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Monday, March 28, 2005

The Wall Street Journal reported today on Microsoft Founder Bill Gates’ "Think Week," a time when Mr. Gates goes into seclusion to ponder the future of the company. During the week, Mr. Gates is said to read some 100 papers written by Microsoft executives, product managers, and software engineers. One of the topics on his list was a paper entitled "The Virtual Earth". What is it? The WSJ did not elaborate but it mentions that the paper received much attention and that MapPoint General Manager Stephen Lawler was called to a meeting to discuss the paper’s merits. In general, the vision was endorsed and the fallout may result in sweeping changes and new products. The only glimpse we get of this vision is that Gates mentions future mapping services that include details on how consumers will receive real-time traffic conditions and travel directions with live image of destinations.

OK…well, there it is. Live traffic feeds. The future. Fantastic.
I’m selling my stock in MSFT now if that’s the vision.

I don’t really believe that anyone, including the WSJ, would get even the smallest morsel of the vision Gates signed off on. And I surely hope the article’s author didn’t come away with the feeling that live traffic feeds are the future of mapping technology and real-time data deliver to wireless devices. If it is, please, someone give him the URL to Directions for a little enlightenment! I think the article was a tease and a reward to the WSJ for getting invited to Gates’ hideaway, where apparently no journalist has had the pleasure of visiting.

But something is up at Microsoft’s MapPoint Group, because it was mentioned more than once in the article. I suspect that the WSJ author Robert Guth got to see something. It is a shame that he could not more clearly articulate what was shown to him. It only continues to demonstrate to me just how clueless the general business press is to the oncoming influence of location technology on enterprise computing and consumer applications.

But Microsoft is in need of some vision. They have strayed down the path of mobile location-based applications and have yet to set the pace in anything especially in location-enabliing SQL Server. Yes, MapPoint is a very successful product and its online web service is picking up market share. But please don’t tell me the vision is just real-time data for traffic. I’d like to hear the vision, Mr. Gates. You’re invited to our conference on Location Technology… I’ll swap you my vision for yours.


by Joe Francica on 03/28 at 09:22 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

In the April 4th issue of Business Week, Autodesk is ranked 25th of the magazine’s Top 50 companies. The company was cited for improving sales and shareholder value during a "rebound in technology spending" along with its ability to cut costs and continued product innovation. Recently, we commented in this section on some misques in public relations as it rolled out Autodesk 2006. [See also our article on GIS products] Still some believe Autodesk knows exactly what it is doing. It has both expaned into areas beyond its CAD origins, such as its foray into media and gaming through its Discreet product line and into location-based services with LocationLogic solutions. At times, the product strategy looks disjointed but perhaps that’s just another way to keep trade journalists like us and its competitors off guard.


by Joe Francica on 03/28 at 07:20 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The CAD Society, a not-for-profit CAD industry association, announced the winner of the newly renamed 2005 Joe Greco Community Award. The award is presented annually Уto one individual who has distinguished themselves by improving communication and developing community within the CAD industry.Ф This year it goes to Lynn Allen of Autodesk. Her title: worldwide Autodesk Technical Evangelist. Basically, itТs her job to improve communication and develop community. DonТt get me wrong, Lynn does a great job. And, if you think she makes it look easy up on stage at Autodesk University and on other stages, in cafeterias and other venues worldwide, she works very hard to make those events entertaining and educational. We really need someone like that for the GIS community. Nominations?

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/28 at 07:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

IТve been learning about the mechanics of the Boston Marathon via friends who are running it this year. The geography of the start intrigues me. This week number assignments were made. ThereТs a website where runners can key in their name and learn their number. Since 20,000 people run, the numbers can get pretty high. Numbers are assigned based on qualifying times, fast people in the front, slower ones in the back. Each 1000 runners is assigned to a corral, a holding pen for runners at the start. So for example, my running partner is 14,459. That puts here in the 14th corral. So hereТs the geography part. Runners in the further back corrals have 5 digit number, affectionately known around here as ZIP Codes. So, as one person put it: УThey’re letting me start from a closer zip code this year—Schenectady, NY instead of Pennsylvania!!Ф Another noted, УI’m in Bethlehem, PA. Should I feel bad?Ф To the runner in question, known for ultras (distances beyond the 26. 2 miles) came this reply: УWith your ultra training you could probably run it in from Bethlehem PA!!Ф

by Adena Schutzberg on 03/28 at 07:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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