Category Archives: About Chuq

Getting the blog going again.

I think life has settled down again to get the blog going and back on a schedule. Moving to Cisco, making sure Cisco Live! and our first Devnet Zone succeeded, then running off the grid to Yellowstone, and then dealing with the inevitable deluge of stuff from being off the grid for a week. Oh, and I’m in the middle of a reorganization of the home office, which has grown well beyond the original scope (and the UPS guy is starting to hate me, I think, from the various pieces being delivered. Almost finished with the boxes, guy. honest).

Oh, and the Google+ Bird Photography group passed our 10,000 member mark, and is well on the way to 11,000. Our contest celebrating that was a big success! You can see the winners and our honorable mentions here:

I was quite happy with the quality of the submissions; that group sees a lot of amazingly good photography from around the world.

I’ve published the first set from the Yellowstone trip, and again, I’m quite happy with both the trip and the results I came back with (more on that soon):

(For what it’s worth, I’m brand new to doing these kinds of shows, and I know I can do better. Currently I’m using Animoto, but I plan on doing more study to take more control over the shows down the road. I think Animoto does a fine job, but I think I want to be able to do more to personalize these shows — once I know what and how to do. Fortunately, Creative Live has a class on this coming up, and I’ve signed up for it….)

I’ve been working through my plans for the rest of the year, and looking at what I’d planned on doing prior to changing jobs over to Cisco. That’s made a big enough impact on things that i really needed to rethink everything. I want the blog on a schedule, and I’ve decided to try to keep to the following:

One Long piece on Photography (a before/after, a piece of the Getting Geeky series that got put on hold, or some independent piece)

One Long piece on some other topic (technology, hockey, or whatever).

A weekly review of something (about 50% photography, at least for now) to drop every Wednesday

I’ve figured out my next attempt to build a useful thing around the curation idea I tried to solve with For Your Consideration. I have no idea if this one will work, so we’ll try it together and see. I do think that last experiment taught me a lot about what might work with all of you, though. this bit is still in the “coming soon” pile, but you’ll hear more shortly.

There are a whole bunch of things going on beyond this, of course…

I’ve been digging into podcasting and broadcasting/producing them since I got back from Yellowstone, partially for work, and partially because I’ve had a number of suggestions that the Before and After series ought to be done with video. I think there’s some good and bad aspects of that, so I’m experimenting with using Google Hangouts, and whether it makes sense to turn them into an interactive Q&A format — and perhaps do other people’s images as well. (and as an aside, if the before and after series is at all interesting or useful to you, please check out David duChemin’s About the Image podcast series as well.

The podcasting stuff and some other things I can’t talk about have got me digging once again into video editing, which has me diving into Final Cut Pro, and so I’m taking a FCP class right now, which will be eating my evenings for the next week or two…

As part of the office reorganization I tore down the hockey shrine on my wall (details of that were on my twitter feed) and put it into storage. But now I have a big section of wall to clean up and then cover again with more prints, because, well, that’s the background for the webcam for all these videos and for my home office conference camera. And the current wall is ugly. So I have printing to do.

And I haven’t even started writing up the Yellowstone trip, or figuring out how to use the images beyond that first slideshow, or… And all I know is there’s a lot of material there to use and explore. If you haven’t looked, I uploaded the portfolio-quality images to my Smugmug site, and the extended set is over on Flickr.

Next up: Laurie and I are taking the fall foliage workshop out of Lee Vining taught by Michael Frye. I’m home-based until then.

I have been trying to figure out what my next major photo trip will be. Right now, the Grand Canyon is winning, but I have a good half a dozen options under consideration.

I have about 500 blog entries I want to write based on what I saw, did, and learned on the Yellowstone trip. It’ll keep me busy… I will say the Fuji XT-1 exceeded my expectations and worked wonderfully.

Lewis Lake, Yellowstone

So did Yellowstone itself, which totally blew me away.

I’ve also decided it’s time to add a “read the blog by email” option, which I’ve had a few requests for. I’m also trying to take some more time on the photo of the day postings to make sure they have better descriptions and commentary on them, and when they’re images where I have prints for sale, I’ll be making sure to note that. I’m also working on updating the watermark and formatting of the images I put online (that in itself is its own blog post…)

Apologies for being away from the blog so long. Maybe some day I’ll be able to treat this as my “job”… (if you want to help that happen, I’d like to suggest either buying a print from my Smugmug site, or use the Amazon links on the site to buy yourself something. Right now I’m lucky if the site covers the hosting charges every month, and so when time crunches hit,  sometimes the blog has to wait. The more revenue the blog generates, the more I can justify putting time into it instead of other projects….)


Come join us at Cisco Live

I need to apologize for the extended quiet here on the blog. No time or brain cells to write, and  I finally hauled myself out and fired up the cameras for the first time in six weeks on Sunday, but I haven’t yet had time to process them….

l’ve been busy getting going at Cisco and with the planning for Cisco Live (my high water mark happened today with two Webex meetings on two devices and five simultaneous chat sessions on various things). In any event, I’ll be manning the DevNet zone with the team at Cisco Live next week, so if you’re going to be there, wander by the DevNet Zone and say hi. If you’re in the area and curious about what all of this is, you can visit us with the $49 Explorer Pass so you don’t need the full membership.

What’s DevNet Zone? DevNet is a new developer community for Cisco technologies, and the DevNet Zone is where developers can come and learn more about what’s going on — it’s a little developer’s conference within Cisco Live, taking up a big chunk of Moscone West. You can find out more about the Zone and how to attend on this page. One neat feature is we’re going to be doing a 24 hour hackathon during the conference with some really nice prizes, and I believe there are still seats open.

Normal chaos will resume here on the blog soon after the conference (I hope), although the week after that Laurie’s headed off for her post-semester trip to Reno and Lee Vining, and she gets back just in time for me to head off to my long-threatened trip to Yellowstone the first week of June; the hotels are books, the time is reserved, and I’m more than ready.

I’m having fun at Cisco — this is “good busy” — and I’m looking forward to seeing how people react to the Zone next week. We’re already taking a few notes on things we can do (more! better!) at future events. For now, the focus of everyone is making sure this one goes well and everyone goes home ready and motivated to do great things with us…

So sorry, and I’ll surface soon.

First week done at Cisco….

One week in at Cisco. The week started with with “hi, here’s your office, here’s your computer, we’re late for a meeting”, and never really slowed down. Nobody’s wandered into my office and yelled “you’re a fraud!” in my face, and that’s a good start.

Seriously, I’m stepping in one month out form a major event (CiscoLive!) where we’re rolling out some big, new things (DevNet Zone at CiscoLive!) and there’s an incredible amount of stuff we need to get done before that happens.

I did get my badge (although I didn’t have time until Tuesday morning) and I have filled out my papers so I’m official and enrolled in all of the things I need to be enrolled in, but so far, it’s been a fascinating and non-stop whirl of figuring out who people are and where they are (much of our team is remote, and I started the week talking to Birmingham england and Austin and ended it in a discussion with Shanghai) and man, I’m really enjoying being back in a distributed team situation, although I need a bit of breathing time to get the home office going this weekend and get the home office gear ordered.

It is going to be a busy few weeks as we roll into CiscoLive!, and if you’re going to be there, please try to come visit at the DevNet Zone and say hi. Not sure how many brain cells I’m going to spare to blog, but we’ll see.

And about all I can really say at this point after one week is that I’m having a ball, and that I feel like I made the right choice, and this is going to be a hell of a ride.

And not boring.


Back at it….

The Interregnum is complete, and by the time you read this I should be back at it and under the yoke of employment. As much as I enjoyed Infoblox and intended to stay there, I’m looking forward to this next round. I’m at the point in life where I can look at it and think ‘maybe this will be my last kick at the can’ and if so, I hope I can make a difference.

And that’s why I jumped at this one. A few times in your life, if you’re lucky, you have an opportunity to ‘move the needle’ — my last project at Apple was like that, where my team built something that allowed them to completely redefine how they interacted with customers and did marketing using online systems instead of paper and the U.S. mail. By the time I left we were estimating that the revenue being generated out of that system was around $100 million a year — at least. One special project I did took two weeks to build and pulled eight million in costs out of the company the first year. Another took about four hours and made the entire “buy the album and get early access to tickets for the concert tour” possible, back at a time when they were still trying to make iTunes relevant.

Same reason for going to Palm — we had an opportunity to reshape not just the smartphone world (which, at the time, was iPhone and rumors of Android and a bunch of folks figuring out how to fight back against Apple) but mobile computing. As it was, Palm took the opportunity and fumbled it, then kicked it into a storm drain and skinned their knee trying to get it back — but it was still worth the try. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you get sold to HP, and then sold again, and.. But having said that, if you see what’s starting to show up out of the ashes in LG, there’s some really nice technology appearing that looks to be both good and viable driving TVs, which is a new and interesting emerging market, and I’m damned proud of the ones who were willing to stick with it and make that happen, and that shows that what we did at Palm wasn’t completely wasted.

This new gig has that same feel to me; an opportunity to help reshape how a big company does a part of the business that is going to be significant moving forward. I might be wrong, I might be right. We won’t know until I’m far down the path. It’s a much bigger thing for me than I’ve done in the community management universe — the scale is what attracted me and what may well be my biggest risk at failure. This is definitely a stretch job for me but one I’m really chomping to get at, not worried about doing. It’s going to be a distributed team, and I’m looking forward to that again, and hoping some of what I learned at Palm about that will help. It’s clearly the biggest challenge for me personally since I left Apple.

Heading into the time off I did what I normally do, which is build up a schedule way too full of stuff I want to do. When I got back from Yosemite I realized what I really needed to do was back off and unplug and unwind so instead of running around the bay area playing tourist, I caught up on some reading, I hauled my Elder Scrolls Online character to level 15, and I slept, and I finally started digging into the long-on-hold garage project, where about a year ago I started rebuilding the shop, and then stopped, and never got it started again. The reality is I have at least a dozen other projects where the first step is “I can’t really move forward without getting the garage straightened out”, so I realized I really needed to spend time on that. A few hours here and a few hours there, and most of the crap piled up into the “I need to deal with this” pile is now dealt with and I finally have the space where the shop is supposed to be cleared and started forming it. Probably the best use of my time, in reality.

These times are also good times to make changes to habits, because your habits are disrupted anyway, so I’ve been tweaking the diet and meals to try to shift things so it’s lower in carbs and higher in protein — which sounds like a simple task until you actually try it and want it to carry forward longer than a week or so. No idea if it’ll stick, but we’ll see.

I expect to continue not to talk much about the work side of life here; there’s very little upside and way too many risks to make it worth doing. Remember, kids, those “I am not a spokesman for….” disclaimers may make you feel better, but they’re ultimately worthless the first time some troll with an axe to grind chooses to chase your words.

So, onward in the new regime. Great hopes, great expectations, and no guarantees, but then, that’s life, right? And part of what makes it so much fun, because if you aren’t always reaching for the next brass ring, why bother get on the carousel?

See you on the other side….



Back from Yosemite

Back from a couple of quickly planned days in Yosemite. With the early closing of Badger Pass, I noticed that rooms were available from spring skiiers who canceled and so I scheduled myself in for two nights at the Lodge at the Falls.

The Lodge has just finished a $10m renovation and it was money well spent. My room was quite pleasant. I’ve commented in the past that staying at the Lodge sometimes felt like ending up in a 70’s Travelodge, but while the buildings are the same, the interiors have been significantly upgraded. Not spa-like or resort-type accommodations, but comfortable and very much in tune with the location; the facility knows who gets top billing here and didn’t try to do too much.  They’ve put a lot of energy into sustainability which I appreciate. Overall, I have to give the Lodge update top marks.

I do enjoy the restaurant at the Lodge; had an extremely nice piece of Salmon one night, a very nice steak the second. The wine list is solid but not adventurous but fits the food well. And I want to call out a thanks for their petite dessert options, which are smaller servings that let you finish the meal without a huge sugar overload. I hope more restaurants make the move away from 800 calorie sugar bombs…

Breakfast the first day was at the lodge cafeteria, which was, well, about what it’s always been. I’m sure their lack of a Michelin star is an oversight. No, seriously, the food there makes me wish there was a McDonald’s handy. Oh well.

The one thing to remember is that there’s basically no off season in Yosemite any more, and it’s expensive. Staying inside the park saves me a hunk of driving, but you’re paying more for the food and the room. For this trip, definitely worth it. There’s something about standing outside your room and watching yosemite falls do its thing…

I missed the winter storms by a few days; when I got there is was nice and sunny and warm, everything had melted. Yosemite Falls had picked up from a week prior but was starting to fade again; it’s going to be a weak waterfall spring. The light was, well, uninspiring. Which is to say the visit was like spending time with your girlfriend when she’s without makeup and dressed to help clean out the garage; not the greatest time for astounding photography but still quite a lot of fun to spend time with. I early on decided to just unplug and relax, so I came home with maybe half a dozen images, which may or may not be worth keeping. Instead I spent the time wandering the park and exploring (um, “scouting”), relaxing and just generally doing very little but enjoying the views.

Which was awesome to do. I think sometimes those of us who are part-time photographers forget that sometimes you need to just pull the plug and take a break. I know I put pressure on myself to come back with something useful and many times that means I come back as tired and stressed as when I left on the trip. It was pretty clear at the start of the trip I was unlikely to create something that improved my portfolio, so rather than fight that, I put the cameras down and just enjoyed being there.

Sitting needs to move higher on many of our todo lists. just thinking out loud.

Now that I’m back, a few days of puttering and projects and wandering around the area. Maybe some time out with the cameras, maybe not. It’s nice to be off the clock a bit….