After three fantastic months backpacking across Asia, I'm back in a cube at Yahoo digging my way out of my inbox and out from under my feed reader. (There was significantly worse net access on the road than I expected. I'm doing my best to catch up, but if you want to hear from you soon you're better off sending me a fresh email.). The trip was excellent (check out some of the pics: flickr.com/photos/natekoechley/sets/), but it's great to be back in the Bay Area.
Now for the new adventure: plug back into the world of Web Development / Front End Engineering. Care to help me out? What have I missed? Any "best of's" from the last three months? What do you see coming next? What should I be paying attention to right now? What's dead? What's hot?
Stay tuned as I try to answer those questions for myself, and please forgive me if I post anything in the next few weeks that's old news to you.
My New Travel Blog: Asia 90
As you may know, I've recently started a 90-day backpacking trip across Asia. I'll still be following technical topics on this, my primary blog, but will be keeping a travelogue, "Asia 90" with my travelling partner Aimee over at http://natek.typepad.com/asia90/
If you look in the right column of the Asia 90 blog, you'll see ways to add it to your My Yahoo page, your Bloglines account, as well as ways to sign up to receive email updates when new entries are published.
As you may know, we started in Hong Kong last week, and have just arrived in mainland China last night. We'll be heading from the south to the north of mainland China over the next four weeks, before spending two weeks in Thailand and Southeast Asia. After that, we're heading to the buddhist state of Ladakh in northern Himalayan India for approximately four weeks. After than, and a stop in Delhi, we'll fly back through Bangkok for the final two weeks in Kyoto, Japan.
Anyways, if you're interested in following along with the travel aspects of my life for the next quarter-year, please head over to http://natek.typepad.com/asia90/ and subscribe.
Carpool Conversations Vol. 2
In the second installment of Carpool Conversations, we talked about the dynamics of communication and collaboration. This image is a visualization of our thoughts.
Another thought we had, that's not represented in the chart, is that "silence is a powerful tool". It seems that speaking less sometimes gets better results, and that moments of silence are important. For one, it's important to listen and it's important to think, both of which are markedly more difficult to do while you're talking. Secondly, repeating a point has the generally-unintended consequence of reducing the potency of the idea. If you keep talking after you've made your point, you have a tendency to stray from the initial message, thereby watering it down. At the same time, your listener doesn't have a chance to absorb the idea. Know your message, deliver it as clearly, accurately and succinctly as possible, then allow it to stand on it's own and flourish.
We didn't get to talk too much today (no pun intended), because for some reason the traffic was sparse and we make good time north.
Stay tuned for Carpool Conversations Vol. 3.
Posted by Nate Koechley on March 28, 2005 at 09:09 PM in Design, Idea, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Location: San Francisco, My life..., Social Networking and Community | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Carpool Conversations - Trip #1
This is the first dispatch from Carpool Conversations. I live in San Francisco, but work in Sunnyvale about 43 miles south, in the heart of Silicon Valley. The long drive sucks, but the great thing about it is that it's an protected time to think, to reflect, to brainstorm, and to explore. There are no distractions in the car; no Internet connection and nobody popping into my cube.
I often carpool with my friend Jon Koshi, and we have great conversations about the web, design, interface, the future, and the present. We both tend to bring complimentary sides of the same topics to the conversation. We both like to think big, and, if I do say so myself, we're more aware than average of current events, practices, trends, and developments. Jon is a visual designer by practice and I'm a technologist by practice, so we've got both sides covered in that regard too. (We talk politics and currents and news and life too, but this series will largely focus on technology and human beings.)
Koshi and I both believe in words and word smithing. We believe that examining and designing frameworks for ideas to operate within creates stronger ideas while helping to vet the root concepts. We like to discuss nuance and subtle distinctions, and in the process gain a deeper understanding.
I'm writing this from the road right now. I'd like to resist editing too much, and instead share the thoughts as they appear in the carpool. Hopefully this will be on interest to some of my good readers.
And with that, I can't resist saying, "start your engines!".
Not like that last several years have been happy or anything, but the headlines today really got me down:
- Senate Votes to Open Alaskan Oil Drilling - a sad day for the environment, and to me signifies that the democrats in congress and just overworked. It's horrible, but in the scheme of things isn't not even the worst. Makes me realize that BushCo is slowing numbing us to agenda.
- House OKs $81.4 Billion on War Spending - " the fifth emergency spending plan Bush has sent to Congress for wars".... how many times can you call wolf/emergency? I wish my bank account was as forgiving.
- Bush Recommends Wolfowitz for World Bank - So now, our peaceful development efforts are headed by our chief war strategist, a raging conservative hawk!? Great, that sends a nice subtle message to the world.
There's plenty more where those came from, but I can't bare it anymore right now...
And by the way, not that I'm pro-steroids or anything, but doesn't the GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTE have anything better to do than get autographs from a bunch of athletes? Even if steroids were the worst thing under the sun, what exactly does it have to do with GOVERNMENT REFORM? It's not like that don't have anything to do: Haven't they heard of DeLay's illegal and unethical actions, the federal government's falsification of documents related to the Yucca Mtn Nuclear Waste dump, or that BushCo is prepackaging television news in a blatant propaganda plan? (And then there's the whole "torture" and "1500 Americans dead" thing...)
May the world forgive us, and accept our apologies.
Aliens of the Deep
"Aliens of the Deep" brings some of the deepest-ever (3,500 meters, or more than 2 miles) underwater exploration to completely amazing and mind-blowing hard-core 3D IMAX film. This film has been playing at the Metreon movie theater downtown (San Francisco) for about the last two months, and literally several times a week I've talked about going to see it. Aimee and I planned on it first, then with Derek. Well, Derek and I finally went to see it yesterday, and it was worth every penny ($10).
First of all, the concept is fascinating. At these depths, life exists completely without photosynthesis -- sunlight has never touched these areas. At these depths, the environment is as unwelcoming as imaginable: incomprehensible extremes of pressure, darkness, temperature. It would be easy to imagine that zero life exists in these environments, and yet it thrives. For the people who look to space, these environments are quite similar to what may be encountered on distant planets and moons. These environments are also quite similar to the earliest days of Earth. And so, to find life in these areas -- massive amounts are down these -- is to realize that oceans under the deep ice of Jupiter's moon Europa, or the surface or core of an ancient Mars may have identical conditions. As they say a few times in the movie, exploring [life at the] the awesome depths of the oceans is the best experience to prepare for exploring [life in] outer space.
Second, the movie is the best possible eye candy. IMAX screens are already a treat, and 3D put it way over the edge. I don't remember ever being to a modern 3D movie, but I highly recommend it. It works. It's great. Whomever's working on this stuff has nailed it. After a few seconds, your eyes calibrate and you're in for a treat. In addition to all the underwater sequences, there are several other sequences that totally max out the visual experience. One is an exploration of earth's life forms. An elephants trunk comes right out of the screen and touches you in your seat. In another, animation brings you from 10 light years distant, in through our atmosphere, through the ocean, down to the thermal ridges where the newest ocean-bottom crust is formed. It's probably a 60 second sequence, and one of the treats of the movie. I could almost feel the smoke coming out of my ears as my brain cranked overtime to process the scale, orientation, detail and 3D-ness of it all. Totally fun.
But of course the most amazing part of the movie is the underwater photography we came to see. One sequence gets centimeters away from a giant 10-foot bizzaro jellyfish creature. One of the most amazing creatures, the film is so high quality that you can see the incredibly fine network of cells that give it shape. You seem to see it nearly pulsing with energy, and it's translucent skin reveals internal organs moving around beautifully. Truly alien. Other animals life in the volcanic plumes of 750-degree superheated water that the earth's center vents through ocean-bottom chimneys along the central-ocean spine. In these areas, new crust is continually formed, representing some of the most primitive geology observable. Massive amounts of animals live in the boundaries between this awesomely-hot gassy water, and the awesomely-cold deep-ocean water.
Academy Award®-winning director James Cameron combines his talents as a filmmaker with his passion for exploration in all forms in "Aliens of the Deep," an Earthship Production presented in IMAX® 3-D by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. Inspired by concepts from the field of astrobiology-the study of life on other worlds-Cameron explores the idea that the bizarre creatures living in the extreme environments found on the ocean floor might provide a blueprint for what life is like elsewhere in the universe. The director is joined in the journey by a team of young marine biologists and NASA researchers who share his interests and excitement as they consider the correlation between life under water and the life we may one day find in outer space.
"Aliens of the Deep" presents the dramatic and visually stunning highlights of a series of expeditions to deep-ocean hydrothermal vents, where super-heated, mineral-charged water gives life to some of the strangest animals on Earth-6-foot-tall worms with blood-red plumes, blind white crabs, and an astonishing biomass of white shrimp, all competing to find just the right location in the flow of near-boiling water. This adventure brings the audience face to face with what it might be like to travel far into space and encounter life on other worlds.
I wish Hollywood made more of these. Bringing exploration, understanding, big questions, and inspirational science to the big screen is good for the world. I think everybody in the audience left inspired. I'd go see a movie like this at least once a month, and I'd probably even pay 3 times as much. Nothing but the biggest props to James Cameron for putting his money into something besides his Hollywood mansion. Keep it up.
Go see it while you can. (It's only 48 minutes -- you could even check it out during your lunch break.)
Yahoo! celebrated it's 10th birthday today (well, i guess it's yesterday now: March 2nd).
It was a big party - Yahoo has always known how to throw a big party. It started out with open bar (beer, wine), and a well-made video history. After the video, Terry, Sue, Dan R, and the founders Filo and Jerry each gave talks.
Dan brought a few groups of users on stage. First were two cute old women, who played cards on Yahoo Games. Second and third were two mothers who recounted how Yahoo Groups provided critical health information that enabled them to better care for their children, each of whom was afflicted with horrible, rare diseases. The last group was a local couple who met on Yahoo Persons. Of course, he dropped to one knee and proposed on stage.
In addition to being on stage, all the proceedings were carried live in all the yahoo offices around campus and around the world, and also broadcast online. (She said Yes.)
After the user's were on stage, Dan and Sue presented awards of service to those that had been at yahoo for more than 9 years of service./p>
"Sugar Ray" was the band for the day.
The usual big spread of food (sushi, carving stations, appetizers) and then, of course, birthday cake and ice cream.... And the beer/wine kept flowing.
Happy Birthday Yahoo!
Blogging and Culture at Yahoo!
Mark Jen was fired from Google for blogging. The is old news. What's interesting now is that he reports on his conversations with two prominent bloggers (and yahoo employees) about blogging at work, yahoo's policy/stance on worker-blogging, at last week's 106 Miles community meeting. It's nice to see that Yahoo gets blogs and blogging.
after dave's talk, i met russ. he apparently had been doing contract work at yahoo and just recently joined there full time. i took the opportunity to chat with him a little bit; mostly, i wanted to know why he chose to join yahoo out of all the other companies in the area. immediately, russ focused in on the culture and working environment. i thought, wow, a place that's working on bringing revolutionary web technologies to the masses and a great atmosphere? sounds like a dream come true.
then, i met jeremy zawodny. since my story had started making rounds with the press, i had been compared to jeremy and scoble, but i had never expected to meet them in person. we got to talking and he shared with me his experience at yahoo, which also sounded great. jeremy told me that yahoo is extremely blog friendly and that posting their personal work experiences was perfectly acceptable - given, of course, that confidential information and NDAs aren't breached. i left with his contact info and an invite to tour the yahoo campus.
Posted by Nate Koechley on February 18, 2005 at 02:17 AM in Blogging, RSS, Knowledge & Content Management, My life..., Social Networking and Community, Software and Tools, Yahoo! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Caterpillar Mobile's current product is a cameraphone game called Zooke. Zooke allows its members to create challenges for all members or only members of an immediate social circle. You might be on a mission to find the best George Bush bumper sticker in Berkeley and have other game players rate your findings. It is a community-driven reality play experience that makes everyone's day a little more exciting with minimal effort.
I liked the idea of casual gaming, the idea that you can have an experience in short segments while you're going about your normal routine. I'm also interested that this represents a shift from highly time-intensive games. Well, she follows up that with a new post last week discussing Casual Gaming and thinking about an article of the same title by Tom Hume.
He captures the essence of an important shift from hard core gaming experiences to engaging play experiences perfectly! Allowing players to engage lightly in the experience throughout their daily lives is essential to creating something compelling and addictive to be used on a mobile device. Allowing players light weight games or frameworks that they can think about while on the move, but not have to interact with continually in the virtual world is essential. Giving them tools which allow them to explore and play at their will fits the affordances of the mobile device.
I remember the days of having hours and hours to play video games, but to be honest, it's a pretty distant memory. It's cool to see people working to bring games and playing back into the lives of otherwise distracted and busy peeps like me. It's also fun to watch a new medium like Mobile develop.
Posted by Nate Koechley on February 17, 2005 at 03:53 AM in Gadgets, Idea, Location: San Francisco, My life..., Photos, Social Networking and Community, Software and Tools | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack