Thursday, November 30, 2006

Microsoft Windows Vista launch - today's the day

Microsoft officially launches the next version of its client operating system, Windows Vista, today. As of now, it's available to enterprise customers. It'll ship to consumers like us in January.

I wore my Vista t-shirt last night to celebrate the milestone.

Something tells me this is going to occupy a lot of my time in the days to come. I'm posting this today because when XP shipped in 2001 (and Windows 95 in 1995, and Windows 3.1 in '92, and...) I didn't have a blog. Now that I do, the geek in me feels the need to mark these moments in history. I know, I'm weird that way.

Your turn: Historically significant dates in technology. Please discuss.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wrong side of the tracks


I took a walk by the tracks near my office the other day. It's a depressing stretch of the world, bordered by crumbling, grafitti-covered buildings and populated by no one except for the occasional street person wearing a rubbed out old ski jacket on his way to the nearby bar. Not exactly the kind of place for me to be walking around alone with an expensive camera, but while I was there, the lure of this place was overwhelming.

I think I'll be returning to this place at some point. So many more stories to tell.

Your turn: What are you seeing and feeling in this image?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

2 locks, 2 doors, 2 worlds

Sometimes, you take two pictures of similarly-themed objects that despite their similarities tell two very different stories.

As an example, I'd like to present two pictures of door locks that I took over the past couple of weeks. One was taken in the village of Vail, Colorado, a tony playground for the rich, famous and wannabe-famous. The other was taken on a rundown stretch of Dundas Street, just east of London's downtown core.

After looking at both images on the same screen for long enough, part of me wonders whether my perceptions of beauty need to be expanded a bit.


Vail, CO


London, ON

Your turn: If these doors could tell stories, what would they be?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bark, cubed


When you're in a mountain town way above sea level and the sun is dancing in and out of clouds that intermittently drift flurries over the quiet historic streetscape, you find yourself reaching for the camera very quickly when things brighten up. You may have a mere few seconds to meter, compose and shoot. And if you hesitate, you may not have a chance to come back to whatever scene captured your eye in the first place, because what looks captivating in gentle sun isn't so memorable when the light fades and the flakes threaten to fly into your lens.

So when the sun came out on these tree trunks (they look like silver birch, but I'm hardly an expert), I rather liked the way the surface was painted by the light. The light in Georgetown was different than any I'd ever previously experienced. It was soft, almost gentle in the way it touched the town. Surfaces weren't so much illuminated as they were bathed.

I bet I was the only person who took pictures of these trees on that day. I bet the few passers-by who saw me compose this shot still think I was feeling loopy from the altitude.

Your turn: Have you ever taken pictures of trees just because?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wheat, chaff and light

When you stay at a hotel, you can choose to look at it through one of two perspectives:
  1. An endlessly mundane and eminently forgettable example of modernist "architecture" that does nothing to reflect the uniqueness of the place where it was built.
  2. A place that challenges you to find the unique touches that set it apart from similar facilities along the road well travelled.
I think it's obvious where I stand on this issue. Choose #1 and you never give yourself the chance to learn something new about the place. Choose #2 and you just never know what will turn up.

So as I walked through the halls of the hotel and its attached conference center, I noticed the small flourishes of decoration that made this place just that much different from the other places I've been in recent months. Were they monumentally different? Not exactly. Were they still worth remembering? Absolutely.

So with that in mind, I noticed some displays of wheat in glass cases in a hallway beside the conference center. The overhead halogen directional light reflected the yellow dried grasses quite nicely. It's usually a losing battle to achieve decent results when shooting through glass, but I figured it was worth a try.

While I didn't have the time to capture these as I zipped between conference events during the day, I had a few minutes one evening while waiting for the rest of my group, so I quickly snagged some hand-held shots. I spent as much time explaining what I was doing to passers-by as I did actually taking the pictures.

In the end, I couldn't decide which one of these three stood out. So I've posted all three of them for your viewing enjoyment. Click on them to bring up the hi-res images:


Wild grasses, Westminster, Colorado


Wheat from chaff 1, Westminster, Colorado


Wheat from chaff 2, Westminster, Colorado

Your turn: Which one(s) - if any - do you prefer. Do you believe that the ordinary can give rise to the extraordinary?

Flowers on a hotel lobby table


Since I began hitting the road a little more often, I've come to appreciate hotel lobbies. Because I'm a free-WiFi junkie, I tend to lurk in these transitional places because this is where they typically offer no-charge, no-need-to-register access.

Somewhat cynically, these same hotels will charge you for the privilege of plugging into a conventional wired high-speed modem in your room. I'm sorry, but I have issues with paying between $10 and $15 - and sometimes more - per day for the privilege of being chained to an ergonomically nightmarish hotel desk when free access awaits me a few floors below.

The hotel in Colorado (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for more background on my recent trip west) had an especially lovely lobby. It was festooned with lots of different couches and chairs, arranged in friendly little seating areas around a large fireplace. Near the front entrance was a huge round table with glass vases in the middle. As soon as I first walked in, I knew I wanted to capture this unique fixture, but wasn't sure how.

Since I had left the tripod at home, I set the camera on the table and used the self-timer. The resulting image won't end up framed on my wall, but it takes me back to a moment when a hotel lobby offered a comfortable refuge and an opportunity to reconnect with the rest of the world.

Your turn: What does a refuge on the road look like to you?

Waiting in Denver


There are so many reasons why this picture shouldn't work. Prime among them was my need to overexpose the window in the far background so that there'd be enough light to bring out the foreground elements. Every time I lift the camera to my eye, I make choices, I guess.

But enough of the tech stuff. I originally wanted to take a fast picture of the moving sidewalks at Denver International Airport. I was waiting at the gate with the other members of the Canadian contingent. We were on our way home, and I thought I'd grab a few last glimpses of the place before we boarded. The moving sidewalks seemed worthy of a picture - linear forms seem to attract my attention - so I composed and waited for the passing folks to drift out of the frame.

Apparently, DIA is a very busy place, because I waited for quite a while before the sidewalks were empty. And when it was, there sat a lone woman, waiting for her flight. Suddenly, the image took on a meaning somewhat different from my original intention. I'll never know her story - indeed, I'll never even know her as anything more than a distant silhouette. But that's what makes filling in the blanks from afar so much fun.

Your turn: And her story would be...?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Wing, revisted


On my way to Colorado a couple of weeks ago, I captured a picture of the wing of our Embraer 190 and shared it in this entry. One of my little photographic quirks is I like to revisit similar subjects at diffferent points in time to see if I can bring home a different result.

I do this because photography is anything but a static medium. The camera captures ephemeral glimpses of the world around it, and the resulting scenes are heavily influenced by natural and artificial light. You can walk by the same building every morning for a year, and it will look different every single time because the light is never the same. It evolves through the seasons, and is influenced daily by weather and even by us.

So as we flew away from the sun and into the darkening night, I wanted to capture the last moments of orange light on an impossibly complex piece of engineering that, at that moment, alongside its right-hand twin was holding over a hundred people seven miles above the earth.

Same wing. Same plane. Very different feel. Something tells me I'll be shooting it again sometime soon. And once again, it'll look completely different.

Your turn: How does this image make you feel?

Friday, November 24, 2006

A window of warmth


Few things are as comforting as sitting down next to a gentle window scene on a cold day with a hot mug of something in your hands and a group of like-minded kind souls with whom you can share the experience.

I found this particular piece of glass in Vail, in a Starbucks of all places. After walking around the village for a while, our group was a little on the chilled side - yes, that is snow on the ground, as we were there a mere week before the slopes opened - so we popped in and chatted for a bit. The banter that flew around the table was lively, as befits a group of analysts, journalists and industry experts from around the world. It was one of those moments that pretty much seals your memory of a very unique day.

It's funny how you can find warmth and friendship in a place so far from home.

Your turn: Have you found similar experiences in a distant place?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Moo on a plain


When you find yourself sitting in a large, comfy bus on its way into the mountains, you have a number of choices: sleep, chat with the folks sitting next to you, read the safety pamphlet in the seat pocket, or stare out the window.

Since I hadn't ever been to this part of the world - this road snakes up from the Denver area and eventually connects with I-70. Eventual destination: Vail - I found myself staring out the window, fascinated by a landscape unlike anything I had ever seen before. Elements seemed to be bigger than life: flatlands, mountains and sky all seemed to dominate the senses. The only things that seemed smaller were things that were alive.

To wit, the cow and the tree in this image almost pale in comparison to the natural box in which I found them. And since it wouldn't look anything like this on the farmland a mere five minutes from my house, I shot through the tinted bus windows so that I'd be able to remember this very new, very cool scene.

Normally, I go in close. Distant, tiny subjects don't usually do it for me. Vacation images of tiny little people surrounded by gigantic scenes of nothingness seem to dominate my nightmares. But something about this composition compelled me to grab it. Sometimes, rules are meant to be broken.

Post script: After looking through the viewfinder in a moving vehicle, I turned as green as the grass you see above. Sometimes, photography really can make you sick.

Your turn: Do you go in close? Do you step back? Why?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fixtures on a windswept main street

While wandering the gorgeously detailed streets of Georgetown, Colorado, I came across some old fixtures and machines that almost begged to have their picture taken. Of course, logic dictates that they're technically incapable of begging. But they beckoned me to take the camera out all the same.

This is a giant old compressor that I found just beside the town's main drag. I'm not sure what an obsolete piece of machinery was doing sitting out in the open, but I realize it wasn't really my place to ask. I had a camera in my hand, and I wasn't leaving until I captured the texture of a machine that had likely been sitting there, ignored, for longer than I've been alive.


Barely a block away, I had to sit way down on the sidewalk to get the angle that I wanted for this fire hydrant. I've taken hydrant pictures before (see here) and it's a theme that doesn't seem to get old. They look different in every town, and it's always a challenge to try to capture these fairly static pieces of metal in unique, compelling ways. Of course, this was lost on the local folks who wondered why the stranger in the red hooded sweatshirt was splayed out on the cold concrete.

For the memory of the moment, of course.

Your turn: The next time you're out and about, please take a moment to identify - and capture, if you've got a camera handy - a piece of machinery or infrastructure that would otherwise be forgotten. What kinds of things do you think you'll find?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More glimpses of Georgetown


There's something comforting about being in a town that's virtually surrounded by mountains. The steep slopes seem to protect everything below them, shielding them from the extremes of the weather and giving a certain warmth to the buildings and the people who live in their shadows.

Visually, though, this is difficult to capture with a camera. I tried. Often. But had a hard time with it. The angles don't always cooperate, and when you've never been there before, it's difficult to know where to go to get the pictures that you want. The day we came through town, we were additionally challenged by rapidly changing weather: brilliantly sunny one moment, gray clouds with flying snow the next.

Still, I had a great time trying. And I think I came home with the kind of images that take me right back - and more importantly allow me to share that experience with anyone who reads the blog.

The experience has inspired me to explore other new-to-me places in a similar way: just walk the streets and capture whatever appeals to the eye. The story will almost unfold on its own from that point forward.

Your turn: Are these images working for you? Should I keep sharing more glimpses of Georgetown?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Red hill mining town


Georgetown, Colorado lies along the I-70 where it snakes up the eastern edge of the Rockies toward Vail. It is a mining town that, like so many others in the region, seemingly wears its history out in the open.

The main street - 6th Street, actually - is a lovingly preserved swath of history, filled with so much color and texture that the eye almost doesn't know where to look first. As our group got off the bus for a midpoint walkabout on our way further through the mountains, I relished the opportunity to stroll through the almost deserted streets and pick off the minute elements with my camera.

As I tend to do when I'm wandering with a camera, I lost track of time and quickly made my way back to the waiting bus. I hustled back up the road, but stopped dead in my tracks when I came face-to-face with a pristine-condition high-wheeled bicycle, sitting peacefully against the tucked-in doorway of a store that had closed for the day. I had little time to shoot, so I triggered off a couple of quick images and hoped for the best.

At first glance, the wheel looks fragile, gossamer-like in its emptiness. Yet that spindly profile hides an inner strength that far exceeds that first impression. Kind of like the town where it sits.
I'm glad I took the time. I hope you are, too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Slice of life


Pie fascinates me. Yes, it tastes good, especially when I'm not the one who created it. But my limitless gluttony is only part of the story: Pie is one of the few foods that can be translucent enough to shoot when backlit.

I noticed this a few hours before taking this particular image. My wife and I were sitting at the kitchen table with friends. The whole pie-as-backlit-subject concept suddenly popped into my head as we started to eat dessert. To validate this new theory, I lifted my pie-laden plate above my head and tilted it slightly, trying to see if the light would be worth shooting.

Suddenly, the pie shifted and started to accelerate toward my face. Fearful of a nose covered with meringue, I rapidly dropped the plate toward the table....and accidentally slammed it into my waiting mug.

The plate shattered, pie went everywhere, our friends laughed, my wife did not. It was the first plate I've broken in 14 years of marriage. I apologized a number of times through the evening, and was upset with myself for allowing it to happen.

But that didn't stop me from heading back downstairs to the tidied-up kitchen just before bed. On the surface, I was hungry. More deeply, I wanted to finish the photographic thought I had started earlier in the evening. I perched the plate beside the sink, turned on the fluorescent task light over the faucet, popped the camera onto the tripod, metered the scene and racked off a few long-ish (20-30-second) exposures.

Your turn: I know I risked marital strife to get this one. Would you?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Revealing faucet


Click the image above for the full-resolution version. Take a few moments to explore the results: lots going on all over the place.

I've written previously about how, in the absence of anything else to do during those quiet times in a hotel room, I have been known to take pictures of the faucets and other things in the bathroom, and I'll likely do it again if given the chance.

This image stunned me when I first previewed it on my camera. The multiple reflections revealed something new every time I came back to it. The black and white-based contrast made the chrome stand out even more than it would have had I shot it in color. It is images like this that make me glad I broke the bank to bring home a camera that allows me to shoot like this.

Your turn: What are you seeing in this picture? Do you like this one?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Carmi's Playstation 3 Podcast

It had to happen sooner or later: I was destined to speak about the new Sony Playstation 3 - aka the PS3 - with a journalist. That day came yesterday when I chatted with CFRA's Rob Snow about the latest must-have toy for the gamer set.

Long story short, here's what I think about video games: waste of time. And here's what I think about the doofii who wait for hours outside big box stores, hoping to be the first on their block to have one of the coveted devices: losers. Or, as William Shatner said to the Star Trek convention attendees on a now-classic Saturday Night Live sketch: "Get a life."

CFRA is a radio station in Ottawa, Ontario. The city is Canada's capital, and is also the core of a fairly dense sector of high tech development. Rob covers the business markets there, and occasionally speaks to me on topics of interest to the tech/business community.

I've added yesterday's interview to my podcast channel. I've got two interviews posted there now (see this entry for the intro to my crazy podcasting experiment) and will post more as they are available online. If you're really keen, you can subscribe to my feed here. CFRA has also posted the MP3 file here.

Your turn: My position on video games...agree or disagree? Why/why not?

One more thing: The Associated Press is reporting waiting line violence at a number of PS3 campout sites across the U.S. Like I said, moronic.

Sunrise in Westminster, CO


I don't sleep well when I'm away from home. When it's a business trip and I'm flying solo, it's even worse. As much fun as it is to be exploring a new part of the world and meeting fascinating new people, I miss the comforts of home. I miss the voice of the person who chose me and the voices of our children. I admit I'm not entirely comfortable with the tomb-like silence of an empty hotel room.

Add in the differences in time zones and I often find myself waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. This time, I stared at the ceiling for a while before I pulled out my notes and re-read them. I'm not sure what prompted me to look up after I'd been at it for a while, but when I did, I noticed the sky had gone from pitch-black to rather bright - and it was growing a bright orange strip just above the horizon.

I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen the sunrise. So I prepared a makeshift tripod - an empty water bucket and some big towels - and got the camera ready.

As the clouds were gradually turned into the color of fire by the rising sun, I shot as many pictures as I could, hoping to capture the one that would symbolize that very lonely moment when the world was waking up, and a stranger in a quiet hotel room tried to record it all so he could tell the story when he got home.

Your turn: How do you explain our fascination with the rising sun? What do you feel - as opposed to think - when you see this image?

--
Related link:
The view from the balcony, October 2009

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Microsoft Zune Language Pickle

From the annals of consumer product naming language faux-pas comes the latest one, courtesy of Microsoft. It seems the name of their just-released wannabe iPod-killer, the Zune, means something somewhat different in Quebecois slang French.

CanWest's Randy Boswell, in his just-published article, Microsoft dismisses music player's linguistic lapse, reports the following:

"A Microsoft spokeswoman in Montreal told CanWest News Service that 'it was pointed out to us' during focus groups in the province that the proposed brand name sounded much like a French-Canadian term used as a euphemism for penis or vagina."

"The French word 'zoune' and the variant 'bizoune' typically serve as a less jolting way of referring to male or female genitalia when addressing children."
Me again: This brings to mind the Buick LaCrosse (renamed in Canada because in Quebec-slang, it could refer to something unmentionable in a family newspaper) and the Chevrolet Nova (wasn’t selling in Latin American countries because it means “won’t go” in Spanish.)

What's next? Microsoft Penis 2.0?

Your turn: Got any other examples of badly named products?

About the picture: I snapped this image of the Zune this past Monday afternoon at the Super Target near our hotel/conference site. I came across a couple of store employees setting up the display a day before its Tuesday launch. I excitedly asked them questions about the product - partly to test their knowledge, and partly to warm them up for the inevitable photographic pitch that followed.

See, I had my camera with me (I know, big surprise) and once I finished playing 20 questions with the employees, I asked the younger one if I could snap a picture. He looked at the older guy, who promptly told me no. Not "no" because there was any reason to say no. But "no" because he enjoyed his little opportunity to go off on a power trip. His tone was condescending. He was nasty, and I don't like nasty.

So I sauntered off to another part of the store, and eventually meandered back to the display, surreptitiously looking for my new nemeses. They were two rows over. So I ducked back, zoomed in, turned the flash off, cranked up the ISO and reeled off a few pictures. I got bolder, and approached the display for some closer-in images. Still no sign of them. I walked right up to the thing and kept shooting. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, young guy appeared. Busted. "Hey, I said no pictures!" I smiled, plaintively said I couldn't help myself, that I was addicted, and walked away, hoping that he hadn't just summoned the store's rent-a-cop on his walkie-talkie.

I got to the front of the store and felt the pit of my stomach leap into my throat when I actually saw said rent-a-cop come out of his office and walk toward the electronics section. But by then my group had already begun to gather by the checkout counter. Zune boy and his minder would have to wonder what happened to the snap-happy guy with the strange accent.

I know, someday I'll get caught. That day, thankfully, hasn't yet come. And until it does, I'll keep shooting.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Plated


I've never been one to underestimate the appeal of a side-on look at a stack of plates. We use them every day, but we likely never take the time to look at them in any great amount of detail.

That's too bad, because they're pretty good at reflecting color, light and form. I think I need to spend more time bringing my camera to dinner.

Your turn: Do you take pictures at the kitchen or restaurant table? What kind of response do you typically receive when you pull the camera out?

One more thing: It's been an uncharacteristically quiet week here at Written Inc. The Colorado trip was hugely successful - whatever you do for a living, I highly recommend spending time with smart, devoted people, because it's inspiring. My Seattle briefing was scrubbed, so I flew home late last night and promptly crashed almost immediately after getting through the door. I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck, so I'll be home today, trying to get better. More pictures and thoughts from the road in the days to come.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Water, brushed


Click on the image to bring up the full-resolution version.

There is a large pond just outside my hotel here. When I first arrived, I had a bit of extra time after checking in, so I did a walkabout and came across some little falls by the edge. It's pretty in an artificial landscape kind of way, but I liked the sense of peace in the middle of an exurban stretch of hotels, stores and restaurants. When I'm far from home, I look for the little things that keep me grounded.

The light was fading, so I didn't have a whole lot of time or a whole lot of flexibility. I rested the camera against a railing and hand-held this long exposure. I took a few just to make sure I didn't screw it up.

There is something dreamy about what slow shutter speeds to do fast-moving water. It's almost like a soft brush-stroke, and it makes me wish I could sit beside that quiet place for just a little while longer before I head home.

Your turn: What three words come to mind when you see this image? Should I post more like it? Water seems to be another recurring theme for me these days.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

On a wing and a prayer


I've landed in Denver and now find myself working wirelessly in the lobby of the Westin Westminster. I've chatted online with my wife, zinged a few e-mails around the world, and uploaded the pictures I took en route to my laptop.

There's something genteel about sitting alone in an absolutely strange place, using technology to maintain a tenuous connection with the world you've left behind. Of course, it's virtual and oh so limited. I can't, for example, reach through my keyboard to hug my wife and kids. Yet taking a quick self portrait and flinging it immediately home is a bit of a kick. It means I get to have a bit of home with me.

I took this image as we cruised at 38,000 feet in an Air Canada Embraer 190. I liked the light, and I liked the simplicity of the lines. The sheetmetal on a new aircraft always seems to present a pristine, reflective surface, and I'm glad our great big ball of gas decided to cooperate this time out.

More notes from the road as they pop into my head.

Your turn: What comes to mind as you view this image?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Leaving on a jet plane

I've posted this picture before, but it comes to mind once again as I pack my suitcase and prepare to leave my family behind for a few days. I captured it at Toronto's Pearson International Airport a year ago August, and it remains one of my favorites. [Click on it for the full-res version.]

This upcoming trip will be an interesting one: in and around Denver from tomorrow to Tuesday, then off to Seattle until Thursday, followed by a red eye flight to New York and Toronto before coming home early Friday morning (and presumably collapsing from exhaustion.)

I'm spending time with HP in Colorado and Microsoft at its Redmond headquarters. HP's introducing its quad-core processor machines at an event called QUADfest, while Microsoft is going deep on its enterprise search strategy. My brain's going to hurt by the time I get home.

It's the longest I've ever been away from my family, and I'm torn about everything I'll miss while I'm gone. Walks to school, tuck-ins at night, and excited hugs when I get home from work. It'll all be replaced by five solitary nights in hotels in two different cities on the other side of the continent. I'm also torn about leaving my wife alone for this long. Needless to say, she isn't pleased.

But it's what I do if I want to build my career. It exposes me to new groups of influential folks who can help me continue to expand my horizons and drive a better life for my brood. Staying home just seems like settling for the status quo. I don't do well with the status quo.

This image is one of my favorite airport scenes. It captures what I was feeling just before we turned onto the runway for our takeoff run. The images have been powerful ones for me for years: an awakening airport, a long journey ahead, a beckoning open sky, a single person sitting in the middle of it all, trying to remember what it all looks and feels like.

And wishing I could take them all with me so I wouldn't have to experience this alone.

Your turn:
Ambition vs. togetherness. Please discuss.

One more thing: I'm toting the Nikon with me. I'm hoping for some serious pictures of mountains, water, and whatever else crosses my path.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pomme


Artists have been drawing bowls and/or baskets of fruit since the beginning of time. So whenever I see a few seeded wonders hanging around the table or counter just waiting to be eaten, I feel a somewhat historically-based need to remember the moment.

I captured this image a few months back. What I liked about the apple was that it lacked virtually all the trademarks of a classic apple. No brilliant red, no shiny sheen. Just a basic shape that didn't visually jump out of the basket at me. The lighting was also somewhat low-key - all the right ingredients for the kind of picture where composition matters more than the wow factor of color.

Which is why I captured it. Philosophically speaking, of course, I'd also be bringing home pictures of Betty long before I'd take any of Veronica, Mary-Ann instead of Ginger, the Chrysler Building before the Empire State, and the plain, sweet little used Mazda that was my first car instead of some Ferrari. Flash isn't always more interesting to look at. Once you get past the superfluous bling, there often isn't a whole lot there.

Your turn: I'm still leaning heavily toward more basic themes in my work (see here and here for more background.) What do we miss when we ignore the more subtle scenes around us?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Quoted - a very good media day

Some days, it pays to get out of bed. Sure, yesterday dawned incredibly wet and miserable, and I slogged through the rain on my bike to get to work. But it was all worth it because I enjoyed two pretty cool pieces of media exposure.
  • First, I was on television (!) Report On Business Television (ROBTv) asked me to comment on Nortel's just-released quarterly results. I spoke with Paul Waldie - who also writes for the Globe and Mail newspaper - and the piece aired last evening just after 6:30 p.m. Here's the link to the stream. (And, yes, I was called Carmen Levy on-air.)
  • Second, I was quoted in a piece, Control in a single protocol, in the National Post. It's on Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony, and Danny Bradbury wrote it.
Your turn: Some days, I think I look goofy on television. From the hands waving to the eyebrows, I suspect I'm a little too effusive on camera. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The wheels in the sky


I don't often post more than one image from a given series. I think I should change that strategy, because sometimes you end up with a very different view - and a very different feeling - despite the fact that the only thing that's really moved is the minute hand of your watch.

Before you crinkle your nose and wonder what the heck I'm talking about, click over to my entry from September 14th, entitled Take off, eh. (No worries, I'll wait here.)

[Tick, tock, tick tock...]

OK, now that you're back, it's pretty obvious that both images were taken from the same seat, only the first one was taken right at takeoff from Toronto, and this later one was captured close to touchdown in London. Same seat, same angle, radically different background, completely different feel.

As with my other recently-posted overhead view, I wonder if the folks below knew or cared that there were eyes looking down on them. Whether or not they did it's always comforting to know that the rich tapestry of farmland waits for me every time I come home from far away. My heart races when this warm scene first presents itself outside my window.

As I prepare for another trip out west, I look forward to this moment, because I know the real joy of my homecoming lies not too far beyond.

Your turn: I hope you'll take a lingering look out your window and share the scene with us in a comment. Why is it memorable? Why do we look out the window in the first place?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lost: 4 Starbucks laptops

Overpriced coffee purveyor Starbucks has joined a long, sad list of organizations that have lost laptops containing information on thousands of current and former employees. This time out, the damage is four laptops, two of which contained confidential data on 60,000 people.

No word on whether the laptops in question were garnished with low-fat foam and cost twice as much as anything else on the market.

Your turn: I know what I think whenever I hear about big companies compromising the privacy and security of clients and employees because they can't - or won't - adequately control how mobile devices like laptops are used. As an analyst, this is what I do. But what about you? Does this make your blood boil? Does a data breach of this nature prompt you to not do business with the company? Should it?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Jammed redux


A couple of weeks ago, I took my camera out at the breakfast table and decided to explore the marmelade jar. The resulting post was entitled Jammed. (If you haven't seen it yet, feel free to click on the link. I'll wait here.)

I'm including another image from that series because I often run into a bit of a photographer's dilemma in that I simply can't decide which image from a given series is my favorite. This one stuck in my mind because of the light. It paints out over the curved surface of the jar's label in a way that reminds me why this has always been one of my comfort foods. The softness of the light is something I didn't plan for when I set up the picture: it just happened.

The label's details also invite further investigation. I will read anything I can get my hands on when I'm alone at the breakfast table. And when I run out of newspapers, magazines, geek trade papers and school memos, I'll pore over product labels, too. I'm weird that way, but I hope you've enjoyed this second glimpse at my early-morning world.

(As with every image on this site, click on the image to bring up the high-resolution version.)

Your turn: Morning rituals. Why? Do you have any of your own?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ignored architecture


Building detail, Deerfield Beach, Florida, December, 2004

The buildings in most late-20th century condo developments are likely not going to either win any architectural awards or stand the test of time as examples of classic design. They're well-built, and they do the job for which they were designed. No more, no less.

I suspect most people agree with me, because they never seem to pay attention to the few architectural details that were designed into these buildings. So I was as surprised as the next person when I looked up while on vacation and saw this scene. From afar, it looks somewhat benign. But from the low angle, it jumped out at me.

Your turn: Take out your camera and shoot a similarly plain detail. I'd bet pretty much anything can be made to look interesting with the right perspective, angle, composition and thought.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Quoted - CNNMoney

I've seriously fallen behind in my efforts to post links to all the places I've been quoted. I've just had too much work on the go in recent weeks and months.

But here's one that jumps out of the ordinary: I've been quoted for a piece on CNNMoney.com (pause while I do a bit of a happy dance. This is a significant hit.)

It's entitled The next big thing in batteries, and it was written by Grace Wong out of New York. Here's what I said:
"The chances of alternative batteries gaining a foothold is much higher than a year ago before the issue with lithium ion batteries became mainstream," said Carmi Levy, an analyst with Info-Tech Research Group.
And it was the lead quote, too. Cool! (They also built a sidebar out of my research note. Look to the right.)

Some days, I feel like I'm leading a bit of an unreal life.

But wait, there's more: Hell did indeed freeze over last night as Microsoft announced a partnership with Novell to develop and promote products and services for (say it with me) SUSE Linux. We sent out a press release (it's on Yahoo!Finance here) and I've pretty much spent my day speaking with reporters. Lots of fresh links coming, but if you're really keen, Google search me here, or Google News search me here.

And still more: Here's a quick rundown of some of the key pickups following the Microsoft/Novell announcement:
Investor's Business Daily: Windows, Windows And... Linux? by Patrick Seitz
BetaNews: What Microsoft + Novell Means Going Forward, by Scott M. Fulton, III

Like a rock


Deerhurst, Ontario, August 2006

We often think of rock as being limitlessly strong, inviolable. But like all materials, it will fail at some point. And when it does, it will do so in predictable, often spectacular fashion.

And it will make for a memorable image.

Your turn: What three words does this picture bring to mind?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Directions


Highway 401, near Toronto's Pearson International Airport

Looking down just after takeoff, the common thought is that everything down there looks so small. But given the strange way I view the world, I don't tend to have common thoughts.

What churns through my brain is that every vehicle down there contains at least one person with a unique destination. Everyone's got a story, and there are arguably a few dozen in this picture alone. I wonder if it occurred to any of those wheeled travellers at that moment that they were being looked at, and thought about.

Your turn: Do you ever wonder about stuff like this when you're in transit?