough so that some folks I know are a bit creeped out by it).  I'd suggest people try it out.  Even if you can't imagine living your life embedded in Facebook (and you really can run your life from inside it) it will give you an idea what the next generation of social networking looks like.  Now, instead of telling people that LinkedIn is MySpace for grown-ups, I tell them that LinkedIn is Facebook for dinosaurs.  Happy networking!

Friday Jul 20, 2007

My Visit to the Editorial Forum

This week I dropped in on the Sun Editorial forum.  Paul Davies has a nice write-up.  It's worth reading -- and I think Paul spent more time writing about it than I spent saying it! 

I've found it very interesting to have this ongoing dialog with the writing community at Sun.  I know that some of the writers think I'm just plain nuts, but I honestly believe we're just at the start of a major shift in how we teach people about technical concepts.  Traditional manuals (even when presented in HTML) are just one tool.  Blogs and videos offer new mediums to communicate and open up new opportunities to build and leverage communities.

  • Communities are made up of personalities
  • All other things being equal, the product with the biggest community wins
  • We should make sure that presenting our personalities is part of how we communicate technical content

Thursday Jul 12, 2007

Scoble vs. Nielsen

There is some mudslinging going on between two internet personalities: Jakob Nielsen and Robert Scoble.   Nielsen is a long-time guru on usability and Scoble became famous as Microsoft's voice in the blogosphere before going indepedent (and he now hosts my favorite video blog).  BTW, here's a link to a video interview Scoble did with Jonathan a few months back.

The whole things started when Nielson posted in his "newsletter" (he doesn't call it a blog although it very nearly is) an article bashing blogs.  Scoble fired back implying that Nielsen is a loser and a dinosaur.  It's been kind of fun to watch, but there is a lot to analyze in the discussion.  Nielsen summarizes his own post with the following:

To demonstrate world-class expertise, avoid quickly written, shallow postings. Instead, invest your time in thorough, value-added content that attracts paying customers.

Who can argue with that?  Well, Scoble got fired up because his own blog is often full of short, pithy comments and simple pointers to other interesting things on the net (with less analysis).  The interesting thing is that both of these guys are fairly famous (as nerds go) and have large readerships.  Who's right?  Both, and neither.  Here's what I think is missing from the conversation.

Nielsen does not understand that he is publishing a blog.  The word Blog started as a short hand for Personal Web Log.  It's was a set of web pages written in a personal, first person style where the author frequently posted.  Nielsen started doing this in the mid-nineties and thus was WAY AHEAD of the curve (much to his credit).  Whether postings are in-depth articles or pithy links isn't central to the concept of a blog.  What Nielsen is missing in his "blog" are some of the technological wrappings that would make him a real member of the blogosphere: RSS and Comments.

Nielsen's subscription mechanism is based on an archaic email list, and there is no place to leave him feedback or discuss his posts.  If he added those, he'd be a true blogger and a really good one.

For Scoble's part, he's clearly being defensive, but I think he sees that Nielsen is ignoring a key part of what makes blogging blogging.  It's about conversation.  Nielsen is being a pundit and isn't interested in what the rest of the world has to say.  Scoble interacts with his audience, understands them in real time and invites them into his community.  In my opinion, that's what's central to this discussion.  It's not just about the quality of the posting (and Nielsen presents some very nice guidelines for good blogging -- even if he won't call it that!) it's about the quality of the discussion and the interaction with the community.

Wednesday Jul 11, 2007

New Media Transformation

A couple of weeks ago I posted what has surprisingly become one of my most infamous blog postings.  Go Ahead! Put Yourself on YouTube struck up a major discussion in the Sun technical publications community on the nature of documentation in the new millennium  -- a discussion which is continuing in several other forums inside Sun still.  In fact Paul Davies invited me to come discuss this at Sun's Editorial Forum next week (which I'm really excited about, BTW).

I just got done investing the longest period ever in reading a blog posting.  Jonathan's blog from this morning embedded two videos from a recent conference at which he presented.  I spent about 90 minutes watching both in their entirety.   In both of these videos (one is an interview, and the other is a panel discussion) Jonathan and others discuss the tranformative roll of new web technologies on traditional media companies.  They're great videos, and I think they're directly relevant to the discussion we've been having about documentation.  In many ways the challenges faced by media (magazines, TV and radio) are similar to those faced by documentation (books, manuals, API docs).  It's a big investment, but I'd suggest it's really worth the time to give them a viewing.

Wednesday Jun 20, 2007

Go Ahead! Put Yourself on YouTube

I had the chance to present to the all-hands meeting for Sun's Information Products Group (IPG) recently.  IPG is the group that produces documentation for Sun's products.  I challenged them to help the rest of my group move out of the 90s and into the new millennium in how we communicate with our customers.  I asked them to think about the following:

  • Blogs, not books (bite sized info chunks with a peronal style)
  • A picture is worth a thousand words (cliche, I know, but true)
  • A video is worth a thousand pictures (so, a video worth a million words, right?)

They've actually been producing some slick stuff lately, and I want to encourage more.  However, I did get a few shocked looks when I suggested people get much more personal in their blog postings and even consider posting videos with themselves in them.  I believe people read blogs of people they get to know and like.  If people don't get to know you a little through your blog then it might as well be man pages. 

Coincidentally, I just found this article over at ComputerWorld on How to get yourself on YouTube, for business or pleasure.  It's a good intro, and worth a read.  Go ahead, do it!  I did.


Thoughts on cloud computing, virtualization and data center management from Steve Wilson, Oracle engineering VP.


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