Ready resources for the Mix07 – from the outside

I’m ready to get into the mix – and you can be too with these resources:

Live stream of today’s keynotes
Official website
Sessions (to be updated later from 06 to 07)
Robert Scoble in the lobby
Channel9
On10

I’m hoping that the hyped veil of secrecy comes to something – I’ll be blogging about it either way…

Trying to get in the Mix07

So the Microsoft Mix07 keynotes start in 2 hours at 12:30ET. I’d love for them to do a developer conference on the East coast – albeit jet-lagged.

Unfortunately, sitting here in the Eastern time zone, it’s not clear if there will be a live webcast for the keynotes. There’s no indication of it on the site at visitmix.com. The sessions section currently hosts Mix07 content. All I’ve seen in the Channel9/On10 crew and their boss with guests saying they are going to be uploading a ton of stuff everywhere with a mention of 10:30PT for some stuff going up today and Tuesday afternoon for some other stuff – all too late for the keynote.

Movie Review: Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz is the movie that everyone should go to see if they like good entertainment, comedy and action movies. It has all three, but only for those who are 14 and over. The film does feature some choice comedic use of swear words, including in writing :)! When one of the biggest cheers from the audience occurs when an old woman is hit, you should get the idea that this movie has some outrageous moments. Also, when an audience in a small theatre is cheering, you know the movie carries some clout. I should point out that there were probably 14, 41 and 61 year olds in the audience and they all seemed to have a good time. The pace reaches pure brilliance in the last 15 minutes of the movie, and isn’t too shabby starting up either. My only negative comment was that the ex-girlfriend story was redundant.

It’s clear these guys did watch many movies (as the trailer claims) to master the technique of grabbing the audience’s attention and then getting the laughs by bringing on the absurd or non-PC. It’s just a shame this movie didn’t have a bigger marketing budget.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star with a collection of other great supporting actors in this fantastically entertaining British movie. And I’m not just saying that because I’m British – any bias is totally drowned out by actual quality entertainment.

Did I mention that while is has no nudity, sex or drugs (other than beer), it pulls off its achievements with comedy, action, violence, smut, beer, cranberry juice, profanity, buddy humour, murder, mystery, and a dark comedy twist?

In defence of, and wishes for, Channel9

It’s was the new Channel9 in one corner and old Channel9 in the other.

While looking for mix07 rumours I came across this very public personality battle between Robert Scoble and Rory Blyth. It runs through posts and responses over several pages, and happened at the end of March.

Robert is the former figurehead of Microsoft’s Channel9 team. Rory was brought on some time after Robert left.

While some misunderstanding seems to have got this started, it just carries on pointlessly.

Robert was the face (or laugh) synonyms with Channel9. He has a nervous disposition at times and yet can seem bullish and arrogant at others with a suitable ego. These are things that he has absolutely said about himself, and the fact that he will say them often is part of the personality he presents. These are also attributes that are associated with one variety of stereotypical geek IMHO. People like him, as do I.

Rory seems like a good non-Robert-like replacement with a fresh attitude on video. He made some very accurate comments in analysing Robert’s responses during the argument. His mastery of Robert’s personality will likely not change Robert of course. I like Rory too, but he’s now more of an ensemble cast with Charles Torre and Tim Sneath (who is great, but then again he’s British :-P). But then I haven’t had much time for Robert’s new PodTech videos either.

I think Channel9 is not as good since around the time of Robert’s departure. This may be a coincidence. I think there was some dilution that occured with the start of Ten as well. It certainly made me feel like there was too much to keep up with.

I think therefore that the real loser in this public battle was Channel9. It provides access to information for developers (perhaps without as much of a disclaimer as it should for potential feature/product vapourware/delay) that they unfortunately can’t easily find through the regular MSDN channel.

My wish is that Robert will not boast about knowing things about Microsoft that others outside of Microsoft don’t know and that Rory and the other Niners will provide a great service at Channel9 while integrating its content more fully into MSDN.

Is Microsoft being responsibile with Mix and PDC?

I previously wondered whether Microsoft has the right Mix, i.e. whether it will present things that are good enough at the Mix07 conference starting this Monday April 30 2007.

The official site lists some of the things that will be presented at mix including: “Exciting new Web experiences with the still-secret “Technology X””

This leads me to the point that even after it’s sold out, Microsoft and it’s bloggers seem to take the “You have to be there” attitude about these occasions without disclosing what the cool stuff is. Perhaps this attitude has been started more on blogs than by Microsoft officially – it’s not like Ray Ozzie has blogged anything despite many saying he’s been working on something. Offering a free copy of Vista to attendees seems hardly enticing given that any enthusiast or developer will already have it, if not many licenses threw their existing partnership or subscriptions with Microsofot. Why don’t you tell me what kind of things you’re going to be revealing, and then I’ll decide whether it’s worth thousands in expenses and many thousands more in opportunity cost to be there? There doesn’t appear to be any hint of keynote streaming or other remote viewing offerings to Mix right now, although I’d be really surprised if the keynote isn’t available at least on-demand afterwards.

Yesterday I was searching for clues about the potential Mix announcements. I found this on Microsoft’s MSDN Channel 9 forum, where Robert Scoble gloats about having seen some small demo or other that no-one outside of Microsoft (including him) is supposed to see.

Other than a nasty personality clash (which I’ll talk more about in my next post), in that same thread there are comments about how forward-looking PDC and Mix are. The statement from the Microsoft camp seems to be that while there were many things talked about in bygone PDCs about Vista features that never made it, these demonstrations should have been taken lightly and just as a point for discussion. I would say that such a claim shows a lack of responsibility ownership by Microsoft to the same extent that is shown with excessive profanity in music leading youth, skinny models leading young girls in the fashion industry and powerful media outlets influencing the news.

OK, so it’s one Microsoft person giving this back peddling claim. In any case, Microsoft must surely realise how it strongly encourages developers to get involved with technologies it says (initially) should be in the next OS, and this means that developers commit not inconsiderable resources to learning these things and giving feedback.

I’m not sure that it’s made entirely clear to developers that the technologies presented up to, during, and after these events can really be so… disposable (particularly if one pays so much money to attend or buy a DVD of the proceedings).

I actually think Microsoft needs to be announcing some real launchable (non-beta) things at Mix – I don’t think credibility will be too high if all we hear are a few more ‘ideas’. I realise Bill Gates was no blogger, but Ray has had a false start or more where he’s initiated some potentially interesting ideas but not followed through for a long time with his blog. I know Expression is, um, kind of launched in pieces aswell as taking an awful long time, though it’s not surprising when there are no WPF UI design tools for Visual Studio.

I also wish Microsoft would stop using team members’ blogs as dissemination points for how-to topics and announcements for upcoming and released technologies, instead of having the stuff of MSDN where it should be. OK to be fair, those bloggers are doing (good for them) through the out-of-band channel, what Microsoft should be doing through the main channel (and with appropriate vapourware warnings).

I really do hope that Microsoft has some great services, technologies and tools to offer next week and that they are extremely clear about what is real, and what should come with a repeating disclaimer and big flashing warning lights.

Movie Review: Fracture

Fracture brings together Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling in a battle of legal/life wits.

The best aspect about this movie is Anthony’s acting and character (Ted Crawford), the worst is that it was quite predictable – it was practically obvious from the start, how the gun thing was done.

The arrogant brilliance of Ted Crawford seemed worth rooting for, vs. the naive arrogance of Ryan’s Willy Beachum. Anthony does play this in a way that is distinct from Hannibal Lecture, but then he is a great actor who seems to effortlessly deliver the part.

Perhaps the lack of a soundtrack in parts made the movie about 15 minutes longer that he should have been. I don’t regret seeing it and I was entertained, but mostly just by the pleasure of watching great acting when Anthony was on screen.

Watch out for Fiona Shaw, more popularly seen as Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter movies.

Like Hannibal Lecture in Silence of the Lambs, will Ted Crawford walk away scott-free from a homicide?

Crappy logic over gun rights

Yes, I’m going to go there…

What does it say that every time I turn on CNN for 5 minutes, just in the hope of getting some unbiased update I see something, that makes me cringe.

I turned on and saw Paula Zahn NOW. I don’t watch CNN enough to know which shows are on when but I was sure to hear something on the tragedy eventually (as CNN has threatened intense coverage which ironically was convenient, if it had only been of any value…).

What I observed was the end of a debate betwen what I assume was a gun proponent, a professor, and a woman whose involvement I didn’t figure out.

The professor said that professors should not carry guns and that neither should students. The gun proponent basically said that the rule preventing the carrying of guns on campus contributed to the number of deaths this week. Let’s consider that for a second…

So if a class professor or student had had a gun, there’s a chance that not as many people would have died. Of course the gun fight may have potentially escalated if the ‘defender’ didn’t hit home with the first shot (remembering that you don’t need training to purchase a gun there). On the other hand, if shooter had not been able to buy a gun, no-one would have been shot. Of course you could argue that he could have got a gun in some underhanded way.

Take a look at the UK, the rest of Europe and Canada (on CNN’s handy but not very detailed world map of where not to live if you don’t want to get shot). In those areas, there are no rights to bear arms and less than 1 in 100,000 people are murdered with a gun – unfortunately it doesn’t say how much less.

Someone I know had a friend die in the UK this week. His friend was riding a bike and died as a result of a collision (that occured due to reasons subject to inquest) with a rubbish/garbage collection vehicle. There’s a rule that says you need a certain license to drive drucks/lorries. Would the gun proponent’s values suggest that such a rule was the reason the kid couldn’t have been driving his own truck, possibly preventing him being severly injured? In fact the gun proponent would not seem to care whose fault the collision was, but be more concerned that both parties could have at least had a truck each, no matter what the risk of untrained truck drivers would be on those who choose not to drive a truck…

I’m not saying there isn’t a valid defense with a gun or that rights should not be there, but enabling an increased risk of danger is moronic. In the UK you can own a shotgun for sport so long as the police come round to interview you periodically and ensure it’s locked away. I’m sure that someone subject to home invasion in the UK who had such a weapon, may consider its use to defend their lives, but home invasions are rare, possibly because no-one can easily tote a weapon to enter into such an endeavour feeling indestructible.

There is perhaps simply a distinct difference in culture between the USA and countries like the UK, largely driven by a belief system in the USA which is at the core of many divided opinions, none of which will be ‘resolved’ any time soon. And to some, that may be what makes the USA ‘great’ – they may be right, but personally I like to avoid potential exposure to crappy logic when it comes to risking the lives of those I care about.

Movie Review: Disturbia

Disturbia stars Shia LaBeouf as a teenager under house arrest who begins to suspect that his neighbour may be a serial killer.

The only unpredictable element in this movie is discovering how the lead character ends up in trouble.

The movie was spoiled by two things, both of which had the audience laughing and pointing during story-building elements, though one of which was a local screening issue. Boom mics (of various flavours) kept bobbing into the shots (during the scenes in the lead’s bedroom). Fortunately this only occured during the first half of the movie. It is amazing that this made it into print. I can only assume that budget constraints and bad monitoring of the framing caused the issue. Also, the film was being scratched up and residue was collecting at the bottom of the frame, to the point where the movie was stopped at one by the management in an failed attempt to clean up the mess. The problem was that the build up looked like some kind of hair which got everyone tittering somewhat.

The movie was entertaining enough and the audience yelped at the right moments in the final scenes. However it was a total waste of talent from David Morse and Carrie-Anne Moss, and not much of a talent showcase for Shia.