Friday, 01 September 2006

Now and then I get to rant.

I am (once again) on an airplane, on my way to some upper Midwest city for the day, heading right back home this evening. You get real perspective on airplanes, you know. Perspective on things like heights and time - and on people, too. People you know you'll never see again. And when one knows they'll never see the people around them ever again, I guess they let their words flow more than they might otherwise. That can be good or bad.

There are two middle-aged guys, poorly dressed in corporate standard attire, in the row in front of me. Like as in one of these guys is wearing one beige dress sock and one navy one. They've been yapping away ever since we got on this flight three hours ago. We should have landed well over an hour ago, but they have these things called, umm, I think they're called 'delays' in the secret vernacular of air travel. Anyhow, no one really understands it, so we just sit in the broken down coach seat and smile like it's comfortable as the flight attendants walk up and down the aisles with forced smiles on their faces. You know, the smile that says 'Isn't this fun, we're all stuck on this thing going nowhere again, and we're gonna be late too, yay!'

Anyhow, at least I got some sleep, which is nice (seriously). But that's not my point.

Now I am back awake, and these same two yahoos (no, I don't mean they work at Yahoo! as that would be a compliment, and as you are about to see I have no compliments for these particular guys) are still going on and on about someone they apparently work for and how SHE (emphasis added to match their conversational emphasis on the fact that their supervisor is apparently female) does this and SHE does that and how SHE expects things and how SHE can't possibly understand. It's really rather amazing to listen to. It makes one want to yell "Shut up!"

They're also apparently very concerned about some presentations that they have to give. But they don't seem concerned at all about the actual content, or the audience, or whether the presentation convinces anyone or informs, or anything useful like that. Instead they're harping on and on about how SHE likes JOHN's presentations better, and how the other day they were afraid that they might not look like good presenters in the room with so-and-so, and what they might be able to do to make such-and-such look bad the next time.

Wow. And all of this where I can hear it, with a computer open to a PowerPoint deck I can clearly read and a company logo I can clearly see. And now one of the guys is opening a girly magazine.

Yahoos, I tell ya. And someone's paying them money to "do work."

Some people are truly amazing. Amazingly pathetic, that is. I'm glad I get to work with quality, decent people in my job. If I had to work with guys like this, I don't know if I could keep my mouth shut. Actually, I know I couldn't. They'd be right out the door, no question.



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Friday, 01 September 2006 07:49:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 28 August 2006

How do you truly know when email has become a problem without a good solution? Simple. Take a vacation. This is a clue...

And that's after working through a large chunk of it already - the most obvious and highest priority stuff, anyhow.

Yes, I've tried many of the various methodologies available out there, but ultimately it's all about reviewing each one and acting on each in same shape or form. Vacations do this to email. Darn those vacations. The difference this time around is I decided that instead of ruining the vacation mood, I'd work my way through the ocean a little at a time. Highest priority stuff came first. No point in ruining the positive effects of the vacation by losing sleep over email, eh?

Anyone have brilliant ideas for how to deal with the ocean of email that results from being gone for a couple weeks? Dealing with it day-to-day is easy. It's the been-gone-for-a-long-time problem that seems to be more vexing. Mark-as-read just has too many risks.



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Monday, 28 August 2006 14:56:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 27 August 2006

There's been a recent uptick in Blackberry Blogging attention recently because Dave Winer has been talking to people about how he's blogging and reading news on his Blackberry 8700, which he apparently got a little while back. I got one of the first 8700s, have already worn out two of them (I am on 8700 number-three as of the other day - It turns out coffee is hard on electronics and the scroll wheel tends to wear loose), and I have been using various models of Blackberries since, well, since God made Blackberries, and I have been blogging with them since I can't remember when. Actually, looking back it looks like it was July of 2004 or so when I first tried it. So, what Dave is doing isn't really anything new, but he is bringing a lot of attention to it, which is cool. Certainly the direction of mobile computing is important, and how it fits into publishing and consuming critical content deserves attention.

It's funny, though. You'd think it was the new sliced bread or something. Heh.

And Kent Newsome has some good points in his thoughts on the matter:

"I think people are treating this Blackberry as a web surfing and blogging tool the way mountain climbers treat a mountain. They move right past the why and just start climbing. Because they can, because it's cool, or because they're bored. Or maybe so they can try to convince more people to use their mobile computing products…

"People will fall all over themselves trying to rationalize it away, but everyone who is actually trying to get content, as opposed to push content, knows that other than text based headlines and the occasional weather forecast, surfing the net on a Blackberry is sort of like running a race in wooden clogs. You can do it, but it's slow and painful."

I've been able to post with my Blackberry for a long time. I have also been able to read news via RSS with it for a long time. But even though it's right there 24x7 for me to use, I find that for the most part I don't. I suppose for the chronically addicted blogger or news reader, it would look like a "good" way to get a fix and feed the addiction. If your goal is to post something the second it happens, or to read whatever you're interested in as it is published, maybe this all makes some kind of sense. But for me, I just find that I can't be that connected all the time.

It will be interesting - as always - to watch.



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Sunday, 27 August 2006 21:59:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 25 August 2006

I'm a professional geek, and manager of many like me (only they're a lot smarter and more talented than I). But I have not been a computer jock all my life. Before this particular career I was a cop (or "police officer" if I want to be politically correct in my terminology). Before that, I was a professional photographer - a job I had for around eight years. I went to college to study photojournalism, and did sports and news photography, was published way-back-when in magazines and newspapers all over the place, etc. etc. etc. I was pretty good at it. My employers liked all the awards I won for them. I didn't care so much about the awards. But I felt good when I made pictures that people liked and remembered. Even more so when they seemed to matter or make a difference.

But while photography was fulfilling, starving to death was not so appealing. Besides, I'd always wanted to be a cop, and so I went from being a figurative ambulance chaser (a news photog) to being something loosely akin to an ambulance driver (except that police cars are a lot faster and you get to chase people in them - ambulance rig drivers don't do that too much, and then there's the whole catching bad guys thing, and you actually get paid to do all that - crazy). It put a notable few more bucks a month in the bank and was a great job, but it was also a bucket of stress and (eventually) painful experiences (I did a lot of child abuse investigations, and in the end it was me or the job -- I chose me).

Then came computer work. Pays a lot better and without bullets flying at me or my car. Not such a bad deal.

But I miss the creativity and fun of photography probably even more than I miss catching bad guys. So, after spending some time breaking out the old camera and lenses and messing around with them on vacation a week or so ago, I have a renewed hankerin' for doing it some more. Not as a job - I have a good job and career. More like as a passion - something more than a hobby. Just to get back into it something like the way I used to be. Of course, in order to do it right I'll have to do some investing. There's a ton of mediocre cameras and lenses out there. I like my Nikon D70 for a basic digital SLR camera, but in my photo world there's a need for something more if it's really to be taken seriously. And I'm a very serious guy. Zoom lenses? Screw that noise.

I'm still a bit of a digital photography nay-sayer. If I was an old dude, I'd probably be going off on something like "Why, back in my day, we didn't have no fancy digital cameras... All we had was cellulose film. And there we were, a bunch of chemical-burned, dry-skinned film developers, cleaning skin flakes out of the darkroom. But we liked it that way!"

Or something like that.

Anyhow, it's all digital now. But I do miss the darkroom. I was good at that. Hmmm, might need to set one up despite the ease of the digital photography world. Not instead of digital, just in addition to. For nostalgic reasons, sure, but also because as good as digital photography has become, it's still not quite up to the quality and subtlety of using a good quality film.

So what's my point? Well, nothing really. Heh. Except that I think I may start looking for some good, quality used Nikon lenses and another digital body. Then make some more trips off to The Middle of Nowhere. Anyone have a good clean AF300 f/2.8 Nikkor you wanna sell? Heh.



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Friday, 25 August 2006 22:32:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 24 August 2006


The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is found in northeastern Minnesota, along the border with Canada. They call Minnesota the Land of 10,000 lakes, and the many lakes that make up the BWCA are just some of those thousands. It's a beautiful place, and as far as I am concerned everyone should go at some point in time in their lives. Just let me know when you're going and make sure you all schedule it on the same day. I'll plan my trip at another time, so I can enjoy the peace and quiet. Heh.

Actually, the number of people are parties that can enter the wilderness area on any given day and from any given entry point is pretty heavily limited. The regulations are intended to protect the area and make sure it's maintained as a relatively pristine wilderness area, which is a good idea. Some of the regs seem a bit extreme, but whatever. On the Canadian side of the lakes, it's a lot more expensive and even more restrictive in terms of the regs.

Anyhow, my good friend Cory and I spent a lot of time all week in canoes and fishing. I was feeling (and smelling) pretty strong by the second half of the week. A large part of the time it was just the two of us in the canoe, and other times we were in the boat along with Cory's dad. It just depended on the day and who was in camp at the time. One evening Cory, his sister and I went out for the evening after eagles in a canoe. We earned our eagle chaser badges that night.


Cory paddling on Disappointment Lake


Evening light on the water


I caught this northern pike on our first day out


Sunset from camp



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Thursday, 24 August 2006 22:53:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 22 August 2006

One of the highlights of our canoe trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota was a family of bald eagles that frequented the area around our camp for a couple of days. Being a former sports photographer (a long story for another time), I still have a couple lenses that I use on a D70 digital body, and I was glad I brought them with me on the trip.

I have always been quite impressed with an amazed by bald eagles. Getting a chance to be so close in the wild (they came as close as about 40 feet to where I stood) was a lot of fun. I wonder if you can get paid to watch and photograph eagles for a living. I bet some people do.

For the photo geeks, these images are with a Nikkor 180/f2.8 lens on the Nikon D70 body. These particular images are not public domain. Click each one to view a slightly larger size. A number of people are emailing asking for copies, which is fine, just let me know.



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Tuesday, 22 August 2006 20:42:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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