Monday, January 03, 2011

What Happened in 2010

I have never sent a holiday card. This year, I figured since I take soo many damn photos - I could just list the names of the subdirectories in my 2010 photos volume on my network drive. I started with that... then figured that was a tad too impersonal. I then collapsed the flat listing into sentence fragments with one paragraph per month. This isn't the most wonderful read, but it does pretty much cover what happened in my life this year!

January - Celebrated New Year’s day at the Norbye house, shot a few whip cream cans with a pellet gun, skipped some rocks on Vasona Lake with the Quinns, took Jill’s dogs to the beach, did a photo shoot for the Tesla Roadster S, did some indoor skydiving, saw a nasty wreck on HW85, hiked around Colero Reservoir, attended CodeMash in Sandusky, OH, hiked Castle Rock State Park, hiked Sereno Park, had a track day at Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA, attended a vintage race at Infineon Raceway.

February - Sent the Lotus in for repair, attended Ryder’s birthday, drove around Calaveras Reservoir, hiked Castle Rock State Park again, wine and chocolates at Solis Winery after brunch at La Forét for Valentine’s Day, tested the new ContourHD in-car camera, visited the Apple Store in Scottsdale, AZ, met a baby puppy, hit 160,000 miles on my Pathfinder, photographed the Mexico vs Bolivia soccer game, tested the CountourHD some more, spent too much at Alexander’s Steak House, rode the motorcycle to Alice’s with my friend Noel and his shiny new motorcycle license.

March - Ran a few consecutive track days at Laguna Seca, watched my friends’ son’s band CIA play at a bowling alley, got a damage report on the Lotus, watched a Sharks game, got Jill’s a sweet Peeps costume for Halloween, completed a few more helmet camera tests, made the 2010 CenterLineSoccer supporters club cards, attended the Java Posse Roundup in Crested Butte, CO, did some downhill and cross-country skiing, and some snowmobiling in Colorado, photographed the season kick-off CenterLineSoccer event with the San Jose Earthquakes at Rosie McCann’s irish pub, turned 2 pounds of bacon into a huge bowl of fresh bacon bits, photographed the Quakes season opener soccer game, then had a track day at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA.

April - Got an iPad, photographed the top view of the Lotus for a friend, had some Arizona friends Ben & Lindsay stay for a visit, played bocci ball with them, hiked Castle Rock State Park with them, did some wine tasting with them, then had a track day at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, photographed Quakes home games twice and the FC Gold Pride once, took Flat Stanley to Santa Cruz for nephew Jay, photographed friends’ son’s lacrosse game, photographed a very crazy looking sky, had brunch at La Forét for Dick Wall’s birthday, went wine tasting for Michelle’s birthday, attended Mark’s surprise birthday party, had a track day at Laguna Seca, watched my brother expertly drift my Lotus, photographed the grand opening of the new Quakes training facility, got another iPad.

May - Test drove a Lotus Evora, photographed the Quakes home games three times, took my sister Mary and her husband Red to Half Moon Bay, had a photo shoot for my cat Potato, photographed an FC Gold Pride home game, hiked Rancho Cañada del Oro, re-organized my desk setup, photographed the ALMS race at Laguna Seca, hung out in Carmel with Steve, Jen, and Mason Rossi, watched some salt water taffy being made, photographed a LOT of empty wine bottles then recycled them, attended a Kansas / Styx / Foreigner concert for free, had a pair of track days at Infineon Raceway, followed by another at Laguna Seca, attended the Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras.

June - Photographed a Quakes home game, hung out at the Infineon Historics, then drove a new V6 TDI Touareg, flew a helicopter, and did indoor skydiving all on my birthday, recorded a video for Sharon’s birthday, did another Potato photo shoot, hiked Calero Reservoir, watched the USA suck in the World Cup and somehow get praised for it, instructed at Laguna Seca without my broken Lotus, went to a Steve Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers concert, got an iPhone 4, started construction on my back yard retaining wall.

July - Photographed several Quakes home games, including one exhibition against Tottenham Hotspur where my camera died, finished back yard retaining wall construction, photographed an FC Gold Pride home game, attended an English Beat / Squeeze concert, took a boat-house trip to the Sacramento River Delta, traveled to Seattle to attended a Nuxoll family party on Lake Sammamish.

August - Photographed a Real Madrid vs Club America game, attended Seafair and photographed a lot of boats and jets, showed up at my 25-year 8th grade reunion dressed as myself in 1985, watched Tom & Sam & kids depart their own house in a motorhome and then arrive at my house days later after I had flown, took care of the kids for a few days, photographed a pair of Quakes home games, went sailing with Noel, did a photo shoot for Michael and Irina for their engagement, attended the Indy GP at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, recorded a special message for Dr. Culbert that was never used.

September - Fixed a broken sprinkler, rode to Alice’s on the motorcycle, got terribly addicted to small remote-controlled helicopters, hiked Coyote Creek trails, had a track day at Laguna Seca, got a sweet outdoor fireplace for the back yard, photographed several more Quakes home games, attended the Soccer Silicon Valley Community Foundation annual dinner - where I supplied the all-dinner slideshow and donated 20 prints to the silent auction, won the bid for the whole-team autographed jersey (again), recorded the Java Posse 5-Year Anniversary live show at JavaOne, attended the most amazing Oracle party and was front and center for English Beat and Don Henley, did a pair of back-to-back track days at Infineon Raceway, photographed the WPS Championship match.

October - Guest hosted on the Quakes Cast podcast, attended Michael and Irina’s wedding, attended SF Fleet Week on a big sail boat to photograph the Blue Angels, hiked Castle Rock State Park, did some indoor skydiving, picked up another kitten and renamed him several times before settling on Punkin, photographed three more Quakes home games, attended third English Beat concert in as many months, had a track day at Infineon Raceway, drove down to Santa Barbara for Steve Rossi’s 40th, watched some Michael Jackson fans dance to Thriller, did a photo shoot with the new kitten Punkin.

November - Grew a beard for the Quakes playoff run (not the SF Giants), attended Massive Attack / Thievery Corporation concert at the Greek, got a sweet gas fire-pit for under the awnings in the back yard, upgraded the MacBook Pro RAM to 8GB, attended Devoxx in Antwerp, Belgium, then hung out in Amsterdam, bought a lot of chocolate, had a family Thanksgiving in Scottsdale, AZ, rode a Harley in the freezing boonies with my brother in-law Bob, hiked Pinnacle Peak Park with Ben & Lindsay.

December - Had way too much aquavit at the Son’s of Norway dinner, attended an Edward Tufte class, got an OnLive console, rented a motorhome and drove to Pismo Beach to rent ATVs on the dunes, visited Jill’s retired horse Pumba, celebrated Jill’s 40th with a surprise party in Los Gatos, watched a stunning full lunar eclipse in the middle of the night, traveled to Seattle for Christmas and stayed at Hotel Nuxoll Sammamish, hiked around property on Snoqualmie River, rode a bunch of ferry boats all over the Puget Sound, drove a 125 shifter kart in the snow, checked out the perfect view from Newcastle Golf Course, celebrated New Year’s eve with fun people in Bellevue, and was actually present at the stroke of midnight for my brother Tom’s birthday.

Oh, and probably some other stuff happened too - like work and stuff. If I missed your favorite event, then let me know!

Happy New Year! Enjoy your 2011!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Computer Megalomania

I recently got in an email debate about the merits of Linux with a few friends (you know who you are). It made me think about exactly what it is that I have against Linux. As it turns out, I am a Linux fan. Linux kicks ass for software developers. No argument. It has come a long way, baby, and it's damn good. Impressive, even.


My personal interest, however, is in human-computer interaction in the consumer space (for regular non-software-engineer people). I don't want Linux (as a desktop user interface) to make any headway in the consumer space. Here's why.

I am looking forward to a time when the "art of setting up your computer just how you like it" is a truly lost art - only found among software people. In my (and several others') opinion, computers are not something that should be celebrated, but something that you should be able to use as an invisible tool to get other things done worth celebrating. For example, making photos, movies, music, art - or writing great novels, designing a faster car, discovering new maths and science and medicine, etc. Today, the use-model of the computer is WAY too much of a megalomanic to get out of the way of most people's creative and/or intellectual pursuits. So much potential energy is stuck at the top of the reservoir because the tools of the day require too much investment to use.

The term "[computer] techie" bothers me on so many levels... You should be able to use a computer for great things (unrelated to building computers and/or software) and understand very little about them. A great user experience means the thing you were trying to get done was not effortless - but all of your effort was spent on the *thing*, not on trying to get the computer to do the thing. To me, today's computing metaphor is as ridiculous as a carpenter spending their whole day messing with the cool knobs and settings on their tools, rather than building awesome cabinetry. Computers need to do a better job at becoming invisible and allow the user to focus on their art.

Linux is wonderful on the server - where it invisibly crunches numbers and processes vast streams of data. The reason I don't like it on the desktop, is that it comes from and is shaped by a group of people that view personal computing very much from a "software techie" perspective. That simple passive label alone "popular among techies", is a damning mark in my eyes. I don't want Linux on the desktop to do well (outside of the software engineering world), because that means computers are becoming less and less transparent - rather than more transparent as they should (in my opinion).

All that said, I like Apple's approach at re-inventing the whole computing thing as a mega-simplified interface that is far more intuitive than what we regard as classical "computers". I do love Macs and OS X for a bunch of reasons, but the real future of computing looks a heck of a lot more like iOS. And frankly, Android. The user model is very similar between them, but Android still suffers from that "techie" thing that I honestly hope cleans up.


I can't wait to see what people make and invent and discover when the full breadth of computing power is available to them without the overhead of "modern" computer UI megalomania.

Several of my "techie" software friends are annoyed that new computer users of the future (our children) are going to grow up in a world where computers aren't to be tinkered with, but used to do real stuff. I personally find that future to be a much better one - with more creative things happening in the world that don't directly pertain to computers themselves. The software industry will shrink somewhat (perhaps), because the creative intellectual talent will be busy using computers to build more interesting things.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Random thoughts on caffeine: USA soccer

You might think this post is related to caffeine, but I assure you it is not. The title merely reflects the fact that I had a thai iced tea with dinner, and I normally don't drink any caffeine at all - thus I am awake and should be asleep. "thoughts on caffeine" are the thoughts coursing through my noggin using caffeine jet propulsion.

So... I wanted to make a few points about US soccer. I am posting this because the website is soliciting folks to produce a video on YouTube describing your "favorite moments" from the USA's "fantastic" World Cup run in South Africa. People are talking about Landon's goal in the last second against Algeria - which popped the US from possibly OUT to 1st in Group C in an instant. That was pretty cool. I was pretty stoked at that moment, I must admit...

But... As an avid soccer fan, and a die-hard 100% USA soccer fan (MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR FAN), I am a bit miffed about the post-cup reaction to the USA's "great" performance. Don't get me wrong. Don't jump to conclusions without reading this. Please pay attention.

The media is really excited at our amazing and skilled soccer team that so dramatically defeated England, Slovenia, and Algeria during the group stage, and blah blah blah. I think we sucked. Really really badly. I think we perhaps had our worst performance yet on the world stage, and for some reason - somehow - somebody is using a Jedi mind-trick on the general populace to make them think we played well. I watched the games - every second of them - and some of them more than once. We sucked. We didn't even show up until the second half for most of the games - scratch that - any of the games. We played brilliant for spans of up to (but not including) one minute at a time. We had some great segments of panic from behind and try try try to attack - but failed. I saw about 10 great plays by our guys in the whole tournament. The rest of the time it was WTF? My view of the tournament is for some reason at great odds with the US media's assessment of our play.

Okay. So again to be clear - I am an absolute 100% die-hard USA soccer fan. I love our guys. I love our potential. I will wear red, white, and blue and scream until my throat bleeds every time they play. The problem is, I want to see them play like they did at last year's Confederation Cup, except when the real chips are on the table. We beat Spain. We were up 2-0 against Brazil at half-time. Perhaps the loss of that game was foreshadowing of the stellar play we'd see this year in South Africa.

For some reason they didn't perform well this year and it really bums me out. The USA should have been eliminated by Holland in the semi-finals. That's where their potential should have led them. Instead they absolutely LUCKED into winning Group C and got their ass kicked in their first elimination game by a team they should have crushed.

The USA did not perform well at the World Cup this year. We sucked. It's a shame, because we honestly have a lot more talent than was shown in this tournament, but for some reason the lads were sleeping at the switch until the dying moments of a few of the games. Disappointing.

I'm not going to single out any players - though I do have opinions - I just think we weren't into it for some reason. Vuvuzela noise? Who knows. I am just really confused by the media's ignorance of the game of soccer to not realize how poorly we did. I know the guys know, but I hope they do enjoy this media tidal wave and get as much good press for soccer in USA as possible. I'll sit over here with the real soccer folks and just smile and hope for better times ahead.

We totally *can* kick ass on the world stage. We just haven't yet.

- Joe

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where Have You Been?

Someone once asked me what happened to my blog writing... okay, so it wasn't really "someone", it was my Dad. And it wasn't really nondescript time like "once", it was specifically yesterday. Back to the point.

My Dad asked me yesterday what happened to my blog, and why hadn't I updated it in a while. The answer is simple. I use Twitter (Tw) and Facebook (Fb) a lot now, so I haven't felt the urge to wax poetically via this jolly medium.

Since I'm pretty much just talking to my Dad now, I can take a moment and explain what Twitter and Facebook are. They are two forms of a relatively new internet thing called social media sites. They're like online fan clubs for anyone. Anyone. Including you. To that affect, I just created you your very own Twitter account, and your Twitter name is "alfanutjay" or "jaynuxoll". I made two because I wasn't sure which one you'd want. I'll send you the passwords and login information via email.

So basically, you log into and start saying stuff - anything - in 140 character sound bites. Anyone that wants to can "follow" you and thus hear your sound bites. I am "joeracer" on Twitter, and you're already following me with your two accounts. :-) You're welcome. I send updates via my phone - wherever in the world I am, and everyone that's following me (lots of geeks) hears about it instantly.

As for Facebook... That's a slightly different animal. Think of it as a way to stalk your ex-girlfriends from PRESCHOOL. Yes, everyone on the planet is on it, and you can find them. And they can find you. People post pictures, updates, stories about their vacations, videos of kittens falling asleep... you name it. In fact, Rule 38 would apply, but Fb is limited to non-pornographic content. I linked my Tw and Fb accounts, so I just post to Tw and it shows up in Fb for all my ex-girlfriends from PRESCHOOL to see. Believe me, they're watching. And waiting. And hanging on to every single last word I type.

At least in my dreams.

Ta ta for now, Dad!

- Joe

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Working Conditions

I have my laptop in an ice tray because it's so freakin' hot today.
The kitties are also taking advantage of the tray.

- Joe

(sent from my i3GS)