Top 10 Reasons I Like Vista!

vistalogo I upgraded to Vista about 2 weeks ago.  I had to, because uninstalling Visual Studio 2005 left my computer unusable.  It locked up the mouse and had to be periodically rebooted.

Vista is really great.  I wouldn’t recommend it for business yet, because its mostly frivolous glamour and glitz.  But, for home use, it is just awesome!

Here is my top-10 likes:

1) It boots twice as fast as XP.

2) It runs faster than XP.

3) The UI looks beautiful, even though I don’t have the fancy glass due to my cheap video card.

4) Hibernate actually works!

5) User switching is fast and painless; it finally works!

6) The built in search on the start menu really makes finding programs easy.

7) Multi-language packs (Vista Ultimate only) work well.  We switch between English and Japanese profiles easily.  No more needing to maintain two computers for this!

8) Chess Titans is cool

9) Built in parental controls are great.  Finally, I can actually monitor what the kids do, rather than just telling them I can.

10) The task manager has finally been updated to keep units in MB rather than KB.

As a testimony to how much I like Vista – consider this.  I’ve been using 2 monitors for a couple of years now.  I like 2 monitors.  But, Vista can’t grok my two NVidia cards.  It only can use one or the other.  So, despite being confined back into the world of the improverished single-screeners, I still like Vista.  I’m going to keep Vista and only curse Microsoft a couple of times when I buy my new video card (not NVidia).

The Inefficiency of Facebook

facebook I’ve been playing with Facebook a little this week.  I know, I’m very late on this.  The idea of social networks still gives me the shivers.  Putting your picture on the net?  You’d have to be an exhibitionist to do that, right?  I guess I was schooled in a different era.

Anyway, Facebook is actually pretty neat.  I’ve been surprised how with only 3-4 contacts of my own, just a little bit of activity has somehow brought me onto the radar for a number of people.  One is a fellow from college that I haven’t spoken to for over 10 years, another is a gal from high school that I haven’t spoken to for almost 20, and then there have been several other contacts from folks I know recently.  All in all, I have to say that Facebook made these connections quite effortless, professional, and even kinda cool.  I’m seriously considering posting a picture now.

But Facebook really kind of makes my jaw drop with it’s inefficiency.  The fact that Facebook (or myspace, I suppose) exist, is simply due to the complete and total failure of email. 

First, lets look at the inefficiency.  Each time someone sends me a message on Facebook, Facebook sends me an email.  The email looks something like:

Jennifer added you as a friend on Facebook.  We need you to confirm that you are, in fact, friends with Jennifer.

To confirm this friend request, follow the link below:

The Facebook Team

Want to control which emails you receive from Facebook? Go to:

Upon reading this nicely done email, you have to go login to a whole another system to see whats up with Jennifer, engage with Facebook, etc.  It all makes total sense except that Jennifer could have just sent me an email!

Unfortunately for SMTP again, email just isn’t cutting today’s communications.  Today we need:
– Photos (duh)
– Seamless integration with chat
– Public address books (e.g. friends)
– Security around public/private information
– Online/presence information
– This is a stupid list – its so obvious.

Ironically, what makes SMTP great is that its a fantastically distributed system, with no central database of email.  Its this same decentralized control which makes it completely impossible to upgrade and add features to.  So instead, a whole generation of techies are shifting their communications into a centralized, single-vendor repository.

This can’t go on forever – how many myspace, orkut, facebook, etc accounts are we going to have to maintain to connect with our various friends?  This stuff is going to interconnect sooner or later.  And you’ll probably be able to send and receive legacy email too.  Once it does – do we finally have a modern email solution?

Perhaps this is how we replace SMTP.

UPDATE:  I turned off all email notifications from facebook.  It’s just annoying to get an email which says, “you have email, click here, login, and spend 25 seconds reading it over here”, or “xxx jumped through a hoop, click here to see the picture”.  I don’t want to “click here”.  Send me email.

No More NDAs for me

Periodically, friends or colleagues ask me for advice about this-or-that startup company.  I love talking about that sort of thing, and I’m very happy to help, so these are great discussions.  But often, they then ask me to sign an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement).  Yuck.  I’m never going to sign one again.

You see, when a friend asks you to sign one, to refuse is awkward.  If you tell them you don’t sign them as a matter of policy, they’ll wonder, “is it just me?  maybe he doesn’t want to help me.”  But that isn’t it.  So, I’m left either having to decide to create this confrontation, or more likely, cave in, sign the damn thing and move on.

But NDAs are a pain in the neck, and about as useful as dirt.  Why would I want a legally binding document that someone can later use against me?  If you are asking me for advice, why should I sign *your* document?  If you don’t trust me, fine, don’t ask.  But I’m a man of my word, and that’s what you’ll have to trust.  If you don’t think you can trust me, perhaps I’m not the right person to talk to anyway? 

So, this blog posting is purely a selfish one.  I post it so that in the future I can refer people to it and say, “I don’t sign NDAs, and it’s just a policy I have”.  There is nothing personal to it, and they can read it on my blog dated Aug 17, 2007.  If that is a showstopper, that’s not my problem.

One last note to potential askers of NDA signatures.  NDAs are legal documents.  When you ask someone to sign one, you are asking them to do a big favor.   Each one is different.  There are mutual NDAs.  There are one-way NDAs.  The differences are annoyingly subtle.   When someone doesn’t trust me enough to work without an NDA, I don’t trust them enough to believe their NDA won’t bite me.  So, I have to do a legal review with my lawyer.  Please respect my decision to not use NDAs unless absolutely necessary.  And, while you are at it, fire your lawyer – he is the real problem.