Musings

Paris Terror Attacks 20 Years Apart

My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the terrorist attacks tonight in Paris.

I’m reminded of an event just over 20 years ago when I was an exchange student living in Paris, France. On the morning of October 17, 1995, there was a terrorist attack on the RER C train. I wrote at the time:

“First, the métro today was full of people! I heard on the speaker that the RER C was closed… I made the connection… un nouveau attentat s’est passé. 29 people were injured in the bomb attack that happened at 7:00 this morning. I’m not scared… but it’s getting a little scary in Paris.”

More information on the 1995 bombings here.

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The start and finish to my Firehouse 5K race.
Exercise, Running

Firehouse 5K – Great First 2 Miles, Terrible Last Mile

The inaugural Firehouse 5K run was held today at Santa Clara University. I had heard about it only a week before and signed up just days before the event. The last organized run I had done was the Tortoise and Hare run in 2008 with my friend Felix. And, before that, my last official race was the San Dieguito Half Marathon back in ninth grade! Suffice it to say, I didn’t have much experience to draw on for today’s run.

Most of my runs over the last several months have been of the 5K distance, and I was gunning for a sub-20 minute run, which I thought would be very doable based on a successful sub-20 at the end of July and several sub-21 minute training runs (during which I know I could have pushed myself harder). On Friday, I biked the course, making mental notes at the mile markers. Starting at the entrance to Santa Clara University on Palm Drive, runners turned right on El Camino and right on the Alameda to reach the first mile marker at Market Street. From there, runners continued down Market until turning right on Jefferson. Half a mile later or so, runners turned right at Harrison Street for the second mile. They then continued until hitting El Camino, where they turned right and headed back to Palm Drive and into Buck Shaw Stadium for the finish. The circular nature of the course reminded me of my regular neighborhood route, except that all the streets would be closed off to vehicular traffic (my route has two signals and multiple driveways to watch out for). The conditions and route seemed ideal for a sub-20 minute run and possibly even a personal record. Due to these factors, I was very confident in my abilities leading up to the race.

Waiting for the start of the Firehouse 5K run.

Waiting for the start of the Firehouse 5K run.

At 7:30 am, I lined up with runners of all ages a few rows behind the starting line. I could see a couple of adults in the front who looked very fast, and I wanted to see if I could keep pace with them. When the gun went off at 8:00 am, I found myself spending a lot of energy navigating through the throng of people ahead of me, which you can see in the video below. Once I got through the crowd, I sped up and passed a number of people. The two fast runners at the beginning were way ahead, and I focused my efforts on staying behind what looked like a father and son duo running a sub-6 minute pace.

Five things made the run less than optimal:

First, and most important, I went out way too hard in the beginning of the run. Strava said I completed the first mile in 5:55 and two miles in 12:27, both personal records. Unfortunately, I paid immensely for this effort, because the last mile was done in 7:45! My mental state weakened to the point where I slowed to a walk three times for just a few seconds, allowing several runners to catch up and pass me. I knew that a sub-20 was out of the question, and I would have to struggle just to achieve a sub-21 minute run. I was sad in that final mile since I knew I could do so much better. My training runs were much better than this run!

Second, I developed a sore throat the night before on Halloween. I felt that horrible itchy feeling in my throat and was concerned that it would affect my breathing. I woke up this morning with a layer of mucus in my throat. 

Third, I got a nasty blister on my right foot, despite wearing double socks and applying lotion on my soles. After the race, I could not apply any pressure on that foot. It’s still pretty painful twelve hours later!

Fourth, my shoes were pretty worn down after nearly 400 miles of running. My left shoe had a sizeable hole on the left edge due to my supinated running style. I was concerned about my shoelaces coming untied, so I double-knotted them in the morning. I have yet to learn the Ian Knot, which is supposed to be much better at not coming undone. I’d like to have a pair of H Streets that I can just race in, but the shoe is currently discontinued. Please Puma, bring back the H Streets!

Does the H in H Street mean hole?

Does the H in H Street mean hole?

Finally, I felt that I spent way too much time waiting around for the event to begin. We arrived at the race expo just before 7:00 am, so we spent forty minutes milling around. Just after 7:30, all of the runners were led to the start on Palm Drive, where we waited another 30 minutes for the race to begin. Normally, when I run, I just go out the door and start, little to no warmup required.

Ultimately, I have to be happy that my pace over the first two miles had me well under a 20-minute 5K.

Despite the disappointing end to the run, there is a silver lining. The results have come in, and I came in first place for my age group at 21:17 (6:52/mile) and ninth overall. We had to leave early to go to a birthday party, so if there was any podium ceremony by age group, I missed it.

All’s well that ends well. Although I am personally disappointed with how the last mile went, I am satisfied with my age group and overall finish. I’ll chalk up the final mile as a learning experience to avoid the next time I sign up for a race. And, for the next 5K race, I’ll be able to draw on this experience to improve on my time.

The Firehouse Run Podium

The Firehouse Run Podium

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Glowforge 3D Laser Printer
Technology

Glowforge 3D Laser Printer Pre-ordered

Came across this intriguing 3D Laser Printer from Glowforge. It can cut a piece of wood, leather, acrylic, fabric, cardboard and paper up to a quarter-inch thick. It can engrave on metal like the back of an iPhone or MacBook laptop. I have been working on some craft ideas lately, and the Glowforge might be just the thing that can turn my crude prototypes into reality.

The company is having a 50% pre-order discount for the next twenty days. The printer is not inexpensive — the discounted prices range from $2000 to $4000 — but I would imagine making the things it can create by hand or via outsourcing would cost much more. Use the referral code http://glowforge.com/referred/?kid=EevOCw to get $100 your own Glowforge; I’ll get $100 off mine as well.

Shipments are expected to start in December, 2015 to early 2016. They’ve already amassed $6 million dollars in pre-orders. The team behind the Glowforge seem more experienced when it comes to shipping products, so I’m hopeful that they will ship on-time.

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My 20-year old bike is ready for another ascent up Montebello.
Cycling, Exercise

Low-Key Hillclimbs 2015 #1: Montebello Road

This has been a very good year for completing my fitness goals. I have been able to lose a significant amount of weight, break my high school running times in the 5K and half marathon, and build good strength through pull-ups.

Until this weekend, however, I had been neglecting my cycling. Most of my Strava friends are cyclists, and I admit to a bit of jealousy when I see their rides on my dashboard. With the new kiddo at home, it’s easier for me to go out for a 30-60 minute run near my home than to pack up the bike, drive to Stanford or Canada Road, and cycle my favorite routes.

Fortunately, I have Dan Connelly and the Low-Key Hillclimbs to temporarily get me out of my running and pull-up habit, if only for a weekend. I received Dan’s email about the start of the 2015 series last week and quickly signed up for the annual kickoff event up Montebello Road in Cupertino. Last year I set a PR in the Low-Key series 41:13 (40:19 according to Strava). Since last October, I had lost an additional 12 pounds, going from 146-148 to 134-136 pounds. Would the weight loss be enough to get me under 40 minutes? Would I be able to best my all-time PR of 39:15-39:30 that I set back in September, 2003? Though I was cautiously optimistic, I knew there was only one way to find out — climb it!

Cyclists gather at the start of the ride up Montebello.

Cyclists gather at the start of the ride up Montebello.

On Saturday morning, I arrived at the parking lot off of Stevens Canyon Road shortly after 9:00 am. The air was crisp and the forecast signaled a relatively cool day compared with last year’s blistering heat. I saw my Low-Key friends, Garrett, Stephen, Han, Larry, and Christine. Dan and Richard were volunteers this week, so they were not cycling. I warmed up with a slow ride to the base of Mt. Eden with Stephen, Han, and Garrett. By the time I got back to the start-line at the second parking lot, it was 9:45 am. I filled up my bike’s tires and waited in the back of the group for the next 25 minutes, mentally preparing myself for the 40 minute, 5.3 mile, and 1940 foot ride up Montebello Road.

During the mass start events, Low-Key riders organize themselves by groups. The first group are the fast cyclists, followed by groups 2, 3, and 4. The fifth and final group are for the “slow” riders, and that’s where I placed myself again.

What I wrote last year is pretty spot on as to my gameplan:

Montebello is pretty unrelenting for the first two miles until it evens out for 0.75 miles at the school. The last two miles aren’t as bad as the first, but they are still pretty steep… One thing that I wanted to try differently from previous rides was not spinning on the easiest gear too much. I have a compact crank on my aging 1995-era Trek 5200 and a 12-25 8-speed cassette. I stuck with the 19, 21, and 23 cogs for the majority of the ride. I figured I’d rather spin more slowly but go faster than spin quickly but go more slowly up the climb.

Besides the cooler weather, they have paved the road near the top of Montebello and I only brought one water bottle with me on the ride.

Grinding up Montebello. Photo by Tom Everman

Grinding up Montebello. Photo by Tom Everman

Han told me before the event that he was gunning for 36 minutes. I figured if I could keep him in my sights, I would be in good shape to break 40 minutes. Within minutes of the start of the climb, I could tell from his steady and strong pace that I was not going to keep up with him. I then focused my pedaling attention on this kid who must have been 12 years old (turns out he was 14 years old and completed the climb in 34:30!). Spinning his gears so fast, the kid was also going too fast for me. So, I looked at the next guy, and the next guy, and the next guy, until it was basically just me and the road all by myself for 10 meters ahead and behind. I settled into a hard yet manageable pace. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I was going that much faster, and the flat section and last two miles were especially hard on me. I felt more comfortable and powerful riding out of the saddle, but I only did that on the really steep portions. Were I to ride Montebello again, I’d go all Pantani more often. Maybe it would feel more like running. I was amazed at the two participants, John Burton and Lisa Penzel, who ran up the mountain and finished in 49 and 51 minutes! I might make it a goal next year to compete in the running division; I just need someone to drive me back down, since I know my legs will be shot!

My time according to Strava was 38:43 and the Low-Key official time was 39:09. I broke 40 minutes and bested my PR up Montebello! Congrats also go out to Stephen, who confided in me that he had no climbing legs this year and thought he would be closer to 50 minutes than the 40:40 he crossed the line at. Overall, I’m pleased with my performance, and I know I can do better. I credit this ride to my improved overall fitness; were I to have more cycling miles under my belt, I think 35-36 minutes is do-able. That would put me right around the middle of the pack, which is fine with me.

I won’t be able to attend next’s week climb up Page Mill Road, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to make Old La Honda on November 14. My fastest time up OLH was somewhere around 21:40 some 18 years ago. I’d be happy to get 22 minutes at this point.

Both Stephen and I were happy with our performances today up Montebello.

Both Stephen and I were happy with our performances today up Montebello.

Cyclists hang out after reaching the summit of Montebello Road.

Cyclists hang out after reaching the summit of Montebello Road.

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We visited Alex at his home in Colorado in August, 2015.
AllThingsD, Life

Remembering Alex King

It is with great sadness that I learned my friend, Alex King passed away last night. We were fortunate to visit him and his family last month in Colorado. Alex and I shared a love for photography and technology. We worked on many projects over the years, including the original AllThingsD website for Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. His work in the WordPress community helped make WordPress what it is today. Alex, you will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Meeting Alex

I first met Alex through a mutual friend, Eric Cheng, who was working at E.piphany. I learned from Eric that a co-worker of his was looking to buy a digital camera. I happened to be selling my Canon EOS-D30. So, on February 7, 2002, I went to the office to meet up with Luke.

Meeting Alex King for the first time while selling my Canon EOS-D30 to his cube mate.

Meeting Alex King for the first time while selling my Canon EOS-D30 to his cube mate.

This is how I met Alex for the first time, as he was Luke’s cube-mate at E.piphany. Little did both of us know at the time, but our paths would cross many times in software, photography and friendship over the next decade.

Collaboration

Alex and I worked on several projects together in the early 2000s. We hacked together an application called Read it to Me, which created MP3 files from unread items in one’s NetNewsWire RSS feed using Apple’s Text-to-Speech feature.

Alex also gave me the idea to develop MsgFiler, an application that allows OS X Mail users to file their messages to mailboxes quickly using only the keyboard. It’s since become one of my most popular software applications, with thousands of devoted customers around the world.

Holding up old Palm and Handspring devices in Cupertino on January 23, 2003. The one Alex is displaying is actually a phone!

Holding up old Palm and Handspring devices in Cupertino on January 23, 2003. The one Alex is displaying is actually a phone!

Furiously typing away on our keyboards for the camera’s sake on February 26, 2003.

Furiously typing away on our keyboards for the camera’s sake on February 26, 2003.

Stanford Golf

In 2003, I was spending the year as a Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford University. I was also doing photography for the campus newspaper and was tasked to photograph the Stanford Golf team during the Nelson Invitational held at the Stanford Golf Course on October 26, 2003.

Knowing that Alex was an avid golfer, I invited him to tag along. For both of us, it was our first time photographing a golf tournament. He gave me a number of tips about shooting golf, and his photos turned out much better than mine that day.

We followed two groups of Stanford golfers, Pat Phillips and Brandon Lawson and Matt Savage and Scott MacDonald, through the front nine before calling it a day. I figured that there would be crowds of people following the matches, so I was surprised to see that it was just the two of us for much of the morning.

Photographing the Stanford golf team with Alex.

Photographing the Stanford golf team with Alex.


Camera Owners of the Bay Area

In August 2003, Alex spoke at COBA, the digital camera user group I ran, about his Photos web application for managing, storing, cataloging and retrieving digital photos.

Alex spoke at my Camera Owners of the Bay Area user group.

Alex spoke at my Camera Owners of the Bay Area user group.

Alex spoke at my Camera Owners of the Bay Area user group.

Alex spoke at my Camera Owners of the Bay Area user group.

Portraits of Alex in Cupertino

Alex wanted a headshot of himself done for his website. On December 19, 2003, he came to my house in Cupertino. We set up the lights and camera in the living room and started clicking away. The photo to the right was the last shot of the day and the one he most liked. Alex used this photo for nearly a decade as his digital avatar. It remains one of my favorite photos of Alex.

I took the photo of Alex that he used for many years as his online avatar.

I took the photo of Alex that he used for many years as his online avatar.

Here are three other photos that we took during the portrait session that winter afternoon in the Bay Area.

All Things Digital

Near the end of 2006, Alex emailed me and asked me if I wanted to work with him on a large WordPress project with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, two prominent journalists at The Wall Street Journal. They were creating an online extension to their popular D: All Things Digital conference called AllThingsD.com. I jumped at the opportunity to work with Alex again, as I had recently left a startup a few months earlier.

This opportunity directed the path of both of our careers for almost a decade. I continued to work with Walt and Kara at AllThingsD.com, Recode, and Vox Media. Alex launched Crowd Favorite, and it went on to do great things within the WordPress community and beyond.
It’s safe to say that I owe Alex an incredible debt of gratitude. I don’t know where my professional career would be today had we not worked together on this project.

Alex and Walt Mossberg

Alex and Walt Mossberg

Alex at the AllThings Launch Party

Alex at the AllThings Launch Party

Alex speaking with Megan Smith, now the CTO of America

Alex speaking with Megan Smith, now the CTO of America

Alex and Eric Cheng

Alex and Eric Cheng

The AllThingsD Launch Party in April, 2007.

The AllThingsD Launch Party in April, 2007.

Alex with Matt Mullenweg, Barry Abrahamson, and me.

Alex with Matt Mullenweg, Barry Abrahamson, and me.

Random Snapshots

Here’s a collection of photos of Alex that I have taken. Since moving to Colorado, we’ve tried to meet up whenever he was in the San Francisco Bay Area on business.

Visiting Alex and his family in 2015

Rae and I returned to Colorado in 2015 with our son Dashiell. We were fortunate to visit Alex, his father, Heather and Caitlin at their home in Arvada. I finally got to see his custom-built office desk and basement. We reconnected like it was old times, and I’ll cherish our talk forever.

Visiting Alex in Colorado

Visiting Alex in Colorado

Further Reading

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An update on my minimalist uniform project. Photo from Superior Court in San Jose, CA.
Decluttering, Minimalism

Minimalist Uniform Update – July 2015

It’s been five months since I started my minimalist uniform project, and I’m still wearing the same set of clothes when I go outside of the house.

After the first week, I got the sleeves shortened on the Wool & Prince button-down gray oxford shirt. It was also the first and last time it was dry-cleaned. Since then, I’ve worn the shirt out of the house whenever the weather is cooler or for business meetings. It has stayed relatively wrinkle free, stink free and clean. There’s some slight ring around the collar, but it’s barely noticeable; I’d imagine it’d be worse if I purchased one of Wool & Prince’s lighter colored shirts. I’m very happy with this shirt and would consider buying additional ones in the future; I just can’t decide which color I’d get!

Due to the warm weather we’ve been experiencing in the Bay Area, the Icebreaker Anatomica t-shirt continues to get more use than the button-down. I ran a half-marathon in Laguna Niguel in the middle of February wherein the shirt got drenched with sweat. Yet, after washing it in the sink and air drying, I was happy to smell no stink from the shirt! I have since added a a black v-neck Anatomica and a gray long sleeved Anatomica1 to my collection after finding a 40% off deal online. One negative with the Anatomica shirt is that they are prone to tearing due to their thinness. I poked out a small hole underneath the left arm area in the gray shirt. It’s not noticeable when I wear it, and I’ve been more careful when I put it on and take it off so as not to make the hole bigger.

I've been wearing the Icebreaker Anatomica t-shirt more because of the hot weather in the Bay Area.

I’ve been wearing the Icebreaker Anatomica t-shirt more because of the hot weather in the Bay Area.

As for the pants, I continue to rotate between the Bluff Works pants and the Levi’s 559 jeans. I have washed the Bluff Works a couple of times but the Levi’s have remained unwashed. Bluff Works recently released relaxed fit and Chino styles to their lineup. The regular fit pants fit me well standing up, but they can get a little tight when I sit down or kneel. I’m curious to see if the relaxed fit pants are better without looking too baggy.

The Scottevest Hidden Cargo Pants, unfortunately, are too large around the waist and legs, even after getting them altered. I haven’t worn them at all and have relegated them to my emergency clothes kit. Scottevest pants start at 30/30, and I’d prefer a 29/28 or 29/28, so it’s unlikely I’ll be ordering any more pants from them until they offer smaller sizes.

The biggest news is that I’ve donated one of my two boxes of clothes to Goodwill this afternoon. That’s right, I’ve cut the cord with half of the clothes that I’ve worn for the past decade and a half.

Two boxes enter, one box leaves!

Two boxes enter, one box leaves!

Left in the remaining box are some t-shirts for doing yard work and for lounging around the house, a couple pairs of pants for house work, a couple of shirts that I could use for exercising in cooler weather, two scarves and some knit caps. I certainly don’t need those clothes seeing that it’s been five months since I last looked at the clothes, but I decided to give them a reprieve for now. Gone are several pairs of pants that no longer fit me, six button-down shirts, a hoodie, and numerous free t-shirts that I’ve accumulated over the years.

The box of clothes that I donated to Goodwill this afternoon.

The box of clothes that I donated to Goodwill this afternoon.

It’s been great to not have to think about what outfit I’m going to wear each day. How long will this Minimalist Uniform Project go? I see no reason to stop, so I’ll keep this going for the rest of the year. Onward!


1 I’m still wearing the gray Anatomica more than the other two Anatomica shirts. When the weather is too warm for the W&P but still cool, I’ll wear the long sleeved Anatomica. The black is there to alternate with the gray.

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New LaserJet M252dw says goodbye to the old LaserJet 6MP
Technology

The HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw – Successor to the Venerable HP LaserJet 6MP Printer

I’m finally retiring the HP LaserJet 6MP printer that I’ve had since graduating from college and replacing it with an HP Color LaserJet M252dw. Released in October, 1996, LaserJet 6MP was designed to work best with Macintosh computers. It featured a Postscript compatibility, a LocalTalk port, two Parallel Ports, and an Infrared port.

One of the earliest photos I could find of the HP LaserJet 6MP that I have used for over 16 years. Yes, that's a Ricochet wireless modem attached to my PowerBook G3 laptop.

One of the earliest photos I could find of the HP LaserJet 6MP that I have used for over 16 years. Attached to my PowerBook G3 is a Ricochet wireless modem that allowed me to get on the Internet wirelessly in the late 90s.

Now a vestige from the days of computing long past, my 6MP was kept operational over the years even as those printing interfaces became obsolete. When the LocalTalk/AppleTalk port disappeared on later Macintosh computers, I bought a Farallon EtherMac iPrint Adapter to bridge the printer to my Ethernet network. When that stopped working, I connected a Parallel port-to-USB cable to my Airport Wi-Fi base station. Out of all the technology that I still use today, it’s by far the longest serving device I’ve had. How many tech gadgets or computers do you still use that are nearly two decades old?

I was able to connect my HP LaserJet 6MP to my network using a Parallel Port-to-USB cable.

I was able to connect my HP LaserJet 6MP to my network using a Parallel Port-to-USB cable.

As the years went by, the 6MP started printing documents, especially more complex PDFs — slower. It didn’t help that the printer only has 3 Megabytes of RAM! More recently, the toner cartridge was running low, and the paper rollers had developed a nasty habit of leaving black streak marks all over the printouts. It was time to start looking in earnest for a replacement to the venerable workhorse.

Last month, I bought an HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw Printer for my parents and was impressed with the ease of setup and automatic duplex features of this multi-function printer. Because I did not require the M277dw’s scanner/copy/fax capabilities, I ordered the HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw Printer — that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like the LaserJet 6MP — from Amazon. The printer supports color and duplex printing and comes with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and AirPrint communication interfaces. In a case of three steps forward and one step back, the paper tray is measly at only 150 sheets and the multi-purpose tray only supports one sheet or a single envelope — compared to the 6MP’s 250 sheet capacity paper tray and 100 sheet or 10 envelope multi-purpose tray.

The LaserJet M252dw is connected to my network via Wi-Fi, so that's one less cable to worry about.

The LaserJet M252dw is connected to my network via Wi-Fi, so that’s one less cable to worry about.

For the most part, I expect to be printing in black and white, but having the ability to print in color will come in handy from time to time and saves me from having to buy a color inkjet (I’ve been down that road before and won’t go there again). One thing that I’m not looking forward to is paying $400 for a set of four high-capacity toner cartridges (black, cyan, magenta and yellow). That’s nearly twice as much as the printer itself! So, I’m looking forward to the day when more affordable third-party toner cartridges are available. Finally, I don’t know if they make them like they used to, but I’m hoping to get at least five to ten years out of this printer. We’ll see!

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