Tag: robert_scoble

Microsoft to start supporting Firefox?

I write posts here with boring regularity on Microsoft’s latest releases. They all follow a similar pattern – “I have just heard that Microsoft have just released [insert product name here] unfortunately it doesn’t work in Firefox/Mac”.

Now, however, I have acquired an unlikely ally in Robert Scoble – Microsoft’s chief blogger! Robert said in a post yesterday

if you want the most passionate people in society to use your stuff, you must support Firefox…. I won’t link (or say anything nice) to any Windows Live service that doesn’t support Firefox.

If the Microsoft development teams take note and start to release products with Firefox support, this will mean far better products, reviews and PR for Microsoft.

What will I have to complain about though!

I see Damien and Dennis Howlett have responded to Robert’s post as well.

Back with a vengence

Robert Scoble, Microsoft’s high profile blogger, went on a blog holiday for the past week and it obviously gave him time to do some serious thinking.

He has posted a marathon post which posits five ways to improve Microsoft’s image both internally and externally.

What are his five suggestions?

  • A guaranteed Terabyte of Internet-based storage space for EVERYTHING and for EVERYONE running Windows in the world.
  • buy every [Microsoft] employee a top-of-the-line Dell machine with dual monitors running Windows Vista. And do it now.
  • Change employee behavior through public compensation change logs.
  • Get rid of corporate speed bumps.
  • Force marketers to explain their decisions — in public on their blogs.

It is a fascinating post and certainly one which will generate a lot of discussion within Microsoft – any one of those changes would certainly change perceptions of Microsoft for the better.

Here’s hoping he doesn’t fall foul of the ‘corporate speed bumps’ he referred to when trying to move this agenda forward.

In an IM chat with me Damien Mulley pointed out that MS shouldn’t be putting a Dell system on everyone’s desk – I thought it was because of the widely reported Dell support issues but Damien reckoned they should buy Macs for all their staff so they could “know their enemy”!

A solution for Robert Scoble?

In a recent comment on Shelley Powers’ site Robert Scoble explained one of his reasons for turning comment moderation on his blog, it has nothing to do with comment spam – he said:

I am seeing more and more anonymous comments and I have been tracking their IPs and see that one person is showing up under a variety of different names

Robert, if someone is posting troll comments under multiple names coming from the same ip address – enter that ip address into your WordPress Options -> Discussion -> Comment Moderation field and then comments from that ip will be moderated – all others will get through.

Be transparent about it – say in a post on your blog that you are moderating posts from that ip because of abuse. People will row in behind you on that.

Moderating all comments seems like taking the lazy way out.

Full vs partail feeds war erupts once more – yawn!

Duncan at the Blog Herald has ignited his twice yearly war on full feeds (here’s his previous attack on full feeds). Duncan is taking a new tack on the argument this time saying that you can’t make money by giving away your content in full feeds – because RSS advertising doesn’t work

The full vs partial feed issue is whether, as a blogger, you should give away all the content of your post in the RSS feed or only part of the content. The thinking behind the partial feed is that people have to click on the link in their RSS reader to see the entire post – so you are bringing them to your site so therefore you gain advertising revenue (some design nazis will also say that their content should only be viewed in the context of the design of their site!).

Full feeds, however, allows people to read your entire article in their RSS reader without ever visiting your site. That is the format I favour and I have argued in favour of this several times in the past.

I’m not going to re-hash the arguments now, Robert Scoble has argued the case for full feeds far more eloquently than I ever could:

What people who say that full-text RSS hurts their advertising possibilities don’t get is that if you treat connectors, bloggers, journalists better, you’ll get MORE audience to your Web pages, which will get you more advertising hits.

Tech podcaster Todd Cochrane of GeekNewsCentral rows in behind Robert.

And suffice it to say, I agree wholeheartedly and haven’t looked back since I went full feeds!

"Thank you for taking the trouble to complain"

One of the reasons why Robert Scoble is liked and respected is that he puts his hands up when someone highlights a problem with some aspect of Microsoft or its products. If someone says “Microsoft sucks” – he doesn’t say “No it doesn’t”, he says “Why do you think that, and what can we do to make it better?”

I had a bad customer service experience this weekend and it really annoyed me!

What was unusual was that the customer service issue I had was with a very new, U.S. based, company, in the Web 2.0 space. I would have expected any company in this space to be particularly customer focussed – that was obviously a little naive of me!

It started when I signed up and paid for use of this application. I saw a bug in the program and I posted about it. One of the founders of the application advised me to go to the program’s support forums to report the bug. I went to the forums but I was annoyed that I had to create a new account on the forum to login and report the bug (I already had an account for use of the application). I have enough logins and accounts across the different sites I use without having to create a second account for this application!

When I raised this unnecessary extra login with the application founder, his only response was:

If we did that, we’d have to limit forum users to only active application users.

I thought this was a bit short – I tried to suggest a few ways of fixing the issue:

There are ways around that too – for instance, anyone registering for the forum – put a flag on their account when they register (if they don’t have an application account) and check for that flag as part of the login process.

To which I received the increasingly snarky response (remember, I have paid money to this guy, to use his application. I have spotted a shortcoming in his application and I am trying to suggest ways this shortcoming can be fixed):

Ok, then what happens when someone registers for the service and wants a username that is already taken in the forums? What forum account should we create?

Finally, in response to a comment I made where I said I was getting tired of the discussion (because any suggestions I made on how to improve the application were simply being shot down with no effort to say “hmmm, you know that’s not a bad idea, let me think how we can …” or somesuch), he said:

If you don’t want to engage in a discussion of a “problem” like this, please indicate that your question was rhetorical and I will not waste both of our time trying to engage in the discussion.

My question wasn’t rhetorical. I had a genuine beef with his products which I think others would find annoying too. I tried to suggest ways to improve the products and all I got back was “No we can’t do that; no we can’t do that; If we did that, then what would we do here…”

Now, I believe that if a customer complains about your product or service – you should thank them for taking the time and effort required and for making you aware of the deficiency in your offering. Most people would simply walk away having said nothing – or worse, tell their friends “Don’t use that application, they can’t even figure out how to do single sign on across two applications!”

If someone goes to the trouble of giving you feedback, don’t go out of your way to antagonise them (espcially if they are a paying customer), swallow your pride, admit that your product is not perfect (yet) but also say you are striving to make it so, and thank them for helping you along that road.

It is a tenet of the service industry that a customer who has complained and has had the complaint handled well, is going to be a far more loyal customer than the customer who never had an issue in the first place!

By the way, I have purposfully left the name of the company involved out of this post because I think the focus of this post shouldn’t be the company but the lack of customer service. If you do want to see my original post and all the comments, you can here.

To see how to create a positive customer experience, follow Ben and Jackie’s Church of the Customer blog or read The Cluetrain Manifesto (or both!).

Cork Geek Dinner

Well, the Cork geek dinner went ahead last night in Proby’s Bistro, as planned. It seems to have been a great success – at least, everyone told me they enjoyed it anyway!

Robert Scoble and Maryam were there and despite having come from the IT@Cork conference where Robert delivered two great talks, Robert still made it his business to try to talk to everyone.

Maryam, despite being annoyed by Frank, confided that it was one of the best geek dinners she had attended because we didn’t only talk geek!

I spoke to Hugh McLeod about the lack of Stormhoek wine and he apologised profusely – he asked that I collect the names and addresses of as many of the attendees as are interested and he’ll organise a bottle for them – so if you were there last night and would like a free bottle of Stormhoek, email me (tom@tomrafteryit.net) your name and address and I’ll pass the details on to Hugh.

I'm at the IT@Cork conference today

I’m going to be at the IT@Cork Conference today (Wed 30th) – Robert Scoble is Opening the conference with a talk on Business Blogging – I can’t wait.

I’ll be blogging the conference live on the IT@Cork blog and I’ll be recording interviews with delegates and speakers – I will upload those interviews on the IT@Cork blog too.

Later this evening I will be at the geek dinner with Robert Scoble in Proby’s Bistro, Proby’s Quay, Cork – see this Google Map if you are unsure where it is. The dinner is on at 8pm – all bloggers welcome – be sure to register on the wiki.

So, a busy day ahead – hope to see you there.

Michael Arrington Podcast

As I mentioned previously, I interviewed Michael Arrington of TechCrunch last week as part of my ongoing series of recorded and podcast phone interviews. Michael really impressed me in the interview with his humour, his obvious intelligence and his humility.

This is definitely one of the most stimulating interviews I have recorded yet – despite stiff competition from Robert Scoble, Shel Israel and TJ McIntyre.

These are the questions I asked Michael and the times in the interview they were asked:

  • Michael, for anyone who is not familiar with your name can you start off by telling the listeners who is Michael Arrington? What is it that you do? – 0:15
  • How long has TechCrunch been running now? – 3:58
  • I was interviewing Robert Scoble last week and he said he’d never heard of TechCrunch 6 months ago – now it is the first site he looks at every day – 4:09
  • Feedburner reports Techcrunch has 15020 subscribers – to what do you attribute the success of techcrunch – 4:46?
  • Since TechCrunch is a success you must be really busy, is it a full-time job? – 7:29
  • You don’t have ads on the site – how do you fund it? – 9:32
  • You have recently joined John Battelle’s Federated Media Publishing – can you explain what that is and how do you see this changing TechCrunch? – 11:46
  • How is it different from Google’s AdWords? – 12:54
  • What’s the story with the BBQs? how did that tradition get started? – 13:13
  • TechCrunch is part of the Web 2.0 Workgroup – What is the web 2.0 workgroup? – 15:50
  • What is Web 2.0? Is it just another catchall buzzword like ‘interactive’ designed to grab the attention of vc’s? – 17:14
  • What web 2.0 app(s) could you not live without? 19:56
  • Ad supported sites seem to be becoming the norm – is everything headed that way? do you think we will one day see an online version of Office/Windows supported by ad revenue? – 21:27
  • Are you a Mac or PC user? – 23:27
  • What kind of world do you want your kids to grow up in? – 27:27

The full interview is 29 minutes and you can listen to the interview here (6.6mb mp3).

Podcasting search engines reviewed.

In my recent podcast with Robert Scoble, one of the issues I raised with him was how much easier text blogs are to index for a search engine, than are podcasts or videoblogs. Robert agreed that this was the case but he made the point that search engines are using link text and the text surrounding the links to podcasts and videoblogs as a means to indexing their content – not ideal but it’s a start.

Robert went on to predict that because technologies are currently being developed to allow for the indexing of these mediacasts that we will see great strides in this area in the next twelve months.

Sure enough today I found a comparative review on Yahoo! News of three podcast search engines which use speech-to-text software to generate written transcripts of the podcasts. The three reviewed are Podzinger, Podscope and Blinkx.

I searched the three sites for the term “Scoble” – Podscope found no podcasts with that term (!), Podzinger found 5, and Blinkx found about 50. I say around 50 for Blinkx because its horrific interface actually made it quite difficult to see how many results there were! None found the podcast I did with Robert Scoble last week!

All three include the ability to add your podcast to the index but the Blinkx link ended in a 404 for me!

However, things are set to improve – as the Yahoo! report put it:

the engines can learn better ways to determine words from their context.

Blinkx co-founder Suranga Chandratillake illustrates the process this way: If a podcast were made about the topics in this story, a computer probably would be right if it detected the phrase “recognize speech.”

But in a podcast about last year’s tsunami, the computer would do better to hear almost the same sounds as “wreck a nice beach.”

Any questions for Shel Israel?

Shel Israel describes himself as “a recovering publicist“. Shel used to own a PR agency specialising in tech startups and Shel

was involved in the initial launches of Sun Microsystems, PowerPoint, Filemaker, SoundBlaster, Napster, MapInfo, Virtual Vineyards and quite a few others

More recently Shel co-authored the authoritative business blogging book Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble. This is a book which was written entirely transparently in a blog online with the collaboration of many of prominent business blogging consultants.

I am interviewing Shel this late this evening/early tomorrow morning (damn that 8 hour time difference!) and I will podcast the interview later this week.

If anyone has any questions they’d like me to ask Shel, please feel free to leave them in the comments.