What can Diaspora learn about security from Microsoft? (REVISED DRAFT)

See the final version here

Thanks to Adam, Jason, and Alem for the initial list; Sarah, tptacek, Locke1689, mahmud, Wayne, PeterH, Steve, and SonyaLynn for comments on the previous draft, and Damon for the wording on #7.

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What can Diaspora learn about security from Microsoft? (FIRST DRAFT)

It’s counter-intuitive to think of Microsoft as a poster child for security.  But the progress they’ve made since 2001 along with the challenges they continue to face have a lot of lessons for anybody in this space — including Diaspora, the “privacy-aware, personally-controlled, open-source, do-it-all social network”.

Several of the comments on my previous post Diaspora: what next? were from former colleagues at Microsoft, and they made excellent points.  Here’s my attempt to build on the list that Adam, Jason, and Alem started off.
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Ask @bing to create grants for nonprofit advertising on their site (DRAFT)

Update, September 1: Microsoft responded.  More here.

Draft!  Work in progress!  Feedback welcome!

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Microsoft layoffs

5000, but only 1400 announced now … meaning everybody gets to twist in fear over the next 18 months.  As MiniMSFT says:

Personally, I feel like we’ve taken the Sword of Damocles and rammed it through a bunch of pink slips and now we intend to dangle that above the head of Microsoft for the next year and a half. All the way through the end of FY10, folks. “Cut once, cut deep.” Or, you know, don’t. If you have insight to this counter-intuitive plan, please share.

The earlier thread on Mini is also good reading.

Meanwhile, Google defied expectations with strong results — as did Apple and IBM.

jon

PS: There’s a Facebook group Help Microsoft Friends Find a Job (and no doubt others).

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How’d that one get by QA: Z2K

Ya can’t make stuff like this up.  From Ginny Mies at PC World:

Picture this: You’re gearing up to create a killer playlist on your 30GB Zune for your annual New Year’s bash. All of a sudden, your Zune locks up, reboots itself, and freezes. What the heck is going on?

Fox News picks up the story:

Later in the day, Microsoft finally figured it out. While writing some of the driver software, the world’s biggest software company had forgotten to compensate for leap years.

The solution? Wait 24 hours until Jan. 1.

As Joseph Flatley says on Engadget, let’s hope they get it right by 2012.

But wait, there’s more:

Even then, there may be a pesky digital-rights-management issue.

“If you’re a Zune Pass subscriber,” the posting continues, “you may need to sync your device with your PC to refresh the rights to the subscription content you have downloaded to your device.”

The Microsoft posting promised a fix by the end of the next leap year in December 2012.

Looks like they’re on top of it.

Happy software quality/DRM new year!

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“A very special Ad Astra holiday” 2.0

For those of you who have gotten to know me over the last twelve months, Ad Astra (Analysis and Development of Awesome STRAtegies) was a grassroots strategy/culture change project I led at Microsoft.  Its positive focus, wiki-centricity, and network-oriented strategies foreshadowed a lot of work on Get FISA Right and the Voter Suppression Wiki; it’s also where I learned about advertising, something that’s proven very useful in our work with SaysMe.tv.

Wow, what a year!

Welcome to Ad Astrans and friends.  There’s a lot to catch up on and I hope that everybody uses this thread to start doing so.   If you haven’t been tracking it closely, Ad Astra-style wiki/social network activism has gone mainstream over the last six months — poke around the blog for more.  w00t w00t!  More on all that soon …

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danah boyd joins Microsoft Research — computer science *is* a social science

Guess who has a post-dissertation job? [Yes, that implies I’m actually going to finish this *#$@! dissertation.] ::bounce:: In January, I will be joining the newly minted Microsoft Research New England in Boston, MA. w00000t!!!!! I couldn’t be more ecstatic.

— danah boyd, I will be joining Microsoft Research in January, apophenia, September 2008

Breaking through barriers is what research is all about. We’re going to New England to break through barriers between core computer science and social sciences, and to do fundamental research that can lead to deeper insights and better computing experiences in an increasingly online world.”

—   Jennifer Chayes, Managing Director, Microsoft Research’s newly-opened New England lab, September 2008

OK, maybe this is obvious to everybody outside the field of computer science; but within the field, we are in the process of a major paradigm shift — when I get excited, I describe it as a Kuhnian “scientific revolution in progress”, which might be stretching things, but just a little.  Computer scientists have historically identified either as mathematicians (ah, the purity) or physicists (pretty good purity and much better government funding); but if you look at the kinds of problems we are trying to solve now (bunches of different aspects of the security problem, privacy, usability of pervasive computers, changing business models, e-voting) it seems pretty clear that the key issues relate to people and the way they communicate and organize themselves, rather than discovering the underlying physical laws of the universe — in short, the domain of social sciences.

— Jon Pincus, Computer science is really a social science (draft), BillG ThinkWeek paper, January 2005

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It’s over. Isn’t it? Microsoft/Yahoo, continued

a killer klown“It’s over. Isn’t it?”

— the end of Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Act 1 ended with a temporary resolution: Microsoft deciding not to “go hostile” and instead withdrawing their offer to buy Yahoo! After a brief intermission, Bill Gates’ announcement of Live Search Cashback is bang-up start to Act 2, featuring guest star Carl Icahn, with the finale already scheduled at Yahoo’s repeatedly-postponed shareholder’s meeting … grab some popcorn!

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Color me impressed …

Flying down to SF last Monday for RSA, I opened up my Macbook and got … nuthin’. Once I landed and plugged it in, and the little green light on the power supply connector didn’t even come on, I realized I was in trouble. So I headed down to the Mac store, conveniently right by the Muni stop, and made an appointment at the “Genius Bar” for that evening.

One of the geniuses in residence verified that his power supply connector light didn’t come on either, checked a couple of things, and asked if he could go in the back to run some tests. Sure, no problem. He came back within 10 minutes and said that seemed like there was some liquid in the display — he had verified that the machine booted, so it wasn’t hopeless. After signing the usual disclaimer in case of data loss (and wondering when was the last time I had backed things up — I’m still on Tiger, so haven’t yet experienced the joys of Time Machine) and authorizing a charge if need be (I hadn’t bought AppleCare), I left my Mac to be shipped off for repairs.

Thursday afternoon, I got a call: my Mac was at the store, I could come pick it up whenever. I Muni’ed back down the store, showed my photo ID, and there was my machine. I booted up to verify, and everything was hunky-dory; Firefox even offered to restore my last session state. Color me impressed.

“This was a really good experience,” I said to the helpful Genius.

“Always glad to hear it! And you’re still under the one-year limited warranty, so there’s no charge.”

Hey, I may be a geek, but I really hate dealing with hardware — or any other kind of machine configuration. Being able to find a place in whatever city I’m visiting on a business trip, talk to somebody knowledgable and competent, and have the right thing happen without me having to put out a lot of effort … that means a lot to me.

I found myself thinking about the arguments that cropped up from time to time on the Litebulb DL at Microsoft, as techie guys went on at great length about how Apple’s emphasis on the retail experience was a sign of weakness and used market share numbers to “prove” how real people (as opposed to the ones in Apple ads) didn’t really care about things like this. The other people at the store, or at the Genius Bar getting Mac, iPhone, and iPod help, seemed pretty real to me.

Sure, I beat Apple up about their security. That’s not the only consideration. I find the usability, responsibility, and attention to design of the Mac experience much more pleasant than Windows; it feels to me like I’m more productive (although when I’ve actually tracked my time, it’s roughly comparable). Throw in stellar support experiences like the one I had …

I hate to say it, but I think I’m now officially a Mac fan.

[And yes, I have now made a current backup. Thanks for reminding me.]

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Microsoft/Yahoo! roundup

Note: this thread summarizes what others are thinking, and my reactions. My opinion on the potential acquisition is here — and along with many others’, on MiniMSFT.

Andy Borowitz has the biggest news: Obama to buy Yahoo! Other than that …

Microsoft has been fined a record €899 million ($1.4 billion) for defying the EU’s sanctions, which brings the total over the last few years to €1.68 billion ($2.5 billion). This is for past actions; Neelie Kroes, the Competition Commissioner, after noting that Microsoft was the first company that had ever defied the sanctions, then goes on to add that she hopes “that today’s decision closes a dark chapter in Microsoft’s record of non-compliance with the Commission’s March 2004 decision,” she added. Microsoft’s response is basically “we hope so too”, and affirming that as of October 2007 they believe they were in compliance.

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Yahoo!!!! (was Yahoo!?!?!): Why, after further reflection, I think Microsoft’s offer for Yahoo! is a brilliant strategic move

Plunking down $44.6 billion, or whatever the number turns out to be, for “change” and “social software” sends a huge message — although bizarrely enough a lot of Microsoft employees, on MiniMSFT and internal email discussion lists like Litebulb, have managed not to hear it.

It’s been several weeks since Microsoft’s unsolicited offer for Yahoo. My initial reaction was that while high-risk, it’s a good deal for Microsoft. Since then, on further reflection … I think it’s a brilliant move on Microsoft’s part — whether or not the deal goes through. And despite all the coverage around the web, I haven’t seen anybody discuss a couple of the most important strategic issues. So I thought I’d take a stab at it.

Update, 2/27: Press roundup (with some commentary) in a new thread; a meditation on cool in a comment. Also, MiniMSFT’s new thread Because the last acquisition went so well links back here, without comment, under Other perspectives. There’s plenty of discussion over there, and I’m crossposting some of my responses here as well.

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Mashups and teaching dinosaurs to dance

ad astra logo by Nathan Vogel The hot pink beanbag chairs are a dead giveaway: Ad Astra (Analysis and Development of Awesome STRAtegies) and Mashups are in the news!

In the Yahoo!?!?! thread, Michael Foster posted about Jessica Mintz’ Microsoft-Yahoo could skip culture clash, relevant no matter how the potential acquisition came out:

SEATTLE – Yahoo‘s walls are awash in bright purples and yellows, while Microsoft‘s campus is coated in drab neutrals. Yahoo’s co-founder holds the cutesy title of “chief Yahoo,” while Bill Gates was “chief software architect.”

Yahoo epitomizes California cool; Microsoft is still trying to get over its competition-crushing past. But the culture clash may not be as big a stumbling block to the software giant’s rich buyout bid as some critics may think.

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