Thursday, May 31, 2007

Train Meet at Mott, May 31, 2007

Meet at Mott

Meet at Mott, May 31, 2007
These two Northbound Union Pacific freights met today at Mott siding. Mott is on the former SP Shasta line, near Dunsmuir. As the trains met clouds rolled in from an approaching thunder storm. I am heading north and this seven minute Track Warrants video is the first for this trip. I am on the road! This was Quicktime Video shot less than five hours ago and edited in a campground near Ashland on my laptop and posted using a nearby open wireless network.

This video should soon be available here on YouTube.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

John Edwards Coming To SJSU

John Edwards is going to be in San Jose next Thursday to meet with local supporters, and he would like to invite you join him. Space is limited, so I hope you sign up to reserve your spot right away .

Here are the details:

  • What: "Small Change for Big Change" grassroots fundraiser with John Edwards and you
  • Where: San Jose State University Student Union, Loma Pietra room One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192
  • When: Thursday, May 31st

5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Tickets are $15
*Cash bar*
RSVP to reserve your spot online

This is an important event, because it's our first "Small Change for Big Change" grassroots fundraiser.

It's very expensive to reach out to voters in early primary states and across the nation. But the trouble with the usual fundraisers is that they are only open to those ready to write huge checks—and this campaign is built on reaching out to everyone.

So John asked his campaign to organize this series of grassroots fundraisers for supporters who share our passion but may only be able to spare $100, 50, or $25 dollars. In fact, for this Thursday's event, tickets are just $15 each.

This campaign is about working together to achieve truly transformational change for our country and our world. We're about creating a world where to every man woman and child in America has the quality health care they need, where no child here (or anywhere) has to go to bed hungry, where the planet and its people do not have to face the ravages of global warming, and where our men and women in Iraq are swiftly brought home to a hero's welcome.

Is this all possible? Can we create that world? Yes. But not without you.

If you'd like to join us in this great effort, John would like to meet you this Thursday and talk to you about what's next. We really hope you'll be able to make it.

Here's the link again to RSVP to reserve your spot online

About the best

Is "Best-of" any good?
I have a group of friends who are concerned about how a local business was voted "best-of" by a major newspaper when, in these consumers opinion, this business was not very good in that market segment.

This particular "best-of" publication was based on reader input. If you are hip to how these reader input based "best of" publications work, it is easy to game them. For example, I was once approached by a shop that would give me a free something if I sent an email to a major area newspaper that was doing an on-line survey to determine the "best of" the market area that shop was in.

Businesses themselves even can game the system. Between yahoo, g-mail, etc it is possible for a small group of people to get a LOT of email addresses and submit a lot of "votes."

If the particular poll counts web clicks, there are illegal businesses that engage in what is called "click fraud."

Even the computer literacy of one shop's clientèle verses another shop can sway the results. If you have one shop that caters to a young/urban crowd and another shop who has a clientele that is not so computer savvy, that can sway the result. A shop who's clientèle spends more time on computers is going to do better than one who's clientèle spends more time doing other things.

As consumers of "best of" publications and ratings on-line we all should be aware that the polling system used could be measuring a lot more than the quality of one business/product over another. The Internet is not fair and those who know how to leverage it have a bigger voice on it. There is a lot at stake for some businesses in these things. There is a lot of free advertising and potential revenues at stake and businesses know it. Not all of them are reputable and gaming the system is not against the law anyway. Again, unless anybody missed it I am talking about these kinds of reader input based "best of" publications in general, not this particular shop or this instance.

Knowing the flaws of the system I usually just recycle these "best-of" things unopened. Unless I know the survey method is scientific and fair, I generally take them with a grain of salt.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Eternal Copyright?

Eternal Copyright?

How about an eternal copyright?
New York Times Editorial Writer Mark Helpin asks, "A Great Idea Lives Forever. Shouldn’t Its Copyright?" What do you think?  Here is what is written on Lawrence Lessig's blog about the subject.

Memorial Day: Let us not forget

The war on Terrorism has a cost

Israel, the Indians and Us

I finished "Right To Exist" by Yaacov Lozowick. In my opinion we Americans (as a country) did far worse to the American Indians than the Israelis are (mostly wrongly) accused of doing to the Palestinians. Would we accept it if Indians started blowing up school busses or pizza parlors and demanded that we leave the Americas or die? Of course we would not!

In my opinion we are aiding terrorist killers by not speaking out more against them. That is why I am saying something here.

The idea that Israel should even have to defend its right to exist is even more absurd as would be saying we have to defend our right to exist as a nation to the American Indians. When the early Jews moved to Palestine starting about a century ago, the Jews did not steal their land from the folks already there, like the Americans did from the Indians. They bought their land from the existing property owners at a fair price. They bought what was then swamps, drained the swamps and turned them into productive farm land. On the other hand we stole the the best land from the Indians and forced the Indians into the worst land.

I am neither Jewish or Israeli, but if I were I would be proud to be. Does that mean Israel never makes a mistake? No, but which person or nation never does? I know I have made mistakes. But, I do not think this is one of them. I hope someday to go to Israel to see for myself.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Israel's Right To Exist

I ended up staying home this weekend, reading
It is quite relaxing actually and I started a new book. I am reading "Right To Exist" by Yaacov Lozowick. A friend recommended this book to me. It is a great overview of the history of Israel and the Arab-Isaeli conflict. I have learned so much reading this book and am more convinced than ever the importance of our support of Israel and the righteousness of their cause. I understand now, better than ever, the ignorance that most of us (and the American media) has on this issue.

So, how does Israel make peace with her enemies? Consider the words of Khaled Meshal the Chairman of Hamas Political Bureau who said on May 3, 2006, "We [Hamas] believe that Israel has no right to exist."

Imagine yourself in Israel's place. How do you make peace with people who do not think you have a right to live (exist) and would not hesitate to kill your children, given an opportunity?

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

The high cost of free ads

NY Times Photo

Free Ads Too Costly?
The folks at Heinz Ketchup are holding a contest inviting the public to create free ads for them. According to this recent New York Times article, this may be causing problems for the advertiser:

...companies have found that inviting consumers to create their advertising is often more stressful, costly and time-consuming than just rolling up their sleeves and doing the work themselves. Many entries are mediocre, if not downright bad, and sifting through them requires full-time attention. And even the most well-known brands often spend millions of dollars upfront to get the word out to consumers.

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It is time to play!

UP train on slough

I am on vacation
This is a time to visit family and play. Normally I go on a June bike tour. Not this year! We have many activities planned and will be posting them to this blog. Last week was busy. It was final's week at SJSU and I wrapped up my class. Stay tuned for more! Meanwhile it is play time. The photos shown here are from last Sunday's "Strawberry Fields" ride that Nancy Kenny and I went on. That was a lot of fun. I even got to photograph a train while on the bike ride. But, I sure dragged my butt to work the next day.

Nancy Kenny and I

Friday, May 25, 2007

New Media and Newspapers

There is a good blog post by Andy Kessler on newspapers and new media. Kessler sums it up pretty good, "Media, after all, is about owning a pipe -- some conduit between the creation of news or entertainment and the eyeballs that consume it." This is worth reading. The problem, as I see it, is that the lower profit margins that Web 2.0 disruptive startups like Craigs List can thrive on are non-starters for established media outlets. They have to be able to make the kind of return on investments that their former business model allowed just to be able to pay their bills. How can they invest in new media technologies that do not yet have established business models, especially when they have so much overhead?

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Is Wi-Fi Dangerous?

Concern in Britain Over Safety of Wi-Fi
The BBC reports, Sir William Stewart, chairman of the Health Protection Agency, has said there needs to be a review of wi-fi.

He told the BBC program Panorama that there was evidence that low-level radiation - from devices like mobile phones and wi-fi - did cause adverse health effects. Scientists have said there is no evidence to suggest a link between the use of wi-fi and damage to health. More info here...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Friends and Family on iTunes

Sloan Family Movies

My Family On iTunes
If you go in the Apple Store in iTunes and search on my name "Steve Sloan" you will find this. It is a Sloan Family Video Blog podcast! Here you go, family video on demand!

Friday, May 18, 2007

SP "Scab Trains" of Altamont Pass, 1985

UP and SP Trains on Altamont Pass

"Scab Trains" of Altamont Pass
In May of 1985 the Southern Pacific Railroad was preparing for a possible union strike. To train its management crews to operate trains in the absence of union crews, the SP conducted management training on the embargoed SP rail line over Altamont Pass. The union train crews called these the scab trains. It was SP's last use of this famous line.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bike to work day

Cameraphone Post: It is bike to work day
Did you ride your bike to work today? I did, and it was a great day to ride. This energizer station was set up at the corner of Fourth and San Fernando on the northwest corner of SJSU. They had coffee, fruit, powerbars and cake as well as a bag and handouts for all cyclists. What a great way to start the day!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Mother's Day Story

A mother's day story

My older son's are now grown men with families of their own. This video, taken from family movies and told from their mother's perspective, shows the world when they were little as told to the music of Heather Sullivan.

Monday, May 14, 2007

International Train

International Train

International Stack Train on Tehachapi
Pardon my hobbies. On April 29, 2006 this double stack train was seen going over the Tehachapi mountains with locomotives from Canada, the US and Mexico. This power set contained BNSF, CN and Ferromex power. This train with its unusual power set is shown here at Bealville and Caliente California.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Cool Tip on Making PDF's on Mac OS X

This is a great Apple Tip:
"This is another one of those “secret, buried-in-a-vault” killer tips that addresses something Mac OS X users have complained about: The file sizes of PDFs that Mac OS X creates are sometimes too big (vs. Adobe’s Acrobat PDFs). believe it or not, there’s a way to get smaller PDFs."
Read More!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Podcasting Meetup Group Report

A special announcement from Paul Puri, Assistant Organizer of The Silicon Valley Podcasting Meetup Group:
We had a great first run at the new location at San Jose State University. We got a lot ironed out about what we could do with this great new location. We have free parking, free internet access, a wall full of computer workstations for training sessions, and a large screen for a projector that we can hook up to any computer with a VGA out. What can be more cooler than that?

How about being walking distance from pizza, McDonalds, and a ton of other great places to eat? Still not convinced? How about all of this in a nice large quiet building where we can accommodate every podcaster that belongs to this group. Still not convinced? Take a look at next months agenda, and tell me you can't wait until next month.

The Podcast and New Media Expo is coming soon. When and where is it? Why should you go? What should you bring? Those who have attended this fun and educational event will be sharing their stories. So come if you've never been, to learn more. And if you have been to the expo, share all the goodness that makes this event worth going to every year.

Go to this website for more info about this great event.

Hopefully we'll answer any questions you bring along.

Plus, as always, a question and answer session for any topics and meet and greet for all newcomers.

We are now meeting at San Jose State University!

Best routes to campus: From I-280, take either the 11th Street or the 7th Street exit to East San Salvador or East San Fernando. Dwight Bentel Hall is in the middle of the campus.

On Third Street, the parking structure is free after 6PM.

If you park in a campus garage, it is at least $5.00.

If you would like to chip in, we can order pizza from a local pizzeria, or bring something for yourself.

The room is upstairs in Dwight Bentel Hall. Here is a more detailed map of the area using Google Maps. It shows you how to get to the location, and where to park. Here is a map of the campus. The hall is located in the bottom right of the green(ish) section.

Paul Puri Assistant Organizer

Thursday, May 10, 2007

InDesign User Group Meeting Next Week

There's still time to register for the next meeting of the Bay Area InDesign user group on May 16th, and we want to see you there!

We'll be welcoming InDesign CS3, with Lisa Forrester of Adobe Systems to introduce us to its exciting new features and its integration within Adobe Creative Suite 3. If you are interested in seeing the newest features, you won't want to miss this meeting. Among those that will be showcased are:

  • Finer transparency controls
  • Creative object effects, including feathered gradients
  • Multi-file Place
  • Faster frame fitting
  • Placed InDesign documents
  • Nested style looping
  • Table and cell styles
  • Text variables
  • Expanded Quick Apply
  • Advanced bullets and numbering
  • Export to XHTML

Wednesday, May 16, 2007, 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Adobe Systems Inc. San Francisco, 601 Townsend St., at 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

(Plenty of public transit options and on-street parking.)


  • 6:30 - Check in, pizza, and socializing
  • 6:45 - Announcements
  • 7:00 - InDesign CS3
  • 8:45 - Rafflemania
  • 9:00 - Meeting adjourned

Please register to attend

Poverty at SJSU

Poverty where we are
When I used to take my kids to school at our home near Los Gatos, California, there would often be lines of SUV's built by companies like Lexus and Cadillac waiting to get into the parking lot. But here at San Jose State University, if you look in the morning, you can see that reality is not shared by all. SJSU is between a public school and some relatively low income housing. Parents here do not have Lexus's or SUV's or even cars. They get their kids to school any way they can, and on their way they cross right through the heart of our campus.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Podcaster's Meetup Tomorrow

This is from Here
Here’s your chance to attend the Silicon Valley Podcasting Meet-up — the next meeting is 7 p.m. this Thursday, May 10, and the meeting will be held right here in DBH 226!

It’s your chance to meet and mingle with some local podcasters, get tips on audio recording, and on how and where to post your podcasts, etc.

Be there or be square!

Monday, May 07, 2007

More on the Long Tail

Important terms for this conversation:

  • Disintermediation: "Cutting out the middleman."
  • The Long Tail: "Products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters."
Topics of conversation:
  • Amazon and the death of the corner bookstore
  • iTunes and the death of the music store business
  • Craigs List and the death of classified revenue.

Roy's Motel Cafe

Related Commercial Moment
"We have every movie ever made, in every language, any time, night or day," "Qwest - Bandwidth - Roy's Motel Cafe (1999)".

Places to Go, People to Know:

The Long Tail

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Hodson and Dedman on Video Blogging

Hodson and Dedman

Ryanne Hodson and Jay Dedman at SJSU
On April 25, 2007 Hodson and Dedman came to SJSU. They spoke to Professor Cynthia McCune's Journalism 163 class about videoblogging. Devon Thames, from my class, was there and she shot a video of their presentation. It is being made available here in multiple parts. Here is part one of their presentation.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Birthday To Us

Gus Lease

Grey skies bright future
Despite inclement weather the university concluded Founders Week with a big birthday cake and a free lunch for all employees and students.

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More CERT Training Coming

Greetings (From Spencer Wong),

The University Police Department is holding another Campus Emergency Response Team Training. For those of you who are already CERT trained, this is an opportunity to come back and refresh your training or help teach a section of the 24 hour course. Please remember that skills are perishable unless used on a frequent basis. We will also be starting up a SJSU CERT newsletter and hopefully a SJSU CERT website pretty soon.

For more information on the CERT program please visit:

This course is FREE to all students, faculty, and staff; if you are an instructor, please disseminate this to your students. SBC's please print out the flyer and post it in your building.

Please view the attached flyer (removed.)

If you have any questions please feel free to call or email me. I will email out an itinerary to those who contact me and are interested in helping out or taking the course.

Thank you for your attention.

Spencer Wong
Emergency Preparedness Assistant
San Jose State University Police Department

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Takin' Me Home

SP Commutes 1985

SP Commutes 1985, Volume 1
In the summer of 1985 the Southern Pacific Railroad's commute equipment stopped operating on the San Francisco peninsula and was replaced by Caltrain. This ended over 100 years of SP commute operations on the San Francisco peninsula. This short Track Warrants video, converted from silent Super8 movies, captures that period. As well as the film, this video features the music of Heather Sullivan.

About Me

Transparency: About Me
I had been a newspaper photographer before coming to SJSU. I also ran my own business doing photography and media production (primarily for labor unions.) My BA was in photojournalism. In 1987 I was hired by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (JMC) as a photo lab technician. I became an Information Technology Consultant (ITC) as a result of JMC’s purchase of computers for desktop publishing. An ITC is a very general job classification used for technicians who are generalists rather than narrowly defined specialists.

After my hire in JMC I went back to school under the fee waiver system and received my MA in Instructional Technology, with a concentration in Media Design and Development. I am an Instructional Designer by training. Having an interest in operating systems and especially content creation applications, I studied my passion mostly on my own time. I was certified on Windows 2000 by Microsoft. I started blogging, podcasting and video blogging.

After years of desktop and application support in JMC and the College of Applied Sciences and Arts (CASA) I was assigned to Academic Technology to a position that has been described as “running the help desk.”

I am a believer in collective bargaining. The fact that the CSU system had a union was a primary reason I sought employment with SJSU in 1987. You might say I am a philosophical trade unionist. Others may not agree with my pro-union views but it is not just a philosophy at SJSU. Collective bargaining became the law of the land in the CSU system with the passing of the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA).

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New Windows More Secure Than Mac?

Macworld says Vista is More Secure Than Mac
According to a recent post in Macworld, users of Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system may be more secure than users of the current version (10.4 "Tiger") of Apple's Mac OS X operating system:

I have found the code quality, at least in terms of security, to be much better overall in Vista than Mac OS X 10.4. It is obvious from observing affected components in security patches that Microsoft’s Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) has resulted in fewer vulnerabilities in newly-written code. I hope that more software vendors follow their lead in developing proactive software security development methodologies.