Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

Monthly Archives February 2003

Veggie Chili for dinner tonight

Shabbos dinner tonight is going to be simple: Vegetarian Chili.

Valentine’s Day dinner was actually last night for the Radwins. We have a tradition of celebrating on the 13th. It was a fancy four-course vegetarian Italian dinner. The owner of the restaurant greeted us at the door with a handshake and a kiss (for me and Ariella, respectively).

Shabbat Shalom!

Standing on both sides of the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers I started reading Crossing the Chasm last night, and 30 pages into the book, I’m wondering where I fit along the Technology Adoption Life Cycle bell curve. Until now, I’ve always thought of myself as an innovator or early adopter. After all, I’m a computer guy, and I spend a lot of time thinking about technology. But after reading a bit and thinking about my own consumer behavior, I’m surprised to discover that I’m moving to the right of the curve, more towards the early majority category. Perhaps I’m becoming more risk-averse?

Here’s a sampling of when I adopted various consumer technologies (and my best guess as to where it was on the bell curve when I adopted it):

  • email – 1992 (innovator)
  • web browsing – 1994 (innovator)
  • Linux – 1994 (innovator)
  • web publishing – 1995 (early adopter)
  • e-commerce – 1996 (early adopter)
  • PDA – 1997 (early adopter)
  • vanity email address – 1998 (early adopter)
  • cell phone – 1998 (early majority)
  • snowboarding – 1998 (early majority)
  • MP3 ripping – 1999 (early adopter)
  • electric toothbrush – 2002 (late majority)
  • broadband Internet – 2000 (early majority)
  • P2P file sharing – 2000 (early majority)
  • TiVo – 1999 (early adopter)
  • LCD projector TV – 2001 (early adopter)
  • DVD player – 2001 (early majority)
  • 802.11b wireless network – 2002 (early majority)
  • CD burner – 2002 (late majority)
  • blog – 2002 (early adopter)
  • antilock brakes – 2002 (late majority)
  • digital camera – maybe this year (early majority?)
  • hybrid or electric car – 2005? (early majority?)
  • Lasik eye surgery – never (laggard)
  • digital watch – never (laggard)

I think the key has to do with technology for technology’s sake versus pragmatism. To quote Moore:

The early majority share some of the early adopter’s ability to relate to technology, but ultimately they are driven by a strong sense of practicality. They know that many of these newfangled inventions end up as passing fads, so they are content to wait and see how other people are making out before they buy in themselves.

At this point in my life, I see myself as more of a pragmatist. Six years ago, I bought an Apple Newton PDA because I thought the technology was cool and I couldn’t stand the idea of having to contort my handwriting to the machine. I wanted the machine to recognize my handwriting! After all, the machines are supposed to be working for us, not the other way around.

These days, I’ve settled for a Palm Zire. Why? It’s more practical. It’s way smaller than the Newton, so it fits in my blue jeans pocket. And it gets the job done. Sure, it doesn’t have whiz-bang artificial intelligence handwriting recognition software. But it’s good enough.

JR Conlin wins the Favicon contest

radwin-favicon.gif JR Conlin has won the radwin.org favicon contest. Congratulations, JR! You’ll get your Grand Prize tomorrow at lunchtime.

JR’s entry pays tribute to the orange navigation bar present throughout the site. It’s a good color. Some might call it #ffcc99, but I prefer “radwin.org orange”, much the way Ray Sun describes the hue of the “e” on my desktop as “Internet Explorer blue”.

Postscript: my good friend Scott, who started the whole favicon contest by nagging me, now has his very own blog. Can’t wait to see what he writes.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

'Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!': Adventures of a Curious Character Richard Feynman’s memory is a blessing to us all.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! is a delightful collection of short stories about Richard Feynman’s life. It’s yet another one of the books on my reading list for 2003.

I’ve been reading this book in small sittings over the past year — on the bus to and from UCLA, on the plane to and from SJC, and sometimes on a Sunday afternoon. Feynman embodies the perfect combination of wit, intellect, and chutzpah.

One of my favorite stories had to do with Feynman’s experiments with ants. On many occasions he would observe (and sometimes interfere with) a line of ants that was crawling through his lab or house. In messing around with the ants, Feynman wasn’t trying to play God; he was trying to study ant behavior and learn what motivated them.

Although I finished the book almost a month ago, I’ve been thinking about it again over the past week. The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster brought back many memories of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster some 17 years earlier. Feynman was a member of NASA’s Rogers Commission and discovered the problem with O-rings that caused the explosion. It was his characteristic curiosity that led him to experiment with rubber O-rings and ice water, solving the mystery of the disaster.

I’m worried about Wesley

Wesley Snipes I’m worried about Wesley Snipes. I think he’s lost his touch.

I recently rented Undisputed, a movie about a prison boxing match. Terrible. In brief, the heavyweight champion (Ving Rhames) ends up in jail, convicted of rape. A typical alpha male, he fights anyone who gets in his way. He learns that another inmate (Wesley Snipes) is a good boxer and vows to fight him. Several training scenes and conversations with bookies later, the two get it on in the right. No surprise, Snipes wins the fight. Hurrah for the underdog, I guess? Uninspired plot, poor acting, and very little action. Not your typical Wesley.

Thinking this was just a fluke, I decided to get another Wesley film: Liberty Stands Still. Even worse. In this film, Wesley plays a psychopath who decides to shoot a lot of people because his daughter was killed at school by some kid with a gun. Equipped with his own sniper rifle, he holds a woman and her lover hostage with a couple of bombs, and shoots at anyone he feels like. The camera occasionally drops into slow-motion shots of Wesley staring blankly at a barrette clipped to his gun. He’s angry. We get it. But are we supposed to believe that he’s righteous for killing the gun company’s executives and random other people? Director Kari Skogland doesn’t give us any reason to care about any of the characters.

What happened to the Wesley that we all know and love? What happened to the man who gave us such classics as New Jack City (the film that invented the concept of the bling bling gangster) and Passenger 57 (about a badass airline security wonk who happens to be on the wrong plane at the right time)?

Where is the actor who gave us mindless but entertaining action hits like Demolition Man (find an excuse to demolish anything you can find), Drop Zone (find an excuse to parachute out of a lot of planes and land on anything you can find) or Blade (find an excuse to kill a lot of vampires and any other beasties you can find)?

I miss you, Wesley. I’m going to cross my fingers when I rent Blade II. I hope I re-discover the real you.

Favicon contest ends in 27 hours

The radwin.org favicon contest, announced a week and a half ago, is almost over. Although we’ve already received an overwhelming number of submissions, your entry could still win. But you can only win if you submit it by 5pm tomorrow.

Don’t hold back! Here is your chance to show off your artistic talent on a 16×16 canvas!

Plant a tree in memory of Ilan Ramon

Plant a Tree in memory of Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon and his fellow Columbia crew members A couple of weeks ago, before the Space Shuttle launch, Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon had a televised conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He said,

“I call upon every Jew in the world to plant a tree in the land of Israel during the coming year. I would like to see at least 13 or 14 million new trees planted in Israel exactly one year from now, on the anniversary of the [Columbia] launching. Here in space we are keeping busy and I would like to thank everyone.”

Posted on the Jewish National Fund website this week:

It is with much sorrow and a deep sense of commitment to the legacy of Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon and his fellow Columbia crew members that we send you this email today. It seems unbelievable that only one week ago we emailed you with Mr. Ramon’s request to have “13 or 14 million new trees planted in Israel exactly one year from now, on the anniversary of the [Columbia] launching.”

To fulfill this dream and the requests from many of our supporters worldwide, JNF is coordinating a global effort to plant trees throughout Israel, including on Airforce Bases.

It’s a mitzvah opportunity. And as my friend Chaim says, it’s “a fitting tribute to a man who has personally seen more trees in one glance than most people on earth will see in their lives.”

My office in Santa Monica

Today is my first day at the Yahoo! Launch office in Santa Monica.

LAUNCH - Your Yahoo! Music Experience - Music videos, internet radio, artist photos, music information, and more.

After two years of working by myself in a home office, it is a thrill to be in a real office environment again. Even though it’s my job to be a computer geek, I supsect that I’m really a “people” person.

Many friends and co-workers I’ve spoken to about the move have expressed surprise that I would choose to give up such a sweet telecommuting deal. They wonder why I’d want to give up the ability to work in my bathrobe and set my own hours. They’ve never tried a permanent-telecommuting arrangement themselves, but they imagine that it’s the good life.

On the contrary, working from home every day of the week starts to make you feel cut off from the rest of the world. There aren’t any co-workers to say good morning and good night to, to go out to lunch with, and even to chat about politics or some stupid TV show we all saw last night. This might all seem trivial on the surface, but the social connection is a really important part of feeling productive. This is probably why I’ll never go into the software consulting business. Too much alone time.

Moreover, working from home makes it far too easy work really long hours. Since the Internet connection is always on, I’ve found myself hanging out in front of my computer until 8pm, grabbing some dinner, and then going back to work. That’s unacceptable; I refuse to let my workaholic tendencies take over my life. So I force myself to stop working by turning off my computer. It sits there in the spare bedroom, tempting me to turn it back on.

I’m hopeful that having an office in LA is going to help me to do a better job of keeping work separate from my personal life. I’m looking forward to coming home from work each day, having dinner with Ariella, and knowing that the rest of the evening is ours and not my employer’s. Whatever unfinished business is left on my desk will be waiting for me tomorrow.

Even though I’m in an office here in LA, I’m still working in a remote fashion. My boss (and my direct reports) all work in the Sunnyvale office. So I’m still going to be doing the whole LAX-SJC-LAX commute that I know so well. So far this year, I’ve averaged about 1.5 days a week in Sunnyvale.

Thanks to some help from Laura in the IS department, I just got a network connection set up. Now I’ve gotta figure out my how to use the new voicemail system and maybe order me some new business cards.