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Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management. Photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and nature who is exploring the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found.
Author and Blogger. They are not the same thing. Sports occasionally spoken here, especially hockey. Veteran of Sun, Apple, Palm, HP and now Infoblox, plus some you've never heard of. They didn't kill me, they made me better.
Person with opinions, and not afraid to share them. Debate team in high school and college; bet that's a surprise.
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Monthly Archives: October 2002
This got sent to me today. I think it’s very close to real life….
The Natural Life Cycle of Mailing Lists
The Natural Life Cycle of Mailing Lists
Every list seems to go through the same cycle:
1. Initial enthusiasm (people introduce themselves, and gush a lot about how wonderful it is to find kindred souls).
2. Evangelism (people moan about how few folks are posting to the list, and brainstorm recruitment strategies).
3. Growth (more and more people join, more and more lengthy threads develop, occasional off-topic threads pop up).
4. Community (lots of threads, some more relevant than others; lots of information and advice is exchanged; experts help other experts as well as less experienced colleagues; friendships develop; people tease each other; newcomers are welcomed with generosity and patience; everyone — newbie and expert alike — feels comfortable asking questions, suggesting answers, and sharing opinions).
5. Discomfort with diversity (the number of messages increases dramatically; not every thread is fascinating to every reader; people start complaining about the signal-to-noise ratio; person 1 threatens to quit if *other* people don’t limit discussion to person 1′s pet topic; person 2 agrees with person 1; person 3 tells 1 & 2 to lighten up; more bandwidth is wasted complaining about off-topic threads than is used for the threads themselves; everyone gets annoyed).
6a. Smug complacency and stagnation (the purists flame everyone who asks an ‘old’ question or responds with humor to a serious post; newbies are rebuffed; traffic drops to a doze-producing level of a few minor issues; all interesting discussions happen by private email and are limited to a few participants; the purists spend lots of time self-righteously congratulating each other on keeping off-topic threads off the list).
6b. Maturity (a few people quit in a huff; the rest of the participants stay near stage 4, with stage 5 popping up briefly every few weeks; many people wear out their second or third ‘delete’ key, but the list lives contentedly ever after).
So last night Laurie and I head down to San Jose Arena for the McCartney gig. We’d gone to his first run through San Jose, and she surprised me with tickets to the return engagement.
What can I say? He’s awesome. There’s no opening act (would you open for McCartney? I didn’t think so…), instead, a small troupe of performers (think ‘cirque du soleil bargain basement) wander the audience and the stage, doing a scene that seems to have the subtext “will you all please sit down so we can get Paul out here?”)
It works, too. So finally he shows up on stage, sillouetted on a screen, the performers leave, the band comes out, and McCartney plays for 2 and a half hours without taking a song off. I dunno about you, but his ability to do that at any age scares me. That he’s doing so at this time in his career, in concert, singing what he’s singing, is incredible.
That said, it was clear if you listened carefully the voice was a bit tired, there were a few places where it buzzed, and it seemed to me he was protecting his upper range, shifting down into the octave where the original orchestrations went up. these aren’t criticisms by any means, it’s making best use of the voice as it currently works.
The layout is fairly simple — a plain stage with a huge number of video monitors. most of the video is either pictures of Paul, stock video, or stuff that makes me think flying toasters are about to appear (the primary exceptions are a few photo montages (George, John, and a sequence of important women), which mostly goes to show that you don’t have to get outrageously complex to be effective. it also makes sure the focus stays where it belongs: on the music.
What music. It’s a pretty damn good band: guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, keyboardist and general “my synth will fill in whatever isn’t currently on stage” Wix Wickens, and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr.
It’s a pretty serious crew — one that stays mostly in the background. In the first tour, they were clearly acting as backups. This second time through, they get a little more exposure, but only the drummer really gets what could be considered a solo shot. Laboriel kicks — he’s damn good, and he clearly enjoys his work.
So is McCartney. Heck, so is everyone up there. you almost get the feeling like these guys would be just as happy in someone’s garage, riffing away. It makes for an electric environment, with the artists and the audience feeding each other energy. maybe that’s how he can go 2+ hours without a break.
there are a couple of new songs, which I mostly found okay but not terribly interested (the exception being a piece he said was the first song he wrote for his new wife, heather, a ballad done primarily in minor harmonies (something I find fascinating for a love ballad, given that if your harmonies are even slighly off, it’s going to die a horrible death and sound like a dirge).
And that, to me, sums up McCartney. None of his songs seem all that tough, although he’s a long way from three-chord rock. But once you start listening closely, you see he’s constantly working his way through 5th and 7th chords, and he’s doing a lot with minor keys. And the range of the work is all over everywhere. Any ONE work might not be technically difficult, but the body of work is scary. That’s where his genius really comes through.
All in all, a great time. It’s very nice to see a group of musicians who don’t act like they’re going through the paces, and actually show some enthusiasm for their work… Any time they want to come to town, we’ll happily show up and listen.
It’s too bad San jose isn’t better acoustically. it’s a building that could really use some acoustic work — the corrugated ceiling really buzzes out the treble, and the higher up in the building, the worse it gets. It has dead zones even McCartney’s sound system can’t fix (and if you run into something that uses the arena’s built-in sound system, like a sharks game, give up all hope…). The first time we saw McCartney, we were about mid-arena, 10 rows up. LAst night, we were about 2/3 of the way back, 20 rows up. A fairly minor difference (maybe 50 seats further back, 10 rows up), but listening to the same concert with the same sound system from two places gave me a clear idea just how quickly sound degrades. Given the roof buzz, you couldn’t give me upper bowl tickets in that place. call it, I guess, a C- for acoustics in the place. I’ve seen much worse, but it ought to be better.
Just back from the McCartney concert at San Jose Arena. Laurie as a 7:30, and I have an early meeting also, so I’m jus trying to ramp down and let the melatonin take effect and it’s snoresvillle.
2 and a half hours of non-stop McCartney. I don’t know how his voice handles it. Since we saw him first time through as well, there are some interesting comparisons to be made. Just not tonight. Tonight, I’m just going to go crash with his voice rolling around in my head.
Too bad the San Jose Arena (oh, sorry, the HP Pavillion except where it’s still Compaq Center because tehy haven’t changed all the signs yet in San Jose Arena) is so poor acoustically. Even tonight’s sound system couldn’t solve that arena. ohwell. but that’s a later discussion, too.
night! (We’re Sargeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…..)
Just back from the Sharks/Vancouver game. San Jose played 20 great minutes, then imploded and watched the Canucks blow them out of the building. Brutal. They simply haven’t looked good this season so far. Time for them to go on the road (at least we can sit at home and complain in private) and get their act together.
Work continues busy-chaotic, in a good way. I’m trying to resolve the last (literally) detail in the 1.0 release of The Big Project, while we’re trying desperately to get the 1.1 release into testing, and we’re ramping up to start development on the 1.5 release. Means I’m trying to do five things at once, but I’m enjoying the challenge.
not much time to blog tonight. The Southwest Lawsuit based on the ADA was thrown out, which I hope to talk about in a day or so. I’m for accessibility, but throwing out the lawsuit was the right thing, since the ADA has been turned into a vehicle for browbeating people by the disability advocacy lobby. Unless you want the web to be turned into San Francisco or Berkeley, where the professional advocacy groups drive policy for the benefit of maintaining their professional bureaucracy, you don’t want the ADA extended to the web.
probably a short blogging day tomorrow, too, because we have (ahem) McCartney tickets. Again. I know, I gotta get mr priorities fixed, right?
It looks like the NHL may be serious this time about enforcing obstruction and interference — and so far, given the results, I gotta say I love it, and I’ll be pissed if they stop enforcing it.
These aren’t rule changes per se, but a decision to change how the rules are interpreted and enforced. The league is moving back towards a more traditional, strict enforcement.
Interference and Obstruction are hockey’s names for what basketball calls charging and blocking, or football a pick. Contrary to some fans complaints, it doesn’t turn hockey into a no-contact sport. Players are still allowed to fight for the puck, just as they were before, and you can knock someone down in that fight.
Where interference and obstruction come into play are away from the puck. As a player, you have a right to try to get the puck. A player who prevents you from making that play is guilty of obstruction. It’d gotten pervasive that players were doing this, both offensively and defensively. Offensively, just like a pick in other sports, one player would attempt to get in the way of a defenseman to spring a teammate free, but the other most common place for interference is when the defenseman goes behind their own goal to pick up a cleared puck. through last year, their teammate would invariably interfere with a forechecker to give their partner free access to the puck. Now, they can’t.
Defensively, most of the interference happens when a defender does something to prevent an offensive player from getting into position. Since hockey is such a timing-oriented game, things that slow down a player, even a bit, can destroy a developing play. As the trap became endemic in hockey over the last few years, it brought with it a strategy to prevent players from moving freely on offense. It’s hard for a player to join an odd-man rush when a defenseman is standing on them.
Interference and obstruction are subjective judgements. While a player can’t prevent another player from getting to the puck, a player doesn’t need to give up position to another player, either. This is where the judgement comes into play, and where the comparison to charging and blocking in basketball becomes most visible. When you add in the fact that hockey players are rarely standing still, figuring out a player’s space can be difficult. As in basketball, sometimes two players come together and you call the penalty on the defensive player (blocking), and sometimes it’s on the offensive player. who gets called for what (if anything) all comes down to position. If the defensive player was there first, it’s the responsibility of the offensive player to go around them (if they can). If the defensive player has to make a move to prevent the offensive player from making a play, the defensive player is guilty.
When I’m watching hockey, here’s how I judge interference. If the defensive player has set a lane (is in motion in a given direction) any contact that happens in that lane shouldn’t be called interference. Rob Blake taking a player into the boards is a classic example of this: he’s a master of setting a lane that the player has no choice but to enter, and then Blake is able to check him. If the defensive player has to adjust the lane to make a play on the offensive player, it’s interference. The difference is — subtle and subjective.
Fortunately, I think the NHL is doing a good job of calling it so far. More important, I think the players adapted to it quickly and have done a good job of understanding the way the rules would be called and changing their style to fit in.
I’ve heard a couple of fans complaining that the new rules are a failure, because (according to them), only 1 extra penalty a game is being called (I’m not entirely sure where they got that number, either. I don’t buy it). In reality, even if that number is correct, it’s irrelevant — the idea of these rule changes isn’t to cause lots of penalties. Penalties happen when players don’t adapt to the rules or ignore them. Since it’s quite clear the players have adapted, there’s no need for lots of penalties. Referees, after all, aren’t there to call penalties. they’re there to call penalties when players don’t abide by the rules. If the players do abide by the rules, there are no penalties to be called, which is what everyone really wants. good hockey, played well.
The difference between last year and this year is amazing. Hockey last year was like watching a couple of good football teams play each other using their fullbacks. I happen to enjoy three yards and a cloud of dust football, so I don’t particularly mind, but this year, hockey’s gotten back to the open, quarterback throwing long style instead. No offense intended, but who’s more fun to watch, Brent Jones or Jerry Rice.
Here’s one person hoping the players, coaches and league stick to this. Hockey was a good game before. now, it’s a good, exciting game. Scoring is up, which makes for a better game, and they found a way to improve scoring back to more traditional levels without artificial changes or gimmicks. They simply have decided it’s time to go back to hockey where talent has a fair chance against brawn. The big, slow guys are now at a disadvantage, because they can’t simply grab someone and hang on any more. And that’s good for the game.
Long overdue, here’s hoping the league sticks with it.
Now that the season is a few games old, I’m comfortable talking about the major changes the NHL has made this season. There are three: the new fast faceoff procedure, the changes in interference interpretation, and the safety nets.
First, the new fast faceoff. The NHL has set things up so that once play stops, everyone has about 18 seconds to make line changes, get settled down, and for the linesman to drop the puck.
To me, this is an unmitigated success. The players have adapted quickly, and the game never drags. Early results indicate it’s cutting 18-20 minutes off a typical game, bringing it in at under 2 and a half hours, instead of the ever-stretching 2:45 heading towards (yawn) three hours. Hockey is a fast, high energy sport. when between-play times start acting like baseball, it has a problem.
The fast faceoff solves that. Things move, and keep moving. I’ve been known to occasionally exclaim “you know, one might think you’d never taken a faceoff before” (sometimes rather loudly) during previous seasons. heck, I’ve been known to pull out my needlepoint and start in during really slow, ugly games. since I sit in row 3 near the glass, the players notice, too. Not that they’ll admit it.
Another nice side effect of the fast faceoff is it forces the players to stop yapping at the refs. The refs have also been told to be a lot less tolerant of the chirping, too, and I’ve seen a few extra unsportsmanlike penalties so far as well. All to the good — I get really tired of players who feel it’s okay to stop the game and make 17,000 sit and watch while they showboat or throw a tantrum. It forces them to act more professional, which I have to support.
It’s going to affect teams and players, though, so keep an eye out. Since there are fewer “unofficial” breaks as players delay faceoffs, there’s less chance for players to catch their breath. That means players who expect to play huge minutes (like chris chelios, chris pronger, or Rob blake) are going to have to be very careful about their minutes, or they’re going to go into January or February and wear out, because 30 minutes a game with the fast faceoff is a lot worse on you than 30 minutes i last year’s NHL. Expect to see a number of “franchise” caliber players to get hurt or go into slumps about 50-60 games into the season as their conditioning falls apart from over-user.
It also means team depth becomes more important — because you can’t depend on four defenseman or three lines any more. The depth guys will need to play more minutes to make up for the 30 minutes guys needing to cut back, so you can’t hide a weak or marginal player as easily.
To some degree, this is going to even out talent levels a bit. Franchise guys are going to have to cut their play somewhat to avoid wearing out, and depth guys will get more time. So it shifts the game towards team quality away from individual quality somewhat.
And it gets you out of the arena faster, makes the game quicker and more exciting, and stops many of those dead lapses that kill momentum for the players AND the fans.
I love it. I hope it’s here to stay. Baseball could learn a thing or three from it. Do you really need to spend all that time watching pitchers and batters try to psych each other out every pitch?
I admit I don’t follow the eastern conference as closely as the west. The practical aspect of that is that my choices in the east are even sillier than in the west. I simply don’t let that stop me.
I think the best teams in the East are Carolina (they’re for real), New Jersey (of course), Montreal, and Toronto — if Belfour can handle the pressure of playing in Toronto. That’s far from a given. Next level down from that are the Islanders, Ottawa, and maybe the RAngers. Finishing up the list of playoff teams Washington.
I’m just not impressed with Boston’s goaltending, Buffalo is imploding and I expect this season to be a forgettable one for Sabre’s fans, assuming it’s not the last season (not a given), Atlanta is still building. they’ll be interesting but not winning. Florida and Tampa Bay don’t do much for me, and I think one or the other might compete for a playoff spot, but don’t ask me which one. I don’t know. Adn then there’s Pittsburgh. Something tells me it’s going to be a long, painful season for the Penguins. Sorry, folks.
The hockey season is starting (finally!), so it’s time for the annual predictions, so everyone can laugh at me again at the end of the season. First up — the western conference.
The team to beat in the Western conference this year is the Colorado Avalanche. The trade of Drury hurts their offense, but improved their defense, and with Sakic and Forsberg, they could afford to give up some offense. Roy shows no signs of slowing down, and they’ve been there and know what needs to be done. Barring significant injuries, the trip to the Stanley Cup goes through Colorado.
A close second, if everything goes as planned, is the San Jose Sharks. This assumes players like Marleau come through as hoped, that Stuart and Nabokov get signed fairly soon, and that the team stays fairly healthy. It’s clear, however, that the Sharks are now at the point where it’s time chase the brass ring. This year, next year, and after that, they’ll have to start reloading or risk falling back. For the Sharks, it’s time to break the 100 point barrier, and I want to see 50 wins. In the West, that’s a stretch — but doable.
Third on my list is Detroit. Losing Bowman and Hasek is a significant loss, but make no mistake, that simply means the Wings are going for a division championship, not the president’s trophy.
Those are the top teams in the west. A rung lower on the ladder are Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Phoenix. I expect all of those teams to make the playoffs, but they don’t have quite the horsepower. But if a top team slips or gets hurt, watch out.
The other two teams that ought to make the playoffs are St. Louis and Dallas. Both teams are on the downslide — in Dallas, Marty Turco is unproven, in St. Louis, Brent Johnson and Chris Pronger are hurt. The Blues are in serious hurt short term, and their big worrry is hanging on until they get healthy enough to compete. There’s a good chance they’ll fade into the sunset by December.
Non-playoff teams: Columbus (still building), Chicago (after one year of falsely making fans believe, they’ve gone back to asking the cheap-ass Blackhawks) Nashville (still building, but should compete for a playoff spot), Calgary (might compete for a playoff spot), Edmonton (should compete for a playoff spot), Minnesota (boring but competitive), and Anaheim (they will be better. Will they be good?)
92 points will miss the playoffs. It’ll take 100 points to win a division, and if you notice, four of the five teams in the Pacific are on my list as playoff teams. That’s a tough division.
But heck, it’s gonna be fun…