Streaming Live With Scott Guthrie, Jeff Atwood and Twitter

Once again for Mix, my team worked on what we call the live experience. Since PDC 2003, we’ve been working on ways for the folks at home and those attending in person can make a connection to the event.

With  this work we’ve streamed the keynotes live, published breakout sessions for on demand viewing, filmed behind the scenes videos for Channel 9 along with some humorous ones and even overlaid Tweets tagged #MIX09 on top of the live keynote player on the web site and on the big screens in the keynote halll via our Flotzam screen saver. 

At each event from Mix to PDC we’ve refined this experience and inch by inch it improves. Turns out some people are starting to notice too as Oliver Marks at ZDNet wrote a nice piece on the all up Mix Online experience

We’re always trying to do new things too, one example is that this year we added a segment called #ASKTheGu where I moderated a live interview Scott Guthrie and Jeff Atwood with questions coming in live via Twitter tagged with #ASKTheGu.

We cleared out the keynote hall for this and opened up just for those watching on the Internet stream. We wanted to do something just for the home audience and try and bring the hallway conversations which we all find so valuable to those at watching online.

I’ve done a fair amount of interviews and videos over the years, but this was a nerve racking experience and my heart raced both leading up to and during the segment.

What if no one asks questions?
Will anyone tune in? :-)
Can we keep up with the flow?
What if I lose my Internet connection on stage?

To see how it turned, you can watch the on demand video. (permanent page coming soon). We ended up having no shortage of questions, the Internet connection survived and I am not sure it showed how nervous I truly was.

Thanks Tim Harris, Thomas Lewis and Tiffany Leinassar for the work to make this real and of course Scott and Jeff for taking a chance on this experiment.

We will do this again and hopefully won’t wait until PDC to do so. Thanks everyone who attended Mix Online and in Vegas too.

My Daughter Was Banned From Club Penguin


My 9 year old daughter is a major fan of Disney’s Club Penguin. She loves to go online in this virtual world, hanging out with her friends, updating her status and buying virtual items to trick out her igloo.

Photo Credit: Chaos1017

Josie was sad this week when she attempted to login to Club Penguin and was denied access.

“A moderator has banned your account for 24 hours”

She asks her mom as she had no idea what the message meant or what she had done. Unsure either my wife contacted Club Penguin support. After validating that we were her parents (Club has decent parental controls where you can monitor access) the representative informed us that Josie was banned automatically from the system for using profanity in a status message.

What was the profanity? Josie had updated her status for Penguin with, “Quietly shits the door.”

Oops. I guess moderation tools aren’t able to account for accidental misspellings yet. :-)  It was an interesting conversation explaining to our daughter what  this four letter word meant and why she was banned.

Selectively Synchronizing Facebook and Twitter Status

One of my more popular blog posts is where I explain how to push your Facebook status to Twitter. When I wrote this, about two years ago, people were more likely to update their Facebook status than Twitter. My hack with TwitterFeed made it simple to push that status update to Twitter.

Times have changed since then and I find myself updating my status to Twitter and wanting to be selective about what I update Facebook with my Twitter status. Not because I am trying to  hide my Tweets from Facebook friends, just that all of my @ replies tend to be spammy within Facebook.

There are now many ways to update your Facebook status with your Tweets too. The first that came along was the official Twitter Facebook application. Installing it on your Facebook profile will update your Facebook status with any tweet you write. The problem with it though is it is quite spammy to your friends.

I now use two applications – Selective Twitter and Tweetdeck.

Selective Twitter by Andy Young allows you to select what Tweets go to your Facebook status by appending #fb to it the post. It allows me to choose what updates go to my less-geekier friends who have not yet made the move to Twitter. It also strips out the #fb hashtag from the Facebook status. I use this when I am sending a Tweet via a text message on my mobile phone.

Tweetdeck with Facebook Connect Pre-Release is  what I use on my computer. it allows me to choose when writing the post if I want it to go to Facebook by selecting a checkbox.  Bonus points for also displays the status updates of my Facebook friends too.

The both work great and are a great step in integrating my social experience on the web.

Supporting Web Standards With Microsoft


Oxite is an open source, standards compliant, and highly extensible content management platform that can run anything from blogs to big web sites

Today, my team has released Oxite. Oxite is an open source, standards compliant, and highly extensible content management platform that can run anything from blogs to big web sites. We are releasing this as our second edition of the Mix Online web magazine that focusses on web standards

Oxite began as a side project of Adam Kinney and Duncan Mackenzie and is a subset of the Channel 9 source code. When it was time to do a reboot of the Mix Online web site Duncan and his team created an experience where could release the source code (a popular customer request of Channel 9) that used ASP.NET MVC to have 100% control of the resultant HTML.  Yes Virgina, you too can support web standards with the Microsoft Web Platform.

We are hopeful that this lightweight sample allows folks to get rolling with ASP.NET MVC and understand the importance of web standards. To supplement the code we’ve also released two articles Molly Holzschlag talking through the ROI of Web Standards along with Nishant Kothary on Web Design from the Gut and finally Adam interviews Erik Porter and Nathan Heskew (our Dev Ninjas) about the code on Channel 9. If you are attending Web Design World this week, Nishant wil be giving a talk about the project in a talk tomorrow called A Website Named Desire.

So let us know what you think about Oxite. Play with the source code and help contribute to the project. We’re very interested to hear your feedback and see how this evolves. 


Watching Microsoft PDC From Home

I promised that I would be back.

I am.

It has been a very exciting time with Microsoft PDC week now here. One of the things that is new from my team is the PDC live event coverage.

On the homepage of the PDC Website, you are able to watch the day 1 and 2 keynotes live. We’ve also superimposed recent activity from Twitter alongside the keynote stream. This is one of my favorite parts of the experience.

For the breakout sessions where we go deep with technical content, we did a complete reset on the user experience. The PDC Session browser, in its new form should make it a lot easier to pick your sessions at PDC.

For those following along at home we will publish all keynotes and also the breakout sessions live within about 24 hours of them taking place. These will live on Channel 9, but you can use the PDC Session Browser to find them.

If you want the “unplugged” or “directors cut” as I like to call it of PDC, my Channel 9 team has about 35 videos going live with the folks behind all of the announcements. One of my favorites so far is Manuvir Das walking through Windows Azure and what is cool you can also see his breakout session too (TL47 – Lap Around Windows Azure).

Thanks everyone who made there way to PDC in Los Angeles and also those folks following along at home. If you have feedback on the live event coverage, please leave a comment.

See you online.

Bill Gates Transitions To The Foundation

This morning we posted a very special interview on Channel 9 with Bill Gates. In this video interview, Charles Torre sits down with Bill Gates and they talk about everything from philantropy, the CSA role, competition with Google and platforms.

I believe this will go down as one of our greatest Channel 9 interviews of all time and with a little over 1600 videos produced to date, that is saying something. I’ve been lucky to be near Bill during some key moments during his move from Microsoft Full Time to the foundation and chairman of Microsoft. Definitely some stories stories in there that I’ll tell my grandchildren about.

The first one is when Charles Torre and I went over to interview Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer on the day we helped announce the upcoming change. We had no idea going over to interview these guys what they were about to announce. After that interview was filmed Steve Ballmer asked if we would like to sit in on the official press announce.

We accepted the invite :-)

Charles and I sat behind Melinda to watch the Bill and Steve announce the upcoming change. You could feel the emotions in that meeting, I saw the friendship in Bill and Steve. I saw Melinda as a proud wife. It was great to see her smile as Bill talked about Ray Ozzie and the upcoming work with the foundation. I love being able to see folks "just as people" and I suppose that is why I enjoy the work on Channel 9 so much. I believe 9 has been great in finally showing the human beings behind our products.

Jeff and Bill

The next big moment was last weeks documentary on BBC News, The Money Programme. The BBC filmed an interesting documentary about Microsoft’s history, our challenges ahead and Bill’s transition to the foundation. In that documentary there were a few small moments, that if you look closely you can see me walking down the hall with Bill and his staff. To the annoyance of my family, I paused the TV, put it in slow motion and replayed continously.  He also makes a comment about the importance of Evangelism and while talking about Channel 9 says, "cool". We’ll take that endorsement. :->

Anyhow, fun times. Congratulations to Bill on an amazing career and for moving on to work that could have an even larger effect on the world.


The 4th Version of Channel 9 Is Now Live

Today we completed the deployment of Channel 9 Version 4.0. We’re still doing some final stabilization work that includes tweaking performance, but we’re on our way. This is a 100 per cent rewrite of the predecessor and has been a long time in the making.

A little over five years ago Channel 9 came on the air, some would say ushering in a wave of transparency for Microsoft and becoming a poster child for corporate blogging. It has been a wild ride the last 5 years and I count my lucky stars for being able to be a part of all this and to still be here. It was a dream to work with Lenn Pryor, Robert Scoble, David Shadle and Bryn Waibel and everyone contributed in their own special way to create a Developer Community that “we’d want to be a member of”.

On the platform side, the site was pretty basic and I think that was part of the charm.  We had forked a project that Rob Howard was working on over on the ASP.NET Team called ASP.NET Forums 2.0 and had ran with it. I still remember Rob calling me the morning we went live saying something like, “You went #$%# live with that? Awesome. Can we have your bug fixes, there were a lot of bugs you know in that build”. I think we sitll owe you that check-in Rob.

Channel 9 rapidly grew over the years in traffic and features. I suppose many folks probably don’t know that there have been four major revisions to Channel 9, in last 5 years. 

Channel 9 - Version 1 Channel 9 - Version 2 Channel 9 - Version 3 Channel 9 - Version 4 (Current)

There were actually five version of Channel 9.  We had initially set out to align ourselves and document Longhorn and initially intended it to be  Some helpful “feedback” from Sanjay Parthasarathy had us change our ways and we took the project code name of Channel 9 as our brand. 

Take a look at the comp of the original site that didn’t ship, good design, but I don’t think it would have been successful. Too corporate and not a place I’d want to hang around.

About 18 months ago, we made a big bet and that was to create a network of communities like Channel 9.  Since then our very small team has launched Channel 10 for Power Users, 8 for students, Mix Online for the web and TechNet Edge for the IT Pro. Rapidly iterating on design and experience as we made our way. Channel 10 actually had 5 different homepage refreshes in the last two years as we worked to figure out the right flow for a corporate blogging platform. After much debate we standardized on a “river of news”. We affectionately call these sites The Evangelism Network.

As we launched the sites we standardized on a common code-base for all the communities. We wanted something that is localized, enables contributions from around the world, is a solid foundation as more and more Evangelism is happening “online” and allows to be a test bed of the latest Microsoft Developer Technologies.

It is worth mentioning that the team today, is still a dream to work with. Very lean, mean, hard working and folks I am proud to work with. Our content team has their name in lights everyday, publishing kick-ass media. Today though on this development milestone, I wanted to call out the folks that work tirelessly behind the scenes, day and night ensuring a world class stage for our Evangelists.

David, Erik, Duncan, Grace, Nathan and Sampy thank you for the drive to take Channel 9 live on 4 and along the way for launching Channels 8, 10, Mix Online and TechNet Edge.  Wow, what a team!

This will be the last long lead release from our team for some time ahead, now we’ll move to much shorter sprints and rapidly evolving and improving the code. I actually don’t think a day goes by now that we’re not shipping new code to the sites, which is awesome and creates a really fun atmosphere to work in.

It goes without saying that none of this would be possible without customers. Millions of people ever month visit our network and participate, that involvement allows us to learn, share and grow together.

Thank you.

Now on to version 6. Just kidding. :->