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|Editor: Larry Welling||www.sfpcc.org||Newsletter: May/Jun 1999|
|15th Anniversary Dinner
Sunday, May 16
Time has not run-out if you still would like to attend the club’s dinner party at the Basque Cultural Center on Sunday, May 16. The Center is located at 599 Railroad Avenue in South San Francisco. No-host cocktails begin at 5:30 p.m. and dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. We have about 18 signed-up so far. The more the merrier! We will be fortunate to have Hank Skawinski and Lynn attending and Hank will speak about "The Future of Computing". Many of you know that Hank is a long-time friend of the club who has built or upgraded many computers for various club members over the past ten years. He can expound about the inner workings of computers and Windows 98 for hours! I’m sure we will have lots of questions for him.
If you have not already done so, feel free to sign-up with Bob Wallace. His phone is: (650) 574-8617, e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org. He will give you further details about the choices of steak, salmon or vegi pasta and how to get a check to him.
Lee Hill has placed excellent information about the dinner, pictures of the Cultural Center, and a map for getting there on the club’s web site at www.sfpcc.org. If you print the page, you’ll have a nice map to take with you in the car. Just click on the link from the home page for the "15th Anniversary Newsletter Special Edition". Many thanks to Lee for his fine promotion of the dinner and the other recent changes on our web site. Let’s all be there!
I have a prediction. Within our lifetimes, I think we’ll see the demise of family photo albums as we’ve known them for the last 100 years. No new family photo albums, no more one-hour processing labs, no more mail order processing of snapshots, no tedious attachment of pictures into scrapbooks, no more boxes of photos that never were attached to anything, no fading of old pictures, no more damaged photographs, no more damaged negatives and slides, no more space and bookshelves for albums, no more waste and expense of using silver in the photographic process, no more waste of as many trees used to make photographic paper, no more contamination and damage caused by disposal of chemicals used in the photographic process, no more high expense in getting pictures made, and no more whatever else I’ve forgotten to mention.
Of course "no more" will happen gradually, and some specific photo media may remain especially for commercial use and high-end products. For example, photo enlargements for the wall may remain longer because they demand high resolution needed for sharpness when blowing-up images. Also, high-resolution photography will probably be required for commercial publications until digital cameras can approach the resolution of photographic film. However, for small snapshots, the human eye would not notice the difference. Further, projection of slides onto a screen for group presentations will probably stick around for awhile because of the current high cost of digital projection equipment.
So, the economics of high-end imagery may require that film and paper based on silver stick around for a longer time. Also, digital projection equipment is still very expensive compared to a traditional slide projector, and higher resolution cameras needed for enlargements are expensive both for the camera and digital memory.
For the family snap shooter, digital still photography is here and viable. Many very decent still cameras can now be purchased for less than $500 and what cost about $400 18 months ago now has improved resolution and imaging capabilities. For example, two-power zoom lenses are now common, maximum resolutions have increased, and most now include flash. For around $600, it’s now easy to get a three-power zoom lens. Three-power is probably about the max you would want to handhold before using a tripod for best sharpness. High-end digital cameras are increasingly matching the capabilities of traditional 35 mm SLR’s and some have interchangeable lenses or more powerful zooms and provision for external flash. These are pretty expensive but many are still less than $1000. A good place to investigate the market is at www.cnet.com. Just use the Search feature for "digital camera". If you want to deal with mail-order from the East, you can probably shave about $100 from the price, pay shipping, but no California sales tax. That’s how I got my Kodak digital camera early this year. Many of the following thoughts are based on this camera just to give you an idea about what digital still photography is capable of. The club plans a digital camera presentation for our May meeting to give you further education about this revolution.
Obtaining a Camera at a Bargain
The small flash performs surprisingly well. I have found that my Kodak performs pretty good with flash in the clubroom even at distances greater than the rated 10 feet. The camera has an automatic flash which means that there is an additional flash sensor on the front of the camera to cut the flash at the proper time. There is also the usual light sensor for automatic available light exposures.
For composing the picture, there is an LCD screen on the back of the camera as well as a viewfinder that adjusts for the zoom of the lens. The viewfinder allows you to compose pictures without using the heavy battery drain of the LCD imager. I think the LCD imager is best used for reviewing your pictures when the camera is hooked-up to the supplied AC power supply. That way, you will maximize the life of the batteries.
There’s also a self timer if you want a delayed-action picture where you attach the camera to a tripod and then run to get into the picture.
Ports on the camera include a video-out so your still pictures can be shown on an ordinary TV, a serial port for running a cable to your computer, a serial infrared port to take the place of a cable if your computer is so-equipped, and an AC adapter port to bypass the camera’s batteries.
Kodak makes several sizes of memory cards that can be slid into a small memory slot on the end of the camera. The camera comes with one 8 mg card which is better than the 4 mg that other brands come with. The camera will take approximately 43 pictures at its High Quality setting and 640 x 480 standard resolution. So, there’s a separate setting for quality and resolution. The number of pictures vary depending on the settings. Extra memory cards can be purchased.
The Quality setting relates to how much the picture
is compressed when it’s stored onto the memory card. The resolution
relates to the size of the image stored in pixels. More detail is captured
at high resolution and high quality, but memory use goes way up. I’ve
found that high quality and standard resolution (640 X 480) is great
for images that will be transmitted over the Internet or only printed
to small size, while high resolution (1152 X 864) and high quality
is best for printed enlargements on a color printer. The nice thing
is that you can freely switch between quality and resolution settings
and the camera adjusts the number of "pictures left" accordingly.
Picture Review Features
Uploading Pictures for Storage on Your Computer
The upload itself happens by just connecting the camera with a cable to your computer’s serial port and then running connection software supplied with the camera and installed on your computer. The speed of uploading is slow, but just time yourself to go have that cup of coffee while the upload progresses.
Processing the Pictures Stored on Your Computer
The Kodak "Picture Easy Software" allows for input from
most any imaging source such as a camera, scanner, photo CD, etc. Several
formats are supported including the JPG that the camera natively supports.
When photos are uploaded from the camera, they come into a "holding
directory" on your hard disk. The photos appear in a smaller thumbnail
format so you get an overall view of what’s on your entire "roll of
film". Once a thumbnail is selected, it becomes much larger on a new
screen for editing purposes. From there, they can be saved to any other
directory that you’ve made on a hard drive for organizing your subject
The Kodak software allows you to add, delete and rename albums without you having to use Windows Explorer. It will be important for you to move photos into an appropriately named directory so you can find photos years later.
You could also move or copy the picture files onto a writeable CD-ROM if you didn’t want to use a lot of space on your hard drive. These will hold about 650 mg for only $1.50. However, large hard drives are very cheap these days too. Whatever method you use, always keep a backup of your files. You could also keep backup tapes of picture files separately to pass on to future generations.
Publishing Your Pictures
I have sent many family photos to my Dad and relatives using attachments to my Netscape messages. When my Dad opens my e-mail messages with his Netscape, the photos automatically appear after the end of the message text. One caveat...you will have to experiment with your ISP as to how long an e-mail message can be. SLIPNET e-mail servers bomb after about 1.5 mg is uploaded in one message including attachments. So, if you have a lot of pictures to send, you may have to divide them into smaller groups attached to different messages. However, for SLIPNET, adding about ten photo attachments is no problem.
Kodak also has an intriguing idea with their PhotoNet web site. Anyone can get free membership and some webspace on their site for uploading digital photos to. Then, anyone else that can use a web site can view your pictures and print any of them out on his own printer or save them to his hard disk.
Kodak has an excellent and huge web site. They even allow you to download updates to the firmware of earlier model cameras. The camera model just before mine, the DC210, can actually be upgraded to almost a DC210+ just by downloading a flash ROM update over the Internet. That’s pretty good support by a concerned manufacturer! I think the quality of any manufacturer’s web site will be an important plus for you to get the most out of digital photography.
This article is just a start into the realm of digital
cameras. As you can see, I feel excited about these new cameras in
spite of my involvement with traditional silver-based picture making
since I was in high school. I worked for a photographic retailer
for fifteen years. It looks to me like digital is the future of photography.
New software tools have to be learned to take the place of the traditional
photographic darkroom, but we are well on the way for people like you
and I. Is it time for you to start, too?
"On the Firing Line:
My 500 Days at Apple" by Gil Amelio and William L. Simon
After no chitchat at all, Ed said, "Gil, the board has been meeting by telephone on and off for the last thirty-six hours and I'm afraid I don't have a very good message for you... We think you need to step down. You've done a lot to help the company, but the sales haven't rebounded... We need somebody who's going to drive the sales, and we know sales and marketing isn't your primary strength.. We want to find a CEO who can be a great marketing and sales leader for the company."
And, so ended Gil Amelio's career at Apple Computer. His book, "On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple" is about Gil's experiences working as a CEO for Apple before he was asked to resign. Gil describes Apple as a national icon. Not only in the Northern California Silicon Valley, but all over the world the media hungers for information on Apple. When he asked a New York Times employee, ".. we're a California company, why do you include so much coverage of Apple?"
The response was, "Because we sell more papers... When we run a strong story on Apple, we sell three percent more papers. So we run stories on Apple." Gil found it amazing that when newspapers and magazines published articles about Apple, their readership increased.
Before Gil had been asked to work for Apple, he had been working as the CEO for National Semiconductor and saved that company from financial disaster. It wasn't clear to me in the book, what would make Gil leave his comfortable position at National to move to Apple, especially when Apple had major financial problems. Was it because of Apple's "national icon" fame? When asked if he would like to work as the CEO for Apple, he considered it seriously and after much negotiating back and forth on salary and benefits, Gil started working for Apple in 1994.
When Gil started working for Apple, they were having major cash flow problems so they were considering selling the company to IBM. However, Gil suggested, "Look, let's assume we're successful at selling this company to somebody. What's the first step they'll want to take? Fix the company's problems. Why wait for somebody else to figure that out? Why don't we get started on fixing the problems now? If we sell, the company will be in better shape, the buyer will be happier, and so will we. And if we don't sell, we'll be that much ahead of the game." At first Gil was ignored. The board was concentrating on selling the company, rather than trying to straighten it out.
So, Gil instituted getting a press release out every day on something positive about the company, whether it be a new product, a new idea. But, again he wasn't taken seriously. Gil was questioned about his conservative suit and tie look. He said "Apple people believe firmly that nobody ever got a worthwhile idea wearing a suit and tie." As well as his clothes, Gil said he was initially criticized on his weight, and criticized on his hairstyle.
In his book, Gil says, "The relationship between CEO and the top managers at Apple was different and stranger than anything I had ever encountered or even heard about. I would meet with one of the vice presidents and we would discuss a particular problem and what needed to be done. We'd agree on a course of action. And nothing would happen. Nothing. It was as if the conversation had never taken place. No follow-through...no explanations...no reports. And these were the top executives of the company... How long had this been going on?"
He continues to explain, "The media prefers to treat the CEO of Apple like a film star, and Apple people enjoy having a media phenomenon in the top position of their company. But it seems to me that Apple management treats their CEO like an aired celebrity - an icon who is supposed to represent the company in the press and at public forums, but is not to be trusted or respected for the making of business decisions.... At Apple what I got... were critiques, second guesses, and opinions, but no fixing of the problems."
As an example, Gil explains that the Macintosh computers were having problems with frequent crashes and computer lockups. He knew that customers usually liked Apple because it was user- friendly, stable and reliable. But now that it was having these problems, it was not sustaining its reputation. Gil felt that this problem should be resolved and spoke to Dave Nagel, Senior Vice President of Research and Engineering about it. After his conversation with Dave Nagel, Gil felt reassured that the problem would be looked into. Two weeks later, he spoke to Ike Nassi, the head of software operations to find out the progress and Ike Nassi had no clue what Gil was talking about. So, he decided since Dave Nagel wasn't doing anything, he'd work directly with Ike Nassi. However, again, nothing happened.
Microsoft was dominating the computer industry. Gil wanted to know how Apple could compete with the Windows operating system. He said, "We (could) design our future-generation operating systems so they work with Windows but still feel like a Mac, look like a Mac, and work like a Mac. We win both ways: We're able to give users the winning, satisfying Mac experience, yet also give them the ability to use their computer to run Windows applications." However, what he encountered by Apple people was their feelings that Microsoft was "the evil empire," so his idea was shut down.
Gil did, in fact, get to meet with Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. I thought this meeting was one of the most interesting tales in this book. Gil said that "Microsoft earns a gross profit of $200 or $300 million a year on software for Macintosh, so has an interest in seeing Apple survive... Any computer is essentially only as valuable as the software available for it."
When Gil arrived at the Microsoft headquarters a few minutes early for his nine o'clock meeting, Bill Gates did not keep him waiting and in fact met him at this early time. Gil thought that Bill Gates' greeting was warm and friendly, as Gates congratulated him on his new position as CEO at Apple. Gil explained that he was hoping Microsoft would be open to the idea of having Microsoft products run as smoothly on the Apple computers as it does on the Windows' operating system. Gates was agreeable to talking about these issues, but he stated that first he wanted to show a presentation he prepared. In his book, Gil demonstrates: "With that he (Bill Gates) stood up and went through a thirty-minute pitch, complete with colored flip charts on the history of the relationship between Apple and Microsoft. The first image to hit the screen was a photo of himself with Steve Jobs back in those early days when they were both about twenty-two years old, full of hopes and aspirations and dreams. And then he recounted all of the Apple-Microsoft milestones along the way, some good times, some bad. It was, I thought, a heartfelt reviewing of an eventful past." When they got down to business, Gil felt that Bill Gates was a tough negotiator. "Once he's explained his position, Bill sincerely can't understand why you don't want to do what he wants you to do. On the other hand, when you make the point that the best deals are 'I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine,' he's ready with a list of reasons and excuses why that isn't possible in this case. I rapidly came to realize that Bill found it difficult to meet another person halfway."
However, at the end of this long meeting, Gil and Bill Gates did come to some agreements. Apple would help him try to increase his sales of his Macintosh applications and Microsoft would help find a way to improve how Microsoft Office gets used on Apple computers.
Gil met with Steve Jobs a few times also. His first meeting with Jobs was when Gil was still working for National Semiconductor and Jobs, who was a Board member of Apple at the time, came by Gil's office to offer him the CEO position at Apple. He felt Jobs was charming; maybe that's why he wheeled him in. Ironically, Gil also met Jobs right before he was asked to resign from the company. At that meeting, he and Jobs and their wives met for dinner at a fancy restaurant in Redwood City. For three hours they talked, ate and drank at this restaurant. In hindsight, Gil felt this friendly evening was really just a manipulation on Jobs' part to help get Gil fired, but does not explain clearly why he felt this way.
In his book, Gil does not sound angry or coarse. He compares his experiences at Apple to a Shakespearean tale. I thought this was ridiculous, as Gil was over-estimating his experiences. This was not Shakespearean, but more like the satirical comic strip "Dilbert" in reverse, where top management (the CEO) felt that the employees were the dumb ones. I would have simply renamed this book, "A Year in the Life of a CEO," for I felt many of his experiences may not be any more unique for Apple as they might have been for any other large company.
The company did not acknowledge its own failures, so Gil had to do what other companies do while he was CEO. In his book, Gil describes in detail how he restructured his staff, by letting some executives go and rehiring new ones and he allowed Apple to go through two downsizing periods, letting 3,0000 employees go, and then months later another 3,000 people were laid off. He closed down the Sacramento plant. He changed stock option rules.
However, he said that "A lot of people wouldn't have accepted the job as CEO of a company in such bad shape as Apple. But I wouldn't have missed the experience - not for anything."
My overall opinion of the book was that it was interesting read, but I lacked sympathy for Gil Amelio, and did not find him to be the victim he seems to want people to think he was. A lot of questions were left unanswered. Why does he feel used? His experiences at Apple were interesting and since he himself says that he would not have missed the experience for anything, I think he should just enjoy that he got the chance to work at this national icon.
Gil Amelio's book is readily available. You
can pick up a copy of this book at any bookstore or on line at:
May 13: Digital Cameras. Lee Hill will lead our discussion on digital cameras. For an introduction, you may read the article in this newsletter. If you have a digital camera or color prints you’ve made, please bring them with you and we would like to hear your comments and how you have been using them. Perhaps you would like to send pictures to friends and family over the Internet? Easy!
Jun 10: Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL). Burton Sales from SLIPNET will tell us all about DSL. This is that newer and faster way to communicate between our computer and the Internet. Web pages and downloads are many times faster using DSL. You will find out what the plans and requirements are for the home user. SLIPNET is currently offering DSL to its members.
Jun 25: Executive Board Meeting, 7:30 p.m. in the club meeting room. All members are welcome. We discuss future programs, club activities, etc., and have a good time talking about computer industry issues.
Jul 8: Planning Your Vacation Using the Internet. Tentative, speaker to be announced. We will be talking about airline and cruise reservations, maps, destination information, weather, and much more!
Aug 12: Potluck Dinner. Our annual potluck dinner where you can bring your favorite dish!
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