March 23, 2007

In which I speak out of school, and likely sound quite smug doing so.

So I don't work on YouTube and I only barely know these very new Googlers. Those that I've met I like. They seem quite googley, engineery and are very competent. So, with that in mind, there are times as a Googler when you see the actions of those who would wish us ill and you think, very simply, "Go ahead."

Not like the George Bushian "Bring them on" but just... "Go ahead." as in... It's a big old world....if you make a bigger & better YouTube than we can, then terrific, do it.

And this bring me to the topic of todays post. Those last two , nikean, words.... Do It.

Don't say you're going to do it.

Do it.

You see this all the time in the computer industry.....a pr person calls a reporter or preps a press release and it talks about the grand innovation that they (and perhaps their pals) will bring to the market. It'll be great! It will change the world. It will be the Google of that particular vertical, market, or whatever.

Sometimes, when these are specifically targeted at my employer, she of the grand cafes and profligate collection of physioballs, I can only think if you do these things you speak of you will be doing us a great favor. Yes, I'm talking about the possible combination of...

News Corp, Microsoft, NBC, AOL, MSN and Yahoo.

I'm picturing the meetings. The posturing. The bandwidth provisioning. The advertising meetings. The legal reviews. The pr reviews. The plans. The emails. The cross-functional , inter corporate steering committees.

Who pays for what with what? Who is in charge? Who picks the content? Does anyone pick the content? Who can upload? What can they upload? When can they upload? How long will it take to transcode? Can a video be downloaded to iPod? Archos? Zune? Who will monitor the uploads?

The Layers.....oh god, the layers.....The managers, the lawyers, the executives, the ops people, the accountants, the lawyers, the programmers, the lawyers, the qa teams, the lawyers, the secops people, the users, the producers, directors, key grips and craft people. The talent, the fx houses, the compressors, the vast use of ffmpeg and all that entails. All from all the different companies.

Funnily enough, I don't wish them to fail. I truly believe that YouTube can continue it's remarkable path even in the presence of an efficiently functioning service like that being aspired to above. But....and I mean this.....I'm glad to not have to to be the one deploying the consortium based video site.

But they would have been better to have launched their site than to talk about it.

Secondly.....this week Microsoft got a -lot- of pr attention for announcing their intention to open source FoxPro.

Those of you who read my previous rant on the subject know that one of my favorite pet peeves centers on those that would claim open sourceyness when none is in evidence.

Microsoft says they will release source code into codeplex. This, my reportering friends in the media and on blogs, doesn't necessarily mean open source. This means that they are planning on releasing code into codeplex. No more, no less.

Until they actually do release the software onto codeplex, we have nothing but talk to rely on. It would be great if they release foxpro into open source , but until they do, it's just code you can't use. Again, nothing wrong with -not- releasing code into open source, but if it is not actually released under an open source licences, then it is just software.

So, end of today's post. The moral: Don't Talk. Do. Don't yammer. Launch. Release. Ship. FCS, you know?

March 20, 2007

Find me in .... Chicago in April

As an FYI, I'll be speaking in Chicago at Flourish in early april. Chicagoans might want to stop by.

Space X Webcast going...

It is t-30 minutes and counting....mark.

I went for the beach theme with a cool ice tea.

So about three months ago, Google stopped stocking Tejava ice tea in the micro-kitchens. I was suffering through relying on diet coke to provide my caffination needs. This had an effect on my quality of life, and I was going to order a few cases or twelve of the stuff.

Tejava is a iced tea made by the crystal geyser people. It is simply tea, no more, no less. No sweetening, no lemon, no chemicals of note, served in a glass bottle to deter plastic tastingness, it is a very good and tasty tea to add lemon and such to.

UPDATE: The nice thing about this is that this week they started restocking Tejava....Duh...thought I mentioned that.

Happily today, on the same day we launched themes on iGoogle, and I chose the beach theme. Ahhhhhh.....

March 13, 2007

Delayed Flight Blues

While the SJC airport isn't the worst place in the world to spend 3 hours, a plane delay shows the mettle of the average traveler. I just watched some dude holler at the United rep here at gate C2. To what point, I honestly have no idea, as they've been very good at keeping us up to date, offering to rebook folks, etc... I think that it is hellishly tempting to indulge in some handy outrage when things like this go on. I've felt it at times, sure, but I don't indulge in that particular vice.

And I suppose I do consider it a vice. I have no better way to cross the country than a non-stop flight, even with a 3 or 4 hour delay. For a trip to LA, I'd have hopped in my car by now, but for flying to DC.....I see it as saving many days of driving, many months of covered wagon riding, or a solid year of walking. Not that I'm saying "Gosh, how lucky I am to be delayed" or even "Look at how good I'm handling this, admire me" but I guess I'm saying: "Christ, it's just a damn plane delay, dude, leave the customer person be."

I have some sensitivity to their plight, I was a customer service rep (csr, natch) at Circuit City when I was a pup. This was a pretty good high school/early college job, really. The pay was decent and you got a handy discount on the stuff they sold. And back then (I don't know if this is still true) CC had the leverage to basically force manufacturers to take back returns and get credit for them. This meant that we had broad power to be nice to the folks with incoming broken stuff.

The only thing we had to do (and who could blame us for doing it) was ensure that the device was actually broken. If it was , 99 times out of 100 we could give them a credit and send em into the store, even if it was wildly past the warranty period. This made a lot of sense for us too, we could simply send it back to the manufacturer, slapping on an RTV sticker on the thing, and we'd never have to see the machine or the customer again. For nice people, it felt good to just give them a new VCR or whatever. For jerks, you knew you wouldn't have to see them in a few weeks after a repair job.

Most people were pretty okay. Not that there weren't many jerks, of course, this was the store in Tyson's Corner, near the mall there. Washington DC and the surrounding environs is a place where power, for some definition of power, matters a lot to people. Whether it is power over an electorate, power over their children or power over their broken VCR and the CSR who'd dare question their word by plugging it in. It was a great way to learn about people.

Not long after Circuit City, I took a job at a litigation boutique law firm in downtown DC. A punishing commute terminated at the underground parking. I'd park at the lowest most level, at the end. 7 stories underground. Then I'd get out of my car, walk down two flights of stairs to the copy/support level. Seriously. Think of this: 20 stories (or something like that) of fabulous office space, then 7 stories of parking, then 1 level for the computers, the copiers, the accounting department and the people who worked in them.

My job there was to nurse along, hospice care really, 20 servers running Microsoft Mail for the Macintosh. This was before exchange. I had 1200 mail users that were under my care. After a short period getting used to the system, I ran it well enough. To keep the system healthy, I had to compact/vacuum the databases every 2 or 3 weeks, otherwise the servers would die, and my pager would go crazy. There was a fair amount of yelling anyhow as the Lawyers and the other folks would delete mail by accident or other related mishaps. I learned a lot at the firm as well. The first was that, of course, shit rolled downhill. In our case, shit got in the elevator, swiped a badge, and descended 120 feet. We were in service of all the groups, so any minor problem with the computers was instantly cause for hollering.

I had my pride and I walked out of not a few offices until they calmed down, but for the most part I just fixed the machines and kept the mail flowing. After the law firm, I moved to California and have been concentrating on the technology production side of things (vs the consumption side) and it is a happy place to be but it isn't a lie to say that I was yelled at professionally for some 4 or 5 years in total. 3 or more years at Circuit City, a year at the lawfirm, and some other places here and there. Strangely, I'm decent at handling people, and like doing it. It's kind of weird.

Funnily enough, none of these places were bad to work at, and I mostly felt bad for the people who had to unload on the kid behind the counter in the silly grey CSR vest whose only real desire was to give them a new VCR.

March 7, 2007

BBC Story about Palimpsest up...

One of my favorite projects at google is one that we don't talk much about, but I think is pretty important. Darren Waters from the BBC came by and I'm guessing he liked the project as much as I do :-)

March 3, 2007

Bose.....still a bunch of jerks.

At the Denver airport, to sell their over-priced crapfest headphones, Bose has installed, next to the food court, a demonstration and sales booth. Here's how it works:

1) A mark walks up to the booth
2) Bose dude says "Hey, check this out....put these on."
3) The mark puts on the headphones.
5) Bose dude turns on a very loud low frequency noise. (through their crappy subwoofers)
6) The mark likely notes that he can't hear the low frequencies as much as he used to be able to without the headphones.
7) 125 diners look at Bose booth wondering what the hell is wrong with Bose employees that they think it is okay to do this every 45 seconds.
8) Bose dude doesn't notice, continues to sell his crappy crapola.
9) Cute tiny Kittens all throughout the airport look and complain.
10) The mark does or doesn't buy the earphones, not noticing the enormous hole in the mid-frequencies that real engines assault if you use them.
11) People with real headphones look on with pity at the mark who is now a purchaser of the bulky, poorly made, terribly designed, Bose headphones.

That is all. Yes, I was annoyed by marketing at the airport. Again.

(also, I lied again about the presence of kittens. No kittens were annoyed by the Bose people that I know of)

March 2, 2007

Ebb and Flow of Technology


I've had two pieces of electronics give up the ghost lately. The first, my precious Etymotic er-4ps had a jack failure (in that the jack, uh, broke and stuff) on the plane to Boston a few days ago. So unfortunate. I love these headphones -so- much. I have an RMA to replace the cable on them, I look forward to getting them back.

The second one was my Canon SD400 Digital Elph teeny digicam. Also well loved, which in this case means treated somewhat shabbily, I took literally thousands of pictures with it. It fit handily in my pocket and I took it pretty much everywhere. At the beach a year ago, I dropped it onto the sand. This was the beginning of the end, really, when an unfortunate sandy grinding noise accompanied every on/off cycle. It got worse and worse, and then, inexplicably, I picked up my camera to take a picture of Frannie or Laszloplaintively, and and I noticed that the screen had a crack in it. This had never happened to me before, but when I went to turn it on, it worked and all but a little area around the crack was fine, so I was happy. Then a few days later, I got a 'beep of death'. I'd turn it on and it would try to extend the lens the entire way.....then....stop beep three times die.

The death of a camera is a mixed event emotionally for me. I'm used to retiring cameras due to megapixel obsolescence, not through wear and tear. I was mildly unhappy about this, but happy, because it drove me to purchase it's replacement. I went a little bigger, picking the SD900 camera (also from canon). This one has twice the resolution and better speed and everything. Most importantly, it is surrounded by a durable titanium cover, which , considering how things worked out for the sd400, I decided was worth the extra cost and weight.

The folks at Keeble gave me a very nice price (and I like shopping there anyhow over buying such things online) and so I picked it up over last weekend. It's a -very- fun camera. Great video and stills and even has this face detection feature that focuses on , well, I think you know what. The picture included with todays post is both a callout to obsolesence and an example of the SD900. That picture was taken without a flash in a not very well lit room, and I'm pretty happy with it. (reduced in photoshop from the original image, and then I think blogger reduced it again).

Once my earphones return from the shop, I will be a happy traveller, maybe I'll borrow my sisters pair for my upcoming Washington, DC trip. That will work out, I think.