February 27, 2007
While the discussion appears to be a debate, I actually find myself agreeing with what Adam says (or not disagreeing at least.)
Where we may disagree is whether this productivity gain offsets the additional costs of working cross platform. I suppose that depends on the product, how much additional work is required to work cross platform, and how good your team is.
Finally, Adam is correct to introduce what is, perhaps, the ultimate metric by which to determine whether a team should do cross platform work: which approach will allow the product to best succeed? Ultimately, this depends on the metrics of success for that product and the market they're in.
In particular, he raises the question of whether our decision to focus IE on a single platform was smart and whether that decision opened the door for Firefox. It's my belief that web browsing should be an integrated part of the overall computing experience, not simply a sandboxed TV-set on the Internet. The work we did on the RSS platform in IE7 and the availability of IE components as Windows platform elements are a reflection of that view. I don't know how efficiently we could further this model by working cross platform. Success for me and IE is how well we can deliver on this vision, so single-platform development makes sense for us. (We had Mac and Unix versions of IE in an earlier day when browser share was our only success metric. As our view changed, those versions made less sense, so we dropped them.)
I think Firefox was able to establish their share because they brought a solid browser to the market when we took our eye off the ball and had stopped investing in the browser; I don't think the fact they're cross platform helps them that much. The vast majority of their users are on Windows (I don't think they're even the most popular browser on the Mac). I really wonder if they'd be better off just focusing on Windows; looking at their bugs and work items, they certainly have a lot of work to do keeping FF running well on Macs, downlevel Windows, and Linux distros. Could they have delivered more of the stuff they had to cut from Firefox 2 if they only had to do Windows? Probably. Would it have mattered? Who knows.
At the end of the day, the market will decide which approach is best in each case. I wouldn't have it any other way.
February 22, 2007
As you may recall, Michelle and I have a fascination for giant squid and octopus. (Every couple has odd things that bring them together. Huge and scary smart sea monsters are our thing. Deal with it.)
Anyway, we loved today's news story about the thirty-nine foot long (12m) and 990 pound (449 kg) colossal squid caught off Antartica this month. (BTW, colossal squid is the species name, not just a description. I thought giant squid were big, but who knew there were colossal squid that are even bigger!)
Aside from the huge size, according to Wikipedia, colossal squid have "sharp swiveling hooks" at the tips of their tentacles and eyes a foot wide (all the better to see you with before ripping you to shreds with those sharp swiveling hooks). Creepy.
I love how the expert from the University of Auckland put the size in perspective, saying if calamari rings were made from the squid they would be the size of tractor tires.
However, I say to all my huge and scary cephlapod friends - not everyone wants to eat you. I renew my offer of a truce between our species. We won't eat you if you don't eat us.
After my Cross Platform Development post, I wound up with with Firefox and Mac OSX ads on my site. A little ironic for the Microsoft IE guy... I think those Google guys are out to get me.
(Of course, this post won't help...)
Adam Nash, a very smart friend of mine from college who writes the great blog Psychohistory, recently mentioned that he thinks it's a great sign when a developer goes cross-platform almost immediately, citing the Joost beta for Mac OS X.
I started writing a comment in reply, but it started getting long enough to warrant a post and trackback.
As usual, Adam's reasoning is sound, especially considering his background in VC. He's right that a company that can build great cross platform apps simultaneously probably has a great development team. However, I'd argue that cross platform development rarely produces the best products.
First, the product often winds up representing the lowest common denominator of the capabilities of the OS' they serve. They are often not as polished or well-integrated as native apps. Firefox is a good example of this from a UI perspective. While it's certainly a pretty well-written app, it's not as native-looking on the Mac as Safari or on Windows Vista as IE7. In both cases, Firefox is a bit out of place. (Read this post on Coding Horror for a similar opinion.)
Also, in order to ease development, cross platform apps often have intermediate layers to factor out the underlying OS. These layers can impede performance and may prevent the app from taking advantage of native services like DirectX or Quartz. The resulting apps aren't usually as fast as their native counterparts. Microsoft's Mac apps certainly ran into this problem when writing cross platform "core code" apps on our Windows Layers for Macintosh (WLM) back in the mid '90s (anyone remember Mac Word 6?)
Finally, developing cross platform reduces the overall innovation a developer can provide. Building for multiple operating systems (or browsers) is never less work than building for one. The time spent architecting, coding, testing, and debugging for multiple platforms is time not spent adding new features, making the product more reliable or secure, or satisfying other user demands (or saving investors' money).
There are certainly no guarantees of a gorgeous, OS-exploitive, fast application when you target only one OS, but its's way harder when you are trying to serve multiple masters.
There's no doubt that teams that can execute cross platform consistently well over time are probably great, but just think what they could accomplish if they chose to focus all that talent and energy on one platform.
Anyway, go read Adam's blog. Lots of good stuff there, especially his financial posts.
February 21, 2007
Somehow, despite the fact I have more links than before, my blog is now apparently worth a few hundred dollars less: $12,984.42.
By contrast, the IE Blog has increased significantly in value, from $1,018,994.70 last year to $1,478,530,26 now.Maybe the people linking to me are worth less now than the ones who linked to me last year. Time to go find some sugar daddy to link to me...
OK, I was wrong yesterday. I wasn't ready to go back to work. I woke up this am with the sore-throat-of-death -- the same thing the kids went through.
I finally went to the doctor this morning. She gasped in surprise when she saw my tonsils. (I'll take "Top sounds you don't want to hear from your doctor" for $100, please...) I guess they were a little red and swollen...
Now I have the best antibiotics American medicine can provide (thank you, Microsoft, for our unparalleled health benefits). At the advice from doctor, I topped the drugs off with a little organic yogurt from Trader Joe's; this is to restore the fauna in my gut that the antibiotics are killing off, thereby preventing some <ahem> unpleasant side effects of antibiotics. I also picked up some San Pellegrino Aranciata; this yummy "sparkling orange beverage" doesn't have any known medicinal qualities, but it does wonders for my mental health. I never buy the stuff normally, only having it when I'm out. It seems a little decadent to have a whole six pack at home, but heck, I'm sick.
February 20, 2007
These past few days have passed in blur as sick Michael (6) and I watched a season and a half of Avatar: The Last Airbender (which, coincidentally, is the featured article on Wikipedia today - what are the odds?) As you know, we don't have TV (well, really, we don't have a TV signal), so we downloaded the show from Xbox Live and watched it via our Xbox 360. Pretty slick. Unfortunately, this left me dreaming about the characters last night in my feverish sweat. Ugh.
The show is actually pretty good and does a lot to be somewhat accurate in its use of Asian language (unlike cartoons I grew up with like Hong Kong Phooey); there are even little jokes and insider stuff in the Chinese they use for names, and the martial arts forms they use are distinct and pretty good.
That said, I couldn't let my life be destroyed by this cartoon, so today, I read the episode summaries for the rest of season 2 on Wikipedia. I feel much less compelled to power through the rest of the episodes now and feel some small measure of control coming back into my life. (Once again, Wikipedia proves the world is full of people with too much time, but I'm grateful...)
Still, it's a good show if your kids absolutely must watch something on TV. (Of course, you could just kill your TV...)
I've been home the last two days with a sick Michael (6) as well as for a day and a half last week. I sent back him to school on Friday after he was out Thursday. He seemed OK and wasn't very convincing telling me wasn't feeling well. I figured he just wanted another day of Xbox and no school. By noon however, his teacher had called saying he wasn't feeling well and had a fever. (I'm a bad daddy.)
He had came down with the tracheitis that Andrew (9) had the week before. He had a deep, barking cough and was generally miserable. When he's sick, he gets clingy. On the one hand, it feels good to be wanted, but it sure makes it hard to get anything done at home when he's like that.
I started getting sick too after hanging out with the Typhoid Brothers, although so far my symptoms are not the same. I had a pretty high fever and was a bit delirious yesterday. My body is achy too, although I'm honestly not sure if that's related to my illness or the ten miles I ran last weekend.
Michael seems well enough to go back to school tomorrow; I'm dying of cabin fever and am ready to go back too.
February 18, 2007
OK, since I'm trolling through my logs this morning, I figured I'd write about the browser and OS stats.
Since January 1, 2007:
I admit the high Opera numbers are really surprising. All told, IE versions account for 65% of my traffic. Mozilla variants including Firefox are 21% and Opera is 11%. These non-IE numbers are higher than the market as a whole, leading me to believe that my readers are more on the tech enthusiast side (a segment that use a broader range of browsers than the population at large.)
These stats don't include the search robots who hit the site. Yahoo visits the site a ton, accounting for 13% of my web traffic. Robots in general are about 20% of my traffic - a surprisingly high cost.
On a separate note, who is out there running all these old browsers? WTF? It's not like they're expensive. Everyone should be running the latest version of their preferred browser, if only for the modern security protections! Come on people!
With respect to operating systems
All Windows versions account for 91% of my viewers. I'm surprised how many more people use Linux than Macs, but that may again reflect my geeky readership. Whoever is out there running Windows 98 or Windows 95 - please, for the love of God, move to something more modern and secure. We don't even provide security updates for Windows 98 or 95 anymore, so you're running naked.
On the ISP front, Comcast is the single biggest provider at 15% with GTE at 10% and MSN at 5%. This skew may be due to the popularity of those providers in the Redmond area.
Unfortunately, I think the other stats are too heavily warped by the robots and comment spammers to be useful (stuff like unique visitors and pages viewed per visit.)
Warren (a lead developer on the IE team) asked me the other day what posts on my blog have been the most popular, so I thought I'd check the stats.
The list has been reasonably stable for a while now. Here are the top ten articles as measured by page views since Jan 1, 2007.
The most popular category searches are
37% of the traffic on my site is the comments page; given the relatively low number of legitimate comments, I suspect most of this is blog spammers trying to get it (I get hundreds of spam comments per day). 20% of the traffic is my RSS feed, so I'm guessing most people read the site via an aggregator (hopefully IE7!) The tonychor.com home page is the single page with the most traffic at 2.66%.
Google domains from various countries are by far the largest referrers, accounting for a whopping 85% of all my page views. Yahoo domains are a distant second at 6%. Live and MSN total 4.3%. I know my site is just one data point, but it highlights a few things to me. First, Google is completely dominant in the search space; the lead they have is huge. Second, the big three (Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft) really own all the traffic. These three account for over 95% of all my referrals. The others don't even show up.
Anyway, there's your daily dose of trivia.
Welcome to the Year of the Pig! Here are a few comments about Pig years from ChineseAstrology.com (it's on the web, so it must be true...)
Finishing touches, tying up loose ends, last stands, curtain calls and closures will be the urging of the year. So, prepare to finish projects, complete goals and even say some goodbyes. Put your ducks in a row, cross your T's and dot your I's in 2007 and the proper Pig will be gracious to you.
Pig years are known for their respite from strife, patience and passivity, but also for indulgence, sensuality and fleshly delights. As the last sign of the zodiac, the Pig represents "resignation" accepting human nature as it is - content to live and let live. The greatest risk will be naivete, so by all means avoid confidence schemes and being fooled or duped throughout 2007.
It's also supposed to be a difficult year for monkeys like me. Guess I'll have to watch myself.
That said, I'm ready for some "fleshly delights", especially ones having to do with pigs. Bacon anyone?
Having Google ads on my site has been a source of some amusement for me (in addition to the nice checks). As you know, they pick the ads based on the content of my site, so as my posts change around, the ads change.
The "I Hate Michelle" post (really a provocative title for a post about the TV show 24) generated the "cheating wife" ads here. Hm, not quite contextually relevant, but funny.
As for the other ads, I understand why the running one is the there, but the "union with God" ad? Must be because of the bacon posts, for bacon is truly a sign that there is a loving God. Maybe Google Adsense is smarter that I realized.
We in the software industry are not known for our fashion sense, but there are a few little tips that even the biggest geek can use.
The easiest is to not wear your card key publicly. Your card key only gets you into your office and will impress no one outside your building.
This tip is especially true in a bar and even more true if you're on stage...
The IE team let loose Friday night at the Fenix to celebrate Lunar New Year. Felicity, our brilliant group assistant (and the woman who really runs the team), figured that having a traditional end-of-year holiday party was a bad idea -- too many conflicts, hard to get a baby sitter, too expensive to get a venue, etc. In light of our bad weather in December, this was particularly lucky.
Anyway, aside from the pool tables and normal club stuff at the Fenix, Felicity had the Rockaraoke band there. As I've blogged about before, Rockaroake is like normal karaoke, except you sing with a live band. It's tons of fun, especially when you know everyone who is singing. There were some surprisingly talented people on the team and some whose willingness to please their significant others outweighed their singing talent. Perhaps not surprisingly, it seemed that the Program Managers (stereotypically the most extroverted/attention seeking of the job functions) did much of the singing, although there were clearly representatives from the other disciplines including Katya and her friend Stephanie in the photo above. (In the interest of full disclosure, I sang Margaritaville solo and Summer Nights with Kellie - and yes, Kellie, I will continue to link to that horrible photo of you until you start blogging or otherwise create a presence on the web.)
The event was also special because team members could bring a guest. It was great to meet the spouses and significant-others and to really thank them for their sacrifices. We focus a lot on how hard a team works to ship something like IE; it's easy to overlook the burden our long nights and weekends places on our families and friends.
February 9, 2007
Wow, this is incredible. Who knew how much influence this silly blog has? The love of bacon transcends all. (Here's the oven-baked bacon recipe.)
[Fixed typo 2/9/2007]
February 6, 2007
My lovely wife has ruined my life. Again.
She's been watching 24 for some time now (she's on Season Four). Last night, I started watching with her. Now I'm sucked in and will have to see how it all plays out.
Of course, this is all her fault and is completely unrelated to my lack of will and discipline...
February 2, 2007
According to the Seattle Times: "Americans say they reached - or will reach - their peak physical attractiveness at age 38."
I'm 2.5 months from 39. Crap. This is as good as it gets.