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Favorite Photographic Book December 29, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Photography, Uncategorized.
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Chased by the Light - Book Cover

Many years ago John Snell, a photographer friend of mine, showed me a book by nature photographer Jim Brandenburg. The book was titled, Chased By The Light. It has become one of my favorite nature photography books. If you’ve never seen it, then look for it at your local library or bookstore.

(Sorry if this doesn’t turn out looking right. I’m writing this using a PDA/phone and the WordPress editing page doesn’t quite work right on the tiny screen)


Personal Retreat December 26, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Family, Management, Photography.
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Many years ago I read that early on in Bill Gates’ career he began to take two weeks out of each year for a personal retreat. In that time, he would get away from work and everything else just to reflect on life and work and ponder things he didn’t normally think about. He would also take several books to read during his getaway.

Now, I am not certain if what I read about Bill Gates and his personal retreat back in the 1980’s was actually true, but I have done it (taken some time off to be alone) almost every year for the past fifteen years. It has been a great help. Most of the years I have taken a few days off (away from work and home) during the week following Christmas. I have worked in higher education (i.e. colleges and universities) for almost 20 years and so I almost always have automatic time off because the most schools close and nobody works that week. And, when I’ve needed to, I have taken vacation leave that had to be used.

Tomorrow, I leave for my personal retreat. It’s not quite the same as normal, as I won’t be totally alone. My son will be with me, which is not bad. I will still have plenty of time to read and write as I reflect on the year just past as well as consider the year ahead of me. And, as usual, I will get plenty of rest, read a lot, and eat some of my favorite foods.

Oh, I will also spend time outdoors enjoying what God has created and capture as much as I can on digital film. Outdoor photography is a great source of enjoyment for me. I will post a few pictures on my Flickr account when I return to civilization (where I am going, there is no Internet access, at least not for my laptop… my PDA doesn’t really count, does it?).

It is good to step back and get away from it all to reflect on things. I highly recommend it for everyone, but especially I.T. managers who work day in and day out with very little time to stop and truly think. I advise all of you who read this to take time to just stop, rest, and think. That’s my agenda for the rest of the year.

Footnote:  After a quick Google search on “Bill Gates retreat” I discovered this article which describes his twice-yearly week-long retreats. The purpose of his retreat, it turns out, is to read technology reports and ponder the furture direction of Microsoft. That is  not the purpose of my retreat.

Christmas Eve Tradition Continues… December 25, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Christmas, Family, Religion.
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December 24, 2006 at 11:55pm

I can’t believe a whole year has passed since I wrote this post about my Christmas tradition. Only, this year things are slightly different. The Pope is conducting the Christmas mass as I finish the final Christmas preparations, but I am not wrapping presents. In fact, I finished wrapping presents yesterday, a full day ahead of my normal schedule.

Normally, I am still shopping on Christmas Eve, but not this year. I guess I’m getting older, but I really don’t enjoy last minute shopping like I used to. I started my shopping for presents this year the day after Thanksgiving. Weird. And, I had most of it done about a week before Christmas. That’s even more weird.

So, tonight I am simply stuffing the stockings and it’s kind of nice. All of the wrapped presents were under the tree when the kids went to bed. Oh, that’s also different. We don’t really have any presents from Santa this year.  I think my kids have been too old for that for at least two years, but I couldn’t give it up. Well, this year I have.

All is quiet and peaceful right now. Happy birthday baby Jesus. May your love and ultimate gift show through our lives.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Me December 21, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Family, Friends, Fun, Humor, Random.

Sneaky DrB tagged me, so here’s my list of five things that most of you don’t know about me.

1. I can ride a unicycle and juggle at the same time.

2. At one point in my life, I owned 9 (yes nine) motorcycles. I was living in Japan at the time and traveled everywhere on motorcycles.

3. In the seventh grade I won a woodworking contest – Best woodworking project in the county – I even had my picture published in the local newspaper.

4. I once had a job that required me to program robots.

5. The last time I was in Russian, the KGB had several agents following me everywhere. They even went through my suitcase when I was not in the hotel room.

In an effort to keep this going, I will tag Scott, Laura, Gary F. and my fellow blogger Matsu in Europe.

Geek 2.0 December 16, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Information Technology, Management, Microsoft, Technology, Windows/Microsoft.
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This weekend I was doing some catch-up podcast listening and chipping away at my stack of unread magazines. I discovered a gem of an idea in the November 23, 2006 BusinessWeek podcast about the cover article that week titled “The Soul of a New Microsoft.”

The article was about the new up-and-coming leadership at Microsoft, and focused in on J. Allard. He is the one who was responsible for the Xbox and most recently headed up the Zune product development. The author of the article was describing Allard in the podcast and said he was like “Geek 2.0,” he is able to not only talk about technology to engineers and programmers, but can also talk to the non-tech or common person about technology using regular language. That statement is what sparked this post and from that springboard I’ve developed my idea of Geek 2.0.

So, what is Geek 2.0? Largely, it’s about communication. It’s a person who is just as comfortable interacting with the CFO as he (or she) is interacting with the CIO. It’s a person who really knows the bits and bytes of technology and at the same time understands and cares about strategic advantage, return on investment, and customer service.

Geek 2.0, like its web counterpart, is interactive and very ‘friendly’ when it comes to communication. In fact, they are easy to talk to and they don’t hide behind technology. You might even see the new and improved geek at parties without technology or showing up at events where non-geeks congregate.

Geek 2.0 is not arrogant (which is a core attribute of Geek 1.0). This fundamental difference means that Geek 2.0 listens to non-geeks and sees value in their ideas, even their ideas about technology and geek things.

Another attribute of Geek 2.0 is they look at the big picture and not just their small area of the organization. They are not only tech-savvy, but they are business-savvy as well.

I didn’t know it until I listened to the Businessweek podcast, but I aspire to be Geek 2.0 and I want to have all Geek 2.0 types on my staff. They interact better, both with geeks and non-geeks. And, they make a far greater contribution to the organization as they contributed to non-geek ideas and listen (and learn) from people who are not geeks. They are not threatened or offended by criticism or comments about technology in the organization. In fact, they solicit feedback and ideas from non-geeks throughout the organization, hoping to get honest and candid feedback.

Now, I am not a fully developed “2.0er” yet. And, I don’t have an all Geek 2.0 staff, yet. But I am working on developing those characteristics in myself and in those who work in my department so that we can make a greater contribution to the organization at large.

Who is responsible for online etiquette? December 14, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Education, Information Technology, Open Source, Web.
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David Pogue, who writes for the New York Times, raises some good questions about online etiquette in his blog post, today. I don’t think anyone how has ever read a sample of the gazillion comments on the Internet would disagree with his conclusion, which is that people are less civil online today than they have been in the past, and it’s getting worse.

So, exactly who is (or should be) responsible to teach people online etiquette? Is this something that should be taught in schools? Or is this something that should be taught at home? And, is civility in general also a problem? I would argue that it is, but that’s just my own observation and opinion.

Even though people today seem to be more rude to total strangers in person, the worst or most offensive behavior is by far that of online behavior. I guess that online there tends to be less accountability. Although in the open source community there seems to be a greater amount of accountability. But, that doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to mean-spirited comments and exchanges as ideas are discussed. I not only see that in the comments posted in online forums, but also in blog commends and even IRC chat sessions.

What will it take to make the Internet a better place to express ideas without being flamed? I guess is starts with me and my own behavior. Then, it’s up to me to hold people I know accountable for their behavior and comments. Maybe, just maybe, if we all do our part we can collectively make the electronic world more civil.

Who is responsible for online etiquette? We all are.