Should I Expect To Lose A Drone Every 3 Months Or So?
My drone is sitting at the bottom of San Francisco Bay. For reasons unknown to me or DJI, it entered “come home” mode while about 400 feet in the air, taking some great shots of San Francisco as the sun was coming up. As I wrote on Facebook: “Fuck!”
While flying the drone over Dreamforce a few days earlier, it entered “come home” mode unexpectedly, but I chalked that up to all the Wifi signals around the Moscone Center. Or maybe the fog. And then when I flew it over North Beach the day before it went into the Bay, all seemed good:
On this day, I got up extra early to catch the early morning sun and to fly the drone before starting work. I think the views were pretty good. I went down to the Ferry building, and flew out over the San Francisco Bay looking back at downtown, and should have been something like this:
What Am I Doing?
I’ve been back and forth with a diver about recovering the drone. It’s not too far out into the Bay, and because I watched it descend into the water as it was just a bit too far away… I think I know exactly where it is. I really want the SD card that shows the emergence into the water. Right? But I don’t have any hope for the drone to fly again.
Just got off the phone with DJI support, and I must say these guys rock. They need me to fill out a form describing exactly what happened, and the phone rep couldn’t tell me exactly what would happen next, but he said in these situations DJI takes care of it’s customers. He was very empathetic and reassuring.
Stay tuned for updates on the drone recovery and resolution of the issue with DJI.
For a while now I’ve been contemplating a future where you can find a photograph of almost anything at a certain time.
Meaning, in some future version of Flickr you would say (literally) “show me a photo of 20 Heckscher Drive in Huntington, NY from last week” or “what did Trafalgar Square look like in 2014?” and you’d get the image.
This vision was turned into a tool for the evil information overlords in the Dave Eggars novel The Circle. In that dystopian future, The Circle — think Google and Facebook merged — uses the organized information of the world to promote its own ruthless agenda.
Anyhow, while watching a guy take a photo of a mural this morning I wondered “how many times has this photo been taken?” This then lead to leap to “maybe in the future cameras won’t actually ‘take pictures’. They simply record the date, time, location, light conditions, etc and construct the image from known sources.”
Like the way iMovie has an “automatic Ken Burns” mode, maybe you camera asks you to select Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz mode.
Perhaps I should reach out to the Lytro people. Or maybe start a business creating these non-photography cameras. They’d be pretty small and easy to carry around…
According to Kierkegaard, “many of us pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that we hurry past it.” If I ate this 1,200 calorie slice of cheesecake, would I be happy the next day? Is all pleasure ephemeral, lasting but a short moment?
I had a conversation the other evening with my friend Ward, and I mentioned that I find the pleasure derived from eating food to be ephemeral. (It would have been cooler, if I managed to actually pronounce ephemeral (“əˈfem(ə)rəl/”) properly.)
Ward astutely mentioned that all pleasure is ultimately fleeting. I agreed with him but later started thinking more about the idea.
Upon a bit more reflection, I can say that I find some cases where pleasure does last longer. For example my recent trip to China brought back memories of my trip to visit the Taj Mahal back in 2003.
I remember that during my visit, I smiled so much at the beauty of the building that my cheeks hurt for an hour after the visit. And the memory of that visit still brings me pleasure.
You know how people say that you should give experiences instead of objects because the pleasure lasts longer? Perhaps there is something in play here like that. And perhaps thats why we take so many photographs of our experiences, not of material possessions.
Then again, I have pretty good memories of my Mini Cooper, which I drove for about 12 years. Or is it the experience of driving the Mini that is bringing me pleasure now? Very hard to separate these issues.
While I enjoyed reading Kierkegaard in college, I’m not sure the author of The Sickness Unto Death is really the person whose lead I want to follow about pleasure.
(* Boy, digital cameras have come a long way since 2003. It’s always amazing for me to look back and see how photos from today’s iPhones take better photos than actual cameras from just ten years ago.)
Had a chance to watch the movie Her again recently. It’s a quirky movie, and frankly a bit slow in spots, but I find the portrait of future technology inspiring. So inspiring, actually that I left my job to start a company trying to apply some its principals.
I love the scene from Her when Theodore installs the new “OS” that he will eventually fall in love with:
During the course of setting up the new OS, it needs to know:
Are you social, or antisocial?
Would you like your OS to have a male or female voice?
How would you describe your relationship with your mother?
Of course the OS then goes on to cut him off as Theodore gives somewhat rambling answers to these questions.
It’s an amusing clip, but it also brings to mind an interesting question: when is the last time a software application tried to build rapport with you? Surely with all of these apps that have access to your Facebook data, some of them would start randomly chatting me up about the Knicks or the new St Vincent album.
The other day I saw a post on Facebook which juxtaposed a picture of good old Albert, a quote about technology and a group of young people looking at their phones while walking down the street.
Never mind that the quote was never spoken by Einstein, judging by the likes and comments, the widely agreed sentiment was that we’re all becoming idiots due to our iPhones and other new technologies. Especially young people.
Here is a typical comment that received 460 likes on Facebook:
…I will say things have vastly changed and not necessarily for the better. I’ve been a bartender for 18 years. It used to be all about social interaction. Now it’s about social media. I watch an entire bar full of people sit on their phone instead of communicate with each other….
Enter Cole Porter
Every time I hear this type of thinking — especially by the over 30 crowd — bemoaning the youth of today verses the way it was back at some golden moment in the past, I am reminded of Cole Porter’s classic from 1934, Anything Goes.
Way back over 80 years ago the sentiment of time was that
The world has gone mad today
And good’s bad today,
And black’s white today,
And day’s night today
In olden days a glimpse of stockings
Was looked on as something shocking
Now heaven knows
Every generation seems to think that the younger ones have got it all wrong, and the world is going to hell. All modern inventions that improve the world, all liberating ideas (like that women should vote) are decried as heralding the end of time.
Somehow, this seems like a little bit of an overreaction to me.
Let’s get this out of the way right up front: This blog post isn’t going to be a Why Am I Leaving Goldman-style indictment of Cloud Sherpas. I wish the company well, and as a shareholder in Cloud Sherpas, I’m expecting it to continue to dominate the Cloud Services Brokerage market.
To my friends and former colleagues at Innoveer and later, Cloud Sherpas: Thank you for your support over the years; you guys are the best. After I lead Innoveer Solutions through its many incarnations since 1998, we ultimately sold the business to Cloud Sherpas to help create the best CRM and salesforce.com consulting firm that’s out there. You’re the reason why we achieved this. Thank you.
I’d also like to especially thank our customers, notably Unum, New York Life Insurance Company, Panasonic Corporation, Charles Schwab Corporation, as well as many, many others that I’m not allowed to name. Besides working closely with the team, you guys were the reason that made my time at Innoveer / Cloud Sherpas so enjoyable.
But Enough About You
My departure from Cloud Sherpas was triggered by my desire to start a new venture. Having gone through the start-up cycle three times now, you could say it’s in my blood. And as I continue to survey the technology landscape, I’m more excited than ever, because just in the past four years alone, the market has been changing at a faster pace than ever.
Why found a startup now? Some might argue that the large technology firms are stifling competition and squeezing out smaller firms. But in my opinion, they don’t know what they’re talking about. Look at the number of firms that have launched in just the past few years. Look at the number of IPOs happening in the tech sector.
All of the signs are clear: This is a great time to launch a new a start-up.
What’s The Opportunity?
Perhaps I indulged in too many viewings of the movie Her, but I am clearly seeing a trend in today’s consumer apps that touches on both personalization and app agency. Apps such as Google Now, FitBit and even OptmizeMe give people real-time intelligence and guidance on their day-to-day-lives in a way that wasn’t possible even a few years ago.
But when it comes to bringing better information to bear on people’s lives, who is doing this in the business world, and for business applications? Very, very few people.
Wow, that was fun. We — myself, my friend Ward and our four kids — took the brand new DJI Phantom Vision+ out to the nearby park and flew it around for about twenty minutes. The kids were so excited by it, and basically ran all around the park to follow it.
A few quick observations. Perhaps Star Wars is just on the brain, but the white plastic design of the drone, plus the lawn-mower like sound it makes, really reminded me of something from Lucas’ original masterpiece. And that lawn-mower sound is loud! I was thinking perhaps I would take it to Nol’s wedding and shoot the ceremony from above, but no way.
Flying the drone was so much easier than the quadcopter I shot the DroneForce video with. Not easy enough to let 5 year old Lorenzo fly it, but easy enough that neither Ward nor I crashed into anything, except the ground on landing a bit. I had a bit of trouble getting it off the ground because I was being too cautious.
I need to spend a bit of time reading through the poorly written instruction books to learn more about the camera and how to take best advantage of it. I’m not sure the videos and images I took from these flights were quite at the highest setting.
I’m looking forward to getting the drone out on some more challenging assignments.
In our trip to St John, the kids absolutely fell in love with playing Angry Birds Star Wars, which lead to some long conversations, especially with Lorenzo, about Star Wars the movie. (They had never seen the movie.) So when I had the opportunity a few days after we got back, we watched the movie, along with a few of their friends, hoping that this would clear things up. What happened was that I wound up narrating the entire story to the kids for the whole movie. (We wound up skipping a lot of the boring ‘talking parts’ of the movie.) Here is a quick video recap of the kids’ memory of this experience:
At the beach every day for two weeks, snorkeling with Veronica and the kids, Yoga in the afternoon, teaching the kids the ways of the Force. Thinking to myself, “what a great and relaxing time.” Two weeks in St. John, USVI highly recommended for those in need of a complete mental refresh. Any thought that brought me out of the moment, went immediately onto my reminders app, and out of my mind. Photos soon to be up on Flickr.
The weather was perfect, if you ask me. It was partly cloudy every day, and rained occasionally, but otherwise it would have been too much sun for the family. Our villa, Chez Shell, was so perfect it’s sort of hard to describe. Great location, two decks overlooking Great Cruz Bay (picture above is from our deck), pool small enough that the kids can easily swim it in all directions, cooled by the island breeze, and plenty of modern amenities for cooking, etc.
Each morning we’d make a lunch and take off to one perfect beach after another: Trunk Bay, Maho Bay, Cinnamon Bay or Hawksnest. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and most of them had great snorkeling options. I was a bit skeptical when we bought the kids snorkel gear before we left Boston, but they really took to it! Oh sure, we had to basically push them through the water, but they wore their little masks and got into looking at the fish.
I can’t wait to see the photos we took from our disposable underwater camera. The kids were quite vexed by the fact that they couldn’t preview the pictures immediately after taking them. I struggled to explain “chemical photography” to them.
After about four hours on the beach the kids would be wiped out, so we’d head back to the villa, and they would play their favorite game of all time (for at least right now): Angry Birds Star Wars. It’s a great game, and very addictive, and the kids surprised me again by showing that they could think through and develop new strategies for getting those darn pigs. We also became very obsessed with drawing pictures of the characters in the game, and taking them with us wherever we went.
Veronica found and engaged a yoga instructor named Suki to visit us every afternoon and guide us through yoga and breathing exercises. (I did this every other day, and Veronica every day.) Suki was great, and over the past few weeks we got to be friends with her and her very engaging husband as well. We’re leaving St. John more flexible than we arrived for sure!
Towards the end of our trip, we took a boat trip on the Lion in Da Sun which was one of the highlights of the trip. We motored with Captain Rick out to a place called Turtle Cove (I think) and swam with a whole bunch of turtles, then snorkeled over a wrecked ship, went to St Thomas for lunch, and then toured the bays and harbors of St John. Veronica fell in love with a very tiny beach called Mermaid Bay, which she has declared her favorite place on earth:
Another interesting development during the trip was our discovery (on Spotify) of a Hawaiian artist named Sashamon, whose album One Day Maybe became the official soundtrack of our trip. He’s sort of a Jack Johnson crossed with Bob Marley sound. Here is his best song, in my opinion, Japanese Squeeze: