In some respects this year has flew by, in other respects it seems like it’s been a long year. It’s definitely been an eventful year, so I decided to do a recap of the year’s events. From jet-setting around the world (literally), to taking on new roles in the company, to diving off the deep end with new hobbies, to picking up a book deal this year has had it’s fair share of excitement. This list definitely isn’t all inclusive, but it should be offer good coverage of the highlights.
Of all the months of this year, this month was probably the most quiet. The most notable thing which happened this month was it marked the month which I kicked off an internal employee evangelists team, the “Purple People”. Sadly, in retrospect, the team didn’t accomplish the goals I set out to accomplish over the year. It’s been a good learning experience, though, and hopefully 2008 can be a better year with more to show for it. We did pull off a couple events, so I guess I can deem it a conditional success for the year.
Another semi-interesting thing which happened around this month was I became the pseudo (not sure if it was ever “official”) front end team lead for Address Book. That didn’t offer me much additional privileges or benefits (certainly no pay raise) and proved to not be much of a beneficial step up in my career. I’m not sure if that’s indicative of much other than it set the stage for my leaving the PIM team (I felt I was in a dead-end boring position).
Unlike January, this month was an extremely amazing month. Along with a close personal friend and former coworker, James Jones, I got the opportunity to fly to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and speak at the Education Without Borders 2007 conference. The conference was attended by college students (over 1,000) from over 110 different countries. At the conference I gave two talks (co-speaking with James), one on disaster response and how Yahoo! and the Open Source community can and is making a difference and the other a workshop on how to sell your ideas on ways to make a difference in the world and subsequently make them a reality. Here’s a bullet list of several high points from the conference in no particular order:
- The opportunity to be on an exclusive speakers list of about 50 people which includes names like Professor Muhammad Yunus, Rita Levi-Montalcini, Plácido Domingo, and Nicholas Negroponte. If those names don’t sound familiar to you (and you don’t want to click on the links), let’s just say that many of the speakers were people like Noble Prize winners, Nobel Laureates, world renowned singers, CEOs of international corporations, UN leaders, prestigious professors, innovators in the NGO space, etc. Not only did I get to speak along side these people, but also was able to sit down and chat with many of them. Even Prince Charles made an appearance! Needless to say it was quite an honor to be on included as a speaker.
- The opportunity to speak to college students who actually were keenly focusing on your every word and absorbing as much as possible. I’ve attended and spoke at conferences around the world and never before have I been at a conference were people so desperately wanted to consume as much knowledge as possible. At a typical tech conference, for instance, half the people in the room are not paying full attention with many surfing the web, reading email, etc. This was definitely not the case here and James and I fielded many high quality pointed questions in our first session and in the workshop we ran way way over just because so many people wanted a chance to ask their questions. James and I both walked away from the experience feeling we had really left a positive impression on many of the students we spoke to which they will then use to fuel their future endeavors.
- The venue of this conference was utterly amazing, like nothing I have ever seen before. The conference was held in Abu Dhabi at the Emirates Palace. Imagine the most extravagant 5 star hotel you have ever seen, multiple that times ten and you would just be beginning to imagine this place. So amazing that words don’t do it justice (well, not my words), so check out the linked site and take a look at their Virtual Tours.
- This was my first time flying above coach class internationally and the airline, Etihad Airways, I flew on is regarded as being one of the most extravagant airlines in the world. To put this in perspective, we had multi-course meals (using real metal forks and knives), a seat which laid out into a full bed, 23″ personal entertainment screens with hundreds of movies to pick from, all the alcohol one could drink, and beautiful flight attendants.
- There were three fireworks shows (one of which was indoors in a large auditorium), laser light shows, trapeze masters, arial stuntmasters, illusianists, and enough eye candy to make one go through sensory overload. Again, nothing can quite describe the experience completely, but viewing the video and my Flickr photos will give you a small taste of being there.
- I also got the chance to go to Dubai as well. Here I got to see the Burj Dubai under construction, the Burj Al Arab (one of the only 7 star hotels at the moment), Ski Dubai the indoor snow skiing run, and more tall sky scrapers than I could count. The smog was hideous there, though, so I can’t say it was a completely pleasurable experience.
- Seeing your face and those of fellow speakers on billboards _everywhere_ you go around Abu Dhabi is amazing. This town goes all out for this conference (no surprise being that it’s paid for by the U.A.E. government) and it really shows.
My photos are up on Flickr here: U.A.E./Education Without Borders 2007 – Feb. 23 – March 1st 2007 collection
And here’s a short video of the highlights of the event (you can see James and I about 4:45 in to the video):
Several really kewl things happened this month, but compared to last month’s description they definitely won’t sound as interesting. The month started off with me getting to spend a 3 day layover in New York City. As it was my first time being in New York (other than the airport), it was a very fun trip. I spent most of my awake time in Manhattan and tried to catch as many sites as possible. I was extremely exhausted still from the EWB conference, so I didn’t do as much as I would have liked. Here’s photos from the trip:
Immediately following New York City, I met again with the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA on disaster response topics and presented on the system which Yahoo! is building (currently stalled) to handle assisting evacuees to reconnect with their loved ones. Around the middle of the month is when I signed my book deal with WROX Press / Wiley Publishing. The book I am currently writing is on PHP with a focus more on scaling, web 2.0 technologies, and general best practices for PHP site development. It’s not progressing as fast as I or my editor would like, but it is making progress slowly but surely. Another “first time experience” this month was going to Lake Tahoe for the weekend with a couple friends. You can see photos of the trip here:
Two other notable blips this month was I invited to and attended the American Red Cross Real Heroes breakfast as well as helped staff the Open Source CMS conference Yahoo! put on towards the end of the month.
This month marks the last full month for me on the Address Book team. Also this month I had visits from my grandfather, my car turned a year old, and I got to meet my counter parts in Yahoo! Japan. You can see several Flickr sets of random events which happened this month:
I also got suckered into dressing up as Father Time to help promote Yahoo!’s Earth Week efforts. You can see photos of the crazed event here:
This month also marks the beginning of my extremely heavy interest in photography (always had an interest, but this month it turned into a full time hobby of sorts).
Yet another busy month May proved to be. The month started off with Jerry Yang and David Filo (co-founders of Yahoo!) reliving an experience from the late 90’s by Sumo wrestling each other in the Yahoo! courtyard. They agreed to do this if we reached 20% reduction in energy consumption during Earth Week (which we gladly did) and thus the “green” themed Sumo suits. Photos from the event can be seen here:
My kid sister also got married the first weekend in May. I got asked to be the photographer for the event so I went on a heavy camera gear buying spree before the event. Sadly, most of my purchases weren’t as useful as the purchases I made later in the year. Hindsight 20/20 I guess. If you ever need something to make you feel really old and alone, have your sister who is 6 years your younger get married and you still be single. Congrats to her, though, and best of luck in the years to come!
May also kicked off the annual “Concert on the Green” concert series Yahoo! holds all summer long bringing in big name and up and coming artists from around the country to perform on campus as a lunchtime treat. Here’s sets from the two concerts held in May, Taylor Hicks and Taylor Swift:
Another corporate event from May was Deepak Chopra coming to visit Yahoo! and speaking on campus. You can see photos from that event here:
I also had the pleasure of working at the Yahoo! booth at the Maker’s Faire 2007. I was the official Yahoo! photographer for the event and the photos can be seen here:
A few other random Flickr sets from this month include:
All of this while learning a new programming language (Actionscript3 & Flex2), the processes on my new team, and getting to know all the new faces. Man this month was busy!
Hard to believe, but we just made it to June. It doesn’t slow down hardly from here on out! The biggest news of this month was the retirement of several top Yahoo! executives. Two of them, Phu Hoang and Farzad ‘Zod’ Nazem, I was given the privilege of doing the retirement party videos for which were show on the TV screens at the event. It was basically a video slide show of photos from their careers at Yahoo!. You can see photos from their retirement parties here:
I also took photos from Terry Semel’s retirement event, but I was asked to not post them on Flickr or post them publicly, so unfortunately you can’t see them. Other Yahoo! events which I took part in are:
Sunnyvale Wine & Arts Festival – Yahoo! sponsorship
Go fly a kite! – Marketing team building event
Sailing on the San Francisco Bay – Address book team offsite
Brick & Lace perform on campus – Concert on the green
SF Giants game – Viewed from Jerry Yang’s luxury box suite
Author Frankie Lennon – Lunch time speaker
June was also my birthday which I spent hanging out in the city drinking at an Irish pub with Terry Chay, Karl Adam, and Morgan Sherwood. It was that night that I learned the hard way that the last train is at promptly midnight and after that you are pretty much stuck in the city. I finally made it home about 6am the next day with a turned ankle and a generally bad mood. Not the best birthday, but not the worst by any means. I also did a little playing around with high speed photography this month, as seen here:
And got back into cooking a bit:
Another awesome thing that happened this month is I got my Mac Pro desktop at work. After having a dual processor dual core 2.6ghz w/ 6gb RAM for the last six months all I can say is wow! It’s an utterly amazing machine and I can definitely say my productivity has benefitted greatly from it. I also got my new “trouser mac” (aka iPhone) this month on the day it was released (no, I didn’t wait in line with all the nut jobs).
July marks the return of me blogging after almost nearly a year. Not sure why I stopped blogging, but I’ve tried to be fairly consistent since July. The biggest and most visible new thing this month was having my car wrapped in Yahoo! branding. You can see photos of the wrapped car here:
What possessed me to do that I will never know, but it’s been a pleasurable experience I don’t regret. This month also was the first time I got to hear the amazing voice of Sara Bareilles when she performed @ Yahoo! for one of our concert on the greens. She is an amazing performer and deserves all the fame she’s getting and then some. Make sure and check her out and buy one of her albums! Photos from her performance on campus are here:
My team also had a big team dinner offsite in July at Maggiano’s Little Italy in San Jose. Photos from the event can be seen here:
We also had our summer Hack Day event in July. It was the first time I got to pull my car up on campus grounds (was quite the adventure navigating the sidewalks in the courtyard) and we had it on display next to the hack day tent. You can see photos from the Hack Day here:
I also went to Washington, D.C. in July to be one on a taskforce working group in regards to the National Emergency Technology Guard (NET Guard). You can learn more about that in my blog post on the subject: NET Guard is seeing life. Immediately following my trip to DC, I flew straight to Portland, OR to catch the tail end of OSCON 2007. I didn’t speak there this year unlike last year, but instead was one of the Yahoo!’s booth babes. A handful of photos from the trip can be seen here:
In what proved to be a whirl wind week, the weekend of my return from Portland was Camp Yahoo!, Yahoo!’s annual company picnic. It was there that I first showed off the window tinting promoting Yahoo! Web Messenger (one of the products my team works on). You can see photos from the event here:
August marks the beginning of photography becoming a pseudo part of my job. In August I became the official PR photographer for Yahoo! and started covering corporate events officially (something I was doing previously unofficially) as well as doing the PR headshots for employees below SVP level. Despite taking on this new task, it didn’t remove my normal work responsibilities at all so I have been an even busier man since. It’s also the month I got access to the Yahoo! studios so I could use Studio 1 for photography assignments. Here’s one of the first people I shot in the studio (good friend and coworker, Erin Carlson):
Other photoshoots / events from that month include (read Flickr set descriptions for more info):
Yahoo! Mail GA launch event
SF Giants game from Jerry Yang’s luxory box suite (2nd time going)
Spare the Air Day 2007
Yahoo! Mail Team Offsite
India business leaders visit Yahoo!
Social Media Club at Yahoo!
Cube photos for Impact Magazine
Yahoo! @ San Jose Giants Game
Jesca Hoop – Concert on the Green + Bike Fair
The 11th Hour movie screening
Jeremy Fisher – Concert on the Green
Peter Koechley of the Onion.com speaks at Yahoo!
Meaghan Fu (summer intern) and Cooper Welch (summer intern) leave Yahoo!
August is also the month which starts the second waive of my heavy camera gear buying (the first being before my sister’s wedding in May). I picked up a Canon 5D, new Canon 580EXII, a heavy duty Manfrotto tripod, and a bunch of other gear. I also picked up a kickass camera case which has proven well reliable for keeping my camera safe.
I also wrote two lengthy blog posts on the “trouser mac” hacking which still have good placement in the major search engines and routinely get traffic despite being out of date. The two posts are here:
I also wrote a blog post on Amazon Prime trying to figure out how they are making money on the Prime deal. I’ve since saved hundreds of dollars in shipping charges and it proved to be one of the best purchases I have made this year from Amazon.
This month was a bit less active than previous months on the volume of different activities due to two main causes, one I was on vacation for 11 days and two we had a big launch for my team in September. For the vacation I went to the Cayman Islands for a week of scuba diving with my parents. Being the first real vacation I had taken since joining Yahoo! (flying home to visit family doesn’t count as a vacation in my book), it was long overdue. I still need to upload more pics from that trip, but here is the collection on Flickr:
The big launch I was talking about previously was the latest version of Yahoo! Web Messenger. Of the functionality I added, the two big things were SMS support (allowing you to SMS people from anywhere as if you were chatting with them on IM) as well as Click 2 Chat support (example: http://web.im?im=jstone_at_yhoo). Towards the end of the month after the launch I switched gears to being heads down chugging out myM code so we could hit our release date for focus group testing. Not sure if I was a big help or not, but we did more or less hit our date thanks to a Herculean team effort by the whole team.
A few fun events I went to in September where:
I also did a handful of PR headshots in September as well, some of which can be found on Flickr.
Despite being heads down in panic coding mode, I still squeezed in a bit more variety of stuff in October than I did September. The biggest event was getting invited to observe Top Official 4 (TOPOFF) in Portland, a government preparedness exercise testing our response to a radiological disaster. The photos from that event can be seen here:
A couple on campus events were:
Dr. Muhammad Yunus comes and speaks at Yahoo!
Yaboo! 2007 (Halloween) photos
New Yahoo! Search kickoff event
Foozapalooze 2007 Finals
Goofing off in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month
Yahoo! Company All Hands Q3 2007
As many know, I usually do over the top Yahoo!ish costumes for Halloween, but unfortunately this year I waited till the last minute and didn’t end up finishing in time. Will make sure I plan ahead better next year. One off campus thing I went to was GeekSessions. I know I took photos from this, but apparently they aren’t on Flickr. Will need to look into that when I have time. Other than the few things above plus a bit bigger handful of PR headshots than last month, I was working 12+ hour days on Flex code for myM and a bit of stuff for Project Aero (aka Yahoo! Web Messenger on JetBlue’s BetaBlue wifi enabled plane).
November was still a busy coding month as were September and October. We did launch the alpha testing of myM, though, and reached the code complete stage on Project Aero, so it was a good month. With the Thanksgiving break, though, I was able to shuffle things around get a bit more time in for photography stuff. This was an extremely busy headshot month doing over 10 sessions this month alone. I also did my first off main campus session over at our Great America campus which prompted the building of a portable backdrop stand made from PVC. My team also had an offsite fun event playing Bocce ball. The photos from that event are here:
One really fun on campus event was the Yahoo! Operations team had a dunk tank for meeting their donation goals for YEF (Yahoo! Employee Foundation). It was the first opportunity I had to test out my new lens (Canon 24-70mm F/2.8L) and subsequently proved the purchase to be extremely worth while with it’s ultra razor sharp images. I’m highly impressed with it as you can see in these photos:
I also went into the city to test out that same lens doing some night photography and the results were phenomenal. Here’s that set:
As I did in 2006, I also got invited by Connie Chan to the Tech Awards Gala. It was a fun event like last year and I got some pretty kewl shots of this hologram like water vapor screen. You can see those photos here:
On a lighter note, I also goofed off with a friend and co-worker (Jozef Hatala) before Thanksgiving doing some experimental late night break room dinner making.
The beginning of December marked three big launches for the Yahoo! Messenger team, two of which were for my team. The first launch was the preview release of Yahoo! Messenger for Vista (codename Diablo). It’s quite an amazing UI and really pushes the limits of Vista to the max, but alas I have no desire to run Microsoft Windows Vista on even an enemy of mine’s machine. If I was a Vista user, I would be all over it though. The two launches my direct team did were the launch of Project Aero (Yahoo! Messenger for JetBlue’s BetaBlue wifi enabled plane) and Yahoo! Messenger for Starwars. The later breaks new ground in the emoticon arena having emoticons combo with one another and the first time an emoticon shows death or dismemberment in Yahoo! Messenger. I’d have to say my favorite combo is (trooper)(apprentice)(trooper). Try it out and let me know what you think of that combo. Photos from the launch events are here:
I especially love the photos from the JetBlue event as I got to go out on the runway right next to active taxiways (look how close this 747 is) to take photos of the plane taking off as well as when it was pulled up at the gate. I also attended three Christmas parties this month as seen in the following photos:
I was on vacation the week before Christmas (well, from Wednesday through Christmas day) visiting family back in the midwest. Since then, I’ve been busy getting some refactoring done at work, writing a Safari SIMBL plugin for Yahoo! Search, as well as catching up on some reading.
So, in a nutshell, that’s my 2007! I’m sure I missed half a dozen things, but after six hours of continuously writing this post my brain is fried. So what did you do last year?