Thursday, March 29, 2007

Made it to ETech 07

Better late than never. I've managed to make it out for the last two days of the conference. Missed the Wednesday keynotes but caught the afternoon sessions and the Make Fest. I actually was able to get my son in the door. It should be conference policy to us parental-type geeks get their kids in. (Many thanks to Patrick at the registration desk for giving me a green light and giving me his name to use in case someone gave me guff.) That being said the Make Fest was a bit anemic this year. Last year's event was much better. The third and fourth day session quality has been inconsistent but there have been some really interesting talks. Marc Hedlund and Brad Greenlee gave a joint presentation on some of the underlying privacy techniques used in the development of Wesabe. While some of the techniques were not unique there were some interesting point brought up about log data scrubbing and retention which I found useful, especially since I'm a user of their service. Don MacAskill's talk on how SmugMug uses Amazon Web Services as a back end to his photo sharing service was also worth attending. His details on the cost analysis and practical tips to integrating S3 into your site were valuable. The 1/2 Baked session was a surprise. The game is a good exercise to build your pitch skills and I'm interested in using it as a fun exercise to foster creativity in my staff. Joshua Schachter gave a talk on his lessons learned building and maintaining del.icio.us. I thought it was a good primer in what to do right and more importantly what not to worry about when building a large scale social site. One word of advice was not to sweat the spam question in version one since the people that want to cheat to attract attention to themselves are going to be craftier that you will so watch and monitor their behavior then try to react to shutdown or more importantly dampen the behavior. Not many low points although the Adobe Apollo keynote was a straight, rather dull, product pitch. Thankfully the IRC back-channel made it bearable. I know the sponsors need to get airtime for their contributions but they really should be limited to the sessions. This conference is usually pretty good a segregating these kind of talks so they can be easily avoided which is why when a product pitch happens during a keynote the negative effect in my mind is magnified regardless of whether you think the product is useful or not. I paid a lot to be here. I don't want to be pitched.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

eTech Bummer

Due to an important business meeting I'm going to miss most of eTech this year and since it is a last minute cancellation I'm not going to be able to get a refund. Hopefully I'll get to San Diego in time to catch some of the Wednesday and Thursday sessions. Of course after reading Kathy Sierra's account of why she's not attending ETech I was shocked. This kind of behavior just can't be tolerated. Clearly the people posting threatening material about here have crossed a line. I encourage everyone to read her post. This kind of activity is an unfortunate and vile twisting of all that is good about the blogosphere. I hope that instead of her keynote they have a frank discussion of what is going on here. Open up the mics and get the community to look at what has happened here. Shed some light on this dark corner of our world. That would be a real good use of the time that was to be her keynote. There is no way to justify or rationalize the kind of sick sexual threats this woman has had to endure. I'm a pretty tolerant guy, with skin a mile thick, but this activity just makes me despair.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ciao Quicken

After 10 years of using Quicken in one form or another from PC to Mac to PC I've finally kicked the habit. That sounds harsh but honestly the upgrade cycle every few years felt like a tax to use my own money. The nail in the coffin was when my bank offered free on line bill payment. Quicken's interface made paying bills easy but I had to be home to do that. Now I can pay my bills from anywhere. All I need is a browser. Quicken's charting and analysis really wasn't helping me and in fact was part of the money I was bleeding out every so often for really not much in return. I'm on a rampant campaign to lower all this kind of stuff. Over the past few months I've actually looked at a lot of my periodic spends to try to eliminate or reduce them. My next optimization is to replace my home PC with a Mac. I don't need it for Quicken any longer and the Norton tax is coming up again soon. One less tax to pay. So what am I doing to get a full view of my finances? For a start I'm going to be using Wesabe to get a picture of my spending. Its a bit more work, because you have to upload your data via the web, but worth it considering I can manage my accounts from anywhere. Hopefully, they will roll out support for investment accounts but if they don't I'll just manage what I have from my brokerage accounts extensive web based tools. Watch this space for updates on how this new plan is working.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Action

"An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea." --The Buddha
I've been trying, somewhat by chance, to live this principle in my daily life. I have to admit it isn't always easy to do but I am generally happier. I call this the "get off your ass and do something" principle. It's much more satisfying than the "It'll never work principle" which tends to lead to self pity and a lot of heavy drinking. The only downside is the days go much faster now and the realization that the "time is running out" principle is in effect really bugs me. Life is hard.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

See Ya Ze

Yeah, I know I'm late with this, but although I never participated in the ORG I'm still going to miss you. Thanks, Ze. You've made laugh....alot. Good luck. Kiss Stumpy for me. Still working on my power move, over and out.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

D&R Feeder Canal Leg 1

Yesterday I completed a 9+ mile hike along the D&R Feeder Canal from Frenchtown to Bull's Island. The feeder canal was built to supply water to the canal's highest point in Trenton. The actual feeder canal starts at Bull's Island but the section starting in Frenchtown was actually part of the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad. This section of the canal park was very scenic. There were sections along interesting cliff faces (still draped with ice flows and icicles) and beautiful views of the Delaware River. I had never visited Frenchtown. I was pleasantly surprised. It had all the charm of the Lamberville/New Hope area but on a smaller scale and somehow less hectic.

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