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The Power of the Blog

November 30, 2006

Yesterday was an interesting day. After spending the full day in training (covering the nitty-gritty details of the inner workings of RightFax) I sat for four hours on the A2 waiting for the traffic to move. What is usually a 35 minute commute from Vianen (South of Utrecht) to Amsterdam got 8 times longer because of a nasty 30 km traffic jam. When I got to the other end it looked like a big semi mangled some other kind of truck and burst into flames. The result was that I was exhausted by the time I got home.

I started up Google Reader to catch up on some feeds and saw an article from Mashable onSlideRocket. The demo looked really slick but it required an invite to start playing with it. So I addeda quick entry to this blog to express my excitement. It seems that most of the online apps out there are incredibly lame compared to the Microsoft Office version of them. SlideRocket just looked different, so the article was genuine. I didn’t expect anything to come of it. This blog isn’t on that top 30 list of blogs. When I was in the group of the first 5 Microsoft bloggers (before Scoble came on board), I was getting well over 1000 visits per day. Today I am lucky when I get more than 30. But I do this because its fun (though I am looking forward to the day that Google Adsense tops the 75 cent mark).

As you can imagine I was very excited when an email from one of the guys at SlideRocket came to my Google Mail with an invite attached no more than 40 minutes after that entry was posted. But as I mentioned at the top, I was exhausted already. I gave myself 10 minutes to assess the product and then I was going to bed.

After working at various places in the technology industry, including 5 years at Microsoft, some time at small startups, and 5 years for a technology analyst firm in New York, I have a pretty good ability to see whether a product is worth continuing with in very little time. With most of the Web2.0 apps out there, I can see within 30 seconds that they are so incredibly lame that I shouldn’t even bother with them anymore. They are occasionally fairly interesting but not good enough to make me stop using the feature in Outlook or some other tool.

SlideRocket is offering a feature set that seems to want to replace Powerpoint. Thats a pretty important tool for me, so I would be very surprised if it succeeds. Well, that was before I actually tried playing with it. This thing is amazing. 10 minutes into it and I was excited to be building a presentation. Unlike many Web2 apps, this isn’t a small subset of the important stuff. SlideRocket is a nearly complete replacement for a tool like Powerpoint. Creating a slide deck was incredibly easy. Adding animations and transitions was painless…OK, its painless in Powerpoint too, but these transitions look good and don’t stutter on my laptop).

But I said nearly…Its not going to allow me to dump Powerpoint entirely. For now it seems that the offline solution is a little ways out. Thats a deal breaker for me. When I am delivering a training with no online connectivity (like in Piestany, Slovakia, or some random hotel around the world) I need the offline solution. For everything else, SlideRocket is inspirational. I am looking forward to being able to spend more than 10 minutes with it.

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