Bill Hill - A Hike Around Microsoft's Forests (Happy Birthday Video #5)

Play Bill Hill - A Hike Around Microsoft's Forests (Happy Birthday Video #5)

The Discussion

  • User profile image
    Another great video from Bill Hill. I hope you guys realise that you have a real gem in that man.

    And I didn't find the video "a bit long" at all. In Bill's company, the time just flies by, and the content is fascinating and interesting to boot.

  • User profile image
    GeoffC: Thanks. I realize it. Glad to hear you liked it. It's always a risk to put up something that takes that much time.
  • User profile image
    Sven Groot
    I haven't watched all of it yet, but I intend to. I wonder how Bill feels about technology like digital ink and rollable displays like those being researched by Philips.

    Also, Bill should be on National Geographic. Wink
  • User profile image

    This is a great video. Anybody who thinks development is about computer science first and last should watch this.

    I love hearing people who are obviously pasionate about there work. I also love hearing from people who come at a job from a slightly odd angle and bring a new perspective to it.

    Bill fulfills both of those criteria Smiley

  • User profile image
    That's awesome. You get the job!
  • User profile image
    I would loved for that excellent rant to be longer, but where is the Bill Gates interview!?
  • User profile image
    Bill gave a short interview to the .NET Show. We have some other suprises coming in our second year, though. Hang in there!
  • User profile image
    Wow that Microsoft Campus is huge!
    Can everyone just walk there freely? Because sometimes I see people walking who are just there for the beatiful nature I guess. Some shots: 58m30s (I assume that child isn't working there) and 1h2m39s (looks like a free open entrance to the Campus).
    Btw, I founded a nice wallpaper from the Microsoft Campus (which you can also see in the video at 1h10m9s and further):
    Also, nice story about how the Microsoft logo was created (1h10m29s).

    Oh yeah, Happy Birthday Channel9!
  • User profile image
    scobleizer wrote:
    Bill gave a short interview to the .NET Show. We have some other suprises coming in our second year, though. Hang in there!

    Now I am really looking forward to This.
  • User profile image
    I love listening to Bill Hill.  "An hour and a half of Bill Hill?", I thought to myself, "Heaven!"

    And it would have been, if not for Scoble interrupting him with useless ephemera, like what number a building is or telling Bill that he's going to get a close-up of a mountain.

    For God's sake, man, who cares what number a building is?  I've never been to the MS campus and if I ever go I'm sure someone will have a map.  Bill was saying something cool and now that you've interrupted him he's jumped to another topic entirely.

    It's not like Bill Hill needs to be prompted.  (Though the question about what tracking teaches us about typography, though flippant, did evoke a wonderful response.)  Just turn on the camera, stay quiet, and keep up.

    I'm a big fan of Scoble, but in interviews he needs to be less obtrusive.
  • User profile image
    Sorry, dude. I've had many people ask us to take us on a tour of campus and thought that where we were was something that'd be of interest. Whenever people visit me, they wanna know which buildings are housing which teams.
  • User profile image

    A tour of campus is of interest, I'm sure, but should be seperate from an interview with Bill Hill about what nature can teach us about reading and typography.  Granted that the interview seems to have started out with the idea that it would be Bill Hill conducting a tour of campus, but once he went further afield I would have jettisoned those plans and let him loose.

    A good single camera interview can make me feel like I'm there with the subject the same way a well-designed book disappears leaving just me and the content.  Your interjections snap me out of that illusion as surely as bad hyphenation or a sudden font change mid-sentence.

    When I read your blog (which I do, a lot) I want to see you; in interviews not so much.

  • User profile image
    Very interesting stuff. I never knew so much biology went into reading.
  • User profile image
    danguyf wrote:
    And it would have been, if not for Scoble interrupting him with useless ephemera, like what number a building is or telling Bill that he's going to get a close-up of a mountain.
    Geez. Lighten up.
  • User profile image
    excellent video Smiley  I love these long vids.  Never boring either. 

    Scoble, you got nothing to worry about.  Put more vids just as long up here or longer! Those little 2-30 min vids/parts of vids are like a tease.  I'd prefer seeing whole interviews and such in one shot.

    As for Bill Hill, he's always fascinating and love to see anything he has to say.  Its both entertaining, and a great learning experience.  He does great in front of the camera too.  Its almost as if he's looking directly at us and everyone there as he's talking.  I've seen others who have done this, but kinda looks like they are nervious..  Bill looks all calm and relaxed.  Excellent work Smiley

    The tour of the area was a great idea too. I love how everything is sorta wrapped around nature, and that people can go out there and enjoy/relax/recoup or get their ideas from the surrounding areas. 
  • User profile image

    Actually he was looking at me. I try to get subjects not to look at the camera. It looks weird when they do that, almost like they are pitching. He looks like he's looking at the camera cause I was holding the camera close to my face.

    Longer videos are definitely coming. Most of the vids in April will be longer.

  • User profile image
    i absolutely love this guy, he has so much enthuiasism about his work!

    about 48 mins in, i just smiled about how proud he is about japanese cleartype font. what about chinese type? ( my ex gf is chinese and she has to read her pda and computer with chinese, it looks awful )

    anyway to watch the rest of the video!

    [edit]oh ok, they will help chinese too Wink [/edit]
  • User profile image
    My favourite video yet! His enthusiasm is so infectious!

    Thank you. That was wonderful!

  • User profile image
    Such a cool video, very glad to see Bill Hill again. Now we just need that download link Wink
  • User profile image
    It is a shame that guys like Bill Hill are probably seen as rare in corporate culture. As W2 or 1099 laborers, we are trained to forget that a corporation is a virtual person. Everytime Bill Hill steps "outside" into the laws of nature he takes off his virtual reality suit and renews his human incarnation---this is superior to just taking a vacation. Bill Hill needs to start a trend. Unlikely beings may return to days when giants walked the Earth and find peace and harmony.
  • User profile image

    Who knew typography was so fascinating?

    I was so excited to see the new Bill Hill movie that I misread the running time to be a bit over 1 minute rather than a bit over an hour. What a pleasant surprise.

    Scoble...can you do me a favor - learn to talk a little less. I appreciate your enthusiasm but talking over Bill Hill is like blabbing on and on about the colors of the sunset when all we want to do is just soak it in.

    Once we get through that, maybe we can address your ADD. Every time something caught your eye, you would snap over to reveal a passing jogger or bicyclist - essentially cutting off the presenter mid-stream. 
    Let's try and F O C U S!

    Don't get me wrong - I think the Ch9 team does a great job...just don't disrespect Bill. Either of 'em.

  • User profile image

    Guess it should be noted the Bill Hill part of the video lasts 01:11:43 from the beginning. After that it seems the rest of the video is ..

    Cleartype Team - Talking about new Fonts on Longhorn (Happy Birthday Video #4)


  • User profile image
    Great Video. I'm so glad I finally upgraded to broadband last month and can now just watch these straight off without waiting for the download. I'd love to visit the campus someday and see it for myself.

    I think I've got quite used to scrolling now too, I spend far more time reading web pages than books or magazines.

    I wanted to read a lot more ebooks when I got my tablet pc. It was easy enought to read on fullscreen portrait, but I found Acrobat 6 so slow on the TC1000 that turning the page took several seconds. It got faster if I turned off CoolType, but that made the text look unreadably bad.  I've not tried it with Acrobat 7 yet, hopefully its a bit better. I think  the Tablet is an ideal format for reading textbooks or scientific papers, but they are still too heavy and the battery life too short.

    I know the new Longhorn standard documents are going to be fixed format Xaml in .container files, but I hope you do something to bring similar quality and reading layout improvements to PDFs and CHMs as I have a lot of books and papers in those formats I've yet to get started on.

    PDF the most commonly used format, and is a fully documented standard, why are there so few alternatives for rendering them on Windows?
  • User profile image
    scobleizer wrote:
    That's awesome. You get the job!

    Smiley have to see how this pans out. There's certainly a lot of italic and question marks there to warn of the lowly quality of the transcription. Smiley
  • User profile image
    Grrr, I don't know how that happened. Thanks for pointing it out androidi!
  • User profile image
    Very interesting video. Who'd have thought Bill would know all that stuff? Actually, anyone who watched his first video wouldn't have been that surprised Smiley He was a very wide knowledge.

    Bill was describing how the font rendering engine has to take the outline description of the glyph and then work out how to assign the available pixels to it. A picture is worth quite a few words though and here is a page from support that has some images that describe what he was talking about.

    Another observation: Bill must be very well regarded/positioned within Microsoft if he's is a position to have arguments with BillG about funding new projects! That Japanese stuff sounds brilliant. And Microsoft must be aware that Japan is the 2nd biggest market for software so it can be very worthwhile getting stuff working right for them.

    I had some other comments about hinting but I'll add them to the Cleartype thread.

    On the subject of the videoing, I think you need to add a wind-gag to the list of things that would improve your camera setup (I've already suggested a camera light several times). Also, it's normal even on the most shoe-string projects even when you don't have a seperate sound guy to have the camera operator monitor the sound with a pair of headphones. Then you'd notice the times on the film when the sound is almost inaudable, like when you point the camera away from the speaker or due to wind noise at the flagpoles. You'd also remember not to laugh too loudly when you're closest to the mic. Smiley
  • User profile image
    btw, Bill has one of these monitors on his desk?
    • 22.2" TFT active matrix display
    • 3840 x 2400 resolution
    Lucky him!
  • User profile image
    Chipmunk speaks true. Scoble, time for the download link:)


    Update(11/04/2005): Thanks for the link Scoble.
  • User profile image
    Iain Norman
    Nice display.

    Is that resolution so large you need TWO DVI cables like the Mac 30 incher?
  • User profile image
    bill hill
    This is an admirably insane effort to transcribe my Glasgow accent. I don't know how you managed to do so well, especially with uncommon words.

    I'm talking about an animal's gait, not its gape, pace or rate.
    And it's foveal vision, not full-view vision.

    But in general I'm amazed. This must have taken forever.

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words about the video, and especially to those who endured it all.

    For those interested in tracking, the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, Washington, has courses and a Tracking Club which used to meet once a month. WAS was founded by Jon Young, who taught me to track.

    Find WAS online at:

    There are courses which run from time to time in other parts of the USA.

    There are books, audio recordings etc., including one with a cover by my artist wife Tanya. See her work at:

    (end of shameless commercial)

    A South African author, Louis Lillenberg, put forward the theory that Tracking was the beginning of Science: the first human application of the scientific method of solving problems.

    By observation and teaching, the tracker learns a taxonomy of animal tracks (for the area in which he/she is tracking - Pacific Northwest is different to Kalahari Desert).

    There's a Tree of Tracks you mentally traverse, for example:

    Number of toes?

    Four toes and heel pad: Dog or Cat family.

    Claws visible, paw-print longer than wide: Dog family

    Claws not visible, paw-print wider than long: Cat family

    Dog family: What size? (Wolf, Coyote, domestic dog, fox, etc)

    and so on..,

    Oops, he's off again, as if an hour of video wasn't way more than enough,


  • User profile image
    Robert Scoble: We are here with Charles and Bill Hill.

    0004 Bill Hill: Hi.

    0007 Robert Scoble: So, Where are we and what are we doing here?

    0012 Bill Hill: This is Building 10 on the campus and as you can see it's a typical Seattle March day. Naught. And it's kind of been like this last few weeks. You know. Almost no rain and temperature must be around 60F at the moment. It's pretty amazing. We're outside building ten which is where I am working with the type guys.

    0043 Robert Scoble: This is going to air on April 4th Charles Torre: 6th Robert Scoble: which is our first year anniversary. You were our first interviewee on Channel 9 and that's why we figured "Hey lets go hiking with Bill Hill".

    0057 Bill Hill: That's cool. A Lot of fun last year. Now we've completed the new Latin fonts, and Japanese font. Those guys all work for me and they've worked for some time. They're very modest. In terms of type and 0128? those guys are the best in the world in what they do. No question. It's such a privilege to have a group of people like that working for you. It's just amazing. They never ceased to amaze me. So we are heading down towards the big fountain.

    0150 Robert Scoble: How long have you been at work in Microsoft?

    0153 Bill Hill: Just did my ten years in January.

    0156 Charles Torre: Congratulations.

    0158 Robert Scoble: So you've seen this campus grow. Were you in the first buildings in this campus?

    0204 Bill Hill: When I came to interview for my job the group for which I was going for was working in building 8. By the time 0210? we were in building 24, I think. And then we've been all over the place. Building 24, 28, been in building 10, I've been in building 43? 0227. It tends to happen. The company has been growing at such a rate. To me Microsoft was a big company when I joined it. And at about 17000 people 0239?. Ten or twelve thousand working at campus alone. But now it's three times that size. And the campus has grown 0249? as well. So there are all these new buildings. ??. But the great thing about it is that it's still a beautiful place. I mean, look, we are walking down this beautiful path here and there's all this.. Grabs the bushes.. This is salal, a native plant from the pacific north-west. The Native Americans from these parts used to gather the berries of it. They dried and pressed them into cakes. It was like a fruit 0321?. So that would keep them in fruits? in the winter.

    0331 Robert Scoble: pointing at the big fountain of water So this is all part of the original campus right?

    0333 Bill Hill: Yeah this is all original campus. These are some of the original buildings. Buildings 1, 2, 3 and 4 down there and they've been refurbished many times and I think there are plans to rebuild them because we need to go bit higher the more people we recruit. The campus has been expanding in area but it has also been expanding upwards.

    0359 Robert Scoble: laughter

    0400 Bill Hill: This is Mahonia, known as an Oregon Grape. It's pretty bitter but it actually works very well as a cure for diarrhea laughter.

    0411 Robert Scoble: laughter How do you know this?? The secret knowledge of Bill Hill.

    0414 Bill Hill: Well.. I spend a lot of time out in the woods and tracking the animals. You know, when you're out in the woods, most of the time in the year the summer is the easy? 0429?. Even if you're not hunting, summer is the easiest time knowing what those things are. I mean all of that. The animal tracking, the wilderness skills, spending time out in the woods and so on. That's actually been the biggest thing to influence on my work. As I've said this before to you, we think we know what's so civilized, like all these cars and boats and things. But well, Homo sapiens version 1.0 is a hunter-gatherer. That's how the perception system works and that influences everything. It influences how we build our user interface, how we read and how we present text to people etc etc. Everything like that is based off on the fact that this is Homo sapiens version one. And to understand how that hunter-gatherer works you have to study it and its native environment and it's why I've been spending time out in? the woods.

    0523 Robert Scoble: Yeah.

    0524 Bill Hill: So there are plenty places on the campus where you can do that. I mean, we are just now down at the big pond known as "Lake Bill".

    0539 Charles Torre: Why is that? Lake Bill

    0541 Robert Scoble: Was he around here at some point?

    0544 Bill Hill: Well yeah. I mean these are the original buildings from Microsoft. Buildings one, two, three, four. It was a tradition and still is from time to time that some of the executives will swim "Lake Bill", you know, for a 0558? team has performed. And it's pretty amazing. We're in the middle of Redmond, we got ?? 0607? we got Canada geese and there's some fish in there points at the pond. And sometimes the most amazing wildlife things. We got tables up there for the cafeteria in building 4?. And so the guys from the group were all sitting up there one day looking at "Lake Bill" when suddenly an osprey just appeared and dived? straight out of the water and flew away with a fish.

    0630 Robert Scoble: Wow

    0631 Bill Hill: And to have that kind of thing to happen on campus is just amazing. We forget? that pacific north-west hasn't been settled for a long time, and so, there's all this wildlife here. I mean - another story. I was in building 28 when walking at/with the lunchtime? one day and heard this incredible thump and wondered what it was. I looked out the window and there was a Pileated Woodpecker lying on the ground. It had flewn onto one of the windows. The building is kind of U-shaped and it got itself "stuck" in there and just flying? 0659? against the window cause it looked at the sky and so it hit this thing and knocked itself down. So the group and we/I were all headed down 0708? and I picked up this Pileated Woodpecker, pinned its wings ? so it could not injure itself, pointed the beak the other way. Because, you know, these guys knock holes in ? trees 0724? and then I started running for the nearest tree on the campus to kind of release him and I got rid of it twenty feet to the? tree, let it go and it flew up and 0734?. Pileated Woodpecker is a big bird.

    0737 Bill Hill: Here is Bert Keeley. points at Bert You should talk to Bert.
    0740 Bill Hill: Hey Bert!
    0741 Robert Scoble: laughter Look who you? meet on campus!
    0744 Bill Hill: We need to get together -
    0746 Robert Scoble: The Tablet Team needs a new..?
    0757 Bert Keely: Next time you need to ask if you can film in his away office? in Hawaii smiling.
    0803 Robert Scoble: laughter Charles, You think I'll land with 0807?
    0810 Charles Torre: Sure, absolutely right .. 0812? You can expense it right now.. :7
    0816 Robert Scoble: You'll? get this like four thousand dollar bill and "What the heck?" laughter
    0821 Bill Hill: It's this sharp wood? 0823?
    0826 BH talks with BK about meeting
    0833 Bill Hill: .. we should catch up and play some music.. Bert Keely: .. doing an album..
    0838 Robert Scoble: Now you guys are both musicians, right? Bert Keely: Yeah.. Robert Scoble: You're a guitarist? Bill Hill: Yeah. Bert's an awesome guitarist Bert Keely: We love playing together and doing acoustic duos.
    0850 Robert Scoble: What kind of band do you play with? Bert Keely: Have played with? Umm, just about all sorts. Robert Scoble: Name some.
    0856 Bert Keely: Well. Let's see. Three weekends ago it was Bobby Weir from the Grateful Dead, Country Joe McDonald who opened up Woodstock with the "Fish" cheer. He had some kind of an anti-war songs that were really great. Umm, let's see.. T-bone Burnett who did the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack and has produced tons and tons of stuff. I mean some of the guys..
    0920 Robert Scoble: So what I was getting at, you're fairly accomplished.. Bert Keely: Yeah we had a blast.. Robert Scoble: So you're not just like my son learning.. laughter
    0934 Bert Keely: Did a gig last year with John Osbourne and.. ?D Smith. We play with him fairly often.
    0940 Robert Scoble: And you told me one time you used your Tablet PC to read lyrics, you put it on the floor and..
    0944 Bert Keely: Fair number of people do that. I've actually used it as my guitar effects double too. Just stick it on the floor and..
    0955 Robert Scoble: So we've got to come and see you play! laughter We get to go to? Hawaii now and..
    1001 Bert Keely: Let's do a gig in Hawaii. laughing Parts the scene

    1010 Bill Hill: An incredible guitar player.. I've got a 24 track? digital recording studio, so when Bert comes out we just play. We've actually got a nice song. Robert Scoble: Hey there's a.. camera points at a goose Bill Hill: Yeah you got to watch out.. There's some of the fish that attracted the osprey? Pointing at the pond Camera zooms in on the fishes I suppose we could get away with eating? one of the big ones. We/I live about thirty? five minutes from the campus. The house is built upon a tall river. And it's incredible. I mean here we are at this high-tech campus. But at my house it's like completely out in the wilderness. I mean, I'm sitting in my studio one night when my son goes "Dad there's a cougar at the front door" and at the door was a 175 pound male cougar.

    1117 Robert Scoble: Wow.

    1118 Bill Hill: It stood outside the glass front-door. You know kind of just looking in. And you know why it's there? Because I had been tracking him and his family the day before up in the woods back of my house. I found out where they were 1134? and I poked around their home. So it was doing there at my front door "Hey you know where I live son, so I came to see where you live". ? Cougars are big cats and they're curious.

    1148 Robert Scoble: Now this is one of the newer buildings.

    1149 Bill Hill: This is building 36. The Office guys make the Office here. Let's head down towards building 31, 32. Those are part of my favorite spots on the campus. The campus is expanding. It must be about three times the size when since I came. The great thing about it is that somehow they still managed to keep the nice feel of the North West and there are still trees around. And there are still some secret areas that you can go to and you wouldn't even know that you were on the Microsoft campus.

    1244 Robert Scoble: Really?

    1245 Bill Hill: There's an area of woods down there where I track coyotes 1248?. And the trees around here, you don't get Pileated Woodpeckers unless you got a wood that is probably around hundred years old. 1303?

    1318 Bill Hill: The way that Pileateds work, -
    1335 Charles Torre: I had one actually inside my house last year.

    1339 Bill Hill: The male Pileated builds or digs three or four nesting holes in various trees and brings the mate around "Which ones you like dear?" So they need a lot of standing snags to be able to build a nest.

    1401 Bill Hill: So this is building 36. It's kind of industrial look.
    1408 Charles Torre: Like it's heavily fortified.
    1410 laughter

    1423 Bill Hill: The Office Team and the Windows Team never cease to amaze you know. To me it's almost one of nature's miracles that we ever actually managed to ship a version of Windows. A software project of that size and with that many people. Yesterday Jim Allchin said to me there are more people on Windows now today than it took to send a man to the moon. Think about that.

    1448 Robert Scoble: Wow. And think of the computer power we have. It exists on your watch. Your watch has more computer power than it took to send man to the moon.

    1500 Bill Hill: Yeah. I remember the first time I had my laptop. With the first laptop I realized It had more computing power than a Polaris nuclear submarine. And I was carrying this thing around. It's kind of mind blowing the way that computer power has gone up. I mean, I got this guy sitting in here Grabs something from a pocket. This is one of the new Pocket PC's from Dell. It has two hundred ?? DPI screen. So when you put ClearType on it it's as readable as paper. This is my library Holding the Pocket PC.

    1543 Robert Scoble: How many books do you have on it? .. You talked to us a year ago about the influence of reading on your life.

    1547 Bill Hill: Yeah. Well about 1200. Charles Torre: Twelve hundred books? Bill Hill: Yeah, I mean this guy here, 512 MB Compact Flash card will hold about seven or eight hundred books. And I also have one of these Removes the SD card in here as well. I had one of these around five years ago and I realized that I could carry around every book that I would read for the next five years on a storage device size of a postage stamp. Being able to carry a library around with you all the time. The batteries on this last around eight hours if I am not using wireless. If I am on a plane or stuck in a cafeteria or have to wait for my ? at the shop or anything like that, my library is right there and I can just sit down and read.

    1655 Charles Torre: Where you get all those books?

    1656 Bill Hill: There are a lot of books in the public domain. I've read Moby Dick a couple of times and things like that. ? We launched the Microsoft Reader. That was the team I joined when we were starting up the E-books effort at Microsoft. We started the team in 1998 and we launched the product in 2000 and since then we've seen the growth - There's maybe twenty thousand books combined online now. So you just go on to some place like Amazon and you buy the book and you download it there and then. Now I'm re-reading the science fiction fantasy novel Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg which I've read a few times. This time I want to read it on this device. So I went to Amazon, bought a copy of the book for less than six bucks, downloaded, had it there and have it with me all the time and am just reading my way through it.

    1805 Charles Torre: Fantastic.

    1806 Bill Hill: It's great. That's what has been changed since we launched the E-books stuff. We always knew it's going to take two things for E-books to take off. That's why you haven't seen much success in E-books world yet. There were two things that were going to be required for it to take off. One of them was high-quality reading devices. The early devices were not really up to the quality you needed for sustained reading. So we needed devices. And we also needed the content. It takes years to get content. We are now in the point where there's content. Amazon, thousands of books etc. And the devices have been getting better all the time. This latest one, with that screen resolution and ClearType, it's as readable - more readable than a paperback book. That's where I do most of my reading now.

    1902 Robert Scoble: Why you say it's more readable?

    1903 Bill Hill: Because the resolution is actually better. I mean, with a paperback book, by the time the ink soaks in the paper and spreads out a bit the real resolution with that page is probably around 120-130 DPI. We started with 208 DPI here but then we got ClearType which gives us, you know, around four or five hundred dots per inch equivalent or there about. And it's backlit so I don't need a light on in bed. I've been experimenting - I have actually been reading in a bath with this Pocket PC. This thing gets condensation and you have to wipe it off now and then again. And luckily so far I haven't dropped it in the bath. I'm still waiting for Sony to come up with a water proof version like my sports CD player or my MP3 player.

    1959 Robert Scoble: Building 32. This is where the Tablet PC Team hangs out.

    2005 Bill Hill: Pointing at building 31 I've been there too. That's where the E-books effort started out. So now we're getting to the point where we have the basics. Another thing that's been happening in the E-book world now is that people are reading books in their cell phones. The cell phones are getting better screens now and the great thing about cell phones is that you can connect anything you want. Think about the cell phone as a device you get your news on. Now if you gave me a Microsoft Smartphone with a screen that size and I could just download groups, news and anything I wanted -

    2114 Bill Hill: For few years Dell has been leading the drive on resolution on PC's, particularly laptops. I think it was five or six years ago when I bought a Dell laptop with 132 DPI. I now got one that has 147 DPI. It's a 1920x1200 resolution display. It's absolutely gorgeus to read on and great to watch videos on as well.

    2139 Robert Scoble: Did you see the research guys showing off at the tech fest sixteen high-res screens turned into an array. It had eight thousand pixels across all the screens.
    2151 Bill Hill: The IBM display I have in my office has 3840x2400 resolution.
    2202 Robert Scoble: A year later I still haven't talked Lenn into buying me one of those.
    2205 Bill Hill: That's a display to kill for. It's just beautiful.
    2235 Robert Scoble: So you were talking about how humans invented writing and reading. Can you tell us a little bit about that now that we are on a hiking trail?
    2243 Bill Hill: Yeah. As I said before I'm an animal tracker. I actually believe that humans learned to read before they learned to write. It's kind of weird when you think about it. What was written before we read? You know, animal tracks were written. Have you ever watched the movie Crocodile Dundee 2
    2305 Robert Scoble: Yeah.
    2306 Bill Hill: Where he's in the park with the kids in New York and he's kind of drawing the tracks, and you know he's writing. The native people teach their kids to track for survival and there are two things they teach. One is to recognize the shape of the track so you can identify the animal 2325?. And they teach to read the stories in the tracks. I can walk through the woods and my friend Jon Young who taught me to track. I had been walking along and looking at a coyote track. And you look down and say "Oh. It turned its head there" cause you can tell the different weight distribution as the animal turns its head. And you can tell whether an animal is feeling happy or not, because you know, long legged animals like dogs and cats have to get down. Back legs and front legs are the same length. So when an animal is going like its kind of normal happy gait, the track of the back foot aligns on the top of the front foot track, like it's the same leg/legs are the same length right?.

    2418 Bill Hill: Trackers call that the harmonic gait. So when animal is kind of hopping/walking along, feeling happy and relaxed, the gait is the harmonic gait. If it's going slower than normal, then the prints of the back feet will be behind the front feet because it's taking shorter steps. If it's going faster than its harmonic gait, the front feet come beyond the back feet until eventually the gait changes in to this kind of galloping gait. demonstration So you can tell by looking at these tracks what the animal is doing. This wolf was walking around here, it slowed down, looked right and then it ran off 2517? and then I went over to a nearby path and actually at the same time there was a 2525? track coming along 2527?

    2532 Bill Hill: Wolves are incredible. If you see a wolf track on a piece of flat ground, you could take a piece of string and stretch it for hundred yards and that would match the track perfectly because wolves have this fantastic muscular balance. A male wolf will do thirty miles a night. They waste no energy at all. It's like shooting an arrow. Domestic dogs sniff around here and there. So you can look at a track and tell whether that animal is happy or apprehensive or stalking something. You can look at a track and say "That's a female" because the back legs of a female are slightly wider from each other than the back legs in a male, because of the pelvis. You can tell that a female is pregnant because the back 2626 ?? starts to turn over like that at the summer. You walk along, you can tell the gait of the animal, what it is doing, whether it is male/female, whether and how pregnant it is..

    2639 Charles Torre: What about the 'human animal'?
    2641 Bill Hill: Well that's exactly the same. You can tell from human tracks what humans are thinking, well - roughly. Walking style demonstrations
    2704 Robert Scoble: laughter

    2710 Robert Scoble: Can you tell a geek by its tracks?

    2713 Bill Hill: That's a really good point. Interesting one in fact. Need to get my friend Jon on this. He's way better tracker I will ever be because he was taught by a guy called Tom Brown. He runs a wilderness and survival school 2733?. Jon can take you on a walk through the woods and his just telling the stories all the time. We were walking along one day 2746? and Jon says "See the rabbit tracks?" Rabbit tracks are really hard to spot. They do not make much of an impression. But they do have J-shaped set of sharp claw marks. I said "Oh yes I see the rabbit track, Jon" 2804? and we looked closer. If you are a tracker.. and you see that from my knees, the brown legs the white knees, cause you spend a lot of time doing this Goes on his knees upon the ground right down at the track. Down there you can actually see the rabbit ? just hopping along and then the rabbit track explodes, it just leaps away ? and if you look really closely, you can see the imprints of the feathers of an owl. The owl had 2840? missed and landed on the sand, left impressions of its wings and then flew away.

    2850 Robert Scoble: What does that teach us about typography?

    2852 Bill Hill: The first thing you have to realize is that as humans we have this visual perception system that was designed for survival in the wilderness. So for the moment I have 207-degrees of peripheral vision going. I have my ears, which can tell me to turn and listen to that bird over there, which is a Robin. And that gives me 360-degree coverage. So that's my 'low resolution' vision that's incredibly sensitive to movement. One of the things that teaches you, for example, is that pop-up ads are really annoying because movement takes precedence over anything else in our response to visual stimuli. Because if you are a hunter-gatherer, movement is one of two things. A threat - or your lunch.
    2943 Robert Scoble: laughter
    2946 Bill Hill: So it is a 'priority zero interrupt' in the human perception system. So all this stuff going on while you're reading - It's just going to distract your reading. Now when you read you are not going to use that 207-degree peripheral vision, you use foveal vision which is driven by a high-resolution part of the human retina called the fovea. It's 0.2 mm across. It only has one and a half degrees of arc. And as Kevin Larson was explaining, A guy called Emile Javal, a French oculist, found in 1906 that we fixate on a target of 5 to 7 characters wide and then we jump to the next one. Now the interesting thing is that fovea, because it is 1.5 degrees of arc, tells you that readability for human beings starts at about 9 point type, gets better 10, better still at 11 and drops of beyond 12 and further. So nine to twelve point 3044? See also is right for human beings for a normal reading distance. The study of the human perception system will tell you that. Mathematically you can work it all out. The animal tracking by itself is important as well because -

    3118 Bill Hill: I had a great lesson one time. I was at this ? river with a friend of mine, Jenn Jacobson, and we were tracking. 3125?. So walking along this path, I said to Jenn "Have you seen any elk recently?" She said "No haven't been around for ages". When you start to track - I hesitate to call it extra-sensitive perception, but certainly you use your senses in a much deeper way. And I said to Jenn "Have you seen any elk around here?" She said "No there haven't been any for ages." Because we were walking along the river and the first thing I see is an elk track. You can't miss an elk track. This elk is probably seven or eight hundred pounds. Its foot is this big; it makes a hole in the sand this deep. So Jenn and I start following this elk track. Now we were running. We could make great progress because the tracks are really distinctive. So we were running along but then this elk hits an area of rock. Now at that point you aren't getting these deep holes in the ground. So what you do?

    3238 Bill Hill: Here's how it works, a little tracking tip. You can't really see the tracks clearly. cause of the rock Imagine this is the soft sand and this is the last track in the soft sand here. Now look back at the track before it and you can see that this animal's got a gait of about, say 40 inches.

    3229 Charles Torre: Okay.

    3300 Bill Hill: So what I do is I put a ? stick in the last track I can see. Now I know the next one is going to be about 40 inches away from it. So I start to look. I might see a rock with a tiny little scrape on it and a little bit of sand. So I put a ? stick in there and then I go to my pocket and get all the ? sticks out and go on to my hands and knees and I start to measure. The same distance. And I can look at the arc and see where it stepped next.

    3330 Bill Hill: What's interesting though is - To follow an animal like that over a hundred feet and record every track can take me about an hour. So I've gone from being able to run along this track, with the imprints being really distinctive, to having to crawl along really slowly because they're blurred and indistinct. That applies to type, right? If I've rendered the type badly, I'm going to slow people down. They can't read at the same rate. If I've rendered it well, they can go through it quickly. Actually, they can go through at their 'harmonic gait'. Because human beings have a harmonic gait for reading, like animals have when they are walking. When we are reading our way through a page, we go on at our own particular gait. As taken by the quality of our vision, how well the type is displayed, the complexity of the text we are reading, how well it's laid out, our own level of literacy. So what a book case is its like a flat sandy 3440? lets each human run across it at their own gait. And what the science of typography is all about. I call it - I coined up a term for how science of type works - I call it OSPREY.

    3500 Bill Hill: How I actually had the whole revelation of how this works? I was tracking a coyote through the woods at my home and I suddenly realized I was reading a story. And then I realized I was reading one track after another. I thought "That's serial pattern recognition" - And then the light bulb went on. And I realized that the whole science of type and typography over hundreds of years has grown to optimize serial pattern recognition - OSPR. I was out in the wood and thought add an E and Y and call it OSPREY. And I went back to my office and it was one of those flash of inspiration moments. I went back to my office and wrote this 80 page paper called the 'Magic of reading'. It explained how reading works when we read print, why it doesn't work when we are reading on the screen and what we needed to do to fix it. So I wrote that paper and sent it out to 3558? including Bill. And I heard later that he had read it five times. And then things began to happen all over Microsoft.

    3609 Bill Hill: Microsoft Office has a reading ? that ? they put in there in 2004. That's basically those OSPREY principles applied to reading on screen and Word. And all the other thing we were doing kind of came from there too.

    3623 Robert Scoble: Was this ? paper that you were...
    3625 Bill Hill: No it was just one of the flashes of inspiration. I had to get it done. Actually at the time, what happened - When I joined the electronic books research? - The reason I joined it was fixing reading on the screen was ? to their mission. If they didn't do that

    It doesn't matter how small electronic book device is, how long the battery runs for - all that stuff. How cheap and easy book downloads are. What really matters is when it up and tries to read a book - We all know the experience that we have when we do that, the book, this physical book thing - just disappears. The real book is going on inside our head. Now if we can do that with an electronic device then electronic books have a future and if we can't then we might as well give up and go home. So ? said to me "Okay. Your job is readability research, you go figure out how we do it", and that was what I wanted. What I did was, in next I think month, I read twelve thousand pages of books, magazines, research articles, journals and everything I just could. It was like just jamming in data in to your brain.

    3756 Bill Hill: And then you start to think about it. The place you go to think about is over here, in the woods. Some of the woods are owned and... I have all this data going on in my head and I'm reading this ? and suddenly some of the bits get taken in, stick together and coagulate? and the idea pops out. At that point you got all the data in your head and it's just the question can you type fast enough to get it all down. And that's kind of what happened. Still all of this has an incredible amount to do with reading and reading on the stream.

    3828 Robert Scoble: Ok. Let me change the tapes here, almost out.
    3832 Robert Scoble: So you just.. We were talking about -
    3834 Charles Torre: Yeah I was asking about the development of typography - The engineering of typography.

    3838 Bill Hill: Well the coolest thing about it is Johannes Gutenberg who's the guy who really started this whole thing going around five hundred years ago. He described typography as art and science. And that's what it is - it's the interface between art and science. Michael Duggan who we were talking to back there, they're typographers. Geraldine's got a design degree for example and her background is calligraphy. Mike again is a typographer coming from a design background. And then they kind of learned the software skills. Because on a computer, a letter is described by an outline which is the mathematical equation created by a set of control points. In ? world there's a Bézier spline and in the TrueType world there's quadratic splines. ?. So they had to learn how to program. These are designers - artists. Calligraphers, typographers who had to learn to program. And there are other people in the team who are much more purely SDE type of guys.

    3953 Charles Torre: We met one of them.

    3954 Bill Hill: Yeah. Greg Hitchcock for example. These are guys who work on things like rasterizer-technology. Rasterizer - You have that outline but you have to fill it with dots - rasterization is the process of filling with dots and it's really complicated because the dots are all different sizes depending on the resolution of the screen. One of the things that happens is that you got this pretty coarse pixel grid on the screen and the problem you've got is that if you take an outline of a font, which is a mathematical equation, it can fall in different places on that grid. And you can only use the pixels on that grid. So you might have a part of an outline that passes through a pixel ?. Should that pixel be on or off? You have to make those kind of decisions. And you get all kinds of rounding errors. Mike was talking for example about the lower case letter "m". And you only got 6x6 pixels to split/spare? and you want each of the stands to be same weight. The problem is that you take this mathematical equation, you threw it at a fixed raster grid and some of the pixels are apart?. Some of them round up, some of them round down. So typically what you can get if you don't do hinting is that you get lower case "m" with one stand that's two pixels wide and the other two stands are only one wide. Well that's bad. So what hinting does for example is, it lets you normalize those so that you lock those stands so they all stay one pixel wide and we only change the 4137?. Those are the kinds of things hinting does.

    4140 Charles Torre: So why the term hinting, can you elaborate on that?

    4143 Bill Hill: Well it's really telling the rasterizer what to do in a particular situation. And there's a whole hierarchy of hints. They go all the way from global hints, that do things like normalize the same weights. But if you got type face, say Palatino, you'll have four weights of it. A regular weight, a roman weight, an italic weight and slanted. You have a bold and a bold italic. The bold needs to be bolder than the regular, right? The problem is that at those reading sizes you've only got one pixel per? two pixels. The one pixel stand you have to reserve for the regular weight and that's too light, thin and ?. You have to use two for the bolder, or at least you had to in the monochrome world. With ClearType we don't have to do that anymore.

    4243 Charles Torre: What do you do in ClearType?

    4244 Bill Hill: In print, for example, the bold may only be 33% or 50% heavier than the regular weight. In the computer it's a huge job because the computer has only these one pixel increments. So it goes from one pixel to two pixels, a 100% increase in weight. One pixel weight is too light by the way for reading on the screen but you can't go to two cause that's too heavy. With ClearType you can say "one third" pixels wide stand. And the bold can be "one two thirds" or "two". It's not a fifty percent jump. It brings this whole subtlety that we didn't have.

    4334 Charles Torre: Is this because of the quadratic..

    4335 Bill Hill: No. It's because we use the red, green and blue sub-pixels instead of the whole pixels. In the past in the monochrome world we rendered everything in whole pixel sizes, so you were stuck with one pixel increments. There was no subtlety in between them. And that's really important at the text sizes that people need to read in. Remember what I was talking earlier on? 9, 10, 11, 12 are the reading sizes. Down at those weights you can only use one pixel in monochrome world. And it's too light, thin and ?. One the reactions people had when we first showed the ClearType was "You just made them bold". But we haven't. We haven't made it 100% bolder; we made it slightly bolder, which is the true weight it should be. We didn't have the subtlety to do it this way before.

    4426 Bill Hill: So that's kind of how that works. These programs go all the way from defining the relationships from regular and bold, kind of a global constraint, all the way down to you having an instruction that says 'in Times New Roman at 10 pt type on a 100 DPI screen, on a lower case A, turn this pixel on'. And it can make all the difference between a letter A you can see and one that's kind of mushy. 4454?. Those are ones that you want to do least because they are so specific. You know, you want to bubble these things up in the hierarchy as much as possible and have as many high-level hierarchy ? instructions as you can. And you leave those ones for the kind of desperate cases you can't solve in any other way than going on and tinker with the invidual pixels. That's what those guys do for a living.

    4518 Charles Torre: That's amazing. So it's fairly complex.

    4519 Bill Hill: Yeah. And there are guys who sit down there and write programs that turn on a single pixel of a lower case 'A'. But the thing is, it needs a typographer's eye to tell you whether it's right or not. Or at least it has until now. We've got some technology that may change some of that but in the past it has always been this manual process.

    4550 Robert Scoble: Now you've learned typography in the printing press right?

    4552 Bill Hill: Yeah, my background is printing. I was a newspaper man back in Scotland for 18 years. Having gotten into computers was - in the early 80's I could tell they were going to change the printing industry forever. And it's like you see this big wave coming towards you. You got two options, you can either drown or learn to surf - and I thought I'm going to learn a bit of computers and then at least I'll know what's going on when it all starts to happen. So I started to get interested and started studying. Then it got kind of more technical and then I ended up writing articles on computers and so on and reviewing software. Then a company came to me and asked me to write documentation, user manual, for this software. And then in 1984 I heard about what was going on with this new technology of desktop publishing, and clearly that was going to change everything. That's how I ended up joining, and helped to form up European relationships for all of this corporation. ? PageMaker, which was the marker leader in desktop publishing those first few years, and they were based here in Seattle. So I used to travel backward-forward between Edinburgh and Seattle, maybe about 3-4 times a year. That's how I got sucked from newspapers to computers.

    4710 Bill Hill: And then at one point Microsoft pushed me right out of blue and said "We've got a job in Redmond we think you should be doing. Can you give us a call?" What was really interesting about is, in '91 or '92, I sat at my desk and had just installed Windows 3.1 and I looked at the type on my screen and said 'Wow, this is incredible, these guys have gone way beyond what I've seen on my Macintosh' ?.

    4745 Robert Scoble: What was it about the type that caught your eyes?

    4747 Bill Hill: It was so sharp, so clear and so easy to read on the screen. This was Times New Roman, Arial ?. The core fonts of Windows 3.1 - When I got offer for the job at Microsoft, it was to manage the guys who had done that. So like at 1992 I noticed this and? called my boss over and said "Take a look at this, take a look at the screen quality" and then at 1994 was approached by Microsoft to run the group that had done that. What a blast. So Mike, Geraldine and Greg Hitchcock were all part of that Windows 3.1 core fonts work.

    4825 Robert Scoble: Is there a new Bill Hill out there in the world somewhere that's going to see Longhorn and have that same revelation?

    4829 Bill Hill: I hope so. In Longhorn we're going to see type of a quality you have not seen before on the screen. We've got the sub-pixel rendering, the new ClearType fonts that were created specifically for it, the new Japanese we built. It's the first time anybody has ever done a Japanese typeface to be read on the screen. Japanese are Homo sapiens version 1.0 as well. Their fovea is the same size as ours, they read 10.5 and 11 point type. Now if you think it's hard doing a lower case letter 'm' at 9 or 10 point, try doing ? which has eight horizontal strokes. If you have 8 horizontal strokes you need to have fifteen pixels to show them all, right? Eight blacks and seven whites between them. But at 10 pt you may only have nine or fourteen or whatever. So what you do there? The solution in the past was to make embedded bitmaps. You had to do stroke reduction; you can't show all the strokes. The only person who can decide what strokes to leave out is a Japanese typographer, an expert. So somebody had to go through and say 'Well we can take these strokes out here'. And so ? Gothic that we ship in Windows today; we have an embedded bitmap for every character and every size from 7 to 24 pt. 400 000 embedded bitmaps. What that means is, if you produce a Japanese font, it's going to take you fifteen man years. Or used to because you had to do all these bitmaps. So what we did with the Japanese font; we went to Bill and said "We think we can produce screen readable Japanese, we think we can do it in 18 months with the people we have but we need to spend a little bit of money on it" At first Bill said "No I don't think we should spend the money on this" and I said "Oh yeah we should and here's why" and he pushed back again and said "No we shouldn't, no, no, no I don't think so" and I said "Yeah we should and here's why" So okay, we had to have a meeting and we had a meeting and had a review, went in front of Bill, we got the money and then 18 months later we showed the Japanese.

    5044 Bill Hill: Now what we had done with the Japanese, it doesn't have any embedded bitmaps in it. What we did was we developed a new model of hinting to do the stroke reduction. So it has no embedded bitmaps, it's fully scalable to any size you want. There are no embedded bitmaps so it ends up being smaller. It ends up being clearer and crystal? because we designed the outline specifically to work with ClearType. So we end up with the most screen-readable Japanese anybody has ever seen. Another problem with Japanese is - You know you've seen those web pages that got Japanese and English on them and they look so unmatched. The English looks horrible along with the Japanese. That's because the English character has never been harmonized with the Japanese.

    Getting there.. Getting there..
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    bill hill wrote:
    This is an admirably insane effort to transcribe my Glasgow accent. I don't know how you managed to do so well, especially with uncommon words.

    I'm talking about an animal's gait, not its gape, pace or rate.
    And it's foveal vision, not full-view vision.

    Thanks. There's probably plenty of other errors too even without the italics warning about them but I'll fix these. The fact that Word did not recognize fovia should have indicated that it's fovea. Doh!

    I certainly learned a bit of english there too so that's cool.

    bill hill wrote:
    But in general I'm amazed. This must have taken forever.

    Yeah I guess you're on to something there!
    I had to do some researching for some of the words, so props to Google for giving suggestions there. Approximate matching/fuzzy indexes is/are great technology, especially if language independent.

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    dum de dum

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    Wow! almost all of channel9, cool though it is, is just microsoft wage slaves cheerleading about .nf**cking net, this is a genuinely smart guy giving some awesome insight into something we all take for granted but don't really think about,as someone who works with typesetting professionaly i was absolutelty awestruck by the lucidity of his corellations between animal/human behaviour and how human/animals read. Really, really impressed and, like everything when its  explained by a super smart person, seems so obvious once you comprehend. What a guy. Hope hes's been there long enough to reap the big bucks, and hes's a glasgow boy, best wishes to you man.
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    fellow glaswegian huh Smiley

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    Holy cow that was incredible! 

    Again another Channel9 video that make me realize how much I'm not happy with my job and living in Minnesota Smiley
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    scobleizer wrote:
    GeoffC: Thanks. I realize it. Glad to hear you liked it. It's always a risk to put up something that takes that much time.

    (Arrogant bump)
    Well, by all means, take more risks like this one.  Also, take more videos of Bill Hill. I want to hear him ramble some more about the connections between "Hunter/Gatherer" and "Consolas 11pt is optimal".  His book was great, BTW. Who else here has read it?

    Membership to date, I think this is my all-time favorite C9 video. I've watched it about 10 times so far. But, I have to agree with the critics:  Less Scoble, more "Subject guy".  No offense Scoble, you're great too, but let him finish what he's saying before you go off on a tangent.

    rasx wrote:

    It is a shame that guys like Bill Hill are probably seen as rare in corporate culture. As W2 or 1099 laborers, we are trained to forget that a corporation is a virtual person. Everytime Bill Hill steps "outside" into the laws of nature he takes off his virtual reality suit and renews his human incarnation---this is superior to just taking a vacation. Bill Hill needs to start a trend. Unlikely beings may return to days when giants walked the Earth and find peace and harmony.

    Well put, well put.

    Bill Hill's Profile (Here) wrote:
    Last Seen:[...] Mar 2, 2006
    Tsk, tsk.
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    Thanks to Bill Hill for teaching me some of the basic points to tracking. i wasnt aware that i had this ability that you speak about. but some how i gave it a try and wowzers, it works! Smiley 

    I had an oportunitie once to track some peoples foot steps once. and it was amazing to see that i could conclued/speculate alot about some people just by the lenght of thier stride, thier shoe size, even the type of tred they had on thier shoes. i got so cought up in it that it actualy was rather fun, something primal about it. It was almost excilerating to be down on the floor with my nose in the dust looking for the next step...

    any way, thanks.

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    "Now if you think it's hard doing a lowercase 'm' at 9pt or 10pt, try doing utsu (鬱), which has 8 horizontal strokes. If you have 8 horizontal strokes, you need 15 pixels to show them all, right?
    8 black and 7 whites between 'em. But at 10pt, you only have 9... or 14, or whatever. So what do you do there? Well the solution in the past was they embedded bitmaps. They had to do stroke reduction. Can't show all the strokes.


    The Japanese are just going to go ape. We've had incredible feedback from the Japanese government people looking at this."

    My dad's a designer; he did some typography stuff back when we were in Japan. He does publishing and printing now. Sure enough, he went ape when he saw Meiryo.

    Thanks, Bill.

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    Re-opening comments.

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    I miss Bill, he had the voice, presence and humility that made the seeming mundane and boring into the most fascinating and interesting talk subject.


    Also did Bill predict the potential popularity of the IPhone / WP7? in this video.

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    Tanya Hill

    Really enjoyed watching this. I remember Bill coming back and casually mentioning he'd gone for a hike round the campus with the channel 9 guys, but I hadn't seen it before. I'd really love to get copies of all his interviews if possible, he always told a good story and they are a great memorial to him. This is my favourite reminds me of so many of our walks together. Thank you.
    Tanya (Bill's wife)

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