Memo to self: The Charles River curves

Got up this morning about 7am and I didn’t have to be at Lotus until 10, so I had time to exercise. I had a choice: walk 40 steps down the hall to the hotel exercise room and use a treadmill, or go outside, where it was 65 degrees and I could run alongside the Charles River. This was not a difficult choice.

So I left the hotel and turned right on Memorial Drive, heading towards Massachusetts Avenue. I don’t run very fast (nor often enough), but it still took me only a few minutes to get there and I didn’t feel like turning around, so I took the bridge over to Boston, where I took a left, planning to go to the next bridge and come back to Cambridge.

I forgot that the Charles River bends, and the two bridges are not parallel — the distance between them on the Boston side is about double the distance on the Cambridge side. It’d been a while since I’d run outside, and I hadn’t bothered to bring a water bottle along with me, so by the time I got to the bridge, I was hot, tired, and thirsty. I was very happy to get back to Cambridge, where I was only a three-minute walk from my hotel.

I gotta get outside more!

The Need for Speed

I’ve temporarily removed my favorites (“Weblogs to Watch”) and the ad to a random weblog in the interest of speeding up this page. One or the other of them was the culprit in the very slow loading times I mentioned last night, and I didn’t have time to figure out which one it was. Look for a static version of
“Weblogs to Watch” when I get home.

Wines of the Day

Today’s wines are courtesy of American Airlines, who were able to
accomodate my last-minute desire to not only go home early (albeit to
San Francisco rather than San Jose) but also be upgraded to Business
Class en route (there go another 6 stickers!).

Silverado Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 1998

Silverado Vineyards is the Walt Disney family’s winegrowing estate.
Need I say more? Well, I guess I should — the wine was OK, but had
some definite woody undertones (I wonder if I was given the
Chardonnay by accident?). I wouldn’t go out of the way to drink it
again, and I switched wines for the main course.

Ch&226;teau Ste.-Michelle Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon
1996

Now, this was more like it! Nicely full-bodied and a good
accompaniment to the steak (actually, far more appealing than the
steak — I should’ve ordered the chicken Caesar salad without the
dressing, but then I probably would have stuck with the Silverado).

Graham’s Six Grapes Port NV

I’ve almost never drunk port on the ground — but I enjoy it when
flying. This port is very full, almost chewy, with a lingering
aftertaste. It would have been better with a fruit and cheese plate,
but that wasn’t offered on the flight today.

Book of the Day

I’ve been carrying around Geoffrey Moore’s Living on the Fault
Line
for a month or so, ever since our team planning session. I
decided it was time to get the weight out of my briefcase, so I started
reading it soon after takeoff. It’s a good thing that I’m on a six-hour
flight, because I didn’t want to stop before reaching the end — and it
wasn’t just because I’m a compulsive reader (I’ve got
Cryptonomicon with me, and I know that’ll keep me busy for a
long, long time!).

Moore’s thesis is that, in an era of rapid technological innovations and
accompanying market changes, the only valid measure of a company’s
success is its market value — not earnings or revenue. Further, he
claims (and I agree) that market value is based on estimates
of the company’s
ability to generate future earnings, not past performance (though, as we
all know, failing to deliver on projections can punish a company
severely [I write this before hearing IBM’s second quarter earnings or
the market’s reaction to them]) and that those estimatess are largely
driven by two factors: the company’s competitive advantage (the GAP)
and the length of time that that advantage can hold up (the CAP). The
bigger the competitive advantage, the more money the company can make in
a particular time period; the more tenacious that advantage, the longer
the period the market will project those earnings — and market value is
the present value of the sum of the projected earnings for as long as
the
market is willing to believe plausible. So if you have a high advantage
and a long time period when the market believes you can hold that
advantage, you’ll be rewarded with a huge market value
(witness Cisco), while if you’re in a commodity market or one with a
short fuse, your market value will be significantly less (witness Fresh
Choice).
And of course, markets are not static — discontinuous changes pose
threats to successful companies (not the least of which is denial).

The book expands on that thesis and describes the strategies that
companies can use in various phases of the market cycle (drawing on his
earlier work, such as Crossing the Chasm). To me, the most
interesting observation was that the hardest thing for a company to do
is to re-cross the chasm — that is, to conquer a new (or
changed) market when it’s still raking in money from old markets. This,
of course, is another statement of the Innovator’s Dilemma — and it’s
one I’ve seen many times at IBM. I also found his notes on corporate
cultures (in the final chapter) to be on target, as was the discussion
of the need to separate core from context and concentrate on core
activities. Recommended.

Yesterday’s Wine of the Day

After the Advisory Board meeting last night, several of us had dinner at The Blue Room in Cambridge, which I can cheerfully recommend (especially if you’re not paying the bill yourself). I had “Number 1 Tuna”, and to go with it, I had a glass of
1998 Taltarni Sauvignon Blanc (Australia). It was very fruity, and I enjoyed it greatly; I’m going to keep my eyes open for it in local stores.

Missing connections with Extreme Blue

I left Boston early because there was a last-minute change in the schedule for the Extreme Blue interns, and many of them were visiting IBM Research in Hawthorne, NY. I probably won’t get back there before the program is over for the summer; oh, well. At least I’m already home — the flight I was supposed to have taken is running late, so I would have been totally wiped by the time I got back to my house.

By the way, there was a great story about Extreme Blue (and other internship programs) in USA Today for 19 July. I wish there’d been programs like that when I was in college!

Secret Masters of the Web — NOT!

In general, I think W3C is doing fairly well. Not perfect, but not bad. It would be nice, though, if the various people working on different working groups knew more about what each other was doing — this is a problem of growth, and one which shouldn’t be a surprise…but when it sneaks up on you slowly, you don’t necessarily realize what’s going on. So that’s one of the areas I think we’ll be looking at over the next few months.

The Advisory Board meets once a month by phone, with very infrequent in-person meetings. Today’s meeting was more productive than all of the phone calls from the past year put together; we’re going to try to do more in-person meetings, even though all of us have more than enough opportunities to travel. *sigh*

I was going to write more, but something has been horrifyingly slow, and it took five minutes (at least) to flip this page — I’m tired and ready to call it a night. Gotta get up moderately early to visit the Extreme Blue East team tomorrow, too.

Watching FedEx at work

I’ve gotten lucky and found a good and dependable cab driver, so when I have to go to the airport, I call him up and make arrangements in advance for the trip, rather than take my chances with whoever Yellow Cab sends my way. He’s always on time, has a clean cab, makes interesting conversation, and his shocks even work — this is quite an improvement over the normal Silly Valley taxi experience.

But today, I discovered the downside of pre-planned arrangements. I have a 1pm flight to Boston; I was supposed to have a noon phone call, so I asked Gordon to pick me up early enough to get me to the airport in time to make the call there. No problem. Until my call was cancelled — too late to reschedule with Gordon. So I knew I was going to be at the airport earlier than I needed to be, but the prospect of not having to run through the airport didn’t seem to bad, either.

Gordon came on time; we had a fast trip to the airport (it’s amazing how much faster you can travel when it’s not rush hour!), and as I got out of the cab, I looked at the flight display and discovered that my flight was delayed by an hour. I hadn’t even bothered to check before leaving home, since I knew when I was going to be picked up. Oh, well; at least I was able to find a phone, power outlet, and chair at the Admiral’s Club and now I can catch up on my reading while watching FedEx unloading a truck.

[Later…] For a change, I think that my flight was delayed for a good reason. Apparently a passenger on the inbound flight had a medical problem, and they landed in Chicago to get the person off the plane and to a doctor. Right answer!

English is not always English

Andrea and I are having a chat about the differences between various national dialects of English on her weblog. I find it intriguing that differences which are so obvious to me are invisible to her.

Book of the Day

Actually, it’s yesterday’s Book of the Day, but I didn’t post yesterday. The book is The Cluetrain Manifesto; I feel that I could have written large parts of the book myself (maybe not as entertainingly!), as it talks about the things I’ve been doing at IBM for years. For a long time, I described my job as “tearing down the Blue Curtain” — making it possible for IBMers to join the conversation on Usenet by building gateways between Usenet (and BITNET/Internet mailing lists) and IBM’s natively-developed conferencing tools. The software I developed became mostly irrelevant with better Internet connectivity throughout IBM, but I consider connecting IBMers with the rest of the world to have been one of the most satisfying things I’ve done during my entire career.

BlueLogs

Brent announced the change I’d been waiting for to allow all the BlueLogs sites to share a membership group. I need to update the default “It worked!” and
“about” pages before making the announcement, and it appears that making the changes in the default theme has to be done at the server if I read
that HowTo correctly (since I don’t have remote access to the Frontier menus), so that can’t happen before Thursday.

What a clunker of a movie!

No, not X-Men — we haven’t seen it yet. The reviewer in the Mercury News really disliked it; but I’m not sure I’ve read a review from him yet for a movie he actually liked, so I’m not convinced that’s significant.

I’m talking about today’s experiment on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, The Girl in Gold Boots. There were many weird things happening in the Sixties; there were also weird tax laws allowing bad movies to be made as tax shelters. This was one of them. Miss it if you can; not even Mike and the ‘bots could save it.

I guess I can't read well, either

I finished Harry Potter IV this morning, while I should have been getting ready for work. It was a struggle to put it down unfinished last night, but I managed (with help).

In case there’s anyone who’s curious about how the book ends but doesn’t actually plan to read the book, I tell How Harry Potter IV Ends in the next message.

Getting Energized

I spent most of the day talking with the Extreme Blue/West students. I gave a short talk on the value of standards — they kept me honest by asking lots of hard questions. Then I got to meet three of the six teams and learn about their projects; what they’re doing is certainly more interesting and undoubtedly more significant than my summer jobs during college.

Though I guess I was pretty lucky, myself; I worked for The Computer Company (R. I. P.) in their APL timesharing group, doing things to make their offering more competitive. One year, I helped them convert from DOS to OS/360 (writing programs in SNOBOL to help manage the process); another year, I added ASCII terminal support to the system; I also remember writing a text editor in APL which got offered to the customers.

At any rate, I wasn’t able to spend the whole day with them because they had a previous engagement to go see X-Men, and I wasn’t able to come along because I had to go back to the optician and try on new frames. My bifocals should be here in about a week.

Tonight, we go hear about Jewish Bedtime Rituals and Lullabies during services at Shir Hadash. I hope I can stay awake to drive home afterwards.

Shabbat Shalom!

This isn't going to help my standings

falling out of the most-read yesterday list. Strangely enough, I find myself checking that list on a daily basis and have even included it in the Egoboo Department over on your left. I’m not sure why I find it comforting to know that others are reading what I write, since I do it largely because it helps me put the day in perspective, but I do like it when my reader count goes up (especially when it isn’t because I’ve been playing with the site layout and refreshing the page a lot to see what it looks like!). And the odd contribution to the discussion group is welcome, too, as are pointers from other folks’ blogs (thanks, Jim Roepcke, for the favourites browser).

But some days lend themselves to more interesting entries than others, and I’m afraid today is not one of those days. Instead, I’ve enjoyed the marvels of my office all day (I could talk about the barbecue at lunch, but I’m not sure I want to bring it up again), trying to catch up on various projects, none of which include my internal Manila server. Yup, one of those days.

I’ve only got 200 pages or so of Harry Potter IV left, and I’m eager to find out what happens and how You-Know-Who is foiled for another year. I wonder if it’s too early to pre-order book five?

Found: Someone who didn't read Harry Potter IV

I happened to glance at the jacket blurb on my copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last night and confirmed, yet again, the fact that you really can’t judge a book by its cover. Or its blurb.

The blurb talks about the “International Quidditch Championship”, which is interesting, since what’s in the book is the
“Quidditch World Cup” (first mentioned in Chapter One). I guess the secrecy around the book extended to the blurb-writer, too.

Wine of the Day

Martinelli Sauvignon Blanc (1998, Russian River Valley). No funny aftertaste; fairly crisp. I enjoyed it.

Wine Comment of the Day

From Laurie Daniel’s Wine Column in the 12 July 2000 San Jose Mercury News:

“[Some winemakers] make sauvignon blanc in the style of chardonnay, with lots of oak and buttery flavors from malolactic fermentation. (I can’t recommend this last style of sauvignon blanc. If consumers want chardonnay, they have plenty to choose from. Leave our sauvignon blanc grapes alone.)” [Emphasis mine.]

The Vision Thing

Just back from the eye doctor, who says it’s time for me to give strong consideration to getting bifocals as my next pair of glasses, unless, of course, I want to be putting my glasses on and off as I change between reading and focusing farther away.

And when I got out to the optician’s desk, she was already picking out frames that would work well with progressive lenses.

I think they’re trying to tell me something.

Between discussions of bifocals, I asked about my suitability for LASIK correction; my prescription makes me a good candidate, but I would probably still need glasses to converge the images from both eyes into one. As an experiment, the optometrist set his magic gadget to correct my eyes but not have any prism, and I could see a little bit of double vision — it doesn’t bother me now when I don’t wear my glasses because my eyes are sufficiently different that they don’t provide images in close enough focus to confuse my brain. But if both eyes were at 20-20, the situation might be different. It might also be possible to correct one eye for distant vision and the other eye for reading and avoid the double vision that way. But somehow, undergoing LASIK doesn’t seem all that attractive a prospect if I can’t wind up with clear vision in both eyes and no glasses.

Step by step, inch by inch

I seemed to spend most of my day walking between my office and the Extreme Blue zone, working on getting Frontier and Manila up on the Bluelogs server-to-be at IBM. There weren’t any major problems, just minor annoyances, like finding out that the IP address we thought we had was being used by someone else, or realizing that I’d left the serial number of the copy of Frontier in my office. Oh, well, I needed the exercise anyway, since I knew I wasn’t going to get to the YMCA today.

I’ve been getting much-appreciated help from Brent on configuring my server to do some odd things (before I can go public with the server, I want users to be able to use the same userid/password for all the sites on the server, for example; I also need my users to be able to list all the sites).

Hmmm…I wonder if the HTMLFavorites.js script which powers “Weblogs to watch” on this site is available to run on other servers.

I hope to make more progress tomorrow, if my eyes undilate early enough to make it worth the trip to the office.

A surfeit of entertainment

Amazon delivered volumes 2-12 of Star Trek today (the “delayed” shipment arrived by US Mail as quickly as the others arrived by UPS). We watched “Mudd’s Women” this evening, and Jeffrey has opened all of the cases and read the information about each episode. I think this’ll keep us busy for a while.

And I’m still reading Harry Potter IV. In fact, it’s time to go back to it now!

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