Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for August, 2011

My Steve Jobs memories

Posted by shannonclark on August 25, 2011

My Steve Jobs memoriesAs a kid I learned to program on Comodore64’s and on the Osborne “luggable” my father had from his work. My mom was a mainframe programmer but we were relatively early adopters of computers – however as we didn’t have a TV we didn’t get an Atari or other home computer for a while. But I did use Apple’s at various schools and learned to program them.In the 1980’s my parents bought one of the very first Mac’s, a Mac512 which we later upgraded to a MacPlus with a whole 1mb of memory! (they still have this – likely now it is a collectible).

In 1991 as I prepared for my first year of college I bought my first computer of my own – it wasn’t a Mac, nor was it a Windows PC, I bought a used NeXT cube. The bit over $6000 I spent on that NeXT was probably among the best purchases I ever made in my life – more than college, more then my first condo. Okay not more than a certain ring I just bought but other than that, one of the most long lasting purchases of my life – as the skills I learned connecting that NeXT to the Internet have lasted to this day.

In 1991 from my college dorm room which included wired Internet access I had a static IP address and had nearly 1000 users from around the globe playing the MuCK which I ran for some friends on the NeXT (named Collatz). While I wasn’t ever a highly active player of the MuCK I helped to run that experience and the ongoing experience of the NeXT OS as an interface to the Internet in 1991 has shaped me and my technical interests to this day.

I purchased the NeXT largely because it came bundled with Mathematica (I thought I was going to be a Math or Physics major and had been an avid Mathematica user while working at Argonne National Lab). There are still UI and software elements of the NeXT which I think still would be innovative today – the multi-dimensional spreadsheet for the NeXT OS was really impressive and the mail included the ability to link photos to addresses (something only gradually available today via add-ons such as Rapportive to Gmail though Google is also making some strides to add this – but it still is far from standard).

A few years into to college, however, i sold my NeXT and bought my first laptop, which wasn’t a Mac but a PC. That served me well as a writing tool but less well as a technology tool and the various PCs I owned in the 1990’s and early 2000’s weren’t much better.

Finally fed up with Windows I switched to first an iMac for my home computer a few years ago and then added the MacBook Pro I’m writing on at the moment. Earlier this year my fiancee and I each bought an iPad and I’ve had an iPhone since the first version.

I’m still not a full power user of the latest MacOS (Lion) and I don’t do a lot of coding these days (though I did hack up an iPad app a while back and may try my hand at that again later this fall) but I’m appreciative of the power of the Mac platform and the reinvigorated Apple company that is Steve Job’s legacy.
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Why I don’t accept most connections on LinkedIn or circle back on Google+

Posted by shannonclark on August 9, 2011

Why I don’t accept most connections on LinkedIn or circle back on Google+Recently I have read articles which note that it is apparently the “accepted norm” on LinkedIn that most people accept all connection requests.

Perhaps this is true, but if so it also explains why I haven’t found LinkedIn very useful since that became the norm. When LinkedIn first launched (I was one of the first 1000 users of LinkedIn) my network on LinkedIn though I kept my direct connections to people I both actually knew and would refer business to (i.e. I didn’t then nor do I now accept connections on LinkedIn from anyone I wouldn’t do business with myself) I still had a reach that included much of LinkedIn’s membership.

In those early years I got a lot of referral requests for people a few degrees away from me, when the request was well written and reasonable I would forward it on to my contact who in turn knew the person who was trying to be contacted. This was a great system in that it was an opportunity for me to connect with and reach out to my contacts and in general it was highly effective as a business tool.

But now that most of LinkedIn have adopted this nearly valueless method of making connections the network graph on LinkedIn is far less valuable or reliable. As a result I rarely use LinkedIn other than occasionally as a research tool (but not for network connections or referrals but rather for information about a given business – i.e. the number of current and former employees they have, their job roles and types, the velocity of turnover at that business etc). All useful but not so valuable that I use LinkedIn frequently.
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We live in the beyond past Science Fiction…

Posted by shannonclark on August 1, 2011

We live in the beyond past Science FictionI am a science fiction fan. What is more I was, perhaps still am a member of the subset of SF Fans who are SMOFs (“Secret Masters of Fandom” i.e. the folks who organize and run science fiction conventions – I started a new science fiction convention over 20 years ago at my high school which as far as a I know is still happening once a year and I used to help volunteer at and helped fun other local to Chicago SF conventions).But I fear that Science Fiction Fandom thinks far too small these days and that SF Fans as self-defined, have not, in most cases, kept up with a world which has surpassed the imagination of our past futurists.

A small example of this – a bunch of great SF writers and fans have launched The World SF Travel Fund (see http://peerbackers.com/projects/the-world-sf-travel-fund/) but note the highly limited scope of their imagination.

One Fan each year to One Science Fiction convention.

$6000 for two years of running the fund (i.e. implying $3000/award which seems about right)

The “World” Science Fiction conventions, one of the oldest science fiction conventions still happening now draw between 2000-6000 people each year depending on where it is held (the lower numbers in years when it is held outside of the US, the larger numbers when it is held in a major US city).

But at the same time conventions such as San Diego ComicCon, PAX Prime and PAX East sell out every single year and attract 125k+ attendees (in the case of ComicCon). These are massive events with the participation of many of the largest media companies in the world.

At the box office SF and Fantasy films dominate every year with billions of box office (and billions more in other revenues). Likewise while there are hit computer games that aren’t SF (EA Sports franchises, Rock Band etc) many of the biggest and most profitable franchise in gaming have SF or Fantasy elements – the over $1B/year World of Warcraft franchise, HALO, Diablo, Starcraft and countless others.

And leaving media and entertainment aside (I haven’t even mentioned the billions more in revenues from SF or Fantasy TV series over the years) we ourselves live in a world surrounded by real gadgets and experiences unimagined by most of our fiction, especially most of our Science Fiction, of the past decades.

A few examples

1) Everything Apple makes – the iPhone, the iPad, the AppleTV, the MacBook Air. All woven together in ways that dwarf the imaginations even of the 1980’s and 90’s “cyberpunks” and with capabilities in excess even of the perhaps original inspirations such as the Star Trek PADD (see http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/star-trek-padd/id446277240?mt=8 to turn your iPad into a version of one) or the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – see Wikipedia there…

2) Sometime earlier this year the number of cell phones globally hit over 5 Billion. That means that over 2/3rds of the planet likely has a cell phone (there are many people who have more than one phone so the exact # without a phone is hard to estimate). The societal, cultural and economic impact of that has yes to be explored – but the reality of this is something few writers have explored in our fiction (indeed most fiction – whether “science fiction” or “serious” rarely is written set in our current world – few characters have cell phones, smartphones etc)

3) Global logistics. This is the not-so-sexy stuff that allows you to place an order in CA on the weekend and get product from halfway across the planet delivered in the middle of the afternoon to your doorstep less than a week later. This is what allows you to order a customized piece of electronics, a made-to-order car, even entire homes or in the case of San Francisco most of a bridge to be built across the planet and shipped as needed.This is what ties businesses, people and countries together. This isn’t sexy and rarely is acknowledged in fiction but this is what has changed the planet in the past few decades (along with the Internet in the past two decades)

and there is much more
*&refresh=31536000&resize_h=16Peerbackers | The World SF Travel Fundpeerbackers-logo. Join Peerbackers Write About Us Get in. How It Works; Back Project; Submit Project; FAQ; Blog; Resources. Explore By. select an option to browse; closest to goal; buzz (most backers)…
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