It's been an exceptionally busy few months here in MacBU. We're busily working on Office:Mac 2008, and looking forward to getting it shipped. Some of us, this correspondent included, have begun the early work on the versions after Office:Mac 2008. We're also working on file format converters, so that those of you who have friends and colleagues who have upgraded to Office 2007 can read the .docx, .pptx, and .xlsx files that are sent to you by them.
Today, we have released a public beta of the file format converter. If you want to learn more about it, my boss wrote a great post over in Mac Mojo about it: get converted. Or you can skip straight to downloading it.
I don't think that anyone has more keenly felt the upgrade to Office 2007 than those of us in MacBU. I've been getting files in .docx format for more than a year!
At the OOPSLA planning meeting last weekend, we were looking at some of the statistics of our conference attendees. Demographics are always interesting and a good topic of debate. In this case, we were discussing the gender (im)balance at OOPSLA. One of the committee members (I won't mention names, to protect the guilty) said that we should use the high number of men at OOPSLA as a selling point for geekgirls like me: come to OOPSLA, have your pick of highly-intelligent men. Speaking as a woman of OOPSLA, I've got to say: the odds are good, but the goods are odd.
Over the weekend, I noticed that my blog got mentioned in the content to be different blog earlier this month. He's talking about 'putting the voice and passion back into webtalk'. He chose my blog as an example (!), and said the following:
staying off message: here’s what happens when another big corporate doesn't just 'let' its staff blog but actually encourages, enables and supports them: they say things off message but things you can use to build teams, relationships, new products.
Lessons for artists: think the power of the crowd. Create networks and ride the network effect.
I hadn't looked at my blog in that way, although I think it's a great way to look at it. I see blogging as about having a genuine conversation. I'm not here to sell you on an idea. I'm here to share with you what I think about certain things, to tell you about things that I care about, things that I think are interesting or important. I also like the comments from you guys where you tell me what you think about something I've posted, or when I meet one of you in person and learn what you think about these things.
There's no message to my blog. No-one in MacBU has ever asked me to post something, or to change anything that I've posted. There are things that I'm not going to blog about -- while I love you guys, I'm not breaking NDA for you. I do have lots of support from my management chain for blogging. It's even one of my annual commitments: post at least once per week to this blog, and once per month to Mac Mojo.
I'm not sure what 'staying on message' would look like. But it wouldn't be this blog. I wouldn't bother blogging if there were a message that I had to adhere to. I don't have a big overarching goal. I let things happen organically here. If it helps build a community around what we build, if it helps give a face to a big nameless faceless corporate entity, if I'll get an idea about how to solve a user's problem as a result of the conversation that's going on here, that's all a bonus.
I love my MacBook. I really do. His name is Bernard. Bernard is the right size for my personal laptop. I don't want a big MBP for my own use, I like Bernard's small form factor. I'm okay in making the tradeoff of price and size versus the better video card that's in the MBP -- although I do have to admit that I've considered installing The Sims 2 on my work MBP to play it there instead. Then I realised that playing such games through meetings with my manager would officially constitute a Bad Idea.
For all of my love of Bernard, I do have one problem with him. The edges are sharp. If my laptop is actually in my lap and if I'm doing a lot of mousing, I move my hand so that my palm is resting on the edge of the laptop. On my work MBP, this is fine. The edge there is just a little bit rounded. Not so on Bernard -- which, I suppose, is probably fitting, given his namesake. If I'm doing a lot of mousing (such as with my aforementioned Sims), my palm hurts! I noticed that I've been folding up my screen protector and using it as a little pillow between the edge of the laptop and my palm.
I know that I could just use an external mouse. At the office, that's exactly what I do, since I'm rarely holding my laptop in my lap at work. (I even just bought a blingy Hello Kitty mouse so I can have an external mouse when I'm sitting in a conference room, and it's one that anyone else will be too embarrassed to take if I accidentally leave it behind.) But at home, I'm sitting on the sofa or lying across the floor, and an external mouse just doesn't work in that situation.
One of my favourite Mac apps is Delicious Library. It's got a great UI, and it fills a big need for me. It's got a couple of easter eggs that make me love it even more -- I won't ruin the surprise, but you do have to have the 'Speak scanned titles' pref turned on.
There's a post over at Theocacao today with some Delicious Library v2 features: A few Delicious Library 2 secrets. Delicious Library 2 will have better web integration, so when I finally get done scanning, you can go through my CD library and laugh at some of the items I have. There's also iTunes integration coming, which really makes me happy -- this is a natural extension for Delicious Library.
I wonder if I should step up my scanning efforts and try to get everything into Delicious Library now so that it's all ready to import, or slow down and wait to scan them into the new version. Hmmmm.
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are going to do a joint interview at the Wall Street Journal's D5 - All Things Digital conference next week. Steve's also doing a separate interview during D5, and Steve Ballmer has one as well.
Mark your calendar, folks. The Mac web is going to go nuts next Wednesday after this talk.
My current favourite blog is The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs. The identity of FSJ is unknown. This week, BusinessWeek says that FSJ might be outed.
I'm kinda sad about that. I really like the blog. Guessing who could be writing it (has to know Apple and real Steve's history very well, obviously knows the Valley quite well, and is able to be biting about absolutely everything in tech -- FSJ's comment about IBMers travelling in packs of 20 or more is absolutely dead on) is a great geek conversation topic. For all the sarcasm there, it's a great way to learn about this rather insane place we call Silicon Valley. Will that change if FSJ is outed? Will the whole thing be less pointed, and thus less funny, without the shroud of anonymity?
It could be an interesting week. Apple's gonna have to release something on Tuesday just to overshadow this story.
For your downloading pleasure, we've released Office 11.3.5 today. You can download it here. There's several performance and stability updates, so go download!
For those of you who attended CHI 2007, especially the Microsoft reception on Wednesday night, check out the Microsoft UX Space. There's lots of pictures from the whole event.
If you're interested in the UX positions in MacBU, email me soon! I heard that there was someone who wanted to meet me on Wednesday night at the Microsoft reception, but we never managed to stumble across each other.
Wednesday was a busy day at D5 - All Things Digital, and I'm sure that their website is reaping the traffic rewards for it now.
Their site has complete videos of all of the sessions. The prologue to the Jobs/Gates interview was a nice little trip down memory lane (how great was the Mac dating game?), and it links to the full videos elsewhere. The web is falling all over itself to talk about it, although it seems like the only thing to say about it is that Gates and Jobs make nice. But you can watch the video for yourself.
Steve Jobs had a solo interview where he didn't really tell us anything new or interesting, other than the announcement that they're adding YouTube to AppleTV. There's a part of me that's not convinced by this idea. The only time that I go to YouTube is when someone sends me a link to a video there. I don't surf YouTube, the signal:noise ratio is too high for me to bother with. Of course, the signal:noise ratio is 100% subjective -- I'm entirely surprised that a video spoofing my hometown has actually been viewed more than 1300 times, or that there are actually 68 separate videos up there tagged with my hometown's name. Those 68 videos are total noise unless you live (or have lived) there. But in better news, iLounge says that YouTube will be providing videos designed for AppleTV in H.264.
In Microsoft-y news, Steve Ballmer (too many Steves in my neck of the woods) demoed Microsoft Surface. I got to see it in action during last year's Microsoft company meeting. It's really cool (and I don't just say that on the extremely off-chance that SteveB stumbles across my blog one afternoon). I can't wait to see it in a real-world setting. But I feel like we need someone else to name our products. Microsoft Surface? Couldn't we have come up with something cooler than that?