A Completely Personal Post About My Visit to San Jose, Part I

A Completely Personal Post About My Visit to San Jose, Part I

I flew to northern California last Tuesday for a week-long onsite working session. The routine is a bit more established this time, and I’m starting to make some progress that feels like progress…that is, I can actually see stuff on the screen now. I’ve been ramping on some video game graphics technology (Microsoft’s XNA 2.0, which we’ve switched to after giving Managed Direct X 1.1 a go). XNA has a much cleaner API than MDX, and does away with a lot of legacy issues that I’m glad I don’t have to worry about. What’s been frustrating is the documentation, which on the surface looks comprehensive but lacks the kind of detailed guidance at the mid- and low level references that help flesh out the complete picture. I’ve been making my own references to fill in the gaps.

On the flight to San Jose, I perused Southwest’s “Spirit” Magazine and took some notes:

Possible Food Destinations: The Independent Retail Cattleman’s Association is an organization that promotes “the great steak houses of North America”, which is an idea I could really get behind. Steak seems to be a big part of airline magazine advertising for some reason; perhaps business travelers looking for deductible junkets are the target audience. I noted a few other mentions of beef places to look into: Arcadia Modern American Steakhouse here in San Jose, Austin Land & Cattle Company in Austin (might have to visit there for SXSW in March), and a place called Lawry’s for (yum) prime rib. I love steak because it’s an elemental food when it’s prepared well: it’s essentially meat + heat, with a dash of salt. Once you master the heat aspect, you can do a lot of interesting variations on the basic theme. I

Cirque du Soleil packages excellence, and so should we: The article described how world-class athletes are swarming to Cirque Du Soleil for work, and it’s quite a competitive process. What struck me about the article was that Cirque Du Soleil has really developed a methodology for putting on sustained productions of exceptional artistry and uniqueness. Because they handle every detail of the productions they develop, they are the go-to people for creating this type of entertainment experience. So how can we apply this to our own, less acrobatic work? If we can make our obsessions pay off (that is, financially they turn a profit), I don’t see why we shouldn’t relentlessly pursue them IF we are also competent judges of our own excellence. That takes a pretty uncommon objectivity.

My New Car Could Be a Mini Cooper: The original re-issue Mini Cooper was very cute, but just too small. The new Mini Clubman, though, adds way more rear legroom and cargo space that’s accessible via two swinging rear vertical doors. Cool!

Randal Ford’s Norman Rockwell-inspired Photography: Randal Ford staged and shot live versions of Norman Rockwell’s classic illustrations of Americana. It’s amazing that actual people can actually contort their faces into the exaggerated expressions depicted in the original paintings.

Receipt Filing Service: I hate filing receipts, so I do a very poor job of it. I was intrigued to read about shoeboxed, which will consolidate your online receipts and scan in your printed ones. They have a service where you can mail in your receipts and they’ll scan ’em into your account, and mail them back to you. While the receipt service itself is free, the scanning service is not. It’s an interesting idea! I suppose a real accountant would do the same thing; I wonder how much the difference would be in cost.

And here in San Jose:

Old School Mac Stores: In San Jose I got a chance to visit an actual old-school Macintosh store called Mac Pro, which by strange coincidence is the exclusive North American distributor for be.ez laptop bags. I had just read about the LEvertigo 17 the week before, which seemed to have the combination of vertical carry and cleaner styling I wanted for the new 17″ Macbook Pro. My hands-on experience: it’s a nice bag, though lightly-built compared to the rugged Briggs and Riley Computer Brief that I used for my smaller laptop. If Briggs and Riley made a 17″ version of their brief, I would be so happy.

I want Fry’s with that: I also have been to Fry’s Electronics in San Jose a couple of times already, and I was enthralled by the selection of components available. I saw things in person that I’ve only read about in online catalogs. I wish we had one back East; the closest thing I’ve seen is the Micro Center in Cambridge off of Memorial Drive, and it is nothing like Frys. Not even close.

I probably won’t have time to do a tour of the historical landmarks, but it’s just cool to be in the birthplace of the (micro)computer revolution.