Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sign Board

Updated 12/16/14: The original site this was hosted on has gone the way of the dodo. I like this, so here found this and got the image back online.  

Here is the farm this references.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Flickr Thoughts

Just spent a few minutes looking over my Flickr feed; always fun to see. Got me thinking, though. I started using Flickr right after Yahoo acquired it. An easy choice since: 1) I used Yahoo's briefcase photo service quite extensively and 2) other friends used Flickr, thus it was familiar.

At that time, we uploaded images from our desktop. The value came from not emailing masses of images, and dealing with email restrictions (back in dial up days). Mainly, the focus on artistry and close connections.

Evolution occurred. One big piece came with social media. The site became about larger audiences. Then cell phone cameras dramatically changed usage. And Facebook dominates sharing family snapshots.

Now, Flickr offers real time viewing of the world. Users who dive deeper into photography, using artistry to communicate more. Capturing emotion. Well, somewhat. Citizen journalism occurs, too.

Ultimately, I see Flickr's evolution. Not dramatic; steady, resolute. Flickr adapts to change, users find new uses. Those signs point to a site with legs. I expect it to last, with continued value. Save for mismanagement. That's another blog post, though.

Happy Friday to you all!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nightbound Words

Racing mind
Fears awakened,
Given voice,
Speaking loudly
Into murky peace of night.

Dreams unrealized,
Yet still dreams.
Voices of neglected
Priorities. Reminding
Me; deepest values.

Empty grave
This frantic life.
Delightful sense of purpose
Untethered to accomplishment.
Illusions of effectiveness.

Self directed rage
Unuseful, empty sounds.
November's east bound
Wind pushes still,
Fiercely, chilling.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Marketing Thoughts

A few days ago, I sat in a seminar. The panel's discussion interested me, but wasn't my main takeaway. My main "bit" was when the leader was asked about his company's latest tv campaign. Simple question: how well did it work? Imagine my surprise when he said that there really wasn't any way to track the ROI. I expect most major companies have tools to do just that. Exact? Probably not. Exactness is probably not that critical. But some metrics to justify the expense seem prudent.

I thought of a basic way to measure. Simply compare inbound leads/contacts against "background". Of course, that requires having a historical dataset to build off of. AKA, background.

Additionally, it would be valuable to have contacts asked "how did you hear of us"? Again, not terribly scientific, but valuable.

Random thoughts on a Friday night. Happy weekend to you all!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Innovation and the Gut

I read an interview earlier this week that discounted, well, derided, following your gut. For instance, she pointed out all that folks like Ted Bundy didn't look threatening. Thus quantifiable reasoning is the only way one should make decisions. (This is oversimplified for the sake of space. I'll post the link to the original when I find it.)

Oddly, people like Mr. Bundy are reasons I would cite to say trust your gut. There was no evidence he was dangerous until after he was caught. Same's true for most criminals, even today. Nothing readily researchable until after an arrest.Yet many people felt there was something wrong with Mr. Bundy and kept their distance. I don't know if it's spiritual attunement to deeper truth or just your subconscious picking up on subtle clues, but I've found my gut to be right. And ignoring it comes at my peril.

Another thought with this: innovation. Innovative thought is, by definition, pushes past known bounds. Trusting your gut is requisite. Only deciding based on detailed analysis kills innovation.

Thus, I say trust your gut. It's both aware of more, but also connected to the core, those deepest values. But learn to listen. Learn how our fears twist the voice, mess up the message. Then you'll hold true wisdom.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Musical Tribute to Harold Camping

Not the most original, but I haven't seen anyone else put this up.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Battling Insecurity

I'm sure you've heard the question, "what would you do if you won the lottery?" Or any of its many variants ("received a million bucks", or the simple (heard at a Franklin/Covey seminar) "what would you do if you didn't need to worry about income?"). These tools guiding you past fears and to your deeper values. A bit of insight shows me they miss a personal roadblock: insecurity.

Sure, I worry about money, or, rather, it's lack. Which impacted my life/career choices. This nagging sense I should be doing something great pains me, pushes me. I have friends who have done mission work in Africa/Central America/Asia, have led teams in Fortune 500 companies, are globally sought out speakers, along with many other amazing things. All of this tweaks my underlying insecurity, this sense that I should be doing "more". And that my "lacking' in this area is due to some laziness, a lack of focus, or some other character malaise. I see the irrationality, and challenge it regularly. Yet, the influence is deep, and ancient. Roots so deep their origin uncertain.

Perhaps, then, my question, tool, to delve past these issues should be "what would I do if I didn't need to prove anything?" If I root that out, my personal vision clarifies. Then, my goals visibile, leaving me to pursue them with focus and drive. What would that look like?

It's quite profound, and will take time to work through. Imagining this gone, an underlying "voice" ever-present. Gone? This insecurity impacted each and every career decision I made, and adds tension to my current life. Imagining life without it challenges me deeply.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Sustainable Computing Systems

A few years back, I came up with a project that sounded fun: build a Linux system focused on older hardware. It pained me to see operational machines made non-functional simply due to software-side demands. Wasteful. Now, though, I'm not convinced of it's practicality. Is the problem with the older machines simply due to OS creep, or could the OS expansion be due to user demand?

Most users have increased their demands on their machines. So many Internet apps, for instance, are video and image rich. An older machine, even with a lean OS, will still be taxed by the demands of Flash, et al. My goals would only be realized by refining all the apps, too. Then those those refinements would ripple back to the mainstream systems, giving them performance gains. Upon which new apps would be built utilizing the freed resources. Thus, everything would revert back to the previous state. Assuming, of course, that I was able to overcome such other challenges as security.

So, how do I look at my original goal, now? I'm refining my vision. My concern was waste. How do we maximize these obsolete systems? Perhaps we could look at a more basic level. Look at the computer as a series of pieces, then apply the cradle-to-cradle lifecycle approach. Perhaps dissembling the machines and returning those components to the manufacturing stream.

A truly sustainable economy has zero waste. Every item, at the end of it's life becomes a building block for something new. That's my underlying vision. The task is both simple and massive.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

iPhoto Picture Export

To answer a requst via Twitter, here is the quick & dirty way to export photos. For this example, we're putting the pictures on iDisk (MobileMe, if you will).

Open iPhoto, then "File":

Then select "Export":

Then "File Export":

Lastly, Choose "iDisk", or wherever you want to save the files:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Overactive Mind

I'm getting a lot done, but accomplishing very little. I don't find it satisfying. I enjoy checking off to-dos, but without direction it's, ultimately, empty. Way too many directions in my life. I need focus.

Examples: the hundreds of email news sources I subscribe to. And the dozen, or more, tasks I load into a day. That's a weakness in the electronic-tools age. Keeping those emails to read "later" is so easy. Or just shuffle those tasks to another day. Then I get to a point where I have several hundred emails waiting to be read. Or I'm spending 15 minutes moving my collection of overdue tasks to today. It all creates a sensation of "spinning my wheels".

I'm tacking this, slowly, carefully. First, I'm now aggressively deleting email. And also unsubscribing. For things I've been subscribed to for years, I feel discomfort. But with so many I haven't even opened in years, it's just time. Time to accept that see the value, but don't feel. And give myself permission to feel it. Also, I'm culling tasks. Some have lingered for months, even years. My mind is telling me something here. Time to listen.

The next step for me requires stepping back, reprioritizing and focusing. I know it will be painful. Selecting that which I won't do; ugh. I want to do everything. I see, though, I can't do even half of everything well. Quality is important. Much more so than quantity. Time to embrace it, and live it.

Perhaps I'll embrace an agile approach. Re-evaluate every few weeks/months. Ensuring I'm meeting my needs; watching for those needs to change. I like that idea. Allowing my life to flow, fluid-like. Accepting my needs will change, and seeking to be ahead. Rather than waiting until I swirl into misery. There's zen.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Summer moves to Autumn

Cool and grey out my window; Puget Sound’s traditional weather returns. Muted, calm light flows through trees, still bearing mostly summer leaves. A few flecks of yellow and brown, however, foreshadow fall’s approach. Time, I guess, to put away flip-flops and shorts. Cool air and breezes dominate outside. Uncovered feet now hurt. I sit, eyes following leaves pushed by a gentle breeze, wondering what autumn, and the ensuing winter, brings. A bitter winter, perhaps, laden with snow? With a great ski season ensuing, mitigating said bitterness? Or traffic regularly snarled by snow, sleet and hail? Or perhaps a gentler winter awaits? I expect a blend, snowy delights in the nearby mountains, with occasional impacts upon civilization. That, with much drinking of tea and hot cocoa, excite me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflecting on September 11

Early in the morning, 10 years ago, I dozed listening to NPR and heard something about a plane flying into a building in New York. Imagining a terrible accident, I rose, turning on CNN. I'm unaware of how much time passed before the second plane flew into the towers. At that point I knew this was deliberate; and horrible beyond imagination. The office manager of a church, I made my way there and we opened our chapel for prayers (it's an inner city parish; unmonitored open doors are generally a recipe for trouble). A predominately progressive church, but with a diversity of political views, I heard angry diatribes about Bush's destructive policies, to raging demands of blasting all Arabs to dust. My personal reaction was more complex, more focused on compassion; solidly progressive. Anyway, ten-years out, I'm trying to ascertain how this changed me.

Clearly the world changed. But I wasn't at ground zero. Nor did I lose friends or family. My personal, direct impact was small. Yet, something(s) changed. For many, the change was a sudden awareness of the burning hatred so much of the world carries for the US. Having read such works as Zinn's "A People's History of the United States, I was well aware of my country's list of offenses. So the venom directed at the US was hardly news. So that's not it.

Air travel security seems an obvious change for us all. However, I haven't traveled by air much since. Thus the impact on me; very minimal. I'm hard pressed to find anything else obvious. Perhaps it's not so clear. So much has changed in ten years. How do I separate out 9/11 vs. the other changes of my life? Perhaps I need to look deeper than these minute details.

I have become more committed to my values. Embarking more deeply Christ's commandments towards compassion. I see their value at deeper level than before. I am more committed to redemption, to eradicating fear from my life, and to layering peace throughout my life. I also try to think bigger picture. Such things as remembering the less dramatic heroes. Like the Canadian families who took in our displaced citizens when we shut down our airspace. Important acts of kindness during moments of horror. Hold those examples up.

My world is dramatically different now. Separating out the effects of the terrorist attacks is futile. Yet 9/11 influences me deeply; a small, tight thread woven throughout my life. My life, my being is the gestalt. These subdivisions merely academic and, ultimately, empty. Perhaps that's the most fitting lesson to me of all.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Blogger - New Interface

When I logged into Blogger this evening, I was greeted with the option for a new interface. Being forever enchanted with all things new, I plunged forth. I like what I've seen so far. The interface is cleaner. From a design perspective, a much better use of white space. None of the old functionality is lost, though some of it looks different (stats is what I noticed right off). All in all, I like it well. And it's the most significant update from Google on the Blogger platform in some time. My only disappointment is the lack of new features. I'd love to have an auto-publish to Twitter built in. Well, that's the biggest for me. I would've loved to see new features; more than just a new layout. Well, that's what I have for an hour or so's worth of exploration.

The Terminator - How It Should Of Ended

I love the How It Should of Ended francise. I love this Terminator mashup. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Big Four Ice Caves

Today a group consisting of my family and friends, took to the highways and ventured out to the Big Four Ice Caves. I’ve been hearing about this place for years, and it seemed a great time to venture out there. It’s about 14 miles east of the Verlot ranger station, in eastern Snohomish county. 

A nice hike. Not too intense, not much in the way of elevation gain. There were a few folks in flip-flops, some in sandals (like Tevas) and most in tennis shoes. I wore my hiking boots. With my ankle's history of injury, I opted for extra protection.

The terminus of the hike was packed snow, which formed the ice caves in the name. There were other caves further along the small valley, but we didn’t venture farther. Some of us went up onto the snow/ice (the ice is compacted snow, formed mostly from avalanche fallout). I, with my boots, was the only one really equipped for that. I stopped everyone once we got to the point where the rocks that fell were big enough to cause serious harm. And I kept my eyes towards the cliffs the whole time we were on there. 

After the ice, we scampered over loose rocks, exploring the area. Saw a bunch of daisies, fireweed and elderberries. Elderberries were out, though we avoided their toxic fruit. Some of the wild blackberries were ripe, most still needing time. Tart, tart, tart.

Every time I’m up in the mountains, I think about how much I love it there. I love the silence, and the forests. There’s something about the trees. Also triggers a desire to study ecology. Perhaps something for my next sabbatical.

We didn’t see much wildlife. Heard what sounded like a loon, and a few other birds. Otherwise, it was extremely quiet. That was probably related to the hundreds of other people up there with us. There were times that our walk seemed more like being part of a parade.

I delight spending time in the woods. Adding family to that makes things even better. I'm inspired to do more. Maybe some skiing this winter. Or more mountainbiking. I'm excited to see where I take this. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Social Media & The Deer In The Headlights Look

It's not uncommon for the neophyte to look at the mass of choices and just shut down (autocorrect thought "mass" should be "mess". It feels the same way.) A few thoughts to take the edge off.

First, you don't want to be everywhere. Start with a manageable piece and grow.

Also, there is no reason this should take hours...until you have a large audience. Even then, most engagement can take just a few minutes at a time. Utilize your DMV wait to reply to Tweets, check in with LinkedIn contacts or Facebook chums. Combined with a mobile device/smartphone, you can fill in those old "boredom productivity gaps".

See, social media really isn't as horrible a time-suck as rumored.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Google +

Ok, I'm starting to become one of those people who thinks Google+ might displace Facebook. It sounds insane, especially to me. Facebook is entrenched, and holding the definer's perch. They are the dominant player, and have really set the stage in this arena. Others react to them. Until now.

Google is much more intuitive. Much slicker interface. Not so cluttered. These may or may not unseat Facebook, but they're innovating and Facebook is in the position of reacting.

Now, I don't expect a sudden exodus. First, many hardcore Facebook types spend hours with their Farmville, gang war, etc games. Until the the equivalents arise on Google+, all bets are off. But, even now, Google has established a place. Perhaps not as great as it could be. But still with a large affect. And who knows? They may just birth a whole new genre. Who knows...

The social media game is shifting under our feet. That's what it does. Might even say that's what it IS. It will be fun seeing how this flows from here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Whole Foods Parking Lot - Music Video [HD]

This makes the me think of all the Bellevue gangstas, riding tough with the BMW their mom bought them for Christmas.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Life as a writer

I started writing young. Memories of writing comic-books as a fourth-grader my earliest. Always, though, insecurity drove me to destroy them. Fears of mockery, mostly. I knew, even then, how much better it should look. High standards choke productivity.

Junior high brought a new set of fears. God forbid I be found writing stories! Or worse, poetry! I delighted writing poems, but knew the doom of letting that go public. This idea brought shivers of terror. I couldn’t dream of a better way to put the junior-high-social-destroy-me-bulls-eye on. It saddens the forty-four-year-old me how much power I granted “them”.

As an adult, my fears still compell, though with a different face. Now I fear the inner critic, constantly rehashing every error, mistake, or lame word-use. But that’s only a piece. I, also, fear success. The demands of an audience! Wanting more of these characters. Wanting more of me. Success breeds an expectation of more success. What if I can’t?

At least my journals do not face destruction, even as I read them and cringe. I often expect genius in the first draft. Well, “expect” seems too soft a word. Better put: demand! These journals, though, serve as outlet for my need to write. Safety in these words, tucked upon my shelf, only occasionally shared. They served to contain the dream. Keeping me both safe from my dreams, and from the glaring pain of critique. This blog helps, too. Seeing the hundreds of people reading it each month gratifies.

Why do I let fear drive me? Deep down, perhaps, I face a troll lurking in the basement of my psyche. Bearing a monstrous, booming voice which terrifies. If I dare to venture down, seeking its face, I see a minuscule beast. The power in facing fears.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Just read & posted on Chris Brogan's latest piece (sorry about the full link, the iPhone Blogger inability to insert links is a bit of an issue for me):

He talks about authenticity in the blogosphere, as it's bandied around quite a bit. His key point is that it IS NOT simply unfiltered honesty. That authenticity still works within social norms. Good points. However, it doesn't go over what authenticity IS.

I've long viewed it as anti-BS. The blogosphere is exceptional at BS detection. PR spin is flammable. In the Internet age, you can't control the message. You must not twist verbiage in an attempt to mislead or bury an issue.

Anyway, that's my basic notion. What about you?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Life with an 8-Year-Old Update

Perhaps you've missed out. You may lack in geek cred, or awareness in all things least in a Disney/Cartoon sort of way. Yes, my friends, I've been introduced into the grandiose world of Phineas and Ferb. It's weak to call it "the most un-annoying thing on Disney XD. At the risk of sounding like the arrogant adult that I am, most of their programming is annoying (at best). Yet, blessed "yet", P&F are an actual delight. Well, in a geeky sort-of-way. Their joyous exploits and wondrous oblivion to their sister's continuous plotting; they embrace the naive geek world-view exceptionally.

Come, scroll down and partake!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Progressive's Relationship With Money

I've been thinking about money lately. Not just the considerations one would expect from the unemployed, but at a larger economic perspective. A couple of things brought this about. One, our school district added a charge for electronic additions to school lunch accounts. That prompted me to research the costs of electronic payments. This was expanded upon by chatting with the folks at Fabric of Life, a local store focusing on Fair Trade products.

As they encouraged me to pay with cash or check (sadly, neither of which I had), we got into a discussion of the effects of these myriad charges on small businesses. First, there's a payment they make simply to be part of the network, providing access to the payment system. On top of that, we have a per transaction charge. Then there's a percentage charge of the transaction. I'm left wondering what value these systems add. Well, besides convenience.

For me, convenience is the main benefit. I don't need to go to an ATM, or wait in a bank line to make transactions. Nor do I need to hold up a line with check writing. Just whip out the debit card and go. I guess this is an element of our impatient society. Well, another piece is not having cash to lose or have stolen. I lose my debit card, I make a few phone calls and I have my cash restored. It may take a few days to process, but it's better than losing cash, which will never be refunded by the bank.

However, are the costs worth the convenience? What's the "value add"? It's easy to lose sight of this as a consumer since we don't see the costs up front. However, small businesses, operating under tighter margins, and unable to leverage large scale transactions, are the ones saddled with the costs. It's hard from them to pass those along to the consumer; well, to do so and compete. These eat into their profitability and, thus, the sustainability of these businesses. As I have a fondness for them, I see that my continued electronic payments are damaging their ability to sustain. Gives me pause.

Added to this, one must consider all the activities of the banking sector the past few years. All the destructive practices of these lending institutions, which not only have gone unpunished, the main perpetuators have become well rewarded. It's very frustrating to watch these people richly rewarded for acting in direct opposition to their customer's interests. Then there are the continued addition of myriad fees, nickel-and-diming us to penury. With that, we, as thoughtful consumers, need to consider why we continue to engage with institutions that do not, by their very design, have our interests in mind.

So, I'm considering shifting my economic payment medium to cash. And my banking to a credit union. What's more progressive than a co-op? Those institutions born out of last century's progressive movement. Not perfect, perhaps, but more aligned with my values. My personal challenge in this is inertia. Shifting direct deposits, recurring payments, and all that sort of thing is a bit daunting to consider. And I've habituated to debit payments. That'll be tough to change, too.

Into all this comes this piece, The Future of Money in Wired (it's also a book). Will PayPal, and it's related technologies, open this up and make these transactions sustainable? (It's a meaty article...I highly recommend it) I think there's great potential here. But it's not quite here yet. However, I think it bears greater exploration for what's out there already. Thus, more to come...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thoughts on Messiahs and the Matrix

(Introductory Note: this will make little sense if you're unfamiliar with the mythology of The Matrix apologies)

Morpheus is my favorite character from The Matrix. Smarter, and voluntarily committed, not the reluctant messiah of Neo. Which makes me wonder about messiahs...they either are reluctant, or unquestionably obedient to a vision. I'm more aligned with the reluctant, probably since I'm not inclined to a sense of moral certitude. Having heros who struggle with vision, with stretching themselves from ordinary to greatness feels much more sincere. 

So what's the deal with Morpheus? A key piece of this character is his calm confidence in his vision, in who Neo is and what he will accomplish. He always works toward his vision, even (or especially) in the face of challenge and adversity. He is key as Neo's mentor, yet there comes the point where he no longer impacts the story, becoming somewhat a passive recipient of Neo's sacrifice. It's interesting that the climax of the trilogy occurs between Neo and Smith, yet there is action for the rest of Zion. But they're efforts are, really, empty. Their fight is utterly useless. If Neo fails, they die. If he succeeds, they life. And there's nothing they can do but hold out until Neo can finish his task. Part of Morpheus' willingness to fight a pointless battle is his desire to survive Neo's quest's completion. So, my attraction is based on his commitment and tranquility. His certitude of his pupil's ability. And, probably, his faith in the continuance in the ability of humanity to persevere. For without this, what hope does a messiah offer? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I've neglected my blog these past few weeks; my apologies. No malice, nor discontent; simply the fact that I've started a new role. Ramping up is always time consuming. So, though I've been absent, know that I miss you my dear little blog.

I have much to write about. I should get up my long delinquent post about my WinPhone7, and why I went back to my iPhone. And I, like so much of the Internet, have been fiddling with Google +. And this role I just started represents some significant changed, which excite me.

I'll post again soon, rest assured. Until then...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Devices, ISPs and Diverging Needs

I see a convergece of some troubling trends. First, device providers (such as Apple, Google and Microsoft) are creating devices that heavily utilize the net (smartphones, netbooks and such). On the opposite side we have the ISPs, not just the traditional hard-wire services (Comcast, Frontier, et al), but also wireless carriers (ATT, Verizon, etc). They currently need to throttle access. I see a train wreck coming as they're moving opposite ways, but critically depend on each other. Somehow, the ISPs need to build out their infrastructure (based on the assumption that the throttling is based on lack of capacity, not on blind greed). It would be great if somehow the device creators, and content creators, could find ways to share revenue with the ISPs. Clearly, such would need to be done so that net neutrality is maintained, anti-trust is ensured and such. Basically, ISPs need to have the increased demand become income, not simply expense.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Microsoft & Marketshare

While reading the latest post over at (looking at Windows Phone 7's Mango release & Windows Live below), I started thinking about Windows and the rest of Microsoft. Windows became strong by allowing a huge spread of machines to run it; particularly low cost ones. Even if you couldn't afford a Mac, there is a Windows PC out there for you. Oddly, with Zune and WP7, they've focused on the premium market. Why isn't there an entry priced Zune? Even Apple has lower priced iPods. Funny to think that price plays a role, I guess. Pundits tend to focus on features and innovation. Yet most consumers must deal with price, at least some point in the purchase process.

Friday, May 27, 2011


The notion of transparency really fascinates me. First, how fluid the definition is. What does it mean to be "transparent"? One way to look at it is the opposite of secret. A commitment to transparency does not ensure there will not be any secrets. Many would say that there is need for secrecy, at least in certain areas. Defining those areas is, not too surprising, is also changeable. Everyone seems to have differing opinions. Certainly part of that stems from who benefits/who is harmed. For me, and this thread (at least), I clearly identify two macro-areas: security (keeping someone/people/things safe) and inhibiting distraction. The later is less about "secrecy" (and it's assorted baggage) and rather, more gently, "limited transparency". As a leader, having your team fully "in the know" about greater strategy, issues, etc, would first and foremost keep people from getting their "work" done. Or, closely related, is avoiding "boring to death with details". Anyway, there are also larger issues of morality, et al. These are all interesting, and important, related topics. However, I'm focusing on the role trust plays.

Establishing trust is critical before the need for secrecy comes. For secrecy often entails, dare I say implies, deception. Especially if trust is damaged in any way, the assumption of a request for secrecy is deception. So many leaders assume/expect/demand the requisite trust without building relationship, with establishing respect and trust. They, of course, are then shocked with any absence of detail causes distraction and confusion.

Trust comes from relationship, from people living their principles and establishing a record of quality. Then holding back detail is tolerated, accepted.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End Of The World

I expect everyone with any connection to the greater outside themselves has heard of Camping and his prediction that the pseudo-Christian Rapture will happen today. It's had been much too easy join in the smug mockery. I'm reminded this morning that people sincerely believe this, and have made many life decisions based on this. And they're lives will be abruptly upended. Some will laugh it off, mildly to extremely angry that they were duped. But able to externalize the blame. There are those, though, that will deeply internalize this failure. And our wholesale mocking of this won't help them through the personal mess they've created. Compassion will be crucial. For some, today will be a rude and painful day of betrayal and heartbreak.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thoughts on Intimidating the Press

I just read a piece over at Cross-Cut about the Perugia Public Prosecutor's use of his office to harass members of the press. Let me start by stating, though I reside in Seattle, I have no skin the Amanda Know case. I don't know Ms. Knox or her family, and have no standing to offer any critique of the case, either pro or con (so please, I don't care to debate it...not my bailiwick, so to speak). So, this is not about the murder case. No, it's much bigger: freedom of the press. This cornerstone of democracy looks to be under serious threat in Italy.

I find it particularly disturbing that Mr. Mignini, the aforementioned prosecutor, an agent of the government, is so aggressively seeking to undermine core democratic underpinnings. This is someone who has an inherent responsibility towards these principles. To see him trample upon them pains me deeply. The destructive impact of this in manifold, and not just in Italy.

The Committee To Protect Journalists has written to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano seeking his intercession. I hope that President Napolitano sees fit to intercede. This sort of chill is deeply detrimental to Italian democracy, and democracy worldwide.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Macprotector Scam & Trojan

Hey folks, there's a nasty Mac specific trojan running through the wild. It looks to be mostly transmitted by social engineering means. Particularly, with alarming "virus alert" messages from an infected website demanding you install MacProtector, MacSecurity, or MacDefendor.

If you have this beast, I recommend following the instructions posted in Apple's forum.

There are a few discussions about this going on over the web right now. I came across this via Ed Bott's pieces today over at ZDNet (#1 & #2). Bott's replies to John Gruber's "Wolf" post @ Daring Fireball has birthed some interesting discussion, including a clever rip by Walt Mosspuppet. In the end, it seems to be more of the old Mac vs. PC bickering that's been going on for decades.

My concern, at this point, is that there are those who think that the Mac OS "superiority" towards virus and hack exploits makes them immune from concern. There ARE Mac viri out there. As a long-time Mac user who's passionate about the platform, I think this attitude is not only bad but dangerous. We should remind people that they should be aware of the latest exploits out there and how to protect themselves. We can't let ourselves get blinded by arrogance.

So, folks, don't click on strange links, exercise caution surfing porn (if you must surf it at all), don't trust alarmist pop-ups, and don't give out your credit card number to a site that you don't trust implicitly. To paraphrase a quip by Graham Hibbert (via Twitter), we need to make sure that, when the wolf comes, we are ready.

Now, go and practice safe computing!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Avoiding the Blame Game

While reading the latest post of Don Dodge's "Next Big Thing", I was reminded of what I call the "blamearama". We've all seen it. Something goes wrong in a project, or any other endeavor, and everyone points the fingers at everyone else. Rooted in fear, it's a particular issue in large companies, where everyone is risk adverse and living in terror of failing. Oddly, so many companies afflicted with this also think they're innovative. There is NO innovation without risk. One can incrementally improve, refine execution and such, but no innovation, no radical change will come out of that mindset.

Only in an environment where you can openly say "these are the things I would do differently next time", and not worry about being fired, can innovation thrive. In a healthy, innovative and creative environment, you are encouraged to take risks and be open to new ideas.

I also believe that, even in large companies where risk-aversion is the norm, it's still possible to focus on quality and abandon the need to blame. To be open to changing circumstances and assuming the best if your staff. At that point you can start to achieve execution excellence, to hear all points of view and all pieces of process. Openly understand where the breakdowns occur and find ways to overcome them. I do believe this is possible.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Technology Solutions? Not So Fast...

My wife spent the end of last week and part of the weekend in a conference. Upon returning home we noticed the hotel had a $100 hold on our account. A quick call showed it as legit, and I have no problem with the action. However, what flummoxes me us that it will take several days to process. In today's world, this is stunning. I can't understand why any transaction is NOT closed out upon checkout. I can see waiting until housekeeping had cleared the room. There doesn't appear to be any benefit to the hotel, either. No cash changes hands, so it's not like they're making interest on the held money. Seems simply to be a weak system process. One that makes the hotel look disorganized and non-service savvy. Of course, most folks probably wouldn't watch their accounts like we do.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blogs, Speed & Relevance

Speed is a core part of the blogosphere. Current event discussions happen fast, pretty much instantly. To be relevant in that dialog, one must write fast, post quickly. That's dangerous, I fear. It's how innuendo and rumor become accepted facts. We writers become so focused on relevance that we lose sight of accuracy.

Consider disaster coverage. Networks feel obligated to divert all coverage, even when there's nothing to say. So desperate for something, and wanting to get the "scoop", pure junk often gets dumped into the discussion. I've found that it often takes days to weed through the initial coverage to find accuracy.

Ironically, that said, I still feel a compulsion to watch that event unfold. I'll remain glued, catching every detail, all the while knowing that a high percentage is pure bunk. I drive me crazy, I guess.

Another example, methinks, of change begins with me. I understand at a deeper level, so why do I engage the same way. I need to let my knowledge guide me. And don't continue rewarding that media behavior. Ultimately, news is driven be views. Needing eyeballs upon itself, viewership (whether page hits or Neilson ratings) pays the bills.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Facebook vs. Google Part ii

Just read this piece over at PCWorld. Geez, it just seems that the parties involved are hell-bent on damaging their own brand. First, Facebook still is denying that they were trying to smear Google. Please! Gotta call BS on that. If this was about "the people", then do it openly. Facebook seems to think we're stupid. Own up, grow up and move along.

And Burson-Marsteller...the "pros". I'm shocked they accepted this project, though give them credit for owning up and giving a mea culpa. But I'm stunned that they went and deleted a negative comment from their Facebook page. At times like this, you must be hyper vigilant and extremely sensitive.

Both Facebook and Burson need to grasp they've damaged trust. Angry denouncements only expand that divide. Every decision in the near-term needs to be focused on rebuilding trust. I don't know if they'll find themselves with lost profits or such, but the potential exists. Trust is the currency of the modern economy. Especially in social media (Facebook) and PR (Burson).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Facebook vs. Google

Finally reading up on Facebook's campaign to smear Google. My first thought was how laughable it is for Facebook to defend this by stating "they're concerned about Google's privacy concerns" just makes my head spin. Let's pretend that this is legitimate. Then it should be done in the open, acknowledging their own issues with managing privacy. Otherwise, you look childish and deceptive. In today's media saturated space, losing consumer trust can be fatal (not that I think this will kill Facebook. It can be one proverbial nail-in-the-coffin, though).

My impression? This was an attempt at being hyper-competitive and has backfired. Facebook looks childish and grossly unprofessional. Burson-Marsteller (a whole 'nother post) looks grossly unethical. A bad, bad choice that will add ammunition to the anti-Facebook crowd. There is a point which this energy can obtain critical mass. Facebook needs to work on building up the trust "bank account", not continuing to draw it down. When it's empty, the house of cards collapses.

Media Tracking

As I'm updating my resume and looking over past work, I came across some media tracking spreadsheets I'd crafted. The company is international, but the data I had was (mostly) national (US), with little bits of Canada thrown in. Anyway, what I received were spreadsheets from an agency covering all media stories. The main thing I did with this was break it down by focus (positive vs. negative, for the most part).

So, I've been considering what I would do differently now. This is just a stream of ideas, so please understand them as such. I would like to build reports with more depth. Look at regional coverage. Map out city by city, etc, across the globe if possible. Layer this on top of a map. Then with that report I'd break out positive, negative & neutral focus. It's important to note that it's hard to ascertain focus when one doesn't see the coverage. Anyway, I also thought it would be good to look at what's generating the coverage: new products, new markets, "issues" (which should be tracked by individual issues/campaigns. It would be elucidating to track how the issue moves across the landscape.). I also would add social media to this. I want to see/show how awareness is impacted by those tools.

On a technical note, I would not use Excel for data collection. Collect raw data in a database. The challenge is being proactive with the structure. I'd love to build something that was accessible at a more macro level. Perhaps with SQL and displayed in a Sharepoint site. I have an aversion to myriad individual databases globally distributed.

Anyway, I'm learning and growing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Millennium Falcon Coffee Table?

The folks over at Galatic Binder posted this awesome little table. Quite the piece of work, methinks. Were I a wealthier man, this would be on my "must have" list. It looks like it's made of bronze, so I'd hate to need to move the thing.

Thoughts on Google's $20 Per Month Laptop

So, Google is supposedly launching a $20 per month laptop (per Forbes). This will include hardware and software. What's critical for the success of this is whether it's "only" a web appliance or a fuller featured laptop. (ZDNet has a good discussion going on that.)

Personally, I expect it will have at least some offline capacity. Even in the Seattle area, expecting 24/7 web access is just not practical. And I'd like to think Google gets that. Without the ability to port to a coffee shop (yes, there are several without wifi...even around here), etc, the device's usefulness for students is severely restricted. Heck, a simple power outage turns it into a paperweight brick.

Will such a thing have access to other Linux-like/Open Source apps, or be solely limited to Google apps? Will there be a GIMP, for instance? I would greatly miss a full featured image editor. Don't know if that would be a deal-breaker, but...

I want to know how Google will deploy storage. Having a significant amount of the devices device's storage cloud based would be unique, and allow work to be more portable. Especially across platforms. It would really need to be rather seamless, but that doesn't look like a great challenge anymore. Perhaps that's how a web device would be billed; you take your notes on the device and edit them on some other device.

Any of you going to run out and get one? Drop a note in the comments.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Favorite Storycorps Interview Yet

I've been enjoying Storycorps for years. The ones aired on NPR always seem to touch me, either warming my heart and bringing tears. And each one seems to be my new favorite.

I've just discovered the little animated bits that they've been putting together with the articles. This one (below) follows the tradition of becoming my new favorite. The grandmother of this story reminds me so very much of one of my own.

So, enjoy!

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Sentimental Pitch

I sit here watching one of those "save the world and starving children" pitches. You know the ones; watching some child in the ruins of poverty, tears flowing down their face. As I've developed a deep and abiding cynicism of marketing of any stripe, these tend to annoy me (and I'm a liberal). Yet, yet I know the reason these tactics are used; it works. It's what gets people off the couch and to the phone/web. I suppose I should embrace this, the effectiveness. However, I wish that we could become deeper, that we could be reached by the logic and compassion of the need. That we weren't so numb. I guess I shall continue with that wish for some time to come.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

I Will Make It Through This Year

With nearly 42% of 2011 completed, I can clearly say that is shaping up into a rough year. Well, at least career-wise. Rough spots, though, are when you get the deepest insights and, for me at least, tend to be the most life changing. Part of what's telling is the lack of angst I feel right now. The past few years have taught me the value of work and career. Most specifically, that's it's not the inner core of my being. There are things far more important. What's really amazing me is how much better I feel about myself right now. My last two roles, though rather successful on the surface, left me feeling quite empty, and struggling with lingering feelings of anxiety and exhaustion. Those feelings are blessedly absent now.

Oddly, life seems to reinforce the notion of Murphy's Law. Thus, both of our cars have needed work, medical bills came steaming in, and that sort of fun. Not economic implosion, but certainly annoying.

The absence of call-backs right now is a bit disheartening. Doesn't make you feel valuable and vital. I worry that, with my career focus on administrative assistant roles, that I've been competing with far too many people. As a role that needs "little preparation", pays modestly well, and is (technically) a growing occupation (per the Occupational Outlook of Snohomish County., I expect that many, many applicants are in this pool. Thus, I am starting to expand my focus, mostly into more project management roles. We'll see what comes.

John Richard played this tune onKEXP earlier this week. I think I might adopt it as my 2010 theme song.

The Mountain Goats "This Year" from A Bruntel on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Animated Physics

Piled Higher & Deeper comics created a great animation to go along with an interview with Jonathan Feng. A fun look at where we in the realm of physics research. If you're a physics geek, though, you'll be a bit bored as it's very high-level. But the animations that go with this are still worth watching.

Dark Matters from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Maybe I should pursue this career option?

Thoughts on SSDs

Received yet another ad for SSDs (solid-state hard-drives). I'd love to have the benefits: faster boot times, less heat/more battery, longer life. As cool as a solid state drive is, I'm not sure I can justify the costs. Or, to bring the costs in line, lower my used disk space. As I think, though, I can see something of a work-around. Go with the smallest SSD I can justify, but then use the cloud, or an external hard-drive, or both for the bulk of my information storage. Also, bodes the question of "why do I save so much data?"

I do save nearly everything. That goes way back, though. Every so often, I purge my 4 drawer file cabinet. Yet I have years worth of receipts, various miscellaneous files. My data hoarding goes back to hard-copy days. And, perhaps, it's time for that to end.

I think of the times that that one, random file, saved has been either helpful, or has saved my butt. Producing that email saying "I want you to do 'x'" was perfect when a manager was yelling at me (during a meeting) about why I had done 'x'. A few times, yet meaningful. Perhaps the positive response to this reinforced a pack-rat mentality, or the fear that this one document will be the one that saves me. issue in-and-of itself.

More reflection is needed for me to know if this is need for data space, and fear-driven, or simply "I don't have the cash for buying un-needed technology right now". Perhaps someday I'll flesh this out further. Perhaps. Someday.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I just watched part of a show about 9/11 conspiracy theories (click here for more). Now, I'm no engineer (though have a great deal of related training), so am disinclined to argue the facts on either side of this debate. I lean towards to official story, though, My main criteria for this? For such a secret to be maintained would truly be a revolutionary event. These same people who can't keep secret the next speech are going to keep THIS under wraps? The divergent and conflicting agendas within the federal government will work together in this instance?

Now, if there is some shadow org affecting such actions, the ramifications are amazing. Keeping such secrets with actions that would work across departments is something unique. Perhaps it's possible. It escapes my observations, though.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


After several attempts to over-generalize my key-fobs functionality (front door >2x, mailbox, store-front, kitchen lights), I started wondering how awesome life would be with remote control of every major appliance. Kitchen lights reflecting on my computer screen? Click! Hands full and trying to get in the house? Click! Mailbox? Yep, Click! Oh, wouldn't life be so much easier?

Well, no. Imagine the way such could be executed. Either multiple fobs for each action. I'm imagining an electronic age version of the jailers key ring. Or walking with a universal remote that's more like an iPad. Not very practical after all.

Wait! How about an implant wired to your nervous system? We're not quite there yet, but we can see the proverbial light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel for this (though faintly). Imagine that world. Need the lights on? Just think it. Etc, etc, etc. But, besides the risk of infection, what other issues would this bring? First, the Revelation/bible based "mark" that would get a significant part of our population in a tizzy. Regardless, I'm unlikely to elect this "service", if ever offered. Mainly for security. Think how insecure data is right now. And we're going to let this technology access our minds? Not mine!

Are you going to be at the front of the line to get your mind hard-wired to the net? Going to trade everything in for guns and a cabin in the high woods and wait for Skynet to come online? Or somewhere in between?

Random thoughts on a Sunny Saturday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

See What I'm Saying is Coming To Portland

If you're in the Portland, OR area in May, check this out.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Medical Industrial Complex

Just watched a spot for a prescription eye-lash grower. Watching it makes me think of the treatments for gas, hair-loss, and all sorts of trivial ailments. Seems rather superfluous and silly. Clearly, even such a noble endeavor as medicine looses its ethical compass in the face of profit.

How do we get treatments developed for serious diseases that don’t have large markets? The invisible hand won’t bring them about. A disease, no matter how dreadful its affects and the suffering it causes, that only has a minute number of “customers” won’t attract the medical industrial complex. Is there any way to build these treatments, products? To alleviate these diseases and mitigate suffering? This ethical concern is one, unspoken, draw for me towards a nationalized (perhaps globalized?) system. I hope that we could find a non-socialized system.

La Vida Smartphona

One of my Facebook chums just got her first smartphone (an Android for those keeping score at home). Thus, she was looking for some suggestions to get the best use of the thing. Which got me thinking; and that's a dangerous thing. I gave her some pointers, but kept it brief out of respect for her Wall. But, since this is my blog and I can do whatever-the-heck-I-want, I'm going to elaborate.

Smartphones have been a key part of my life for years. It was a small conversion at the time, as I had Palm & HP handhelds before. Shifting from two small devices to one was wondrous. Geekous maximus. In the smartphone realm, my first was a Treo, then to Blackberries (when Treos finally annoyed me enough). Then I got a iPhone, followed with a brief foray into Windows (both a WinMo 6.1 & the WP7). So, I think I know how to use the devices efficiently.

Anyway, here are the basics of how I use mine. Some things I've used for years, some are only germane now with post iPhone smartphones.

  • email: should be evident. It's dangerous, though, to be always online.

  • calendar: my phone is my calendar. It's always with me, so I'm able to commit to time requests right off. My wife and I send each other appointments so we know when we have larger commitments. Also, I'm now very dependent on alarms. It's synced, of course.

  • to-dos: I downloaded a feature rich to-do app since this is critical for me. Pop-up reminders are important for me on this, too.

  • Notes: having notes that sync to my computer has become critical for me. I also take voice memos and having a tool that integrates them all is priceless.

  • Traffic/GPS: it's great to be able to check traffic as I'm walking to my car, or for my navigator to check while I'm on the road. There've been a few times where the GPS directions have really helped me out.

  • financial: my bank and broker have apps, which are quite helpful. Not life-or-death, but quite slick.

  • I love Urban Spoon and Yelp! for guidance when dining out. They're really useful when I'm in a town I don't know.

  • music: when the iPhone first came out (I held out for a cycle, keeping my Blackberry), I downloaded some music to see the value. I thought the convergence of phone and music player to be dumb. My notions have mollified. Now, I use my iPhone's iPod all the time. I especially like podcasts during my commute.

  • games: invaluable tool to kill time in lines, the dmv, et al.

  • reading: relatively new to me, using the phone as a reader has been a boon in times of boredom (see above).

  • This has been a simple stream-of-consciousness list. Hardly all-inclusive. Have anything you want to add? Drop a note in the comments. I'd love to hear it.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    An Edmonds Kind Of Day

    This afternoon I chose to stroll along the waterfront in Edmonds. A lovely, quiet downtown, I enjoy taking an hour or so to walk along the beach, past the marina, enjoying the views. Today, though, was unique. First, I heard the (surprisingly loud) cries of eagles. The nesting pairs of bald eagles are back. They followed my path for quite some time. Of course, my walk took me a block from their aerie. The several other walkers and I conjectured the crows trying to dissuade the eagles from their nest were doomed to fail.

    The entirety of my walk was haunted by the eagles, but they weren't my only wild moment. A small family of sea-lions were passing outside the marina. And, lastly, at the end of the waterside stroll of my sojourn, I watched an otter in the Sound. I adore these wild moments, brought to me right in the heart of town. Solid reminders of why I love it here.

    How to be an Analyst

    I zipped out a snarky answer on TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) and thought I'd share...I am rather proud.

    (Setting the scene: Gwydion commented that "I want a job as analyst, I can say any silly thing and be paid for it" [comment #1])

    "Gwydion, it's not quite that easy. First, you need to collect copious amounts of BS data. Proceed to dump into the spreadsheet of your choice. Then torture this into the most eye-burning/bleeding set of graphics and slides that you can. That is a critical step, for it instills a sciencey note (giving credibility) and causes intense dizziness, which enables you to use your hypnotic skills (there's an app for that, I'm sure). Then just make sure to include that Steve Jobs is/will be giving Steve Ballmer an economic wedgie and off you go."

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Arts, Crafts and My Office Supplies

    I adore my son, and love his creativity. It does, however, grate on me (somewhat) the toll this takes on my office supplies. I can’t find a single, unbent paper clip right now. Yesterday it was all the letter-sized paper gone, GONE from the printer. A few weeks back: every staple in the house (2 boxes!) had been consumed in some mad-scientist/artist scheme.

    That goes with the pounds of paper scraps littering the floor. And the piles, PILES of various half-done crafts (that I recycle at my peril). ’Tis the perilous life a modern father.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Relationship Management

    Just read on Chris Brogan’s site a serious critique of Amazon’s Cloud Service. Reminded me of an insight I had while researching web presence for a Fortune 500 company. Every company at that scale has a web presence and reputation/status. That extends pretty far down the pipeline, too. Most every company has some presence on the web (I’m sure there are a few that the web is completely ignorant of, but I expect that to be challenging to find).

    Consider how many people use the web for research. Whether prospective new hires, students or activists, people will find all kinds of information about your institution on the web. Therefore, community management/social media management is critical for a company. At least one person should be scouring the web looking for opportunities to discuss the company, it’s products/services, and address issues. This must be fully transparent, however. Dialog needs to include both the positive and negative. Oh, and yes there are vile trolls out there. They exist whether you engage or not. Ignoring them let’s them control your company’s web image. Also, there are valid and useful critiques.

    Activists of many issues have the ability to look at a company quite deeply. Transparency exists, whether you want it to or not. It’s not really that easy to track down in depth information, but it is possible. So, no matter what company you are and how tightly you try to control information, there is a great deal of “stuff” out there about you. Controlling the message has become impossible. The best thing you can do is engage forthrightly. And, of course, make sure your company is operating in an ethical and morally sustainable way.

    Seriously, a negative critique is an opportunity to engage. If done well, it can build a fan. If not, it provides an opportunity to damage your reputation and relationship. Building and maintaining positive relationships requires active, and proactive engagement. There must be dialog (2 way discussion). Yes, really, the company must LISTEN. PR & Marketing need to be about managing relationships and less about “making the sale”. There needs to be a genuine desire for relationship. BS is easily detected and mass communicated.

    Just be open, clear and ethical. Accept the “message” is out of your control, but that you can influence perception. If that influence is propaganda, it will be easily sniffed out and blown to pieces. Open, true two-way discussion works. The corporate mind just needs to stop being so afraid.

    Saturday, April 09, 2011

    Are All Questions "Good"

    I've long found the statement "that's a good question" to be obnoxious. As I tend to think questions through, trying to answer them on my own, I find the statement redundant. However, I'm rethinking that annoyance. There are bad questions. Asking questions that whose answer is evident are a particular bane of mine.

    A good question has some basic pieces: thoughtfulness, insightfulness, and (if its particularly good) the answerer learns something. Good questions show that you've paid attention and have considered things.

    A bad question is one based in intellectual laziness. Asking questions to avoid thinking, researching, etc, is obnoxious. So, think before you ask.


    Friday, April 08, 2011

    Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination view ii

    Today was round 2 at the Pacific Science Center's Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit. I had my eight-year-old and one of his best friends, which added a nice balance to my experience. I, perhaps, have over studied SW. Done the comparisons to Jung, read many of the side stories, and a number of the manuals. I have an extended knowledge of the Universe. Perhaps I could have used that time and energy towards something that would've cured cancer or netted me a couple of million, but I digress.

    The boys bring a new perspective to SW. The prequels have always existed to them. The dialogs I had after Phantom Menace would be absurd to then. "Palpatine really becomes the Emperor? They don't make him seem menacing at all." as an example.

    I enjoyed the models and the supporting video about production. And the way they connected this to real science was pretty cool; things like space-craft and robotics. I think the boys liked the gift shop best, sadly.

    It was a nice way to spend a spring break day. Especially considering our spate of cold wet weather. Spent it with hundreds (thousands?) of other families, though. Overstimulation central!

    Monday, April 04, 2011

    Resumes and Such

    Currently, my job search is focused on agencies. What's amusing to me is how antithetical to all the resume prevailing wisdom agency resumes need to be. You don't want to be TOO focused. Quite to the contrary, they should be broad. That resume gets sent around for various positions, often without any prompting from you. A sufficiently broad focused resume gives their recruiter the ability to send your resume out to a variety of firms. Just my thoughts...I don't intend to bill myself as a resume expert!

    Saturday, April 02, 2011

    Thoughts on April Fools Day

    A friend of mine ruminated on Facebook whether it was appropriate to celebrate the “lies” of April 1. My first worry was that she, and her chums in the negative (I was the lone dissenting voice), were in dire danger of becoming humorless drones. But then I wondered, as I often do, the deeper points of what she was writing. Is April Fools' Day really, REALLY about celebrating deception and lies? Well, for me at least, no. Actually, the beauty of April Fools is creativity. There’s an elegance and sophistication behind the truly artful prank. Therein lies the fun. A well done AF prank is about more than how many people are deceived. Also, I add “points” for the level of outrageousness to the assertion, or the depth of the deception. With that is the effort and skill behind any supporting work for the prank; whether Photoshop, a video, what-have-you. Important, for me at least, is the absence of malice. A good prank should not be about hurting or humiliating anyone.

    Ultimately, what I value most is creativity and wit. The best April Fools pranks are just that; a celebration of clever minds and the creation of great material.

    Friday, April 01, 2011

    Scalp Massage

    Scalp Massage, originally uploaded by carl.setzer.

    He's just chirping away happily.

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    Too Much Rain

    We've had quite enough of the wet stuff, I believe. The Snoqualmie Falls below aren't, generally, this full. Both impressive, and scary. Glad I don't live that close.

    Thoughts on the job search

    There are times that I hate this whole job-searching thing. All the customizing resumes, tweaking searches, poking around random websites, trying to gauge what recruiters are seeking, finding ways to bring my resume to the top of the swarm...yeah, fun. Of course, one of the most fun parts of all this is explaining what kind of career I've had. What a long, strange trip THAT's been.

    That path has been, as Gary Erickson (founder of Clif Bars) would put it, has been upon a white lined road. While journeying in Europe, he found a map that differentiated the main, heavily traveled roads with red and the smaller, lesser frequented ones with white. In his book, he uses that analogy to explain the path his business has journeyed, as well as his viewpoint on decisions. My winding career, though, makes it hard at times to describe what I am, at least in terms of my career. Perhaps it's easier to talk about my foci right now.

    I am seeing my deepest gifts as administrative, if not as an admin assistant or secretary. What I've called "executive baby-sitting" is not my calling. Those executives that I've admined for successfully have been quite self-sufficient and needed my assistance for more project and team centric work. Anyway, this really means that I work best in team support roles.

    Right now, my main focus is on landing something close by; aka: eliminating the commute. My past few positions have had long ones. Now, I haven't really minded them. In some ways I like having the down-time. However, I am finding my role as household manager to be rather core to my being. Proximity to home is needed to maximize my effectiveness there. The challenge? My local network is pathetic. I am well connected in Seattle and Bellevue, but South Snohomish County? Not so much. Needless to say, I'm working on that.

    We do have several large players around here: Boeing being mammoth, but also Premera and Philips have significant operations here. Then there are the smattering of biotech firms landing in Bothell (an ever growing list). With my love of public-side work, I'm also poking around local government.

    It's been rather quite the past few days on the replies from hiring folks. I'm confident that will change soon. My home-side work is keeping me both busy and happy. In the last stint of unemployment, I was a bit unbalanced with job-seeking. Ironically, it was when I started focusing on balancing my life that I found work. This round I've been focused on balance: health (exercise, mostly), expanding my knowledge of both key skills as well as the local area. Anyway, that's another post.


    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Star Wars Exhibit

    We went to the Pacific Science Center's member's preview for theirStar Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination production. As a (nearly) life-long Star Wars fan, it was a delight to be part of. Many other geeks my age were there; I'm pretty sure there were more adults than kids. The official show starts today, and I expect the attendance to be more balanced.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Some Ideas About The Future Of TV

    I'm watching G4's Attack of the Show. I've checked out the show, and the network, a few times since they merged with TechTV. I've not been too impressed with G4's programming work, as it seems to mostly consist of reruns of COPs.

    AOFS AOTS, though, has some interesting concepts. Their focus is tech, in the form of gaming, internet memes, viral video; mainly the goofy and wacky of online life. I like their displayed Twitter stream, and the way they incorporate that and audience reactions into the show. There clearly is preparation, thus some scripting (there are guests for instance). The show seems to be allowed to flow in whatever direction it wanders. They riff off of whatever random tweet comes through.

    They may be silly & goofy (The show is not for everyone. Shall we say it's a tad bit ribald?), but I think they have glimpsed the future. That we're expecting to be interacted with, not just fed. We have something to say about a broadcast, and that others are interested in engaging with each other. It's an interesting experiment, and bears watching. Hopefully, G4 can do something interesting with the concept. If not, someone else will.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Linux & Me

    I've spent the better part of today getting Ubuntu working on an older laptop (Compaq Presario R3000). I installed it several days ago, but was fighting with getting my wifi card to work. 'Twas a bit of challenge due to its agedness. I was trying to get a Broadcom 4301 802.11 b card running with Maverick Meerkat. This is old enough to not be supported, so I needed to get creative. I'm geek-proud of myself for getting it worked out (uninstalled the built in broadcom driver and then utilized the "Windows Wireless Drivers" app & the original driver that shipped with the thing).

    The more I think about it, the more I'm surprised that I'm only now getting into Linux. Well, I fiddled a bit with it a few years back, but never went anywhere. When I consider my values, my tendency towards "anti-corporate" & anti-commercial and my love of all things geeky, this should've been a slam-dunk. Well, it took a bit, but here I am. We'll see where this world leads me.

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Mickey Hart and Global Drum Project -

    I first came across Mickey Hart years back in the early 90s with the first iteration of Planet Drum. Listening left me in awe; the combination of global rhythms into this amazing blend of rhythm and harmony. Speaking to the core of my being, I constantly cycled that cassette. Eventually stretching and warping the poor thing.

    Besides the quality of the work, I also find Mr. Hart's equal footing with the "other" percussionists to be great. Shows me he is a musician to the core of his being.

    I'm not sure how long this has been up on YouTube, but it still is delightful. National Geo does fantastic work.

    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

    A Day Made of Glass... Made possible by Corning.

    Very exciting stuff for the techy in me. I find these utopian visions of the future very interesting and compelling. I wonder, though, how sustainability fits in. Can these products be crafted without destroying the environment? And is this only limited to the rich? Or will the poor of our globe have any benefit from this glorious utopia?

    Tuesday, March 08, 2011

    Social Media Expertise

    Lots of folks are running around billing themselves as “social media” experts. Most of my cohort online finds them annoying at best, and fraudulent at worst. In the spirit of self-exploration, and a wee bit of sarcasm, I present reasons that I (little ol’ me) could bill myself thusly.

    Reasons I can call myself a Social Media Expert:
    1. I’ve been reading Wil Wheaton’s blog since before the term “blog” was invented. And I didn’t know what to think when he shifted to Word Press.
    2. Got a Facebook account back when you needed to request an invite, and the email had to be a .edu email address.
    3. Had a “blog” before the term was invented. Each update hand-coded (html, if you don’t know...but actually care), with my archive needing a great deal of thought and strategy. (It was hosted on my “free” webpage that came gratis with my Earthlink account.)
    4. With said blog, was excited to plug in a counter and delighted in watching it tick upward
    5. I had a Geocites site (multiple pages, so truly a “site) before the Yahoo! acquisition.
    6. Became part of a Webring.
    7. I’ve had accounts on MySpace, Friendster, Yahoo!360...
    8. Got a gmail account back when the only way was via an invite.
    9. I was involved in many vigorous and interesting Usenet discussions
    10. Actually know about Usenet...and where the archives are.
    11. I’ve explained to people what a blog, Facebook, etc are before any reporter (other than tech/geek columnists) had written about them.
    12. Remember when ZDNet was a tech forum focused on professional IT.
    13. I’ve made comments on Dilbert’s List of the Day.
    14. Know what an In-Duh-Vidual is.
    15. Have actually used Mosaic.
    16. Have actually used Lynx.
    17. Had discussions about search engine optimization before the term “search engine optimization” existed.
    18. Started my Blogger site before Google’s acquisition.
    Some of these really should read “why I’m a web geek”, but, well, whatever.

    Monday, March 07, 2011

    Coffee and Fast Food

    This morning got away from me. Took much longer than normal to get out the door, thus got my son to before-school care right about time for him to go meet the bus. While there, the director (a long-time friend) told me she was having issues with her printer (which I had installed last week). So, more time before I finally get breakfast. At moments like these, I’m sorely tempted by McDonald’s breakfast. Today I succumb. I decide to take advantage to this moment and finally try McDonald’s coffee.

    You see, I worked at Starbucks back in 2007 when Consumer Reports decided McDonald’s had better coffee than Starbucks. CR dropped in my esteem after this. It seemed crazy to me to compare Starbucks, a coffee roaster to McDonald’s, Dunkin, and Burger buyers. On top of this, coffee is procured from a myriad of vendors. Adding to the fun, one of the many companies McDonald’s & Burger King buy coffee from is Starbucks (or its sub-company, Seattle’s Best). I thought it would be hysterical if the CR gang were comparing Starbucks to Starbucks.

    Perhaps because of my annoyance noted above, and/or commitment to my (then) employer, I never actually tried McDonald’s coffee. So, here we go. It wasn’t too bad. Well balanced, smooth, a little tangier than I usually go for. With a little sugar, it has a flavor much like soda. Clearly Latin American beans, very light and balanced. None of the earthiness of Asian beans, and no African notes, either. Not horrible, not bad; a pretty “middlin” coffee.

    No, I won’t be dropping my regular stops at Ladro or Starbucks. However, I’ll drop some of my annoyance at McD’s. I’ll keep my condescension at Consumer Reports, though.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2011

    Geek Boat

    Geek Boat, originally uploaded by carl.setzer.

    Found this fellow at the Edmonds marina (WA). Wonder if I'll find them at
    the upcoming comic-con?

    iPad Thoughts

    As a musician, I think there’s great value with the iPad for music display. No more flipping pages due to breezes, ease in organizing (adjusting play lists), quickly shifting pages (a simple touch) and the ability to have a huge sheet music library at your fingertips. If you’ve ever lugged several Fake books to gigs, you can see the potential. Of course, the device is relatively fragile (as any electronic device is), so there’s a challenge. Nothing should frighten musicians more than the thought of losing your performance materials.