I live in Oakland, I am from Los Angeles

First the music.

I was out in Oakland yesterday for a spell to meet a friend who as relocating out here for a while. He’s a performing artist so I agreed to check his gig out and then go hang.

We found ourselves in Jack London Square at a block party which was part of the Megapolis festival. As a testament to how out of touch I have been with Oakland over the last few years. I was surprised to find out this was the 4th year for Megapolis.There are lots of reasons why  have been disconnected from the community.Work, parenting, my own projects, to name a few.

As my friends observed, things have changed significantly. Oakland is well on its way along the path of gentrification, ah yes gentrification, that special code word. BTW Why do we speak in code so much ?

In any event, Oakland has changed, and I am slowly  wrapping my head around the fact that some of this change change might wind up being good for Oakland despite my frustration around the how and the who.

P.S. And then there is our new mayor. The honorable Libby Schaaf who getting her feet on the ground and teasing us with some of her true colors. The comments at the end of the linked piece are interesting as well.

It always seems hard for people to account for the frustrations people develop around not being heard, or worse, recognized; and how those frustrations can often times provide an environment in which protest can often time also be the space for random venting as well.

Wither the MVP, rejoice in the old fashion art of product development

Music: Why must I chase the cat

Read this article  by Bill Aulet which was posted in Venture Beat. While phrases like “Minimum Viable Product” and “Lean Startup” are in vogue these days. Aulet takes us back to yesteryear. Back to a time where a product was a combination of assessing the market, querying potential customers, and most importantly, having some significant vision.It seems that lately, the “product” cycle is more about rapid iteration. I won’t deny that this approach facilitates some forward progress. However I need to also comment that it does tend to drive things in the direction of micro-iteration, which then consumes development resources in ways which generate lots of lines of activity in support of “features” while  at the same time taking resources away from deliberations and thinking which might foster the development of a truly innovative product and/or additions to them.

I liken it to the hardware world when the first PALS (Give me a 22V10 or give me death) and FPGA’s (Field Programmable Gate Array’s) came on the scene. Both of these were a type of hardware device which could be programmed to function in whatever way the designer desired. If, after programming, you didn’t like what it had, you could “erase” it and try again. This was a boon for hardware developers. Gone were the multi-month waits after taping our chip to get an actual piece of physical hardware back.You could literally try two or three implementations of a design out each day.You could fix bugs rapidly. You could add a “feature” in as fast as you could think it up. Oh my, “Slap me, I must be dreaming”, or so we thought.

That’s where the problems began. It was precisely because you could iterate rapidly (in hardware development terms) that features were added which maybe weren’t necessary even thought they added to the overall feature count of the product. Worse still, there was a marked drop in quality as the game became about spinning and getting something into the lab quickly to “show”. What is now called an MVP I supposed

In Mr Aulet’s piece, he points out how  becoming enamored with getting something built, coded etc.., can get in the way of the real work of true product development.To wit, you become a slave to the release cadence.

It’s great to see the software side of the business get some exposure and lead the charge forward. I hope part of the charge forward includes reflecting on lessons learned from others. One can only hope…

New Pschidt

First, the music.

Gots to here this one, Divine Fo Sho.

I can’t remember if I shared that after 31 years, I have finally left the hw development space. I am now officially in IT. Whoa, who knew.The internet is run on some clever and at the same time REALLY janky software. Life was so much more secure in the nice tight little  box that is a hardware engineer’s own private Idaho of an environment.

Also, I have decided that after 31 years of bearing witness and on occasion contributing,it is time to give back. I will be putting out my own podcast called “Bits Of Color”. it will be an accessible (for lay people relative to engineering types) podcast explaining hardware and software and  hopefully adding some additional insight. I WON’T be prognosticating on trends; at least I’ll try not to tempting as that is. With that said, I am a long time Apple fanboi so I if there is a bias, you will find it leaning in that direction.

The first episode of my p’cast can be found here on this site July 12. I’ll be talking about CPUs, what is and what is NOT possible.

Just for fun:

The French are smarter than we are

Been pulling’ for Marissa. I got’s to wonder though

You sure you want to go to the Magic Kingdom now ?

Homie has a weak chin

Given that KP DP’ed her, do you blame her

This Photo is such a lie. We all know millennials don’t really collaborate with gray-haired folk. What could they possibly offer ?

It Effing Hurts

No music, no clever quips. We buried 4 cats in the last 6 months.Two, Paris and Talulah were new kittens brought into the family after one of our elder cats, Simone, died. Paris and Talulah were amazing additions to the family before FIP got a grip on them.Lively amazing kittens. Classic in their energy.

One of our  elder cats, Simone,  was almost 18 years old when she died. Simone was always Ms. Grumpy Pants;a tiny puff of a cat. She had a thyroid problem which we suspected over the course of her life stunted her growth. Nonetheless,she was the queen of the house without a doubt.

Nina was by far and away MY cat. Towards the end of her life she would hide out in our room until I came from work. Then upon hearing me come in she would come out onto our bed for some head scratching. I knew she was sick. She should have been dead a year ago due to cancer.  She managed to stay with me until March 19 of this year. On her final night, she woke us having a final spasm down near the foot of our bed. That was it, she was gone.

Across the span of all the cats I have owned in my life,and I have loved hem all, there are  three clear favorites. Nina, Thelonious, and Monk. Of these three Nina is the  queen.

Death is a strange and permanent thing for both the one who dies , and those who are left to remember them.


Bye Nina, I hope I see you on the other side

Hmm, Self-Driving Cars; Is there better way to go ?

In this post, let’s talk about a good thing

It is impressive, the progress that has been made by Google and others in the realm of self-driving cars. I can certainly see the wins around having cars drive themselves while allowing the occupants to text, work or whatever else they might do. It reminds me of my own commute practices during the work week and how I am able to do other things while heading to work.Yup, I take a train, and then bike to my office from the train station. I think the Amtrak train and other services like it are called public transportation.

Public transportation i.e modes of transportation enabling folks to get around at a reasonable price.

It seems to me this latest wave of self driving vehicles and their attendant technologies are a great next step for us all. Imagine if this technology was deployed in support of public transportation on a large scale.

Who knows, in light of all the sercurity and privacy issues everyone is concerned about might at least catalyze  the transformation of Google’s assertion “Don’t be evil” into  “be fabulously good, and help others”.

KCRW + Internet = Music Heaven

Since about 2000 which was my last serious bout of “I wanna move back home to Los Angeles”. I have been listening to LA’s gem of a radio station KCRW. I lie to you not, nor is this any hometown hyperbole. KCRW flat out is, for people like me who have musical tastes which span from Britten to vintage NWA, from Andrew Hill to DJ Sasha, the best source on air going. Couple that with the ability to search out artists heard there and use the jazz music aficionado’s (of which I am one) trick of searching out the entire band lineup for work they might have done elsewhere via the internet, and yes, you too can spend countless hours in something way more productive and individual in spirit then trolling Facebook of algorithmically based music tastes. Here are two examples of tuneage I came to just in the last two days Submotion Orchestra’s Trust/Lust and Hiatus Kaiote’s Laputa

That is all

Odds are this revolution WON”T be televised; no disrespect intended brother Gil-Scott

Nope it won’t be televised, but it may be postponed because Facebook was down. Sometimes we can be so trifling. And WE know who WE are… ;)

I sent the following (although here, somewhat abridged) to a list serve I am on:

I am writing as it seems that we are again having an industry-wide conversation about diversity…egads!!!!

This is, if my memory serves me correctly, the third or fourth time in my career that I have seen diversity come up in the valley. As I recall, there was an uptick of discussion and awareness around the lack of “diversity” in tech  3 years ago, roughly around the turn the century , again in the mid-nineties, and I am pretty sure I recall one in the late 80s.

I’d like to share some thinking i have over the course of my career around all of this

Reality vs folklore 

I wonder if *we* need to collectively look a little more closely at the reality of the valley vs. the folklore of the valley which serves as the official “history”.

Part of that reality is the genesis of valley culture and where it came from. Who was present early and what influence that has had on the look and feel of the valley today ? or in a more verbose fashion;Since the valley started as sort of a loose collection of interests and personalities, who was there early on, and how much did that set of players influence and color what we know today as the valley ? Hint: it was all dominant culture folks

I contend that as much as the valley tries to paint itself 1) as uber-enlightened 2) meritocratic and 3) purely market driven, we in the black and latino communities should look more critically at the valley considering both the past and current narratives which serve to characterize it. 

Who is asking the right questions  ?

The latest round of media coverage for  “our” problem (I love how this is collectively our problem now; and counter that notion with some recent commentary by Chris Rock ) seems to always ask how we can improve diversity. Without fail of course, there are plenty of embedded experts, usually from the dominant culture working in valley, who have what sound to be reasonable answers which focus on solutions advocating diversity based approaches. I offer that we have been through this wash-rinse-repeate cycle several times

What’s the old saw: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”. To wit,putting a new skin on “diversity” and redeploying it with the expectation of significantly different results as compared to previous diversity efforts seems to qualify as an example of the insanity described above

I remember some years back when Jesse Jackson came to town demanding more diversity. An HP exec wondered publicly what Jesse was talking about because as far as he (a white male) could see the valley was diverse, meaning he saw non-whites working in tech companies. 

That’s the rub; there is some diversity in the valley, just not for blacks and latinos.

Language IS important

I used to believe that the ideas and concepts around an initiative were the most important components bar none. I have come to realize over the years that the language used in articulating these same ideas and concepts is AT LEAST as important as the ideas and concepts themselves. Chalk it up to being an engineer all these years. I figure it’s better late than never for some things :)

Equity and Inclusion -> Diversity

With all of the above in mind, during last couple of years in which  I have been active in the social justice space around education. I have learned that more important than diversity, is the notion of “equity and inclusion”. Attack the challenges from a perspective and/or programs which aim to improve equity and inclusion in the social justice sense.For me, diversity is at it’s core, a qualitative approach and measure of change in this context, i.e. a number.

Working towards greater equity and inclusion requires a more holistic approach to effecting change in a community; it has the constituent characteristics which include examining systems, structures , individual beliefs and behaviors as they pertain to attitudes, norms, operations and hopefully capacity for change within a community.

Working towards greater equity and inclusion however, is a long game strategy, and does not “scale” as quickly as using a diversity based approach. This makes things even more challenging as the valley is not famous for patience, or slow incremental moves towards scale. 

Additionally,at the end of the day, if all of this work does not include real self reflection by the dominant culture of itself on a personal level, OR in other words, real work in white privilege and entitlement along  with work on systems and structures we will find ourselves witnessing deployment of the usual diversity based approaches, and we know how effective those have been

I wonder, 


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