This just in: Phone Snags Thwart 'Idol' Voters!
Ok, Captain Obvious. But here's the interesting part:
In last year's finale between Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, a total of 24 million votes were recorded, with Studdard declared the winner by a slim 134,000-vote margin.
But on the same night, Verizon, the nation's largest phone company, saw its daily volume increase by 116 million calls while SBC reported a call-volume increase of 115 million, according to Broadcasting & Cable.
Doing the math, that's 24 million votes recorded out of 230 million+ calls (not including other carriers) which is only 10% of the total votes cast! [As a Floridian, this makes me feel much better about our ability to record votes. <g>]
Now I know that 10 million or even 10 thousand out of any sized population is more than statistically relevant - but it seems like there should be much better ways to capture the vote from a technology standpoint. Of course, Fox loves the higher numbers and busy signals since they try to use them as a proxy for rating, so they'd probably never bite on some of these ideas. But it's worth considering.
1) Use caller ID to determine where votes are coming from and only allow each person to vote once per contestant per week (potential problem here with “private numbers“ that don't support caller ID). Another problem is that there's disparity here w.r.t. the number of phones per household.
2) Assign voter registration codes. People go online to register for these just like they would a real voter registration. This allows you to vote from any phone more than once (everybody in the family is happy) and potentially allows Fox to use registration data as the carrot for getting a code. That could be extremely valuable to advertisers. It eliminates the problem associated with private numbers - the new problem is that it requires Web access, but maybe you have a separate channel for requesting a vote code via telephone or snail mail. Of course, making sure everybody requests 1 and only 1 vote code is your next challenge - you can't use something like a social security number to ensure uniqueness. But this would stem the tide of “power dialers” who simply revive their BBS WarDialer software to cast Idol votes.
3) Web voting. It's obvious why they haven't implemented this yet given the sponsor money they get from AT&T. But they could make MSN or that “other” online service the sponsor. ;-) Obviously Web voting may not scale either, but I think it scales better than the existing telephone voting system would.
4) Stop caring about the outcome. That's right, after all, it's just American Idol. Sure, I'm rooting for Diana DeGarmo as much as the next guy - but if she doesn't win, I'm sure she'll have a perfectly good career (once she finishes high school and all). <g>
I did a Webcast yesterday that's online now. You can view the archive of that here:http://www.placeware.com/cc/mseventsbmo/view?id=1032247776&pw=webcast
Several people have asked whether or not it's still important to migrate away from the MSJVM in light of the April 2nd announcement. While the deadline has been extended for us to support the MSJVM, organizations still need to move away from the MSJVM for several reasons:1) Microsoft can only fix critical and security-related bugs with the MSJVM. This means that any bugs not falling into those categories can not be fixed as per Microsoft's agreement with Sun.2) Microsoft cannot enhance the MSJVM. Unless your application or applet is scheduled to be retired, this obviously can limit the amount of innovation you can do with your applet/lication.3) Microsoft cannot fix any bugs, even security bugs, after December 31, 2007. This means that if you have the MSJVM installed on any machines, you do run a potential security risk.
Migrating to .NET is just one way of getting off of the MSJVM. My webcast focuses on migration to .NET.
MSDN Webcast: Microsoft Java Virtual Machine TransitionThe recent announcement between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems has extended the end-of-life deadline for the MS JVM to December 31, 2007. But Microsoft can still only support critical security bugs during this time, and Microsoft can no longer enhance the functionality of the MS JVM. If you want to learn how to migrate your MS JVM-based applications to the .NET Framework and take advantage of a modern, fully-supported developer platform, then you should view this previously-recorded Webcast. This Webcast covers key migration scenarios using J# and the Java Language Conversion Assistant. Click here to view the webcast archive.
The C++ team just launched a campaign to educate people about the free C++ compiler and resources that users can download, absolutely free. For more information see:
And in case you're a C#, J#, or Visual Basic programmer you shouldn't feel left out in the cold. You can also get all of the compilers (plus lots of other great resources) by downloading the .NET Framework SDK. For J#, you'll also want to grab the J# redist at the bottom of the page.
That will give you everything you need to compile .NET Framework application. Plug in your favorite editer (Notepad, Emacs, etc.) and you're good to go! If you're more of a visual designer developer like me and want all of the productivity features that Visual Studio has to offer, there are a couple of free ways to get your feet wet:1) Visual Studio Hosted Experience - use your broadband connection to try out Visual Studio .NET 2003 online for free! (http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/tryit)2) 60-day Trial CD or DVD. Get Visual Studio .NET 2003 for a free 60-day trial. (It just costs a few bucks for shipping and handling). See the links on the right-hand side, depending on where you live, at the link here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/productinfo/trial/
This news is about a month old, but I just discovered that Strategy First has released the source code to Jagged Alliance 2! I love that game, it's great to see that now it will have a community around it and is moddable. Another great one was XCom. And it seems they are going to be working on Jagged Alliance 3. :-)
It's truly amazing how much the Web enables us to do. Think of how much time it saves you - searching for flights, paying bills, defining terms, entertaining you, getting a map. Can you remember a time when you didn't use the Web for some of these things? I love the Internet and I couldn't imagine not having its conveniences.
But today, I had my share of bad experiences (don't worry, I am getting to a technical reference, if somewhat oblique):11:15am. A friend of mine sent me a Friendster request so I had to log in and confirm he was indeed a friend of mine. Friendster is a pretty cool concept and has gained an early mover market advantage in the “social network” space, but their success amazes me because their Web back-end is TERRIBLE. It obviously doesn't scale. There is seldom a time I visit their site that I don't have a server timeout or some other error occur.
2:35pm. I try to book a flight to Sacramento. I start with Delta.com since I have a good frequent flier status. But instead, my visit is plagued with page errors, timeouts, etc. They lost my business when I got frustrated with all the errors, and this definitely isn't the first time I've had problems there.
2:55pm. Still trying to book my flight. I try United.com. Same issue. Their pages time out, searches bomb with bogus errors, etc. Once again, I didn't book a flight here because of problems. I finally used Expedia to buy a ticket on United and it worked great (of course I probably paid a premium for going through Expedia, but United.com didn't work so what could I do?).
5:30pm. It's the middle of the month, so it's time to login to Fleet Bank to pay my credit card. The entire freakin' credit card Web site area is down!12:30am. Tried the fleet site again. No dice. What gives?2:00am. I'm frustrated. Time to blog my troubles away...
So I started to wonder what could be causing all of this grief? Some Web sites work great, all of the time, but these 4 always give me trouble from time to time, and ALL of them were giving me troubles today. Well, I think I found the connection with a few quick Web searches...
Find the common thread? Hint: It starts with a “J” and ends with an “SP”. When are people going to learn? I guess when they start losing business they'll get a clue.
<update 2:21am fixed an incorrect link>
This is really cool. Reason magazine is personalizing their covers with satellite imagery showing the location of the individual subscriber! Imagine the surprise of the subscriber when the magazine shows up. But it spawns an interesting debate between the sanctity of privacy and the power of personalized marketing (for both the economy and the individual). If done right, personalized marketing helps everybody in the chain (“How did they know I was out of toothpaste?! Cool - $1 off!“). If done wrong, it can violate somebody's privacy (“Honey, I swear that ad for Gambler's Anonymous isn't for me!“) or make innacurate assumptions about what they want, filtering out the stuff that they really do want (the “TiVo effect“ - if you watch Happy Gilmore you must be a golf fan, right?).
For other really cool satellite imagery stuff, check this out. Download the trial. Using this software makes you really appreciate the smart client!
When I first joined Microsoft as J# product manager, I was taking over the responsibility from Tony Goodhew. Given that he held the reigns over J# prior to me, he fell into an unofficial mentor role for me. I went to Tony almost daily for questions about J#, the JLCA, the history of J++, how to upload stuff to MSDN, the politics of dealing with “Java at Microsoft” (ok, the Java language at Microsoft), and Tony's favorite beer.
For a good description of Tony (including a picture) check out my former blog entry.
Check out Tony's blog. He's probably one of the smartest and most entertaining people at Microsoft, so you can be sure he'll always have something good to say.
Dan Fernandez, Eric Gunnerson and I recently talked with Julia Lerman about Generics in Whidbey and the differences in .NET-languages for how they were implemented.
Julia recently blogged that conversation here: http://www.thedatafarm.com/blog/PermaLink.aspx?guid=a71779f2-7a6a-4df1-81d4-3ccaa2f18cff
I just got back from two weeks of travel + R&R, so no time to blog really... but I did find this in my inbox and thought it was really cool! I wish I had time to build an app. :-)
Does Your Mobile Application Think in Ink?
Get ready - Microsoft and PC Magazine invite all ISVs to enter our "Does Your App Think in Ink" contest. The best mobile application for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition will win US$100,000--and you don't even have to share any code with Microsoft! Get set - you can develop your Tablet PC Platform SDK application on a standard Windows XP desktop. Go! Contest ends August 31, 2004.
We've seen a lot of recent interest from grad schools in Tablet PC adoption. They allows students to have a great laptop and take all the notes they need electronically while discouraging them from Web surfing and having a “wall“ (laptop screen) between the student and professor. I think it's the perfect fit - there are already some great apps for the academic space, but if I was going to write an app for the contest above it would probably be in this space somehow. Hmm...
Recently I submitted two pieces of feedback to the MSDN Help team. Then I second guessed myself as to whether other customers feel the same way I do. So, I propose my feedback and you can tell me what you think.
1) I feel that it's very difficult for a “green field” .NET developer to find the right help topics. Let's say I migrate 100% to Visual Basic .NET. Or assume that I'm starting out as a pro dev and begin with Visual Basic .NET (or any language for that matter). I install all of the MSDN Help like I think I'm supposed to. Then I go to the Help topic to learn my dims from my redims and I type in "Visual Basic". Whelp, low and behold here comes a blast from the past with everything from what I want (Visual Basic .NET) to what I don't (previous versions of Visual Basic, which are notably different). Suggestion: Make it easy to exclude legacy versions, or "interview me" based on what types of development I'll be doing.
2) Elimate the "Stones Way" series (and anything else along those lines). I mean, seriously... enter "stupid" into an MSDN Library search and it's the first hit you get. Now this is the one that really made me second-guess myself. I went to the online MSDN Library collection and they were rated extremely high! 7, 8 out of 9 with a right-weighted distribution. Huh? Well, I guess customers actually like this material then.
Here's the Stones Way article: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/dnstone/html/stone05092000.asp?frame=true
So you tell me. Good ideas? Bad ideas? I promise to pass anything I get on to the MSDN Help team (unless you tell me not to).