Month: January 2017

My Marching Order for 2017

I’ve been working on this piece for over a week, trying to decide what to say (or whether to), but the actions of this last weekend with the Executive Order and the public reaction to it shows we are in a historic moment, even if we don’t recognize it. Whether you realize it or not, we are at what will probably be seen as a historic moment in time for the United States, assuming it survives the current problems. Not since the Civil War has there been such strong and destructive disagreements across the population and its government. We’ve been at this point before. The ratification of the replacement of the articles of Confederation and adoption of our current Constitution was a grave crisis not taught in most history classes, and we almost didn’t become what we became (if you’re curious, reading Ron Chernow’s Hamilton biography will give you a fascinating look into this time and place). The Civil War was a time when the ability to find a compromise position failed and the country had to settle it with war and bloodshed. The Civil Rights movement of the 60s is another of these crisis points where violence and death were minimized but not avoided — and now here we are today. Yes, I see the current situation as that serious and as critical a crisis as the one...

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I’m coming to terms with the iMac Pro

I just finished a driving trip to go visit family in southern California, and the time on the road gave me the ability to unplug and think things through. I’ve been a very strong proponent of the need for monitor-less desktops in the upcoming rumored refresh coming — I’m thinking March. The rumor mill is very quiet about any hints on these new machines, but some chatter has surfaced recently suggesting what Apple will do is a higher end machine being dubbed the “iMac Pro”. What that means, exactly, we don’t know yet. That wouldn’t be my first choice, but the more I look at the realities of the Macintosh market today, the more it seems to be the option that would make sense for Apple while still solving the needs of many or most of the users waiting for these refreshes. Why do I think that? Economics. I’ve heard from a couple of sources — nobody on the inside, but others who would have some clue about this — just how dominating the laptop has become within the Macintosh product line; it seems to be that as many as 90% of Macs sold now are laptops. On top of that, within the desktop line, the iMac dominates sales, again as high as 90% of units. Thanks to Jason Snell here are some numbers. Macintosh revenue in fiscal year...

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My San Jose Sharks Hall of Fame picks

I had coffee with an old friend this last week, and we spent half of the time chatting about an upcoming (redacted) but much of the time was talking about the Sharks, now and into the past. Not surprising when you realize that Laurie and I did 20 years of season tickets starting in the Cow Palace, and he started in as a season ticket holder their first year in San Jose. We’ve both seen a lot of hockey (not all of it… um, good. the name Al Sims was actually mentioned) Of course, this discussion stuck with me, so I decided I might as well write it up… One idea that came up was our choices for the top all-time line: three forwards, two D, and a goalie. My choices were: Forwards: Thornton, Marleau and Nolan. Defense: Burns and Boyle Goalie: Jones (although my heart said Irbe, and it’s hard to not choose Nabokov) We also got into the Hall of Fame discussion. Through the years, I’ve been in god knows how many discussions about Hall of Fame Sharks, who’s jersey to retire, and that sort of stuff. I’ve always taken the view that as much as we loved players like Irbe or Nolan, none of them ever hit the requirements I have to qualify for a retired jersey. Instead, I believe teams should have something like a...

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My Advice for Apple

An old friend caught me in email on my recent piece on Apple and had a very valid criticism: that I’d gone into detail about what I saw was wrong with Apple, but didn’t really offer any action plan on what to fix it. She was right, and so I sat down and thought about what I would suggest if Apple were to ask (which they haven’t, so yes, more unsolicited advice from the peanut gallery). My advice boils down to two key items. Slow down and sweat the details again If I could only offer one thing to Apple, it’s this: “it’s okay to slow down — a little”. The iPhone has to ship a new version ever year, and you can’t take your eye off that for a minute, but other parts of the product line don’t need that kind of continuous update. MacOS would be okay with a new release every 18 months or two years, or a feature release as a tick and a performance release as a tock in a two year cycle. Same with Mac Hardware. I wouldn’t be upset at all if the Laptops were updated one year and the Desktops were updated the year after in a two year cycle: as long as we understood this was what we could expect. And the watch: the series two hardware is surprisingly good...

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Visiting the Central Valley Refuges

During the winter I head out into the central valley as many times as I can to visit the refuges while the winter migrants are living there. I’ve get requests on where to go and what to expect, so I’ve written up a few notes on these trips and what to expect for you. First, the central valley is well known for tule fog, which can hug the ground and make everything grey and in some areas difficult to drive. Every so often it encases the roads out there, and once in a while historically nasty car accidents happen as a result. So be aware of the weather out there, but don’t let the fear of tule fog stop you (but drive carefully), it can turn things magical. And it usually clears out pretty well as the day moves forward.   Where to go There are a number of interesting refuges you can visit depending on where you’re starting and how far you want to drive. The refuges furthest north that I visit are in the Williams and Colusa area: Sacramento NWR just south of Willows on I5, and Colusa NWR on I20 on the way to Colusa from I5. These are right at the edge of a day trip for me here in southern Silicon Valley, but I’ll often overnight in the area to get more birding time...

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