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A Minute on Minutes


Last week I was coming back from a Saturday morning basketball game when a gentleman stopped me in my driveway and introduced himself as a professor of computer science at SDSU and said he enjoyed my last Minute on College for Everyone. I'm always flattered that people find time in their busy lives to read my weekly musings. I thought it might be interesting to tell you a little more about these Minutes.

I've written about 200 Michael's Minutes. It's a practice I started at MP3.com in 1997 so I would have a vehicle to get some of my ideas out to a wider audience. (You can browse some Minutes from my old MP3.com days here.) Today people would call it a "blog," although I post to the web and send it out via email. It's tough penning an interesting 800-word weekly piece because I've got a full-time job as a CEO, and I do try to make them interesting. Many Minutes are naturally about developments in my business, but I do take the liberty to talk about a wide range of other topics as well. About the only taboo topics are politics and religion, which I don't feel like I have particularly insightful comments on, and even if I did, I'm not sure unsolicited comments in this areas are generally appreciated. (I have written about policy issues.)

Many people are surprised to learn that I do in fact write the Minutes. A handful of the 200 have been written by others and simply edited by me. You can tell by the signature, which is slightly different if I was not the primary author. Linspire's President Kevin Carmony has penned a few, as has Evan Rutledge, but I review them for ultimate approval. At MP3.com, I wrote a Minute once every 2-3 weeks, but at Linspire I have tried to stick to a weekly schedule. Sometimes it's rather bothersome because it's like being back in school and always having a book report due the next week. Over the weekend I'm always mulling topics, content and titles in my head for the upcoming week. I usually write the Minute at night when the kids are in bed and it's quiet so I can think. I've typed a few from a Blackberry and Treo while in Asia and Europe.

With each Minute, my goal is to try and give people information and make them think. They are always candid and I don't shy away from taking controversial positions. Readers may disagree with my positions which is okay, and also why I always try and have links to the forum to give them a vehicle to express a different opinion or correct me. Here are some interesting facts about Minutes:

Some of my personal favorite Minutes are:
Roy's Story
Digital Museum Burns To The Ground
Plums Don't Bounce
Killing Ants With A Hammer

I did some research on just the 137 Minutes I've written while at Linspire:


See what the MSFreePC site looked like before we had to cease helping people
2 - Number of Cease and Desist letters I have received concerning information or topics posted in a Michael's Minute. In the first instance I did not take down the Minute, but I did post the Cease and Desist complaint. The second involved Microsoft and the MSFreePC program which enabled people to make online class action claims against Microsoft, rather than have to fill out paper forms and send them back and forth 2-3 times via U.S. mail, which most people will not do, which is why it's just a big charade. In spite of our protest, a judge ruled against us and we halted the MSFreePC service. Hey judges - if you're really looking out for consumers and not simply playing along with trial lawyers, making a mockery of the judicial system, you would be DEMANDING that all class action settlements be transacted on this new-fangled thing called the "Internet."

65- Number of the most popular Minute, based on user traffic. I stayed up until 3 AM one night to write Gates Speaks At My Alma Mater so I could pass it out at the speaking event the next morning and it remains popular reading.

9 - The number of Michael's Minutes that talk about SIP or SIPphone (my other company).

45 - The number of Michael's Minutes that mention MP3.

95,887 - The number of words in all the Michael's Minutes combined -- more than a half-million characters. If I were to put all of the Minutes in a novel, it would be about the same length as the first Harry Potter book.

741.9 - Average words per Michael's Minute. The typical person can read between 250 and 300 words per minute, which means Michael's Minute should more accurately be called Michael's 2-3 Minutes.

1893 - The number of words in the longest Michael's Minute...coincidentally it's the "Gates at my Alma Matter" Minute mentioned above.

205 - The number of words in the shortest Michael's Minute, "Microsoft Loses Courtroom Battle Over Windows Trademark."

210 - Countries that have at least one Michael's Minute subscriber.

12:48 AM Friday - Time I finished this minute for Friday AM delivery to Minute readers.
Tell me your favorite Minute or tell me the worst one I've written in the user forum.

-- Michael

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