Chuq Von Rospach is a Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management and amateur photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and landscapes. My goal is to explore the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found. You can find out more on the About Page.
New: For Your Consideration
I'm thrilled to announce that I've launched a project I've been working on for the last couple of months. For Your Consideration is my attempt to re-think how we interact with information on the Internet.
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Monthly Archives: May 2012
Micah Lee and Peter Eckersley for the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Appleâ€™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 Appleâ€™s contracts with carriers as well as contracts with developers. Only users who can hack or â€œjailbreakâ€ their devices can escape these limitations. â€œJoin us now and share the software, youâ€™ll be free, hackers, youâ€™ll be free-ee-eee!â€ â€“ 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).Â
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.Â
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…)
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 teamsâ€¦)
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.
One of the decisions I spent a lot of time thinking about was the question of branding. I knew the “Chuqui 3.0″ concept had run its course. When I was leaving Apple I was in process of making significant changes in my life and I knew I had to make some massive changes in myself. Now, these years later, I’m a much different person than the one that walked out of Apple that final time, much happier with myself and much more comfortable in my own skin.Â
What wasn’t clear was what came next. A big part of this site redesign is to lay the foundation for some things; to try to push my photography further down the path I’m headed, and perhaps start looking to see about earning a few bucks with it. At the same time, i’m now in a position to reboot my freelance writing, whether that means looking for opportunities to write about the tech space again or whatever might turn up. And finally, I want to un-retire from my fiction writing and see what happens, whether I can get a novel written someone might want to read.Â
This creates a challenge to answer the “what is this site about?” question. The answer — and it wasn’t an obvious one — is that it’s about me, not about my writing, not about my photography. That may sound like a trivial thing, but a lot of decisions gate on that, and on making the right call.
It is my opinion that if I was planning to try to take the photography pro and make a serious attempt at building a business around it that the site would have to live and breathe photography. But my choice is still to be (and act like) a serious amateur and not turn it into a business (although if the hobby earns some income, awesome), so I felt like it was appropriate to make it a part of a site that is representative about me.Â
Part of making these decisions is looking forward, trying to think about where I want this all to be five years out, and then see what the site requires are to support that. Am I writing a regular tech column for MacWorld (or some other publication)? Am I trying to sell sponsorships and advertising on a site around content (aka, the “Daring Fireball” type of site)? Do I decide to grab the cameras and try to break into nature photography and go all “Trey Ratcliff”? Do I find myself going down the Amanda Hocking path? Am I sitting in a condo in Morro Bay building web sites for other writers and photographers? Or am I just going to call it a career and sit on a beach somewhere taking pictures and posting them to Flickr?
I have no clue what lies ahead. Maybe none of the above. Maybe I’ll retire to a beach in Mexico and drink mai tais. Maybe I’ll get run over by a bus. None of us can guarantee the future. That doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t plan for it. Â
All of those are opportunity paths I find both possible and interesting. All of them have different needs and requirements. I believe the site I’m building has the bones to support any or all of those, depending on how things work out. At the least, I don’t think that two years from now, I’ll be sitting here cussing at myself for the choices I made and having to tear down and rebuild things the same way I’m finding myself doing it now.
That’s about all you can ask. Maybe I over think architecture, but that’s how I’m write. What I’ve found, though, is that if you get the architecture right, building out the details is a lot easier. Get it wrong, and you fight it every step of the way. And that the obvious choices aren’t necessarily the correct ones.Â
So ultimately I circled back and decided that this site was about me, my interests, and what I do. It’s not about my photography, it’s not about my writing. It’s about the gestalt that defines me; my persona. For better or worse, that’s how I’m going to frame things. And if, at some time in the future, some part of that becomes prominent enough to deserve it’s own independent identity, I have ideas on how best to do that — it’s not that hard to split out the photography if that career path takes off; if I ever finish the novel, that’s an obvious microsite.Â
This is part of why this redesign have taken a couple of months already and is maybe at the halfway stage (maybe), and it’s already spawned off two independent sub-projects (the “curation” beast, and the “this is silicon valley” beast). Possibly a third, depending on what i end up doing with the “For your consideration” thing. But by taking the time now to really think through this and dive deep into what I want to do and what my intents are, I won’t be constantly patching and rebuilding and throwing smoke and mirrors out to hide the fact that what I’ve got going to support things is effectively crap.Â
And, honestly, my previous site was crap. It was a series of “what can I do given the time I can spend on it” compromises, each compromise seeming like a reasonable call, but when you total up all of the compromises and decisions made for expediency rather than to support your activities, it ends up that being crap.Â
I’m tired of crap. And while I’d kinda like to be done with this process, I’m making sure I take the time now, because I know if I don’t, later I’ll regret it.
And that opens up this question for all of you. When you put your online environment together, did you take the time to think through what you needed and how to support that, or did you download a wordpress theme from Themeforest, set the background color to puce, and announce to the world that you now exist?
Because in my research into what sites work and are most effective, it quickly became easy to see sites where a lot of work and thought went into design and construction (here’s two: QT Luong, and Trey Ratcliff) , and which ones someone threw up a WordPress theme, selected the defaults, loaded in a logo, and decided that was pretty good.Â
In most cases, those latter ones really aren’t. And I’m not willing to do that to my own site any longer.Â
So far, I have about 70 hours into this redesign. I’ll probably end up close to 200, if I include the two beasts I mentioned above. I don’t regret an hour of it, either. It’s been really — enlightening. And scary, in some ways. One of the things i plan on doing over the rest of the project is talking about some of the things i’ve found out, and some of the stuff I’m doing, because maybe it’ll help someone else down the path a little faster with a few less bumps and bruises. We’ll see.
Oh, the new brand? believe it or not, we’re still working on it — logos, and such. The decision to rebrand to me was finalized three days ago — and a week ago, I would have laughed if someone had told me that’s what I was going to do, because I fully intended to brand around content, not personality. And the more I worked in that direction, the more I realized it created barriers and erected walls rather than building foundations. Any decision I made in that direction made one or more of the other options I’m considering harder, or impossible, to support without tearing down and rethinking things again. Which is stupid, if you can plan to avoid it.
And that’s why I say the obvious decision isn’t always the correct one, and why it’s important to take the time to make sure you figure out which is which.Â
Well if there’s ever need of proof of why I don’t make a living betting on hockey, the second round can be used. I was 4-4 in the first round (and happy to get there, given how unpredictable the playoffs have been). Luck wasn’t so kind to me in the 2nd round.Â
In the West, I predicted the Blues and the Predators. Please stop snickering.Â
In the east, I thought it would be the Flyers and Rangers.Â
So I’m 1-3 in the second, and 5-7 for the playoffs.Â
I don’t feel too bad. I expect whoever wins the major hockey fantasy pools this year is doing so with a dartboard. So it goes…
So now, we’re down to four teams, and the conference finals. Let me place the kiss of death on a couple of teams and predict them to win:
In the west: Phoenix and Los Angeles. Goalie Smith and the mission from god squad, vs. Goalie Quick and the Lombardi mob. Much as I’d love to see the Coyotes continue to confound the critics who wish they’d shut up and fail already, I have to give this one to the Kings, primarily because I think Quick is on a mission from god just like Smith is, but I think the Kings are playing better hockey. We’ll find out starting in about 30 minutesâ€¦ Â Call it six games.
And in the east? The more I watch the Rangers, the more I believe in them. More importantly, they believe in themselves. And the more I watch New Jersey, I won’t take them lightly, but I just think Lundquist can and will out duel Brodeur, and the Rangers are playing better hockey. So Rangers in five.Â
So my call for stanley cup final: Rangers/Kings. Which should make NBC happy, and generate some really good (and low scoring) hockey.Â
The National Hockey League Players’ Association has filed an appeal of the 25-game suspension handed to Phoenix forward Raffi Torres last month.
Torres was penalized during the Western Conference Quarterfinals for a late hit to the head of Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa in Game 3 of the series. Hossa did not return to the game or the series, which Phoenix won in six games.
As I thought they would, the League came down hard and heavy on Torres. 25 games is a massive suspension. After thinking about it for a fews days, Torres and the Players Association have decided to appeal.Â
There are really two reasons for this appeal. One is that this suspension is too heavy; nobody is suggesting that Torres should not be suspended, but even the more rabid “nuke him until he glows” believers seem to have trouble supporting this length of a ban. I’d suggested that the league would see Torres as a convenient target to make a statement, and it seems they did exactly that. I have trouble with 25 games off, even given Torres’ history of this kind of nasty hit.Â
The other reason to appeal this is Donald Fehr, the head of the players association. the CBA negotiations are coming up. Bargaining chips are useful. And what’s the appeal process here? It’s heard by Commissioner Bettman, who happens to be Brendan Shanahan’s boss. In baseball, it’s fairly common for an appeal to get a bit of time shaved off by Bud Selig. In the NHL, to my knowledge an appeal has never been upheld or a suspension modified. (and in baseball, appeals are routine; in the NHL, they are exceptionally rare. coincidence? no).Â
One can only imagine that the players association would love to see appeals be changed so it’s not strictly up to Bettman. A few media types suggested this should all go to arbitration, but there are reasons (a big one being need for timeliness) where that’s not a good option, but this suspension gives Fehr a chance to rattle the cage a bit and generate some talking points for the negotiation — even if it’s a demand for different appeal processes that gets given up as a concession along the way (which I’d say is likely if this is tried). So at the least, Shanahan has given the players association a small bargaining chip for the CBA talks.Â
And it’s possible this could turn into a headache for the league later if the PA chooses to make it one. I hope Shanahan and Bettman don’t regret making a statement here down the road.
And having said that — I’m troubled by this suspension. it’s excessive. I’m making no apologies for Torres, but given how Shanahan has been ruling this season, I’d say it really should have been 10-15 games, not 25. I expect the appeal to go nowhere. I expect the union to make noises about that. Torres will be unhappy (but I don’t care, he made this bed, and now gets to sleep in it for a long time, and so it’s hard to find any sympathy for him.Â
But what I want to see are clear deterrents to this kind of headhunting behavior, and the one thing this suspension is NOT is a deterrent, because unless you’re a player like Torres, you can see that this kind of ban hammer won’t happen to you. It does nothing to deal with the larger problem of players headhunting, and I think that’s a mistake. There was a middle ground they could have taken that would have made players take notice of the suspension. this isn’t that middle ground.Â
And that disappoints me, because the league punished a serious offender, but still isn’t doing enough to solve the problem.Â
I hate to be in Torres’ camp for this one, but I think the league over-reacted. And I don’t feel better for having predicted itâ€¦Â
Back in 2010, when I retired my HP9180, I asked myself and others whether or not a printer was really necessary any more — and here it is 2012, and I have a definitive answer for that question.
For me, at least, the answer is a definite yes. I’d been considering buying one for a while, when Mark’s new Epson 3880 convinced me it was time to get serious about this. The 3880 was beyond what I wanted to spend, but I’d been arguing with myself about it’s slightly littler brother, the Epson 2880. Much to my surprise, Adorama had a few as manufacturer refurbished for about $90 off the new price, and that was enough to convince me to grab one (that deal is no longer available, however).
Personally, I wouldn’t buy a used printer (your mileage may vary), given the usage and wear printers go through, and if this was a revenue generating printer I wouldn’t buy refurb, either, but as a low-volume, primarily hobby device, I’m comfortable with this choice. It comes with a warranty, so if I run into issues, I have options.
Why the 2880? I wanted something from a good manufacturer (which, for photo printers, IMHO, means Epson, Canon or HP); I ruled out HP because I find their inks brutally expensive (I don’t work there any more, I can say that now) and their low and medium end devices don’t tickle my toes (and I’m unwilling to pay $3500 or more for a printer yet). Â I wanted a wide format printer, this one will do up to 13×19, which is great, as my favorite print sizes are 11×14 and 11×17. And it supports roll paper, which allows for panorama prints, something I really want to explore, and which can be cheaper than pre-cut paper. And the print costs seem reasonable. I really like the Epson UltraChrom Inks, too, and as I explore black and white printing, the Epson inks seemed to be a better choice.
Having said all of that, it Â was primarily lack of roll paper support at this price point that made the difference between Epson and Canon, FWIW. Canon has some nice models, too.
The printer is on a truck, trundling this way. I’ll probably be unpacking this weekend and starting to explore.
What do I plan on doing with this? Make prints. Put them up on my wall. Give them away. Expect to see some opportunities on this site for prints once I get settled in.
Why do this? Why not lab prints?
Well, it’s complicated. Maybe for some people lab prints are an option, but one thing I fell in love with using the 8190 were art papers. Big, thick, textured hunks of paper that bring a different look and life to an image. I miss that, and using a lab to print on Hahnemuele German Etching or Photo Rag Pearl is between impossible and unaffordable.
Besides, I enjoy geeking the printer and working to make my prints better.
And that’s the other, bigger aspect of this — I lost an aspect of the quality of my images when I stopped printing. I got comfortable with a “good enough for Flickr”. Over the last few months, I’ve bent taking a close look at what I’m doing and why, and why I haven’t been as happy with the results as I want to be — and I came to realize that when I stopped printing, I stopped getting better, and in fact, my photography regressed. When you only look at your images online — you can get satisfied with the quality a lot sooner in the production process. Putting it on paper, especially at larger sizes, means you can’t tolerate the flaws.
So I came to the decision that to drive my imagery forward again, I had to start putting it on paper again, and I needed to do it myself and not depend on a lab to do it.
Besides, I like giving prints awayâ€¦ (and maybe selling the occasional one).
And the first image I’m going to print on this puppy is this one: