Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter in San Jose

Winter came to San Jose yesterday. The days are getting longer once again.

About the photo: This photo is shot on film, with a Nikon 105mm 2.5 lens (Ken Compton's old lens) on a N90S on Fuji 400 film exposed at 200. Click on photo to see a larger version.

Monday, December 21, 2009

End of Fall at San Jose State

Fall is finished at SJSU. This photo was taken between Clark Hall and Dwight Bentel Hall on November 29, 2009. Two guys were tossing a football in the late afternoon that day. Just click on the photo to see a larger version of the image.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ram's Last Day

Today is a day of many celebrations at the help desk. It is both happy and sad as today is Ram Kumar Rama Roo's last day. Ram has been at the help desk for three years and is our senior student lead. He will be missed!

We had a help desk celebration to celebrate that, several staff birthdays and the end of the semester. (Click on the above photo if you would like to see it larger.)

Why Google Apps for Education?

Why Google Apps for Education Video

Members of the Google Apps Education team explain Google Apps, how Google Apps work, the benefits of Google Apps as well as provide some information about Google's education program.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Solutions: Linking Apple and Google Calendars

Linking Apple iCal and Google Calendars

This video, by Gary Rosenzweig of MacMost.com, shows a free way to link Apple iCal Calendars and Google Calendars so that when you put an event in one it appears in the other. This is a good way to get Google Calendar events to appear on your iPhone, for example. There are other, not free, solutions as well including Spanning Synch. I like Spanning Synch if you have multiple Apple Macs where you will be entering calendar events, or want granular control to link multiple calendars.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How we use Google Docs at the Help Desk

We have been using and are crazy about Google Docs at the San Jose State University Help Desk. Why? Because Google Docs have greatly improved our ability to collaborate efficiently. Rather than e-mail copies of Word files from person to person and hope the end result is not mass confusion; we invite users to work together of the documents we have stored in Google's Web cloud.

We build right sized collaboration teams of subject matter experts (SMPs), staff users, writers and editors around a document based around the need to get the job done. In this post we will illustrate how we do this.

For any of this to make sense; you need to understand the concepts in the following video. This is how Google Docs works:

Understanding Google Docs Video

Sharing a document with others is very simple. Here is another video that shows you how to add people to collaborate on a Google Document.

As you follow the progress of a team around a document, you may want to view the revision history to see who did what to the document. It is easy to do this. Select "see revision history" from the file menu of the Google document.

See revision history in the File menu of Google Docs

After you make this selection you can see the work of the multiple editors of, or contributors to, the document and/or roll back to a previous version.

A view of the revision history of a help desk document.

Using Google Docs we have been able to create teams around on-line and training documents based of the expertise and the skill sets needed to create successful documentation. We have also been using this approach for several years for asset management. This work flow has significant potential also for group efforts like department newsletters. It is hard to imagine reverting to our old inefficient work flow of mailing Word files and tracking changes to those files.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fall light, leaves and shadows

Behind Dwight Bentel Hall at SJSU, Fall 2009.

(Taken on Fuji 400 film, Nikon F3 camera. Click on photo to enlarge)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hackers are people too

According to M. E. Kabay of Network World, "During the 1990s, the term "hacker" became synonymous with "cracker," which is a person who performs some form of computer sabotage." But, that is not what the term originally meant:

"Hacker: A person who writes programs in assembly language or in system-level languages, such as C. The term often refers to any programmer, but its true meaning is someone with a strong technical background who is "hacking away" at the bits and bytes.

"HACKERS ARE PEOPLE TOO," a 2008 documentary directed by Ashley Schwartau and produced by Winn Schwartau, is a refreshing look at intelligent, healthy, original people who are far from the twisted misfits...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Philz Music Moment

Philz Coffee
is one of my favorite hangouts near SJSU. This evening as I walked by there after yoga I couldn't help but notice they now have music. I grabbed a snap with my iPhone. The place has been crowded with students preparing for finals.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Still concerned about risks

I am still concerned about the risks posed by bicycles and other human powered vehicles on campus. I have a related post on another blog here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Government system vulnerability and threats

According to Michael Cooney of Network World, "the Government Accountability Office today took yet another critical look at the US federal security systems and found most of them lacking." He said:

Within today's report, the GAO broadly outline the groups and types of individuals considered to be what it called key sources of cyber threats to our nation's information systems and cyber infrastructures. [Read More]

As a government entity we at this state university need to be mindful of such threats and be vigilant in our ability to respond to them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Top Eight Ways Students Cheat

What are the top eight ways students cheat? Carin Ford wrote this post for Higher Ed morning:

Not so long ago, students relied on crib sheets and word of mouth to cheat. And while some of those methods live on, cheating today has taken a new twist. [Read More]

The comments to this post are also very good reading.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Union Meeting Photos

JJ at BoD Meeting

Last weekend I went to the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) Board of Director's Meeting in Sacramento. It was a huge even and I took many photographs. Here is just a small subset of those photos:

[Event Photos on Flickr]

Friday, November 06, 2009

Making Money with Journalism Skills

Shawn Smith, a Web promotion and Internet marketing scientist, wrote this post on How to Make Money with Your J-Skills:

In this post, I’ll give you an 8-step plan for getting started with skills monetization outside of newspapers and a few excellent examples for putting your skills to work. Let’s get started (which is often the hardest part).

There are some good ideas here.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Do Furloughs Work?

By Steve Sloan

All of us who work for the state know the hardships imposed by furloughs on our families. We’re also aware of the impact on students of furloughs, reduced class sessions and increased fees. But, do furloughs work?

Furloughs are designed to save money and reduce layoffs. Furloughs may save some jobs, do they really save money? According to some recent studies and articles, it is possible state furloughs do not save much money.

David Greenwald of the UC Berkeley Labor Center, in a California Progress Report, said state furloughs save the general fund only 12 cents for every dollar cut in wages. Greenwald and others look at our state government furloughs in general. In addition to university employees our sister union, the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, represents 95,000 of the 193,000 state workers covered under the furlough program. Many of these workers are getting three furlough days a month, a 14 percent pay cut.

Ken Jacobs of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, in the policy brief The High Cost Of Furloughs wrote, "Whether imposed on employees paid from state, federal, or special funds, furloughs impact the broader economy in multiple ways. First, any reduction in pay is a reduction in spending in the local economy and will have a multiplier effect, resulting in private sector job loss and subsequent loss of tax revenues."

Jacobs said, "It is poorly designed, if the goal is to provide savings to the general fund." Jacobs, also the chair of the Labor Center said, "Key design problems include furloughing state workers in revenue-generating positions, continued accumulation of pension and benefit debt and inclusion of workers whose salaries are paid by the federal government and other special funds, in addition to the general fund."

Even some conservatives question furloughs. Dr. John Sullivan in the employee-recruiting forum ERE.net wrote the post Employee Furloughs Can Be a Bad Alternative to Layoffs. He said, "While the tool may be popular and widely used, that doesn’t make it effective or the best choice."

Sullivan cites many reasons for this conclusion including productivity loss, morale decline over loss of income and increased workload, increased employee stress, higher error rates, angry customers, possible lawsuits over furloughs, loss of good employees who react to furloughs by leaving and a general decrease in innovation.

Sullivan said, "It’s hard to plan ahead and think of innovations when your job security is up in the air."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SJSU Wireless Network Conversion

Student using SJSU Wireless network

An e-mail message has been distributed by the Campus Communication System to all SJSU faculty and staff. The message says:

On Sunday, November 1, 2009, we will implement major changes to the campus wireless network. The wireless network, currently managed by Comcast, will now be managed by SJSU. This means all support and equipment will be local to this campus.

This move will reduce SJSU’s cost of maintaining the wireless network.

The cut-over will begin Friday, October 30th at 8:00 a.m. and will last through Sunday evening, November 1st. Services may not be available during this time. Services will be restored by Monday morning, November 2nd.

You will continue to use your SJSUOne login and password to access the wireless network.

All wireless support calls will go to the ITSS Help Desk at 4-2377 ((408) 924-2377.) Help desk support hours for wireless support are as follows:

Monday through Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Calls received outside of these hours will be handled on an emergency basis and will be resolved on the next business day.

Coverage areas will be the same. There are no adjustments to the physical network. All wireless devices that support a browser will continue to work on the wireless network.

Wireless Guest
Current wireless guest login names and passwords will be unaffected by the move.

MLK Library
The library’s wireless access will be available for SJSU students and faculty using their SJSUOne login and passwords. However, Non SJSU patrons using their library card barcode WILL NOT BE ABLE TO LOGIN.

We apologize for this inconvenience, but it was not possible to recreate this custom feature in the timeline allocated. We will continue to work through this issue and endeavor to bring the library patrons on-line as soon as possible.

For questions or concerns please e-mail UTS (link to send email.) We will gladly respond to your messages.

Our San Jose State University Help Desk will be the first point of contact for supporting the wireless network after the conversion.

Call us at (408) 924-2377 during our normal business hours. Our business hours are the only times we are open and/or are able to address issues. Our business hours are here. Or, go to our ticket portal and submit an incident ticket into our ticketing system. Our ticket portal is here.

The Help Desk Blog is here with more information

Friday, October 23, 2009

E-Mail Alert

If you have ever responded to an e-mail with your username and password, please contact the help desk and change your password immediately.

Recently, a small number of e-mails have been received at SJSU requesting the recipient to send their User Name, password or other information, by e-mail. These messages, are scams from outsiders attempting to gain access to your information.

If you suspect a phishing scam, please follow these two steps:

  1. Never e-mail your password:
    If a message asks you to send your password via e-mail, it is a scam. You should never need to e-mail your password for a legitimate support matter. If you sent your password, change it immediately.
  2. Contact your Support Technician or the University Help Desk to register an e-mail support ticket:
    Contact your IT Support Technician or the University Help Desk if you have questions or concerns about your e-mail account. The University Help desk will create and route a support ticket to the proper team for response.

Actual SJSU e-mail account process:
Your e-mail accounts are created and deleted based on information in CMS/MySJSU and connected to SJSUOne. We use your CMS data to determine if your account should be deactivated.

The Systems department never sends e-mails asking for your password. Any e-mail asking for your SJSU e-mail password is a scam.

Learn more about avoiding Phishing Scams.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

IBM Launching an OS to compete with Windows

According to a Network World post by Jon Brodkin, "IBM Tuesday said it is teaming up with Canonical to provide cloud- and Linux-based desktop packages in the United States at half the cost of upgrading to Windows 7. It's called the IBM Client for Smart Work package, which was initially launched last month in Africa, as it was designed for emerging markets."

I suggest they call it Warp Two.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Snow Leopard Bug Deleting Entire User Accounts

Thanks to a tip from Paul Puri.

ITWire is reporting that even accidental logging into the Guest account can cause severe data loss for the user who logs into the Guest account. This is also reported on Life Hacker.

According to multiple topics on the Apple Support discussion boards, the problem can occur when a user logs into their Mac's Guest account — whether by accident or on purpose — and then tries to log back into their regular account.

In some cases, users have reported finding their regular account empty of data, as though it were a brand new account.

Unexpected problems do sometimes prop up on new versions of operating systems. I am sure this will be fixed in the next revision. Dealing with unexpected glitches is the price of early adoption.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

IBM sent letter regarding purchase of SPSS

Dear SPSS Customer:
We are pleased to announce that IBM has completed the acquisition of SPSS Inc. As we mark this milestone, we would like to confirm our continued commitment to your success, and to highlight the benefits resulting from this acquisition.

SPSS will become part of IBM’s Business Analytics and Process Optimization organization. Your current SPSS account and support teams will continue to serve you. SPSS business partners will also continue to serve your needs through consultation, implementation, fulfillment and support, and will be invited to join the IBM Business Partner program.

For decades, IBM has been focused on providing the underlying information infrastructure to support business intelligence and performance management solutions. This includes databases and data warehouses to manage data, information integration and master data management to establish accurate and trusted information, as well as various analytic capabilities. With the addition of SPSS, IBM intends to further help customers solve new business challenges and meet the demand for more sophisticated, real-time uses of information.

SPSS provides a comprehensive predictive analytics portfolio that includes data collection, text and data mining, and advanced statistical analysis and predictive solutions, helping customers predict future events and proactively act upon insight to drive better business outcomes.

IBM intends to support your investments in SPSS by leveraging IBM’s world-class technology resources to deliver innovative solutions and expanded value. Building on a tradition of client success and satisfaction, IBM plans to leverage its extensive global resources to enhance and expand your service and support offerings, both directly and through business partners.

We’re very excited about the future of this important new relationship, and we look forward to continuing to provide innovative products and services for your business. For more information, please visit IBM online.


Jack Noonan, CEO, SPSS Inc.

Deepak Advani, Vice President, Predictive Analytics, IBM Business Analytics & Process Optimization

Friday, October 09, 2009

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Windows Seven Review

Network World has posted a good Windows 7 Review by Harry Mccracken, PC World. Mccracken said:

Windows 7 is hardly flawless. Some features feel unfinished; others won't realize their potential without heavy lifting by third parties. And some long-standing annoyances remain intact. But overall, the final shipping version I test-drove appears to be the worthy successor to Windows XP that Vista never was.

Faculty and staff who are on the SJSU wired network and who are interested in trying Microsoft Windows 7 should contact their desktop support team. If you do not know how to do that create a ticket and we will give you information at the San Jose State University Help Desk.

Chronicle of Higher Ed looks at SJSU Budget issue

According to a post by Josh Keller of the Chronicle of Higher Education, "Some 40,000 students will be unable to attend the California State University system in the next year and a half because of enrollment cutbacks." Keller's post goes on to explore the specific situation at San Jose State:

For the first time in memory, the roughly 1,300 community-college students who expected to transfer to San Jose State next spring are having to make other plans.

In my opinion the cutbacks in higher education are the economic equivalent of being a farmer and eating your seed corn in a drought. When the economic weather improves we will have nothing, nobody, to plant in the jobs that would otherwise be created. It is hard to see any good coming from any of this.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

My son Jeff at SJSU

Jeff at SJSU

Window Washer

Window Washer at Philz

Are students hurt by social media?

Is Twitter hurting students? According to a post by Carin Ford of Higher Ed Morning.

Dr. Tracy Alloway of Scotland’s University of Stirling, says her study shows using Facebook stretches our “working memory” (our short-term or recent memory), while Twitter, YouTube and text messages tend to weaken it.

The study Ford cited focused on younger students. Ford went on to say, "prospective college students are increasingly using Facebook for more than just social interaction. According to a new Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions study, more than 70% of college admissions officials have received “friend requests” from students using Facebook and MySpace."

This brings up other questions, what are the ethical considerations of teachers friending students on social media sites, like Facebook? Since these sites may not be as accessible as university provided media outlets; are faculty members putting disabled students at a competitive disadvantage by "friending" non-disabled students on social media sites?

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Is Apple poised to redefine print?

There is more discussions on Gizmodo on the often discussed but never delivered Apple Tablet computer. It was once proposed as a MacTablet, but now it looks more and more like a MacKindle. This could be an intriguing tool for paperless newspaper delivery. According to Brian Lam of Gizmodo:

"Apple is in talks with several media companies rooted in print, negotiating content for a "new device." And they're not just going for e-books and mags. They're aiming to redefine print."

I hope if such a product is released, they work will cell carriers like AT&T to bundle data delivery over Edge and 3G networks so if such a device comes out it is able to deliver content without being restricted to often locked down WiFi networks.

They have a huge distribution engine in the iTunes Store. PDF podcasts would be a wonderful way to distribute print content, both paid and free.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The problem continues

Cyclist at SJSU

The problem with HPV's at SJSU
I am not against bicyclists, or bicycling, but I am seriously against very dangerous use of them. I am an avid cyclist. I know that cycling, even done carefully, can result in serious injury or death. I am not against anything that involves a risk, but I am against unnecessary risk. I am against what I feel is a grossly dangerous situation. That is why I have been complaining for years about how bicycles and other human powered vehicles are being used at SJSU. In my opinion, so far the university has done nothing to manage what I feel is a real risk on our campus. More on this topic can be found here.

[More photos here]

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Campus Movie Fest 2009

Campus Movie Fest

Today SJSU students are turning in their movies and the equpment they borrowed to make their productions. There is a line outside here at Clark Hall. This is one of our most fun events at SJSU.

[More photos here on Flickr]

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How I remove hot spots on shiny skin in Photoshop

This works very well. One of the best and easiest ways to fix hot spots, like flash reflections on shiny skin, on a photograph is this:

  1. Make a duplicate layer, choose that layer and work from that layer.
  2. Choose the healing brush tool and in the options bar, for mode choose "DARKEN" and check the option "SAMPLE ALL LAYERS".
  3. Set your healing brush tool hardness to 0% (this is a soft brush) and size of the brush (use a brush size slightly bigger than the hot spot) and with OPTION+click (MAC) or ALT+click (PC) choose a skin tone you like. Then, paint on the shiny areas with the healing brush tool. Painting, as used here, means clicking and dragging on, or over, the areas where you want to cover the hot spot(s).
  4. Apply slight a slight Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur) and lower the opacity of the layer.

What is great about this technique is you have cloned pixels on a separate layer and you can apply the slight Gaussian Blur filter and lower the opacity of the layer to blend your adjustments in and achieve a great end result.

Here is where I learned this technique.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I do not recommend leaping to Snow Leopard yet

Tech Guy Leo Laporte says:

(Mac OS X 10.6) should be renamed “Snow JOB.” Cause he doesn’t see any difference and is more a “service pack” that should’ve been a free upgrade, not an insane $29. It also breaks a few applications. Sure, you have a little more hard drive space, but only because it doesn’t install all the unnecessary drivers.

Jeremy Horwitz, Editor-in-Chief of iLounge said, "multiple machines upgraded, all with serious, awful stability problems of some sort. Safari’s crashing. Photoshop’s crashing. Apps you didn’t even know could crash (like TextEdit) are crashing. They’re crashing when we save files, crashing randomly when we’re not saving files, and so on."

We do not support Snow Leopard at the SJSU Help Desk. The SPSS software we provide does not work with it. Unless you have a serious business need that requires Mac OS X 10.6 (and I know of none very few for most users) there is no reason to switch yet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The university offers faculty training on the same day it requires they do not work!

How can the university on one hand offer events to faculty on furlough days, like this one, when The CSU/CFA Faculty Furlough Agreement requires that prior to the start of their assignment for any term, faculty must certify in writing that they will not work on the assigned furlough day?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Did Apple iPhone Compromise Enterprise Security?

According to a recent post in Network World by Galen Gruman:

Thousands of users have been accessing e-mail, calendars, and contacts over Exchange connections through their iPhones or iPod Touches, not knowing they were compromising their corporate security. During that entire time, Apple has extolled its support of Exchange and convinced many businesses that the iPhone was a corporate-class device they should embrace or, at least, tolerate.

[Read More]

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

SPSS not currently supported on Snow Leapord

Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" (the just released current version) does not support SPSS 17.1 (the current version we have at SJSU.) SPSS has been renamed PASW Statistics. Reportedly, SPSS/PASW Statistics is not scheduled to be supported in Snow Leopard until PASW Statistics 18 is released. I don't anticipate we will have PASW Statistics 18 until sometime in Spring 2010, if past precedent holds. SPSS/PASW Statistics system requirements are pretty well spelled out. We get new versions of SPSS/PASW Statistics well after they are released. SPSS shipped SPSS 17 to SJSU less than 6 months ago.

We do ask our customers to check the system requirements of the software, which we show them in writing, before we sell them install media. We will try to be even more vigilant about doing this.

This is not unusual. SPSS/PASW Statistics is not usually quick to support new operating systems, and PASW Statistics is not big enough for Apple to tailor its OS software to work with it.

We do not currently support Snow Leopard at the SJSU help desk. We do not even have it yet. I anticipate we will be (officially) supporting Mac OS X 10.6 and Windows 7 in the Spring. But, that is not my decision to make!

BTW - I suggest folks not install new operating systems on production computers until they are at least 10.x.3 for Macs or SP 1 for Windows OS versions. Then, they should only install a new OS if they have a business need to, and they are sure their applications are compatible. IMHO the main use of an OS is to allow users to access applications and applications to efficiently access system resources, the rest is fluff. The best thing an OS can do, in my opinion, is to get out of my way! (But then, I liked the spartan Windows 2000 interface.)

BTW #2 - I am going to be out of the office until September 8. If help desk clients want issues addressed as quickly as possible, please do one of the following:

  • Call us at (408) 924-2377 during our normal business hours. Our business hours are the only times we are open and/or are able to address issues. Our business hours are here.
  • Or, go to our ticket portal and submit an incident ticket into our ticketing system. Our ticket portal is here.

Have a great holiday weekend:

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Furloughs must be implimented with respect


The California State University system is a union shop. Most non-manager employees in the CSU system are covered by one of several collective bargaining agreements. When CSU wanted to make cuts in its overall employee compensation it only had one option under the agreements, that option was layoffs.

When the CSU decided instead that it wanted to furlough university employees it had to go to the unions and negotiate a side agreement to do so. Employees who were in their unions then had an opportunity to vote to ratify that agreement and almost all the CSU unions voted to accept furloughs for one year.

At this time it appears the budget problems may go on beyond a year. You may see the unions and CSU negotiating again on this topic. Any tentative agreement that may come out of a future agreement would most likely have to again go through a ratification process.

Under the agreement currently in place, management is apparently being given a great deal of discretion in how they are dealing with furlough days. For example, at SJSU, President Whitmore has decided to not close the campus on at least some furlough days. Some university employees are being asked to work on some furlough days and to take other non-furlough days off instead.

This is not the understanding some employees had who voted for furloughs of how furloughs would be implemented. Many employees expected the campus to be closed on furlough days. These employees made other plans on these days (for example for daycare) and some resent that it is not being closed and resent the possibility that they could possibly be asked to work and to take other days off instead. These employees are sometimes feeling taken advantage of.

If employees do not feel that the university is respecting the spirit of the furlough agreement it may be a lot harder for CSU to get a second agreement ratified, if that becomes necessary. It is important for the universities to remember that university employees have made a sacrifice here and if that sacrifice is not respected, it may not ever be repeated.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Letter from SJSU President to staff regarding furloughs

This was sent to all SJSU staff employees by SJSU President Jon Whitmore on August 6, 2009:

Please note our designated furlough days for this month are August 10 and 17. These designated furlough days will be observed by nearly all MPPs, confidentials and staff members. Exceptions include some public safety, auxiliary, library, athletics, housing and custodial personnel. If you work in these areas, please seek guidance from your supervisor.

Also, bargaining unit members can request alternative furlough days for August by completing the Employee Alternate Furlough Day Request Form noted at the end of this message. Please submit the completed form to your supervisor. Keep in mind that campus operational needs will determine if employee requests are granted.

With respect to the remainder of 2009-2010, we have submitted our proposed furlough plan to the chancellor's office. Once the chancellor's office approves the plan, we will share it with you. Our proposed furlough calendars were carefully constructed with much thought, consultation with employee groups, and concern for our operational and academic needs. Thank you for your patience.

Many of you would also like to know how to word absence greetings for email and voicemail on furlough days. Here is suggested language: "Due to state budget cuts, San Jose State University will offer reduced services on Monday, August 10. Most staff members will be on furlough. Please leave a message, but remember we may be unable to return your call until the next business day."

If you have questions, there are a number of resources available to you. Consider speaking with your supervisor or contacting SJSU Employee Relations Manager Cindy Delgado at 408-924-2151. You may submit your questions and comments via the SJSU budget information website. Human Resources will also offer furlough informational workshops open to all employees.

Please understand that the decision to ask you to furlough was not an easy one. However, given the magnitude of our budget shortfall, we have few good choices. Thank you for your commitment and sacrifice on behalf of our students and your fellow employees.

Jon Whitmore

More Information:

SJSU Chief Union steward's advice on University Furlogh Days

On August 6, 2009 the following was sent to union employees from Dennis Fox, the chief union steward for the California State University Employees Union, at SJSU:

The first furlough day for most SJSU employees is coming up on Monday, 10 August 2009. Unfortunately, President Whitmore has not declared the furlough days to coincide with campus closure days so there is going to be a lot of confusion at the outset of this experiment. It is very important for all of us to have a clear understanding of what happens or does not happen on a furlough day. First and foremost, you don't do any work on a furlough day. Don't check your email or your voice mail or work on a project at home.

Since a number of people will still be at work on our furlough day, there are going to be a number of you who will receive calls from those at work who need to know something that only you know. I strongly encourage you to NOT ANSWER that call. Only a manager/supervisor has the authority to call you back to work. Any call to you from work, even if it is just a question, constitutes a "call back". In the academic areas there is a lot of confusion about who is a manager/supervisor. Many employees do not realize that only the Dean and, in the larger colleges, one of the Associate Deans are manager/supervisors. Department chairs, directors, confidential employees, and CSUEU represented employees are not manager/supervisors and are not authorized to call you back to work. I want to hear from anyone who gets a work-related call on a furlough day -- even if you don't answer it. I will forward the information to HR in an attempt to get the problem resolved. If it is a legitimate "call back" from a manager we need to be sure you get full credit as outlined in the contract.

The furlough transition is going to be especially confusing for exempt employees. Hopefully, all exempt employees know by now that, during a week that includes a furlough day, they are non-exempt. If you have any questions that have not been answered in the FAQs that have been distributed let me know. If necessary, perhaps we will have a Q&A meeting over the lunch period to address some of these issues.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Are palmtops getting as powerful as laptops?

According to a New York Times post by Saul Hansell, "Cellphones are growing up, and they just might pose a new threat to the Intel-Microsoft based personal computers." Hansell goes on to say:

Coming by the end of this year are a new crop of small inexpensive notebook computers, known as netbooks, based on the ARM microprocessor design and running one of several versions of Linux, including perhaps Google’s Android cellphone operating system.

Of course Moores law applies across the whole spectrum as palmtops (phones) get more powerful, so too will laptops and desktops. The palmtop of tomorrow will be as powerful as the laptop of today, but the laptop of tomorrow will be even more powerful.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Apple vs. Google battle part of a philisophical tech war?

According to a recent Business Week article, "The Valley giants both want to determine how users access the mobile Web. Eric Schmidt's exit from Apple's board may be the shot that starts the race in earnest." The article goes on to say:

"By most measures—revenue growth, stock appreciation, magazine cover stories—Apple and Google are the two most successful and influential companies of the past decade. Yet their visions for how the computer industry will shape up in the next one could hardly diverge more."

I love Apple's hardware and interfaces, but the company is far from being open. Its closed position on things as simple as employees blogging, to its tight grip on developers, has been noted many times. In my opinion Apple is a closed company, tightly guarding its public image. The secrecy of the health of its CEO is just one of many examples of the walled garden that is Apple.

Google, on the other hand, has embraced open source technology and philosophy. In my opinion this is not just about companies, it is another battle in a bigger philosophical tech war. The real war is the war of open source vs. proprietary computing.

As Apple is the Microsoft of hand held computing devices (like the iPhone) this battle was to be expected. It is Linux vs. Microsoft all over again, except this time the battle is not over desktops. This battle is over what is in the palm of your hand. This war is far from over

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back in the USA

Night scene in Paris

We've arrived back in the USA. I have been posting on our trip from my iPod touch. Here are the posts related to our 2009 trip to Europe.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Letter from President Whitmore

In my past two messages to you on the budget, I have discussed how the state's unprecedented revenue shortfall would require SJSU to fundamentally change the way we do business. I have also explained how San Jose State must make plans for covering an anticipated $40 million shortfall, while lawmakers continue working on a budget, because fall term begins next month.

Although we are still finalizing our budget plans, we know that furloughs will be one way we reduce spending. To that end, we have begun to assemble a furlough calendar for the 11-month period ending June 30, 2010. Many employees will take up to 24 furlough days, which works out to a 10 percent pay reduction over the 11 months. The pay reduction will be spread evenly over the 11-month period.

Our Human Resources department, in coordination with the president's cabinet, has drafted a furlough calendar. For now, the calendar applies to nearly all California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) members, confidential administrative support, and MPPs. I say nearly all because we know that there will be employees, very few, who we need to work on furlough days to meet compliance standards and operational requirements. We will provide these employees with alternative furlough calendars.

We are waiting for the chancellor's office to approve our draft furlough calendar. Meanwhile, I am writing today to share with you that SJSU's first planned furlough day for CSUEU members, confidentials and MPPs will be Monday, August 10. We are telling you this now because this is just a few weeks away, and we want you to have enough time to plan for the ways this will affect both your work and personal lives. The Union of American Physicians and Dentists has also agreed to furlough, but may do so on different days from most SJSU employees.

Please understand that our decision to ask you to furlough was not an easy one. However, given the magnitude of our budget shortfall, we have few good choices. No single strategy would yield the funding needed to meet our obligations to our students, employees and the greater community. If nearly every employee furloughs, we will save $18 million in the coming year.

What will a furlough day look like at SJSU? We hope that most of our furlough days will be held on Fridays, which are already relatively quiet on our campus. Most if not all business offices and buildings will be furloughed. However, King Library and University Housing will continue serving the campus community. In addition, the University Police Department will continue patrolling our campus and its environs. For this reason, public safety workers will be exempt from the furlough.

We know many of you will have very specific questions about how the furlough will be carried out. Our Human Resources department is working on addressing all procedural details. More information is forthcoming through emails like this one from me and the president's cabinet, as well as in person from your supervisors.

Meanwhile, bear in mind the following technical information provided by the CSU: "A furlough is a mandated period of time off without pay. Furloughs differ from salary reductions and pay cuts in that they are temporary and do not affect employment status, health benefit eligibility or pay rate for retirement benefits. Employees are not required to work on furlough days."

Should you have questions and concerns, there are a number of resources available to you. Consider speaking with your supervisor or contacting SJSU Employee Relations Manager Cindy Delgado at 408-924-2151 or cindy.delgado@SJSU.edu . You may also submit your questions and comments via the SJSU budget information website. Please keep in mind that SJSU offers free counseling services of many kinds via our CONCERN Employee Assistance Program. I'll provide links to more information at the end of this letter.

Finally, I would like to emphasize the impact of the furloughs on you is a point not lost on me, my senior management team and the chancellor’s office. You will find below a link to a message from the chancellor's office detailing the many ways the budget shortfall will impact all of us. The good news is that we have begun to make the changes needed to align our expenses with our diminished state revenue. I remain confident that with your help we will weather this storm to emerge stronger than ever before.

Jon Whitmore

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Heading away for awhile

Steve Sloan

From Steve:
I am headed out of the area. I will not have my iPhone when I am gone because AT&T wants to charge me an extra $200 a month for an international data plan.
So, no phone or text messaging!

I will have my iPod Touch and so will have e-mail and I will be trying to stay on top of the furlough situation and will continue posting union stuff mostly on my union Twitter Feed.

Please follow that here:


For other (more fun) stuff, I will be posting mostly on my personal Twitter Feed.

Please follow that here:


Saturday, July 04, 2009

My iPhone is staying home

When we go to Europe the only computer I will be taking is my iPod Touch. My iPhone is not going. I called AT&T and they wanted $200 for an international data plan. That's way more than I am willing to pay. My iPod Touch is like an iPhone without the phone or the camera. So, pictures will have to wait until I return.

Sent from my iPod

Thursday, July 02, 2009

CFA responds on furloughs

According to a post in the State Worker, a Sacramento Bee blog, "CSU faculty union rejects management 'pig in a poke' furlough plan." According to the Bee blog, the California Faculty Association (CFA) said:

"Would you buy a "pig in a poke" -- in this case, a pay cut deal composed of vague promises about what is inside the paper bag? CFA won't. [Read More]

CFA represents 23,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches who teach in the California State University system. Just about everyone I have spoken to says if CFA does not agree to furloughs they will not happen and instead we will be facing massively massive layoffs, as opposed to less massive layoffs with furloughs.

Here is a link to a PDF formatted letter dated July 1 from CFA union leadership to faculty in the CSU system.

I have a Twitter feed I try to keep up to date about this issue on a real-time basis. Please feel free to check it out and/or subscribe here:

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Music and Yoga near SJSU

Girish performing at Downtown Yoga Shala

Within a short walk of San Jose State University is a special place, Downtown Yoga Shala. Shala, a “sacred space” in Sanskrit, is just that. It is a wonderful yoga studio that has made a big difference in my life. Located at 450 S. 1st Street the Shala is in San Jose's blossoming South First Art (SoFA) District and is surrounded by art galleries.

On June 26, 2009 the Shala had a Candlelight Yoga Class taught by Jeff Lang featuring live music. Girish played wonderful music and the result was unlike anything I have ever seen or photographed. Veronica Cruz, a good friend and the owner of the Shala did a great job setting up this event!

[More Photos on Facebook]

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CSU (SJSU) budget related Tweets

These links off Twitter this morning are very interesting:

  • Here's the Chancellor's message on CFA/furloughs...
  • CSU Urges Faculty Union to Bring Furlough Option to Members for Vote
  • CSU Trustees to Hold Special Meeting on July 7th

    Budget to be discussed...
  • Future worker supply at risk as cuts squeeze higher education - Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal:

For more updates please check out my union Twitter feed.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is CSU furlough proposal a red herring?


The California State University Employees Union (CSUEU), the union that represents most classified staff employees, surveyed its constituents. Over 82% of those who responded voted for the California State University (CSU) plan to offer furloughs to mitigate layoffs in the CSU system. Still it is hard for me to imagine all the unions that represent California State University employees will go for furloughs.

The plan, which will close CSU campuses two Fridays a month, may offer faculty too little. Most faculty do not teach Fridays. For them the CSU plan is a ten percent pay cut. Classified staff get two extra days off a month in return for their reduced pay. For most faculty it can be seen as a pay cut with no visible workload reduction yet seen.

The California Faculty Association (CFA) may not be that enthusiastic about this option. CFA may turn the furlough proposal down. If the union that represents CSU faculty does not sign off on furloughs, they cannot happen.

What does CSU management have to gain if this happens? Absent furloughs, CSU management has said there will be massive layoffs. Staff will be hit hard. CSU management could do layoffs and have the excuse that they were "forced into it" by the union(s) who turned down furloughs. This could cause bitterness between the staff and faculty that could last for a long time.

Yes, that does sound cynical; I know.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Staff union vote favors furloughs

The CSU Employees Union (CSUEU) represents over 16,000 employees on 23 CSU campuses and in the office of the chancellor. Its bargaining units comprise the majority of non-academic (classified) employees in the state university system. Recently the CSUEU announced the results of a survey of its members. According to the union, the union members voted overwhelmingly to support furloughs as opposed to layoffs:

In a series of advisory votes over the last week, CSUEU members have clearly indicated their support for the concept of two furlough days per month, as proposed earlier this month by the Chancellor’s Office.

The results of the votes taken at the chapter level are reflected in the chart below. An online survey and a scientific poll came to the same result: CSUEU-represented employees support the concept of furloughs at the rate of approximately 82 percent in favor. [Read More]

This does not mean there will not be layoffs at SJSU or in the CSU system, this still has to be negotiated at the bargaining table and is subject to the state budget outcome.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

BEWARE - Lies to get your passwords

If you get an e-mail that says this:

WARNING!!! Dear sjsu.edu e-mail owner,
This message is from San Jose State University Webmail Team messaging center to all sjsu.edu e-mail owners. We are currently upgrading our data base and e-mail center. We are deleting all unused sjsu.edu e-mail accounts to create space for new ones...

It is a LIE!

If your log-in information has been compromised, you need to immediately change your password on all accounts you have unintentionally given up information on.

Also, these kind of spammers are aware that many people use the same user names and/or passwords in multiple places, like bank accounts, ebay and/or Amazon. So, you should change the passwords on any and all of these accounts that have the same password, even if the user name is different.

More information is here and here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Budget crisis to mean CSU layoffs and/or furloughs?

According to an FAQ posted on the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) Web site:

The State Budget Crisis has finally hit the CSU, and we are being faced with the possibility of massive layoffs as a result. On Tuesday, June 9, CSUEU President Pat Gantt, VP for Representation Dennis Dillon and SLRR Teven Laxer met with representatives of CSU management at the Office of the Chancellor on an information-gathering basis. The CSU informed the union that it was likely that the Budget Conference Committee would be recommending cuts to the CSU budget totaling $583,816,000, the amount proposed by the governor in the May Revise. This represents a staggering 13.5 percent cut to the budget.

[Click on this link for more information]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Twitpocalypse: The failure of Twitter (a Geek tragedy)

Mark Gibbs of Network World wrote The Twitpocalypse Tragedy, a Greek Geek tragedy about the failure of Twitter. Gibb wrote:

It has been predicted that A Bad Thing is about to happen in the Twitterverse. This Bad Thing is being called the "Twitpocalypse", and if you believe some of the commentaries, we could have a world totally bereft of Twitter. They make it sound like a tragedy. Accordingly, here's my tragedic play in the classical Greek style (sort of) that I have titled "Twitpocalypse Now." [Follow link to read more.]

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bikes out of control at SJSU

Cyclist riding without hands at SJSU

Many of the people who ride bicycles on the sidewalks at SJSU do so in ways that risk serious injury to themselves and others. Cyclists riding with no hands are unable to take evasive action if a pedestrian, cart or disabled person steps into their path. Usually cyclists who ride like this way are not wearing helmets.

This bike position is especially prone to falling. These cyclists, as well as endangering others, risk head injuries that could kill them or leave them permanently disabled.

[My blog about human powered vehicles at SJSU]

[More photos of human powered vehicles on and around SJSU]

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

June Fourth Twenty Years Ago

Tiananmen Square Protester

Remembering Tiananmen Square

As we live our American lives enjoying so many goods that say "Made in China." Let's not forget how much it has cost. "The time for the Chinese government to provide the fullest possible public accounting of the thousands killed, detained, or missing in the massacre that followed the protests is long overdue," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Sean McCormack said in a statement on the eve of the 19th anniversary of what China has called the "June Fourth incident."

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly," Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I am still in love with film

Woman in Starbucks

I love shooting digital and the digital work flow. A digital camera is like a good friend that lets me make some great pictures, but I am still in love with film.

Film sees light in a totally different way. Film reacts to light organically. The light changes film, it is not like a digital sensor that responds to light as a result of programming. A film emulsion feels light and is unalterably chemically changed by light and that makes film different. Once it sees light the film is never the same again. The film holds that latent image and awaits its interpretation in development.

Once processed, those qualities can be scanned and brought into the digital world but that first reaction to light is unique. The tonal scale is not the same as digital. I love it and that is why I am still in love with and still shoot and still process film.

Everything else is a side show, to me. Film is the real deal; to me.

Since I only take pictures for myself, that is what matters to me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Staff union and CSU extend contract two years

The California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) represents the lions share of staff (classified) employees in the California State University System. The collective bargaining agreement between the union and the CSU system was set to expire on June 30 this year. According to the CSUEU Blog:

CSUEU and CSU agreed to extend the contract, which was scheduled to expire June 30, 2009, to instead expire on June 20, 2011. The terms of the contract remain unchanged. The parties also agreed to form a Labor-Management Committee to discuss compensation strategies, and to end the FY 2008/2009 salary reopener.

This should mean there will not be tense contract negotiations for staff during this tight budget year.

My opinion:
I am relieved as this, in my opinion, would have been a bad time to be in contract negotiations. CSU and CSUEU should be working together, as much as possible, to save funding for higher education and being in confrontational negotiations could be a big distraction from that process.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Bell Bottom Blues

Marie in old house, 1978

I cannot sing her praises too loudly or too long
Marie was a keystone in many lives. You could tell her something and know it would never get retold. She accepted and loved people for who they were. She was a friend you could depend on. She was a safe harbor in a storm. She was selfless, loving and kind. She was stoic and strong but soft and tender hearted. She had an inner beauty that radiated. I have never known anybody who did not like Marie. She was the kind of person people would call and talk to for hours about the troubles in their lives. I know I did. Yet, she seldom would complain about troubles in her life.

In December 2005 Marie's sister Martha died in a freak auto accident. It was one of the worst times in her life. It was terrible. It was not her first sudden loss. Marie was a good friend of my first wife, as I said before; she was the first person I called when my first wife was killed in a car accident.

Marie was a cancer survivor. Her strength got her through this and other awful times in her life.

Years ago I took the photo above. I titled that photo Bell Bottom Blues. I hope in the photo I captured a hint of the admiration I have to this day for Marie. She was an inspiration.

She was 59 years-old when she died. Far too young to die. If you believe there is a God, this is a time of reunion for Marie; reunion with old friends and family. It is a time of grieving and loss for us and a cause of hope for me. I already miss her terribly and I hope somewhere, somehow, to see her again. Until then, she lives on in many, many hearts.

I still cannot believe; she is gone

Marie Roby April 26, 2009

Someone I have known for a long time, and love very, very much died Saturday night. When my first wife died the first person I called was Marie. That night in 1991 Marie and her husband Kirk drove late into the night to be with me. She was my oldest, and one of my closest, friends. I still cannot believe; she is gone.

Saturday night she had a heart attack and died. It does not seem real, she who had such a wonderful heart, who loved people and life; is gone. How could that wonderful heart become still? I had just seen her a week ago. I still cannot believe; she is gone.

Marie in 1978

Over the years I have taken many, many pictures of Marie. Some came close, but none could ever catch her spirit, her heart and the love she had for her family and friends. I still cannot believe; she is gone.

Last year she and Kirk celebrated their 25th Anniversary. I still cannot believe; she is gone. She was 59 when she died.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New computers arriving

Posted by ShoZu

At least one department in Clark Hall is getting new computers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An April like September

Thunderheads over Tower Hall

Once upon a time I lived a different life

Once upon a time I lived a different life. Eighteen years ago today, in a moment of tragedy (a car accident that took the life of my first wife) that life absolutely changed. John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

April 21st eighteen years ago was a lovely day that seemed full of all the hopes of Spring. I remember looking at the blue sky and thinking, after the tragedy, of the words of the Lakota Sioux before the the Battle of the Little Big Horn, "today is a good day to die."

As we make plans to live we never are really in control of our destiny. I have learned over the years making plans is good and prudent, but it is important to live in the moment; not for the moment, but in the moment.

Do not leave old wounds to fester. Do not dwell on negativity. Do not judge or carry a grudge. There may never come an opportunity to make amends and we all have flaws, after all.

Life can change on a dime and end in a heart beat.

In my opinion; if we make each day a good day to die, we also make each day a good day to live.

The state of spam

According to a Security Strategies Alert by M. E. Kabay of Network World, "95% of all e-mail in the world now consists of rubbish." Kabay has authored a four part series on the state of spam.

Monday, April 20, 2009

How hot is it in San Jose?

Temp sign at 104

This sign was in front of the Martin Luther King library in downtown San Jose, CA. This is an iPhone photo.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spam and global warming

According to the BBC; A study into spam has blamed it for the production of more than 33bn kilowatt-hours of energy every year, enough to power more than 2.4m homes. The story said:

This amounted to emissions of more than 17 million tons of CO2, the research by climate consultants ICF International and anti-virus firm McAfee found.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

About the bicycle ride I lead and yoga

Brian Farris Eating Ice Cream

I had a blast last night at our Whine and Dine Bicycle Rides. It seems to me the rides are getting more fun each year.

This is the time of year when we start expanding the mellow ride beyond just Kennedy and Shannon. As we start to extend and expand the ride it becomes a bit more challenging, a bit faster and a bit steeper. That, in the past, has lead some whine and diners to think the ride is not for them. I do not want to see that happen. So, I am going to start bringing a second set of route sheets for a super mellow option of the whine and dine rides.

We talked a lot about Yoga last night. A couple of us whine and diners are members of Downtown Yoga Shala, a great new San Jose Yoga studio owned by cyclist, ACTC member and whine and diner Veronica Cruz. What she and Yoga have done for me is almost a miracle. I am feeling better and riding stronger than I have for years. I know downtown San Jose may not be an option for some folks; but for me it is perfect. (Since joining the studio three weeks ago I have lost four pounds.)

They have a couple of limited time, great promotions now, including 10 days for $10 and a third off monthly memberships. If nothing else, this is the perfect time to just check them out. Hey, we can even do Yoga classes together! Veronica is the real deal. She is one of us. She has been in a major bike accident (and used yoga to recover from it.) Anyway, I promised yesterday to pass on some information so here it is:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Be aware: Twitter Virus!

According to a post by Curt Monash at Network World, "Twitter was hit today by the StalkDaily virus." Monash provides a concise overview of the virus.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Message to summer students

The following message is being sent by Enrollment Services to the 29,600+ students who have enrollment appointments posted for Summer 2009.

Please note that because of the state budget crisis, course offerings are limited this summer. Summer term information, instructions and the course offerings are posted at:


If you need to meet with an academic advisor, consider scheduling an appointment now. (NOTE: I think now means NOW!)

For qualified students, financial aid is available for the summer term.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Much FUD over Conficker worm?

According to a post by PC World's Erik Larkin in Network World on March 27, "There's some serious FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) out there right now about what the Conficker worm will do on April 1. But according to those in the know, you probably don't have to worry." Larkin said:

According to Joe Stewart, a security researcher at SecureWorks who knows what's what when it comes to malware, "there will be no April 1st outbreak." Clean PCs won't suddenly melt down from a new Conficker infection.

Machines that have current antivirus software are likely okay. As for infected machines already out there Larkin quotes Joe Stewart, a security researcher at SecureWorks, "All that will happen, Stewart writes, is that the worm will begin to use a new trick that gives it a better chance of getting around existing defenses that attempt to prevent it from updating." There is much more information in Larkin's post.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Yoga Place Near SJSU

I have had chronic back problems resulting from a work injury years ago. I love bicycling. Bicycling has helped my fitness but cycling has not helped my back, in fact sometimes spending long hours in the same kind of position seems to aggravate my back.

My doctor recommended Yoga, but that was not easy because there was not a convenient Yoga location near SJSU. I was only able to go once a week, but not every week to a place near our home. That has changed, there's a new kid in town.

Downtown Yoga Shala just opened a couple of weeks ago. Veronica Cruz is the owner. The facilities are great! They have a lot of different kinds of Yoga, including Yoga for athletes. You should check their Web site out!

Where I work I run a help desk serving 40,000 people. It is my job to make customer's problems my problem. It gets stressful. Not only has going to Yoga helped my back it has made a big difference in my stress level. I have joined and have gone four times this week, so far!

Here is more information:

Phone: 1-408-885-1000
Web: http://downtownyogashala.com/
Address: 450 S. 1st St.
San Jose CA 95113

If you are at all interested I urge you to check them out. They are running a great promotion that ends this month!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Passenger Train Through Alviso

C&NW painted engine on passenger train

Union Pacific Business Train in Alviso
Today the UP ran a special passenger business train they called the SLBOA1-27 up the old Southern Pacific coast line. The train went through Alviso, CA at 3:56 p.m. headed north. Power for the train was the Union Pacific locomotive 1995 that was painted in a special paint scheme to commemorate the Chicago and Northwestern a railroad that was assimilated by the Union Pacific.

Where is Alviso?
  • GPS Latitude: 37 deg 25' 56.99" N
  • GPS Longitude: 121 deg 58' 40.61" W

[Click here to see more pictures]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wonderful Help Desk Party

Amarpreet at Help Desk Party

On Saturday March 21 we had a help desk party at Saby Thai in San Jose. Ruchi Binjola and others at the help desk put together an excellent party for help desk and former help desk staff. We celebrated the recent marriages of several of our help desk couples. It was a great party!

[Click here to see more photos]

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Dad's Old Speed Graphic

Colorful downtown cyclist

Pictures with my dad's Speed Graphic

Two years ago our house was burglarized and I lost all the cameras my dad had left me except for one, my dad's old Speed Graphic. It is a lovely camera with a sharp old Kodak (made in USA) Color Ektar lens. I have not used this old press camera in decades, but I remember it being as sharp as a tack. Lately I have started doing business with a local camera repair store, Kamera Korner, and the owner is an old camera repairman named Bob. Repair of old film cameras is becoming a dying art, literally. So I decided to get this camera made usable again. It took awhile, I heard stories from the other people in the shop about the work Bob was putting into the camera. After a month or so, it was ready.

The photo above is from the first roll with this camera.

Speed graphic camera

I have found an added bonus with using this camera. It is so unique, so retro looking, people love talking about it. That leads to conversations which leads to photo opportunities. When I look through the viewfinder, when I click the shutter, I am looking through the same viewfinder, clicking the same shutter my dad did fifty years ago. I think that is pretty cool! Plus it takes amazing photos. The picture here does not do it justice, it is so sharp, so true to color. It's amazing, we are talking around 60 mega pixels in digital equivalent, I have been told. It is knock your socks off sharp. Sometimes; older is better.

Editorial: We need to stay focused on the issues!

Saul Alinsky, one of the greatest organizers of the last century wrote, "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition."

Yet, the California Faculty Association's recent resolution to "Call for A Halt to Violence Against All Civilians in Palestine and Israel" does the opposite and threatens to divide educators over foreign policy issues rather than uniting them over workplace issues. Yes, war is a terrible thing, but our union should be organizing educators. We should should be united fighting for education and better wages, hours and working conditions for educators. As Alinsky says, "Never go outside the experience of your people."

In response to the CFA resolution an SJSU educator recently wrote to the CFA leadership:

I have just heard about the resolution that the CFA board passed regarding civilian deaths in Israel and Palestine. I object very strongly to this resolution on a number of levels. First of all, while civilians are killed in all wars, and all death is tragic, there is a tremendous difference between those killed accidently, by recognized military forces, and those killed deliberately, as a matter of policy, by terrorist organizations. I am absolutely shocked that academics so blithely ignore this difference. My own best friend, a journalist, was kidnapped, beaten, and shot in the back and killed by terrorists in Basra, Iraq in August 2005. Is the crime of these terrorists the moral equivalent of warfare? Are they to be considered soldiers, and not criminals?

Secondly, this sort of resolution is very unuseful when campuses such as SJSU face a very high level of emotion over this issue. Recently, the consul-general of Israel, who had been invited to speak at SJSU, was shouted down by protesters and had to be escorted out by security. Is this the sort of atmosphere that is fostered by such resolutions?

I think our union's attention needs to be a bit closer to home right now. Union strength comes from uniting members around issues important to them in the workplace and setting aside issues that may divide them, that are not work related. Don't we have enough problems right here, right now? I think so! Should we really be dividing our constituents over devisive and perhaps wrong-minded matters of foriegn policy? I think not.

Working with Dreamweaver

Learning Dreamweaver CS4

For the last several days I have been working my way through the Lynda tutorials on Dreamweaver CS4. They are great! I am looking forward to working more with this tool. I have some tools I want to get better with and this is one of them. Right now I am working on CSS.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New kinds of spam

Skype Spam

New kinds of Spam
Beware, Spam is not just for e-mail anymore! Here is a super obvious example. I recently recieved this Skype message saying my PC was infected and needed immediate attention. What I had to do to fix my Windows PC, the message said, was to click on the link. What was the first clue that this was Spam? Simple, I use a Mac!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

April 2009, ACTC Newsletter

April 2009, B&BB Newsletter

Here is the April 2009 issue of the Black and Blue Bottom, the Almaden Cycle Touring Club (my bike club) newsletter. The April 2009 edition is my last edition as Publisher of our bike club newsletter. The time to leave has come.

I would like to thank all the brave ACTCers who have stepped up to distribute, solicit ads and contribute stories and reports to the Black & Blue Bottom. I especially would like to thank Naomi for all of her hard work and dedication to the newsletter. She has been great help and a good friend. Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive over the years!

These are in PDF format:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Today is Winterail 2009

Winterail 2007

Winterail 2009
The Bill Darrough Show we did in 2007 was very well received. This year we are putting on the sequel. I won't be able to post to the blog today, but will be twittering the event. Please follow the twitter stream here:


Ryan Martin shot this photo of the crowd in 2007 and it was on the big screen the day of the show, shortly after it was shot. I think that was very cool.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blossoms Like Fireworks at SJSU

Blossoms like fireworks at SJSU

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Bikes hazard to disabled at SJSU?

Bike chained to stairwell

Here are some of the photos I have made recently of bikes locked to the exterior stairwells of SJSU's Clark Hall. These stairwells are used routinely as exits from the classrooms in Clark Hall and would serve as emergency exits from Clark Hall in the event of an evacuation. In addition to the obvious safety issues, I am concerned about the barriers these are for people with disabilities.

I have tried to get University Police to act on this. My understanding from conversations I have had on this is they are waiting for more bike lockers. In my opinion; to put the needs of bicyclists before providing accessible facilities is a form of discrimination directed at people with disabilities. I think we should be striving to provide accessible physical facilities just as we are striving to provide accessible technology.

When I addressed the issue to the Disability Resource Center at SJSU, Lucille Surdi the ADA Compliance Specialist wrote me back:

The ADA Compliance Office has spoken with Chief Barnes regarding your notification to us of the bikes being locked to the exterior stairwells of Clark Hall. The Chief and UPD are working over the past several months with AS Transportation and FDO to address this situation throughout the campus for the entire campus community. Proposals are being developed for more bike racks and more bike cages. This situation is being overseen with coordination from other university departments and is diligently being addressed. UPD is currently enforcing the issue of unsafe bike parking and has impounded many bikes that create a hazard. You are correct, safety is always the primary concern and please do report any direct safety issues to UPD as soon as possible.

I had a previously scheduled appointment next week to discuss this issue in person with them. In the same e-mail Surdi said:

My office had scheduled a meeting with you and I for next week but I do believe that this matter is being appropriately handled and prioritized and there is no need for a meeting. We thank you for bringing this to our attention and we will be monitoring this situation in the coming weeks.

Sounds like bureaucratic double-speak to avoid doing anything to me. In my opinion providing safe emergency exiting of buildings as well as accessible facilities is more important than having people be able to park bikes all over campus. I am a cyclist myself, I rode my bike to work this morning. It amazes me how many abandoned bikes there are in the bike lockers and chained to poles on campus. Perhaps these can be removed if we really need more on campus bike parking.

UPDATE: March 11, 2009

Yesterday University Police Chief Andre Barnes came over and spoke with me and looked at the problem personally. I really appreciate that! He explained to me some of the issues they have been having with dealing with impounding bicycles and enforcing regulations regarding the parking of bicycles on campus. In my opinion this is not about impounding bicycles or creating new demands on scarce resources.

The cyclists I have spoken to who were parked there. seem to have not been aware they were creating a hazard. Perhaps something as simple (and as cheap) as campus foot patrols or CSOs posting notices on bikes informing bike owners that they are blocking fire exits, as well as creating barriers to people with disabilities, could go a long way to mitigating this situation and improve safety as well as accessibility. Maybe if you just ask folks to park elsewhere, they will. This does not have to be expensive.

[Click Here to See More Photos]

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