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: 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
Things to Ponder and Enjoy
For Your Consideration is my attempt to re-think how we interact with information on the Internet. The net has long encouraged habits I’ve considered negatives; the belief was that you had to post frequently to keep your audience entertained has lead to a mentality of often and fast instead of thoughtful and good. Financial models were built about generating lots of pageviews and throwing advertising in the reader’s face, so revenue generation was in conflict with creating longer, better-researched and more thoughtful pieces of content.
Curation has been a go-to word around the Internet for a couple of years and I’ve long been fascinated with the idea, but far too often, curation been turned into “let me post links to stuff I found” without thought or context. In many cases, these attempts at curation have added to the noise rather than reduced it.
I’ve been experimenting in small ways with creating a way to share things in a way that created a high-signal/low-noise environment. None of the experiments I tried ever felt to me like it was the solution I was looking for, but they did help me understand what was possible and what might work.
For Your Consideration is my attempt at implementing what I think is a way to share in that high-signal environment. We’ll find together how well it works.
The Goal of For Your Consideration
My goal of For Your Consideration is to slow down, focus on good and interesting things, give it context. Good food is better than fast food. Good links are better than fast links. If you want fast, there are places that’ll give it to you. Good things will still be good after those fast things are forgotten for the next one.
I want For Your Consideration to be interesting but not controversial. It’s going to have an opinion, but I want to avoid having an attitude. I want to find things that you will find interesting, and give them to you in a way that allows you to look at them without being in a hurry to the next thing.
For Your Consideration is one posting per day, seven days a week. One item per day.This restriction gives me the time to do the research and put the item in context where necessary. It means you don’t have to worry about being overloaded by so many things that you have to skim past them. I think it’s important that both the publisher and the reader break the “gotta get through it all” mentality that’s dominated the internet mindset the last few years.
By restricting myself to one item a day, I have to make choices. That forces me to become a filter and choose the best content for the audience. By limiting it to one item a day, I allow you the time to be able to find out why I felt it was worth your time. I hope that by slowing down, we may see fewer things, but those things we do see will mean more and impact our lives more.
Most days will be one link to one thing. Occasionally I’ll post a longer pieces with multiple items on a single topic or a review of something I think you’ll be interested in. I don’t promise to never be topical. I don’t promise not to have an opinion. I do promise that the primary goal is to post things that are interesting and not to promote any ideology.
You can read more about how I plan to share content — and what content won’t be shared here — in the FYC Manifesto.
Getting involved with For Your Consideration
You can subscribe to For Your Consideration in various ways, and you should choose the one most convenient for you.
- Items posted to For Your Consideration will be posted to my twitter feed.
- For Your Consideration has an RSS feed you can use in any system that reads RSS, like Feedly or Prismatic.
- It is available via email if you subscribe to our mailing list (managed by Mailchimp)
- And you can always just wander by and read the web site at http://fyc.chuqui.com.
To help make For Your Consideration successful I’ll need a little help. Here’s how you can help:
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.
If you run across something you think should be published on FYC, submit it to me. You can do that by emailing the information to email@example.com, or by sending it along to the FYC Raw Feed on Twitter.
The For Your Consideration Raw Feed on Twitter
One of the goals of FYC is to limit the number of items that we publish on the site, which forces me to make choices about what the most interesting items are. Some of you will probably want to at least skim all of the candidates whether or not they make the cut for publication. For those that want that I’ve set up a special twitter feed at https://twitter.com/CollatingLife. That is, literally, the in-box for FYC, and everything I find that I might decide to turn into an item on FYC gets posted there, so you can monitor the inbox as well. I seem to be posting 1 to 7 items a day on average, so even that feed isn’t going to be overwhelming.
I think it would be an interesting experiment to turn the selection of items for FYC into a crowdsourced operation with commentary selected from the community at large, but that will have to wait for a future generation of the site.
Defining Success with For Your Consideration
One thing I think is crucial when you launch something like this is to have some way to judge whether it’s succeeding or not. If it isn’t, you need to either improve it or shut it down. If it is, you look for ways to invest in it and make it better. You can’t do that if you don’t know what success means.
To me success is going to be defined not by how many people subscribe and follow the site, but by how often you feel material is worthy of being shared to your friends and contacts. The better job I do at curation, the more often that content should be interesting enough to pass along. I’d love your feedback on what kind of content we should do more of and what kind of content is less interesting, but my primary way of determining that is going to be how often things get passed around and shared.
And the cost?
It’s free. I plan on this always being a free service. There are a couple of Amazon affiliate ads on the site. I’d be much appreciative if once in a while you decide to buy something through them so Amazon pays me some affiliate fees, but only if you feel the service is worth it. The nice thing about Amazon affiliate is that it costs you zero, so it’s a tip jar that’s free to you, since 100% of what you pay is spent on the item you’re getting, and I get a couple of percent from Amazon for brokering the sale. My goal is simple: I’d like this site to pay its bills. Anything beyond that is gravy.
The Amazon affiliate model is, to me, the least painful and least intrusive advertising model I can use. Nothing is ever going to pop up over the content, pop under the content, lock you out of the content, or annoy the crap out of you to donate before letting you see the content. I’d like to think that lack of annoyance would be worth an occasional dollar in the tip jar, and for now, Amazon is where the tip jar lives…
Welcome! I’m hope you find this site interesting. If you do, subscribe and tell your friends. If you don’t… Tell me, so I can improve it. Over the next few weeks I’ll write some pieces on the research and thinking that went into the site and why I made some of the decisions I made. Hopefully you’ll find that interesting as well.
As I’d mentioned in the road trip notes, when in Astoria we always stop by Cellar on 10th and basically beg them to put together a case of stuff they like that we don’t know to ask for. By now, some of the case is new vintages of old favorites, but some of it is always new to us and part of the exploring of the Northwest Wine industry. Cellar on 10th really know Northwest wines, and they work with a lot of the smaller wineries, and those wineries give them access to wines that normally aren’t sold except on the winery premises. They’ve turned us onto a lot of really, really nice wines over the years. So I love to stop by when I can get to Astoria, and ask them to box me up a care package of things they think are really nice that I wouldn’t know to buy. And they do, and we bring it home, and we enjoy it thoroughly. It’s a great way to discover interesting wines and to find new styles of wine to build an addiction around. They turned us onto Sineann, for instance, for which I’ll be eternally grateful.
I thought it might be fun to talk about what we picked up and why. Okay, I wanted to gloat a bit, because we’ll be drinking this and you won’t (unless you contact Cellar on 10th. they ship….)
A couple of quick notes on our wine preferences: we don’t cellar any more, so we’re buying things intending to drink in the next 12-24 months or less. We tend to minimize Cabernet and Chardonnay, and we to go more for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Zinfandel. Our “house wine” is Cakebread (we’ve been buying their wines since I was at Sun) but we aren’t afraid of a bottle of two buck chuck. We’ve picked up an appreciation for Sangiovese, Barolo and I have a minor addiction to ice wines and ports. I am not going to talk about the wines, since we haven’t drunk them yet.
Just your normal silicon valley happy hour wine drinkers…
First up, our Sineanne. We picked up the 2011 Pinot Noir Resonance Vineyard. We also picked up a 2 bottles of the Sineann Pinot Gris 2012 Wy’east Vineyard. These should be good, hearty, Williamette Pinots. Sineanne also makes one of my favorite dessert wines, the Sweet Sydney, which they were out of stock on. It is a Zinfandel Ice wine, with some nice sharp notes and a wonderful syrup (fortunately, I still have a bottle hidden away).
Another winery we like is Troon Vineyards, in Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon. They make a wonderful Zinfandel, so we put two of their 2011 Foundation ’72 bottles in the box.
Another old favorite is Owen Roe’s Abbot’s Table. It is a Columbia valley red blend, sort of a hearty table wine for people who don’t believe “table wine” should mean “cheap grapes and compromises”. This is a blend of Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Lemberge, with a bit of Merlot and Malbec in it.
One more old favorite: Zerba Cellars, Walla Walla valley. we grabbed a bottle of their 2008 Grenache.
Then some new to us releases: Adelsheim 2010 Pinot Nois. They’re out of the Willamette Valley, a good place for Pinot. Another Willamette Valley Pinot is the 2011 Mt. Jefferson Cuvee from Cristom. And yet another Willamette Valley Pinot: The 2011 from Les Cousins, produced by Beaux Freres in Newberg.
Finally, the most unusual of the main box: The Barhard Griffin 2012 Sangiovese Rose. It’s got this most fascinating color, and I’m intensely curious about how the rose treatment will manage the Sangiovese grape. And it was one of the least expensive wines in the buy, so even if it’s just “okay”, it was an easy thing to experiment with. I’m hoping this one will surprise me a bit…
In the goodie bag we ended up bringing home three dessert wines, the Sineanne 2008 CJ, which is a Zinfandel Port. The second is the only non-northwest wine, a Jackson-Triggs (Niagara region) Proprietors Reserve Icewine 2007. This is a white blend where the grapes are crushed frozen so they can remove the ice and concentrate the syrup. I’m not insulting this wine by saying I consider it the classic example of a “table wine” for ice wine, the kind of thing you sit down with a nice cheese plate and a friend or two after a good meal… Clean and sweet and syrupy but not cloying, the sort of wine you drink with conversation while you unwind.
And finally, the really obscure and strange wine of the trip, a Ken Wright Cellars 2001 Late Harvest Red Wine. It’s sold as a faux port. It was originally crushed to be a port but the story we were told was that when they sampled the barrels when they were thinking of bottling it, they hated it, so they took the barrels and buried them in the back of the storage building. Four years later they were noticed and were going to be cleared out, and they tasted them just to see what they’d become, and they really liked them — but didn’t know what to do with them. At one point this was going to be bottled just for staff, but it’s available primarily through the cellar directly in limited volume, and the Cellar on 10th people got their hands on a small supply as well. And now I have a bottle, I have no idea what it’s going to be when I open it up, but I’m really looking forward to finding out.
This haul kinda sums up our racks — lots of pinot, lots of zin, and a random selection of weird stuff that happens to be really good. I’m not a huge fan of the formal tasting, but I know what I like and that’s what matters. If any of these really stand out, I’ll talk about them when we open them up. Mostly, though, I think wine’s about figuring out what you like, and then finding someone who can help you get more of that and identify other cellars that you’ll like as well.
And that’s why I like wandering by Cellar on 10th every so often…
Peachpit Press (one of my favorite publishers) has just announced a new line of books. I’ve talked about Craft and Vision in the past and how I like their publishing strategy of shorter books on specific topics at a very reasonable price, and with FuelBooks, Peachpit is implementing a line that uses that same general concept.
They’ve started out with six titles, all from really good authors like Rob Sheppard and Nicole S. Young. They run a bit longer than the typical Craft and Vision title at 50-100 pages, and are being published at the same price $5 price point, so these look to be good value books with interesting topics. The initial run includes Photographing Fireworks, Travel Photography, using Black and White photography in Nature and Landscape work and a couple of others.
Definitely worth checking out. There are a couple I’m going to be getting so I can check out the writing and layout, but honestly, at $5, it’s something you can buy just to see if it’s as good as you hope it is. With PeachPit behind it, I’m pretty sure the quality will be there.
Heather Champ has a new service called Favorites, and it already seems like a kick-ass winner to me.
Heather, if her name isn’t familiar to you, is the former Director of Community for Flickr, back when Flickr was the go-to place for photographers to hang out, and the way she managed the community aspects of the site was no small part of why photographers loved hanging out there. She is also the co-founder of JPEG magazine, which was an early try at building social-based curated publication of crowdsourced photography, only before most of those words became commonly used (and abused).
She is also one of the people on my secret “it would be really neat to work with/for this person some day because I’d probably learn an awful lot if it didn’t kill me” list. This is a list I think everyone should keep in some way, both for the insight it brings (what does that list of names say about your interests and goals? Try to steer your career in that direction) and because it’s nice to know what those names are if an opportunity with one of them actually occurs — as it did for me when I went to Palm to go to work for Jon Rubenstein. Palm didn’t work out, but I did learn an awful lot and it didn’t kill me, so I win. Most of that list will remain secret, and it changes over time as my goals and interests change, but I will admit it includes people like Gina Bianchini and Marc Andreesen, Chase Jarvis, and the MacAskill clan over at Smugmug. None of whom would know me from a hole in the ground, but that’s not the point. It’s about identifying opportunities and knowing if one appears over the horizon.
But I digress…
The Favorites setup is amazingly simple: it’s a web page to explain and let you sign up, and it’s a mailing list powered by Mailchimp. No major complicated web design, no massive user reputation systems, not even a like button. Just Heather’s curation skills and eye for a good photo, and an old-school style mailing list.
As someone who’s spent the last few months trying to beat together a proper curation system for Stuff You’ll Find Interesting, I stand in awe at the simplicity. (Don’t be surprised if I borrow this and adapt it for my own, with full credit. If I do, Heather, name a charity to take a donation in your name…)
Heather has struck a chord with this on me because I think she shows up a classic failure in how those of us who live in the high tech universe think: we try too hard to chase technological answers and over-engineer and over-build overly complex systems because, ultimately, we’re geeks and we love building things, and we end up with things that don’t scale, are too complex, and never work quite right, but which we can go to conferences and gloat about all of the neat crap we did to the infrastructure…
I’ve signed up, and so should you. I can’t wait to see what shows up in my inbox.
This may seem like a strange thing to review, but stick with me for a minute…
As someone who heads out with the camera into places without services and who tends to take long road trips, it’s really a good idea for me to keep a food supply in the car. As a diabetic, there are times when I realize I really ought to eat — and I’d like an alternative to finding a fast food joint (assuming there’s one nearby).
But since I’m diabetic, I really want things that are higher in protein and lower in carbs. To add to the complication, I have nut allergies, and I eat zero tree nuts and I also can’t eat peanuts. So right off the bat, 90% of the things most people haul in the car with them fail the “me” test, since the whole universe of granolas and trail mixes and the typical things people suggest are either non-edible for me, or are basically carb bombs. It’s always come down to carbs and jerky and things requiring refrigeration.
I’ve recently seen adds for these “breakfast to go” drinks, and so I was curious. Could this be my “leave in the car for those unscheduled uses” mini-meals? Good news: they don’t require refrigeration until opening, their nutritional setup isn’t bad (the Ensure is actually got a good amount of protein and moderate carbs) and they’re imminently portable and you can leave them in the car until you want them (within reason).
But are they drinkable? I gave a couple a shot. Trust me when I say the chocolate flavor of anything like this is most drinkable, and anything labeled strawberry I would avoid like the plague, just from past experience (remember Quik? Remember Strawberry Quik? Yeah… like the plague…).Â First up, Ensure High Protein, Creamy Milk Chocolate — I cracked one open unchilled. The first swallow — chocolate Quik. Not a great chocolate flavor, but… And then the aftertaste hit. The best description I can give is “institutional”. Quik was always kind of a weak, not very chocolate, sweet taste. That was this, but then layer in, oh, that flavor you get when you brew up some iced tea and then leave it out on the counter for three or four days until it turns. That flavor. 20 minutes later, I could still vaguely taste it. It would probably be better heavily chilled, just like a bad, cheap beer is more palatable chilled until the flavor goes away, but still, I have to say I’ll only drink ensure under Doctors orders (and an armed nurse), and under protest. A big “no, thanks anyway” here. (I can only wonder how bad the strawberry version is).
Later, I tried the Kellogg’s. It’s not as high protein, but the nutrition profile is still okay. Again, chocolate. This time, I stuck it in the fridge and chilled it. 190 calories 5g of fat, 10g or protein, 29g of carbs. more carbs than I’d hope, but… it’s closer to what I want then most things I’ve tried.
My suggestion: don’t go for the breakfast drinks, but look for the shelf stable milks. Both white and chocolate exist, and both are much cheaper than the “special” drinks, the nutrition is as good or better (the shelf stable low-fat white milks are about 8g protein and 12g carbs. the chocolate is 18-20g carbs), and the only other difference is that the milks don’t have lots of really cheap vitamins (of questional real value to you) added.
So, if you’re looking for something like this, don’t get fancy or follow the marketing, drink the milk.
Thatâ€™s right. Hugo Award winning editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch and I are coming back to editing with a project called Fiction River.
Fiction River will be a bimonthly anthology series starting in April next year. Each anthology will be theme-focused and cross-genre containing all original fiction written by some of the top writers in fiction, including big names and names you might have never heard of.
Each anthology will be published in an electronic edition, a trade paper edition, and a very limited and numbered and signed hardback edition. (Signed by all authors and editors.) Readers will be able to buy each anthology individually or subscribe to the anthology series like a magazine.
Cool project. Supporting this one on Kickstarter is a no-brainer.Â
Friday night started “one of those” weekends. Laurie called me in from the other room, because water is flowing from under the toilet. The wax seal has failed. hint: this is not good.
Worse, our other one has been, well, offline for a few weeks because we dropped a shampoo bottle in it and it’s been on the “we can’t fix it ourselves, so we need to get someone out here to take care of this” list.
So we got everything under control, got towels down, etc. and since it was late, got to bed. In the morning, I called the plumber, Gary, at Gary’s Guaranteed Rooter. We’d used him before when we got that slab leak that needed some major surgery. He agreed to get out here as soon as he could.
And literally, as soon as I got off the phone with him, we started getting sewage back out of the bathtubs, and up around the toilets. So it wasn’t (just) a bad wax seal, but a full sewage blockage.
And hilarity ensued. And Gary got a second phone call, and re-arranged his other appointments, and generally got his butt out here as fast as he could, pulled off a miracle or two, got everything cleared up, the toilets fixed, and just because he could, fixed a dripping sink while he was here.
I know enough about plumbing (thank you, This Old House) to know when I shouldn’t be mucking with it, and enough to have some idea what needs to be done. Gary’s now pulled out butt’s out of the fire twice, and he’s not only a good plumber who knows his stuff, he gives a damn. If you need a plumber, from San Jose up the peninsula, he’s a good option to have, especially when the, um, stuff is hitting the fan. In this case, literally.
And despite short notice turning into this oh-my-god emergency, his prices are fair. His number isÂ (650) 766-7821; it’s one you probably want to stick in your address book for that day when you really need it, because when you really need it, you don’t want to go thrashing around trying to figure out who to callâ€¦
(And now life is back to normal, although one of the bathroom rugs is a goner; all of the towels have gone through the “sanitize” cycle, and hopefully, we won’t have to worry about this for a while. We’ve been in this house since the mid 90′s, and this is the first time we’ve had this problem. Hopefully, with a bit of scheduled maintenance, we can keep it from happening againâ€¦)
This year for the holidays I decided to try something different with a couple of my gifts. Every year, I try to make christmas gifts for the family a little personal, and in the last few years, that’s meant something using my photos.
This year, rather than a standard framed print or a calendar, I had prints done via ArtisanHD on Plexiglas. It looked like an interesting, modern alternative to the standard matted print. These images in the 12×18 size (good for 11×14 prints) ran a bit over $50, and to be honest, I was blown away with how they looked.
If you’re looking for something different and memorable, with good quality, something that’s going to leave an impression — this is something you might want to consider. I liked the quality of the final product, I was very happy with the quality of the print, and in fact, I did one for myself, which is going up in my cube at work tomorrow, too. And I expect it’ll get people to come into the office and ask about it.