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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: May 2012
Micah Lee and Peter Eckersley for the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Apple’s recent products, especially their mobile iOS devices, are like beautiful crystal prisons, with a wide range of restrictions imposed by the OS, the hardware, and Apple’s contracts with carriers as well as contracts with developers. Only users who can hack or “jailbreak” their devices can escape these limitations. “Join us now and share the software, you’ll be free, hackers, you’ll be free-ee-eee!” – Some crazy-eyed old neckbeard.
Seriously, EFF, just shut up.
I really want to support the EFF. I know a good number of people who are involved with them. I’m in agreement with their primary goals and their positions in general. Lots of my friends are big supporters.
And yet, every time I’ve considered sending them money to support their cause, they say stuff like this, and remind me that deep down inside, they’re primary DNA is, well, Stallman-esque. It’s the same issue I have with being a huge supporter of open software, and being completely unwilling to support the GPL (thank goodness more rational licensing schemes came out of the movement).
At one level, I understand that many times the only way hold back the folks these groups are fighting is to take extreme positions and fight “no compromise” with “no compromise”, but, well, I reserve my funding and commitment to more moderate causes. And that’s the ultimate problem I have with the EFF (they’re in good company, I feel the same way about Greenpeace) — there’s a fine line between fighting for an important cause and going all radical over it, and the EFF is on the wrong side of that line for me. And this is a great example of why I think so.
EFF: damn glad they exist and are fighting the fight, but I do wish they weren’t quite so extremist about some of their positions. But I long ago realized that wasn’t going to change.
Here’s the latest entry in the “You are an idiot if…” contest, this one for Facebook. A teenage girl wasn’t thinking, and after helping Grandma count her large stack of money (that evidently isn’t in a bank because evidently Grandma doesn’t trust banks), she took a picture of the money and posted it to Facebook. In public. It turns out the girl’s home address was also in her Facebook profile. In public.
That’s two really stupid things to do that combined into real trouble, because shortly thereafter, the robbers showed up at the girl’s house with knives and clubs. Fortunately, Grandma’s address wasn’t public, but the girl’s mom was robbed, and I can guess that fun.
So it’s time for the every-so-often reminder that the internet is a big, scary place and you have to be careful out there. Always check out your profiles when you’re not logged on to a site to see what they’re saying, and ask yourself if that information is what you don’t mind having someone with knives and clubs and a big black ski mask see.
Beyond that here are a few suggestions from someone who’s been doing this for a long time (and has on a couple of occasions needed to be careful about who knew where I lived…)
First, don’t put your real addresses and phone numbers on your profiles or web sites casually. Sometimes you need to have contact address or phone numbers out there for professional reasons. Here, a rental box is your friend. I’ve used UPS store forever. Back when we ran our consulting business that was the address of record. Now, it’s the address of record for anything that happens online (like domain registrations), plus, they take in all of our packages so you don’t get into the “left on the porch and disappeared” problem. That alone is worth paying a few bucks a month for me, given the quality of package delivery here in the U.S. today (FedEx @Home, I’m glaring at you right now).
So if you decide to hunt me down, you’ll find I live in a 3″x4″ little metal box. Good luck with that. (this does not imply you can’t find my real home address. I know if someone is motivated, you can. But it stops the trivial crackdown and the stupid hot heads).
As far as phone? I publish my cell phone number when I need a phone out there. But I long ago realized just how high a percentage of incoming phone calls were useless to me, and stopped worrying about being interrupted. My bottom line: if you don’t show up in my caller ID as someone I know, I won’t answer. If you don’t leave a message, then it wasn’t really something I needed to interrupt my life to answer, was it?
There’s a larger issue with this kind of “here I am” identification — Foursquare. I experimented with it at one point, decided it wasn’t for me. One reason: I’d really rather not telegraph where I am, especially when “where I am” is not home. As someone who’s self-admitted online to be a computer person and a photographer, do I really want to make it easy for someone to decide the house is empty but perhaps full of high value toys? Even worse, telegraph that when in fact Laurie might be at home?
So, no. I don’t want to make it that easy for someone to decide I might make a fun target for a visit. So I don’t Foursquare.
if you do, fine. but have you stopped to think about the kind of trail you’re laying down, and what it might tell someone? And what other information you’re giving them to make it easy to take advantage of you?
I realize that’s how the mentality of the internet is headed, especially with younger users. But… is that really a good idea?
And now we’re down to two: New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings.
Which just goes to show nobody this year should be betting based on my picks. I thought the Kings would prevail in a tough fight. In fact? the Kings were clearly a dominant team, and the Coyotes never really had a chance. And I was convinced the Rangers were a lock, and in fact, while it was a really close, tight series, the more I watched the Devils, the more I saw a team building confidence and believing. Even if the Rangers had gotten game six to go their way, I don’t think the Rangers would have won game seven. The Devils deserved it.
Still, I was 1-1 in the conference finals, which makes me 6-8 this year in calling series. All things considered, that’s not too bad. I don’t think many pundits picked the Devils and Kings in the finals, and the few who did are having entertaining talks with their bookies.
I can admit to a couple of things: I’m really looking forward to this Cup Final, and I’m ready for hockey to end for a while. I’ve really enjoyed the playoff hockey, but I won’t mind not having hockey around for a few weeks. Still, a few more games won’t suck.
In this round? I think there are reasons to pick both teams; I love the Kings youthful enthusiasm and Jonathan Quick in goal. I respect the Devils’ veteran poise and work ethic, and Brodeur has impressed me (more than I expected to. I do believe he’s at that point where he needs to place fewer regular season games to play well in the playoffs.)
I do think I’m going to pick the Kings here. They have more reset, and I’ll take rest over rust in this situation. I think they’re better suited to handle the travel, being from the West and knowing how to pace themselves. And I think Quick can AT LEAST duel Brodeur to a draw, and if he can, then I think that bodes well for the Kings.
And I have a soft spot in my heart for Lombardi and Sutter. I’d really like to see them win this.
So let’s say… Kings in six.
Good luck to LA starting Wednesday. (and bonus points if they put the series down faster…)
I finally took some time out to visit the eagle’s nest out on Calaveras Reservoir and got some decent images. The chicks are healthy and you can see that the primaries are fully, or almost fully, grown in, and they’re showing signs of exercising the wings. They’ll do that to strengthen the wings, and then start doing “test flights” — hovering just above the nest a bit — as they get ready to fledge and leave the nest for real.
As I got there, they were just finishing lunch. Whatever it was had fur on it, so it was another ground squirrel, or perhaps a rabbit. This is a nesting pair that’s adapted from the typical Bald Eagle fish diet to grouns mammals, because this area has a few bazillion of them running around. When I was out on Marsh road a few days earlier, I saw a coyote trotting through with a fresh rabbit kill — my thought being she was taking it back to her young, but she was too far away and too much of a hurry to do any investigation.
Everything looks good for this nest to produce another two youngsters to join the population….
The images here aren’t necessarily the best, but while this nest is very accessible, taking great shots is a huge challenge. I realize I’ve never posted a picture of the nest as it’s visible from the roadway, so here’s one:
That image was shot at about 50mm, and gives you some sense of how far away the nest is. This is one reason why I’m not too paranoid about being open about the location; idiots are not going to easily annoy these eagles. The shots above are shot with a 300MM/F4, plus a 1.4x teleconverter, and then cropped heavily. In the morning, the birds are backlit, since I’m facing almost due east here. By the time the sun is lighting them, the overcast marine layer is gone, and the heat shimmer has arrived. In the afternoon, there are a set of hills behind me to the west, so the area goes into shadow early, and you can start losing your light by about 3:3oPM or so.
Not complaining; if it was easy, we wouldn’t bother, right? But there are days when all I really want is an 800mm lens and cool overcast skies.. If you’re interested in seeing my shots of this nest over time, check them out over on my eagle’s page of my photo gallery.
Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman said in a conference call with analysts that she is “cautiously optimistic” that the company’s financial results are stabilizing.
“We are creating the process to adapt to innovation and product leadership,” Whitman said. HP will take a $1.8 billion charge and it will reduce its work force by 27,000 jobs by October 2014. That will save $3 billion to $3.5 billion by the end of October 2014.
Since I’ve opened my big mouth about this, a couple of quick words on Meg and HP, spoken as one of the earlier rats off of the sinking ship called webOS….
I am not predisposed to be a fan of Meg. Just putting that out up front. But since she’s taken over HP, she has impressed me with her willingness to dig in to find the right answers, and her willingness to make hard decisions and tough investments to make things work.
That said, the first email I got the day HP bought Palm was from an old Apple friend who had moved on to HP. And he wrote me and said “get the hell out before this place eats your brain”.
He was right (he since has left HP, also). HP tried very hard to keep itself from engulfing webOS and Palm, and succeeded as well as they could, but interactions with the mother ship were inevitable, and when they happened, it was almost scary how interactions there went.
In one of my attempts to get the forums upgraded for the developer portal (remember that initiative? sigh), I had a meeting with the team in charge of web forums and community tools for HP, to explore options with them. It went something like this: “Here’s the tool you’ll use. Here’s how you’ll use it. We’re a busy team, so we’ll find a place on our calendar and then tell you when you’ll be allowed to migrate. Here are our usage processes. And you’ll love every minute of it”.
I tried three different times to shift the discussion into, well, actually talking about my needs and requirements and it was made clear that was irrelevant, that at HP, you did it the HP way and that was that.
I left that meeting, went back to my management, and said “we can’t let them get anywhere close to us. The forum upgrade is on hold until we can figure out how to hide from them”, and stopped returning phone calls.
THAT is the reality Meg is having to fight right now. AT HP, there’s a culture of innovation — if you fill out the project plan in triplicate in advance, it’s approved by the global council of plan evaluation, and there’s a 100% chance of success before you even start, and it doesn’t violate any of the 37 volumes of rules and processes along the way that define “the HP way”.
Back in the bad old days at Apple (the Spindler/Amelio era), there were chunks of Apple that took the “here’s how we’re doing business, we outlived the last two CEOs, so we’ll just ignore you until they fire you, too” attitude. It wasn’t until Steve came back and started putting heads on pikes outside of infinite loop that he broke that “what’s good for my group is more important than what’s good for the company” attitude in some parts of the company.
HP has an even bigger problem — no only is that kind of “protecting my turf” going on, but the company is so damn huge that inertia and process overrules everything. It feels like you’re diving for oysters from an aircraft carrier. For Meg to turn HP around, she not only has to find and root out the fiefdoms of “this is my place, and you’ll do it to my convenience”, but she has to figure out ways to give HP flexibility in process and operations so it can try new things. What I found was that every time I dealt with the “mother ship” part of HP, everything shoved you back into “this is how we do things”, and any time you wanted to do something that wasn’t a 100% fit with the process, all energy expended went towards putting you back into the process. So either you did it “the HP way” (i.e., whatever was easiest for whatever team you were dealing with), or you went rogue and did things more or less under the cover of darkness (like, say, hosting your developer portal at an external colo instead of with the HP IT teams…)
It’s a hell of a way to run a business. Fixing it will be tough, and I wish her luck. She’ll need it (and a ruthless attitude, a few public executions to shake up the fiefdoms, and some pikes installed in front of corporate headquarters for the heads). I think the problems are similar to the ones Carol Bartz ran into at Yahoo, and Yahoo won. I don’t think the fight at HP will be any easier.
Me? I’m just glad I got out of there with my brain intact (mostly). But as it stands, the words “HP” and “innovation” are fundamentally incompatible, because the company that HP has evolved into is like that aircraft carrier; very good for some things, but nimble navigation is not one of them. And that’s the core problem Meg has to figure out — if she chan.