Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Thomas Hawk On The “Why?” Of Photography

Thomas Hawk, along with Kris Krug, is one of the photographers that I admire most. Not only does he create such amazing images, he exudes his love of photography. Hell, the man shoots upwards of five hundred pictures a day. I have no idea how he finds the time to go through them (let alone process them) with a job (or two), wife and kids.

Anyhow, in a wonderful post today he responds to the question:

If given the choice to either sleep with Marilyn Monroe or take photographs of her which would I do? The first answer was easy. I'm married and so sex with Marilyn was out. But I'd love to shoot her. So then the question was reasked, if I were ==single== which would I choose?

Just go and read the post

In this post, he also talks about the problem where people don't like to be photographed because, in their words, they don't look good in pictures.

But the reason why photos don't work for these people is because they don't like having their photo taken in the first place.

If they protest verbally then maybe I get one or two shots of them. If they protest with their body language maybe I get 5 or 10. If they are into instead I might take 50 or 100

When you have 50 shots to cull one or two out from you get much better shots because 48 end up on the cutting room floor. When you have 2 to choose from it makes it harder. My advice to people who say that they never take a good picture is that they especially, instead of shutting down a photographer give them the most time, attention and latitude. This will yield the best possible photos and most great photographers can take a good shot of just about anyone.

Intuitively, this is a great rationale and something that I'll use in the future when friends and family and me to stop taking pictures of them because “I'm not photogenic”.

Or maybe, in the words of Eric Rice, I'm just Citizen Paparazzi!

Scoble At Google

Robert Scoble popped over to our office in Kirkland today for a video interview and a tour of the Google facilities. I followed around chatting with Buzz Bruggeman who came along for the ride, while Robert wandered, walked backwards and did the fun Scoble interview thing. He even interviewed the Chef!

It sure was nice catching up with him and it sounds like he's enjoying California and PodTech immensely.

His HD video camera was quite a feast for the eyes - Robert, what type is it?

He also gets the honour of causing the phone on my desk to ring for the first time, when he called from reception. I've had it over a week now and it never rings - 'tis all email… Dunno why I have the thing…

Oh and for historical interest, here's a fun video that Robert did at Channel 9. The interviewee? Me.

Must. Resist. Sony HDR-S1 And Infrant NAS

So I'm back to jonesing for some new geek gadgetry. First up is the Sony HDR-S1 is a 30GB hard disk based HD camcorder. I want one. Seriously. Count this as my ping to santa.com.

Sean has done the math and says:

…the Sony HDR-SR1 camcorder that records in High-Definition, 1080i quality on a built-in 30GB hard drive (which loosely translates to around 2 hours of recording in highest quality). This should work out of the box with Windows (Vista) Movie Maker which has support for HDV editing (yes, my Mac does that too thanks).

Of course, that 30GB for two hours of video has to be stored somewhere and that leads me to the second bee in my bonet.

The storage systems at Casa del Lacey are strained to the max. That coupled with backup mayhem has had me thinking recently about just biting the bullet and punting the problem to a dedicated storage box.

A while ago, my friend Steve Kennedy pointed me at an interesting company named Infrant and I'm thinking that their ReadyNAS NV+ product, stuffed with four 750GB Seagate Barracuda ES drives for a total of three terrabytes of RAID goodness should tide me over for a while…

Plus, I think that the expense for capturing high quality video and keeping it safe can be justified by Sean's argument:

I do wonder though - should I put it on my christmas list and hope that my wife reads my blog, amping up the whole “our son will never get any younger” argument for purchase?

[Tip'O'Hat to Sean Alexander for the link.]

IE7 Search Observation

Nice one Microsoft.

When you install IE7 for the first time it gives you the option to select the search provider for IE. The available search engines are listed alphabetically which means that Microsoft's own search service is listed below Google.

That is some style.

Next question: When I visit my own website from IE7 does it show the toobar thingy and say “This website wants to run the ”Windows Media 6.4 Player Shim“ from Microsoft”? That makes my site sound dodgy, and I'm pretty sure it's not…

Should Kids Get A Vote By Proxy?

Via Jason Kottke, we find an interesting idea by Juan Enriquez about giving parents of children under eighteen an extra vote per child, the idea being that if two parents have two children then the family has four votes instead of two and that parents will take the long-term future well-being of the country into account.

Why not give parents of kids under 18 one proxy vote per child? Only then will there be a strong voting block to counter growing gray power. It is also time to quit spending more than we earn. And above all, it is time to realize just how fragile countries can be.

Of course, while reading this I pondered the fact that neither Nabila nor I are US citizens, yet both of our our children are. Would we get two votes? :-)

Who Knew?

Today I discovered that C++ standard defines support for using 'and' in place of '&&', 'or' instead of '||', 'bitand' for '&' and a few others. Who knew?

I must say that I'm not particularly sold on the idea - it makes code kinda unreadable. Consider the following code snippets which are equivalent:

if ((num_things and (num_other_things > 0)) or is_one_more_thing)
if ((num_things && (num_other_things > 0)) || is_one_more_thing)

Personally, I think the second is more readable as the logical operators break up the alphanumeric expressions - the problem could get really bad with complex expressions and highly readable variable names.

But maybe it's just me…


There have been some nice little mentions of my move by both of the Seattle PI reporters that I follow. John Cook devotes a post to my move, and Todd Bishop mentions my move in the same paragraph as Microsoft executive Rick Devenuti!

Regarding John's post, I've been so busy that I've not had a chance to get back to him - I've got that whole “need to collect thoughts before talking to a reporter” thing going on, even if there's not much to say. Like any decision it was all about evaluating the current situation, evaluating a great offer and integrating all factors, both personal and professional, to arrive at an answer. Oh, and the great food!

I hope that works for John as, like I've said before, I'm incredibly grateful to him for the exposure he has given SwitchGear.

In other news, Shel Israel, PR guru and co-author of Naked Conversations used one of my photos in a post of his about VC Rick Segal. That's a first and to be quite honest, an honour.

Catching Up With Breen

This evening I went out for a beer with Breen, a former flightsim developer and current Google developer. It was cool to catch up, and cool to find out that he still has the aviation bug - he now has his PPL, instrument rating and is working on his helicopter ticket!


Afterwards, Breen dropped me back at my hotel, but came in because a friend of his who was in town for a conference was also staying at the hotel and they were going to catch up.

When the elevator doors opened on my floor, there she was with three friends of hers, waiting for the the hotel staff to unlock the “Hi-Fi” room - kind of like a living room for guests to hang out in.

One of her friends looked strangely familiar.

Matt Mullenweg

“Steve, this is Matt Mullenweg”.

“Ahh, Mr WordPress!”, I replied, shaking his hand.

Anyhow, we all shared a bottle of wine and quite amusing conversation before I retired to my room.

Coincident meetings through unexpected connections are fun.

Though, as is becoming an all too regular occurrence, I was the oldest person in the room by at least five years…

Ch…Ch…Ch…Changes - Moving To Google…

Yesterday was my first day at Google. I know, relatively minor compared to certain other Google related news, but quite important to yours truely :-)

This week I'm down in Mountain View, but I'll be based in the Kirkland office, a mere few minutes from my house…

Why? And what's going on with SwitchGear? That's a topic for another post… For now, I just wanted to let you all know what I'm up to. To say that I'm incredibly excited by the opportunity at Google would be an understatement…

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Blogging Light And Sue's Visit

The blogging has been light over the past week due to something I'll be hopefully posting about tomorrow, and the fact that my sister, Sue, has been in town for the past week.


Sue came out from the UK to visit us, and it sure has been fun. Quite a trip for just a week, but she got to see her niece for the first time and I took the week off to spend with her. During the week we took a little trip to Gig Harbor, and stopped off at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge's viewing area to view the construction.


Btw, I've finally added pictures of last weekend's fun to the related post.

Weekend Fun - Museum Of Flight And The Zoo

This weekend was a great one. Good weather and fun with the family.

[Note, unusually I have decided to write this post before processing and uploading the photos. Odd for me, I know. For most of you, dear readers, the photos will have already been added to this post before you read it and this paragraph will be irrelevant. For the few early birds, they'll be coming soon. I just felt like writing this post now.]

Was the preceding paragraph a waste of electrons, or what‽

Plus, I got to use an interrobang. Cool.

Anyhow, back on topic.

Yesterday was Museum Day, so Julian and I took full advantage of it and headed off to one of my favourite places - the Museum Of Flight.

This time I got to look at most of the exhibits, including The Red Barn - the original Boeing manufacturing plant. Very cool. Julian was in top form, laughing and joking around and generally doing his utmost to avoid having his dad take pictures of him in front of large jet engines.


The museum was the busiest I have ever seen it, with the parking lot in front of the building completely full, though handily the buildings are so large and airy that it didn't feel crowded.

Today though was a blast. The whole family decanted itself into the Jeep and we headed down south to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. This place has come along in leaps and bounds. I don't believe I've been there since before Julian was born and it didn't particularly impress Nabila and I then. Now though, the place is a must see.

Point Definance Zoo

Maybe it was just the day, but the view over the water from the entrance was just beautiful, as were the wonderful animals caringly curated inside. A particular high-point was the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater and the two entertaining presenters with an obvious love for the subject matter and joy in presenting it to adults and children alike.

After that we drove off to Gig Harbor. My favourite “place where I'd like to own a second home”. Maybe one day.

Gig Harbor

The drive was mainly to ensure the kids had a nap - an unusual weekend occurrence unless they are forced to sleep via boredom and the motion of the car. It's my normal weekend trick to ensure an evening unencumbered by cranky kids.

The cool thing about this time though was driving across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and witnessing the construction of the new parallel bridge. It was definitely an example of awe inspiring engineering.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Shortly after arriving home at three, Julian and I headed out once again for the RC airfield in Marymoor Park. Good fun. We even got to see a textbook departure stall incident where one RC airplane definitely bit the big one.

This was the nth time over the past year or so that I've taken Julian to the RC airfield. This time he actually asked to go there rather than just being taken there by his Dad, and he asked “can we go to the shop and buy a plane?”


Looks like a great hobby for me and the boy to enjoy together.

I hope it doesn't get too expensive.

Actually, given my track record for “expensive” when I get into a new hobby, I'd better start saving…

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.