Don Dodge, Google and Developers Evangelism

I was just reading over at TechCrunch about Google quickly hiring Don Dodge after he was let go from Microsoft. It seems Don will be doing what he used to do at Microsoft – Developer Evangelism (good for him, and Google!).

I’m very happy to see that Google is putting their stock options and cash where their mouth is to evangelize their APIs, platforms (Android, AppEngine) and tools to developers.

A while back I wrote about the lack of Google’s outreach in the Israeli developers community, and it is still very visible in Israel by the jobs listings as well as various events and conventions that Microsoft Technology still dominates the Israeli high-tech software scene.

I do hope that hiring Don Dodge and keep on releasing tools, SDKs, Platforms and even languages such as the new Go programming language, to create the necessary diversification that every monopolized field needs.

I just hope that Google will start to do more than just very simple and shallow Dev Days in Israel and will start reaching out the community, specifically in Israel. I would like to see a Google I/O event in Israel and may be a couple of smaller events that dig down into code and details in a more intimate scenario with less people.

In general I would expect Google to start evangelizing in other countries and start having evangelists in every country they have an office. I would suggest Google to learn a bit from MSDN as well as the Microsoft Valued Professional (MVP) program – these tools are one of the best examples of creating a community based on core leaders that can drive the community as well as Google straight up.

Google is still light years from reaching the well oiled, well organized Microsoft evangelism machine and I hope Don and other will be able to make big leaps to close that gap.

My Google Development Community Piece was referenced at ZDNet

2 days ago I wrote a post about the lack of Google Israel’s involvement in the development community.

It seems that in most of the places (I’m sure in the US, I’m not sure if the rest of the development centers in South American and Europe have the same involvement) where Google has development centers they are a little more involved with the development community in the form of lecture, places to meet and chat, sponsoring events, etc.

I got referenced on ZDNet by Donna Bogatin (Thanks Donna! :-) ) in a post Donna wrote about a victory that Microsoft had over Google in Israel for an enterprise search engine.

There are a couple of things I wanted to comment about Donna’s post.

People need to realize that Microsoft had a presence in Israel for quite some time starting from the 1990 or so (if I’m not mistaken) and the first development center outside of the USA that Microsoft had was the one in Haifa, Israel.

There is a big and fat contract for the Israeli government as well as the Israeli education system with Microsoft, so there is no real wonder why Microsoft one this contract. Of course I might be off on this one since I lack all of the details, but its reasonable to assume that one less contractor and some other promises from Microsoft and the contact was sealed.

One anecdote is that the Israeli government helped to finance the Hebrew translation and major Hebrew support in OpenOffice (just go to openoffice.org.il – Hebrew Link – and see that the effort was sponsored by the Israeli ministry of finance). One of the reasons for this project was to enable every citizen and school to have an advanced word processor, spreadsheet editor, and other solutions in Hebrew and for free as part of the government of Israel’s online government project (which is quite advance in global terms as well).

This means that every school in Israel, the Israeli education system and all of the government offices could have migrated to a pure Hebrew OpenOffice and save a lot of money (and there are better uses for this money in Israel. Trust me) instead of getting a contract from Microsoft to supply it’s Office suite.

Of course, even though the government paid for the translation and migration of OpenOffice to Hebrew, Microsoft still won the contract (probably because the government didn’t want to move to another operating system and retrain the staff) and Israel got a “real deal” so that it paid quite a few bucks for that.

There are rumors Steve Ballmer’s visit a few years back was the one that made the deal very lucrative for the Israeli government and closed the deal.

Now I know it sounds like I’m yet another Microsoft basher and it might be partially true. I am, however, proficient and trained enough in Microsoft technologies. I even have an Advanced .NET Debugging blog and I have worked (and still working) with Microsoft technologies for a good part of my professional life.

I do, however, feel comfortable in Linux and non MS technologies (both Web and non web).

On the other hand I’m not an MS zealot as well as not an open source zealot. I believe that the right tools should be used for the right cause and circumstances and I do believe in open and good competition which is a bit lacking in Israel at the moment, at least from the development community side.

As I’ve said in the previous post, the open source community in Israel is quite alive and kicking and they do have conferences and group meetings, but its mainly based on the good will of good people to organize and make sure things like a Linux Installfest and the Israeli Open Source developers conference still happens, usually with a very small participation and/or funding of the “big companies”.

I just hope that one of the Googlers here or in the US read about it and decide to act upon it :-)

Google Israel – Where Art Thou in the Development Community?

I know that Google‘s original Googleplex at Mountain View is very active for non googlers. There are frequent open lectures there and they host a bunch of other things like Summer of Code (well, not always host, but sponsor and make sure people know about it) and Google Developer Day (which is happening at 10 different locations worldwide, but NOT in Israel).

I know there are suppose to be two development centers in Israel, one in Haifa (which I know is located in MATAM cause you can see it from road #2 leading from Tel Aviv to Haifa near Intel and Microsoft Haifa) but I have no idea where the other development center in Israel is located, other than the fact that its suppose to be in the Tel Aviv area.

I don’t know how active Google is in the development community in other countries besides the US but I think that Google Israel (and the rest of Google) as well as the rest of the development community in Israel will benefit if they’ll open up a bit and become a major player in the development community.

Microsoft Israel figured this out a long time ago and there are quite a few communities (warning: Hebrew link) that meet once a month. There is also at least one full time Microsoft employee (at least that I know of) that is logistically leading this effort and making sure everyone stay happy and use MS products. I don’t even talk about the big events Microsoft Israel holds at least once a year to show off new things and to educate people about the new technology.

I guess this effort paid off since most of the companies developing in Israel today (and quite a few startups, even in the web 2.0 arena) are using Microsoft technologies and not Open Source products and technologies.

If Google Israel (hopefully the R&D part) will open up a bit and start hosting lectures and events in Israel, the same way the original Googleplex (and possibly other Google centers around the world, I don’t really know) does, the Israeli development community may gain a valuable player that can educate people about the usage of Open Source development environment, products and solutions.

It can become a driving force that can change how the Israeli development community looks and acts.

I’m not saying there is no open source community and activity in Israel. There is quite a few. Heck, even PHP (from v3 I think) is in part Israeli and Zend (the company behind PHP which supports its development) is in Israel. There are more than a few Linux kernel hackers that I know of that contribute on a daily basis to the Linux kernel and other sub systems and more than a few companies that base their products on open source products and give back to the community in the form of patches, fixes and features.

What I am saying is that having a major player that can concentrate the efforts and help cultivate and educate the development community in Israel on things other than Microsoft and Microsoft Technologies can have a major effect on the Israeli development community and there is no better time than now.

If one of you Israeli Googlers are reading this, you are more than welcome to comment or even comment privately directly to me.

Of course, I might be imaging all of this but some quick Google searches didn’t put anything up in an obvious way.

Speaking of development and the development community, since MS already has a development center in Israel (and is creating additional ones besides the one in Haifa) and Google has 2 development centers in Israel, where is Yahoo? I guess that’s something for another post :-)

Forgive me Outlook for I have sinned (not)

Forgive me Outlook for I have sinned.

I have been using you as one of the primary communication tools that I have form your very first days. I have stayed within the 2Gb PST file limits but when I was told that Outlook 2003 can hold up to 20Gb I have rejoiced, joyed and thanked you for your kindness.

I still dreaded the old 2Gb limitation but decide to look forward for a better future. I therefore installed Outlook 2007 blindfold as I have known that each version of Outlook brings it’s own bliss and helpfulness to the world.

But oh and behold, my mail downloads prolonged. Is it thy punishment for my ever increasing in size PST? Am I guilty of not enabling “Auto Archive” and splitting my PST files?

Perhaps I was still good this year, for you have sent me a savior in the form of this fix

Seriously now… I have discovered this fix via this post in Download Squad and the responds from Outlook’s PM was very annoying:

“Outlook wasn’t designed to be a file dump, it was meant to be a communications tool…There is that fine line, but we don’t necessarily want to optimize the software for people that store their e-mail in the same .PST file for ten years.”

While it may be true that it wasn’t designed to hold ten years of mail, this is certainly not the first or second version of Outlook. If you’ll take the accumulated usage hours of Outlook of all the people on this planet you’ll amount to thousands (if not more than that) of man years.

Do you want to tell me that all of the MS employees don’t have PST files larger than 1Gb? Do you want to tell me that after 5 years of developing Office 2007 and thousands of hours of dog fooding Outlook 2007 within Microsoft you didn’t check an average user’s PST file to see that its well beyond 500Mb? I don’t save 10 years of Email on my main PST file, mostly from the years that the PST was limited to 2Gb, but I do have 2 years and its more than 500Mb.

It’s you that decided to add RSS feeds into the PST file which means MORE information is placed inside the PST file not less. You should have seen that coming. Really.

Perhaps now is the time to chip in and help the new versions of Thunderbird (the Release Candidate for 2 looks really well) and combined with Lightning (the project to add Calendaring abilities to Thunderbird) and create a decent and usable replacement for Outlook!

Outlook 2007, you have failed me and robbed me of my productivity time while I waited for my mail to download. I’m afraid its time to pick up a fight and make sure that the best PIM software really wins.

Stop the PIM tyranny and join forces to beat the beast. Competition will make it better and we will all rejoice in reclaiming our mailbox as well as our lost Email download time.

Google openning a second research center in Israel

According to this, Google is opening an R&D center in Israel in the Tel Aviv area.
This is the second center, the first one opened in Haifa.

Microsoft has a research center in Haifa from 1991 and it was published in the Israeli press (sorry, I couldn’t find an English reference for this) that they are planning to open another research center in the Tel Aviv area.

The only company now from the big GYM (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft) that doesn’t have an R&D presence here in Israel is Yahoo.

What are they waiting for? Perhaps they don’t view Israel as an important part of their R&D strategy (unlike Microsoft and Google).

Google will open up an R&D Center in Israel

According to this link in Globes, the Israeli Business newspaper, Google is going to open up an R&D center in Israel in the second quarter. The center will be led by Dr. Yoelle Maarek, a long time (17 years) veteran of IBM’s research labs and will be located in the northern city of Haifa (near the Technion, surprise surprise)

The only company out of the big 3, a.k.a, GYM (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft), that has an R&D center in Israel is Microsoft. Yahoo had something in the first bubble and after the explosion of the first bubble it was quickly closed.

This comes a little bit after Google opened an office for marketing purposes in Israel and is now hiring.

Its going to be very interesting from a few points of view:

  1. Microsoft’s R&D center in Israel is located in Haifa as well.
  2. IBM’s Research Labs are also located in Haifa
  3. The Technion, Israel’s leading technical university is also located in Haifa, meaning, plenty of Software Engineers from the top of the line of the academy in Israel.

Microsoft’s R&D center mainly focuses on security and, if I’m not mistaken, was the place of birth for COM+ and some other interesting technologies. While no one knows for sure what Google will develop in Israel, I wonder how Microsoft is going to react to that.

It’s also going to be very interesting as to what Yahoo will do with this and if they are willing to take another shot at Israel.

The arena in Israel is heating up, that’s for sure.

Windows (Alta) Vista

I just found out about the new name of the previously Windows code named “Longhorn”.

Guess what, it called Windows Vista.

Now I wonder who is the smart-ass marketing guy that thought about that?
What is this? half resurrecting dead Digital Corp. companies?

The year branding (95,98,2000,2003) I could live with, the XP signature was OK (at least it sounded good) but VISTA?!

I guess Office will be the next thing to lose the year branding (although it lost it in XP and gained it back in 2003).

Perhaps the real reason and its impact is hidden from me because I’m not a marketing guy and/or your average Joe in computing.

Only time will tell.

I just hope that they will come to their senses like they did in Windows 2003 (which was previously named .NET Server in most Betas).

AJAX

Its nice to see that MS has finally concluded that AJAX is a technology that is worthy of getting frameworktized into the .NET Framework :-)

If you don’t want to wait for “Atlas” and you need to use this technology in .NET Framework 1.1 I would like to suggest Ajax.NET written by Michael Schwartz.

It’s well designed and written piece of software which is now even open sourced (Thanks Michael!).

I’m sure MS will borrow a few things from it for “Atlas”.

PDC 2005 – What shall I do?

I just read in my Roy’s blog about the contest Channel9 is holding in which you can get free lodging, enterance and $1000 travel fair for the PDC 2005.

You can do that by either blogging your way in or code your way in using Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 and the Shareware Starter Kit.

Now I’m in a bit of a dilema.
a) I doubt that my current employer will pay for this.
b) If I’ll go privately it will cost a lot of money and I will have to use my vacation days (which essentially can also be translated into money) which I want to utilize to better things like go to Thailand ;-).
c) I can try and blog myself in, but I doubt I will be able to compete with anyone.
d) I can write something up with the Shareware starter kit.

I guess option “D” is the most viable one for me but now I need a good idea, plus I need this to be a shareware (even though I don’t actually want to do this to get money).

I can understand that the reason behind this competition is to get some more software written in Visual Studio 2005 and to promote the Shareware Starter Kit idea (plus its supporting 3rd party hosts).
Maybe they should change it into a DonateWare (of the good kind) competition.
All entries MUST have their payments donated to some organization that can receive donations using PayPal or something like that.

Of well… If you have any interesting ideas, be sure to Email them to me :-)