Dear US Chamber of Commerce,

Stop your fight to destroy the freedom of speech on the internet.  Passage of your brain child, the “Internet Censorship Act” would severely cripple the right for people like me (and you, I may add) to speak out on the internet.  What would you think if we the people demanded (under the ICA) that your website or the website of one of your cohorts in Congress be shut down based on a simple allegation?  What, dear US COC, would you think if we, the people, used the Internet Censorship Act to fight against you and forced your buddies in the government to scramble and clean up the B.S. and propaganda off their websites.  In effect, I think (and know) that we’d be giving you losers a taste of your own medicine.  Stop the fight for internet censorship forever or that’s precisely what we’ll do the nanosecond that bill turn law is signed and on the books.  You have my fair warning.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of efforts to pass the Internet Censorship Act, which fundamentally threatens the internet as we know it.

If the bill passes, corporate copyright holders would be able to demand the government shut down a website based on nothing more than an allegation that the website contains copyrighted material. And the government could do this even without a court order.

The free speech implications of this kind of extra-judicial government censorship of the internet is chilling. It’s nothing short of an outright attack on our free internet.

Google, which is strongly opposed to the Internet Censorship Act and has an unofficial motto of “Don’t be evil,” is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. But the Chamber’s all-out support of this incredibly dangerous legislation has reportedly caused Google to consider quitting the right wing organization in protest.”

I hope everyone who reads this will blog about it, quit the US Chamber of Commerce and/or do anything you can to ensure this bill and this effort is nowhere near successful!

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What should Media Do? What I would do to Community News Corp to make it Post-Paper Ready

Media should be a better open partner with the citizen, see http://www.buzzmachine.com/what-would-google-do/.  Here’s a top 10 list of what I would do if I were a manager or the owner of Community News Corp (www.communitynewscorp.com).

1. Recruit citizen journalists and encourage them to produce and generate good news by offering incentives

2. Build a YouTube channel with local news, school info and sports in our area linked to the various sites we own

3. Power citizen editors, journalists and bloggers with CNC’s own platform

4. Make sure journalists (whom CNC pays) do what they do best and link to the rest

5. Mandate the starting of blogs for reporters and editors to listen to the people

6. Provide citizens with a platform to interact with, propose and correct news

7. Develop a plan and timeline for turning off and locking away the presses

8. Promote clean power and citizen-empowered political reporting & blogging

9. Convert our offices and company vehicles (if any) to renewable power and encourage the same from employees

10. Analyze readership and encourage readers to bring news to us and so on.

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iPhone 4S, Siri and What Microsoft should do for Siri-like Solutions

I recently purchased a new iPhone 4S with Siri.  I love it.  In this post, I will be talking about what Microsoft could do with Windows Phones and Windows 8 to make it more like the iPhone 4S.

Apple should not be aboe to control access to Siri.  Siri’s technology platform should be able to be taken outside the iPhone 4S and especially Apple.  Microsoft, for one, should be able to license Siri’s technology(ies) from Apple to implement in Windows Phone Mango and Windows 8.  If this is done, I believe Apple will create more value around itself if Siri gets outside usage because Siri will become a more standard capability to all potential users.  If, however, Apple keeps Siri inside, then fewer users will be able to use it therefore blocking Apple from receiving extra revenue through licensing fees and blocking the power of further innovation on Siri from even happening with the users being involved and included.

If Microsoft should be able to include Siri in its Windows Phones, Windows 7 SP2, Windows 8 or other software, solutions and services, it would bring so many more users and customers to Microsoft and mandate further innovations into Microsoft’s future with Windows 8, Windows Phone 7 and other products and services Microsoft embeds the Siri platform in.  The proliferation of those products will earn Apple even more revenue and prestige by allowing users to use, build on top of and benefit from Siri, future updates and upgrades and the technologies, features and services they use and/or develop on top of it as well as what others develop on top of Siri to build their revenue and value.  In effect, if Siri is allowed to proliferate, it could become the top and only platform for speech recognition and natural language processing for as long as nobody undercuts or beats it.

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Windows 8 with total accessibility or I’ll convert to ALL MacOS X Lion

I’ve made my decision. If Microsoft releases its Windows 8 and doesn’t make it totally accessible and commit to the same for all products (in the app store or not), I’ll convert all of my knowledge and buy three Macs. Not only that, I’ll encourage my friends and the family that can and will to do so as well. Here are the top 35 features besides total accessibility I want in Windows 8.
1. Sleep mode with Embedded Auto-Save
2. Access to the charm-based system introduced in the Developer Preview
3. Integrated Speech Recognition (at least mid-list and off the shelf)
4. One click/tap access to ALL Accessibility components
5. Classic View Internet & Windows Explorers on click or tap
6. Cloud-based backup for Service Pack failure recovery needs
7. Embedded Version Management everywhere
8. No need for Error Reporting and Low Disk Space/Disk Cleanup stunts of the XP era
9. Power user utilities in a user’s account turned on as the user’s ability is shown
10. Windows Media Center total accessibility
11. A platform that everyone can develop on and for
12. An updated and extensive command prompt
13. One Touch VHD Mounting
14. Integrated Video Training (like from Professor Teaches)
15. Intuitive Folder, File and Computer Management
16. Windows Composer (for music composition)
17. Advanced photo editing built into Windows
18. Windows Accessibility Testing Utility
19. Deletion of Windows’ Notepad and Integration of Notepad++
20. No Windows Phone Elements in Windows 8 except for the ones you’ve already revealed
21. Accessible Help & On Demand Video, IM or Phone Support built into Windows 8 in an app
22. Compatibility for Office and other programs for Windows on Macs, Linux PCs and others and visa versa
23. FREE apps on top, not on the bottom or at a search in the app store (especially Accessible FREE apps)
24. Something like “Genius,” “Ping” and other iPhone, iPad and iTunes features
25. No Questions asked access to the Cloud (preferrably FREE), Low price access and direct hosting on servers

26. Optimized access to the world of Apps allowed on other platforms

27. Extensive Sync to the Cloud before Updates are downloaded and installed (like the new features of iOS 5

28. Windows Location Services (like iOS 5 and earlier)

29. Scripting tools better than PowerShell built into the OS directly

30. A firm commitment for 10x better security than XP to Windows 7 (Especially through improved defense of the entire platform and not just for the enterprise, but for ALL users, period.)

31. A commitment from Microsoft to do the following: 1) Eliminate the placement of family unfriendly content on the computer, 2) Eliminate the allowance of Cookies and other tracking capabilities from websites, etc., 3) Ensure that HTML 5 continues to develop, but in an accessible and previously trained developer friendly format that can be written (for the most part) by previously released web design/development tools and 4) Development of a standard, easily understandable, easily written and easily implemented Development format, language and so on to make Windows 8 the platform everyone can develop on, for, around and so on.

32. A better Windows Paint and the introduction of a tool for actually “drawing” outside Paint’s realm

33. The creation of several kinds of tools, services and add-ons including: 1) Windows CD Maker, 2) Windows Notebook (like OneNote in Office), 3) Windows Live Remote Access, 4) Windows Live Social Context, 5) Windows Jukebox, 6) Windows Live Application Center, 7) Windows Research Manager, 8) Windows Live Librarian, 9) Windows Live Developer Suite (with Testing tools, etc.) and 10) Windows Safe Test Management Server (a server dev’s can start and test their applications, services or whatever in a safe, reliable, intuitive and intelligent testing environment)

34. ISO to Executable Conversion or Executable file Mounting Capability(ies)

35. Windows Identity & Credential Vault (blocks any security threat from accessing such data by locking it away in a file, folder or other location(s) tighter than Ft. Knox, but available through CardSpace if requested by a website or application found reliable and acceptable by the CardSpace or other service and maybe even insured through LifeLock)
I’m serious about those features (or about 90% of them).

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Accessibility and Microsoft’s future: A Great Unknown

I’m a huge believer in accessibility and user experience.  The world’s filled with brands, devices, platforms and employees at companies big and tiny that are either half wits, moderately intelligent or, like Apple and its new version of iOS (version 5) with Siri, geniuses in the user experience game.  Microsoft’s been in mid-League and seems to be only making fits and starts toward where they need to be and must be for people to take Windows 8 seriously as a competitor to the Mac super star.  If Microsoft takes the steps I outline in the text below, it’ll be on its way to (if not already) surpassing Apple.  Taking some of the steps would probably take them to a plateau beneath Apple depending on which steps they take and whether Apple conter-acts/hasn’t already countered their moves.  Let’s see where the great (or not so great) software beast goes from here.

From what I’ve seen so far, Microsoft’s only updated one piece of its Accessibility puzzle, Magnifier.  It’ll have to do better than that if it wants to catch up to and defeat Apple’s drive for device and content accessibility.  In the following paragraphs, I will discuss Windows 8, Office, Ease of Access, Cloud Computing, Touch and Speech and more.

Windows 8

What I’ve seen in Windows 8 is a feature in Magnifier where you can make the magnified view fill the screen, but that’s the basic of basic features on every commercially available screen magnification system today.  Here are my top 20 things I’d love to see made available to the disabled in Windows 8.

  1. Screen access technology with off-the-shelf text-to-speech (TTS) engines and voices.
  2. Universal Access (save, use and change settings across devices and they go anywhere through Windows Live services)
  3. One click or touch access to universal access features including speech recognition and screen navigation tools put in an instantly identifiable location (putting to shame Apple’s multiple touches to these features)
  4. From boot access to the “Live Tiles” of the start screen
  5. Universal Access Multi-user Device Mode (allowing users to turn on or off the features based on their preferences and at or before login so they can access the login screen the way they like)
  6. One touch toggle to classic “Desktop” view for those who don’t want the “Live Tiles” approach
  7. Pop-up Search (one touch or click pop-up search bar)
  8. One simplified access point instead of “My Computer, “My Documents, “My Network Places” and so on called a “One Stop” with access to the control panel, network access indicated in a sidebar or toolbar, VHD or VM mounting and so much more in one window
  9. Universal Sync (allows users to sync documents, songs, playlists, settings and so on across all devices without having a spaghetti bowl of cables strung around the computer
  10. Free/low price consumer, job seeker and small business no questions asked access to the cloud built right in
  11. A Free blog for all users with a walk-through video for people new to the blog space
  12. Free/Low cost Power user tools for remote training, remote server access and so on
  13. A commitment to making all Windows 8 apps accessible
  14. Free inclusion of media apps and the essentials to access their content in ALL tablets
  15. An easier way to connect and collaborate across  a home or office
  16. Socialized games for Windows
  17. Access to game content from XBOX & XBOX Live
  18. Faster device recognition and “Home Group” access for new device a user purchases, existing devices in the home/office and foreign devices (on home networks only for foreign devices)
  19. A platform where interested users can test, develop and surface apps faster with more security
  20. An app store optimized for accessibility and that mandates accessibile features to get in
  21. Automatic awareness of system problems before there’s a need for error reporting (in fact, eliminating it)
  22. Automatic data compression to save disk space and make “Disk Cleanup” a fading past necessity (if not completely obsolete)

Office

The only innovation I’ve seen since when I first started using Office in the 90’s is the Ribbon which was austencibly to make features more easily locatable.  That’s worked (somewhat), but here are 10 features I believe would make Office more likable, user friendly and more powerful, of course.

  • Office Search (search for files, templates, help and in the community by context or across Office)
  • More intuitive file menu and ribbon navigation
  • Quick Styles and Quick Document Parts/Pages (like Table of Contents or Bibliography or Form fields with settings
  • Readability Stats after Spell & Grammar Check
  • Automatic updates of new dictionary terms
  • Automatic name, language, context, common sense spelling error and other recognition features built in
  • A consumer-driven and only collaboration product in application form built into the consumer suites
  • Office Social (access to Linked In, Facebook and other tools to find friends and collaborators)
  • Email Quick Parts
  • Intuitive, less ugly method of removing Outlook accounts and inboxes and maintaining contacts, calendars, etc.

Cloud Computing

I’m not a big believer in this, but since it seems to be a huge part of Microsoft (and the planet’s) future, I thought I’d share an ideal from a consumer perspective not employed by anyone (especially by anyone interested in or pursuing cloud computing).

First, I’d like to say that the consumer should get the chance to work within a cloud environment like small businesses (and especially large enterprises) get to.  That doesn’t mean I want all consumers (or any consumer for that matter) to be charged the big (or small) business price to play in the cloud.  It simply means that I want the consumer to be able to collaborate with tools like Office 365, work with Windows and (if possible) SQL Azure and so on.

Second, I’d like to see the cloud be more open and come to a point where a version of Microsoft Windows, MacOS or whatever running as a “Cloud OS” and devices can be purchased that are completely cloud savvy and never leave the cloud.  The cloud would drive the system (a time where all devices would be like the Chromebook except with different versions for different classes of users).

Touch and Speech

Touch is fantastic, which I found out when I bought myself a new iPad 32GB last March.  It trumps keyboard and mouse every day (except typing).  I’m not much of a fan of the on screen keyboard, but I wouldn’t have to be if we had a better, smarter, more savvy and more learned speech recognition system around and on every device we owned.  The iPhone 4S makes great strides toward this with its Siri speech recignition engine.  That’s the kind of power I’d love to see in the hands, in front of or in the pocket of every user on the planet.  What an unlocking, socializing and empowering world that would be.  You, Microsoft, made a small stride toward that with Kinect’s speech recognition, but Siri and iPhone 4S made it so you could pull your iPhone out of your pocket and ask it for nearby locksmiths or restaurants or what color things were or whatever.  That’s the power of a fabulous speech recognition system and that’s what should be on every Microsoft Windows device from the largest Supercomputer down to the Windows Phone 7 Series with Mango running on it.

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A New Perspective on Windows 8

I have been watching BUILD 2011. So far, I love what’s been shown at BUILD, but I wish I’d have seen more accessibility features like a reimagined magnifier and narrator. I maintain my skepticism and frustration on the Metro-style UI. It seems to be a question of arrogance on the team which seems to unquestionably insist that Metro is the ultimate and undoubtedly the absolute best for all.

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Windows Live’s “Allow Access” Hell!

To Windows Live:

I’ve been attempting to make Windows Live allow my WL Contacts into my OWN LinkedIn account to see who I already KNOW on the network.  When I do so, I enter WL’s “Allow Access” HELL!  This is because the idiotically imperfect, lousy and ignorant (and unmoving) system refuses to allow ME to give MYSELF access to or import MY contacts into MY OWN LinkedIn account which ME, MYSELF AND I CREATED, manage and use.  So what if LinkedIn and not Microsoft is the service, platform, interface and engine behind adding professional, personal contacts and building my network, contact spread and so on.  Microsoft itself should be open, transparent and if it wants to be the platform, it should develop it or get the HELL out of the user’s path and give the F’ING control to the customer, user and community.  If it can’t do that, then the people who do and can will win and evil Microsoft will at last get F’ing Justice once and for all (or at least until it learns the new ways and paradigms of the internet driven by consumer & customer controlled distributed organizations.  To learn, it (Microsoft) should take a page from Google, Dell, Facebook and others who totally get the new internet and the new business model.

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