Sep 21

No Shit, Sherlock

Personal with tags: 3 Comments »

Sherlock Holmes

My body clock doesn’t know what day it is. I am back in Europe as of this “morning”, after a trip that has taken me from California to London, Paris, back to New York (I know, what was I thinking), and now to Munich.

I had a great time in New York with my partner in crime, Ben. It was interesting to be at Web 2.0 Expo NYC, which had a very different vibe from the west coast one (less “Web 2.0″, more “agency”). The browser panel with Brendan Eich, Chris Wilson, and Ojan (of Chrome) was fun, and then our state of Ajax talk was a good time as always. We then got to go to glamorous places such as Jersey and Westchester, before getting dessert in Little Italy, which had a party going on in the streets.

On Saturday I got to go on a four mile walk around Manhattan, taking it in, and picking up a replacement presentation pointer at Circuit City. Then I got to head to JFK (didn’t take the new public transport option like Dave Winer did…. should have given that a try) and many hours passed before I landed in Munich.

Murphy’s law kicked in, and the hotel didn’t have a room available until 2pm (I got to Munich at 7am) so I tried to stay away by walking around the city, and then taking a nap right in the freaking lobby. It was a strange day. I spent it with Sherlock Holmes, which I have been reading thanks to Stanza. This is the first time that I have read about Sherlock’s reasoning and exploits since a kid. I wonder what I thought about the cocaine and smoking rituals back then?

Being a loner today, I felt a new connection to Mr. Holmes, and I took on my own mission to find a good restaurant nearby. I didn’t look online, I just stepped out of the hotel and tried to hunt down a nice area, and after quite some time, I ended up at a table, with good food, and a new Sherlock adventure on my phone. Holmes lived in a London that is no longer, and in some ways his character feels closer to German than British these days. He is the Commander Data of his time (do you remember that Star Trek episode when Data becomes Holmes via the holideck… I love how if the writers were desperate for an episode, they could use that plot device to jump to anything “crap! it is broken! we can’t get out!”).

All I need is to find a pipe, and my quiet day of introspection and observation would be complete. Tomorrow? Time to go into the Google office and get ready for Tuesdays Google Developer Day, and then on to Madrid for another!

Sep 12

A commercial about nothing; How we are talking about Palin and Seinfeld/Gates

Personal, Politics, Tech 8 Comments »

Disclaimer: If you don’t like politics, Seinfeld, or Microsoft, please more on now!

The latest ad airs, and a larger version gets posted to the Web. The first one had people saying “huh?” and this has lit up the blogosphere again. “This has nothing about Microsoft in it!” That is the point. Seinfeld is going a commercial about nothing… at least to begin with. They are setting the stage. Letting people know that they may be a little out of touch, and how they will explain through each other how Microsoft actually gets it. That will be the tough sell. For now though, they have everyone talking (case in point!).

Remember the last campaign? The WOW factor?

Did people talk a lot about that? In fact, when was the last time anyone paid attention to Microsoft in this way? That is why the commercial is a success, right now.

It actually sounds very similar to the Sarah Palin story. She had the big bang onto the scene (rather than the ‘huh?’), but the more people get to actually interview and thus get to know her, I predict the ‘huh?’ will come to the American people too. I am sure she is a nice person and all, but Matt Damon hits out like we all have too:

I know what you are thinking? Matt Damon? “He is just an actor! I have just as much right to …” You do, and you can get out there and demand more from this election too. I am really hoping that the runway to the election is long enough that people get past the honeymoon phase, and think about the “oh right, that person doesn’t just sit and have fun BBQs, they run the free world.” America voted in the BBQ guy twice over the last 8 years, maybe it is time to go past someone who changed colleges 5 times, and get someone who was president of the Harvard Law Review. Let’s vote in someone who really will fight to make a difference, and will have the respect of the world.

I am writing this sitting at an airport, and I am about to fly to London, Paris, New York, Munich, Madrid, Boston, and in the European countries I know which way they want to go. Don’t take that as “well WE are the ones who get to vote, who cares what the Frenchies think!” Take a second to reason why.

It will be interesting to watch and see if Seinfeld and Gates can grow to show us something about Microsoft that is compelling, and if Sarah can get away with limiting her exposure since she has already probably done her best work.

Sep 09

Life before and after kids: Your DVR Recordings

Personal with tags: 3 Comments »

I have heard a couple of geeky groaners recently. Sam Ruby used &deity;, and then a colleague mentioned the “SIGCHLD interrupt”. Yowser.

A little in that vein, the second post in the “Life before and after kids” saga revolves around the shows that you have to record on TV, and what you get to see:

Before Kids

Ah man. I remember sitting back on Saturday, turning on the telly, and popping on a premiership football game. At night, I would kick back and do some work with Top Gear and The Daily Show. Even better, I think at some point, I would have time where I didn’t even know what to do! Wow :)

My telly looked like this:

Before Kids: TV Shows

After Kids

Now the world has turned. I don’t have time to watch football! I don’t want to show Sam that watching TV is a good thing, so we try to keep it off as much as possible. Of course, Sam still likes to watch his shows, which means we have this on the DVR now:

After Kids: TV Shows

The good news is…. when my brother was staying over, he seemed to be able to watch football whenever he wanted. His kids were older ;)

The first piece was on Amazon Recommendations. For the other parents out there, what do you find?

Aug 24

London Olympics 2012. Poor buggers.

British, Comic, Personal with tags: , , 6 Comments »

London Olympics 2012

As the Olympics comes to a close, I remember seeing the frolics of the opening ceremony, and thinking about how the London contingent must have felt as they are reminded “oh yeah, we are following China.”

To think that London will be mainly hosting in the beauty that is Stratford and the like. I hope the workers are getting paid overtime to make it happen!

China was a coming out. An East meets West. London needs a mission too. If you can look past the infrastructure issues, and how the M25 and Tube will explode, there is a lot going for it. Having the tennis happen at Wimbledon, and some footy at Old Trafford and Wembly, and using other great sites. That could be impressive.

Also, we are lucky that shows such as X-Factor, Pop Idol, and “Brits have some got talent somewhere” will be able to find the two kids to make a different. The cute one to lip sync, and the other one who can actually sing.

London 2012

Can’t wait to be there for London 2012. It has got to be better than the logo!

Athens was returning to the roots, to the country that invented the Olympic Games. China was the most populous country in the world.

London is the capital city of the country that has invented modern sport, that has invented the rules of the sports, and the values of fair play.

It is a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-religious city and that’s something they can build on.

Aug 04

Code Review: Two very different stories of lost wallets

Personal, Tech with tags: 3 Comments »

Wallet Silliness

The last week and a smidgen have been very surreal when it comes to wallets, and losing them. This is a Yin and Yang tale of losing wallets, and what happened to them. I get to play the part of a Baboon as I earn a mention for the Darwin awards with how I lost my wallet.

But, first, wallet number one:

Stolen: Union Square

Emily and my family were enjoying some time in Union Square, when at some point during the trip, Emily come to realize that her purse had been stolen out of her bag. It would be an easy thing to do for anyone who wanted, as she was carrying Sam, our two year old, at the same time.

Just in case, we looked all over, but as soon as I checked out account we saw that the person had indeed started to use it. It makes you sick to think about someone running around with your information. The purse had so much in it. Knowing the pain of replacing every little card and detail was going to be a royal pain.

Oh, and this happened a day before we left for a trip to Colorado. Bad timing. It meant a real pain when we got to pick up our rental car…. but that is another story.

The only silver-lining to the entire thing was learning how the cards were being used. The thief was buying food (we like to think it wasn’t booze :/) from the local food store. Maybe they needed it more than us? Emily has the fun time ahead of calling everyone, and going to the DMV for an enjoyable replenishment.

Code Review: The Moron Cometh

I was up in the mountains, in Eldora Colorado. I still wanted to record a Code Review show for the Google Developer channel, and since I wasn’t at the Googleplex why not use a nice background?

I was staying right next to a stream, which is beautiful, but turned out to be too loud. I hunted around and found a spot which the mountains behind, and the old town ahead. Now the only problem I had was getting the shot. It took some time, but I ended up with a MacGyver solution involving the top of the car, a battery, and my wallet.

After I finished the recording, I went to review the footage, then threw everything in the car and drove back to the cabin.

But of course, I didn’t throw everything in there. I left the wallet on top of the roof of the car! Thus begun the two hour hunt for the wallet. Since it could have stuck on for awhile, the end could have been never-ending, but after a couple of hours we called it a day. In the meantime I had called the local police station, and then went to work calling the credit card companies and the bank yet again. They must think we are nuts. We only just got our new cards!

Ok, all done. I am an idiot, and I have lost my wallet. Now we both don’t have drivers licenses. Luckily we have our passports on us so we can fly back home hassle free.

After a night of cursing my idiocy, the next day brought fantastic luck. The cabin that I stay in up in Eldora has no cell phone service. I did get Internet which is great, but we have to rely on the land line. Thus, it was very surprising when at noon my cell phone started to ring. How could that happen? There is no service up here! By the time I answered the connection died, but it was long enough to show who had called. A local 303 area code, yet no-one that was plugged in as a contact.

Probably a useless call, but wait a minute… maybe it was the police station? I quickly called back and it wasn’t the police, but rather my bank. Someone had dropped off the wallet at the bank local to them and they had it!

They closed pretty soon, but we piled 5 kids into the car, shot down the Boulder where I dropped off the kids and mums, and kept going to the bank to pick it up. Although I got there 10 minutes late, they had enough pity to wait for me. I also had two babies in the car sleeping.

All very bizarre. Whoever found my wallet (didn’t leave any info) thank you so much. You didn’t take the $100 bucs, and yet I would have been fine if you did (a reward). You are a true champ, and so different to the person who stole Emily’s purse a week prior. What a change a week makes.

Oh, and here is the video that caused all of the pain:

Jul 29

Green Suburus, Yellow International Scouts, and Passats

Personal with tags: , , , 8 Comments »

Ah, Boulder. As soon as you come over the hill on 36 and get the first glimpse of the city, you also get to drive past a green Suburu. This year they are a touch different, in that they have Obama stickers on them as well as “Dog is my pilot”, “My karma ran over my dogma”, and “Impeach Bush”.

When back in Colorado, I get to drive a 1972 International Scout. Think of a Jeep that was made by a company that made tractors and the like. Oh, and it is banana yellow.

Here is Sam enjoying driving it:

International Scout

It can take awhile to warm up and get started, it doesn’t handle great, and you don’t want to put your foot down in it, and these are reasons why I love it. It slows you down. The mountains slow you down. It is also interesting to think about it is a car that doesn’t have 500 computer chips in it, and you could open up Car Mechanics for Dummies and actually do something with it.

As I drove the Scout to the airport I not only nodded as I had the Suburus go by, but I also saw a disproportionate number of VW Passats, just like years ago when I lived in Boulder. I remember test driving one and thinking about getting it. You know, the Audi without the price tag and the stigma. I decided against it, and turned out to be very glad as this was just when the VW plants were moved south of the border to save money. Quality tanked, and we quickly saw less and less VM Passats and Jettas, as Toyota kept on marching along.

If you ever see me with a dog in the front seat of a green Suburu, remind me of this post and shout loudly at me :)

Jun 10

You know you are in a European hotel…

Personal, Travel with tags: , 18 Comments »

Euro Hotel

I have stayed in a fair share of hotels, and you can tell that you are in a European one when:

  • The bed is two twins pushed together. It looks quite big. Unfortunately you can’t used one whole side as you can’t sleep on the seam. The pillows are….. comfy
  • The toilet has two buttons. A small one, and a big one, depending on the need. I don’t understand why they don’t do that in the US. Next innovation: size of flush depends on the “weight” of what needs to be flushed
  • The TV controls your world. Setup wake up calls, keep the time with the clock, order room service
  • The shower is walk in. It consists of two panes of glass that try hard to keep in the water, but don’t. Andre Charland also noted that the shower heads always detach, and when attached they often move with a life of their own.
Feb 25

Emotional Hedging

British, Personal, Sport with tags: , 4 Comments »

Arsenal Fans

While in a pub in London I was listening to someone talk about an emotional hedge. This happens fairly often I believe. The fellow was a die hard Arsenal supporter. Your gut would be, if you were a betting kind of chap, to bet big on the team that you love.

However, he did the opposite and bet on the OTHER team beating his beloved. The amont of the bet was defined by “winning X amount would make me feel OK about losing the match”. So, if Arsenal win, he is happy as his team one (and who cares about money!). If Arsenal lose, bugger. But, at least he wins a few bob.

I started to think about this emotional hedging and how you can go Agile, and “turn it to 10″. What about hedging your marriage? “I bet $X that I will get divorced” To calculate the amount you need to add up how much you will lose if you are divorced (special note in California!) and add to that the amount of money that would allow you to have a midlife crisis and give you a chance getting another woman with a fancy red car ;)

I think about paying for Sam’s college. Maybe a hedge here could work? You can go down the list and hedge against it all!

NOTE: Getting someone to take your hedge when you are involved is a lot harder!

Feb 20

Finally, it is time to be an adult

Personal with tags: 4 Comments »

It has taken awhile. I have been married for close to a decade. I am a father. You would think that I would thus feel like I am adult.

However, I feel like my adult moment has just taken place. I am currently on a 777 heading back to Blighty. This normally gets me in a reflective mood. For one, what else can do? No internet to keep me catching up to the constant present.

I have been pushed over the edge due to the fact that I am listening to Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode do the critique thing. Hearing someone take a part an email gets you more in the mood to psychoanalyze yourself :)

I have had the pleasure to live in many different places. My journey has taken me from London to Minneapolis (don’t ask) to Boulder, Colorado, back to London (to show my lovely American wife what Europe is about), then to Cambridge, Mass, back to Madison (phase one: settle down time?), and now to Silicon Valley. The Hollywood for computer geeks.

Visiting places is fine. Living in them is life. I am happy to have made friends in all of these locations, which is also a bane. I am the kind of person who would love t have all of my friends and family in one place. I love to take the various worlds, as George from Seinfeld put it, and seeing them collide. Connecting people is something I really enjoy… especially people I respect.

The more places you visit or live in, the more you want to do so. The thought of doing a stint in Australia is exciting, for example.

Finally though, I am ready to say “no more”. It is time to settle down. It is time to set roots, and to know that in a few years, I will be going to the same grocery store, and my kids to that good school over there.

Just saying this is a relief. Ahhhhh. The thought of now moving into a new house every few years. Of not learning how things work, and where things are, especially a couple of great friends to share life with.

Now I just need to make sure that we are in the right spot to do that settling down. I need to spin around like a pup does before he goes down for a nap. What feels right?

All this being said, the thought of moving many years from now isn’t a bad idea. I would love to take my American kids to life somewhere else one day in the future…. to show them that there are other places, and other ways of life out there… and, they aren’t worse.

Feb 13

Ode to Disneyland

Comic, Personal with tags: , 3 Comments »

Ode to Disneyland

I had an enjoyable first trip to Disneyland. It isn’t the typical trip that I would take in the past and I never did this kind of thing as a kid. Sam had a fantastic time, which is all I really wanted.

I did have to fight back the cynic in me though, and I let it out in the comic above. That doesn’t even mention the part of the parade that talks about how Disneyland inspires the world, or how it is the most beautiful and PEACEFUL place on Earth ;)

I did have some fun though:

Buzz Lightyear Disneyland Game