There used to be a time when the Zip drive was a must-have accessory for computer users. I got one of the first drives that supported 100 MB disks and connected through the parallel port. Naturally, I upgraded and got the USB-powered 250 MB version when it became available. I had no fewer than 12 Zip disks, containing all kinds of information that I couldn't afford to lose. Now, that Zip drive and those disks haven't been used in such a long time that I literally just found them. Clearly I didn't miss them much...but what happened?
The Zip drive was very popular when everyone was using 1.44 MB floppy disks. Prior to that, there was no way to move a large amount of information from one computer to another (keep in mind that very few people had home networks then). The Zip drive came along at a reasonable price and with an insane amount of storage for the time, and it took off like hotcakes. The problem is that Iomega followed up in the market they pretty much created. They had no idea that on the horizon would be a whole host of alternatives offering faster, more universal access to data. Enter the CD burner. Iomega was behind the times on that, and I believe that is the primary reason that the Zip drive market shrunk. Following up on that were USB-powered external hard drives, DVD burners, and more recently, USB flash drives. All of these now offer more data storage and better plug-and-play support than the Zip drive ever could have hoped to have (though at one point it was so popular that Windows began shipping with a Zip drive driver).
It's too bad for Iomega. They pretty much went the way of Palm and Netscape: they defined a market and then failed to follow up and keep the market as their own. Now, you can find Zip drives with tons of disks selling on eBay for less than ten dollars. I guess that means my Zip drive will either be thrown out or given away to someone who still uses Zip disks, because putting something up on eBay for less than ten dollars hardly seems worth the trouble.
Side note: I recently put five things up on eBay, three DVDs, one CD, and one PlayStation game. None of them got even a single bid. What happened to the place where you could once or buy or sell anything?
A mother goes to work in the morning, says goodbye to her son, daughter, and husband. She arrives back home that night to a quiet house. Soon, it becomes apparent why. All three of her family members are dead. In the course of a day, a mother and wife has her entire family taken away. What's worse, it looks like her son shot her husband and daughter before turning the gun on himself.
The reason why I mention this is twofold. First, this happened in my city, not terribly far from where I live. Second, a good friend of mine was friends with the daughter. In short, this isn't just a story in the newspaper to me (though there is plenty of coverage), this is real life. My mind has trouble figuring out how to deal with such a tragedy.
This poor woman literally lost her entire family, and why? Well, no one has any idea right now, but the entire community is in shock. It's the senselessness that really gets to me. I don't understand what could go through someone's mind to cause this result.
The two parts of life that we all go through are birth and death, and I think that both are designed to remind those who witness it that there are many important things in life...and there are also many unimportant things. My prayers are with this family, and I hope that some of you can spare a prayer or two as well.
I was about 7 years old when the Celtics won their 16th championship in 1986. I was a huge Celtics fan then (as was everybody else in the area), and this championship meant the continuation of good feelings in Boston. To top it all off, in less than a month, the Celtics would have the second pick in the draft (thanks to some nice maneuvering and trading) with which they would choose arguably the best college player in the nation, Len Bias.
By all accounts, Len Bias had a bright future ahead of him. He was a forward with incredible athleticism and a nice outside shot. He regularly scored 30 points against hapless opponents in college and seemed destined for great things. Coach K of Duke said that the only other player that impressed him that much in college was a young Michael Jordan. Bias was set to share time with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, both of whom typically got very little rest during the course of games. Bird was so excited about the prospect, that he volunteered to attend the Celtics rookie camp that year to get his first look at Bias.
Two days after he was drafted, Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose. I'm still not sure that the news was received as badly in other parts of the country, but in Boston, everyone was in complete and utter shock. I remember my dad (an avid sports fan) telling me that a young kid that Celtics drafted had died. I asked what happened. This was the first time I heard about cocaine.
If anything good can be taken from Bias' death, it's that my situation was echoed in families all around the area. What had formerly gone on in shadows was now being brought up in dialogue. People started talking about cocaine and how dangerous it was. Even at 7 years old, I could sense the danger as my dad explained to me in as simple terms as possible what drugs were and why they were bad.
People still argue today about the effect that Bias could have had on the Celtics had he lived. With Bird and McHale able to rest during games, perhaps they each would have gained 2-3 more seasons before succumbing to their injuries. Maybe they would have won another championship or two. But maybe, just maybe, his death had a bigger positive impact than his life ever could have.
I just got home from seeing Rent in Boston tonight. I always find it amazing how seeing a musical live can really evoke emotions from the audience. Rent, in particular, is very moving (there was someone crying a few seats down). I'd never seen it before, but clearly about 80% of the people in the audience had, as there were audible cheers as numbers began...that type of response is usually reserved for the end of a musical number.
In any event, I always welcome seeing musicals because they are one of the few things that help me escape my own mind. They let me forget about what's going on in my life and become completely engrossed in this fantasy world where everyone feels the need to explain things through song. It's silly and poetic, but also mesmerizing...a great escape.
One of the worst-kept secrets about me is that I like professional wrestling. Recently, it's been fairly unentertaining, which is why I was excited to hear ECW was coming back. For those who aren't fans and are still reading this, ECW was a small organization that played mostly in Pennsylvania and small venues along the east coast. It started out as part of the NWA as Eastern Championship Wrestling but ended that association and went on their own, redubbing the E to mean Extreme.
ECW was unlike any other show at the time. The fans were well-informed, Internet-savvy, and could smell fake sincerity a mile away. Often known for vulgar chants and becoming welcomed participants in the action, the fans made the ECW events more exciting. On top of that, the wrestlers were all about the science of professional wrestling rather than the soap opera spectacle promoted by WWE. The fans appreciated the wrestlers and the wrestlers appreciated the fans. ECW gained a rabid fan base (including myself) before finally sinking into financial ruin and disbanding.
Now, WWE is trying to bring back ECW, since last year's ECW reunion show was such a hit. But the way they're doing it...they're essentially making ECW another brand of the company, losing all of what made it unique in the first place. Instead of the small venues with the rabid crowds, ECW is filmed at the same time as SmackDown, in the same arena, one after the other. In effect, it's just another WWE event with some different faces. They even stripped the Sandman and Balls Mahoney of their trademark entrance music, which completely ruins their entrances. It's so sad to see ECW devolve into this. Hopefully it will be a quick death and not be dragged out to ruin their name forever.
I've been waiting a long time to say this, but now the cat is out of the bag amongst everyone who needed to know before making a public announcement. I have accepted a development position at Yahoo! and will be moving to California before the end of the summer.
This whole process began back in March when I was contacted by Google asking if I would be interested in pursuing opportunities with them. Of course I said yes, and proceeded to go through the interview process. Along the way, I got to meet and talk to people like Erik Arvidsson and Aaron Boodman. It was a very cool experience.
During that time, I also was approached by Yahoo! about possibly working for them. I got to meet with Eric Miraglia, Thomas Sha, and Adam Moore, who are some of the people responsible for the Yahoo! User Interface Library. I met a lot of great people and had a lot of great conversations.
The end result: I received job offers from both Google and Yahoo!...a situation that I know many developers would love to have. I also know that many would probably have chosen Google due to the prestige and the aura of the Googleplex. They have been sweeping up talented engineers left and right. For me, though, I felt like Yahoo! was a better fit for where I am in my personal and professional life right now.
Yahoo! is doing a lot of really exciting things right now, and I'm very excited to be able to join them in these endeavors.