Starting July 15, 2002
Something new from Trellix soon, Mount Monadnock, Back from vacation in Acadia, Things that matter, New product from Software Garden, Fewer Walkmans walking down NY City streets
Something new from Trellix soon [link]
I've been spending a lot of time helping prepare for a product announcement at Trellix later this week. I'm really excited about it and will post more when I can (probably Thursday or Friday).
Mount Monadnock [link]
This past weekend I climbed Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire with some relatives who were in town. People claim that it is the most climbed (on foot) mountain in the world (now that Mt. Fuji has a train). We ran into people who do the 1,700 foot climb (from 1,400 feet at the parking lot to 3,165 at the summit) almost every day. While we hear stories of the few who have done the climb up in 24 minutes, I took the 2 hours the park ranger said it would be. The climb down took a little longer as I tried to be kind to my aging knees that were complaining about the heavy hiking boots. I went through the suggested almost 2 quarts of water in the 90 degree heat (70 on top).
Most of the climb was over rocks. View of the summit from most of the way up, with close-up of some climbers
On the ride there from Boston we passed through Peterborough, NH. In the early days of the personal computer, this was the Mecca for PR. Byte Magazine and others were headquartered there. Now the big PC attraction is PC Connection in nearby Merrimack (they're hiring and have billboards on the border with Massachusetts reminding people they don't have to go out of state to work).
No longer the center of the personal computer universe
Back from vacation in Acadia [link]
I'm back in Massachusetts after a vacation up in Maine. Most of my time was spent in Acadia National Park and the nearby town of Bar Harbor. It is truly a wonderful place. Acadia is the only national park in this part of the USA. It is much smaller than such well know parks as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. However, within its 47,633 acres you have lots to do and see, including hikeable mountains on a rocky ocean shoreline, lakes and ponds, and unique carriage paths for walking and bike riding. After a week I still barely scratched the surface of what I'd like to do there. Here are some pictures:
View at sunset from Cadillac Mountain looking to the east and to the west (it's the first place you can see the sun rise in the USA in winter months). You can drive up the mountain.
View north from the Jordan Pond House (which serves tea and popovers on the lawn) to the two "Bubbles" mountains and view south from the top of the South Bubble after a hike up
Sea kayaking before and during sunset
Rocky coast and mossy forests
Biking on the carriage paths -- no motor vehicles allowed. I did over 40 miles of riding and wish I had time to do more. If you go to Acadia don't miss this!
Park ranger teaching beginner bird watching, local band playing in Bar Harbor
The B&B I stayed in and ran into Kirk Loevner
I stayed at a bed and breakfast just outside of Bar Harbor (the town next to the park) called the Cleftstone Manor. It was very nice, and I even ran into Kirk Loevner (ex- of Apple, PublishOne, and now CEO of Screaming Media) in the parlor -- usually I only see him at Agenda or PC Forum. While I found out about the place through the Chamber of Commerce, I checked out their web site before making a reservation which let me ask questions about the particular room I was getting while looking at a picture (they assured me the real colors were more to my liking than those in the photo and were right). The innkeepers at Cleftstone have been using the Internet for promotion for several years. The percent of people who tell them that they "found out about it on the web" has grown steadily and is now well more than half of all guests. The web works, especially for small businesses. Even the park ranger gave out "more info" sheets with just as many URLs as book titles.
The B&B only had dial-up, but if I wanted to, there was a WiFi hotspot in an Internet cafe in the center of town. Most of my use of a PC was to offload pictures from my camera, so dial-up was fine.
Things that matter [link]
I've been spending time at Trellix learning more about certain potential users of our products. We've had some on-site and off-site talks with "real people" to understand what they do and how they work. As always, this is such a wonderful experience. It feels so good to hear people who have other things on their mind besides your product talk about their work. Most of these people are small business people, and the realities of a small business life are something I just love. Maybe it's being a 3rd or more generation small business person. Maybe it's that MBA training where you learn that all parts of business can be interesting, and case histories even more so. Whatever. This will help with our product planning. It's amazing the insights you can get. One of our programmers involved in the meetings remarked how nice it was to get such a feel for the users. That exposure for developers is real important.
In an even more down to earth area, I went looking at cemetery plots today. My parents are moving up to the Boston area in the near future, and they've wondered about changing where they plan to be buried from where they are now to my area. Since I don't have a plot chosen yet, I guess this search is also about me looking at buying where I will end up. Kind of sobering, especially walking by the headstones of people you knew and over the unused plots already bought by friends. I feel quite adult to do this with a positive attitude. I just turned 51, and I couldn't deal with this idea of such permanence a few years ago. Maybe it's the idea of my parents and other relatives ending up here in the Boston area, too, that makes it feel better. Maybe it's knowing that I've spent so many years with many of the folks who will be buried around me, and that I know their children who will visit. (There was a big family marker that I walked by that said "Winer". With Dave Winer's situation making many of us deal with his mortality, that was a bit spooky. Good he's kicking the cigarette habit.) I took pictures to send my parents.
A view of part of the cemetery I looked at, the empty space with available plots awaiting my friends, relatives, and me
New product from Software Garden [link]
As I mentioned last week, I'm releasing a new product from Software Garden, Inc. While the base code (SRSVC) is being released as open source, I'm selling a CDROM distribution with the source code, printed documentation, and an autograph from the author (me), through the web. It's called "Garden® Utilities Pack No. 1" and sells for $29.95 (including shipping in the USA but not including sales tax for those of you who live in Massachusetts).
The program lets you view the HTML source of web pages using a browser in a way that is hopefully nicer looking and more useful than those built into the browser. It's a Perl program that runs on a server as CGI.
For more information, see the Software Garden Products Page.
For me, the main purpose of this is to produce something useful in Perl and to go through all the basic steps involved in selling on the web and in doing simple open source, and as a base for other experimentation. For others, I think the program is useful in its own right, and the physical distribution is a way to contribute to the cost of this web site .
Fewer Walkmans walking down NY City streets [link]
A few weeks ago I was walking alone around New York City, and I realized something strange. Not having anybody else to walk with, I spent more time than I had in the past looking at others. I remembered people walking along, in their own worlds, very often listening on headphones to personal music devices. This time was different. Just as likely as a Walkman, I saw people with cellphones clutched to their ears. Style of dress didn't matter -- rich or not, working or strolling, they were talking to someone else.
If this is really a trend, talking to others instead of listening to "broadcast" stuff, there are many implications we should think about. Maybe it isn't just music or mass entertainment we want when we "tune out" the world around us, but rather something else to do of our own choosing. And that something else, if we had our druthers, would be to talk to someone we know and like. We don't just want "content" that many other people would enjoy, too. Maybe the drop in music sales is the result of the increase in cellphone usage? Again, we have an example that shows that people will pay to interact with people they care about. The goal of most people's communications is with specific peers they care very much about. The preoccupation of business models with broad-based one-to-many ignores the realities of our lives. (See my "What will people pay for?" essay, and Andrew Odlyzko's "Content is Not King" essay that I reference there.)
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