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.
My goal of For Your Consideration is to slow down, focus on good and interesting things, give them context. It is one posting per day, seven days a week.
Find out more in the FYC Manifesto. Help me get the word out. Tell your friends about it. Encourage people to try it and follow FYC. When you see interesting content on FYC, share it with your friends.
The Gear Bag
You’ll want this
More to Explore
While you're here, check out more of my work. Here are some of my most popular articles:
- Some Thoughts on Lightroom Keywords
- More than you want to know about backups (the 2013 edition)
- Should you consider upgrading your home network to a NAS?
- How not to be a doofus with a camera
- Getting started in bird photography: Choose Your Weapons
- Getting going in Photography on the Cheap
Free to download Wallpapers
New on the Blog
Search This Site
Category Archives: Miscellaneous
I used to take April Fool’s pretty seriously. but to do it well, it takes time, energy and the guts to take a risk. Which is why, again this year, Anil is right.
So this year, I thought I’d talk instead about the best April Fool’s joke I ever put together, one I never had the guts to pull off.
Very simple, really. Everyone in the building at Apple I worked in at the time would show up to a memo on their desk announcing Apple’s new Drug Testing Policy.
With a sample cup. And instructions on where to drop it off.
This one had the potential for chaos on so many levels. The obvious: a drug testing policy is so against the culture of a company like Apple, it’s an obvious riff. And frankly, a “here’s our new policy” memo or email just isn’t that interesting. But toss in the sample cup and submission info, and it’d suddenly feel a lot more real — at least initially.
then think about the different layers of this: people who don’t get it who get pissed (ahem) and start screaming about it until someone clues them in.
Then start thinking about the poor person at the wrong end of the submission address. And the interoffice mail folks. And… Because you know some folks WILL. And some folks will — but using innovative substances. And…
This one goes way back, when the subject of affection was Kevin Sullivan, for whom I had no real love lost for his work at Apple.
But the reason I never did it was because the peope who’d take the brunt of the bad aspects of the joke weren’t the people it was aimed at (Sullivan, Apple HR at the time, and whiny people who scream first and think maybe), but the AA’s who’d actually have to deal with all of the submissions. And that just didn’t seem funny to me. Now, Sullivan himself dealing with them? that’d have been worth being fired over…
1) take cats to vet for checkup
2) winter garden cleanup
3) put the rest of the christmas stuff back in storage
4) sharks game saturday night
5) go birding on sunday.
6) work on “outsider’s guides”
1) tear apart bedroom to find cats
2) take cats to vets for checkup
3) decide as long as bedroom is torn up it’s a good time to shampoo carpets
4) find out the carpet shampooer has died a hero (hey, it moved here with us from Mountain View….)
5) off to target for a new carpet shampooer
6) decide to watch the sharks from home — if we stay awake
7) we did (barely)
8) decide to stay home and take it easy, work on “outsider’s guide”
9) spend hours wandering around groups.google.com going “gee, did I really write THAT crap?”
10) afternoon nap
11) catch up on Mythbusters episodes
12) realize it’s time to crash…
How things change. Anyone who knows cats understands how the weekend went sideways. ours have this innate, psychic ability to know that the cat boxes have been pulled from storage, even if they’re not able to see that they’re moved. at some point, Archie will look at one or the other of us and canter off; we now know that he’s headed into hiding, and he usually grabs Manon and she runs off with him. If we’re lucky, it’s under the bed (if it’s not, it’s in the garage or storage room, and then we’re in big trouble)
extricating them involves tearing off all the bedsheets, then leaning the mattress and box springs against the wall with the door and closet closed and locked, and then grabbing the cats (who have welded their claws into the carpet) and stuff them in boxes. If we’re lucky, we can do this in about 20 minutes… We made the vets with 5 minutes to spare….
One of the things we discovered was that quiet, lovable Manon has another side to her. See, in the past, since Apple had christmas week off, we’d head down to my family in LA and board the animals, and the annual checkup and shots happened magically when we were gone. We’ve actually never been IN the room during a checkup since Manon’s kitten check. This year, with everything changed, we had to do the checkup ourselves.
Manon was mostly cooperative; until the vet went to take her temperature (I’ll stop a second while you ponder how cats get their temperatures taken; it’s not under the tongue). She just made it quite clear that wasn’t going to happen, and the vet smiled and declared it optional. More amusingly, when we checked her files, we found out teh ONLY time her temperature has been taken was her kitten checkup. Shots? Mildly annoying? Thermometer? not a chance.
Archie wasn’t happy, but he let us do the necessary.
Both are healthy, both are now up to date on shots and boosters. Manon is 14.5 pounds, and about a pound heavy. Archie’s 12+, and right on. All is well in the world.
And, as long as we have the bedroom torn apart, we can shampoo the carpets and get under the bed easily. No problem!
yeah, right. ohwell. I’ll finish the shampooing of the rest of the house next weekend…
I had a great time wandering through the old blog postings and the old USENET stuff today. wasn’t what I’d planned, but what the heck. Nice to run into some folks (virtually) that I haven’t seen in years. Interesting that I can go back 20+ years and document that I’ve averaged a posting a day that entire time. (note I said interesting; good? useful? productive? god knows…)
And we’re mostly up to date on TV again, except for the last two episodes of Battlestar, which I’d probably say was the best written thing on TV if it wasn’t for Dr. Who coming out of britain… just finished viewing 2nd season from Sci-Fi earlier in the week, and the way they ended year two blew me away. I’ll miss you, Rose Tyler. (now, how do they top this?)
Someday, some poor student working on a Ph.D. is going to try to explain USENET and how it operated (and didn’t) as part of their thesis; maybe they’ll be crazy enough to look at it in the wider context of the birth of the Internet in its current form, and whatever it decides to become.
I doubt there’s a better explanation for what it was like to live through USENET from start to finish than the USENET Olympics. Scott Forbes had this wonderful ability to both put things in perspective and make them horribly funny at the same time, without ever taking things very seriously. Sort of like Dave Berry, sort of like Scary Movie, finding the essence within the silly.
So running into this again today was truly a trip back to the past for me; for most of you, for all I know, this is going to be gibberish….
(and, in fact, I did actually use the phrase “they aren’t rules, they’re guidelines” in the last couple of weeks, and then laughed a bit. Much to the confusion of the people I was with at the time; I declined to explain then, because that was a rathole not worth travelling. But the answer is actually here in Scott’s piece…..)
[Chuq and Peter are walking away from Lawrence Stadium on a
road made entirely of asbestos bricks.]
>Isn’t there SOMETHING you can tell me about this place, other
>than the obvious “Wizard of Oz” parallels?
>You must find the answers for yourself. There is no other way.
>Who or what is at the end of the road? Emerald City? The Wizard?
>It will all be clear to you when we reach the end of our quest.
>Look, all I want to do is change the Guidelines. Why is –
[There is a terrifying high-pitched wail, trailing off into
frequencies beyond human hearing, and filled with terrible purpose.
A Rulewraith on a winged steed descends from the sky, blocking
the path before Peter and Chuq. The Rulewraith looks suspiciously
like Jose Martinez:]
>THE GUIDELINES ARE INFLEXIBLE! THEY MUST BE FOLLOWED TO THE
>EXACT LETTER WITHOUT ACCOMODATION! THEY MUST NOT BE BENT OR
>ALTERED OR MODIFIED! YOU WILL NEVER CHANGE THEM!
[Horrified by the evil in the words of the Rulewraith, Peter
stands frozen in sheer terror. Chuq calmly pulls a bucket of
water out of his cloak and throws it at the Rulewraith.]
>AIYEE! I’M MELTING!
[The Rulewraith dissolves, leaving an inky puddle. Peter stares
at the puddle, then stares at Chuq.]
>Please do not say those words again.
I was at Yahoo! HQ earlier this week and noticed that the sprinkler heads are purple
It turns out that a LOT of stuff is purple at Yahoo, including a cow at the reception desk.
While Yahoo uses a lot of purple on its campus and as one of its primary corporate colors, the reason the sprinkler heads are purple is not because Yahoo is that anal about color branding…….
It’s because purple in plumbing indicates that the water in that system is recycled. They’re irrigating their landscape with water recovered from the wrong end (or maybe the right end!) of the sewage treatment plant, which would otherwise flow out into San Francisco bay. While that water is “drinkably clean” if you ask any of the sewage treatment experts, for some odd reason most people have a problem with actually drinking it, so cities have been installing piping to take the outflow from the plants and schlepping it off to companies to use in landscapes and other situations where non-potable water can be used. It’s one of the ways cities are trying to stretch the supply of drinking water to avoid having to build more plants and find new sources.
Technically, the recycled water is non-potable, so all of the plumbing and fixtures that carry is are signed to show that and they use purple pipes and fixtures to warn folks that the water coming out here isn’t from the main (i.e. “safe”) water supply.
Sometimes, the color purple is simply the color purple. In this case, it just happens that Yahoo is near the water plant and shares the color with the water folks, for very different purposes….
Here’s one piece of advice for people going to a job interview: show up early. Not just the “15 minutes early so I’m not late if I hit traffic” early, but give yourself extra time beyond that.
then, depending on how attack trained the receptionist is, sit in the lobby (or just outside the lobby) and watch. You can figure out a lot about a company that way really fast. (I’ve found “I’m here for xxxx, but I’m way early and I don’t want to disturb him yet, so do you mind if I sit here and work for a bit?” works most of the time…)
Watch the people coming and going. You’ll quickly get a feel for dress code, for how diverse (or non-diverse) the place is. The lobby is most of the time a microcosm of the building — if people are wandering around and looking happy, and the lobby is clean and in good shape and well lit, chances are this is a happy building. If you’re in a cave, and people are scurrying back and forth in a hurry and not stopping to talk to anyone, or if people look unhappy or stressed; that’s a bit hint.
If the building has a receptionist (or guard), do people say hi? do they stop and talk? or is that person part of the furniture?
You can, giving yourself 15 minutes or so, get a good handle on what life is like inside the building; not how they want it framed, but how it really is. I find it a huge help in figuring out whether this is a place I want to be — or not.
Also, either before or after, don’t be afraid to tool around the parking lot looking for just the right spot (unless they have you stuck in a visitor only lot); this one is less obvious, but one of the things I look for are too many cars needing a good wash and wax — is it because the company keeps folks so busy they can’t? And scout the neighborhoood; is your car going to be safe during the day? Will you be safe leaving at 2AM? Are their support services nearby that you want, whether it’s the Starbucks or a cleaners or whatever? If the area doesn’t have a strip mall or three, why not? Is that saying something about the area?
Finally, know what your commute time is; not what Google Maps is; not what it takes to get there at 2PM on a thursday. try a real commute at 8AM on a tuesday, so you can rationally judge what it’ll REALLY take to get there. And don’t assume the time home is the same as the time there….
The more information you have on a potential job, the smarter decision you can make on whether to take it.
Steve Bellovin has released RFC 3514, a change to TCP/IP to make it easier for network applications to tell whether or not the packet is safe or has evil intent. Once fully implimented, this will make the job of the firewall a lot easier.
Special thanks to Derek DeLash, although I’m not sure if he was sending me a joke or an accusation….
Tom Holt (allegedly) on Usenet Trolls (to the tune of Gilbert &
Sullivans “Modern Major General”)
I am the very model of a Newsgroup personality.
I intersperse obscenity with tedious banality.
Addresses I have plenty of, both genuine and ghosted too,
On all the countless newsgroups that my drivel is cross-posted to.
Your bandwidth I will fritter with my whining and my snivelling,
And you’re the one who pays the bill, downloading all my drivelling.
My enemies are numerous, and no one would be blaming you
For cracking my head open after I’ve been rudely flaming you.
I hate to lose an argument (by now I should be used to it).
I wouldn’t know a valid point if I were introduced to it.
My learning is extensive but consists of mindless trivia,
Designed to fan my ego, which is larger than Bolivia.
The comments that I vomit forth, disguised as jest and drollery,
Are really just an exercise in unremitting trollery.
I say I’m frank and forthright, but that’s merely lies and vanity,
The gibberings of one who’s at the limits of his sanity.
If only I could get a life, as many people tell me to;
If only Mom could find a circus freak-show she could sell me to;
If I go off to Zanzibar to paint the local scenery;
If I lose all my fingers in a mishap with machinery;
If I survive to twenty, which is somewhat problematical;
If what I post was more mature, or slightly more grammatical;
If I could learn to spell a bit, and maybe even punctuate;
Would I still be the loathsome and objectionable punk you hate?
But while I have this tiresome urge to prance around and show my face,
It simply isn’t safe for normal people here in cyberspace.
To stick me in Old Sparky and turn on the electricity
Would be a fitting punishment for tasteless crass duplicity.
I always have the last word; so, with uttermost finality,
That’s all from me, the model of a Newsgroup personality.
In 1992, one of the april fools forged postings was a posting forged in my name, bitching about the recurring april fools postings I forged in Spaf’s name.
I never found out who did this, but I’m surprised it took this long for someone to turn around the forgeries back at me. I know it wasn’t spaf. he’d never do something like this. Nope. Not him. Never.
but it was about this point that the spaf forgeries were retired. Purely coincidental…
Mon Mar 30 14:02:43 MST 1992
Article: 13 of news.announce.important
From: chuq.ai@Apple.COM (Chuq Von Rospach, mostly-retired net.deity)
Subject: The Spafford forgery
Date: 27 Mar 92 01:10:45 GMT
Expires: Fri, 10 Apr 1992 08:27:02 GMT
Organization: Aaab bcc cc Ddeeeee’e eeeeeff, ghh hi Iiikkll’l llmm-
nnnnnooo oooopp, rr rrssss sss tttttt tt tuuu veex.
This is an unauthorized announcement, posted in the public interest by
Chuq Von Rospach’s network-interface AI software.
On April 1st, 1989, an article was posted to USENET over the “signature” of
Eugene Spafford at Purdue University. “Spafford” purported to warn everyone
that April Fools Day is a popular time for people to post forged USENET
articles. “Spafford” mentioned several of the more famous (or infamous)
forgeries, and described ways in which a forged article could be told from
a real one.
The article by “Spafford” was, of course, a forgery, and bore all of the
telltale signs of being one. Spaf himself didn’t know anything about the
article until after it was posted.
On April 1st, 1990, some person or persons other than the original forger
dug out copies of the forged forgery-warning, changed the date and message
ID slightly, and reposted it. The same thing happened in 1991. As a result,
the 1991 article was a duplicated clone of a forged forgery-warning.
Enough is enough. It’s not funny any more. The joke was witty the first
time, half-witted the second, and drizzle-witted the third. We don’t need
to see it again this year.
If you have a copy of the Spafford forgery, and were thinking of re-posting
it sometime in the next couple of weeks: please don’t. It’s been done
and the joke is old.
If somebody does post it, ignore it. Don’t bother writing spaf to tell him
that he’s been forged. He knows. Don’t bother writing Chuq, either… he
has retired from the net to pursue other goals, and I read all of his
mail for him.
Chuq “IMHO” Von Rospach, Enterprise Products Support
email@example.com | GEnie:CHUQ & MAC.BIGOT | ALink:CHUQ
Book Reviewer, Amazing Stories =+= Member, SFWA
Editor, OtherRealms =+= #include <standard/disclaimer.h>