Search This Site
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.
Support This Site
If you found this page interesting, please consider clicking through this ad and buying something.
If you do, Amazon will pay me a small percentage of the price. You don't spend any more on the item, and the money helps pay for the site and the more people who do this the more time I'll be able to spend on the site improving it and adding content.
More to Read
- Some Thoughts on Lightroom Keywords
- How not to be a doofus with a camera
- Beyond 'Vacation Snaps'
- A teachable moment (or why I love birding, even when I make a fool of myself)
- Sherman, set the wayback machine to…
- An audience of one....
- Talking about 'Stuff'
- What I do for a living…
- 50 reasons Why I Haven’t Been Blogging
Want more? Try this list...
New on the Blog
- The Raffi Torres Hit
- Back from Yosemite
- 2013 playoffs, round 2
- Fuji X100s Review – Fallin’in Love All Over Again
- If you give them an easy out, they’ll take it.
- Another reason Don Cherry should retire (or be retired…)
- Yosemite Bird Photography Workshop openings
- 30 Days Of Sexism
- 2013 playoff predictions
- Calaveras Eagles Nest 2013
Rent Gear at Borrowlenses
Don't buy that gear before trying it out! Renting a lens you're considering buying is a great investment in saving yourself from buyer's remorse!
And if it's a piece or gear you aren't going to use constantly, renting it when you need it is a great way to save money, and I highly recommend Borrowlenses as a place to rent high quality, well-maintained gear.
Monthly Archives: June 2003
Okay, like every other mac geek out there, I was off watching the keynote. I didn’t know (exactly) what was going on — any advantage I have over the rest of you comes from two things: years of watching Apple doing this and watching the rumor boards and getting a feel for what leaks to believe and what not to.
not that I talk about that, of course. That would be wrong. But yes, Apple people read the rumor boards, too. Some for comic value… At Apple, the pre-keynote electricity was palpable. People were stoked. The feeling was this wasn’t just another keynote…
Man how much fun was today? I’ve heard rumors of what the FPS is for that high-end box under Quake. i won’t mention it, but the number was scary (and we all know what the REAL system benchmark is, right?).
In previous lives, I had some involvment with hardware. I know enough to be dangerous. I’ve debugged micro-code a bit, and I’ve done some instruction analysis. But I sat and listened to IBM describe the 970, and the jaw dropped. 130 nanometer process? 9 angstrom data channels? 215 step instruction prefect? This is a first generation product?
and then the system wrapped around it? Drool city.
there have been a few products at Apple in my time that generated serious geek lust. the IIsi (a great package at the time). The first time I got my hands on a IIfx. The duo (probably my favorite computer ever until the TiBook). The first generation USB/firewire boxes. The iMac. The TiBook. And now, the G5.
Panther? Haven’t touched it yet (or panther-server). Will soon. But I love Expose, I love the data vault.
With iSight, Apple sticks it’s hands into the Voice over IP market, much to the dismay of folks trying to build their own Voice over IP. Now, IM/video and IM/audio won’t talk to someone on a phone like vonage, but both of you can get AIM accounts instead… So why go to the extra cost? For lots of folks, they don’t need to…
The new mail changes are pretty nice — the safari HTML renderer is awesome. I think there’s a lot of joy left to add to Mail, though. too, but it’s a good tool going great.
Yes, I’m biased, but you know what? it’s days like todays that have made all of the other, not so good days at Apple the last decade or so worth it…
Now, to go track down some CD’s…
Long-time Hockey person Roger Neilson passed away this morning, the day of the NHL draft.
It’s hard to explain how important Neilson was to hockey — not just a successful coach for a number of teams over 25 years, his most memorable probably Vancouver, where he waved a white towel after a series of calls went against his team (that towel is the precursor to the playoff towels used throughout the league today). he revolutionized hockey in many ways: he was one of the first to realize the potential of video for scouting and analysis; he was one of the coaches who revolutionized defensive play in the league (and invented the trap, although the trap on its own isn’t a problem, the way some teams implement it give it a reputation as boring.)
In 2002, he was invited into the hockey hall of fame as a builder. While many of us call the Builders wing the Hall of Self-Congratulation, Neilson was a great builder of hockey and well-deserved to be there. Earlier this year, Ottawa allowed him to coach a game which gave him his 1,000th career win as a coach.
He ran youth and development camps in Ontario every year, but he also has run a camp in Israel as well. As much as he loved hockey and winning, his real love was teaching and working with kids.
I don’t say this lightly, but I think Neilson deserves to have an award named after him. I hereby suggest that the NHL and the Hockey Hall of Fame create the Roger Neilson award, to be given annually to the person most active in the development of hockey. The league already has the Patrick award for development of US hockey, and the Clancy for leadership. Nothing would serve Neilson’s memory better than an award that represents what Neilson was all about: making hockey better, and bringing hockey to people of all levels, in all places. As a way to bring recognition to grass-root efforts across the continent and overseas, it would serve to continue the work that Neilson started, and do so with honor.
it’s somehow fitting that Neilson passed away on draft day, the day a new generation of kids graduate into the ranks of pro hockey.
to you from failing hands we pass the torch be yours to hold it high
John Porcaro and I are talking more now than we ever did when we both worked at sun… heh.
But he talks about how he wants to do more talking to customers, and not talking about them. Which got me thinking….
Have you ever stopped to think about how you got to where you are? For some reason, I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.
I spent most of my career at Sun talking to customers. When I came to Apple, I was already a Macintosh user (I bought my first Mac when the 512Ke was state of the art, before the MacPlus came out with a SCSI port….) from my days at National Semiconductor. One of the reasons I went to Apple was I was going to be able to start up a support environment, and I saw that as an opportunity to change Apple’s “we have no bugs, call your dealer for support” culture. Remember (if you can), we’re talking about the days when a IIsi was fast (at one point, my primary testing box for supporting A/UX was a II/SI running 8 megs of RAM. these days, my keyboard is faster than that…)
After a while, Apple started changing, not for the better. A couple of days before a vacation, we had a re-org, and we all got called into a conference room to meet the new bosses. We were told not to worry, our group was staying in Campbell, not going to Austin with some of the other support crew. I went on vacation, came back to find my job was moving to Austin. I made it clear my chair was, I wasn’t, and that I didn’t appreciate being lied to. I was told nobody had ever said we weren’t moving (by the person who’d said we weren’t), and that bad attitudes weren’t appreciated at Apple.
I took the hint, and found a new job — in the group that got to support the people in austin doing the support I used to do. That ended up in (name your favorite re-orged name enterprise solution, server solutions, server marketing, or apple business systems; it’s charter, basically, to sell into enterprise.
Out of that organization came another product, the Macintosh Application Environent (MAE). Laurie had started a mailing list for the Sharks on an internal Apple box in her part of the world, and I’d started one on the Giants (I was still a baseball fan in those days), as well as minor league baseball, since I’d really fallen for the San Jose Giants. Every so often I’d suggest we do mailing lists for products, but since we didn’t do support of end users (Austin did), it wasn’t considered part of our charter. MAE was different, however, and we felt it was one of those products that’d really be tough for Austin to support successfully.
We came up with the idea of creating mailng lists — not to support Apple Customers, but to allow Apple customers to talk to each other and talk to each other, and we felt they’d be able to help support each other, and keep them off the (very expensive) telephone call to Austin. Since we didn’t do support, we couldn’t call it a support list, and we made it clear Apple was an observer, not a participant. Today, it’d be considered a virtual community of some sort, but back then, that term wasn’t coined).
And Apple’s official mailing list system was born, sitting on my desktop machine (Medraut.apple.com. bonus points for figuring out the name). Later it moved to its own box as abs.apple.com (apple business systems), then solutions.apple.com (still couldn’t use the word support!). We moved from 68xxx to PowerPC, Sun kept growing the Sparc sun-4′s and eventually shut down the sun-3 line, and MAE came to a logical end, while A/UX died with the 68000 chip and was replaced with, well, nothing for a while, and then A/IX, since by that time, Sculley was gone, Spindler was in, and Spindler was partnering with IBM.
Apple’s struggles continued. In 1996, Guy Kawasaki started Evangelist, a way to rally the faithful around Apple, a followon to his earlier semper-fi (1995, I think), an attempt to reconnect with apple developers. he wrote, I ran the plumbing. There’s at least one book just writing about Apple at that time and what went on behind the scenes, and how Guy worked his butt off to save Apple from itself, and IMHO, I think there’s a 50-50 chance it wouldn’t have lived long enough to get to Gil Amelio without Guy’s energy and charisma and salesmanship. But I’m not writing that book as long as I work there… I like my job. (grin)
In 1995, both Laurie and I saw Apple as being in some trouble, so we took the plunge, and spent a couple of thousand dollars and had the internet installed in the house (a 56K leased line — remember, this was way before DSL). Plaidworks was born, mostly to be home for our personal internet stuff that currently lived on Apple hardware, back when that was fairly typical and low-key. We’ve had IP in the den ever since.
By then, my little on-the-side list server was running lists for people all over the company, and my primary job (webmastering and content geeking the server group’s web site) was increasingly difficult. it was decided the lists really needed to be a corporate resource, so my job got split in half, I went with the mail list part over to the IS world, soon thereafter Gil Amelio buys NeXT, Steve purges Amelio, and in March of 1997 my old group (and the Apple Network Server) is blown up and fades to dust. I was pretty much the only survivor from that group (although much to my amusement, in the last year, a bunch of them have returned to Apple in new roles, including people who now are part of the client group I do most of my work for these days…)
Always, I was looking for ways to help encourage Apple and Apple’s customers to talk — especially back in the days when Apple was falling apart.
And even today, I still have that goal — that and making sure Apple has a corporate infrastructure capable of letting me move to Oregon and continue working for apple via telecommuting without significant limitation (and then convincing my bosses to let me do it….). And turning back to John’s blog a sec, and looking around the net in general, it seems that some form of “connecting with the customer” is starting to turn into a key deliverable. Most companies will screw it up badly, too. Me, I’ve been trying to build it into the system for years, where I could — most of my life’s been aimed at connecting the tech side of a company with its customers and acting as translator, with a foot in both camps. Hopefully, i’ve given mine a bit of a head start…
it’s funny, but about two months after I wrote my first web site, I realized we’d need e-mail systems to really communicate with people, because the web is just too passive. But e-mail has its own flaws, and with spam strangling it, there’s a need to grow beyond e-mail as well as fix it. And that’s something I’ve been working on for a while.
Of course, I can’t talk about that yet….
Meant to cover some of the building news from the town hall meeting. The quality of the ice is still a key concern, and quality (or lack of it) are not for lack of trying. There seemed to be implicit (but not explicit) comment that the building would be colder next year. At one point jokes were made about “wilson brother’s sweatshirt night”, that sort of thing. The group was humourously polled how cold the building had to get before people would complain. They basically stopped about 40 degrees when they realized nobody was saying “too cold” yet (I found that interesting as far as the audience went, and I think it was noted by the panel)
One area that also was affected by the netting was the Jumbotron, and Jamison said they were investigating (but didn’t guarantee) upgrading it with new video boards with roughly double the density, which would make for a much improved picture.
Near and dear to my heart (and ears) was hearing (finally) that work on the arena audio system is happening. They acknowledged strong and dead areas, and some work is evidently going to happen to reposition some speakers and try to improve this. It was also noted after a couple of “TOO LOUD” comments from the crowd that they did tune it down about 20% last season, but I got the feeling this was an area that was going to be watched. it was noted that Jason Minsky is no longer with the team, and Steve Maroni is now in charge as Director of Event Presentation (and the sharks have even updated their web site! wow! yippee! Oh, sorry…)
Using de-ionized water was one thing being investigated for the ice. So were installing dehumidifiers, since they seem to think it’s the humidity that’s the worst problem. it was also noted that the Sharks don’t skate much at the arena other than games, and I got the implication that Ron Wilson was interested in changing that, but it was never really said. Building availability will be an issue there, as well as the practice facility, but one way you harden ice is to skate on it and compress it….
(FWIW, it’s a very quiet summer at the Tanq, not a lot of light dates this summer right now… that might cause them to try for more falls/winter dates, to try to keep revenue up. they were also hoping for one more arena football game….)
Parking: season ticket holders will pay the same as last year if you bought the package. day of game parking they couldn’t guarantee would stay the same, but it’s undecided. It’s been noted prices have only gone up twice in ten years for parking (but that was 7 to 10, 10 to 13, so each jump was pretty steep), but at the same time, I’ll note their parking is competitive with other venues.
Radio: discussions about the coverage of radio went on. The Sharks noted that they had a good station lined up for the east bay last season, and at the very last minute, it got sold, changed formats, and didn’t want their broadcasts any more, leaving them hung out to dry with no real alternative (Note to greg jamison: if nothing else, you got all of the bad things out of the way in one season, no?). East bay coverage is a focus this year (again), and one they’re very aware of and working to solve.
Finally, I find this on the sharks web site interesting. Anyone want to guess what it might mean?
down at the bottom, under Miscellaneous:
Television Play-By-Play Broadcaster Randy Hahn
Television Color Analyst Drew Remenda
Radio Play-By-Play Broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky
Radio Color Analyst Pete Stemkowski
Radio Hockey Analyst TBD
Looks to me like there’s a roster spot waiting to be filled. Hmm. If Pete’s still around as the color guy, one can only assume the hockey analyst is the position being held for — some ex–player? That was was Zettler and Granato were doing, so it looks like adding in that third voice is going to continue. One can only wonder who it might be…. I have some thoughts, obviously, but I’m not going to curse them or make you think I want them to retire… It may stay open until after camp, even… (hey, laurie, send them a resume! If you don’t get that, they have a job open for Alternate Governor and CFO!)
(also, Danny Miller is listed as the only game host, no sign of the blond woman who was working with him late last season. I consider that a hopeful sign — she was rough early, pretty much had the role figured out by the end, but I find her voice wrong for that job in the arena. Maybe if they retuned her mike or something, but she’s too screechy for my tastes)
A couple of other people were called out for introduction in the crowd during the Town Hall:
Ken Sweezey was introduced as Director of Guest Services. If you’re unhappy at a game, he’s your guy. Laurie and I know him just enough to know he’s pretty cool and interested in getting things fixed. I expect by the end of the season he’ll see us and run…. (grin)
Michael Lehr was introduced quickly. He’s president of the Cleveland Barons, and as Greg Jamison noted, Lehr was very good at keeping them informed about what was going on in Cleveland, especially as the injuries went insane and the team turned into an ECHL team (side note: Roy Sommers was given a strong vote of confidence for his work there last year in the face of amazing adversity — at one point 11 people on the injured list and only one AHL-rostered defenseman. They were very happy with how that place held together as well as it did, and with how the players reacted adn fought through the problems….)
David Pollack was introduced from the mercury, so he could agree with everyone else that hockey coverage in the bay area sucked (well, he was more polite than that). The suggestion (from Greg Jamison) was if you want that improved, you need to write the editors at the Merc, and keep letting them know you don’t like what they’re doing.
Finally, Greg Jamison introduced Matt Levine, who was formerly Vice President of Development for the Sharks. Matt is one of the key people involved in making sure the Sharks actually got to San Jose, and spent many years working for them building the relationships into the region. A couple of years ago he went off to help found a startup for educational software, but he still hangs around the Tanq. Matt was one of the first people (along with Ken Arnold) to take the internet seriously with the Sharks and see some of the opportunities, and the person who really first took this list seriously as a group of people interested and involved with the team, and was willing to work with us and listen to us over the years. If I had a dissapointment with the meeting, it was that ALL OF YOU PEOPLE WOULDN’T SHUT UP so Laurie and I had to leave before the meeting ended, and that kept us from tracking Matt down and saying hello. (so, matt, if you’re out there, “Hello! let’s do dinner at George’s some time, my treat!”)
(big grin on the wouldn’t shut up part, in case it wasn’t obvious…..)
And with that, a good time was had by all…
By my estimate, 900 people were there, +-100. Greg Jamison, Doug Wilson, Ron wilson, Mike Ricci and occasional others sat up on a podium. Drew moderated, or tried to, or whatever it is Drew does. the Sharks supplied soft drinks and munchies, which probably meant the thing was going to run on until they ran out… (grin).
Seriously, Jamison opened it by saying they’d stay until every question was answered, and they were clearly going to do that. Most questions were very reasonable, many were tough, all but a few fair. More on that later, and I’m sure others will have their notes. The Sharks sat there and took it, answered things as completely as they could, ducked as little as necessary (mostly things like tampering rules or tipping their hands at the draft, or dealing with the CBA, where the league rules got in the way).
I was impressed — by the sharks, for doing this and being open and honest about it; by the fans for not pulling punches, and very often proving how astute they were about what was going on; by the chemistry I saw between wilson and wilson and jamison; by wilson’s ability to match Drew smart-ass remark for smart-ass remark;
It took 2 hours for someone to smack rathje, and he seemed pretty well smacked back; 2 and a half hours for the nets to come up, which I think surprised everyone — but once they did, it got covered thoroughly and without any pulling of punches on either side (Jamison’s comments basicaly boiled down to “we had a vendor who made us look like complete idiots by not doing what they said they’d do”). The expectation he set was that things would be better; he didn’t pretend that miracles would occur, and he also said he felt there’d be a third generation of nets that would be more of an improvement down the road, also.
It sounds like this year’s marketing theme will be “this is a hockey game: bring a sweater”. But at the same time, don’t expect miracles, either. they’re still working on ways to improve the ice consistently, including deionized water and installing dehumidifiers. But a colder building seems to have strong support among the fans there, and that message seemed to be noted.
A couple of other thoughts on the hockey side of things.
They were very tactful and complimentary about both Darryl Sutter and Dean Lombardi. Their view is you learn from autopsies, not dwell on them (i.e., figure out what happened and move on). There was no knocking the past, and some work reminding folks how far forward the team was brought by these guys.
If you were a fan of classic Blackhawks hockey, you’ll love the Sharks. I kept waiting for Wilson to announce he was bringing Probert and Dirk Graham out of retirement, with McLaren playing the part of Chris Chelios. In all honesty, this attitude doesn’t bother me one bit, either (yippee). If this is the case, then I guess Alex Korolyuk is going to be Stan Mikita…
For those that aren’t aware of what I’m suggesting, it’s a team that plays very aggressively early, both to pressure the other team and to get the home crowd into the game, to use the crowd’s energy later. The first ten minutes of a hawk’s game used to be key to their performance, especially in the old building. it’s a physical game but not a stupid game, aggressive, heavy forecheck.
Wilson and Wilson emphasized becoming a faster team, both by having faster skaters and by skaters who anticipate better and reacting faster.
Doug Wilson emphasized more than once that what happened to Brad Stuart (his concussion) disgusted him, the Sharks lack of “dealing with it” really bothered him, and he was going to make sure that the Sharks roster had what it took to make sure that never happened again. he refused to go into details on what that meant (both because of tampering with naming players and fines for outright saying he was going to buy a goon), but you can read between the lines. There will be a place who can play policeman on the Sharks this year, and it seems as long as Doug is GM, there’ll be a place for one.
Wilson talked about Owen Nolan, and admitted he felt that the ultimate failure was making him Captain. he noted that there hadn’t been a Cup winning team with a power forward as captain in 25 years, and that the physical demands of that type of game on top of the demands put on someone being captain are just too much. he also came out and said that in retrospect, he should have done something about this within the organization before LAST season and didn’t, to his regret.
Doug was asked about the lack of a power forward with Nolan gone, and what the Sharks would do about it. Wilson responded by pointing at Scott Thornton, and made it clear he felt thornton’s game was still evolving. He made it sound to me like he expected thornton to be a top-six-forward caliber power forward (which makes him an amazing steal; hell, he’s an amazing steal NOW) — and from what I’ve seen of Thornton’s growth here, I can’t say he’s wrong. Wilson then pointed to Jonathon Cheechoo as a player with a distinct edge, which I took to mean he saw Cheechoo as the next generation behind Thornton.
They were asked what they were going to do with “too many” (7) centers, and Ron wilson laughed, noting that forwards can be moved to wing without a lot of problem and improve the team there, since it adds creativity and defensive awareness into those positions, not to mention more faceoff capability. It was noted from the playoffs just how important faceoffs are, and while the Sharks are okay, he wants them better.
There were some that made the assumption that Mike Ricci being invited on the panel implied that he was going to be the next Captain. When that was put to the panel, they all walked carefully around the issue and said it wasn’t decided, but to me, fully left the impression that once it is decided, it’ll be decided that Ricci is captain.
There was some talk about the kids — they say a bunch of kids are coming into camp with the attitude that nobody’s going to send them down, which they like. they also went out of their way to point out that nobody has jobs (shades of, I think, Jeff Jillson), and not all of them will get jobs no matter how good they play.
When asked about the lack of shorthanded threat, Ron wilson noted he had to teach them to keep the puck out of the net first.
The team, as was sketched out by the sharks last night boils down to:
Fast, puck control oriented. Defensively solid, heavy emphasis on fundamentals. Ron Wilson noted that he felt five of the D expected to be on the roster this year were guys he felt comfortable releasing to join the offense, and he saw that as a huge advantage. A physical team, but I got the feeling it won’t be a grinder team.
There were strong indications they’re planning on adding a top-six forward on top of Korolyuk, plus the enforcer. They made it clear they aren’t interested in three years out, and would have no problem trading up or down in the draft, or trading picks and/or players to get the right guy for now. they felt there were really good players that were going to be available into the 2nd round, and the top 12-15 are top talents.
Major support of Rathje, both on the panel and in the audience — and yet they still noted that they felt he needed to take his game up another level still. As good as he is, he still needs to be better.
When asked why the team didn’t seem to shoot enough on the power play, Wilson offered to let the person come down and talk to the players, noting he’d brought that up once or twice and it didn’t seem to have sunk in. Both Ron and Doug wilson have a philosophy of “if there’s no hole to shoot through, make one”, but he also noted one problem here is the power play tends to practice against the penalty kill, and the guys have some mental problems over injuring one of their own teammates (that’s not a bad thing, actually). I considered suggesting hiring the SJSU team for practice but I kept my mouth shut… (the SJSU team thanks me for that). Both wilsons say that if the other team wants to get leg injuries stopping point shots, that’s fine with them…
wilson noted his philosophy was that the negotiation was a three-way, with the player actively involved. As an ex-player, he also noted that the agents were more willing to let him do this, and in fact he was demanding that players heard it directly from Wilson, not filtered through the agent. It needs to be remembered that Lombardi wasn’t always allowed this access to the player, or didn’t push that agenda strongly enough at times. Wilson’s also made it clear he feels it’s both his AND the player’s responsibility to make sure they’re in camp when it opens, not just Wilson’s, and that a player who misses camp is hurting his team and the teammates. Interesting spin on things. The team can’t take advantage of that, though; he really called it out as a partnership.
I was mostly trying to get a feeling for what their philosophy was on the type of team they want and how they want that team to play. I’m not surprised to hear Wilson reaching back to his Hawks roots for some of it, and frankly, I’m really, really encouraged here. It was fascinating to listen to Doug Wilson as GM talk about the job and mentally compare it to Dean Lomabardi. I don’t know how to describe that without sounding exceptionally negative about Lombardi, when in fact that’s not what I intend, so I’ll keep mulling that one over.
The other thing I was trying to get a feel on was chemistry — towards the end, relations were strained between Jamison and Lombardi and Sutter, and all three seemed to have different ideas of how to move forward that conflicted with the other two. it seemed to me all three got along well and there was a lot of humorous bantering (to the point where Drew had trouble getting his snide comments in — it’s hard to keep drew out of a discussion!); my feel was they all were comfortable with each other and work well together. A good sign. They’re also all very personable, and Ron Wilson will never been known as bitter beer face around here (in fact, I think one of the reasons he gets knocked by some is he doesn’t take himself all that seriously, and isn’t afraid to make fun of himself or other things, or throw out a zinger at someone — but don’t mistake taking something seriously iwth being serious…)
I came back feeling, in all honesty, really jazzed about next year. It’s a new, fresh direction, they seem to have the roster under control and working to get everyone in shape, in camp, and moving in the same direction. Talking to some of the folks I knew off the podium, there’s a large contingent of players staying in the area and working their butts off to get ready, adn in the words of these folks, these guys want camp open NOW.
I’ll have more later, I’m sure, but that’s what I took from the talk. They didn’t tell me things were going to get better, they made me believe they would be. I’m ready.
when’s camp open?
No, this isn’t an advance leak of Disney’s movie based on the It’s a Small World right (check boing boing for that!), but a quiet reminder that it really is a small world here in High Tech…
Turns out that Microsoft Blogger John Porcaro is a fellow ex-Sun dude. I was there in 85-89, he was there until 1990. I still have, here in my office, the little lucite block I got the day Sun went public… As far as we can tell, we never interacted with each other, but it’s c00l running into a little piece of your history by suprise, especially here in the blogger world. Brings up fun memories…
The time I spent at Sun was a fascinating time, not just a small company growing and going public, but it was a time where the industry was really starting to change the larger world around it. I started working with a group that was supporting third party developers who were porting NFS, YP/NIS and XDR/RPC to non-Sun platforms. (for those of you who think SOAP and XML/RPC are new adn unique, go take a look at XDR/RPC — things are a lot more sophisticated today, but the basic concepts and challenges are amazingly similar). NFS was one of the first serious attempts to open up a protocol and let others use it, rather than lock it down and hide it away — Sun understood that it needed to be endemic to succeed, took the chance, and it worked. In many ways, a precursor of some of the open source movement today.
The first vendors to sign up for NFS were Gould and their Firebreather box, and the Mt. Xinu folks. That meant I got to work with Ed Gould a bit, which was, for a fairly young and earnest unix geek, a real thrill.
Later on, I moved over to Sun’s support world, where I spent time on the phones. Really gives you a perspective on the customer view vs. the engineering view, and it really made me aware of and an evangelist of the customer wherever I’ve worked — IMHO, every engineer and coder should be required to spend a couple of weeks answering support calls, except most of them couldn’t handle it. But it’d make for better products.
As support, I became somewhat of an admin specialist, and did most of the support of sendmail, uucp and similar stuff. This was back when ethernet was new and most networking was by modem, and SunOS fit on an 80 meg hard drive (yes! megs. not gigs! with room for your home directory!). By the end of my life at Sun, I got involved in a stealth project to get a neat new product shipped, a box that became known as the Sun/4-260 — sun’s first generation Sparc chip, and the first time (to my knowledge) that an OS shifted processors, since prior to that, Sun’s were 68xxx boxes.
I ended up leaving Sun because, like many support organizations, it let the support budget get squeezed, and there were too many calls, too many hours, and too few engineers, and I got tired of the grind. Besides, this company called Apple was starting up its first real support organization, for a product called A/UX, and were looking for someone to come in to help create the organization. They ended up hiring my boss at sun to manage the beast, and I came across as the senior geek and 2nd lieutenant, of the group that ended up being the core of what eventually moved to Austin and became Apple’s support universe down there….
Ever wonder how life would be different if you’d made different decisions in your life? What if I’d stayed at Sun? There have been days when life at Apple looked dark that I considered looking to go back (my boss who moved to Apple eventually did, and is now in Colorado way up the food chain), but to be honest, the one time I came *this* close to leaving Apple, during the darkest years of the Spindler era, was to go to SGI. But the position just didn’t feel right for me and I just wasn’t quite ready to give up on Apple (even though it seemed everyone else had, even inside Apple), so I stayed.
Not a bad decision, in retrospect, but at the time, most folks who knew what was going on thought I was an idiot…
And now you look at Sun, and it’s in some pretty rough times. I’m rooting for it to turn it around, but will it? I’m not convinced.
The Devils won game 5, as I expected, but honestly, somewhat more decisively than I expected. Neither goalie looked good, the Devils fed off the crowd and took advantage of having last change, and the Ducks just didn’t look sharp.
Not surprisingly, the first goal went to the Ducks, on a clean faceoff win by Oates. We’ve seen THAT before. New Jersey is just in deep trouble in the left face-off circle of the offensive zone without Niewyndyk.
Now we go back to Anaheim. New jersey is going to be desperate, and knows how to win in pressure situations. Anaheim has the home crowd and last change advantage. I expect another tough fight, with Anaheim winning.
Then off to game 7 in New Jersey, and who knows? The Devils have shown Anaheim they’ll have trouble there, but Anaheim still can beat them on the road.
New Jersey is the more tired team, but Anaheim lacks the experience.
Paul Kariya is still missing in action. Hello, Paul? Now’s a good time to break out and not depend on Steve Thomas to win games.
too close to call the series at this point. And both teams have earned respect in it. great hockey, for the four of us watching it.
Does this sound familiar to you?
I was talking to a friend of mine who works for some other company, and they’re in a bit of a dither. See, one of his co-workers came back from vacation and gave notice. She’s leaving in a month to go back to school.
It was a fairly open secret she wasn’t happy. As happens in times like these, one person left the company, wasn’t replaced. The workload got divvied out, and those that are left behind go from busy to overloaded to freaked to exhausted.
Now toss in a divorce a few months ago, a company deferring and limiting raises and doing mandated shutdowns that eat vacation time, and next thing you know, the house is for sale, and a valued co-worker is off to get that degree she always wanted.
The company is now scrambling: 8 years of corporate experience and history are about to walk out the door. Their job the next month is to suck her dry of everything she knows, and we all know that this never really works; the most important data she has is the stuff even she doesn’t know will be needed until it’s too late.
And everyone in the office is upset she’s leaving, worried about losing her knowledge and her contributions, worried about how they’re going to replace her. And the normal questions of “what can we do?” and even occasionally “what could we have done?”
And the latter question is really the key one, and the one companies never ask, because they don’t like hearing the answer. The reality is, before the decision is announced, it’s made. And once it’s made, it’s too late. sometimes you can buy someone’s loyalty back, but that really doesn’t work as well in practice as it does in theory, because it isn’t all about money.
What could we have done? — if you ask any staffing professional, they’ll tell you how much more expensive it is to replace an employee than it is to keep one. So why don’t companies do more than lip-service about employee retention?
Because deep down inside, companies don’t expect you to leave. and in a down market like we’ve been in, actually take advantage of the tough job market. And then when the economy picks up and people start leaving — they wonder why… You have to treat people right all of the time, not just when you think they might leave. It’s almost as if companies think their employees are stupid, won’t notice, and won’t remember. You hired them because they aren’t stupid, they do notice, and they will remember.
We all have budgets to keep, headcount requirements to manage, staffing issues to worry about. It’s easy to forget the other side of that — until staff turnover skyrockets and you see that drain of important people walking out the door. By then, it’s too late.
It’s important to remember that the time to do something is before you find out they’re leaving — which means now, and tomorrow, and every day, or week or month. It means manageable workloads, even in tough times, or at the very least, being honest and open about how long and why. It means money where you can, and when you can’t, recognition and notice and accolade and positive feedback.
It’s important to remember you can’t buy happiness — but failing to try can sure lead to unhappiness. Most of us aren’t purely motivated by money, and throwing money at an untenable employment situation doesn’t make it acceptable — but lack fo money becomes a de-motivator after a while, and if you throw in too much work and low morale and a lack of feedback, you’re basically telling people to leave.
So don’t be surprised when they do. And don’t ask “what can we do?”
that question should have been asked months ago, and repeated on regular occasions. By waiting until they leave, you’re telling them you only care about them when they cause problems for you.
Is that the message you want to send?
I was a little worried there, but the Ducks have tied the series 2-2, so the Stanley cup final is going at least six games. Two straight overtime games, tonight’s win 1-0, and now the ducks have the momentum going back to New Jersey.
Those folks who’ve turned off (ABC ratings are lower for hockey’s final round than Arena Football) are missing some intense hockey. Low scoring doesn’t imply bad, but some folks think so. I’m impressed with both teams.
Watching post game interviews tells us where this series is going: the Ducks are talking about chemistry, about special things happening in the locker room. the Devils look broken, look beaten. Talk about regrouping.
Right now, New Jersey’s advantage is two games at home. But they have to be thinking they can’t win in Anaheim, so they have to think about sweeping games 5 and 7. Anaheim hasn’t won in New Jersey, but goes into game 5 thinking all it needs is one game in the swamp, and they’ve won two straight.
I think this one probably goes 7 — New Jersey wins game 5, and anaheim at home in six. And after that? crapshoot. But emotion and momentum are goin the Ducks way, so they have to be considered a slight favorite right now. But until they break serve, it’s far from over.
So — who turned the calendar to June while I wasn’t looking?
It sure seems like it ought to be mid-April or something like that, but what the heck. I’ve had two weekends in a row that didn’t turn into extended work days, which means I’m finally feeling like I’m making progress on stuff here at home again. The back yard is beginning to look like someone lives here (and cares). Another weekend, and the worst of it will be done.
One of the things we’ve been talking through is the redesign of the backyard. it’s gonig to require removing a lot of concrete (ditto the front: when they turned this into a rental, they took the expedient way out adn simply laid concrete everywhere. Great, if you want to park four cars in your front yard. not great, if you want to plant things). While the concrete’s not going anywhere soon, we can landscape the areas where we have dirt, at least to some degree.
The main areas we can landscape are the back corner, where we’ve already put the veggie beds in, and the center of the yard (which, when we moved in, contained a mostly-broken hot tub, a huge, ugly, invasive Mulberry tree that needed massive maintenance but was too low to comfortably walk under, and all other areas had been covere dwith plastic and river rock. That area is going to be landscaped as a mini-orchard, with five trees, a water feature (to be designed), and a pathway from the main patio to the hot tub (new and currently with a minor annoying leak) which sits on the concrete pad the old, rusting garden shed used.
Two of the trees (an Improved Meyer Lemon and a Washington navel) that I gave Laurie for Valentine’s day are now in and doing fine — one was a ten, the other a fifteen gallon. We decided to trip up to the tree nursery to get some ideas on what we wanted to do for the other three, and perhaps get them in, since they’re a feature that’ll take the longest to mature, and the sooner the better.
Imagine our dismay when we say the “going out of business” signs on the place. The stock had been picked over to a good degree, but worse, it was clear they’d cut back on irrigation — everything was stressed and I just wasn’t happy, so we left without buying anything. Time to find other alternatives. sigh. but we did pick up some ideas on what we wanted to do. One of the trees is going to be an asian pear (probably a Shisieki or similar strain), and we both want a good apricot, but it needs to be self-fertile. We looked at a pluot (a genetic mix of an apricot and plum that’s starting to be grown here in california), but they require a plum to fertilize, and the plums they use aren’t self-fertile. Down that road lies madness. We’re undecided about the third, but either a self-fertile (and maybe heritage) Apple, although we also like the idea of a white nectarine…
Got one of the veggie beds in, with the squash, pumpkins and tomatoes. Laurie’s got about six varieties this year, including a couple of antiques. Of couse, I don’t eat raw tomato, which makes growing that many even more amusing, but she makes sure they don’t go to waste… The other bed is almost ready, needs tilling, and then everything else can go in. Maybe thursday.
Sunday was work in the garage day, attempting to get enough space in the workshop to use it as a workshop. Progress was made, but…. today was finally doing something about the bikes — always in the way, but never really easy to get at. Tehy’re now in a rack, which is on wheels so I can just haul the whole thing out and stick it somewhere while I’m working. Of course, I built the rack 3′ wide, and the access to the back yard only gives me 32″, so the obvious answer of stuffing them in the back while I’m using the workshop has a minor flaw in it. next time, I’ll figure that out BEFORE I build the frame. but I’ve already come up with ideas to improve the rack, and it’s good enough for now…
At least now I can start getting the bikes ready for the summer, too…