The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, the odds are better than even that you either make presentations or will do so eventually. That’s why, from time to time, I’ll point you to some resources for public speaking and presentations, here on Global Nerdy.

presentation secrets of steve jobs

One good resource is Carmine Gallo’s book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, in which the author examines Steve Jobs’ legendary keynote presentations – Stevenotes – and distills helpful lessons on how to be a more effective presenter. For a taste of the book, here’s a SlideShare presentation that sums up its big ideas:

There’s a lot of presenting in my line of work. In fact, it’s a personal requirement for me. In the past, I’ve turned down higher-paying jobs because they didn’t involve presenting, blogging o’r any other public-facing activity. Maintaining and improving my presentation skills is just as important as maintaining and improving my technical skills (and yes, I still write code quite regularly), so you’ll find me polishing my communications technique quite often. As I read, learn, practice and present, I’ll share what knowledge I pick up along the way, so as I often write: watch this space!


Apress’ “Windows Azure Platform”…and Discounts!

The Book

windows azure platform

I do believe I’ll be ordering an ebook edition of Apress’ Windows Azure Platform. Here’s Apress’ description of the book:

Master Microsoft’s brand-new cloud-computing technology with Windows Azure Platform by Tejaswi Redkar. You’ll learn how to utilize Azure’s four core components— Windows Azure, .NET Services, SQL Services, and Live Services—both separately and together to build flawless cloud computing services.

What you’ll learn in Windows Azure Platform:

  • Everything you need to know about the Azure Services components—from Access Control to SQL Services, from the Service Bus to Workflow Services.
  • Understand both the architectural thinking behind Azure and the nuts-and-bolts code that binds your service together.
  • Design, build, and deploy an Azure service with the assistance of a fully worked template for end-to-end application design that mimics a real-world scenario and gives you a rock-solid example of the design and development processes that you need to work through.

The Discounts

If you bought the ebook version of their previous Azure book, Introducing Windows Azure, you’ll get an automatic 50% discount off the the price of the ebook of Windows Azure Platform.

If you didn’t buy the ebook version of Introducing Windows Azure, you can still get a discount. If you place an order for Windows Azure Platform before the end of December 31st, use the discount code APRESSHOLIDAYML, which will apply a 25% discount to your entire purchase (so you can save on other Apress books, too!)

These discounts won’t last very long, so place an order today!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


“Accordion Guy” and “Global Nerdy” Stats for 2009

Hand with finger holding up a small stack of beans

“You can’t improve what you don’t measure” is a maxim for many fields. Engineers, businesspeople and athletes may all have their own way of phrasing it, but however it’s put, they repeat it to each other all the time.

The act of measurement becomes murkier when applied to creative endeavours such as blogging. The qualitative stuff – How many people read the blog? Which articles were the big ones? Is the readership trend going up or down? – is pretty easy. A little StatCounter code embedded in the pages of The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century and Global Nerdy does the tedious stuff; I just look at the data and interpret it. As for the qualitative stuff, I’ll leave that as an exercise for the individual reader.

Accordion Guy’s Stats for 2009

Once again, The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century passed the “2 million pageviews” mark. As of this writing, here’s how the numbers break down:

  • 2,198,906 pageviews – that is, the number of web pages from the Accordion Guy blog that were downloaded. Every time you, one of the individual article pages or hit the “refresh” button on your browser while reading my blog, it registers as a pageview.
  • 105,599 returning visitors – when you visit Accordion Guy, the StatCounter code embedded on every page attempts to leave a “cookie” – a tiny scrap of data stored by your browser – for anonymized tracking. If the StatCounter code sees that your browser has already stored an Accordion Guy cookie, it means you’ve visited the site before. The cookie data includes the date and time of your last visit, and if it’s been more than an hour since you last visited the Accordion Guy blog, you’re counted as a “returning visitor”.
  • 1,672,393 first-time visitors – the opposite of a returning visitor is a “first-time visitor”. If the embedded StatCounter code can’t see an Accordion Guy cookie stored by your browser, you’re counted as one of these.
  • 1,777,992 unique visitors – this is a calculated value: “unique visitors” is simply the sum of returning and first-time visitors.

Here’s an incredibly compressed chart showing the day-to-day activity on the Accordion Guy blog:

Day-to-day statistics for the "Accordion Guy" blog

The spikes in the graph represent the most popular articles. The rightmost spike, which also happens to be the tallest, represents the How Fanboys See Operating Systems article from December 16th. That one got featured on Reddit and re-tweeted like crazy.

Here’s how the numbers look for each quarter:

Quarterly statistics for the "Accordion Guy" blog

The trend is up-slightly down-up-slightly down, but still rising overall.

Global Nerdy’s Stats for 2009

Accordion Guy is my “hobby” blog. It’s the forum in which I express myself, tell stories and jokes, share pictures I’ve taken and point to interesting things I’ve found on the ‘net. I write it “just for kicks”, and the moment I stop enjoying writing it, I’ll stop.

Global Nerdy is a different beast. It is my second personal blog devoted to programming, internet technology and the nerd lifestyle, my first being The Happiest Geek on Earth (which Cory Doctorow called me in this Boing Boing article, which points to The Accidental Go-Go Dancer, in which I chronicled my brief stint as an accordion-playing go-go dancer at a downtown Toronto nightclub). Global Nerdy is both: T

  • An exercise to make me a better programmer and tech advocate through writing about the field, and doing the necessary legwork and research to support that writing, as well as
  • Self-promotion. Yes, it’s also a mercenary playing-to-win, look-at-me, hire-me, separate-myself-from-the-crowd, I-am-ten-Scobles blog.

I can say with certainty that Global Nerdy has helped me land my last three jobs, which includes my current one as a Developer Evangelist with Microsoft Canadaa job I landed in the middle of the econopocalypse of 2008 after getting laid off. In spite of all the job market doom and gloom, I was unemployed a mere three weeks.

This year, Global Nerdy crossed the “1 million pageviews” mark for the first time. Here’s how the numbers break down (for an explanation of the terms, see the Accordion Guy review above):

  • 1,608,638 pageviews
  • 60,340 returning visitors
  • 1,263,873 first-time visitors
  • 1,324,213 unique visitors

Here’s the chart showing the day-to-day activity on Global Nerdy:

Day-to-day statistics for the "Global Nerdy" blog 

The spikiest period is in late January, which represents the buzz around the Winning the Gnu article, in which I won Richard Stallman’s auction for a plush version of the Free Software Foundation’s mascot, the gnu.

Here’s how the quarterly numbers break down:

Quarterly statistics for the "Global Nerdy" blog

Eek – a downward trend!

If viewed in isolation, this would be a worrying development. However, there’s another blog that’s been getting the readers that would normally go to Global Nerdy, and I’ve included a screenshot of that blog below:

Screenshot of the "Canadian Developer Connection" blog

Canadian Developer Connection is Microsoft Canada’s developer blog, and it literally pays the rent. As a Developer Evangelist for Microsoft, I’m paid to write it, and my performance – and yes, my bonus — is judged on the number of articles I write for it and the impact those articles have.

Furthermore, I’m trying to be Microsoft Canada’s most prolific, most-read and most influential blogger. After that, I’m aiming for Microsoft worldwide. I think my closest competition is my friend, and coworker (and guy who recommended me for the job), David Crow. Here’s how we stack up, blog-wise, according to Alexa:

Alexa stats for "Accordion Guy", "Global Nerdy: and David Crow's blog

In your face, Drinky Crow!

(I’ll admit, he’s got an edge on me in Twitter followers – I have 4,498, he has 4,719 – and we each have our own spheres of influence. And hey, he’s the man behind DemoCamp – I just help out.)

As a result, I’ve been doing two things:

  • I’ve been writing Global Nerdy articles and cross-posting them to Canadian Developer Connection.
  • I use Twitter to promote those articles, but I link to the Canadian Developer Connection one first, and the Global Nerdy one second.

I still think of Global Nerdy as my primary tech blog; I’m just  nice (and pragmatic) enough to share my material with Microsoft. Should the day come when Microsoft and I part ways – I can’t see such a day on the horizon, but the era of the lifelong “company man” has passed – I’ll still have it. There’s also the fact that sometimes, there’s stuff I’ll post here that I won’t post in Canadian Developer Connection, such as when I’m speaking for myself and not on behalf of Microsoft Corporation.

The Blogs Over the Years

Accordion Guy is a long-running blog – not the longest-running by a long shot, but pretty long-lived, having had its start in November 2001. I’ve been measuring it with StatCounter since 2005, and here’s how it’s been doing since then:

Yearly statistics for the "Accordion Guy" blog, 2005-2009

There was a slight dip from the 2008 to 2009 numbers, and the cure is simple: write more, write better.

Global Nerdy is a newer blog – my friend George Scriban and I started it as a career-booster in mid-2006. George no longer writes for Global Nerdy, what with his being very busy with stuff at Microsoft’s main HQ in Redmond, and my job is a little more in-your-face than his. Global Nerdy’s maintained an upward trend, with an big shot in the arm from my joining Microsoft in late 2008:

Yearly statistics for the "Global Nerdy" blog, 2005-2009

Again, the mantra for Global Nerdy in 2010 is simple: write more, write better!

To of you who read either of my blogs – thanks for the great year, and expect great things in the new decade!

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.


The Vendor/Client Relationship

How’d I miss this video? At TechDays Winnipeg, Dylan Smith of ANVIL Digital (and speaker in the “Fundamentals” track), showed me this it’s-funny-because-it’s-true video that’s been around since May that looks at the vexing expectations that clients have of vendors in IT and the creative industries:

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


The “Fanboys” Meme Continues (Microsoft Languages as Seen by Their Fanboys)

It could be turning into a meme! Hot on the heels of my How Fanboys See Operating Systems post, which got a good deal of attention on Reddit and other link-sharing sites came Ruby Inside’s How Programming Language Fanboys See Each Other’s Languages, and now there’s How Microsoft Language Fanboys See Each Other’s Languages

microsoft language fanboys

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Top 25 Companies in 1999/2009 and Consumerization

As the decade draws to a close, you’re likely to see more and more articles and charts with a “decade in review” theme. Since technology is both my passion and the way I pay the rent, as well as an amorphous, unpredictable beast, I make note of those that look at changes in the field.

One that caught my eye is this chart from the Wall Street Journal comparing the top companies in 1999 against the top companies of 2009 (click it to see the full size version, a 500K PDF):

top comapnies 1999-2009

Tech companies made the majority of the top 25 in 1999; in 2009, energy and finance companies were the leaders. Other changes that took place over the decade include:

  • Only 8 of the top 25 companies in 1999 were in the top 25 in 2009:

Tech companies (shown in dark blue) that were in the top 25 in 1999 (left side of the chart):

  • AT&T Corp.
  • AT&T Inc.
  • Cisco
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • Lucent
  • Microsoft
  • Nippon Telegraph and Telephone
  • Nokia
  • NTT DoCoMo
  • Oracle
  • Worldcom

Tech companies (shown in dark blue) that were in the top 25 in 2009 (right side of the chart):

  • Apple
  • AT&T Inc.
  • China Mobile
  • Google
  • IBM
  • Microsoft

Companies that were also in the top 25 in 1999 are shown in bold italic.

  • The total market cap of the top 25 in 2009 is 20% less than the total market cap of the top 25 in 1999.
  • There were no Chinese companies in the top 25 in 1999; there are 4 in 2009.
  • In 1999, there were 6 CEOs under 55 in the top 25; in 2009, there are 13.
  • In 1999, there were 7 CEOs in the top 25 who were not American, in 2009, there are 11.
  • In both 1999 and 2009, all the CEOs in the top 25 are men.

NYU professor William Easterly, in his article at the Aidwatch blog, writes that the changes between 1999 and 2009 suggest that this is more evidence of consumerization and that the “consumer” is king (I don’t like the term but can’t find a satisfactory substitute; I agree with Jerry Michalski – it makes us sound like “living gullets whose only purpose is to gulp down products and crap out cash). “The consumer,” he writes, “wants iPhones in their Xmas stocking and not whatever Worldcom had been pretending to be producing.”

The bringing of technology to consumer markets before business markets means a number of things:

  • The generation known as "millennials," who are entering the workplace, are more likely to use the apps, devices and technology they like, and not those recommended or mandated by their company. This means that user experience is more important than ever. While company diktat once determined the technology that people used, the ready availability of technology and the democratization of the workplace has given more power to the individual.
  • The ubiquitous connectivity that drives consumerization means suggests that the web, web services and web-based interfaces will become more prevalent. It also means that the time of the disconnected application is drawing to a close, or as I like to say, “No app is an island”.
  • In some ways, it’s the 1980s all over again: a mish-mash of various types of technologies, many brought in the back door by employees (in the beginning, PCs at the workplace were brought in by early-adopter employees), which means that interoperability will provide many challenges – and opportunities.
  • The technology mix – and the ownership mix – means that security will also be a challenge.

It’s food for thought as you make your personal and career tech plans for 2010.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


I Think I’ve Created a Monster (or: Programming Language Fanboys)

The guys at Ruby Inside have taken the idea of from the graphic in my How Fanboys See Operating Systems article and run with it in a post titled How Programming Language Fanboys See Each Others’ Languages:

programming language fanboys

I’m not sure what’s going in the square depicting how C fanboys see Java…