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.
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It was four years ago today that the Palm Pre, our first WebOS device, was released out into the wild. At that time we had great enthusiasm and hope that this was the start of something that would reshape mobile devices.
It didn’t work out the way we’d hoped.
But you know what? I’d do it again. I’d try to do some things differently in how I handled some things. I doubt that’d make a difference in the final outcome, but we all live and learn. Since you can’t go back in time and try again, what you need to do is learn from it, move forward, and try to apply those lessons to what happens down the road.
Life is too short to waste it making the same mistakes twice. There are more than enough mistakes out there to make to bother repeating one.
It’d be easy to focus on what was broken and screwed up at Palm, and that list could go on for a while. There were days when it wasn’t a lot of fun, because once you’re in that swirling funnel and you can see the drain getting closer, it’s hard to find fun in anything.
But what I prefer to remember are the people. I worked with the best damn group of people there. Fun, fascinating, intelligent, and every one of them working their ass off to make that product succeed. It didn’t work, but not for lack of trying.
And I would go to war again with them, even if I knew up front it was going to fail and we were all going to die at the end, just because they’d make the fight worth fighting.
Happy Birthday, Palm Pre. If only you’d been what we wanted you to be….
I wanted to put out a quick note to people reading my blog who know Hugh Daniel. I just got word that he was found dead in his home this afternoon. All I know right now is that it looks like natural causes.
I feel like I’ve known Hugh forever. He was a neat, hyper-intelligent guy with a distinct worldview that was both fun to learn from and poke hatpins in. Dinner with him was always a fascinating, multi-faceted discussion.
The world’s a bit less interesting tonight.
Update June 5: I’ve been told two services are going to be held, one in California, one in Ann Arbor. I’ll post details as soon as I get them.
Also, a nice piece with a pointer to Hugh’s FGoH tribute at Windycon 38 via File 770.
Back from Yosemite, where over the weekend I spent Saturday assisting in teaching a class on bird photography and an introduction to Lightroom for Yosemite Audubon. We had 11 students, and a good time was had by all. Fun day, I was exhausted at the end, but in a good way. More on that when I have a chance to spend some time writing.
After that, I spent a day and a half in the park proper, driving from Oakhurst to Mono Lake via Tioga Pass and back on Sunday, and then on Monday I split time between the valley floor and a drive out to Hetch Hetchy and then home via the 120.
Lots and lots to talk about and show, as I can get it written. One thing I did for this trip was to rent a Fuji X-Pro-1 mirrorless camera and their 15-55 lens to experiment with and try some new things. I’m just starting to edit out the images from the trip (about 250 shots after the initial ding edit, plus three timelapses totalling about 500 images, and two pieces of video to experiment with). here’s one of the first images I took with the Fuji, up on tioga near Olmsted Point:
There is a surprising amount of detail in the image to my eye, and it needed wonderfully little post processing. I tweaked the luminance on the blue and yellow channels a bit (down in both cases) and dropped the green saturation some. Shot in aperture mode the exposure was literally right on, with a bit of boost to shadows and a bit of reduction in highlights, plus some clarity and vibrance.
Oh, and that image had no filter. Not even a UV, much less a polarizer. Just camera.
I can see the attraction of the mirrorless camera systems, and the images they turn out can be stunning. It’s not a perfect camera, though. There’s a lot to say about that camera, but the image quality is really quite good — but is it a quality you’d want to shoot? We’ll get there soon.
If you had told me before this week started that the North Koreans would threaten us with nuclear weapons and someone would mail Ricin to the president of the united states and a town in Texas would simply blow up with the power of a small nuclear bomb — and none of these would be the story we’re all talking about — I’d have laughed.
What this week has taught me is that CNN is incapable of covering any event that isn’t fully scripted. It’s sad how far that franchise has fallen.
This week has taught me that Fox News only has one script, and it’ll use it for every event, no matter what that event is.
This week has taught me that it’s time to stop laughing at Donald Trump and that we should just stop paying any attention to him instead.
This week has taught me that when elected officials like Senator Graham show such poor knowledge of the Constitution (or maybe just disrespect of it) maybe it’s time for us to band together and have them stop representing us and the document he’s sworn to uphold and protect. (Dear Senator Graham: the constitution isn’t there to only protect that which you are in favor of. Really)
This week taught me that the time of social media is really here, when my twitter feed was a lot more useful and accurate than the news sources that were being paid to report to me.
This week taught me that what people want is a simple answer easily explained quickly. And that real life isn’t like that. it’s complicated, and dirty, and it takes time for reality to play out and the answers to be known.
But mostly this week taught me to remember that bad things happen; a lot of them happened all at once this week. And they will happen next week, and again, and again, because that’s part of real life. And that you really can’t focus on the bad things, or it’ll tear you apart. But look inside the bad things, and you see dozens and hundreds of people doing good things, not because it makes the bad thing go away, but because that’s what they do. When bad things happen, we as a society rally together to minimize the pain and help those around us get life back to normal.
That’s what we should focus on. but good news doesn’t sell newspapers (well, nothing does, these days, but…) so the media tends to focus on what’s screwed up. Look past that a bit, and you see lots of ordinary people doing the extraordinary.
And that, to me, is the sanity point I found this week when for a while I was wondering if we as a species had finally lost it…
Happy Friday, all, if only because this freaking week is freaking over.
I’m numb. It’s happened again. Too many times during this lifetime for me, but that’s just an aspect of humanity. I think it is important to try to notice not the evil act that happened, but the heroic reaction of those who rushed in to help the injured and get the situation under control despite their own personal risk. That is what humanity is about, not about the occasional broken person who does terrible things. Those are the people we need to all strive to rise above and not let them conquer us.
One person in my twitter feed today noted that while it’s tragic we lost some lives to this today that we also lost about 100 lives to auto accidents, and will lose another 100 tomorrow, and again the day after, and the day after. We also have to remember the great cost of cancer. This isn’t to trivialize the deaths that happened in this event but to remind all of us that humans have a strong tendency to over-react to rare but dramatic situations and ignore the larger and more severe but chronic ones.
We need to keep events like this in view within the larger perspective. They want to cause us pain and convince us to crawl into a bunker and hide. If we do, they win. the reality is that you’re no less safe tomorrow in downtown boston than you were yesterday — and much more likely to get run over by a car than ever be in the same timezone as an attack like this.
Which is no solace to those that lost people today. I’m in all honesty numb; I watched the coverage like many of us, thinking “not again”. But yes, again. And the thing that kept wandering through my head today was how glad I was to have made a decision not to bring kids into this world, given the future we seem to have created for them to live in.
Tomorrow begins yet another attempt to return to normalcy for all of us, moving past this and forward in our lives.
Whatever normal is.
To everyone who was affected by this today, I’m so sorry. And as a species, once again so disappointed in ourselves.
Sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, my great grandfather started a printing and publishing business in Philadelphia, which, for many, many years was one of the finest and most successful letterpress shops in that city. Nearly every male descendant of Charles Jefferson Armor, including my great uncle, my grandfather, and my father, worked there for most if not all of their lives. I recall with great fondness the occasional Saturday mornings when I would accompany my dad into work, stopping first at the Horn and Hardart automat at 8th and Market St. for cream donuts and hot chocolate. Incidentally, and an interesting tangent to my story here, H&H (as it was known for nearly a century) closed its doors in Philly forever in the late 70‘s. It was another victim of the fast food craze being led by more ubiquitous, lower cost chains like McDonald’s, whose shiny new franchise quickly occupied the automat’s former space at 8th and Market.
Randall Armor has written a great piece here. It could be about my family and my dad, except then it’d be about Kansas and SoCal, not Philly. My dad ran a newspaper and print shop when I was growing up. I was studying journalism in high school. The death of the newspaper was already in process and accelerating when my dad sold the paper and the print shop in the 70′s. The change in the newspaper industry, the consolidation into fewer-bigger until there were no small things to eat, followed by the long, slow decline into irrelevancy, was in full swing 40 years ago.
Like Randall, I grew up in a print shop. I’ve set type on a hot lead linotype. I’ve sorted type in those old wonderful funky type boxes the size of refrigerators. I’ve been way too close to presses with way too little safety gear for someone my age (shh. nobody tell OSHA. Oh, wait, anyone they could yell at is dead…). Here’s my dad’s press that used to put out the Placentia Courier once a week:
I come from a newspaper family. My dad took over the Courier from his dad. Before that, he founded a publication called Overseas Weekly, which if you know post WW II history, you’ve probably heard of.
My grandfather founded the Courier in Southern California. Before that, they were involved in a newspaper in Kansas, which was founded by my great-grandfather. Both my father and grandfather took terms as president of the California newspaper publisher’s association, and I grew up getting hauled to conventions and conferences and interacting with much of the publishing leaders of the state.
(weird-ass trivia of my life: I was once babysat by a US Senator – Alan Cranston – in our cabin at the Ahwahnee in Yosemite so mom and dad could get to a board meeting of the CNPA. How many people can claim this?)
Interesting that both Randall and I ended up involved with computers; he went through design and pagemaker, I went into programming, although people who remember OtherRealms know I did my side trip back to my roots and spent time with early versions of pagemaker, and before that I was cutting and waxing up page masters like the good old days… But in any event, we’re both refugees from the hot lead and ink gypsies who have integrated off into new societies, because the industries our families grew up in stopped existing.
So I’ve been watching the newspaper industry shrink and collapse for a long time before the internet noticed. the list of newspapers I worked for growing up is scary given how few still exist. I did stringer work for, or delivered papers for the Fullerton News-Tribune, Anaheim Bulletin, Santa Ana Register, the Orange County and LA versions of the Times, and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. Of those, only the Times and the Register (now the OC Register) still exist in any real form, and the Times is this sad self-parody of itself that I wish they’d just kill and be done with.
So yeah, what he said. And to those of you who are talking about about how the internet is killing newspapers? Part of me wants to just say “oh, you finally noticed?” but mostly, I ultimately see what the internet did as accelerating what newspapers have been doing to themselves for a long time, and frankly, it’s a bit of a mercy killing. Which, FWIW, I feel no joy in saying, but it doesn’t make it less true.
(and what you see in newspapers is the same thing we’ve seen with on-air radio, and fast food chains, and the book publishing industry, and god knows how many other industries: at some point the growth stops and the markets start stagnating or shrinking. And rather than putting energy and investment into revitalizing the industry and stimulating new customers, the big companies buy the small companies and hide the problems in the industry by eating the smaller fish, until they hit the point where only big fish exist, and then they start trying to swallow each other. At which point some of them choke and die trying, but you continue to see increasingly fewer players trying to figure out how to survive in an increasingly smaller pond. Too bad nobody had the vision to try to fix the leak in the pond when it would have made a difference…)
Over the weekend I rolled in some changes to the site, including an updated front page. I’ve been spending the last few months trying to figure out what this site needed to be about — or whether it was time to just shut it down and do something else.Â
“Chuqui 3.0″ is retired, thank god. That was then, I stuck with it far too long, mostly because I wasn’t sure what came next.Â
I’ve felt for a while that the blog has been sort of on idle. I haven’t really committed to writing for it consistently and when I have written, I haven’t felt like I’ve been putting my best effort or content out. The same has been true of my photography. For a while, that was okay; I wasn’t trying to turn this into anything specific or generate an income stream, and honestly, it more or less matched life in general. There are times when you need to just back off and tell yourself it’s okay to coast and not worry about it.Â
It’s time to start pushing myself again, figuring out what I want to focus on over the next few years, and make it happen. The question was, what?Â
That turned out to be a difficult question to answer. Over the last year, I’ve been researching whether or not to jump back into my fiction writing, which I’d put on hold “for a while” about 20 years ago. With the ebook revolution going on, there are definitely market opportunities that weren’t there five years ago.Â
Or do I jump back into the mobile space? It’s sometimes hard to remember that I went to work for Palm because there were apps I wanted to write and things I wanted to explore on mobile devices, but I’ve now been away from that circus for a while and that’s been tugging at my attention again.Â
A discussion of why I made the choices I did might happen some other time, but at least for now, what I’ve decided to do is put the focus back on my photography and to finally invest the time into the blog and the site to make it do what I’ve always wanted it to do, but never was willing to invest in.
This weekend’s update isn’t “the new blog”, but the new front page. There’s still a lot of work needed, but to get to this point meant making a huge number of decisions, both about design, and content and intent. The two big criticisms I had about the site were that it wasn’t really about anything (it was just a holding place for stuff I stuck on it) and that the design was cluttered and sloppy.Â
It is time to fix that. Laurie offered to design the logo, and I think she did an awesome job on it. The logo really defines the direction I’m setting out on: at my core, I’m a photographer, and at the core of my photography are birds and nature. The last time I re-did the site, I split the focus of the site between my photography and the blog, and the result was a cluttered mess (toss in affiliate advertising and various other gadgets and things and blocks and toys, and when you end up with is fail).
So, the new front page. It’s all about my imagery. If you come to me site, that’s what you see. I’m working on an updated blog page that will focus on the blog and try to do justice to the words the way I hope the front page sets the stage for the images.Â
The three pages that will be the foundation for the site will be the front page, the blog page and the portfolio page. One down, one partially done. Just starting to hash out how I want to display images in a non-sucky way. I don’t think I do a bad job of it, but I’b not really doing a great job. I’m tired of okay-for-now-someday. Â I’ve made a few changes on the blog side — the new text font is Libre Baskerville, which I quite like — but there’s still work to do. I realize some will think I should just hold everything and do a “big splash” update all at once; my view is the iteration over time will let both you and myself benefit as I figure this out, and I expect I’ll be spending time over the next few months working through all of the details.Â
About the Front Page
The front page of the site sets the tone and style for everything else. It’s got a unique look and feel that won’t be matched by the other pages, but the rest of the site will borrow from the decisions I made building it as I build them out as well. The goals were straightforward: nuke the baby blue for something a lot whiter and neutral (but it’s not white; there’s still the barest touch of blue in it). Clear out the clutter and anything that wasn’t directly about me (like the affiate advertising), and make it very crisp and clear what the site is about.Â
The blog page will complicate that message again — the blog is not JUST photography, but basically the current content mix — but the front page needs to keep it simple.Â
The new tag line for the site is “Stories Told Here“. A very simple statement, but you don’t want to know how many hours of my life I spent figuring that out. Photography long ago stopped being about showing up at a place, grabbing a random shot and posting it. It’s about understanding a place, and finding a way through my work to see it and feel it and understand it. It’s one thing for me to take a picture of a flock of geese flying, and it’s another thing altogether to be there as 20,000 geese all take off and fly around and over you, screaming their freaking heads off.Â
That’s part of where I’m trying to push my work. It’s not just taking that “icon shot” as it is trying to create a context to help all of you understand and appreciate what caused me to photograph it. That is going to involve more than displaying a picture, and I’ve started experimenting with both longer form works (writing and pictures, and collections of pictures) and other techniques such as including audio or video. As my abilities to integrate this stuff mature, hopefully what I’m seeing in my head will make sense to you and help you see things as I saw them (and if not, well, I’ll try something else).Â
It’s not about taking a picture, or posting it online. It’s about telling a story.Â
A story of a place, or a thing, or a being.Â
And that journey — or this leg of that journey — starts now. Enjoy the ride.Â
One of the fun parts of tearing apart the office was finding the occasional thing that you’d completely forgotten you had. Like this:
I’ve already had a couple of offers for it. I’m keeping it, at least until I decide the best thing to do with it. Or maybe just as a reminder of what could have been. There’s three years of my life buried in that box somewhere. Hiding and twitching, I expect.