Monthly Archive for December, 2010

2010 in Photography

Once again it is time for a summary of the year in photos. For 2010, I decided that I was going to try and do “The Daily Shoot” every day. On the whole this was a good experience for me. The variety of subjects for the assignments helped to take me out of the zone of things that I would normally shoot, both in terms of subject matter and style. The variety of subject matter has really helped my “situational awareness”. I notice a lot more things in my surroundings, and I’ve noticed that it is easier for me to find subjects for the assignments, particularly when I am out and about. There were a number of assignments that focused on particular styles or techniques in photography. In principle I’ve known how to shoot these things, but because I have my preferred style to shoot, I’ve never actually done so. These assignments were particularly good, because I was forced to take the theory and put it into practice.

Back in April I picked up a Panasonic GF-1, and from then on, I did every assignment with that camera and the 20mm f/1.7 lens. I’ve mostly shot zoom lenses, and I wanted to try shooting only with a prime lens, to get a more intuitive grasp of the 50mm (20mm on Micro 4/3 camera is close to 50mm on a full frame DSLR) field of view, and to force my self to compose by moving the camera as opposed to zooming all the time.

I did find some drawback to the experience. Shooting everyday can be arduous at times. There were days when the combination of time commitments and subjects left me casting about for a picture at 9 or 10 in the evening. There were definitely days where I put up a photo that was just barely acceptable in my eyes, which rankled me both on the day, and unconsciously thereafter.   

Duncan and I have spent some time talking about the whole experience of the Dailyshoot. I think that it’s the kind of thing that everyone ought to attempt. For 2011, I’ll be keeping an eye on the assignments, but I’m going to be a lot more relaxed about it.   

Here are some of the better photos from the year (the entire set is here). Also mixed in are some dance photos from this year’s dance events.

January

Dailyshoot 52

Feb

Dailyshoot 102

March

Dailyshoot 116

April

Dailyshoot 160

May

Dailyshoot 179

June

Dailyshoot 215

Bainbridge Ballet Recital 2010

Bainbridge Ballet’s end of year recital

July

Dailyshoot 236

August

Dailyshoot 265

September

Dailyshoot 293

October

Dailyshoot 322

November

Dailyshoot 373

December

Dailyshoot 388

OPG Nutcracker 2010

OPG Nutcracker 2010

The Olympic Performance Group‘s 2010 Nutcracker.

Google Chrome Update

On Tuesday I attended Google’s Chrome update event in San Francisco. There were three topics on the agenda: Chrome, the Chrome Web Store, and ChromeOS. I’m not going to try to go over all the specifics of each topic. It’s a pointless exercise when Engadget, PC Magazine, etc are also at the event and live blogging/tweeting. I’m just going to give some perspectives that I haven’t seen in the reporting thus far.

Chrome

If you are using a Chrome beta or dev channel build, none of the features announced would be new to you. The only exception is the Crankshaft technology that was added to V8. The claim is that Crankshaft can boost V8 performance up to 50%, using techniques which sound reminiscent of the HotSpot compiler for Java. Unsurprising that the V8 team includes veterans of the HotSpot team. Improving Javascript performance is good, and in this case it’s even better because V8 is the engine inside Node.js, so in theory Node should get some improvements on long running Javascript programs on the server. I’m pretty sure that there is some performance headroom left in Crankshaft, so I’d expect to see more improvements in the months ahead.

The Chrome team has the velocity lead in the browser wars. It seems like everytime I turn around Chrome is getting better along a number of dimensions. I also have to say, that I love the Chrome videos and comic books.

Chrome Web Store

So Chrome has an app store, but the apps are websites. If you accept Google’s stats, there are 120M Chrome users worldwide, many of them outside the US, and all of them are potential customers of the Chrome Web Store, giving it a reach comparable to or beyond existing mobile app stores. The thing that we’ve learned about app stores is that they fill up with junk fast. So while the purpose of the Web Store is to solve the app discover problem (which I agree is a real problem for normal people), we know that down that path lie dragons.

The other question that I have is will people pay to use apps which are just plain web apps? Developers, especially content developers, are looking for ways to make money from their work, and the Chrome Web Store gives them a channel. The question is, will people pay?

ChromeOS

The idea behind ChromeOS is simple. Browser as operating system. Applications are web applications. Technically there are some interesting ideas.   

The boot loader is in ROM and uses crypto to ensure that only verified images can be booted (the CR-48 has a jailbreak switch to get around this, but real hardware probably won’t). It’s the right thing to do, and Google can do it because they are launching a new platform. Is it a differentiator, maybe if you are a CIO, or a geek, but to the average person this won’t mean much.

Synchronization is built in. You can unbox a ChromeOS device, enter your Google login credentials and have everything synced up with your Google stuff. Of course, if you haven’t drunk the Google ecosystem Cool-Aid, then this won’t help you very much. It’s still interesting because it shows what a totally internet dependent device might be like. Whatever one might say, Android isn’t that, iOS isn’t that, and Windows, OS X, and Linux aren’t that. When I worked at Sun, I had access to Sun-Ray’s, but the Sun Ray experience was nowhere as good as what I saw yesterday.

There’s also some pragmatism there. Google is working with Citrix on an HTML5 version of Citrix’s receiver, which would allow access to Enterprise Applications. There are already HTML VNC’s and so forth. The Google presenter said that they have had an unexpectedly large amount of interest from CIO’s. Actually, that’s what led to the Citrix partnership.

Google is piloting ChromeOS on an actual device, dubbed CR-48 (Chromium isotope 48). CR-48 is not for sale, and it’s not final production hardware. It’s a beta testing platform for ChromeOS. Apparently Inventec (ah, brings back my Newton days) has made 60,000 devices. Some of those are in use by Googlers, and Google is going to make them available to qualified early adopters via a pilot program. The most interesting part of the specs are 8 hours of battery life, 8 days of standby time, and a built in Verizon 3G modem with a basic amount of data and a buy what you need for overages.

Hindsight

At the end of the presentation, Google CEO Eric Schmidt came out to make some remarks. That alone is interesting, because getting Schmidt there signals that this is a serious effort. I was more interested in the substance of his remarks. Schmidt acknowledged that in many ways, ChromeOS is not a new idea, harking back (at least) to the days of the Sun/Oracle Network Computer in the late 90′s. In computing timing matters a huge amount. The Network Computer idea has been around for a while, Schmidt claimed, but it’s only in this day, that we have all of the technology pieces needed to bring it to fruition, the last of the pieces being a version of the web platform that is powerful enough to be decent application platform. It’s going to be interesting to see whether all the pieces truly have arrived, or whether we need a few more technology cycles.

Web 2.0 Summit

This year I was able to go to the Web 2.0 Summit. Web 2.0 is billed as an executive conference, and it lives up to its billing. There is much more focus on business than technology, even though the web is technology through and through.

The World

The web is a global place, but for Americans, at least this American, it is easy to forget that. Wm Elfrink from Cisco did a great job discussing how internet technologies are changing society all over the world. I also enjoyed John Battelle’s interview with Baidu CEO, Robin Li. There is a lot of interesting stuff happening outside the United States, and it is only a matter of time before some of that starts working its way into American internet culture.

Inspiration

Mary Meeker is famous for being an information firehose, and she did not disappoint. Her 15 minute session contained more information than many of the longer talks and interviews. I wish that she had been given double the time, or an interview after her talk. Fortunately her talk and slides are available online.

Schulyer Erle did an Ignite presentation titled How Crowdsourcing Changed Disaster Relief Forever, which was about how OpenStreetMaps was able to help with the Haiti disaster relief effort, and provide a level of help and service heretofore unseen. It’s good to technology making a real difference in the world.

Vinod Khosla gave a very inspiring talk about innovation. The core idea was that you have to ignore what conventional wisdom says is impossible, improbable or unlikely. Market research studies and focus groups won’t lead to breakthough innovations.

The session which resonated the most with me was the Point of Control session on Education, with David Guggenheim (director of Waiting for Superman), Ted Mitchell, and Diana Rhoten. Long time readers will know that our kids have been home schooled (although as they are getting older, we are transitioning them into more conventional settings), so perhaps it’s no surprise that the topic would engage me strongly. One of my biggest reasons for homeschooling was that almost all modern education, whether public or private is based on industrialized schooling – preparing kids to live in a lock-step command and control world. Homeschooling allows kids to learn what they need to learn at their own pace, whether that pace is “fast” or “slow”. One of the panelists, I think it was Ted Mitchell, described their goal as “distributed customized direct to student personalized learning”. That’s something that all students could use.

Just Business

Ron Conway’s Crystal Ball session was chance to see some new companies, and was a refreshing change from some of the very large companies that dominated the Summit. The problem with the large public companies is that their CEO’s have had tons of media training and are very good at keeping on message, which makes them pretty boring.

The Point of Control session on Finance got pretty lively. I thought that it was valuable to get two different VC perspectives on the market today, and on particular companies. One of the best sections was the part where Fred Wilson took John Doerr to task over Google’s recent record on innovation.

I’m a Facebook user but I’m not a rabid Facebook fan. Julie and I saw “The Social Network” when it came out in theaters, so I was curious to see Mark Zuckerberg speak in person. He did much better than I expected him to. While there wasn’t much in the way of new content, at least Zuckerberg demonstrated that he can do an interview the way that a big company CEO should.

Postscript

I found the content at Web 2.0 to be pretty uneven. Since this was my first year, I don’t have a lot to compare it to. I will note that the last time I went a high end O’Reilly conference (ETech, circa 2006), I had a similar problem with content not quite matching expectations. For Web 2.0 this year, there turned out to be a simple predictor for the quality of a session. If John Heilemann was doing an interview, more likely than not it would be a good one.