Archive for March 2007

BBC News on Zooomr and Kristopher Tate

BBC NEWS | Technology | Web 2.0 wonders: Zooomr’s Kris Tate The BBC news has a great piece out on Zooomr and our founder Kristopher Tate. You can check it out here.

Why Microsoft Pays Waggener Edstrom the Big Bucks

The Long Tail: The Microsoft Memo: Some choose radical transparency, some have it thrust upon them Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief over at Wired, has a post out today that contains a massive email briefing by Microsoft’s PR firm Waggener Edstrom to a Microsoft executive about an interview with Wired Magazine.

It’s a rare inside glimpse of how well a top PR agency does its research when dealing with the press. Obviously both Waggener Edstrom and Microsoft take a cover story in Wired about transparency at Microsoft very, very seriously.

The memo (which you can read here) is a pretty bad PR screw up though for a PR company to make. Not writing it so much as accidentally emailing the briefing to the reporter, Fred Vogelstein, you are writing about. There are slightly derogatory things written in the piece about Fred, but that is to be expected when Waggener Edstrom thought the piece was private and would never see the light of day. But that just goes to illustrate the old adage about anything you say in email being able to be seen by the world, no matter how private you think it is at the time (Microsoft has had this bite them in the past — like when former Microsoft exec Jim Allchin wrote that if he didn’t work for Microsoft he’d be using a Mac). By the way, now that Allchin actually *is* no longer working for Microsoft anyone know if he’s bought a Mac? Hah, I didn’t think so.

The Microsoft memo is an interesting read for sure, but I’m not sure that there is so much that is really incriminating in it.

Am I surprised that a PR agency would brief one of their clients on an important press interview? No.

Am I surprised that they would remind their employee being interviewed about important points that they would like to get across and written into the article? No.

To me this is what I’ve always assumed that PR firms pretty much do. This is part of why they get paid the big bucks.

I do believe that much of the transparency that you see through the blogging and Channel 9 and 10 initiatives at Microsoft is legitimate, actual, authentic and real. And I think Microsoft deserves credit for being one of the most innovative companies in encouraging their employees to blog. Much more so than Apple.

I believe that much of the blogging at Microsoft is legitimate because there is just no way that Microsoft could spend the money for Waggener Edstrom to try to do the level of research that they did in this report on every single interaction that goes on with the public day in and day out through Microsoft’s army of bloggers. And I’ve interacted a lot with Microsoft bloggers and have never felt like there was this level of scrutiny on me or my blog.

Certainly an interesting read on how the inside PR machine can work, but not unexpected and not what I think is the norm for the actual authentic conversations that happen every day in the blogosphere that Microsoft ought to still be commended for.

You can read more on this story directly from Frank Shaw, Waggener Edstrom’s President, here and a post on the matter by the Wired writer involved, Fred Vogelstein, here.

Geek Dad

ZiplineZipline Hosted on Zooomr

Well I’m pleased to announce that I’ve recently decided to become a contributing author to a great new blog put together by blogger Chris Anderson of Wired and Long Tail Fame. Geekdad is a new blog written by Chris and a group of other contributers who are geeks, and well, dads.

geekdad will focus on all kinds of great ways that dads can interact with their kids. Kevin Kelly, who contributes to the blog as well, had his article on gliders from geekdad on Boing Boing yesterday.

My first article that I wrote for the blog is entitled 10 Great Places to Take Your Kids in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can check it out here.

The San Francisco Photography Meetup Group

The San Francisco Photography Meetup Group (San Francisco, CA) – Meetup.com I just joined the San Francisco Photography Meetup Group after getting an inviation from Deb Latimore. It looks like a pretty cool group of San Francisco based photographers. Their next meetup will be at the Ferry Building on Wednesday April 4th at 7pm. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it!

TiVo Home Movie Sharing

TiVo.com | TiVo Home Movie Sharing Today TiVo launched a cool new service called “Home Movies” in a joint venture with One True Media.

One True Media is an online services that helps people create home videos. You can upload these videos to their service and then share them with people on their TiVos.

The service to watch this content is free for TiVo subscribers. In order to upload videos to the service you must have a One True Media membership which starts at $3.99 per month.

Once people up upload their content, they then give their TiVo “personal channel code” to their friends and their friends can then enter this code into their “Home Movies from One True Media” channel and they can watch this content.

To read more on the service check out TiVo’s FAQ on the new service here. TiVo’s Director of TiVoCast Operations Stephen Mack also has a write up on the new service here.

Now, this is a really, really cool new feature in my opinion. I believe that in the future, what many of us will be watching will be long tail content. And the longest tail content of all will be our home movies. While just about nobody in the world wants to see a video of my four year old daughter Holly playing the piano, I can think of at least two people (my parents) who would rather watch this than anything else on their TiVo (I think…).

Being able to easily share home movies through TiVo makes a ton of sense. It’s easy, you don’t have to get on the internet to do it, and it’s shown on the best display possible, the family TV.

Ideally though I can see a much broader application for this service beyond home movies. For instance, why not distribute Podtech content or other videoblogs through this channel? If Chris Pirillo or Look Shiny or any videoblogger really, wanted to, I would assume that they could upload their videos through this service and then put the TiVo code on their blogs and let anyone watch them on their TiVo. I’d love to have a subscription to Scoble’s videos on my TiVo.

The only thing that I don’t like about the service is that it’s only available for TiVo Series 2 and 3 units (I use a DirecTV HDTV unit). This isn’t TiVo’s fault though as DirecTV really controls the content on my unit. Still if DirecTV was smart they would work with TiVo to build this same functionality into my DirecTV unit.

I’m not sure exactly how the service will police copyright stuff or offensive material but per their terms of service they do state:

“The subject of your creation is up to you, as long as it is not offensive or damaging to others. You must own the content you use. This includes the music you upload for your montages and slideshows. Please see our content section for more details.”

The other day I made this really cool video (well at least I think so) of my son William jumping around in his jumpy swing from a few years ago. I matched the video up to the song “Jump Around” and thought the music really added to the video. Since this use was just for my own personal home video I didn’t really worry or even think about copyright, but it sounds like because I used a copyrighted song “Jump Around” that I’d technically be violating the rules of this service if I were to share that video on it.

Still, I imagine that more likely they will not police this at all and that only if someone complains will this be an issue.

Anyways, nice job TiVo and nice job One True Media. This is a great addition to the platform and one more cool reason to buy a TiVo Series 2 or 3.

If Apple and Microsoft were smart, they’d come out with a video sharing service like this for their platforms quick!

You Shouldn’t Have to Live Your Life in Fear

You Shouldn't Have to Live Your Life in Fear

This morning I got up early at about 4:30 a.m. as I frequently do and headed out to shoot the City. My favorite times to shoot are at night and then in the beautiful light of sunrise and sunset. There’s something about the blues that you can find in the skies as the sun welcomes a new day and in a window of about 10 minutes or so you have a magical moment to make pictures.

And this is something that I love doing. Running around the City when everyone else is still sleeping or just getting up and trying to capture this beauty to share with the rest of the world.

Which brings me to Kathy Sierra, who is in my thoughts this morning along with a heck of a lot of other people. I don’t know Kathy personally, but I can feel for what she is going through right now. Kathy is a blogger who has been harassed to an extreme level over the course of the past few months. This harassment has included death threats and some of the most vile and offensive sexual slurs that you can imagine. And it’s horrible that someone would have to go through that for blogging.

Kathy canceled a speaking engagement she was supposed to be at today because after the harassment she has endured she’s afraid to go out of her house.

My friend Robert Scoble is taking the week off of blogging to show his support for Kathy and what she is going through. I thought I’d dedicate this photograph that I took this morning to Kathy as well. I dedicate this photo to Kathy because when I took it I had a sense of freedom that all human beings deserve. I did not worry when I left my home in the dark this morning that someone would try to kill me today. I did not worry when I was running around Nob Hill in the dark. And it’s this sense of freedom that Kathy should be able to have as well. That everyone should be able to have. A sense of freedom to travel freely in a free country and experience life. That’s what Kathy should have right now and instead she has terror and fear because some inconsiderate jerk decided that he would torment her.

I hope they catch the guy whose idea of sport is to threaten this woman. The person who would show such disrespect to another human being and ruin Kathy’s sense of freedom.

That’s not something that anyone should have to live through. And Kathy add this note of support and this photograph to a growing chorus of people that hate the victimization that you’ve had to endure.

I hate censorship. I’ve long pushed to allow as open as speech as possible — especially on the internet. But death threats take things too far and this story about Kathy’s plight upsets me this morning.

Update: I just read a brutal and horrible post from the site meankids about Robert and Maryam Scoble. I’m not going to link to it because it is so revolting. It was about as horrible a thing as I’ve ever read online. Robert and Maryam are two of the nicest people that you will ever meet. They are genuine and friendly and warm. I’ve known Robert Scoble and have interacted with him for few years now and I’ve never seen or heard him say a mean thing to anyone.

I simply do not get cruelty. To pen something hateful and hurtful for no reason is wrong. After reading the sick material that I just read I can see even more why Robert and Maryam would be so upset by it.

Dave Winer says he takes the side of the mean kids because he doesn’t like lynch mobs. And while this may be something of a general principle for him I guess I just disagree. I certainly do not have all the facts on this case nor do I even know most of the people involved, but what I can say is that I would never associate myself with a place that published something like what I just read about Robert and Maryam. I’d quit. I’d denounce it. And I wouldn’t defend it even against a lynch mob. Robert and Maryam Scoble are my friends, but even if they weren’t, no human being should be subjected to having horrible things written about them for no discernible reason whatsoever.

I like bitting edge humor. I like humor that makes a point even if acerbic. I like to read things that are uncensored. But I don’t like seeing cruelty for the sake of cruelty — cruelty for the sake of sport. That’s wrong.

V-Moda Bass Freq Modaphones

Well I’ve never spent any money on a premium set of earbuds before, but last week I splurged (in part because I sold a couple of photos and had an Amazon gift certificate as payment), and bought the V-Moda bass freq modaphones.

Amazing.

The best headphones I’ve ever heard.

I’m sure that you can spend a lot more and get even better, but for $38 bucks at Amazon these are a really good deal.

These sound much better than the Aiwa over the ear noise canceling headphones I bought for $60.

Lieutenant Phillip Dreyer, Even in Bexar County Texas Photograhy is Not a Crime

The Cosmic Tap: An Accidental Interview with Lieutenant Phil Dreyer Anthony Citrano has an unfortunate write up about an altercation he had recently with Lieutenant Phillip Dreyer of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department.

Anthony was minding his own business, doing what many of us do, documenting our world with our cameras, and unfortunately, according to him, ended up instead harassed and threatened by one Lieutenant Phil Dreyer.

“Can I see some ID?”

My instinctive response, before I saw what he was holding, was “no.”

As he shouted, “I better or you’re goin’ t’ jaail!”, I noticed he was displaying in his hand some sort of police identification.

Finding him unusually aggressive, noting his weapon and ID, and hearing his threat of arrest if I did not produce identification, I decided to show him my license.

“Are you taking pictures for personal use or a company?”

“Well, it depends.. probably personal, but I suppose if someone wants to run them, they can… why?”

(getting in my face) “You ever hear of September the 11th?”

“Uhhh, yeah, but I’m not sure what it has to do with this.”

“You are between two buildings housing communications equipment.”

“OK… and I am in a public place, taking pictures of things in plain view. There’s nothing secret or sensitive here. I mean, if I had criminal intent, do you really think I’d be out here in the open like this taking photos?”

“You’d be surprised.”

“I would? Have you ever caught such a person?”

As he began a call on his cell phone (my license in hand) and talked (or pretended to talk) with someone, I noticed a news crew setting up about 50 meters away. He ended his call shortly thereafter and our conversation continued.

“How do I know you’re not going to give these pictures to someone [to do harm]?”

“Well, I suppose you don’t – but how do you plan to ascertain that by checking my identification?”

(shouting again) “LOOK – you give me any lip, and you’re goin’ t’ jaail!”

Police that abuse their authority make me terribly angry. Generally speaking I like the police. I have family members who are cops, good friends who are cops, etc. Yesterday morning before we all met up for photowalking, The Half Moon Bay Sheriff pulled up behind my car when we were parked on the side of the road taking some pictures. I showed him my camera and said we were just taking some photos and he waved back and went on his way. That was a cool cop. We were shooting this kind of interesting looking store by the way.

Later on when the same Sheriff saw us shooting out at the Half Moon Bay Airport, he drove into the parking lot, saw it was us and circled back out on the Highway.

Most of the time I believe that cops interact with photographers very responsibly. But there are always bad cops and one bad apple can do much to taint the whole bunch. If police want respect then people like Phil Dreyer need to be put in their place when they abuse the system. As much as Officer Dreyer seems to insist in the story linked above by Anthony that he not be told how to do his job, actually somebody does need to tell him how to do his job. His job is to enforce the laws, not harass photographers.

I appreciate Anthony writing his blog post and documenting this instance of harassment. For those of us that are photographers, the best way to make this stop is for enough public light to be shown on the bad cops. You are doing nothing wrong. The September 11th line is a bunch of BS. Stand your ground, report when this happens to you and especially if you can, photograph the police involved. Hopefully for a long, long time anytime anyone Google’s Lieutenant Phillip Dreyer’s name people will know what a prick this guy is.

Thanks for the head’s up Henrik!

Photowalking 8, Shooting Birds and Surfers with a Canon Super Telephoto

Half Moon BirdsHalf Moon Birds Hosted on Zooomr

Had a great day yesterday hanging out with Robert Scoble and a bunch of photo geeks filming Photowalking 8. Robert rented a monster piece of glass, the Canon 600mm f/4 lens and we shot birds and surfers and nature and anything else we could find in our viewfinders.

About 25 of us in all came out. Dave Sifry, Matt Roe, Anderw Moore and I got down there early at about 6am and caught some of the interesting Half Moon Bay stuff between darkness and sunrise.

The Canon 600mm is an impressive piece of glass. Robert rented it from Keeble & Schuchat. I also bought on Saturday a Canon EF 1.4x II extender to use with it which gave us an overall reach of 840mm. The 600mm is a beast that’s for sure and that’s exactly what I nicknamed it after carrying it around for most of the day. We had it on a monopod, which you definitely need to handle it.

Robert got a great shot of a father and his son at 840mm here.

I gave Robert a print I made up for him on my Epson R2400 printer from our very first episode of Photowalking back at the Golden Gate Bridge. I’m having more and more fun these days screwing around with printing my stuff up. I’m pretty blown away by the quality that I’m able to get out of the Epson for 13×19 prints. That’s the largest size that it handles, but it handles them really well, better than most photolabs that I’ve seen output work. It’s also relatively affordable for a high quality ink jet for $850. And no, Epson didn’t pay me to say that, I just really like the printer 🙂

I’m hoping to try and print some even larger stuff out here at some point in the future.

Anyways, a great day was had by all. To see the shots that I’ve processed and gotten up so far you can check them out here. I was also really impressed by the shots that 16 year old Matt Roe got. Matt and Andrew came out to our last photowalking in Chinatown and I think it’s super cool that they are getting into photography so seriously as young as they are. They have a photography class in high school, but the really good photography stuff is learned hands on out in the streets and these guys are going for it.

I’ll post again on this episode when Robert has the video up. In the meantime if you want to catch any of the previous episodes you can see them here.

And anyone have any good suggestions on where we should film additional upcoming episodes of Photowalking? We’d love to get some unique and interesting locations (likely confined to the Bay Area for now). Anyone know how to get us to the top of the Golden Gate or Bay Bridge? We’d love to find some unique places to shoot that would be interesting to viewers.

Also if you are a manufacturer of camera gear and make cool and interesting stuff worth showcasing let us know too. I mostly shoot Canon but am always interested in trying out interesting other stuff.

Update: Michael Doeff has a photo of that Beast of a 600mm as well as some video footage from yesterday’s walk here.


Update #2: Dave Sifry has a post and some of his pics up over here.

Laughing Squid Justin.TV Drink Up Tomorrow Night at Zeitgeist

Laughing Squid � Justin.tv Drinkup at Zeitgeist (Sunday, March 25th) This sounds like a lot of fun, hopefully I’ll be able to make it!