The impact of Scoble

It’s great to see all the coverage of Scoble leaving Microsoft – For the uninitiated, Robert Scoble is a very popular blogger that works for Microsoft and Robert achieved what millions and millions of dollars could not do. Through his blog, Scoble humanized Microsoft and offered some much needed transparency that led a lot of people to rethink their assessment of Microsoft as an evil company (Disclaimer: my brother works for Microsoft). By opening up Microsoft via channel 9 and getting other people (3000 by latest count) within Microsoft to blog, Scoble enabled people access directly into Microsoft and peeled away all of the facade to show Microsoft as a company of people where product decisions get made by developers and managers coming to some consensus and now via some master evil plan. For the record,Scoble is leaving Microsoft to join a startup in San Francisco named PodTech.net where he will serve as vice president of content media and help PodTech.net and get them a ton of exposure. Congratulations to the PodTech.net team as they are getting a great person on their team and the added bonus is all this publicity is a huge plus – You can’t buy publicity like this.


scoblesleaving.jpg

I knew this story would be great fodder for the blogosphere but it’s great to see ‘real’ news organizations like AP, Reuters and BBC News covering his departure. Who would have guess just a year ago that a bloggers departure from a company would generate this much attention from the media? I guess this just reaffirms the power of the blog and how important blog will continue to be as companies move forward to get their message out and market their brand. I can see a future where bloggers will be like free-agents in sports, blogging for the highest bidder. 🙂 For the record, I am willing to leave my current employment for a seven figure salary and I’ll bring my 500 blog readers with me. 🙂

I wonder what Microsoft will do to replace Scoble. I do hope they replace him with another blogger as companies need a public face and I think it’s crucial to have that one blog that’s the face of the company.For Microsoft, Scoble has been that just like Jonathan Schwartz is for Sun and countless other examples. I guess the one positive for Microsoft is that people will now finally believe Scoble that Vista does indeed rock. 🙂

Blog Post from Microsoft Word 2007

Just downloaded the latest beta of Microsoft Office 2007 and am testing out the blog posting feature. Microsoft Word has added functionality that allows you to create blog post and post them directly to your blog. They support most of the blog platform out of the box including MSN Spaces, Blogger, SharePoint, Community Server and Other, which includes any blog platform that supports the MetaWebLog and the Atom API.

Word 2007 blog setup screen

The HTML created by Word 2007 is also pretty clean and I think I can really get used to this as my primary blogging interface. I still need to play around with some of the settings to customize the layout. I am hoping I can import or point to a CSS document and have it allow me to format the contents of the blog post. Haven’t found the option yet but I am hoping it’s here somewhere. If not, be a great feature for the final GA release.

Blog setup in Word 2007

Some of the bugs I’ve discovered so far are:

  • Posting doesn’t work – Pretty critical bug I would think. 🙂 I need to reverify my setting but I am able to post a blog entry as a draft but not publish it directly
  • The post date is set to December 31, 1969
  • Images included from Flickr (or anything off the Internet addressable by a url) show in the Word interface but the blog entry doesn’t include the img tag reference.

I’m sure that’s not a complete list of bugs but Word does show promise as a decent WYSIWYG blog editor.

Microsoft, Microsoft+office, office2007, word2007, blog, blog+editor, WYSIWYG, atom, metaweblog, api

Sad State of Affair in Java & .NET blog server software

It really is a sad state of affair when it comes to blog server software for Java and .NET. For the last few weeks, I’ve been working to introduce blogs and the concept of blogging internally at work and trying to pilot the use of blogs instead of the standard project portal. To that end, I figured I should really get the latest offerings from all of the blogging server software out there and put them through the paces to see which one works better than the other.

I’ve personally only used Blogger, Movable Type and WordPress in the past 5 years. The primary blog ran on Blogger for many years before I finally moved everything to WordPress. To make sure we’re eating our own dog food, I decided to download Roller and Community Server (formerly. Text) and give them a whirl.

Being a Java guy, I was excited to download and install Roller, as it’s one of the most popular Java blogging software out there. Boy, was I disappointed. I know this is free and open-source but installing and getting Roller running was a royal pain in the neck. The installation is documented fairly well for Tomcat but I have tons of servers running WebLogic and so I tried to deploy Roller under WebLogic. So I configure the appropriate datasources and authentication realms and try to deploy the application. I killed the server before I got a seizure from the fast scrolling stack-trace. Without boring you with all the details, it took me almost 8 hours to get Roller to work correctly under WebLogic. Having worked with J2EE containers for over 6 years, I know the reality of deploy-anywhere but this is ridiculous. How easy is it to create a web application that works on a bunch of different containers? I could not believe the effort it took to get this simple web application deployed. Take a look at Confluence – Java web application that configures itself and runs on every container out there. And other major issue I have with Roller is the lack of support for any other database platforms besides MySQL, PostgreSQL and HSQL-DB. I love MySQL but I have Oracle running internally on big boxes that are backed up several times a day and actively monitored. But I can’t use Oracle with Roller as it only supports MySQL, PostgreSQL and HSQL-DB out of the box. With technologies like Hibernate, why do we still have applications written in Java that are so database platform bound? My next mission is to get Roller working with Oracle and then document (and blog) the hacks necessary to get Roller working under WebLogic and Oracle.

Another problem with Roller is the lack of community support and plug-ins. Coming from the WordPress side of the house, there is a plug-in for everything including the kitchen sink. Before you can think it, someone has already written a plug-in for it. (I should really look at Pebble and Blojsom)

Moving to the .NET side of house is not a pretty picture either. The blog engine that used to be named .Text is now rebranded as Community Server. The installation is pretty easy and product looks fairly robust. Telligent Systems is the company that’s taken over development of .Text and the new product includes a discussion system, blogging system, and photo gallery system. The same lack of plugins or add-ons exists here and the 3 listed add-ons require a commercial license. Beyond the base blog functionality, there is nothing available.

Roller and Community Server work well once you get them installed. But anything beyond the basic requires custom development and I just feel that is not a good use of my time. To me, blog server software is a commodity and so I want to find something that’s easy to use and has the most features. I know I am developer and I can sit down and write anything I need but my company pays me to add value in a different capacity.

WordPress on the other hand is unbelievable. It’s written in PHP, which I can hack (if I had to) but all the plugins I’ve downloaded simply work. Download a plugin and just drop it in the plugins directory and you’re off and running. The big deficiency for WordPress in my opinion is that it only supports MySQL as a database platform but the value proposition provided by all the functionality is just incredible. I just hope Roller can catch-up as competition is great and really helps drive innovation.

Welcome to my new blog

Welcome to Vinny’s Blogs. I first discovered blogs at the 2000 JavaOne where the Swing GUI team demo’d the Java Swing application for Blogger. I created an account with Blogger and am finally using it — Just took me about 3 years to get it 🙂