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Never Met Joel Spolsky But Thanks for Supporting Me on “Live Mess” May 1, 2008

Posted by John in Technology.
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I never met Joel Spolsky, but I gather that he is regarded as the ‘burning bush’ in some programming circles.  Regarding Live Mesh – Joel just validated my view with this post and probably speaks for other people who have computer science degrees and business savvy.  His post caught my interest because I took heat on my comments from Live Mesh while everyone like Scoble were doing handstands around Mesh.  I read one document and coined the term “Live Mess”.  I took the lumps from guys like Scoble and moved on.  Some folks love it but my impression was the same as Joels.  Will someone other than Microsoft tell me what Live Mesh solves.  I’m open to hearing anything relevant to the computer science, software, or services technology world that we live in today.

Joel says “the incredible amount of bombast; the heroic, utopian grandiloquence; the boastfulness; the complete lack of reality. And people buy it! The business press goes wild!” The hallmark of an architecture astronaut is that they don’t solve an actual problem… they solve something that appears to be the template of a lot of problems. Or at least, they try.”

Here are my tweets from the day of the announcment…

John Furrier Furrier @scobleizer first impression of under the covers is too complex – it’s an OS and not clear to me what it’s purpose is..seems bloated
John Furrier Furrier Microsoft launches new product – Live Mess
John Furrier Furrier microsoft marketing-make things as complex as possible – oh thats the product strategy as well..first impression of mess-too complex for ??
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Comments»

1. Mark Ashton - May 1, 2008

As your only reader I have to advise you that you don’t seem to know what you’re talking about. But I guess that’s what the Web is all about; spouting off about any topic regardless of whether you have any unique knowledge or value to add.

In case you are intersted in understanding MESH, here’s a very simple 101.

MESH, if done right, will solve a very important problem. Today people are flocking to pure Web-based appliations because they’re accessible anywhere, the data stays with the app and they don’t require any installation. The problem with that approach is that it turns all of our PC’s, Macs, phones and other computing devices into the modern equivalent of dumb terminals and results in a mediocre user experience overall. I, for one, like the experience I get with a good Mac or Windows appliation. They’re faster, usually have better graphics/visualizations and I control my own data.

MESH holds out the promise of the best of both worlds. Locally running software that roams with the user and adapts itself to the device it is accessed from. The user controls where their data goes form device to device or from device to the “cloud.” The user has the choice of a “pure” Web-based experience when he wants to (or has to) but also has the choice of locally running software.

2. Andrew - May 1, 2008

Joel’s post is a well-crafted polemic against Mesh (which may well deserve it). But it seems that the main motivation for the polemic is revealed toward the end: Microsoft, Mesh, and similar things employ CS grads, and thus push up Joel’s main expense.

3. John Furrier - May 1, 2008

Mark: Thanks for being my only reader – I appreciate the insult. Thanks for the insults and anytime you want to chat about systems and business I’d be glad to.

Thanks for the comment – I’m sure your views sell well to news bloggers but it took me one look over of the architecture slide to be skeptical. I certainly have unique knowledge of computer science, software, systems, business but you’re right I don’t have any knowledge of Live Mesh.

I like the idea of holding out for the promise of something.

4. John Furrier - May 1, 2008

Andrew: I never met Joel but in looking at the architecture slide I would have to agree with him. I’ve worked with Microsoft since the 80s and he is bringing up the old baggage going back to how they roll out systems. You might be correct on your last point on his frustration of hiring talent.

I know there are guys out at msft trying to do the right thing – like angry Mark above says “like having data move with apps..etc..). Microsoft is a battleship – hard to make massive moves fast.

5. Tom - May 1, 2008

I have to agree with the first commenter here (sorry). I’m pretty Anti-Mesh, even having gone on a little multi-day tirade against it on my own blog, but ideally it does solve several problems including data portability, offline data access, distributed identity, file editing collaboration, etc… Plus, again I say “ideally”, it solves all the problems of web based apps by allowing developers to return to a much more interactive Desktop model.

Again, I’m not endorsing Mesh I’m simply saying that , if people were to buy into the Mesh vision, it actually solves quite a bit.

6. John Furrier - May 1, 2008

oh mark: one more thing.. i didn’t mention that vaporware and hype don’t go well together. As you graduate from buzzword 101 take a look at the web. Also why would i need an app to roam the and run locally on my device when i have google gears and the web?

Also look at sharpcast they are shipping a product not vaporware.

7. John Furrier - May 1, 2008

Tom: blue sky vision I agree with but I’m skeptical… I buy the vision of the web not doubt and the value of networks and data.. I’m all for those ideas.. lets see the walk the talk and the steak to their sizzle.

8. fran - May 1, 2008

“it took me one look over of the architecture slide to be skeptical.”

another z-list blogger spouting off without actually using the product…

9. John Furrier - May 1, 2008

Fran: you’re a loser because I know who you are and where this comment came from.

10. Scott C. Lemon - May 2, 2008

I don’t know John … if I followed some of the arguments that have been written lately, then I could use them against any number of announcements – Ruby on Rails, Eclipse, Linux, Facebook, Jabber, just about anything that is a framework or a platform you could say “they don’t solve an actual problem… they solve something that appears to be the template of a lot of problems”.

It seems to me that it is exactly these powerful abstactions created by technologies that allow for “all ships to rise.” New creations can more easily be developed and layered on top of this new framework or platform. Developers can leverage these environments to do the grunt work for them … and create new solutions that they might not have pursued because of the depth of development required if they had to construct the entire project from top to bottom.

Although there are parts of Joel’s rant that touch on historical failures – a central part of learning – I’m not sure I can then say it’s all the same. (e.g. Silly Thomas Edison … one trick pony … is going to try even MORE materials to create a durable filiment for a light bulb? There are lots out there! And those Wright brothers … over and over trying the same thing! No one is demanding a way to fly!)

In the end, Mesh – if it has real value to developers – will be used and expand in the market. I’m still looking forward to learning more before I’ll jump in and make a negative call … :-)

11. Aris Hoffman - May 2, 2008

I was thinking the same thing that John was on the grand plan for Microsoft Mesh. The guy from Microsoft is so full of it. In the end Mesh will either be accepted or rejected by developers. There is cause to be devils advocate.


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