COMMENTARY: Satya Nadella’s FY15 letter to Microsoft employees

July 17, 2014

imageOn July 10th, 2014, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella penned a letter to Microsoft employees that was made public here:

One of the biggest themes of Satya’s letter was “experiences”.  As a brief exercise, go to Satya’s letter and search on the word, “experiences” and you’ll see highlighted, how many times the word is used.  (tl;dr: It’s 23)

Satya is making a very strong statement here about the future of Microsoft:  Microsoft’s focus is “the experience” that our customers have with Microsoft solutions.  It’s not about a specific product, new technology or feature, but the end-to-end experience our customer has.  This has a number of implications for the future:

  • Create a consistent experience.  Experiences are to be created across technologies – even technologies not owned by Microsoft.  The days of duplicate features across monolithic Microsoft products just because it’s “not invented here” are at an end.  If another Microsoft team has a feature you need, leverage theirs to make them successful, but ultimately, do what’s best to a provide a solution that fits in the larger vision & delivers a consistent experience for customers.
  • Start with the customer experience.  The final experience customers want is what Microsoft will start with, not just the foundational APIs & services that underlie the solution.  If features are missing, the words “you can script that” or “just write a program”, while likely true, shouldn’t be the 1st thing Microsoft responds with.  Understanding how we should prioritize that feature to benefit the customer against other customer needs & then iterating quickly while providing transparency around our development plans going forward should be our aggregate response – this is all part of the experience.

I think the recent trend of taking customer input on Microsoft solutions through UserVoice has been not only refreshing but also a testimony to how our company is evolving going forward.  Welcome to the era of “customers provide input often to product groups” & “help us directly prioritize what is most important?”.

For those of you that have been in the industry for a while, our DNA-level focus on the “end user experience” moving forward at Microsoft should sound a little familiar to you:

Steve Jobs Insult Response

(BTW: ZDnet journalist, Ed Bott, did quite a good job summarizing most of the points of the letter.  Overall it’s an excellent post:

I like the closing message of this video.

July 14, 2014

A golden retriever tries to befriend a child with Down’s Syndrome.

Sweet Mama Dog Interacting with a Beautiful Child with Down Syndrome

Giving. Gets me every time.

July 11, 2014

Damn.  This video from a year ago made the rounds again and it gets me every time I see it for very personal reasons.

Giving is the best communication

Best homecoming video ever.

July 5, 2014

Such a heart-warming video.  One of the best I’ve seen.  Howling in happiness included.

Sweet Dog Cries for Joy in His Soldier Daddy’s Lap

Originally found on:

Our partnership with “Star Trek: Into Darkness”

June 12, 2014

About a year ago, we had a massive, multi-divisional partnership with J.J. Abrams & Star Trek: Into Darkness to promote the movie & our solutions.  I’ve never posted the photos from that event but I thought it might be cool to do so for posterity.  Because y’never know when we’ll do something like this again.

Red Carpet viewing at El Capitan Theatre In Hollywood.


Talent signings… Alice Eve & John Cho below.


Alice Eve & John Cho are two of the nicest actors you’ll ever meet. 
And in case it hasn’t been said, Alice Eve is stunning in person.  And you might not know it at first, but John Cho?  The dude is ripped.  He looks like a professional basketball player.


My son shared his favorite toy, ‘doggie’, with Alice Eve.  She was so taken by him that we held up the meet-and-greet line that you see in the background for several minutes while she played with him.


Know Your Fallacies

June 12, 2014

I love this summary.


Esquire on “How to Drink all night without Getting Drunk”

May 22, 2014

Ah.  The secret is out.  Posting for reference for certain individuals.

The Problem with Facebook

April 23, 2014

I agree with Veritasium wholeheartedly on this topic, but I’ve never seen it put so eloquently.  (I may disagree with his assessment of online video’s opportunity but that’s another story):

The Problem With Facebook

Allow me to summarize:


This is angering both their users & their advertisers… and they’ve only just started.

I will add in one more thought:  I’ve spoken with a very intelligent, highly credentialed researcher who’s been invited to both tour & speak in front of virtually all the major online players including Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, Yahoo, Twitter, Instagram,  Yelp, FourSquare, Tumblr, etc. 

He made a few very sobering comments:

  1. He understood the monetization model very clearly for all the major online players that he’d visited & could see the growth trajectory for all of them… except Facebook.
  2. He noticed that Facebook, fascinatingly, even with its billion users, can’t seem to get even a small fraction of their users to provide credit cards, leaving them entirely at the mercy of their advertising strategies.
  3. He noted that based on his discussions with Facebook strategists, it seemed clear that they were riding a wave and even with their massive graph, they seemed confused as to how they were going to continue to grow.

He had several other things to say that I can’t post here but the jist is that he was least confident in Facebook’s long term potential amongst all the companies he’s been invited to.  So when I see things like the model described in the above video, it becomes apparent to me that Facebook, for all it’s growth & size, still hasn’t been able to persistently monetize its user base for long term growth.

I’m curious what that means for them long term.

One of my favorite books of all time: “Dvorak Predicts” by John C. Dvorak

April 13, 2014

WP_20140228_15_53_02_Pro (1)A technology pundit & journalist, John C. Dvorak, once wrote a book back in 1994-ish called “Dvorak Predicts” in which he made a series of gloriously hilarious predictions.

I know this because in my early 20’s I spent a lot of time in the local Barnes & Noble and parsed through all sorts of real winners on the computer bookshelves.  Back then there was a gut of publishers like Que, SAMS, Wiley, O’Reilly, Sybex, etc. just cranking out books as fast as they could… because the public was buying up tech books like crazy.  And a good barometer of how successful a product was was based on how many 3rd party books were written about it.

One could say that, with the writing of this book, Dvorak was simply capitalizing on that trend.  Folks were looking for the next big thing, and a book “predicting the future” might provide a glimpse into what that “big thing” was.  Even though it ended up being horribly inaccurate.

Anyway – back to Dvorak’s predictions:  Let’s celebrate a few of the doozies here, shall we?

  1. WP_20140228_15_54_05_ProStrong OS/2 Usage Will Confuse the Market”
    This one’s like shootin’ fish in a barrel and a history lesson all in one.  I have to believe Dvorak was simply blinded by his religion for OS/2 and this chapter was just wishful thinking on his part.  Windows at the time of publishing was already showing signs of taking off with Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and the availability of the free “TCP/IP-32bit for Windows” (codenamed “Wolverine”) was single-handedly pushing networked Windows into the stratosphere and killing the business of companies like Wollongong, Hummingbird, and other folks that actually SOLD TCP/IP stacks.

    I grew up in both Silicon Valley as well as with Financial Services.  And I grew up in a IBM family to boot:  I knew only one guy that used OS/2.  And he was from IBM.  And he had the same technical religion around the product as Dvorak did – while ignoring the fact that things like developer ecosystem, hardware partnerships, marketing, and evolutionary transitions, all are equally important elements to the success of a product.

  2. WP_20140228_15_54_36_Pro“Windows NT is Already Dead”
    Technology historians reading this one probably just spit up their coffee.  For the millenials in the audience, Windows NT was the first true multitasking, microkernel based operating system that Microsoft produced & it thrived so much that it evolved over the last 20 years to eventually became the Windows 7 & 8 that we know today. 

    To reiterate how off this prediction was, Windows NT improved year over year to become the core of the #1 computer operating system in the world.  One can only chalk up Dvorak’s words to his pro-OS/2 bias and his apparent thinking that for OS/2 to success, Windows NT must fail.

  3. WP_20140228_15_56_02_Pro“The Pentium Will Mark the End of the Line for the 80X86 Family”
    Again, technology religion and his adoration of RISC’s purported elegance is likely what spurred upon this ‘prediction’.  Dvorak was a huge supporter of all things RISC and if you really want to get technical, ARM chips, the processors that power virtually all smartphones & the majority of tablets in the mobile world, is a RISC derivative so one could say that RISC “won” in terms of volume.

    But Intel’s x86 line of CISC processors never “ended” in deference to RISC architecture and that was the context in which he wrote this statement. 

VIDEO: People come to the rescue

April 12, 2014

Yeah, the moose one was brutal but the elephant?  If you’re an animal lover, go get a tissue box.

People come to the rescue

I saved this video to my desktop. To remind myself.

April 8, 2014

Hope you’ve got tissue.

This 3 Minute Video Made Me Cry, And I Never Cry. Must See For Everyone.

The Importance of Doing Your Research Before Upgrading Phones (Digging into the Nokia Lumia Icon)

March 30, 2014

UPDATE – 5/16/14
Nokia/Verizon fixed the issue with a firmware update & I can now leave my Wifi on all day without fear of it rapidly draining my battery in a couple hours. 

It looks like the issue had something to do with power regulation to the Wifi transceiver, partially due to the distance between the phone and the wireless access point.  The farther away you are from the WAP, the more power would be consumed – by an exponential amount.  I could consume 33% of all my battery in 1 hour of use.

To make matters worse, the WAP signal appeared to the phone as “weak”, which may account for the reason it amped up the power to the transceiver.  What would normally be a strong signal for any other wireless device listed as a “1-bar” signal on the Icon.  Now I get 4-5 bars from the same distance from the WAP now that I have the firmware update.

Much happier.

imageIt’s been years since I’ve actually really did hardcore comparisons between the phone I have and the phone that I upgrade to.  Most of the time, it’s assuming that the next generation is gonna be:

  • Brighter, more beautiful
  • Faster, more powerful
  • Improved feature set
  • Long lived battery life

Well, turns out that isn’t exactly the case with my upgrade from my Nokia Lumia 928 to the Nokia Lumia Icon on Verizon Wireless.

The simple fact is I wanted a better camera than what the Lumia 928 offered with it’s 8.7Mp camera, and the Lumia Icon (929) offered that with it’s 20Mp camera.

Oh sure there were other things like a larger 5” screen, an AMOLED display, full 1080 HD resolution, a faster processor, stuff like that… but it’s the CAMERA that I needed.  When you have a kid, a dog, and travel a lot, you really need a good camera, not to say the 928’s camera was bad… it’s just that the AT&T Nokia Lumia 1080 produced GORGEOUS photos and I wanted something like that.

So when I finally upgraded to the Nokia Lumia Icon (929), I was elated to see the 20Mp photo resolution… the incredible zoom to 5Mp… the awesome point & click intelligence of the camera software.  And then I discovered that within a single 1080 HD START screen, using it’s 3 columns of tiles, I could fit virtually all the important applications I wanted there – requiring ZERO scrolling to get to any app.


Then I noticed something:  The battery was down to ~80% already after an hour and a half.  That’s odd, I thought, but I didn’t think much of it until later in the day after I’d used it for basic reading only, when I looked at the battery meter again later in the day and I was at 30%.

Whoa.  To be clear, on my Nokia Lumia 928, I RARELY dropped below 50% throughout the day.  This was unchartered territory for modern smartphones for me.  And then eventually the phone shutdown – out of power.  This isn’t something I’ve had to deal with in a long time.

So if you look into the specifications of the two phones, something clearly stands out.  I’ve highlighted the “better” features in GREEN and the “weaker” features in YELLOW for each model:

Detailed specifications for the Nokia Lumia 928.

    Showcase Features
    Main camera sensor: 8.7 MP PureView.
    Display size: 4.5”.

    Processor name: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ S4.
    Maximum talk time (3G): 17h.
    Maximum music playback time: 63h.

    Battery model: BV-4NW .
    Battery capacity: 2000 mAh.
    Battery voltage: 3.8 V.
    Removable battery: No .
    Maximum standby time: 25 days.
    Maximum talk time (2G): 11.8 h.
    Maximum talk time (3G): 17 h.
    Maximum music playback time: 63 h.
    Maximum video playback time: 6.3 h.
    Maximum cellular network browsing time: 6.3 h.
    Maximum Wi-Fi network browsing time: 7 h.

    Detailed specifications for the Nokia Lumia Icon.

    Showcase Features
    Main camera sensor: 20 MP, PureView.
    Display size: 5”.

    Display resolution: Full HD (1920 x 1080).
    Processor name: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 800.
    Maximum talk time (3G): 16.4h.
    Battery capacity: 2420mAh.
    Wireless charging: Built-in (Qi standard).

    Battery model: BV-5QW .
    Battery capacity: 2420 mAh.
    Battery voltage: 3.8 V.
    Removable battery: No .
    Maximum standby time: 18 days.
    Maximum talk time (3G): 16.4 h.
    Maximum music playback time: 75 h.
    Maximum video playback time: 9 h.
    Maximum cellular network browsing time: 6.8 h.
    Maximum Wi-Fi network browsing time: 9.2 h.
    Wireless charging: Built-in (Qi standard) .

This is weird.  Buried within the stats, apparently:

    When the device is standing by, the Nokia Lumia 928 provides 33% more battery life than the Nokia Lumia Icon.
    When the device is being used for voice calls, the Nokia Lumia 928 runs about 40 min longer than the Nokia Lumia Icon.
    When the device is playing music or videos, the Nokia Lumia Icon provide 20% more battery life than the Nokia Lumia 928.
    When the device is doing anything intensely over WiFi or CDMA/LTE, the Nokia Lumia Icon provides anywhere between 5%-30% more battery life than the Nokia Lumia 928.

So by all intents and purposes, based on the specs, the Nokia Lumia Icon appears to be a bit even, right?

The problem is, the specs don’t measure “general use” time.  In other words, what is the average battery life of the device when it’s used for activities other than media & wireless networking like:

  • reading email
  • viewing tweets
  • skimming RSS feeds
  • reading eBooks
  • viewing/taking photos

These are non/light networking tasks & coincidentally, these are the activities, I spend most of my time doing.  So I ended up researching general benchmarks and wow.   There’s some stuff that’s been published recently that confirms what I suspected:

  • GSMARENA: Nokia Lumia Icon battery life test
    Their findings are a bit under what the specs state for talk time & video playback but web browsing at 5.1hrs is 25% below the spec rating of 6.8hrs.  That’s not good.  Most people believe this has to be a bug in Verizon’s implementation because no other Windows Phone has this low a web browsing performance.
  • PHONEARENA: Nokia Lumia Icon Benchmarks
    This was one of my favorite benchmarks.  Running typical heavy workloads on the phone to simulate real-life usage, the Nokia Lumia Icon’s battery life lasted ~5 hrs, about the same length as the Google Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S4, and the Apple iPhone 5S.  They did not benchmark the Nokia Lumia 928 however which I think would have been a very interested test.

So there’s clearly something there, where the Icon appears to chew battery more so than the 928.  I’m currently testing it with power usage optimizations applied to it such as:

  • Disabling NFC/tap-to-send
  • Disabling Location-based Services
  • Applying “battery saver”

We’ll see how that works out.

There’s been some other weirdness as well with my Icon.

    I don’t know if it’s my device specifically but I’ve noticed that the device sometimes doesn’t start charging on the charging plate & I don’t know why.  Removing it and putting it back on does nothing and only until I plug it into a USB source does it start charging.
    Charging appears slow relative to the 928 – how much I couldn’t say.  Part of this may have to do with my use of USB chargers that are sub-1mA.  Meanwhile, the charger that comes with the phone is an unusual 1.5mA USB micro charger that borders the charging strength of most tablets which use 2.1mA.
    Also, the WiFi seems to be weaker.  There is very clearly a signal difference in my home between the reception than the 928 got and that which the Icon gets – almost 50% less.
    As documented in the PhoneArena benchmarks, the live camera video seems to react slower when taking photos, but also, the video preview on the screen seems to have a refresh frequency that is very noticably behind a bit which is annoying.  I assume that has to do with, again, the new 1920×1080 screen resolution, but still, I assumed that this would be taken care of due to the Qualcomm Snapdragon’s efficient integrated GPU, which is what give it it’s longer battery life when executing video playback.

Should college admissions be based on race? (a.k.a. Here we go again)

February 27, 2014

So first they decide that race should have some bearing on whether or not you’re accepted to a UC school to “diversity” reasons. 

Then they decide that race should have no relevance in college acceptance.  Intellect & preparedness is king.

Now that Asians represent 40% of UC/CalState collegiate admissions… the powers that be have decided that maybe race should have bearing on admissions after all… to the detriment of the Asian population of California.

Just… wow.

Please read and decide if this is a petition that you would like to sign (or send to anyone living in CA who is willing to participate in this petition).

The CA Senate voted on 1/30/14 to approve Senate Constitution Amendment No. 5 (SCA 5), which would allow the State of California to deny an individual or group’s rights to public education on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
Prop. 209 currently prohibits CA government institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity, specifically in the areas of 1) public employment, 2) public contracting or 3) public education.

Now SCA5 seeks to remove “public education” – so that means race/ethnicity WILL be considered in UC/Cal State admissions. If that’s the case, Asian students will be severely disadvantaged since Asians are “over-represented” in the UC system already.

What it really could mean
With 15% percent of the population in CA, Asian students may be “stuck” with a glass ceiling of 15% of the UC student body (as opposed to about 40% now). If you feel it’s NOT FAIR, then please go here to sign a Petition:

Please forward this message to your friends who are concerned about this issue as well.

Bars across the US react to T.J. Oshie’s final shot on goal in Team USA Hockey vs. Russia in 2014 Olympics

February 16, 2014

I just love this.  Best moment of the 2014 Olympics yet.

USA Hockey T.K. Oshie GWG vs. Russia in Columbus, Ohio
2014 Olympic Men’s Hockey Win Reaction at Mulligan’s Pub in New Jersey
2014 Sochi Olympics: USA Men’s Hockey defeats Russia in shootout–reaction from Starting Point Bar & Grill in Bayonne, New Jersey

The funniest thing I will see in all of 2014.

February 14, 2014
Anchor Confuses Samuel L. Jackson with Laurence Fishburne live on air on KTLA


So in fairness, I decided that Sam Rubin’s apology should also be posted here… because I actually believe his explanation.  I’ve been in awkward situations before where you don’t really want to call out your customer publicly for misinterpreting your intentions and this is clearly one of those times.

In Sam’s case, it’s obvious from the opening question that he was referring to the Captain America commercial in which Sam Jackson WAS in during the Super Bowl, and NOT the Matrix-esque commercial that Lawrence Fishburne was in.

If you’ve ever has a customer misinterpret what you’ve said in front of their boss (in this case for Jackson, the viewing public) you don’t embarrass them:  You take the hit – no matter how ruthless – and let them save face.

I don’t know anything about you, dude, but good on you, Sam Rubin.

Sam Rubin of KTLA apologizes to Samuel L. Jackson

The story of Reggie, the adopted dog

January 30, 2014

First of all, let me say that the following is, at best, unverified.  That being said, I love reading this story so I don’t care.  So for those of you who love animal adoption as much as I do, here it is…. the story of Reggie.


Soledad O’Brien tells a wonderful story… about Starfish

January 20, 2014

imageI’m sitting in a talk by Soledad O’Brien on Martin Luther King Day.

She tells a story about a child that sees that the tide has washed up on the shore, thousands of starfish. 

So he picks up on and throws it back into the ocean.  A man comes by and asks what he’s doing so he explains what happened.

The man says:

“What’s the point?  There’s too many on the beach.  What you’re doing… it’s not going to matter.”

The child looks down, throws another starfish into the ocean, and says:

“I think it mattered to that one.”

Google Blackmail.

December 17, 2013

Google Blackmail: “Either you sign up for Google Plus or we release all the private information we know about you.”

Google Blackmail

As a relatively recent father… I adore this ad.

December 16, 2013

Nothing better or funnier than the truth.  The rapid fire, no holds barred truth.

Coca Cola Life – Ser Padres HD

Taken from:

Why it doesn’t matter where next-gen consoles are sold during the holiday season

December 15, 2013

imageEveryone agrees that there’s a shortage of next-generation console units to buy, right?  Demand is outpacing supply, right?  There’s a limited number of consoles for each platform whether it’s Xbox One or Playstation 4.  It’s a good bet that the numbers are roughly the same given that both companies launched their consoles around roughly the same time, (PS4 had a 1 week longer) have the same manufacturing capabilities, and are shipping units as fast as they can make them.

In fact, let’s just say hypothetically, each company manufactured 2,000,000 units, give or take 300,000.

So along comes a media flack that announces:

“Well, Microsoft had to ship Xbox One in 9 countries to make their 1st million units sold, whereas Sony shipped PS4 in only the US to sell their 1st million.  Clearly, Sony’s doing got better momentum & I expect them to grow faster once they are able to generate more supply.”

Excuse me, but what difference does it make what country or countries the sales come from?

Again, there were a limited, finite number of consoles available worldwide & both Microsoft & Sony sold out of the units they had available after week one.  The only difference was where each company shipped the units they had manufactured.  Sure Microsoft could have focused all their sales in the US by making the Xbox One only available in the US and ignoring Europe, but instead it made units available in 9 countries.  This was done likely with the knowledge that Xbox fans in the US would still purchase consoles later, if they couldn’t get one at launch.

A few thoughts on this:

    Those 8 other countries gamers ought to be thanking Microsoft for not ignoring them like Sony did on day one.  This of course wasn’t entirely altruistic.  Having a worldwide launch helped jumpstart Xbox One in markets in which it wasn’t as strong as competitors.
    A worldwide launch generates more buzz that a US-only one.  One might also say that given the dominant strength that the Xbox brand has in the US, the US isn’t the place for Xbox to focus their efforts, knowing that it would do exceptionally well locally anyway. 
    Anyone pointing out North America sales versus European sales are morons.  The only thing these figures tell us is how many units each company shipped to those geographies – that’s all.  Each company is selling out of all stock on hand worldwide.
    Some like highlight that Playstation 4 has sold more consoles to date, forgetting that Xbox One has been in market for only 3 weeks as of 12/14/13 while Playstation 4 has been in market 4 weeks.  33% longer.  33% more manufactured units.  33% retail sales.
    No one is mentioning that Xbox One is selling more units per week worldwide than Playstation 4.  In other words, there’s more Xbox One’s being manufactured that Playstation 4s and those units are getting shipped and sold to people now, capturing early marketshare.  Now, this is a thought worth noting because how do you figure this is possible if the manufacturing capacities are the same between Sony & Microsoft?

    The answer lies in how the consoles were designed.

One of the things that the Xbox One team did was they chose to use current generation RAM/memory a.k.a. DDR3, instead of the rarer, more difficult to manufacture GDDR5.  This eliminated a significant potential manufacturing bottleneck for Xbox One:  Instead of being constrained to the supply of GDDR5 memory available in the world, (again, GDDR5 is much more difficult to manufacture in volume while providing arguable performance benefit for games) Xbox One would be able to build more consoles and get them to market quicker (by using more readily available DDR3) than consoles that would otherwise require DDR5 like PlayStation 4.

Note that this was a lesson learned by Microsoft from the Nintendo Wii.  To this day people often forget that the winner of the last generation console wars at least on console sales, was the Nintendo Wii, selling more consoles than Sony & Microsoft combined due it’s ability to manufacture systems simply by using last gen, readily available components & parts.

Microsoft didn’t go nearly the same lengths that Nintendo did on the Wii with the Xbox One.  While it does have a state-of-the-art 8 core CPU & next gen GPU along with 8GB of RAM, 500GB of storage, Ethernet port, & Blu-ray Drive, it’s usage of DDR3 provides a manufacturing capacity edge that allows Microsoft to manufacture more consoles without being constrained by worldwide memory yields of the newer memory.

The bottom line of all of this however is that we really won’t know solidly which console comes out ahead until at least a few quarters have passed.  By then we’ll have seen whether Microsoft’s strategy of:

  • Distributing consoles outside of the US early on
  • Tooling its design for early console availability
  • Creating an entertainment console with TV integration
  • Backending Xbox One with a massive number of cloud services
  • Engineering Kinect 2 as a essential part of the console

…will have paid off.


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