June 25, 2007
I just got back from Foo Camp. It's late, so I'll have to write more later, but sufficed to say I had a great time, learned a lot, met some amazing people, and made some good connections for work. I even met someone who went to my high school in Minnesota (albeit many years after I did).
I had a lovely drive back from Sebastopol too, going out to coast and then driving south to San Francisco down highway 1. (Click here for the route, just for reference). I met up with my college friend Connie at Town Hall for a fantastic dinner and then headed home.
June 23, 2007
I flew down to San Francisco this morning, picked up my red Mustang convertible (may as well enjoy the sunshine), and drove up to my hotel in Santa Rosa before Foo Camp.
On the way up, I stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin (northern) end. I have been to the bridge zillions of times, but not too often on the north end and certainly not recently. I really like the view from this side since you can see the bridge and the city behind it. Chooky and I once were on the top of a hill here on the 4th of July and saw a great show, with the fireworks over the bridge and the city behind.
I also checked out some of the old gun batteries; the area is littered with gun emplacements and an old Nike missle battery that were here to protect the bay. I've never really spent much time in this park and want to come back. I got a little lost on the way out of the park and wound up in the cute town of Sausalito. After driving through, I headed up to Santa Rosa, baking in the sun (oh well). I'm in my hotel room now finishing up a few things and then will head over to the O'Reilly campus.
Anyway, I got a few decent shots even though it was mid-day; I changed up the set of lenses I normally carry to force myself to try to shoot differently and to reduce the weight of my gear. I have my Lensbaby, a 24/1.8, and a 70-200/2.8L (yeah, still not light).
June 20, 2007
I just came back from a very enjoyable dinner at Canlis with the Internet Explorer Program Management leads; these are basically the people who I work with who run the group that design the next versions of IE, organize the effort to ship it, and lead the work to take care of customers after we ship. Unfortunately, Chris Wilson couldn't make it, but he was off on some amazing SCUBA diving trip, so I don't feel too bad...
As with most teams, some of us have worked together for a while; some of the group came to IE more recently. We work together pretty well, but we haven't all gone out together and just had a fun meal; we were overdue.
Canlis is an old Seattle institution; it's the "dress up" restaurant in Seattle (one of the only ones with a dress code in town). We had a fun time telling stories, getting to know each other better, and generally not talking about work for a few hours. It was also fun to see everyone dressed up a bit.
The food was lovely, of course. I started with steak tartare to die for; easily the best I've ever had. We also had a few orders of truffle fries because the only thing better than fried food is fried food with truffle oil.
Then I had the Yukon River salmon. As I had blogged about earlier, I was looking forward to a chance to try it and had it tonight -- lovely. It was grilled simply (the best way for a fantastic piece of fish) with a little couscous on the side. Yum.
We also had some very nice wines -- some of my favorites
On top of the great food and wine, we got to see the Duck Dodge, a sailboat race in Lake Union and a Seattle tradition. I'm not sure anyone but I cared, but I liked it so there you go.
I had a great time; it's important to me to work with people I like. Tonight was a good reminder of why I love my job.
June 19, 2007
It's map day, I guess. I'm sure everyone has heard the expression "digging to China", referring to the notion that China is on the side of the world. Well, here's a site that shows you what is really on the other side of the Earth from you (known as your antipodal point).
In case you're curious, the antipodal point for Seattle is somewhere in the ocean southeast of South Africa. The antipodal point for Beijing, China is in Argentina.
Pretty cool, in a dorky cartographic way.
Check it out: antipodemap.com
(click for a larger view)
This is an interesting map that renames US states for countries with similar GDPs. It really puts the size of the US economy into perspective.
Thanks, Adam, for the find.
June 17, 2007
June 16, 2007
I finally got off my butt and made my travel arrangements to go to Foo Camp next weekend. Tim O'Reilly hosts this annual event at the O'Reilly Media campus in Sebastopol, CA. They invite 250 hopefully (supposedly?) interesting "Friend's of O'Reilly" (aka FOO) to get together for a few days to share ideas, debate, hang out, etc.
I was flattered to get an invitation; I'm impressed with the people I know who are going and am looking forward to meeting some of the others on the list. I admit I'm a bit unsure about how this will go since I haven't been before, but I'm excited to participate and learn.
I don't have an agenda I want to drive, but I'm still thinking of ideas of stuff to present. (Let me know if there's anything you want to hear from me.) Maybe I'll just talk about bacon.
June 12, 2007
Here's the original, as a reference.
There have been some great remixes and remakes. This Lego version is a few years old, but it's still awesome.
This is an awesome Star Trek remix.
There are a bunch of pretty good ones with animations from various computer games, but I thought these were the best.
The IE Program Management team went bowling Friday afternoon last week to let off a little steam. I managed to trip and fall on my first ball due to a shoe malfunction. I kind of screwed up my knee; it still hurts this week. (We did have a good time nonetheless, and I'm sure the team enjoyed watching me splat myself on the lane, drawing a foul in the process.)
By contrast, check out this crazy bowling video. The guy sets a ball rolling slowly down the lane, then sends a faster one down. The faster ball knocks down nine pins; the slow ball then picks up the spare. Amazing.
June 10, 2007
We picked up our first bag of veggies from the Root Connection this weekend. Yippee! As I've blogged about several times before, the Root Connection is a share farm where members "subscribe" to the farm's crop. Each week we get a bag of whatever veggies are available that week plus we can take advantage of the u-cut flowers, herbs, basil, and greens. The veggies are way more flavorful than grocery store veggies both because they're much fresher and because the varieties are chosen for their flavor not shelf-life, harvestability, or good looks.
It's early in the season still so the bag was pretty light. This year, we've opted for the smaller share because we had a hard time using everything each week. This week, we got a bunch of salad turnips (yum), some bok choy, a few heads of green and red leaf lettuce, and some cabbage lettuce. We ate the turnip greens sauteed this evening. Delicious.
I love the Root Connection and am looking forward to another summer of great veggies!
Jon Rowley, the man behind the Copper River salmon craze (here's a Gourmet Magazine interview with Jon about salmon), just sent me mail saying to watch for Yukon River king salmon from Kwikpak Fisheries; Kwikpak is a community-owned Fair Trade company. This alone makes me want to buy from them, but the salmon sound fantastic. Jon says in his mail:
The Yukon king has between 24 and 30% oil which translates into unsurpassed flavor and mouthfeel and Omega 3s into tomorrow (we will test for these this season. they are probably higher in this fish than in any other). By comparison, the Copper River kings, which have more oil than most kings, have 16-17%.
He also included a little about Kwikpak:
Kwikpak Fisheries is the only seafood company in the world to be certified by the the Fair Trade Federation. A purchase of Kwikpak Yukon king salmon contributes directly to improving living and working condtions for the Yupik producers. The fishermen are paid a high price $4.30 /lb for whole fish off the boat. Without this price they can't get ahead with the cost of living in this very remote area. The average per capita income is $9000, $7000 of which is derived from the upcoming fishery. This is still primarily a subsitance [sic]culture. The community depends on hunting and fishing for much of their food needs.
In the Seattle area, Metropolitan Markets will carry the fish. Elliott's Oyster House, Waterfront, and Canlis will also have it. I'll have to go find some soon. If you like salmon, you should too. Jon is always right about these things.
Every year Taylor Shellfish sponsors the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, run by my friend Jon Rowley. This contest aims to find the best West Coast wines to pair with oysters. I first really got into oysters at a dinner hosted by Jon that served the winners of that year's competition with freshly harvested oysters. That night changed my life.
Anyway, here are this year's winners:
*Prior "Oyster Award" Winner
**Multiple prior "Oyster Awards"
Typically crisp whites with maybe a little mineral taste pair well; you can see a lot of chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, and pinot gris on the list. The one chardonnay is unwooded; big oaky chardonnays are too much for oysters. Occasionally, you'll see an pinot noir on the list, but not this year. The other nice thing about the varietals that pair well with oysters is that they're typically pretty cheap. I haven't priced these wines, but previous winners have been $10-15/bottle. It's rare to find wines that win any contest for anything in that range.
So, if you can't have whisky with oysters, then pick one of these wines. Mmm...
(Here's another good profile of Jon, in case you're interested. He's quite a character and big in the Seattle food scene. He's also the guy behind the Copper River Salmon craze.)
I played a round of golf yesterday at the very posh and lovely Members Club at Aldarra. Chris bought a round at a charity auction for FareStart and invited me along. The course was easily the nicest I've played in the Northwest and our host, Doug, was really great. This was the first round I've ever played with caddies. Because of the rain, the carts had to stay on the path; it's a real luxury to just call out the desired club to the caddie and have him bring it out to you. Even in the rain, it was a super experience. The course is really gorgeous and in fantastic shape. It drains super well and wasn't muddy at all in spite of all the water coming down.
It's too bad I played like an absolute idiot. I barely made contact with the ball and had a few swings where I missed entirely -- a problem I haven't had for years. I've played three times so far this year and have sucked beyond measure. I had been doing pretty well the past few years, improving steadily. However, last year, I pretty much stopped as I spent my time biking and running instead. I'm going to have to decide to stop pretending to be a golfer or start spending more time on my game. I have too darn many hobbies and am not spending enough time to be great at any of them. There's a fine line between being a well-rounded renaissance man and a dilettante.
June 8, 2007
GPSActionReplay is a cool Java applet that lets you plot multiple GPS tracks over a map or image. It animates the tracks so you can see how each track formed. The obvious application of this is to replay races. The app has a bunch of extra features for sail racing like wind charts, etc. The UI is a bit confusing, but it's a fun way to watch and actually pretty educational (well, to sailors at least).
After all the excitement of the Louis Vuittons Cup, I was glad to finally get out myself this week. I crewed on Ragin' Cajun, a J-24 I've raced on a couple of times a few years ago. The weather was shifty, threatening to rain. Worse, the wind was very unpredictable, so we tacked back and forth for an hour as the committee reset the course a few times.
We had one start that resulted in a general recall. It was quite exciting. There were twenty-seven J-24's trying to hit the line at the same point (near the committee boat) at the same time. Mass chaos. Lots of yelling. Tons of fun. Same thing at the start of both races.
We did OK. Rico (the owner and driver) pulled a few cool moves at the marks, sliding by a dozen boats. Picking the correct side of the course to work well with the wind shifts was key, but we weren't super successful at that. In any case, I had a great time and hope to get out a few more times this summer.
Nothing beats racing...
Luna Rossa sailed well; the races were much closer than the 5-0 score might indicate, but I think Luna Rossa simply wasn't aggressive enough. In the last race, they finally started attacking more, trying to take advantage of their faster acceleration after tacking in the light winds, but it wasn't enough.
Wahoo! Watch out, Alinghi!
June 4, 2007
Emirates Team New Zealand is off to a 3-0 start in the first-to-five series against the Italians of the Luna Rossa Challenge for the Louis Vuitton Cup. The winner of the Cup also earns the right to race in the Americas Cup against Alinghi (Switzerland).
Today was a day off and a chance for everyone to think about the first three races. They've been close races against two well-matched boats. However, momentum seems to be on the side of New Zealand. The Kiwis have progressively increased the margin of victory in each race going from eight seconds in the first race (crazy close) to forty seconds in the second to 1:38 in the third race (after losing the start pretty badly). What's more, New Zealand has led around all of the marks.
The boats appear to be close in boat speed under the conditions so far, so the difference has been tactics and a bit of luck. In particular, Luna Rossa missed a chance to shut out New Zealand at the start of the third race, failing to tack over the Kiwis after winning the start. New Zealand found better wind on the right side of the course and beat the Italians to the first mark.
We'll see if Luna Rossa can figure out what's going on and pull out a win. They'll need to do something or risk getting skunked.
In a moment of insanity, Michelle bought the boys a pair of Nerf dart guns last week. Despite my interest in guns (or maybe because of it), I have been reluctant to get them toy guns because I don't think they're great things to play with.
Anyway, now that they have them, I've been teaching them safe gun handling rules. It turns out watching TV and playing video games is a great way to learn exactly the wrong way to handle guns. I don't know why anyone would want to put the working end of a handgun near their head, but on every TV show, you see actors holding their gun up as they go around corners or through doors. The end with the hole is the dangerous part. Keep it away from your body parts...
There are four basic rules for safe gun handling:
The neat thing about these rules is that you have to break two before something bad happens.
The first rule means that you should always assume a gun is loaded until you've proven otherwise yourself. When someone hands me a gun (like at a gun store), I always check to make sure it's not loaded, even if I just saw the person do the same. Even if I set my own gun down, I'll re-clear it when I pick it up. I don't want any surprise bangs.
The other rules are pretty self-explanatory, but they take practice to be aware. I'm at the point where I keep my finger off the drill and weedeater triggers too.
Anyway, regardless of what you think of guns, it's good to know how to be safe around them.
June 2, 2007
At Microsoft, we love to beat ourselves up, in some ways even more than others do (and that's saying something.) We focus so much on the clever things our competitors do (as if we're supposed to be the only ones with good ideas) or the successes they have that we sometimes lose track of the great things we've done.
I saw this article go by a few months ago and thought it was a good reminder of our success in one area at least: our financial success. I've been meaning to post this for a while now, but I think it's still relevant. Of course, we must never become complacent or too proud of what we've done, but it's good to have a little balance.
10 Reinvigorating Facts About Microsoft's Profits
Monday April 30, 5:57 am ET
Joe Panettieri (The VAR Guy) submits: I have written extensively about Microsoft's (NasdaqGS: MSFT) problems. But last week, I got a stunning reminder about the company's power. It takes Microsoft only 10 hours of business to exceed Red Hat's entire quarterly profit. Skeptical? Check out the math, and nine other facts about Microsoft's most recent earnings report.
Microsoft last week announced quarterly revenue of $14.4 billion and net income of $4.93 billion. In other words, Microsoft's daily net income is about $55 million. That's $55 million in pure profit every 24 hours. Do some quick math and you'll learn it takes Microsoft only about...
- 10 hours or so (yes, hours!) to exceed Red Hat's (NYSE: RHT - News) quarterly net income of $20.5 million.
- four days to exceed Research In Motion's (NasdaqGS: RIMM) quarterly net income of $187.9 million.
- four days to exceed Starbucks' (NasdaqGS: SBUX) quarterly net income of $205 million.
- one week to exceed Nike's (NYSE: NKE - News) quarterly net income of $350.8 million.
- two weeks to exceed McDonalds' (NYSE: MCD - News) quarterly net income of $762 million.
- two weeks to exceed Apple's (NasdaqGS: AAPL) quarterly net income of $770 million.
- 18 days to exceed Google's (NasdaqGS: GOOG) quarterly net income of $1 billion.
- 23 days to exceed Coca-Cola's (NYSE: KO - News) quarterly net income of $1.26 billion.
- five weeks to exceed IBM's (NYSE: IBM - News) quarterly net income of $1.85 billion.
- 10 weeks to exceed Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT - News) quarterly net income of $3.9 billion.
For a dead company, Microsoft's profits certainly look lively.
(Fixed character problems)