Thursday, Sep 20, 2007
Holy smokes! Today the US Dollar is worth the same amount as the Canadian Dollar! So much for moving up north and living on the cheap!
Tuesday, Sep 18, 2007
Steve Wozniak is great. As a co-founder of Apple he has my respect, plus he's just a really nice guy. But while a founder is a founder, cuts are still cuts, and cuts are exactly what Steve and six of his friends took at 4am on June 29th, eight hours after the iPhone line started.
My fianceé, my friend and I got in line at the Valley Fair Apple Store at 8pm the day before the iPhone launch. We missed the front of the line by perhaps 10 minutes, and were 4th, 5th and 6th in line. The Apple Store staff was really excited and supportive, passing out water and detailing how, when the mall closed at 10, we'd be escorted to a line-waiting area outside where we could set up our sleeping bags. The manager also alluded to a 'special guest' who would come by early in the morning to give us moral support. Steve Jobs? John Hodgeman? She wouldn't say.
The evening wound on and many Doritos, brownie bites, and games of Hearts later we were dozing off to the beats of our soon-to-be-antequated iPods.
At 4am several of us woke to a bit of a commotion. Segways everywhere! People were handing out t-shirts and laminated badges. Each of the badges were sequentially numbered and signed at the bottom with the distinctive 'Woz' signature (ironically to ensure their validity). Strangely, our badges were numbered 11, 12, and 13. By this time there were about 30 people in line, pre-dawn, sitting on the concrete.
I asked one of the t-shirt handlers (still on his Segway) about the large gap in badge numbers and he said 'Oh, Woz and us put a lot of time helping the store organize the event, so it's okay.' Um, okay...
After eight hours in line you get a bit of camaraderie with your fellow line-waiters and we were generally reluctant to let this Apple love-in turn ugly, and have I mentioned that Steve is a nice guy? So we sat and stewed a bit, and slept and ate more Doritos and brownie bites.
At 9am they escorted us back in to the mall, and Woz took his place in a camping chair at the front of the line. That lasted all of five minutes before he moved to the plush lounger in front of the Apple Store where he proceeded to hold court for the next nine hours, granting interviews to numerous TV crews, podcasters, and gadget bloggers. After all, why stay in line if you have six friends and a numbered badge?
The irony is that Woz states in his Engadget interview that he brought numbered badges for the first 50 people to "make sure they didn't let in a bunch of their friends, cheating the folks who waited outside all night on the concrete." Of course in so doing he brought himself and six friends to the front of the line so that he could, admittedly, buy a bunch of phones for his kids, and for him to personally experiment with. Worst of all is his claim that 'the folks already in line were honored to have me there and immediately granted me the first spot in the line.'
I love you Woz, your positive attitude, and your benefit to humanity, but that is absolutely untrue. The two girls at the front of the line didn't even know who you were, and the rest of us were pretty surprised to be woken up, bumped back, and told that it was 'okay'.
So what's the big deal? We all got our iPhones, right? That's true, and I held off writing this post for two months, but I think it's important to recognize that 'being special' doesn't make you special, and if getting in with the Apple Store and helping out by making badges is enough for them to let you in front then that's all well and good (Disneyland does the same thing, letting VIPs cut to the front of lines) but it's not okay to then tell the press that we invited Woz-and-company to take our spots out of deference, because that's just not how it went down, and I want to set the record straight.
Thursday, Sep 13, 2007
One year from today, September 13th, Rachel and I are getting married, and so today is our -1st anniversary, or our last preniversary!
In fitting form, today we're having a kickoff meeting with our wedding coordinator. We've already got a venue, band, and caterer booked, but there's still so much to do!
For right now though, I'm just grateful for Rachel, and am happy to recognize today, T-minus 1 year!
Wednesday, Sep 12, 2007
I probably couldn't say it any better than I did to my co-workers:
From: Kevin FoxSee? I'm already blogging more!
Tuesday, Sep 11, 2007
The next three months are going to be something really different for me.
This is exactly the point.
Ever since I left home and started at Berkeley 16 years ago one of the few constants in my life has been the way I oscillate between school and work. Between 1991 and 2003 I left and returned to school no fewer than six times. Most universities aren't set up for that kind of degree path and I was lucky that Berkeley, though fraught with administrative hurdles, enabled me to do this.
Now that I've completed my Bachelors and Masters degrees I probably won't ever go back to school for another degree, and yet the role that school has played in my life still exists, currently without an outlet to fill it.
My adult life has been guided by the oscillation between the learning of theory and its application in practice. I would thirst for knowledge and the acquisition of skills, and then I would hunger to apply these skills in a practical manner. After being sated by a stint in the working world, it was time to replenish my reserves and so back to school I would go. Very early on I discovered that I can't go to school and work at the same time any more than I can inhale through my nose and exhale through my mouth at the same time. One or the other would always dominate. Maybe some Tibetan gurus can accomplish this circular breathing, but not me.
For over a decade this was all well and good. Berkeley, MacWEEK Magazine; Berkeley, Dantz Development; Berkeley, Newton software development; Berkeley, Segasoft/Levi-Strauss; Berkeley, Yahoo!; Carnegie Mellon, Google. I would breathe in information, collect inspiration, harvest passion and ideas. Then I would find an opportunity to exhale, to let out a slow, metered breath of labor, inspiration, work, creation. Once the breath was gone and I'd start to turn blue I'd head back to school for more.
Each half of this cycle never lasted more than two years, and was often only 12 months.
Back when I worked for Dantz Development, I used to live in Berkeley and work in Orinda. Twice a day I'd drive through the Caldecott Tunnel, a three-bore tunnel through the Oakland Hills. When I was a kid, tunnels were wishes if you could hold your breath through them and I never fully outgrew it. I'd practice holding my breath through this 7-tenths-of-a-mile tunnel twice a day, between 45 seconds and a minute and a half. Any longer than that and traffic would, quite literally, take my breath away. This much wishing taught me a few things about breathing.
Too much pressure in your lungs only shortened the amount of time you could hold it in.
Moving burns oxygen.
You can hold your breath a lot longer if you don't actually hold it.
If you define 'holding your breath' as a single oscillation of the breathing cycle then the clock starts when you stop breathing in, and continues until you finish taking your next breath. This is clearly silly since you can game the system by taking advantage of two doses of oxygen, so I found a middle road, defining holding one's breath as not taking in any air while in the tunnel in question. I can release all the air I want in the tunnel. I just can't get any back until I'm out, or relinquish the wish and gasp early.
With practice, about a third of your time can come during the slow release of breath. The feeling of progress stops your body's reaction to gasp for air and you can feel the calm that comes with a metered exhalation.
Back to the present, I'm now entering my fifth year at Google, three times longer than I've ever been at another single job, and I'm breathless.
Done with school, I was stuck to find another source of oxygen, of inspiration, of passion and invention. An influx. A fix. I've found my answer in a personal leave of absence. Three months of mostly unstructured time. A quarter full of nebulous goals and ideas, of personal explorations, of acquiring new skills and generating new ideas unbeholden to quarterly objectives or the big mother G.
Me-ternity leave. A sabbatical. A university of one.
A sharp intake of breath.
I start in eleven days.
I'm so excited.
Sunday, Sep 02, 2007
Sometimes you find something on the web so wonderful, pictures can barely describe it: The Best Macaroni and Cheese in New York. Did I mention I like cheese?
Thursday, Aug 23, 2007
True words from Evhead, founder of Blogger (8 years old today!), Odeo, and Twitter: A Unified Theory of Startup Success
Friday, Aug 10, 2007
Analytics according to Captain Kirk: Redshirt deaths, phaser battles, and Kirk 'conquests' in Star Trek TOS. The graph says it all, really. [ phasers = fights, shirts = crew deaths, Kirk heads = 'first contact' ;-) ]
Monday, Aug 06, 2007
Posted to Slashdot less than two hours apart: Social Networking Sites Full of Security Holes, and It's Time for Social Networks to Open Up, the later of which contends, "the problems with today's networks is that their content is not available to everyone." Woah, check it out! This coin totally has two sides!
Sunday, Aug 05, 2007
After declaring last week that I had unearthed the identity of Fake Steve Jobs and asking you whether I should keep it to myself or unmask FauxJobs I received many letters asking me to please keep it a secret and not a single one wanting me to crack the facade. Unfortunately, Brad Stone at the New York Times knows that no news sells no ink, and has done the job I wouldn't by outing Forbes senior editor Daniel Lyons as the iCEO's alter ego. Lyons's ghostwritten (until now) book 'Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, a Parody' is still due to be published later this year, and the FSJ blog will move to Forbes.com.« Newer Posts Older Posts »
Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
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