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Bill Hill: Homo sapiens 1.0 - The world's most important operating system

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The most important operating system developers write software for is not Windows or OSX or Linux or Android. It's Homo sapiens 1.0. We make software for people first. Very wise words from a very wise soul, Bill Hill.

Bill passed away on October 16, 2012 from a sudden heart attack. We are all shocked and heartbroken. He was a very special member of the Channel 9 family and his contributions to C9, Microsoft and the industry are legendary. His devotion to learning - and to making knowledge readily available to everybody - are a testament to who he was as a person and scholar. Bill was deeply human and unusually brilliant; an iconoclastic mind with a heart of gold.

This short video clip is from 2004. It is rife with Bill's wisdom and captures the essence of his passion for reading, writing, learning and knowledge. We recommend you watch more of his excellent conversational material. It's full of visionary thinking. Classic Bill.

To Bill's family and close friends, our deepest condolences and love.

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  • lennlenn Fo' Shizzle
    Bill just cracks me up.  He brings joy to a designer's heart with his commentary on Homo Sapien 1.0. Cool post. 
  • Cool post -- but -- I do think there is an upgrade coming.  It may take another few 100,000 years, but it's coming.

  • All I can saw is "wow".  That's too funny.  Great job, Bill!

  • panpropalpanpropal Fashion Victim

    Yeah, so what do you think about Linux? Big Smile

  • Everyone says that you crack people up--- Only issue I have is that I am on dial up internet and the video does not show even after 1 hour of allowing it to attempt buffering. I was wondering if possible that you could have a link on the page possibly for downloading a transcript of all the videos that way we as the dial up user can still enjoy some of the content provided in video form.
  • Jeff Sandquistjeffsand Inch by Inch

    Hey there. I am very sorry for the bandwidth issues. We're working on getting these videos up on the Microsoft Download Center so you can watch them offline.  

    As soon as we can make it happen we'll add a Download link for each post.

    -Jeff

     

  • Thank you for responding so quickly... I think that this is exactly what Microsoft needs. They always ask the question How can we make the product better? But it is always after the product is done then have to go back and rework things and changes into it. This usually causes bugs and errors. But now if the product was still in development then they can be avoided. Not to mention it is always nice when you can associate a face with a product. Where it then becomes more than just Oh it is a Microsoft product...where you can when you goto purchase it and say - Oh I remember when "bill and ted" were talking about this it should be nice.
  • redvamp128, would this post by Krzysztof Kowalczyk be useful to you?

    "The good thing is that with a bit of digging you can download those talks for off-line viewing. All you need is a tool to download web pages..."

  • I cant wait for the next installment of Bill Hill. What other area's can he enlighten us about?

    Great work Bill!

  • JaboJabo Symbian developer.
    He's a Scot!!! Excellent!!
  • Very nice job, but do small children count as beta versions or "1.x" rev's?

  • I concur wholeheartedly, unfortunately it seems many of our species seem to be working with an old alpha version of the software, see KnowledgeBase Article #0001 Why my human is not responsive, shows lack of clear and critical thinking, and is unable to complete simple problem solving tasks. If you want to build a better OS you need to start with either a) a better human to start interacting with it (the Unix approach) or b) an OS that can adapt in a heuristic manner to the user. Sadly right now Windows only seems to adapt to the whims of virus writers and hackers and not Joe User, I'm sure given time some clever person, probably in his garage right now under the dim illumination of his monitor will solve the problem and Bill G can buy him out / (unnamed other business tactics) before he IPOs.

  • GrahamGraham I lost my Image
    The Channel 9 Team wrote:
    The most important operating system is not Windows.


    Does the oral tradition not begin to supplant the culture of reading and writing as technology does the following:

     

    1. Becomes more ingrained into society at a deeper and deeper level.

    2. Allows Multi-media to become more omni present and as common place as text on a page.

     

    Why use text when you can say it in video.

     

    Just wondering at how important glyphs on a page become as we get closer to imbedded implants that can provide whole new ways of communication and storage.

     

    Hope the search engine works better than what we have now.

     

    Just some musing…………..

  • Man Bill is just so cool. 

    Puts the human face on Microsoft, other than Bill (but does he count?)
  • hswhsw

    Nonetheless, I still believe that Microsoft has created one of the most user friendly OS ever.

  • Ok, let's say that's true

    (parenthetically, why is this blog presenting 'developer' stuff in streaming media, not text? why is bill hill going on about H. Sap. (and writing and it's importance) rather than code and product and choosing a high-bandwidth, low content method to do so?)

    Why on earth does a developer blog provide me with controls on PP format (ms-word normal.dot choices) font family and size and etc fluff?

    If we're engineers then why the emphasis on format not content?


    Now to the assertion:

    I've been using Unix(TM) (&BSDI, Linux, obsd ...) for a good many years. From the days when what was available for professional work was a DOS 3.x PC I've sought out unix compatibility tools to make my life easier. Whether it was commandline editing, better than .bat,cmd scripting or X11 or .... I added these things to dos/Win platforms because they made it a more comfortable environment.

    However for nearly a decade now Unix has been sufficiently affordable that I don't have to seek out tools to make MS's operating system work the way I want it to. I've never looked back. Every time I have to sit down at win(nt/2k/xp...) I cringe at the abysmal user interface design. e.g. I've been using 3-button mice and *my* choices for how to use ctrl, alt keys to get what I want from my window manager. On win-32 systems it's improved recently, some ideas have even been borrowed from Unix shells and X11. However the flexibility, ability to customize the UI to how I want it just isn't possible.

    Granted my data sample=1 is an oddball case and I imagine I'd have no problem finding counterexamples that prove your point, My point however is simply that I dont' care how 90% of the people out there want it or how much effort MS put into choosing the 'best'.

    However, I also happen to know that the commercial vendors of this kind of tool have found that MS itself is their biggest client. Why? Well I imagine that people who write code recognize that simple, direct, flexible tools are what make them productive.

    Imho the best that's been arrived at in terms of what MS ships is very much a lowest common denominator.

    Don't even get me started on how it is that a company that's *addicted* to 'rich programming interfaces' has managed to created such a low-bandwidth UI.

    'Cause Unix (et al) have accomplished what, from my POV is a hellofa lot better using 'everything is a file' approach to coding interfaces.

    Enough of a rant for now, I do know it's a rant but if this 'blog' really isn't a marketing ploy then let's talk engineering, not fluff.
  • Bill rocks.

    On people at Microsoft being civilized:
    - "We're homosapiens"
  • ok so that's sso nice too know, thanks bill Smiley

  • i'm normally a unix/linux app developer. over the past 6 months i've had to code up a windows app for a client. yeech. i can't express the pain.

    but that said i wandered over here to see what this would be like when i saw it posted on /.. first the page aligns too far to the left - i can't see a lot of the left side of the page. the first post contains an element that requires a plugin. it looks like it's a video (which i can probably play with mplayer if i wanted to waste my limited bandwidth on it). and finally it seems to want a wider screen then i have since i have to scroll to the right to see all the page.

    i have a screenshot here: http://ie.suberic.net/~kevin/channel9.jpeg in case the web design team would like to fig it. i'm using galeon as my web browser. and they can email me at kevin@ie.suberic.net if they'd like feedback on any changes they make - you'll need to reply to the challenge email if you've never mailed me before.

    and speaking of email... you folks at ms have to fix your mail clients. i've use vms mail, elm, pine, emacs rmail, mh and now i use mutt. all of these have provided me with a wealth of tools for managing my mail but have *not* had this virus/worm issue. quit allowing users to execute random crap they get from the net. it's so freakin simple. sheesh.

  • Stevan VeselinovicSteve411 Me, all suited up!
    I don't know what his problem is, Windows IS the important system out there.
  • Luke_SkywalkerLuke_​Skywalker Skywalker
    Dear Mr. Bill Hill,

       I can't say how much I agree with your points. Lately, I have shown interest at the points that you have brought up. Especially on writing systems.  I would highly advise visiting the British Library (King's Cross, London, UK). It doesn't provide a great deal of service to the public as a museum but it has a public display area where they exhibit important workings such as the Gutenberg Bible. http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/permanent.html 
       
       Also, I believe the Unicode is also an important step for the Homo Sapien product line. An effort to create a universal repository of writing systems.

    Regards,
    Luke_Skywalker
  • Great work! Thanks, Bill! Smiley
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    Aaaaaaaaargh!!!!

    Audio and video will not replace text, IMO. You can consume audio and video only at the pace that it was originally created (OK, you can speed it up or slow it down a little bit but not by much, without it sounding like either Mickey Mouse or Lurch...)

    There are powerful things about reading; a well-set text is a "level playing field" over which each reader can "run" at his or her own pace, which is dictated by their level of reading skill, by their level of interest in the content, the complexity of the content, and so on; there's also a very deep interaction going on between the human visual perception system and brain when we read. Visual patten recognition has been the primary survival skill of primates for many millions of years, and writing systems take advantage of that.

    What is a writing system? A set of agreed patterns. If you and I both agree on what those patterns represent, then I can make dirty marks on shredded trees - or re-arrange the pixels on a screen - and when you look at those marks, you get my meaning, even if I'm thousands of miles away, or I died five hundred years ago, like Shakespeare.

    It's the closest thing to telepathy the human race has ever invented. And we should never take it for granted.

    We all vary our reading speed constantly. A guy called Victor Nell, a professor at the University of South Africa, wrote a book called "Lost In A Book", which was a detailed study of people who read for pleasure. He found reading speed varied between 240wpm and 2400wpm - guess what? It was the same person!

    I came to Microsoft because I believed it was the one company in the world most likely to lead the transition from reading on paper to reading on the screen. I've studied reading for a long time, and I wrote a paper on it, called "The Magic of Reading", which goes into all of this in a lot more detail (about 80 pages of detail, to be exact...). If I can figure out a way to post this Word document, I'll put it up for anyone who's interested.

    That paper has driven and is still driving a lot of what's going on here at Microsoft; improving readability in Windows and our applications is a major effort, right up to and including BillG himself. When BillG knows and cares about arcane typographical features like ligatures (and he does), you know you're in trouble Smiley

    The new Reading Layout view in Word 2003 is one example; ClearType in Windows XP is another. But they're just two of the more obvious ones. The Verdana font which happens to be the default in which I'm typing is another; that was one of the first projects I commissioned when I came here in 1995. It was designed for reading large amounts of text on the Web, and did the best job possible, pre-ClearType.


    Sorry to go on at length. Improving reading on screen has been my life for more than ten years, and it's hard to stop once I get started...
  • If it's not Scottish, It's crap!
  • bill hillbill hill bill hill
    In response to the many postings on this subject, and also on the subject of double-spaces at the ends of sentences, here's a link to my "Magic of Reading" paper in Microsoft Reader eBook format.

    http://slate.msn.com/id/117506


    You'll need to download the Reader software from:

    http://www.microsoft.com/reader/

    BTW, Reader uses a SERIF typeface for onscreen reading. It's a version of Berling, a well-known bookface from a Swedish designer, that we created especially for eBooks.

    If I can post a .doc version I'll do that as well.


  • OSUKid7OSUKid7 I'll need a job in a few years...MS? ;-)
    bill hill wrote:
    (OK, you can speed it up or slow it down a little bit but not by much, without it sounding like either Mickey Mouse or Lurch...

    Not true. You even work for MS! WMP9 has the ability to change the speed of the audio without (much) change in pitch. I'm sure this type of technology is being used in other applications too.
  • Eric wrote:

    Cool post -- but -- I do think there is an upgrade coming.  It may take another few 100,000 years, but it's coming.



    Smiley  Eric, I think you should re-consider.  With genetic engineering, and then nanotechnology humanity will never be the same.  We are already transitioning into Humanity 1.2 or perhaps 1.3 with all the prosthetics, memory drugs, lasix surgery, etc.

    You should check out these sites:

    http://www.extropy.com/
    http://www.transhumanism.org/index.php/WTA/index/
    http://www.futurehi.net/
    http://www.imminst.org/

    Loved Bill's talk by the way.
  • No, you´re right about that. Mac is much better. Have just made the switch myself. The only thing I miss is MS´flight and train sims. Can you make them for the mac-plattform?
  • Thanks a lot Bill! You certainly made us think!
  • GrahamGraham I lost my Image

    Aaaaaaaaargh!!!!

    Audio and video will not replace text, IMO. You can consume audio and video only at the pace that it was originally created (OK, you can speed it up or slow it down a little bit but not by much, without it sounding like either Mickey Mouse or Lurch...)


    Sorry,

    I know that this topic must come up a lot when discussing the trend of communication. 

    But I hope you do not mind if I explore it a little bit just to help me with my own understand of the topic.  Also I hope you do not mind my stilted prose.

    What one fellow related to me was that Audio/video would never replace text because of the degree of separation between the content and the consumer.  With text, it is no more than 2 to three degrees of separation however with audio/visual the degree of separation can be a factor of say a billion.   Not sure about the math involved here but I did get the point text on a stone is easier to get at then text in a digital format.  Not as dynamic but hay it worked with out Electricity and the Gear (think about it).

    However, what I was thinking was what if audio and video becomes like glyphs on a page.  I am not really talking about letters strung together to represent a sound that represents an idea that creates a feeling.   However, more about a picture gram, that conveys a whole idea or emotion that then creates a feeling that leads to a sound.  

    With audio/video, you can use so many parameters for conveying an idea. Height, width, depth, frequency, tone, color, contrast, sharpness.  In text, all of this has to be described.  With audiovisual all of these parameters do not need to be described but in fact could be used to convey the idea or feeling in a blink of an eye.    

    Well just to keep it short could not audio/video become the new text of humanity.  I mean we have moved from picture grams to alphabets to grammar structure,  So why not the next step.  Flash yellow, flash blue blue, High tone, Flash red, low tone, kaleidoscope of billions of pictures, there you go the entire world history beamed into your head.  

     

    Well if the Chinese can take ten strokes turn them into 120 radicals and have no more then 5 transforms for each radical why not a language based on light and sound.

     

    Just musing……….

  • KarimKarim Trapped in a world he never made!
    [quote user="planetp"]
    Smiley  Eric, I think you should re-consider.  With genetic engineering, and then nanotechnology humanity will never be the same.  We are already transitioning into Humanity 1.2 or perhaps 1.3 with all the prosthetics, memory drugs, lasix surgery, etc.
    [quote]

    Sure, in a relatively short period of time, we may see technological breakthroughs in human lifespan, healthcare, quality of life.  You might have new knee joints grown in a vat, or have nanobots scrubbing your arteries until they're minty fresh.  It's possible everyone will have better than 20/20 vision via adaptive optics, and live as long as Methuselah by taking drugs that repair frayed telomeres.

    But will this really constitute an upgrade of humanity?

    Won't people still lie?  Or steal?  Or kill?  Won't they still be greedy?  Or racist?  Or just plain stupid?  Unfortunately, H. sapiens seems to be hardwired for all those things.  Until that changes, I think all the technological improvements amount to a coat of fresh paint on a '74 Pinto -- hardly even a minor version upgrade.
  • KarimKarim Trapped in a world he never made!
    Graham wrote:


    Well just to keep it short could not audio/video become the new text of humanity.  I mean we have moved from picture grams to alphabets to grammar structure,  So why not the next step.  Flash yellow, flash blue blue, High tone, Flash red, low tone, kaleidoscope of billions of pictures, there you go the entire world history beamed into your head.  

     



    At first I was like "What drugs are you on and can I have some please" LOL  But I think I see what you're getting at....

    Let's assume that the compositing and communications problems go away -- everyone can easily create any video they imagine and easily get it to anyone.

    You could easily communicate certain concrete ideas (such as, "She sells sea shells by the sea shore"), but you run into difficulty communicating abstract ideas (such as "She sold sea shells last Tuesday by the sea shore of Tampa Bay, Florida, when she suddenly experienced a feeling of overwhelming ennui.")

    You could obviously add a caption to the video ("Dateline: Last Tuesday, Tampa Bay, Florida") and even a thought balloon above her head ("Sigh....") but that's resorting to text, isn't it?

    You could come up with a vocabulary of images and sounds to represent abstractions like "last Tuesday" and "ennui," but all you've done is increase the amount of bandwidth required to communicate those ideas.

    Basically, it seems that if you don't use a common vocabulary, your audiovisual "language" becomes completely subjective and hard to understand -- like staring at a piece of modern art and asking yourself, "What does it mean?  What is the artist trying to say?"

    On the other hand, if you do use a common vocabulary, all you've really done is re-invent the pictogram (such as Mandarin or Bliss symbols).

    Interesting thoughts though!

  • Stevan VeselinovicSteve411 Me, all suited up!
    kevin lyda wrote:
    i'm normally a unix/linux app developer. over the past 6 months i've had to code up a windows app for a client. yeech. i can't express the pain. <p> but that said i wandered over here to see what this would be like when i saw it posted on /.. first the page aligns too far to the left - i can't see a lot of the left side of the page. the first post contains an element that requires a plugin. it looks like it's a video (which i can probably play with mplayer if i wanted to waste my limited bandwidth on it). and finally it seems to want a wider screen then i have since i have to scroll to the right to see all the page. <p> i have a screenshot here: <a href="http://ie.suberic.net/~kevin/channel9.jpeg">http://ie.suberic.net/~kevin/channel9.jpeg</a> in case the web design team would like to fig it. i'm using galeon as my web browser. and they can email me at <a href=mailto:kevin@ie.suberic.net>kevin@ie.suberic.net</a> if they'd like feedback on any changes they make - you'll need to reply to the challenge email if you've never mailed me before. <p> and speaking of email... you folks at ms have to fix your mail clients. i've use vms mail, elm, pine, emacs rmail, mh and now i use mutt. all of these have provided me with a wealth of tools for managing my mail but have *not* had this virus/worm issue. quit allowing users to execute random crap they get from the net. it's so freakin simple. sheesh.



    Here is the thing, you diss on developing for windows, and you say that you wrote something for it, when you do not even know the proper link for images, the basics of HTML i should say.
        
    <img src=http://www.microsoft.com/library/toolbar/3.0/images/banners/ms_masthead_ltr.gif border="1"><b>MS ROCKS! </b>
     2 bad they do not have HTML posting enabeled on channel9.
  • bill hill wrote:
    Audio and video will not replace text, IMO. You can consume audio and video only at the pace that it was originally created (OK, you can speed it up or slow it down a little bit but not by much, without it sounding like either Mickey Mouse or Lurch...)

    There are powerful things about reading; a well-set text is a "level playing field" over which each reader can "run" at his or her own pace, which is dictated by their level of reading skill, by their level of interest in the content, the complexity of the content, and so on; there's also a very deep interaction going on between the human visual perception system and brain when we read. Visual patten recognition has been the primary survival skill of primates for many millions of years, and writing systems take advantage of that.

    What is a writing system? A set of agreed patterns. If you and I both agree on what those patterns represent, then I can make dirty marks on shredded trees - or re-arrange the pixels on a screen - and when you look at those marks, you get my meaning, even if I'm thousands of miles away, or I died five hundred years ago, like Shakespeare.

    It's the closest thing to telepathy the human race has ever invented. And we should never take it for granted.


    The big question that pops up in my head is: "what exactly is reading?"

    Reading text is a skill. When you master the skill you can recognize a message described by agreed upon characters in a specific arrangement. You can discover what the writer meant to mean. I also have this believe the layout is the written "body language." When you use font, bold, italic, undelines, color and possibly images correctly you can write very agressive, tranquil, casual or formal text. For example: "I'm angry" reads very different than "I'm angry."

    Reading audio/video is also a skill. Especially when someone is talking. You read what the "picture" tells you. It's easy not recognize reading audio/video as a skill because people do it a lot more intuitive than reading text. Do also note that when you are having face-to-face contact you are also reading audio/video.

    And Bill, I'm sorry to disagree on your "telepathy" thought. My theory on this is my "load of information vs. ease of recording" tought.

    • It's easy to record text, but it is hard to tell every detail with it.
    • It is easy to tell every detail with audio/video, but is hard to record.
    Now that the technology provides us a relative easy ways to record and play audio/video we going back to our nature more and more: there's more information, people "read" it more intuitive and in most cases it's more fun. The fact that Channel 9 has so many movies should say enough.

    In 500 years people might even see Bill Hill telling about operating systems and Human 1.0 Smiley

    I'm not an expert in psychology, nor in cognition science, nor in anything else. This is just a random thought I had.
  • Bill, good stuff and I'm sorry to take so long to reply -- got swamped with work stuff. It's useful and interesting to know that your background is in depth in typography, and the quality of media representation *please* do find a way to get that paper visible, .pdf format would be nice but .doc will do fine, I don't want to put you out with a translation headache.

    So now I will tell you what armpits have to do with software design, and how much the Matrix films tell us about the people who write software.

    Some points:

    Generally, I question the value of a 'big picture'/architecture point of view, especially if you don't really understand the underpinnings. Now that I understand your POV a little better I have to say that I really don't think the details and nuances that you're talking about are fully understood by anyone. What that might or might not imply for MS product development, of course isn't my call but here's my $0.02

    Your audio asserts without read/writeing civilization could not have progressed because nothing could be passed on. While it's a good arguing point, culture and technology were effectively passed on long before reading / writing were even available to the 'elite' let alone to the population generally. *Civilization* has co-evolved with homosapiens for:

    the 500 years since Gutenberg
    the 5000 years since
    the 100,000 years you reference as the beginning of H. Sap
    but also the 3M years of H. Sap, anthropologists long ago decided that the earlier versions of homo- in fact qualify as 'sapiens'.

    Oral traditions were probably as accurate as written and in some senses are more permanent/robust. When story-telling was *the* way of passing things on, knowlege could only be destroyed by killing all of the human vectors of a story, whereas uncounted volumes of the last 5 millenia have been entirely lost due to the reliance on media to carry the message.

    It is only by luck that today we have access to 'Beowulf', which, like the bible and koran was passed on orally and accurately across many generations.

    Just as many ancient writings are now unreadable because the languages in which they are written are no longer understood, it is almost certain that digital media has a dangerously short life-span due to the inevitable obsolecence of the hardware on which the data is stored, and the impermanence of the media itself. Some 9mm mag tapes holding the origins of some early free software were recently laboriously recovered from nearly-dead tapes, tapes less than 25 years old.

    25 years is a tiny timeframe against which to measure the ability to archive data.

    The next point is, as little as 100 years ago, again a tiny space measured against even modern human history science considered 'primitive' cultures and languages to be materially different from 'modern' culture and language.

    This is just ethno-centralism playing with the evaluation function. When linguists took a closer look they came to realize (I think about 30 years ago) that all languages are similarly rich and complex (and that the actual working vocabularies of most language-users across a wide sample set are similar irrespective of either language or level of education).

    So what makes a good medium? I agree that formatting, typography count. I have done a lot of technical writing, some good, some awful but I generally try to use formatting to make my work more readable.

    However I'm split on how to do that. I'm comfortable using troff (or html or sgml) formatting commands embedded in my text (which was far and away the best tool avialable to the job when I started publishing reports and papers).  I'm equally comfortable using FrameMaker, and like that it allows me to keep the technical bulk of documents in flat text so that I can separate critical thinking about my subject from critical thinking about the presentation.

    I'm absolutely convinced that putting sophisticated formatting tools in the hands of people who first do not take the time to think critically before writing, and second have no compuction about using formatting to dress up poor thinking is an abysmal solution to the problem of communication.

    I flatly refuse to use document formatting in email. If I have a subject to which formatting is important then an attachment is a fine thing, the body of the email may be a pasted summary from the attachment. Richtext and HTML formatted email are an abomination precisely because they are so often mis-used as described above.

    I liken this to how you denude a rainforest: put a chainsaw in the hands of people who don't know what they are losing. England took a few hundred years of empire building to destroy her forests, quite an accomplisment. That much rainforest is probably lost each year today. Of course demand comes into this equation. Forests are clear-cut either to provide hardwoods or agricultural products to industrialized nations. The cost in the loss of biodiversity is potentially staggering.

    Now Microsoft is in the business of selling Word and the rest of the Office applications. I'm really not trying to earn a Goodwin here in drawing an alarming analogy, so I'll return to the meat of my subject.

    If you're not really  sure you understand the OS you're catering to (H-sap v x.x), then drawing conclusions on a possibly poorly founded basis will almost certainly lead you in an unexpected direction.

    If 99% of face-to-face communication is non-verbal this is arguably even more true in written communcation. Most writers and readers convey nuance in their writing. The writers mood is usually conveyed in nuances in the writing style. We look for the visual cues that we normally get in our *far more ingrained* natural communication (face-to-face, spoken and un-spoken) by reading between the lines. I would flatly assert that there is a whole lot more telepathy going on in face-to-face communication than in the any but the very best written-read communication and face it, less than 0.00001% of the people who use writing are a Joyce, a Hemmingway or a Dickinson.

    Here's what happens when a successful company really  doesn't understand it's market as well as it thinks it does.

    In the '70s the Gillette company began trying to take a successfull set of personal care products from the US to Europe. They had a very hard time figuring out why the advertising campaign that had worked so well at selling RightGuard deodorant spray in the US was failing abysmally in Germany.

    Then they did a little research, and found that their target audience (businessmen working in Germany) on average wore the same shirt for an entire work-week.

    Now I don't know how much luck Gillette has had in changing personal sensibilities outside of the US. I do know that one of the things I truly relish about getting outside of the US is that I find myself among people who are clean but not fastidious about the fact that h. Sap is an animal.

    In fact my next bit of anthroplogical trivia is the fact that humans sense of smell is on a par with that of dogs. Physiologically, if you measure brain-response to stimuli there is very little difference.

    Why do people think dogs have such a refined sense of smell? --- Inherently biased market-research. We live in a culture which demands that we ignore each others odor, to pretend that it doesn't exist. Cultural programming is entirely strong enough to cause humans to ignore perfectly good data.

    (another fun trivia/culture fact: Archeologists for half a century, and historians for hundreds of years before them managed to ignore the paint-chips surounding the bases of roman and greek statues. 'Modern' people have only seen Venus de Milo as alabaster white, the 'scientitists', knowing that Venus de Milo, in addition to having no arms, was alabaster white, pure, one might even say a Platonic ideal. After several decades of mis-interpreting all those paint-chips someone realised that all that statuary had been painted in raucus day-glow colors back in the day when it was current.)

    And what does the Matrix have to do with this?

    The crowd that loved the first Matrix film were perhaps most widely represented among programmers and techies. The most common complaint I heard about the 2nd film was the awful waste of 15 minutes of film time on the 'orgy' scene (I've timed it, it was not quite 4 minutes from start of music to end of Neo's butt).

    Well you know an orgy is pretty much a place where you get exposed to sweat, smell (and ohmygosh naked male bodies in addition to the naked girl bodies -- yes not many men get invited to the all-female orgies).

    I have to say that if there's a problem with the software industry (no, I'm not singleing out Microsoft here) it's that I wish the writers of software would get outside the box a bit more.

    (and yes, I speak about orgies from personal experience. I also write code that is clear, simple and puts core functionality ahead of feature-creep, but then I write software principally for my own use. I know there's not much market for stuff that simply works and doesn't offer a lot of flash).
  • The Irish are Homo Sapien 4.0, our songs and stories enliven human interaction and spark imagination the world over.
  • It would be nice to be able to download the videos for offline viewing... But personally I would just like a text transcript of the videos. I don't have the time or the interest to watch a video, but I would like to know what the actual content of the video is.

    So as to not corrupt the flow of the conversation: I find it very interesting how people talk constantly about the format of documents. It is absurd that the format should have any true matter to our ability to access it. I am at a complete loss why there isn't some single group that has all of the specs for every file format concieved.

    Yes, I understand that it is difficult because even when you know what the data is, you cannot tell people how to understand it without learning key ideas about how your software works... but this is the very attitude that hurts the software industry; and is also what open source is trying to change.

    As for the life of data; to my knowledge DVDs have a shelf life of 100 years. That seems pretty good to me. I doubt I will ever lose anything valuable I ever created, as long as I keep copies that I don't use on the shelf. In 100 years there will doubtless be much better data storage that will let me keep, say, 1000 dvds worth of stuff on one disc that will last another 100 years.

    What is important is to disregard old data. If something has no real value to it, it ought to be deleted. We need to learn how to categorize, save, and relate new data to old data, so that we know what is valuable, and what is not.

    Of course, the way society is going is not to try to make life simpler, but to just make data bigger. If something only has 100 words worth of value to it, we just make it into a video that takes up 100,000 words worth of space. To me, that is a sad state of affairs.

    As for language complexity over time... I disagree that language was just as diverse 100 years ago. I say that because I once read an article that talked about the vocabulary of 'very intelligent people' over the past 100 years or so. I was shocked when they said that the brilliant people had a vocabulary of only 10 or 20 thousand words(or something along those lines).

    The most intelligent people know only 20k words? No way. Not in today's society. I say that because I went through a dictionary and highlighted the words I know and use. I was highlighting a good 75% of the words. The dictionary I was using had 60,000 words in it. I am not exactly the most brilliant person on the planet, so if I know 30,000 words... the smart people must know more... and language has obviously become more diverse.
  • As far as language/vocabulary -- you're wrong, sorry that's not my opinion that's the research result of linguists, and to be clear that is the analysis of the 'normal' user of language.

    Yes, I expect that the average user *here* for instance probably has a fairly large working vocabulary, however this is hardly a representative sample.s

    Vocabulary, in any case correlates better with profession than with 'intelligence'. 'Smart' people are in fact not necessarily knowlegeble in a wide array of fields.

    In fact the people with the *largest* vocabularies are, not surprisingly publishing editors, closely followed by executives, averaging in the 100k+ and 60k+ range.

    Technical people, in general however do not (on average) have especially large working vocabularies, my memory says the number runs in the 30-60k range.

    Also *working* vocabulary in a research linguistic context doesn't necessarily mean every word you know, in most research the focus is on the vocabulary you use on a regular basis.
  • Maybe it does not coorelate... none the less, the most brilliant and intuitive minds do have a very large vocabulary. Not because of any mathematical trend... in fact, it is likely against the norm. I am simply saying that the most brilliant people were said to have a 20k vocabulary years ago, yet I think the brilliant people of today have a larger vocabulary (say 50k).

    I will not say anyone is right or wrong. This is simply what I see and what I believe.

    Nothing is clear. Everything depends upon your worldview. It is best to understand that in any sort of conversation. One should not attempt to convince people of everything you believe, merely present them with the information you have and let them use it as they see fit.

  • Well I don't know for sure one way or the other.

    I will counterpoint your assertion: 100 years ago it was entirely possible for an individual to be current *to the level of detail understanding* in all areas of science.

    That was no longer possible 50 years ago and today while some people have a pretty firm grasp on  many fields, knowing all fields in depth, let alone detail is inconceivable.

    A specialist tends to have a narrower vocabulary and as nearly all of the brightest people today elect to specialize, it's possible that the average vocabulary size has actually become smaller.

    The larger point is that you read an article which drew an assertion you didn't think made sense. I would say that the primary driver for your disagreement (and I would say error, but it's not an important point) is a cultural bias to think that 'modern' == 'complex'

    And for a considerable time that's what everyone thought. Linguists have, however discovered that it ain't necessarily so.
  • About data storage life.

    DVDs might have a 100 year life, I don't know. I'd be very surprised to find that *recordable* cd/dvd media on average has anything like that.

    When optical storage was a new thing, platters were being produced in cheap plastic for 'normal' use and glass or more stable plastics for archival use.

    My recollection is that the archival quality media indeed ran at a nominal 100 year life, however on average cd-r is pretty chancy see: http://www.mscience.com/survey.html

    Here's a link for a 2500 word article on what's necessary to achieve reliability in CD-R: http://www.mscience.com/longev.html. How many people do you think actually observe this kind of detail in making cd archives? --- I have no knowlege that DVD-R is considered yet more reliable than CD-R

    Tape archival quality *is* well understood. Here's a brief survey of actual experience, indicating that many users find individual tapes may only be good for 2-3 write cycles. http://www.sunmanagers.org/archives/1992/0319.html. This squares with my operating experience.

    Exabyte claims 30 year life for 8mm helical scan media. They also claim 50,000-pass mechanical  life (which very few people would say works in practice, possibly in highly ideal conditions?).
    But in any event Exabyte absolutely warns users that the archival life claim is based on a single-write use.

    I.e. you can't apply thier specs simultaneously. So iff one observes very exacting procedures (and expense) long-term archive is feasible on tapes, and probably on DC-R but if practically speaking few people will apply the correct procedures it's probably a moot point.

    Finaly, once on archive-media data is no longer available for random deletion/edit/reorganization, so while you're right that ability to throw stuff away is important, archival systems don't help with that.
  • Windows is losing ground when Linux is Rising most web servers run on Linux
  • Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers
    in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.
    The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouth it bnieg a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae
    the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, butthe wrod as a wlohe.

  • Converting my entire CD collection to MP3 was a real eye opener for me. Now I make atleast two copies of my digital photos on different brand CDRs.

    Talking about backup tapes reminds me of a comment I read over at Slashdot (can't find it now tho):


    The guy brings up a couple of 10 year old backup tapes from the basement. Puts one in the reader and it goes <wwwrrrrr> <snap!>. Whoops!

    - Well, lucky for me I made two copies!

    Puts in the second tape. It goes <wwwrrr> <snap!>

    - Uh, well, I didn't need that data anyways... 

  • tombotombo Tombo
    I think it is amazing how much knowledge is available. Period. 500 years ago before Gutenberg, only the absolute elite had access to knowledge outside of their community folklore. As the cost of disseminating knowledge decreased, the level of knowledge amongst the population increased. Move forward to today, and I can access almost anything I want about anything I am interested in. Without leaving my house. And odds on, from different perspectives and different levels of complexity. During high school, it was a trip to the library, and hope (hope) that they had something there that would explain the concept. Odds are, it would be too simplistic (Encyclopedia) or too in depth (Doctorate level book). So my curiosity on the subject disappeared, often before the trip to the library, because of the level of commitment neccessary.

    Now my son, 7 years old, comes home from 2nd Grade.
    "Dad, we learned about the Egyptian Gods in enrichment today. Can you get me online and look up these gods?" Off to yahooligans and viola, a child who is actively learning.

    Bring back a college professor who died 25 years ago and let him look at the web, he will have thought he was still in heaven.
    We wonder why knowledge is expanding so greatly. Because the cost is a library card. Within the last decade, we have a mechanism through the internet, to extrapolate information to anyone quickly with an internet connection.

    And they can learn anything they want, from nuclear fusion to nascar race results.

    What a great time to be alive.
  • Colin Angus MackayColin Angus Mackay Developer! Developer! Developer! comes to Scotland on the 10th May 2008
    If you are still looking for a transcript of this video you can now find it on the Channel9 wiki

    http://channel9.msdn.com/wiki/default.aspx/Channel9.WindowsIsNotTheMostImportantOS

    I hope this helps.
  • well... maybe it's 1.0... but with sooooo maaany service packs Smiley lol

    ps
    i'd like to send you a link to "the seattle times" - october the 28th 2009... (ms, the first windows and unix provider for homo sapiens sapiens 1.0 sp 6009) but nah, cause the link would be broken for anohter 5 years... Smiley

    nice post!
    daniel
  • joe.wurzburgerjoe.​wurzburger Scary, I know

    Brilliant, and so true.  I often think about writing/reading as our technology that's closest to telepathy.  This is particularly true of good fiction, where the writer/reader contract is fused together in a new place outside of objective reality ... but I digress.

    We need to see more Bill Hill here at C9. Smiley

  • tombo wrote:
    I think it is amazing how much knowledge is available. Period. What a great time to be alive.


    True that. But it's a thin line between collecting and owning information, and when the information starts to own you. When you get to the point where you feel it is a pain to make sure everything is backed up, sorted, and that you detect any form of corruption. 
  • No, evolution is a lie.
  • phew....too much reading for today now...
  • The Channel 9 TeamThe Channel 9 Team 5 guys from Redmond
    More Bill Hill coming soon!
  • Nata1Nata1 .Search - Google Appliance killer
    Bill H videos are the best!
  • Duncan MackenzieDuncanma "yeah that's awful close, but that's not why I'm so hard done by"

    Thanks for featuring this Charles, such sad news

  • Bill's videos were/are fantastic to watch, very informative.

    May Bill RIP and my condolences to his family.

     

  • My condolences to his family and his colleagues. May his soul RIP

    If anyone knows where we can find a working link to the  "Magic of Reading" document, please post.

    Can't seem to be found at http://slate.msn.com/id/117506 as Bill posted.

     

    I bet he is a loss for MS and the entire IT world.

  • Bent Rasmussenexoteric stuck in a loop, for a while

    Sad

  • Vesuviusvesuvius Count Orlock

    Crying

  • figuerresfiguerres ???

    wow Crying   he was such an amazing guy...

  • Wow, 2004. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago when this great video came out.

    You can also listen to him on Hanselman's podcast "This Developer's Life".
    http://thisdeveloperslife.com/post/2-0-5-typo

  • Anil MahadevAnil Mahadev

    RIP.. Bill Hill. Great Video!! Pleasure to watch his videos!!

  • Larry LarsenLarryLarsen "Lightbulb"

    @CSharpenter: We used to host it on the Poynter website, but that server was retired a couple years ago. You can find it here. I also have a copy I can send if needed. 

     

  • Sorry to see you go Bill.  You were a great man in so very many ways.  The world has lost something special.

    Ed

  • Md MarufuzzamanMd Marufuzzaman

    This is simply great, very interesting. I would request to add more resources so that we guys get more from your post.

  • @LarryLarsen: Thanks a bunch for the link. I downloaded it, and will surely read it.

  • @CSharpenter: I created an HTML version a while back that I used to read on my kindle (apologies for not having a proper place to put it besides the temp folder).

    Had several questions after The Magic of Reading that I planned to ask, before discovering Bill Hill's Blog and finding all the answers there Smiley  A great individual who will be sorely missed.

  • I hadn't see this video back in 2004, so it was very good to see it now.  I found Bill Hill's comment about needing to focus upon the human using the computer, more than the computer itself, his "homo sapiens 1.0" comments, an epiphany.  Very good!

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