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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: January 2012
these two bills were drafted by the MPAA and the RIAA and walked into Washington without an iota of conversation with the technology industry. I can’t tell you how many Senators and Representatives have told me that they were told by the MPAA and the RIAA that the technology industry was on board and that these issues would not impact the Internet and tech community adversely. This is no way for one industry to propose that Congress regulate another industry. I think it is absurd that one industry would have the arrogance to think it is appropriate to ask Congress to regulate another industry for them. And yet that is what went down on these bills.
Back in 1988 (before many of you were potty trained…), I wrote this April Fools joke for the net. the in-jokes are a bit dated, but this part sums up the attitude of the internet then, and through the years:
Note: This conference is a rescheduling of the conference originally
scheduled for October, 1988 but cancelled after the United States Department
of Commerce decided that the material was too sensitive to allow
non-American citizens to read (including the material written by the
Canadians on the committee). Because of this, the conference has been moved
to Canada, which doesn’t have a complete Freedom of Speech written into it’s
constitution, but has better things to do than worry about ways of
circumventing civil rights. Americans having trouble getting their papers
cleared for distribution at the conference should contact Professor Shikele
about setting up a direct uucp link for the troff source.
For many years, the net was too small for the authorities to worry about, and this “wild west” mentality ruled, that the rules didn’t apply. And in many cases, they didn’t. As the net has grown and gone mainstream, this attitude has continued, although increasingly, whether it’s been the companies stomped in court when they became too annoying (like Napster) or countries like China implementing massive censorship firewalls (and the accompanying controversies as companies have to decide whether to go along with them or not).
The day the net went dark over Sopa is, to me, the day the Internet grew up and became an adult. Instead of thinking we can just sneak around doing what we want in the alleys and not get caught — we now realize we need to sit at the table with the adults and talk (and argue) with them as adults. The net mobilized and forced some major and entrenched powers to back down. They won’t get caught by surprise next time, and don’t for a minute believe they’re done with this.
But, and it’s a big but — neither will we, both collectively as “the internet” and the big companies that drive the net like Google and Apple and Facebook. They clearly realize they can’t let others drive the agenda and sit on the sideline, so you can expect everyone to get more involved in the process in Washington — because like that game or not, we can no longer pretend we’re immune to it or can ignore it.
I think the entertainment industry badly misplayed their hand through arrogance, and I think they’re going to regret it.
Because I think they woke the sleeping dragon, and the dragon now has their eye on them. They won’t be able to sneak their way through Congress without a fight, and many of their allies in Congress now realize that the fight is going to require them to take sides. And I bet a bunch of them will realize the tech industry is a better side to be on.
But now is the time for those companies that represent the industry and the net to make it clear to Congress that they expect a seat at the table in future discussions. And you can bet, the entertainment industry won’t like that. Not that I care what they think…
I have a confession to make, it’s been three weeks since I did any serious writing. I’m supposed to be finished with my next book right now. Fact is I’m a little less than halfway through. I’d like to blame it on the holidays or the fact that I’m juggling writing, being Mr. Mom, and taking a class in programing. Heck I’d settle for blaming it on my rampant ADD, I’m easy that way.
Truth is, however, that I’m not writing because I’m just not seeing any future in it. The writing industry is changing rapidly right now and even if I got a contract on my last book, who knows if the market will be there when it comes out? Then there’s the whole e-self-publishing route where no one really knows what’s going on but we know that some people are selling millions of books. Quite frankly it sounds like there are better odds playing the lottery. (For the mathematically challenged, playing the lottery is only slightly less risky than throwing your money down the garbage disposer.)
So, for the last three weeks or so, I’ve been kicking an idea around in the back of my head.
What if I just quit?
I mean lets face it, while I have been published four times, I haven’t cracked the level of success where I can actually make a living. I used to be a hotshot computer programmer and, while my skills are very rusty, I can whip them back into shape. Programmers make good money (provided you move out of Utah, which I could do). Heck, I’ve worked in the game industry and have contacts there, maybe it’s time to resurrect that dream.
So what if I quit?
If we can set the wayback machine back to about 1995 for a minute….
I had hit that point where I had published enough stories to qualify for active membership in SFWA. I was starting to get solicited for stories for anthologies, and was right at that cusp where I seemed to be getting the acceptance knod on a regular basis. I had a novel in progress, a second in planning.
And I had to make a decision. Geeking computers paid well, and I enjoyed it. Writing SF/F didn’t pay well and I enjoyed it. I was convinced I couldn’t do both well at the same time and have a real life, too. I chose computers, and retired from writing. Why?
Because I looked at what I wrote, and where I slotted into the industry, and I saw the squeeze coming. I was a midlist novelist; I read for entertainment, my favorite books were the kind of things you picked up when you were tired after a long day at work to relax and enjoy. That was the kind of fiction I wrote, and wanted to write. If I were to name a single name, I’d say I wanted to be James White when I grew up. (those of you now going “what? who?”, well, my point. but click through and grab that volume and have a fun evening or three).
The problem was that even back then, almost 20 years ago, you could see the midlist part of the publishing world shrinking and the collapse starting. Chain bookstore buying practices was increasingly pushing the buttons on who got published; chain bookstore return practices was continuing to shred the time a published paperback was actually on a shelf where it could be bought. The first author I knew had found out their first novel sales were weak enough that the chains wouldn’t buy their next book, even though the editors loved it (he ended up going behind a pseudonym and breaking out pretty well — the pseudonym is now a pretty successful author). Advances were flat to down. The short fiction market was already shrinking. Sharecrop universes (star wars, star trek, etc) were growing and taking shelf space from the midlist, too. In talking to other authors, the midlist grind was getting tougher and tougher.
So that was the publishing universe I was contemplating. It’s possible I could have written something that broke out, but if I didn’t, I might be a book or three into it, and without a publisher because some algorithm at Barnes and Noble didn’t like my trend line. I was never a fast writer like Dean or Kris or Mike, so the multi-genre, multi-name publishing empire wasn’t an option, and I didn’t have the many years of backlist to fall back on Mike has. I had sharecrop opportunities — but I wanted to write my stories, not someone else’s.
So I shut it down and walked away from my fiction, knowing some day I’d probably fire it up again. As it turns out, my worries about the midlist getting squeezed came true, and the market got increasingly tough. And I haven’t done badly in the computer industry, so I made the right choices.
I was at Apple when they shipped iTunes, and I watched as it transformed and disrupted the music industry, I’ve watched the video side of entertainment slowly disrupt (primarily because the studios were determined not to let Apple do to them what happened to the music industry, even if it killed them. Which it still might). I’ve seen the online universe disrupt my dad’s world, newspapers, and seen this tsunami washing through all of the traditional media universes.
Smartphones came along, and with them, apps, and I saw in that the path to the book reader. When I got the opportunity to go to Palm, I grabbed it, because I wanted a chance to influence this if I could. Then came the the iPad and the Kindle, and my muse rang the servants bell from her tower, and when I unlocked the door, she looked at me and said “it’s time”.
And it is. And one reason I didn’t go to work for Nokia (or Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or… — all of which I talked to in some way, shape or form along the way) was I didn’t want my “real” job to create conflicts with my ability to figure out how I and my writing fit into all of this, the way the rules at HP did. Even if I end up never doing anything significant down this path, it was a path I wanted the freedom to explore.)
That’s why Dan’s blog post struck me as it did. He published into the market I walked away from, because I saw it as — on balance — a success path with too many risks given the benefits and effort. Especially compared to geeking computers. He’s now seeing what I see as that chance I’ve been waiting to happen for almost 20 years as the end of his opportunity. And if you only see traditional publishing as your future, you’re correct.
But what is happening here is the rebirth of the midlist, which since that seems to be where Dan’s work lives, should be cause for celebration. No more “that book you spent a year writing has three weeks on the shelf to find an audience”. Instead, the shelfs are now almost literally infinitely large, and your work has an almost infinite time to find its audience. It’s ability to find an audience is now very much up to the author; that may be scary, but if you’re a midlist writer, the push you got from your publisher was little more than “here’s a pretty cover and we’ll pray” anyway, and heck, find a good artist to do covers for you…
So my advice to Dan is this — you beat the odds in a big way by getting published in the old markets; this isn’t the end of times, but the beginning of a better time where you can succeed, and better yet, have a big say in that success. Read Dean and Kris. Read Mike Stackpole. Read Passive Voice, and start understanding how you can take advantage of these new opportunities. Go see what Lawrence Block is doing.
There are a lot of unknowns in this, but out of that, a lot of opportunity. A much better opportunity than existed back when I walked away. And 2012 is where it looks like it’s all going to come together.
(via Passive Voice)
Tell me if this sounds vaguely familiar. Apple announces they’re going to announce something. A few details leak. The speculation goes crazy, and the usual suspects end up deciding that what Apple needs to do includes a couple of puppies, a unicorn, three rainbows and free coffee for life.
Apple makes their announcement. It merely includes one puppy, a pony and a rainbow. No free coffee.
And the usual suspects jump on Apple because the product isn’t what they decided they wanted, even though that was clearly not what Apple ever intended it to be. This is somehow Apple’s fault.
The big criticisms coming back at the announcement seem to boil down to:
It’s for the iPad only, and it isn’t a publishing environment that can be used for other devices or platforms (like the Kindle).
And the licensing says if you sell it, you have to sell it via Apple’s iBook store.
Horrors. And, evidently, that kind of licensing is unprecedented.
Well, no, it’s not. If you view the iBook store as a platform, which many pundits have already declared it to be, than the new Apple book publisher tool is the equivalent of its SDK. And it’s not unprecedented for a company to limit use of it’s developer tools to its platform. We did that with webOS, where if you wanted to build webOS applications and sell them, you had to sell them through our store.
Matthew Ingram @ GigaOM worries this puts this content deep into Apple’s walled garden, and I sympathize, but there’s no licensing restriction that keeps you from publishing your content on other platforms using other tools; merely not using this tool to publish on those platforms. That’s a standard business decision about going cross-platform. If the market warrants it, you take your source code and build it for two platforms, only in this case, those platforms are iBook and Kindle instead of IOS and Android. In my mind, it’s a non-issue, just like it’s a non-issue to worry that publishing Angry Birds on the iPad might keep it off of other platforms. It won’t — if there’s a market for it. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Apple to “not make it easy” to publish on competitive platforms, that’s not in their self-interest.
Much as I want a multi-platform, one-button, publish my stuff everywhere tool — I fully understand why Apple wants to see some return on the investment it made in its tools, and I never expected Apple to create that. Ultimately, Apple is about selling hardware, so the way you do that is target the results of the tools to the platform that runs on that hardware. That’s what Apple did.
The alternative is to charge for the tools up front. If they did that, we’d simply be having a different argument, and the chance of adoption would go down dramatically. Now, if you want to do content to give away, you have many more options then if Apple charged $99 for this too. And if you plan on charging for it, well, don’t complain about Apple wanting a piece. That’s business.
Thinking that Apple should build a tool and give it away for free that enables you to put your content on the Kindle store and sell it? Incredibly naive, if you really think they should do that.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the publishing tool I was hoping to see, primarily because of these licensing restrictions. On the other hand, what I wanted it to be was never what Apple intended to build, and I didn’t really think they would.
I do think, however, that now that we’ve seen how Apple built this, it’s only a matter of time before some third party does build a tool very like it that does spit out a PDF and a Kindle doc and an iBook doc from the same tool. Apple has defined the direction, and (not surprisingly), targeted it to benefit Apple. I know this upsets some of the geeks, but hey, ultimately they have to pay the bills somehow. In this case, by convincing folks to put content on iPads instead of Kindles and Fires and TouchPads (hah. just kidding) through building really good tools to build it with. (and that’ll work. Just watch).
These tools will arrive for the other platforms, now that Apple has (again) set the bar. It’s not like Apple built a closed platform; others can build tools to publish to iBook as well, without the licensing restrictions. And they will (it should be Adobe, but it won’t be, I bet).
And this is a 1.0 product, in a new market they’ve been involved in for less than 24 hours. Free Coffee takes time to brew. And it’s far from unprecedented for Apple to build the basic product, stick the flag in the ground, and say “we don’t really know where it goes from here, so we’ll ship it and innovate as we find out where we need to go” — they did that with iTunes, and it didn’t turn out badly (and with iAds, where it didn’t turn out so well). You have to start somewhere, and if you wait until all of the features are thought out and implemented, you lose, because someone else will have shipped something first and pushed the market away from you.
The only problem I see here is the common one with Apple announcements: it’s not the product people fantasized it would be. And my guess is that like other times when the tech echo chamber roundly raised up in horror over not getting enough free coffee and rainbows, the criticisms will be ignored by those the product was really intended for, and it’ll be a nice success. Which will only annoy the pundits even more….
I really like what I saw today. I’m admittedly disappointed that it doesn’t serve my personal goals — in other words, I’m going to experiment with it, but probably not publish through it — but I’m not the intended audience. Fortunately, I actually recognize that, so I don’t take it personally. And I see how this can be extended later, and how third parties can compete against it and build on its foundations, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be too long before I do start getting the tools I want, driven out by what Apple set in motion today.
And I think this will impact the education system in a number of good ways, too. Which is bigger and more important than getting me what I want, anyway…
Friday night started “one of those” weekends. Laurie called me in from the other room, because water is flowing from under the toilet. The wax seal has failed. hint: this is not good.
Worse, our other one has been, well, offline for a few weeks because we dropped a shampoo bottle in it and it’s been on the “we can’t fix it ourselves, so we need to get someone out here to take care of this” list.
So we got everything under control, got towels down, etc. and since it was late, got to bed. In the morning, I called the plumber, Gary, at Gary’s Guaranteed Rooter. We’d used him before when we got that slab leak that needed some major surgery. He agreed to get out here as soon as he could.
And literally, as soon as I got off the phone with him, we started getting sewage back out of the bathtubs, and up around the toilets. So it wasn’t (just) a bad wax seal, but a full sewage blockage.
And hilarity ensued. And Gary got a second phone call, and re-arranged his other appointments, and generally got his butt out here as fast as he could, pulled off a miracle or two, got everything cleared up, the toilets fixed, and just because he could, fixed a dripping sink while he was here.
I know enough about plumbing (thank you, This Old House) to know when I shouldn’t be mucking with it, and enough to have some idea what needs to be done. Gary’s now pulled out butt’s out of the fire twice, and he’s not only a good plumber who knows his stuff, he gives a damn. If you need a plumber, from San Jose up the peninsula, he’s a good option to have, especially when the, um, stuff is hitting the fan. In this case, literally.
And despite short notice turning into this oh-my-god emergency, his prices are fair. His number is (650) 766-7821; it’s one you probably want to stick in your address book for that day when you really need it, because when you really need it, you don’t want to go thrashing around trying to figure out who to call…
(And now life is back to normal, although one of the bathroom rugs is a goner; all of the towels have gone through the “sanitize” cycle, and hopefully, we won’t have to worry about this for a while. We’ve been in this house since the mid 90′s, and this is the first time we’ve had this problem. Hopefully, with a bit of scheduled maintenance, we can keep it from happening again…)
I have acquired a strong fascination with the cranes and geese that visit California’s central valley in the winter. There are a number of places you can go to take them in, but one of my favorites is Merced National Wildlife Refuge, which is roughly halfway between Santa Nella and Merced. It’s about two and a half hours of driving from home, so it’s not a trivial drive, but it’s very much something I can do as a day trip.
The cranes and geese start arriving around the end of October, and start leaving in February or March. I’ve gotten into the habit of trying to get out into the central valley three or four times a winter to visit and photograph the birds and the area; more if I can. Some of those trips Laurie and I do together and make it an outing, but sometimes, it works best for me to go solo and just focus on trying to get pack as much into the trip with as much intensity and focus as I can.
There is just no way to be enthusiastic when the alarm goes off at 4AM. The best I can muster is not turning it off and rolling over; a quick hot shower and I’m off after clothes stashed in the other room, because my one goal right now is letting Laurie get back to sleep. Some mornings, you walk out the front door and look up into the dark sky and realize you’re screwed, and you might as well go back to bed. It’s 4:30, it’s 40 degrees, and it’s clear skies.
South to Gilroy, I find the open Starbucks (thank you, bless you). Over the hills, and down into Santa Nella and Los Banos. And into the fog. Now, I’m worried; I might arrive and be fogged out. The fog is playing games with me, though, as Tule fog can; sometimes it goes away. sometimes it’s impenetrable and you’re driving by braille. Outside of Los Banos, it lifts, but only about 20′, so it’s as if I’m driving in this weird grey tunnel. It’s a weird feeling, with the air completely clear around you, but when you look up, you can see nothing.
I make it to the refuge at 7:15, beating sunrise by about ten minutes. The fog is there, but not heavy. When the sun hits, it’ll build a bit, then it should burn off before too much time passes. I pull into the refuge to set up the cameras and get ready for the show. I can hear the geese stirring in the distance. My car thermometer reads 35 degrees. I reach for my coat, and realize I left it at home. All I have is my in-car denim jacket that lives there for these kinds of situations. It’ll help, but it’s really not heavy enough.
I’m the second car into the refuge. One has already headed up the auto tour a bit. I’m in the entrance area, unpacking gear and setting up the car the way I like it for these trips. A lone bird flies through. It turns out to be one of the few glimpses of an Ibis I’ll see today.
Those who have a fantasy that the life of a nature photographer is a glamorous one, set the alarm for 4AM, drag your butt out of bed, and go sit on a bench in the local park for a few hours and wait for something to happen. Maybe something will, maybe it won’t. That, in a nutshell, is nature photography. As you get better at picking locations, the chances something interesting will happen goes up, but it’s never guaranteed. Hours of prep, minutes of opportunity. Maybe.
Some people like to visit a lot of places. Get to know a few places well, rather than see lots of places superficially. You can go overboard on that, become too insular, too “cocooned”, but for me the attraction is to understand a place, not just see it. To watch as it changes over time and through the seasons.
This trip to Merced is my “new job vacation”; instead of taking time off and going somewhere, I took the accrued vacation and put that money into gear. It’s also my first “serious” trip to start learning how the gear should be used in the field. I’m consciously experimenting more with the wide angle, forcing myself to use it and not get so heavily into the rhythm of shooting at 400mm and seeing everything in that mono-vision.
I am going to have fun today. I don’t intend to let the cold stop me. Or the fog. Or even doofuses. Those are all things to work with, and around, they can only be excuses if you let them. Early on, the fog makes bird photography tough, putting everything into soft focus. I spend more time thinking about how to bring the refuge to those that can’t be there.
Opportunities do exist, of course.
A loggerhead shrike sits up for a portrait session. This has been one of my nemesis birds; I have lots of so-so images of them. I don’t have many I’m proud of.
Now I do.
I spend the afternoon with the geese, alternately trying to figure out how to show what it’s like sitting out in a marsh with 10,000+ birds, and trying to get some good flight and landing shots.
How do you describe 10,000 birds visually in an image?
That seems a good start. It’d be a better image if it was a panorama, but I didn’t want to get out of the car and risk spooking them to set up for a formal pano, and the handheld one wasn’t very good. Some days they work, some days they don’t.
Geese, everywhere. Never quiet, and there’s always motion.
Every time I visit a refuge, I want to do video, I want to do audio. I want to try timelapses. I now have most of the gear I need for these, but haven’t had time to practice the setups. Next visit, hopefully.
Then the geese explode; they’ve been spooked. The entire flock hits the air at the same time. The noise is intense, almost as intense as the visual chaos. Birds are flying everywhere. I don’t know how they avoid collisions, but they do.
And then it’s quiet, and empty. The geese have gone in to settle for the night. I can feel the first tendrils of fog seeping back into my It’s time for food, something hot, and the drive over the hill home. Until next time.
The Internet and politics have a way of magnifying each other’s faults. Depending upon which source you read this morning, President Obama either came out forcefully against SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy legislation on Saturday or he staked out a position enabling himself to back away from opposing it outright.
Buried in-between the apparent opposition and the apparent ambivalence is the most important part of Saturday’s statement, which would otherwise resound like a clarion call: “Rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself: Where do we go from here? Don’t limit your opinion to what’s the wrong thing to do, ask yourself what’s right.” The actual Obama Administration statement itself may have been as good a compromise as King Solomon himself may have managed in this environment: Speaking on behalf of the administration, a trio of technology officials including the U.S. CTO came out against all the principles that the populist movement against SOPA claimed to be against, without Mr. Obama having to personally stand against the entertainment industry which supported the legislation.
It’s good to see the SOPA bill pushed back. I’m not convinced that the solution lies in tweaking the bill. The bill itself is a sign of larger conflicts that I’d like to see us help Congress grapple with, and I think if we do that, it will lead to understand how to find the compromises needed to solve the problems that led to the introduction of SOPA.
If you take a step back from the bill itself, the underlying problem is that the current laws around copyright simply don’t cope well with the reality of the internet and with digital media content in general. I don’t think we’re going to solve the issues surrounding SOPA until we grapple the bigger issue of copyright and sharing rights in the internet age.
It’s not just that the big media organizations have ben trying to protect their existing business models, but they’ve been using this transition to try to push back and reduce or remove rights that exist as well — not only have there been consistent attacks on the right of first sale doctrine, we’ve seen organized attacks on the entire concept of fair use, and as we’ve started seeing a shift to ebooks and electronic publication, even the basic concept of lending a book to a friend has been restricted; just try to lend a Kindle book to someone, even your spouse (that doesn’t share your Amazon account) — it’s now up to the publisher to allow this, or the Kindle won’t let you. Compare that to a paper book and you see how this entire fight isn’t just about stopping piracy, but that it’s an attempt to erode other existing rights for sharing, in ways that, of course, benefit the publisher (at least in the short term) by ‘encouraging’ unit sales.
So to me, it’s time to have this discussion in Congress — what does Copyright mean in the internet era, and how do we update it to deal with the realities of electronic media, of mashups. How do you reconcile a media owner’s right to choose (and license for sale) how their media is going to be used with the interests of an individual who might want to resell his legitimate copy when they’re done, or loan it to a friend, or mash it up in some fun way.
If it was up to just the big media companies, none of that would be allowed, which goes far beyond simply protecting the equivalent processes of the printed media world but in fact strips away user rights that are currently accepted there.
This is a big, hairy, complex problem. Before it’s done, both sides (the big media folks and the “we want to share this stuff” side) will have to compromise. Somewhere along the way, we’ll probably have to deal with Orphaned Works issue. We need to take a close look at Creative Commons and integrate it’s concepts into real copyright law. We need to protect a creator’s right to earn income from their work, but we need to understand where we can draw lines around fair use and make sure that concept is strengthened, not weakened or destroyed (I would love to see fair use and Creative Commons non-commercial licenses go off for a long weekend and bring back something we can use as a model here). We need to understand how personal loans of electronic media can be managed; we need to understand how to allow first sale doctrine transfers in an electronic world. The answer from the big media folks (“all of that has to go away”) can’t be allowed to be turned into the new rules — and for the sake of the media folks, too, for the more they try to lock things down, the more they’ll encourage people to go around the rules (and be termed pirates, which they may or may not be). Piracy will aways exist; a rational set of reasonable use restrictions — most people would live within and accept.
The compromises — and the fight over them — won’t be easy. But I think this is the path we need to take to get to these solutions. Until we understand how the basic concept of copyright needs to work in the internet age, we can’t figure out how to legislate making it work, and the existing copyright rules and concepts are horribly broken in an electronic media age. So it’s time to get started, and figure this out.
And I think we can, with some work. People like to rag on the DMCA, but as someone who’s dealt with it both as a content creator and as an administrator, it’s not awesome, but it works, and it has the checks and balances needed to generally let both sides have a say. There are flaws in it, and flaws in how some sites implement it (not everyone handles appeals and the process beyond the initial take-down well), but overall, I think it does a better job than it’s given credit for many days. The one thing I think it’s missing is a “vexatious litigant” aspect where people who are found to be abusing the system can be banned from making new claims; if we added that, it’d be a hammer to help keep some of the media companies that have been “over enthusiastic” about filing take downs in better check (imagine if Youtube had the right to tell, say, Universal, that they’ve filed too many failed claims, and therefore, they can file no more claims without doing so through a court for approval. That might slow down some of their enthusiasm for taking down stuff that falls under fair use, and give people more incentive to push back when they do).
I’m worried that if we don’t start having this discussion, we’ll end up trying to solve these issues by using the existing laws and processes, and they’re broken. And if we try that path, that’ll work to the big media’s benefit. So what I suggest is it’s time for us not to go to Congress and fight SOPA, it’s time for the tech leaders to go to Congress and start lobbying to help them get educated on copyright and our need to update it to the digital realm — and through that, work for a solution to these issues that SOPA is trying to fix (by taking a fireaxe to them…)
This year for the holidays I decided to try something different with a couple of my gifts. Every year, I try to make christmas gifts for the family a little personal, and in the last few years, that’s meant something using my photos.
This year, rather than a standard framed print or a calendar, I had prints done via ArtisanHD on Plexiglas. It looked like an interesting, modern alternative to the standard matted print. These images in the 12×18 size (good for 11×14 prints) ran a bit over $50, and to be honest, I was blown away with how they looked.
If you’re looking for something different and memorable, with good quality, something that’s going to leave an impression — this is something you might want to consider. I liked the quality of the final product, I was very happy with the quality of the print, and in fact, I did one for myself, which is going up in my cube at work tomorrow, too. And I expect it’ll get people to come into the office and ask about it.
The one thing that marred the visit to Merced was that I ran into a couple of doofuses. Here’s a quick guide on how not to be a doofus with a camera (or binoculars).
The “Area Beyond This Sign Closed” sign evidently didn’t apply to this couple, who entered the refuge shortly after I did and headed back into tour area ahead of me. The car is significantly beyond the “do not enter” sign, and they are significantly beyond that. What you don’t see or hear here were the three or four coyotes that were actively making a lot of noise somewhere off to the left of this scene but between me and them. Sorry, but “it’s okay if the ranger doesn’t catch us” doesn’t sit well with me. I guess it’s also okay if the coyotes decide not to catch them, too.
These two seemed to be fairly knowledgable birders and at first glance their gear seemed to be of the “okay, they’re serious about this” quality. Not “take out a mortgage” glass, but “we’ve upgraded once or twice” glass. One would hope that serious birders would know to stick to the rules and not do things that impact the birds. Unfortunately, for some birders, “getting the bird” is most important, even to the detriment of the bird.
In fact, this is a minor transgression. They’re on a maintenance road. It’s just annoying to me when I see someone who’s first act when they arrive at a place like this is to put themselves above the rules. Rules which are there to protect them and to protect the birds they were interested in enough to come and visit. I just don’t have a lot of patience with the “it’s okay if I don’t get caught” mentality. Of course, you never know who might know the rangers and email them a picture of them, their car, and their license plate…
But the big doofus was in the afternoon. I’ve made my fourth trip through the refuge, this one to sit with the geese until the light fails or they leave. The geese are being moderately cooperative, with about 10,000 sitting in a large group with the close edge about 50 yards off the road, just past the back observation area. I’ve found a parking spot where I have good views, good light, good angles, I’m off the road, and I’m in the car shooting, watching and hanging out.
And along comes a photographer, walking up the access road, camera, tripod. Pro-caliber Nikon body, pro-caliber nikon lens. expensive tripod. He walks up, and proceeds to set up and start shooting. Right directly in front of me, directly in my line of sight.
Okay, say freaking WHAT? It’s not like my car’s invisible. I decided to defer having a cow and give him some time to get some shots in. Instead, I grabbed my long lens and started taking flight shots around him, since he only moderately impacted that. When he heard my camera going off, he looked, saw the lens, and asked me if he was in my way. And I noted that yes, at some point he was going to be impacting my shots. So he then said “well, tell me when I am” and turned around and went back to shooting. After about five minutes of that, he graciously decided that was good enough and moved to a new location off my rear fender that was out of my line of sight.
This is wrong on any number of levels. First of all, you don’t just plop yourself down in front of someone and start shooting as if they aren’t there. He compounded this — his actions and the way he said things made it clear to me that until he realized I was also a photographer that this was okay. It was only once he realized I had a camera that he worried about impacting my sight lines. It doesn’t matter if I have a camera or if I’m just there for, say, a gorgeous sunset with the geese, you don’t have the right to decide to just set up camp in front of me. I was mildly annoyed when he did it. I was majorly annoyed when I realized he thought it was okay until he realized I was another photographer, because that implies that he does this to others as well, because, evidently, his camera gives him right of priority view or something. And that he did it without acknowledging my presence until I hauled out a lens about as big as his.
I didn’t make a deal with it with him directly, because nothing good ever happens when you do, but man, this is annoying, because it’s this kind of behavior that gives all photographers a bad rep. When someone with a lens wades in and just plays this kind of game, it makes us all look bad to non photographers. So, kids, when you have a lens out, remember that your actions and how you act leaves an impression on those around you, and that impression is not just about you (and what a doofus you are), but on photographers in general. If you don’t care what people think about you (and I clearly think this man is a doofus) worry about what people think about all of us other photographers. Because it’s actions like this that get all photographer’s access restricted, when enough doofuses do things that annoy non-photographers enough to start making rules.
But it gets better. Or worse, I guess.
The other thing my friend didn’t realize was that he was scaring off the geese. He was standing out in the open moving around a lot, shifting his camera around. Every time he did, a few geese closest to him took off and flew off or flew deeper into the pack. I figured it was only a matter of time before he spooked a goose that spooked the flock and caused them all to leave.
Okay, a quick digression. Refuges allow access to restricted parts of the refuge. Many parts are out of bounds so that the birds can go places where they don’t have to deal with the stress of interacting with humans. that’s why humans shouldn’t be going into out of bounds places. At refuges like Merced, access is via a gravel road set up as an auto tour. One of the rules they encourage you to follow is to stay in the car, and use it as a blind. There’s a reason for that: the shape of a human scares the wildlife, and they move away from you, or they leave. If you’re carrying a big camera with a long lens, it looks an awful lot to geese like that other long, pointy thing that got pointed at uncle bob before he fell out of the sky and was never seen again. When you’re that close, the geese are going to notice you and react to you, especially if you’re moving around a lot.
What ultimately happened, though, was that another photographer arrived, parked back up the road a bit, and walked out from behind the screening trees to where the rest of us were (three or four cars, the photographer wandering around. fairly big crowd, actually). He was wearing a red sweatshirt, and got two steps out from behind the screening brush. The flock jumped, and suddenly we had 10-12,000 geese in the air in total chaos. Within a minute, they’d organized and flown off, and we were all sitting there staring at an empty pond.
That is why the rangers tell you to stay in the car, and use it as a blind. Because these folks didn’t, the rest of us lost access to the birds, too. Show over. So much for trying to get a picture of the flock in golden hour light.
If the first photographer had been more aware of how is movements were putting the geese on alert, the second photographer appearing might not have spooked them. Or maybe he would have. Or maybe nothing would have happened (but in the previous times i’ve been in this situation, there’s a fairly decent change they’ll find a reason to get spooked, whether it’s person, noise, or raptor. But one can hope). The point is, I guess, is that if people had been following the recommended rules, the chances we’d have had a longer time watching the birds would have gone up significantly. By being that close to the flock and unaware of what their actions were doing to the birds, they messed it up for all of us.
If you’re going to shoot wildlife, you should strive to understand their behaviors and know how to minimize your impact on them. Failing that, at least know what the rules of the refuge are and follow them, because they’re designed to help you do that. It’s sad and frustrating when I see people who seem oblivious to the stress they’re putting on the animals; this isn’t Disneyland, and these aren’t audio-anamatronic robots.
I’m still wondering what that morning couple’s plan was if those coyotes decided to come out and say hi. They were, after all, only 100-150 yards out from their position. Fortunately, a coyote is generally uninterested in taking on a person, but there were at least three in a group together. That’s not a situation I particularly want to be in, out in the open with a coyote between me and my car where I might be safe. What I did was watch from the “do not pass this point” sign for a couple of minutes, just to make sure there was no sign of the coyotes moving, then I wished them luck on whatever they were doing and moved on. I wonder if they even realized the coyotes were there? (they were sure noisy enough…)
And my friend the doofus? I guess I see that kind of behavior often enough now that it’s merely annoying. If he hadn’t moved, I’d have eventually escalated the situation, but I figured if I gave it time, it’d solve itself without creating a fight, and it did. Once they scared off the flock, there was no reason to stay, so I fired up the car and headed back to the front of the refuge, because if there’s no active flock involved, that’s a better place to photograph the evening fly-in (except when it’s not), where I ran into a nice couple who was there for the first time, and I spent some time trying to help them with what to expect. It was, unfortunately, a fairly weak fly-in, with the cranes mostly missing until very late when they all flew in at once, and the geese — well, they’d already flown off to the evening roost for some reason, so activity was low.
But still, even a lousy sunset on the refuge is better than most things…. And I’ll give this one a C+.
As Sullivan points out, the iPhone and the Galaxy are getting the exact same speeds. That’s because AT&T’s network is actually HSPA+, which the iPhone supports but refuses to call “4G” even though AT&T does.
Why does AT&T call it 4G? Because they were one to two years behind their competitors in rolling out an actual 4G network. In other words, when all hope fades, lie.
In AT&T’s parlance, real 4G is “4G LTE”.
You didn’t hear this from me, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if asking the right people, you might find out that AT&T wasn’t the only carrier seriously working to play the “Faux G” marketing naming game…
I had to go visit the dentist this week, and I had just enough time free before the appointment that I could sneak down to the Palo Alto Duck Pond with my gear and do some head to head tests and start learning how the new lenses are going to operate.
This exercise was intended to try to understand a couple of things: first, how well the image quality of the T3i stands up to the 7D, so I know what situations I have to depend on the 7D, and when I can use the 2nd body. Second, I want to get some sharpness tests of the 70-200F2.8l+2.x combo against the 300F4+1.4x to see whether the former would work as my birding rig, and if not, how far can I push it before image quality starts to fail. And third, I’ve just had this nagging question about whether the 7D needs to be serviced and whether it’s giving me the clean, sharp images I expect from it.
To try to start figuring this out, I sat next to the pond (trying to avoid the kids with the bag of bread and the resulting chaos, not always successfully) and shoot the same subjects at the same time using the same settings so I have some rational images to do comparisons with. For all of these images, both bodies were set to ISO 400, AF to the center sensor, Aperture mode (adjusted by +2/3 stop as I typically do), with AF set to AI Servo and autoexposure to Center Weighted Average; I had no custom settings set.
These images are shot raw, with almost no processing; perhaps a bit of exposure and contrast tweaking, but all have the same default sharpening and no noise reduction or lens correction. The camera profile was set to camera neutral. All lenses were shot hand held, with IS on, set to setting 2.
Also, just to be clear, here’s the list of lenses and bodies I’m experimenting with. You have to be really careful because after a while, all of the letters can start running together, and it matters whether it’s the “70-200F2.8L IS” or the “70-200F2.8L IS II”. The “2.X II” teleconverter isn’t as sharp as the newer “2.X III”, but if you aren’t paying close attention, you can miss the difference in the model naming.
- 7d body
- T3i body
- 70-200F2.8L IS (not “IS II”)
- 2.x Teleconverter II
- 1.4X Teleconverter II
- 300 F4 IS
Click through each image to see the large version:
- The 7D, with 70-200X2x at 400mm, F8
- The t3i, with 70-200X2x at 400mm, F8
- here it is at 300MM, F8
- 300F4+1.4x at F5.6
Here’s a second round, shooting at something close up instead of relatively far away:
- 7D, 315MM @ F5.6
- 7D, 300F4+1.4x @ F5.6
- 7D, 280mm – 70-200+1.4x @ F5.6
- 7D, 280mm – 70-200+1.4x @ F5.6
- T3i, 300mm – 70-200+2x @ F5.6
- xT3i, 400mm – 70-200+2x @ F8
- xT3i, 300mm+1.4x @ F5.6
So my verdict?
If you look at those last two images side by side, you can see an obvious difference:
The right image is significantly sharper. That’s the 300F4+1.4x combo. The 70-200+2X seems to be acceptably sharp up to about 300mm, and then softens. In some cases, especially with relatively close birds, it might be “good enough” if the other lens isn’t available, but honestly, I think that’s wishful thinking. It’s just too soft. The quick testing I did with the 70-200 with the 1.4x seems to be nicely sharp, but even that the sharpness falls off as it heads towards max magnification.
This is normal with teleconverters. It’s not a matter of whether the image will degrade, but whether that degradation is acceptable. The 2x will soften your image; don’t pretend your 300+1.4x is going to be as good as a 400F4 — this is understanding the tradeoffs between quality, budget and having to hire a sherpa with a mule to carry it all.
So, my bottom line?
I’m not seeing any significant change in image quality between the 7d and the T3i. This is good; I didn’t expect to, since they use the same sensor down in the bowels; the pricing difference between the two bodies is primarily about manufacturing and features — and when you pick the two up in each hand, you can definitely tell the difference. The 7d feels built like a rock, the T3i feels more “plasticky” and is definitely lighter. It seems perfect for my needs as a 2nd body, though, and a good value compared to the 7D. (this also implies there’s no obvious issues with the 7D body indicating it needs a trip to the shop. also good). This means I can feel comfortable using both bodies, within the limits of the T3i — for instance, the more limited buffer for burst shooting.
The 70-200+2x combo is noticeably softer at 400mm than the 300+1.4x is; for my purposes, it’s “too soft”. This doesn’t surprise me much. I was hoping I could use it as my primary birding gear, but I wasn’t depending on it. I now know to stick with the 300 setup for that. From what I can tell, the 70-200+2x is acceptably sharp up to about 300mm, so in a pinch, I can use it if the 300mm is handy with some limitations, but the 70-200+1.4x is even sharper in that range, so I should use that instead.
Shooting at F8 helps, as you might expect, when compared to wide open. But doesn’t make enough of a change to change the results.
(and because I want to be clear on this: this isn’t a ‘problem’ with the lens. I was experimenting to see if I could push the envelope in an attempt to lighten the kit I haul around. I thought it was unlikely I’d get away with this without spending a lot more money on the 70-200F2.8 IS II lens, which is just beyond my budget. My opinion, honestly, was that I’d rather buy these lenses now and save up for my 500mm than put even more money into the more expensive 70-200. That’s all part of looking at the bigger and long-term picture of what your needs and priorities are….
The attempt was worth a shot, and now I know. Doing these kinds of tests is an aspect of learning your gear, so you know without thinking (or worrying!) what to grab to make a shot happen. If you know what the gear can do — and what it can’t — you can focus more on the shot, and less on wondering if you’re going to get it.
Do you know how your lens will react if you change it from F5.6 to F11? What center-weighted exposure mode does vs. evaluative, and when to use which?
you really should, because if you stop to think through which settings to use when, by the time you think it through, the shot will be gone. Putting time into experiments like this is part of the process of making the gear more invisible to the moment.
The National Hockey League announced today that it will not move forward with implementation of the Realignment Plan and modified Playoff Format recently approved by the NHL Board of Governors for the 2012-13 NHL season because the NHLPA has refused to provide its consent.
“It is unfortunate that the NHLPA has unreasonably refused to approve a Plan that an overwhelming majority of our Clubs voted to support, and that has received such widespread support from our fans and other members of the hockey community, including Players,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “We have now spent the better part of four weeks attempting to satisfy the NHLPA’s purported concerns with the Plan with no success. Because we have already been forced to delay, and as a result are already late in beginning the process of preparing next season’s schedule, we have no choice but to abandon our intention to implement the Realignment Plan and modified Playoff Format for next season.”
“We believe the Union acted unreasonably in violation of the League’s rights. We intend to evaluate all of our available legal options and to pursue adequate remedies, as appropriate.”
So the player’s union has balked at realignment, and the owners have delayed implementing.
Are you surprised? I’m not.
For all the rhetoric, this issue has almost nothing to do with realignment. It’s about jousting for power, and aligning up the forces for the next labor negotiation, coming to your sports talk shows way sooner than most fans want to believe.
If you think back to the last labor negotiation, one of the things the owners talked about was making the players a partner in the business, and everyone shook hands and said nice things to each other and signed the CBA and went back to work. And the owners have brought the players into discussion on policy — in very limited ways, practically speaking. Things like the competition committee, which has seen players resign from it because they felt it was being ignored.
I think the owners intended well here. I also think, ultimately, that we have to remember that the owners are owners, and the players are, well, employees. The players would like the owners to continue putting up the money, but the players would like to be a able to tell the owners what to do as well. Oh, sorry. be more involved in decisions that the owners are making. And since the owners are, in fact, putting up the money, they don’t seem to agree.
So this fight was inevitable. When the players brought in Donald Fehr, they telegraphs that this was going to happen. And this is really a fight over what things the players should have a say in, and what things the owners feel the owners should be able to decide on their own.
In other words, a typical battle between management and labor that will be hashed out in endless detail that will bore the crap out of even the lawyers involved before it’s done.
So I now invoke my “labor negotiation recommendation” — both sides are now in full rhetoric to sway and influence the fans and media to listen to and support their side in the upcoming labor talks, so believe nothing either side says. It’s all posturing. Take none of it seriously.
By deferring this out of next season, the NHL has removed it as a possible short term lever of influence from the NHLPA, and made it something that will ultimately be hashed out in the CBA negotiations. My prediction: the owners will get what they want. they union will get some concession for “allowing” it. Both sides declare victory. Fans will grind their teeth and wonder why the two sides can’t just work these things out — and the answer to that is “because the way labor negotiations are structures, that’s not possible”.
Remember, in labor negotiations, there is never a deal until the last possible moment, or somewhat beyond that moment, because no matter what, if the two sides come to agreement earlier than that, someone will criticize one side or the other (or both sides) that if they’d pushed harder, they’d have gotten a better deal. Therefore, as fans, simply plan for lots of screaming and yelling and threats and bluster, and then expect a last minute deal of some sort (where “last minute” may include ‘losing’ stuff that doesn’t matter much, like pre-season, games in october, or as in the case of the NBA, anything before christmas when the owners aren’t making much money, the TV networks don’t really care, and the players would rather be on the beach surfing… If you don’t think the first have of a pro sports season isn’t filler to make time and sell tickets until the real season kicks in later, think again. If the owners and players could figure out how to convince everyone to pay for 45 game playoffs, you can bet they’d do it in a minute and throw the regular season away. and the Networks would love them for it…)
This is simply the union starting labor negotiations early, and letting the owners know they don’t plan on being patsies. The owners pretty clearly knew exactly what was going to happen. It almost feels scripted from both sides, which it probably was. And now, the jousting begins.
To me, this is actually good news. If they start the arguing now instead of waiting for formal CBA negotiations to begin, I have hopes they’ll be able to solve more of the issues early, and have some idea how to generate a new CBA without any (or any significant) stoppage in the league. Better they start drawing battle lines early and figuring out how to work out the framework of the next deal early than not talk to each other and let it drag on deep into a locked-out season later.
For me, I’m going to watch this with interest. But believe almost nothing that’s said. I suggest the rest of you do that, too. Anything said from now until they sign the next CBA is going to be posturing towards the next deal, and therefore, assume they’re lying. Because they probably are…
(by the way, as far as I can tell, the NHLPA has no legal right to demand a say in this decision; this is an issue which is traditionally something the owners have had complete control over without union input. They seem to be invoking language involving travel rules, but that seems — stretching it. That, of course, is what Donald Fehr is all about. And why the union hired him.
The union could have tried to force the issue into court or arbitration, and probably would have. Given that, it makes sense for the owners to delay implementation and add it to the list of things to negotiate in the CBA. If the next labor negotiations were a couple of more years out than they are, they probably would have pushed back. And it seems obvious the owners believed this was going to happen and more or less intended to let it happen all along, given how I’m reading Bill Daly’s formal response to the union’s formal response…)
The NHL has just revealed its All-Star Game’s final six fan voting leaders and starters: Ottawa Senators forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek will be joined by fellow Sen Erik Karlsson and Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf on defense, and Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas will start in goal.
It must be all-star game season again, because the fans have been voting, the players selected, and the usual suspects are complaining about it. Typically, this means some members of the press and media bitch and moan, because it seems the fans are not actually competent to choose who the fans want to see in the All-Star game. Instead, if you listen to these media people, that responsibility should be passed over to the people who really know best — the media.
No conflict of interest or enraged egos here. Nope.
My take: it’s a silly All-Star game. who cares? To some folks (mostly media types, it seems), that the fans are actually interested and motivated to get involved and vote is a bad thing. These media types seem to prefer the fans stay quiet and uninvolved, and simply do what the media tell them to do instead of think for themselves. I wonder why?
Me? I’ll take anything that gets fans involved and motivated and active and noisy. Especially since — ultimately, it doesn’t matter WHO is chosen, just that players get chosen. If they all want to band together and send the backup goalie from Muskegon? Great! At least the fans are involved. And 48 hours after the game, not only will nobody care, nobody will remember — except that backup goalie, who will have a weekend he’ll never forget.
There are some members of the media who take everything way too seriously, and need to chill out. There are other members of the media who simply look for any excuse to find fault with the NHL and the game and complain. And there are some members of the media who seem to think they should be in charge, and we should all shut up and listen to them (hello, Ken Campbell) and just do what they say.
My suggestion: anyone who is complaining about how the voting is done for the All-Star game is a media person you should serious consider no longer reading or paying attention to.
I think the NHL has done a very good job of creating a way for fans to get involved, while limiting the problems of fan voting filling the rosters full of semi-qualified players. the current system seems to work quite well in limiting the politics and removing some of the common challenges of roster building.
But beyond that, it’s an All-Star game. A time to relax, party a bit (and let the league help their sponsors party and network), honor some players, have a good time, and not think too hard about it. Anyone who starts worrying about this like it’s the end of the world, I honestly suggest you turn off the TV that weekend and go skiing instead. Or stop listening to the media folks who keep trying to turn things like this into crises, because honestly, all they’re looking for is lazy columns that are easy to write. Or chances to write about how much smarter they are than everyone else. Either way, not the kind of stuff I feel like reading.
Me? I don’t vote for All-stars, haven’t for years. I don’t worry about who gets voted in. I don’t worry about how the team is chosen. I went to the game in San Jose, got mugged by both the mascots from Tampa, gave the Florida panther mascot some cough drops because he needed them even more than I did that year, and had a great time. And every year, I sit down and watch the All-Star game, unless I have something I want to do more. Either way, I have fun. Both ways, I take this about as seriously as it deserves to be taken.
And I suggest everyone do the same. Relax. Vote (or not). Watch (or not). and have a good time. There are serious issues in the league that deserve attention and consideration (and column inches). This is not one of them.
One last piece on leaving 2011 and entering 2012, before you all have me shot for writing endlessly on the topic. But for me, the reality is that the timing of the job change and some of the things that went down in the last year turn this transition into a big thing, both in reality (because of the timing of the new gig) and symbolically (because I really like being able to lay 2011 down and watch it fade into the past, even if that’s really just a symbolic thing). I had hopes 2011 would be a pretty good year, and in ways it was, and in other ways, thanks in large part to Leo, it really, really sucked. oh well. We’ll give it a C, because right now for some reason I’m into letter grades for things. (or maybe going back to my 2nd grade report card, something like “English: A, handwriting: F” — the good was really good, the not so good was, well, really good-not-so).
So we’ll try again in 2012, and do our best.
I’ve gotten the usual “why do you post this stuff?” of which their is a common subtext of “Oh my god, I’m too afraid of what people might think to post stuff like this”. I understand the fear completely. It’s tough to get past. Most people are afraid people will look down on them for having problems (or admitting to them). I’ve found the opposite: I hear from people who are amazed someone is willing to talk about them openly. And in some cases, I hear from folks that it helps: when I talked about my sleep apnea, I heard from three people who went to doctors and getting under treatment, on the diabetes, four that I know of. Being part of helping someone avoid a problem or crisis? Priceless. (For a recent reminder of this, there’s a nice blog post by Jason, over on Webomatica. some of his thoughts this year echo some things I’ve been chewing on again as well).
The main reason I do this, though, is that the process of thinking through what to write and organizing it is what I need to actually crystalize my thoughts and feelings and understand them for myself. I put them here on the blog because that way, when I come back to review them over time, they’re there — and I can’t edit the past on myself as easily. It helps (forces!) me to be honest with myself, and these journal entries when viewed over time help me see how my thoughts and priorities and attitudes have changed over time. I must admit that, having left a trail of babbling that goes back on the internet into the early 1980s, that I sometimes wake up from a nightmare where I’ve found myself turned into some PhD student’s thesis… But hopefully, that won’t happen until I no longer have reason to care…
The last few months, for some reason, I have been thinking about starting a second blog. This other blog would be private, and password protected. And have a deadman’s switch, where if I don’t go and reset the dates, it’ll out itself, because, well, the assumption is that I’m no longer able to. And then I realize it’d be a really boring thing, because no, I’m not going to put stuff in it that I wouldn’t put in here. No salacious crap, no hidden diatribes about who screwed up what with webOS, no special notes about that secret weekend with the Queen Mother. None of that. Well, maybe some. But I’m not ready to accept my own mortality to that level yet, much as I realize I may not have a say in the matter.
In any event, onward. My priorities for 2012 are pretty simple: figure out my blog, upgrade it so it better represents who I am today, because I think it’s still somewhat lost in the muddled idea of what I was that was part of the decision to leave Apple. Now I know who that person is, and I really like how it turned out, and now, my online presence needs to better represent that.
That interest in representing my vision is what’s pushing me forward in my photography again. And it’s why after all these years I’d dragged out my old writing and the unfinished novels and I’m taking a close look at it — although to be honest, and I’m a much different writer than i was then, and most of what I left unfinished deserves to be, so that’s all going to be a fresh start. All I’m keeping are the core ideas.
So what should you expect from me this year?
More of the same. But more me. More commentary. I think I’ll wade into some of the geek and tech echo chamber discussions more. I want to talk a bit less about photography, but write about it more (and if you don’t understand the difference, maybe I’ll explain it later). The occasional picture of a kitteh or a puppy or a unicorn, just for old time’s sake. And if I get to the fiction, and it doesn’t suck and doesn’t make me crazy doing it, you’ll see some of it here, too.
I want to get serious about the ebook work; the backup series I wrote is on the list for conversion to a more substantial and packaged form. Ditto some of my lightroom writings. I’m going to do more reviews, and while some of that will include affiliate links, I have no intention of trying to turn this place into a revenue generator or blow up the design in search of page views and ad clicks. If I try, please shoot me. Turning your blog into something that looks like a neon whorehouse on New Years in search of micro payments for clicks just seems like a losing proposition to me (even though I know some people make good money at it); the most my affiliate links have ever done in a month is about $15, and most months, it’s <$5. Maybe I’ll sell a few prints, sell a few ebooks. If so, great. If not, Google Adsense isn’t going to pay the rent and I’m not interested in giving up the screen real estate and turn this site into a billboard chasing it.
If a writing opportunity hits that makes sense on some other site, I might consider it, now that I’m away from HP and the conflicts that entailed. But I’m not looking to chase those; I’d rather focus on my own site and writing for now.
And I have to decide whether I’m really serious about getting into writing apps; I have some ideas that are intriguing. I’m not such if they’re viable, or if I want to commit the time to implement them. That’s a decision I have to put time into and probably won’t happen until summer, if then. (and yes, I’ll be writing for IOS and perhaps WinMobile. Sorry, webOS folks; if and when there are viable hardware devices, we can talk. And android just doesn’t interest me, and the numbers back on paid apps with android just don’t give me a warm feeling; it may be no platform makes me feel like it’s worth the investment. we’ll see). The big challenge I see is that I think if I try to do blog + photos + fiction + apps I’m spreading too thin. It may well come down to making a choice between going into app development or going back into fiction writing, and I don’t know which way I’ll choose. I know my heart says “Novel!” right now, but maybe that’s just a fling with my past, and my head will change that decision… honestly, it’s fun not having easy answers, because sometimes, the real fun is in the chase, not the catch.
Heck, if the answers were easy, it wouldn’t be worth chasing, right?
Hope your 2012 rocks. Don’t be afraid to thrive.