Sunday, March 30, 2008

Reflections of a tech geek on the convention

President Bill Clinton speaking at convention

Last day at CA Convention marked by great speeches
I came to this convention a relative neophyte to the processes and the personalities of the Democratic Party in California. I have been strongly motivated by what I have seen happening to our university system. Earlier this month I was in Sacramento lobbying state senate and assembly members on behalf of the university system I love. But, I was speaking out of passion for education rather than knowledge of politics. I still have a lot to learn, but I have started to get an understanding of why it is so important for us to be involved and how we can be involved. Of course the presidential election has us very focused on that right now. Today President Clinton and San Francisco District Attorney, Kamela Harris each gave great speeches in support of Hillary and Obama. I had a great seat and took many photos:

[More coverage on my twitter feed]

[More convention photos on Flickr]

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sunday morning at the CA demo convention

Today is the third day and I am tired to the bone. I am sitting among a big group of Hillary supporters waiting for Bill Clinton. This seat has a good angle for me to be able to take a photo with my long zoom lens. I am really glad I brought this lens. It has come in very handy. I also am glad I brought my strobe it has gotten a workout. I dropped it to 50% power just to fill the shadows. I need to bring a warming gel next time, the lights here are tungsten.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

End of the CA Demo Convention Day Two

John Garamendi at CA Demo Convention

Very long and fascinating day
I am updating my Flicker Feed with well over 250 new photos today. I have no time to edit or label them. I am too tired to write more as well, so here they are for now.

[More coverage on my twitter feed]

[More convention photos on Flickr]

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

From the California Democratic Convention Floor

I am sitting down posting to this blog from my iPod touch, but this is not a tech post. I saw a lot of inspiring speakers today. Jerry Brown spoke and even though us public employers have had our issues with brown it was great seeing him speak. The greatest and most inspiring speaker today was John Garamendi. He is and has been a strong supporter of education and university employees. He spoke well and recieved a lot of support from the group. We need a pro education governor and we need to stop the downward spiral we are in in higher education. It was a pleasure to hear his speech.

Now we are hearing speakers about immigration. We need depoliticize this issue and have a real discussion as a nation on this topic. It is a crying shame to see talented Engineering grads not get a visa when there are no citizens who have their skills.

When they leave the employers, not being able to find someone in this country to do the job, follow them.

[More coverage on my twitter feed]

[More convention photos on Flickr]

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday night at the convention

Nancy Pelosi at CA demo convention

Great evening at the democratic convention
I had a fantastic time at the convention and feel so honored to be able to attend it and photograph it for my union and for you. I saw Nancy Pelosi, John Garamendi and many other top democrats.

Along with several state union leaders, I attended a reception Pelosi had before the evening's main event. Dave Hart was there, he is the President of the California State Employees Association. This organization includes two locals of the Service Employees International Union, Local 1000 which represents state civil service employees and Local 2579 which represents California State University Employees (that is us!) as affiliates.

On the convention floor, Pelosi spoke about the importance of democrats coming together and the importance of winning this election no matter who is nominated. After the Pelosi speech, at the Labor Caucus, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi spoke about the state budget as well the importance of labor. We simply cannot keep cutting our state budget, Garamendi said. We must find new revenue sources for our state.

I am tired and tomorrow is another long day. I will post more on my twitter feed. In this photo Pelosi is speaking to the delegation while Garamendi looks on.

[More convention photos on Flickr]

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Going to the democratic convention

Obama in 30 seconds

I am going to the California democratic state convention
If you want to follow my experiences, I will be posting on my twitter feed. I am really excited to be going. I am serving as an observer for the California State Employee's Association. Nancy Pelosi is hosting a reception I will be attending. Bill Clinton is expected to be speaking on Sunday. Even though I am supporting Obama, it will be very cool to see Clinton.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Problem with Apple software updates on Windows?

ZD Net Article

Is Apple pushing unwanted software on users?
In a recent ZD Net post, Ed Bott accuses Apple of slipping unwanted software onto users computers without them asking for it. According to Bott, the windows version of Apple's software that automatically provides updates for the Windows version of iTunes is automatically installing the Apple Safari web browser on PC's. Bott said, "All browsers have security-related issues. Safari is no exception. Adding any major application to a computer, especially a new browser, is not a decision to be made lightly." Bott suggests that Apple learn from Microsoft's Windows Update system:

"Apple offers an opt-out system, offers no disclosure, and mixes potentially unwanted software with its security patch updates. By contrast, Microsoft has a scrupulously maintained opt-in system, with full disclosure every step of the way."

Interesting to note, this page has an ad for Apple on it, at least it did when I looked at it.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Food for help desk party

Today we are having a help desk potluck. I have never cooked a vegetarian dish before. Most of the staff are from India and most do not eat meat. I only have a crockpot slow cooker to cook in so this is what I made:

Steve's Vegan Vegetarian Chili

Colorful, tasty, satisfying, guaranteed to please starving help desk staff. Serves 4 - 6, Can be doubled to feed a herd! This vegetarian chili is a great vegan meal by itself, or with salad and cornbread (or naan,) or make it vegetarian with parmesan or ricotta cheese, or sour cream.


  • 2 cans kidney bean, drained and rinsed + 4 cups water
  • 16 ounces Vegetable Broth (with 16 more in reserve)
  • 1 cup bulgar (or cracked wheat)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped small
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, or canned, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper or 1 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded
  • 2 thin slices fresh ginger, peeled, or 1/2 tsp dried, or a chunk of dried ginger candy cut into slices with sugar washed off.
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp crushed jarred garlic)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 3 Tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp each: paprika, gr. cumin, coriander, fennel
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1/4 c. minced parsley
  • 1 Tblsp soy sauce (optional)

Chili Directions:

  1. Preheat saute pan or frying pan on medium
  2. Prep veggies, including garlic, if you're using it
  3. Saute veggies in oil 5 minutes
  4. Add remaining spices, saute another two minutes
  5. After sauteing the veggies, transfer everything to the cooker. Add minced parsley. Cover and simmer on low at least 2 hours. Add soy sauce to taste. Add broth held in reserve as needed to keep desired balance of liquid and solids. Bulgar absorbs broth as it cooks and more evaporates away. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaves when served.

Packed SJSU union meeting

Union meeting on March 25

SJSU staff union meeting standing room only
Despite it being Spring break and a number of staff members being on vacation or away at conferences, yesterday's union meeting at SJSU on compensation and in-range progression was standing room only. California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) Labor Relations Representative Michael H. Hejazi presented to the union members on the topic with the assistance of the local union chapter's President Vera Acevedo, Vice President Jeff Baldwin and Chief Steward Dennis Fox.

Additional Info (From Dennis Fox):

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our new Content Management System

Unhelpful error message

Umm, did I miss something here?
<sarcasm>We have a new Content Management System to help us improve the accessibility of our web site. This system is very easy to use and is full of information to guide us when we make a mistake. When an error is made the user is instantly and intuitively guided to the proper way to accomplish his/her task!</sarcasm>

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Microsoft Word Vulnerability

According to Jason Meserve of Network World:

Microsoft is warning users not to open unexpected Word files after a new zero-day exploit is making the rounds that could be used to run malicious code. The flaw being exploited is in Microsoft's Jet Database Engine. No word on when an update will be available.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Money and Blogging Question

Unless we can say something to students about how they are going to get real money for blogging, it all sounds like evangelistic crap!
We can tell our students about blogging and Web 2.0 until we are blue in the face. But, unless we can at least say something to our students about how they are going to get real money for blogging the whole conversation is going to sound like evangelistic crap. So, we as teachers of new media have to listen when somebody who has authority talks about this subject. Whether you agree with him or not, you need to read this post by Michael Arrington on Tech Crunch. Among the things he has said:

"So today, at best, I’d describe the blogosphere as a frontier town with no lawman..."


"...writing good content is only half the battle. You have to figure out the complex, dynamic web of politics between bloggers and mainstream media before you post to know where to get support."

UPDATE (14:29 PDT: Scoble responds to Arrington):

"Lately blogging seems like it has lost its way. Why? Well, looking at TechMeme you can see why: the professionals have taken over and have redefined what blogging is."

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

The storm before the calm

Students studying in the hallway.

Midterm week at SJSU
This is a week that is pretty intense for some students. Many faculty members time their midterms so they occur right before Spring break. All over campus students are cramming and preparing for exams. We are seeing students coming in working on projects. Next week the campus will be quiet. It will be Spring break. The faculty and students will be gone. They only ones left on campus, mostly, will be us staff.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blogging five years today

Dwight Bentel Hall, where first blog post was made

Five years of blogging
Five years ago today I made my first blog post. That led to a lot of things, including launching the first podcast in higher education. The best part is how much I have learned over that period, the people I met through this the great conversations this led to and especially the opportunity to teach new media at SJSU.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Steve Gillmor Is Back

I missed the Gillmor Gang, Steve is back!
It is great to see that Steve Gillmor has this new gig and you should check it out. His podcast is a great experiment with citizen journalism. He has an open podcast (RSS Feed) that, like talk radio, builds its cast as it goes. Now it is called the NewsGang. Steve and his brother Dan Gillmor are both very talented pioneering new media talents. Steve, who has been described as being "prickly and prescient," has a related blog. Check it out:

On The Gang this Friday, Dan Farber asked me what I was doing in this new gig - a column or a blog? No difference, I replied. Just like there's no difference between mainstream and bloggospherian journalism and commentary. This is my opinion, and in the self-contained universe that is this space, it's the guiding principle, the law, the prime directive, the universal theory. I am the writer, editor, judge, and jury...

Technorati Tags: , , ,

SJSU Budget Forum

SJSU Budget Forum April 2
Faculty, staff, students and administrators, mark your calendars. An important forum for the San Jose State University community on the state budget crisis will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, in the Student Union, Barrett Ballroom. Boxed lunches will be provided by the campus union groups. Please RSVP at 408-924-7787 by Wednesday, March 26.

The forum is a collaborative effort between President Don W. Kassing, campus labor groups, the Academic Senate and Associated Students. Members of the campus community are encouraged to attend to get the facts about the budget crisis and to learn how we can take action to let lawmakers know the importance of the California State University and the education we provide to students.

Speakers include President Kassing and representatives of faculty, staff, students, alumni and labor groups. The SJSU budget forum is one of a series of similar events being held on each CSU campus.

For more information, contact Nancy Stake, director of government and community relations within the Division of University Advancement, at 408-924-1167 or

Read more about the CSU budget:

Pat Lopes Harris
Media Relations Specialist/SJSU This Week Editor
San Jose State University
San Jose, Calif.
(408) 924-1748

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Response to anti-Israel Letter to the Editor in the Daily

This is in response to this letter to the editor by civil engineering graduate student Humza Chowdhry:

In my opinion this is more propaganda and hate speech than fact. 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. In my opinion the principal obstacle to any progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace is the refusal of Hamas to recognize Israel, or to recognize Israel's existence, or to recognize Israel's right to exist.

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. In my opinion Israel is the best friend this country has in the middle east.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Remembering Joe Swan

Joe Swan

Who could say enough good things about Joe Swan? Former SJSU photojournalism professor Joe Swan, 78, died Sunday. Joe taught in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications from 1963 to 1991. I remember having an 8 a.m. class with Joe when I was a student at SJSU about 28 years ago, in 1980. Joe was full of great stories about his days at Grit Magazine. I doubt I was the only one in the class who had no idea what Grit Magazine was or had never heard of Grit Magazine before that class but we all listened enthusiastically because Joe was a first class story teller.

Joe was a Texan. He spoke with a Texas accent. Joe was a perfect southern gentleman. Years later; I remember walking around campus with Joe. There was a female university police officer having some issues with two males who were athletic looking and much bigger than her. Sensing that the police officer might be out matched, (despite the fact she had a gun and they did not) Joe turned to me and said, "it looks like we might have to get involved here." At that time Joe was having some health problems. Neither of us was a formidable force. Neither of us were fighters. Those guys looked a lot bigger and tougher than us! Thankfully the officer was able to handle the situation handily. That's Joe, he was not a bystander if anybody, especially a lady was, or even appeared to be in distress.

I have Joe to thank for working at San Jose State University. Before I came to SJSU I was a photo lab tech at the University of California San Francisco. I had my BA in photojournalism. Joe told me about a photo lab tech job that had just opened up at SJSU in the then Department of Journalism and encouraged me to apply. That was 1988. That photo tech job evolved into one supporting computers.

Joe had an ear to the ground for jobs for his former photo students. When I was there as a student, Jack Fields was a visiting professor. Jack taught most of my main photojournalism classes but Joe was the full time professor. Joe taught some of the other photojournalism classes as well as courses like the morning magazine class. After Jack left Joe taught all of the photojournalism courses.

Joe watched over and cared for his students like they were his own kids. Many of us owe our careers to Joe. Sometimes he knew of job openings before the people who were doing the hiring would know they had a vacancy. Joe would hear through the grapevine someone was going to leave a job. Our students and graduates would have their applications in the hands of editors before the outgoing photographer had even given notice.

Besides my current position there are two other jobs I landed that I owe credit to Joe for, including my time as a photographer for the Manteca Bulletin.

Recently the Spartan Daily ran a story on Joe. It had a photo of him in the hospital and it said, "Within the last year, Swan, 78, has had both legs amputated and has been on dialysis, a process of filtration used when the kidneys stop working, because of complications from diabetes." The photo I have above, in this blog post, is how I will remember Joe.

He was one of the nicest people I have ever known. Joe a real role model for aspiring journalism students as well as for new faculty. We lost one of the best!

About this Photo: I do not know who took the photo. It is just an old mounted print on stained mount board that was on the wall of equipment checkout room. One of the subsequent PJ instructors had decided to discard it. So, I snatched the print out of the trash after a cleanup. The actual photographer is unknown.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The future is Web Services, Not Web Sites

According to Steve Reubel of Micro Persuasion, "I believe most brand web sites may not matter in 2012 - unless they have satellites that make the mother ship stronger. The Attention Crash (or what Iconoculture calls "choice fatigue") is accelerating the pace of change."

YouTube becoming a service

According to this recent post on Cnet:
Google's YouTube just announced that it is expanding its APIs to allow more direct access to the service.

The updates to the APIs, or application programming interfaces, give developers deeper access into YouTube for video uploading and allow for "chromeless" players, or players without the traditional YouTube interface and branding.

This move means YouTube will become not just a destination for videos, but a system that serves videos into other apps.
For those of us who use YouTube in the classroom this means there will likely be all kinds of new ways to deliver content to our students.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Practice, practice, practice; preach

The April ACTC Newsletter

I urge my students to find some way to apply their software talents in order to keep them and hone them. I try to practice as well as preach that. I do a monthly newsletter for my bicycle club, the Almaden Cycle Touring Club.

Here is the April Issue of the Black and Blue Bottom, the ACTC Newsletter. I hope you like it (Note: The web server the club uses has been having problems, so if this download fails, that is why.)

Technorati Tags: ,

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mercury News Death Dance

On The Mercury News Death Dance
As a new media journalist (aka blogger) myself I have been watching the spiraling down of this once great newspaper and wondering what we of great numbers and small individual market shares might be contributing to it.

If you follow the principles of The Long Tail you understand how great entities like metropolitan newspapers are struggling to stay alive against thousands of bloggers, Facebookers and YouTubers creating content all around them, competing for their precious readers attention while at the same time disintermediating their revenue stream (through things like Ebay, Craig's List and even Google allowing sellers to connect with buyers in ways that a few short decades ago was impossible without advertising.)

As consumers of content also become producers of content (hence the term "prosumer") each prosumer clamors and competes for their own audience attention. They don't just compete with each other. Time does not expand to accommodate these new information sources. Something has to give.

Traditional mass media outlets (including newspapers) become like an elephant overcome by a sea of ants. How does a newspaper compete with a swarm, when the swarm is also their market? The time I used to spend fetching and reading "the paper" is now spent reading the blogs of friends, family members and the forum sites of my favorite hobbies. I do not even have to get off my couch to do this. (I am on my couch right now in fact!)

What is the point of all this? We have much more content available, and this content is free, mostly free of advertising and easy to get. This content is very compellingly targeted right at our favorite niches and scratches our itches. We can also free and easily produce content. It is so much fun we do this without being paid to do it. We can tap all this, do all that, but we still only have 24 hours in a day.

Newspapers cost money. Newspapers require us to make an effort to go get them. Newspapers have to create content that produces a revenue stream. Newspapers have to pay for people to produce and distribute their content. Most of the information in a given newspaper is not interesting to us. People who don't "get" texting, Facebook, YouTube and the blogosphere will never "get" what is happening to traditional journalism. This is off their radar screen. It is not just blogging and the the blogosphere, it is a the superset of Internet distributed content I call the informationsphere.

Two new contributions to this informationshpere are some recent blog posts about the most recent layoffs at the San Jose Mercury News. These posts come from Ryan Sholin and Frances Dinkelspiel. Hopefully after reading these, then writing your own blog post, then texting a few friends, then checking YouTube, then checking Ebay, Craigs List and then updating your Facebook page then, maybe then, you will have time left to read a newspaper, any newspaper.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, March 07, 2008

Are we wasting the taxpayers money on E-mail?

Is this waste?
What does the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, the College of Business, College of Science, Computer Engineering and the School of Library and Information Sciences at San Jose State have in common? They are among a number of colleges, departments and other organizational units at San Jose State University that equip, buy software for, staff and maintain their own separate E-mail systems. Despite the fact the university provides E-mail accounts, has staff and E-mail servers and pays software license fees for a campus-wide E-mail and calendaring system that serves each and every campus employee, these units have separate E-mail systems.

Remember, San Jose State is one of 23 campuses in the California State University System.

Why do we need so many E-mail systems?
To put this into perspective, imagine that San Jose State University was one department store in a chain of 23 department stores. Imagine each of the 23 stores in the chain having their own E-mail systems with their individual domain names and having their own staffs having jobs maintaining those E-mail servers providing E-mail service for each individual store. Now imagine that within a single store the lawn and garden department had its own E-mail system with its own E-mail server(s) and E-mail domain name and staff having jobs maintaining their E-mail server(s) and the lingerie department having its own servers, system and staff, and the cosmetic department having its own servers, system and staff, and so on and so on. Imagine a reality where separate departments in every store had servers, staffs, and teams providing redundant services for departments in individual stores. A college is an organizational unit in a university that is much bigger than a department of a department store, but large corporations like IBM and Microsoft have multiple sites with large organizational units at these sites and they do not find it necessary to have redundant E-mail systems that are defined by organizational units. Imagine how wasteful that would be. They achieve economy of scale by having one E-mail system for the whole corporation that covers multiple sites and locations.

How can we ask for money while we waste it?
On Monday and Tuesday of this week I spent two days in Sacramento talking to state senators and state assembly members about the importance of preserving funding for CSU. Students at our university are faced with spiraling student fees and reduced services. In my opinion it is an insult to all of them for us to be wasting money on redundant systems and services. In my opinion our staff should be used meeting needs that are currently unmet rather than being assigned to providing redundant services.

Is this disloyalty or integrity?
Personal Statement - I have been an employee of San Jose State University for over 20 years. I currently work as an information technology consultant at the university help desk. I became a citizen of California long before I was hired by San Jose State University. I was born in California and I have lived here all of my life. I raised my family here. Every dollar I have earned has been subject to taxation by the State of California. I am proud of being a Californian.

My writing this may be seen as being disloyal as an employee to the university by some of my peers, but as a state employee, I believe our first loyalty is to the taxpayers of California. We need to spend their (and our) tax-dollars wisely. Before I was an employee of San Jose State University I was (and remain) a taxpayer of California. In this time of fiscal austerity, in this time when hard sacrifices are being asked of students and the citizens of this state, in my opinion at this time especially we do them a tremendous disservice when we waste precious tax money on unnecessary redundancy.

Isn't E-mail E-mail?
Some may say the university needs all this redundancy is because of our culture. Our culture, some say, makes our E-mail needs different. In my opinion that is bunk! We are talking about E-mail here, not culture. This is a service. E-mail is E-mail.

In my opinion, we are wasting the tax payer's money. As a taxpayer, that makes me mad!

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Get Linux

There will be a Linux Installfest on Saturday, March 8 from 11am to 4pm in the SCE room, ENGR 294. Bring your laptop or desktop for help with installing, configuring or troubleshooting Linux. We will also provide support for setting up a dual-boot configuration. For questions please post here or contact Andrew at atomlins (at)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Student Fee Forum

How the CSU Budget Cuts will affect you students:
  • Hosted by student body President Benjamin Henderson and Director of Student Fee Affairs Esther Alumba
  • Featuring SJSU VP of Finance Rose Lee
  • Today, Noon to 2 p.m.
  • Student Union Pacifica Room

Monday, March 03, 2008

Prepairing for Lobby Day

Cameraphone post: Preparing for Lobby Day
I am walking around the state capitol building this morning. I want to see how the shadows fall for a group photo I will be shooting tomorrow morning. Today we will be meeting to prepare for tomorrow, our union's Lobby Day 2008.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Sunday, March 02, 2008