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Archive for the 'A thought…' Category

Are San Diego Trails & Parks Safe?

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Sunday, May 3rd 2009 5am, I arrive at Cowles Mountain Trail head at Navajo/Golfcrest, located on the borders of La Mesa and Santee. I spot one other car, a small red Honda looking vehicle, which was not unusual since the trail was closed the day before, and at this hour there’s typically at least a few regulars.

I’m beginning my hike up, and I spot a flashlight, only… it’s not moving. I thought that a little strange and thought maybe the individual was hurt or looking at something, then I see a red flame appear which made me think “huh… standing there smoking after hiking? Weird…”. I kept approaching and to my surprise, 4 white males around in their early 20’s were surrounding another male sitting, who had his tattooed arm stretched out and was being wrapped, while one had a flashlight on the area you’d typically draw blood from (or shoot up). Despite the strange scene, I said “mornin'” (nothing like trying to act like you’re not nervous… but really it’s better to not appear that way), and one of them yelled “oh $#1T!”, then quickly in a normal voice said “morning” when they saw me keep on moving as if I hadn’t seen anything.

I thought about it for a few seconds, and called the police (at about 5:10am) once I was a few stretches up the first hill (not even a quarter of a mile), simply to get these guys off of my trail, especially before women or kids arrived who really should feel safe on this trail. The dispatcher told me that the SD Police were not equipped to go up the trail (despite my saying that it’s not at all that far in, and at the start of the trail) so they would not be arriving right away and that she’d let the park rangers know. She asked me if I saw the narcotics.. I told her “no, I did not, but I smelled Whiskey and they were talking about how to hold the arm and appeared to be shooting him up”, and that was that– “thanks and have a nice day, sir.”

So I’m heading up further and thinking, crap… the police won’t be here anytime soon, and my vehicle is the only one down there. These strung out guys are probably going to try to break into my car. So I double timed it up the mountain (I wanted to finish what I came there to do), and started my way back down the mountain trail quickly.

The first sight of other hikers was at around 6am — one of them was a regular so I asked him if there were still 5 guys down at the bottom shooting up, and he told me that they were still there and that they seemed a little squirrely. I told him what I saw and that the rangers were hopefully here by now, which he thanked me and said he was glad that I had.

So I’m heading down further and pass a regular woman hiker, said hello, then saw a father and his 10’ish year old son walking by and I’m thinking “yeah, these guys had to have left by now…”, but I couldn’t help but notice the nervous looks on these people’s faces as they passed me by and returned their good mornings.

Then sure enough, I’m jogging down and I see 5 of these punk looking guys stretched across the trail, blocking it so I can’t go by, and they are obviously strung out. A bag that appeared to be wrapped in some aluminum foil was sitting a few feet away from one of the guys, and they could barely hold a straight speech. They rolled around out of my way and let me continue to jog by.

I finally made my way down to the bottom (again, not that far, maybe a 2 minute walk) and no SD Police or Ranger to be found, which was almost an hour later. I warned a lady who was starting up that these guys were blocking the trail which she seemed a little alarmed by it and appreciated the tip, then I saw two other guys who appeared to be experienced hikers and asked them if they had seen them yet. They were surprised and said “oh… so that’s why there’s a spent needle in the Urinal in the bathrooms and a burned out can in there…”

They too were disappointed that the police hadn’t even tried to get out here to assist, and sure enough no rangers. They started chuckling and saying if I had offered a trail of donuts they would have come out.

I left before seeing if anything would come about, but seriously, are our Parks and Trails here in San Diego safe? This was an eye opener. These guys did not appear to be “harmless” by any means, and shooting up while drinking whiskey in a park means they were losing control — young college girls are always coming here in small groups or by themselves, and this is a very very popular mountain (hundreds hike it daily). San Diego Police did not respond right away to clean this up, and the San Diego Park Rangers were no where to be found an hour later.

Honestly, I don’t feel safe myself heading up in the dark anymore after this situation. Hopefully they can clean this up soon and get a better response team together. Until then, I would not feel safe at a park thinking the Police or Rangers will be there when you call for them, unless you’re hurt and need medical attention… even then you’d probably be seeing the Fire Department who don’t appear to have any problems ‘hiking’ a few hundred feet.

// Jacob

There’s something about MySpace

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

I’ve been wondering about something ever since I recently started using MySpace more often. I had created an account about 6 months ago to just toy with the site to get a better feel for its flow, functionality, and to really just better understand why it has been such a success. I created the account and just left it, but I deleted the infamous ďTomĒ, who annoys the hell out of me (and even more when people leave him on their friends list!).

After a bit of time, friends started adding me and getting on my case for not using the site. After a bit of peer pressure from these friends, I realized that I had to actually use the site for THEM, and I had to make it look better than the default template that they used or else Iíd look like a dork. Again, peer pressure.

Initially, I had quite a few pains using it. The flow of the site was poorly designed as links were never where youíd expect them to be, and the site was really designed as an after-thought… it was almost as though they designed the site, which then became successful, and they just kept piling more and more on top of it without really stepping back and analyzing the flow of the site and working through the information architecture. I feel over-whelmed trying to figure the site outÖ thereís way too much scattered and thereís no real organization.

Now, I’m not talking about how poorly designed the user “MySpace” profiles are. I donít think that needs any speaking to as I think we all know how bad they can get. I am purely talking about the interface and navigation in which, after you’ve logged in, you use to view comments, manage/customize your profile, account, etc.
I couldnít fathom how a site as poorly designed as MySpace, could be at all successful. There are obviously many factors that came into play for the siteís success, but then a thought dawned on me a little when I was going to update my profile this evening:

Because MySpace itself is so poorly designed, and almost every page looks like a tornado had gone through more than a few times and took us back to the 80ís, people feel comfortable and at home with it. They donít feel as though they need to worry about font sizes, font colors, number of fonts-types used on a page, whether or not something is readable, whether or not something is making their page blow out of 1024 (1004) pixels resolution, is compatible with certain browsers, is draining your memory like mad or crashing your browser. They donít care about web standards Ė itís all about having a page that you can call your own, being able to post stupid animations and videosÖ and not have to worry if it doesnít look right since everyone else has a funky looking page too Ė and surprisingly, Iím starting to ďget itĒ Ė and Iím also liking it.

Iíve also been comparing my experiences with MySpace, versus other Social-Networking sites out there. When I use LinkedIn (which I use every day and strongly urge you to use it if you don’t), I believe that the site is one of the most well designed sites out there. Iíve been through just about every page, and completely understand how it is organized, and have even checked out new features, because itís so well designed. But I donít feel ďat homeĒ with itÖ it feels more like a site for work and my career, than for play. The same goes for Facebook. I just received two invites on Facebook this morning Ė one from a friend of mine, and another from a complete stranger. I added them, and just closed the site. Facebook is one of those sites that I use rarely, as I had with MySpace earlier, and only use for others, not for myself. This could of course evolve into me changing my perception of Facebook. Right now, I donít use the site because for one, I donít need another social networking site to have to track, and second, I donít know how to use it yet and am unfamiliar with the benefits of using it.

So, those are my thoughts on MySpace for now.. thereís definitely something about it, and Iím still digging through it. I believe MySpace really helped change the way mainstream users use the web, and because of their success, I believe there will be some very big contenders coming right after them. I have definitely removed MySpace from my status of ďGeocities 2.0.Ē?

// Jacob

Using LinkedIn Answers

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

I’m a big fan of using LinkedIn to keep up with old friends and colleagues within the industry. It is truely one of the many sites I frequent at least a few times per week to see what’s happening in my network, whether someone changed jobs, started a new company, added a new site, recommended someone, etc. A short while ago (4 months? I think I’ve lost track of what people call “time”), LinkedIn added a new tool called “Answers”,? which ended up as yet another tab on the main navigation.? At first I thought it was just a help resource section or a support forum, but one day I clicked on it and discovered something completely different. Answers is pretty much a place to get “answers”. You can ask a question, and get answers from professionals within your network, or you can even restrict it to a selection of people in your network. Depending on how relevant your question is to your network, you can typically receive answers within hours… pretty sweet.

Answers? is still gaining a bit of attention and momentum. I have found it to be quite a bit more valuable than using specialty forums… you get a much more diverse audience on LinkedIn, and there are fewer “trolls”. You might want to give it a try sometime – I was thinking of keeping it to myself, but the more who use it, the more valuable I think it will be.

LinkedIn

// Jacob

A thought… on offshore outsourcing

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

This is just a thought I’ve been having over the past few days about outsourcing web work to countries such as India or China. I have had some conversations with friends at companies that frequently outsource work to other countries outside of the U.S. — India in particular — and whenever the topic of artwork or graphic design comes up, I keep hearing almost the same thing:

  1. These companies can provide some 2D artwork, but still greatly lack experience creative design and 3D.?
  2. These companies do not understand the U.S. consumer, and what they want or like to see — what they consider to be of quality or creative.
  3. These companies are great at providing services if they are provided clear direction, specifications, and require little creativity.

This is simply what I am hearing from many who I know within different types of companies and is not necessarily based off of my own experience. I have only worked with offshore companies on web development which I have had good success with, but haven’t had a chance to work with any offshore companies with creative.

Having said that, I am thinking that the reasons for the lack of experience in 3D and creative could be due to the following:

  • Individuals within these countries work within high-stress production environments that focus on productivity and volume, rather than quality and creativity. They spend day and night on getting the job done, and done right on time. This leaves little time to think beyond what they are told is needed. After all, one of the main selling points of outsourcing to a company in India or China, is the lower cost of production compared to say, the U.S.
  • Unlike most web production companies within India and China, many agencies and freelancers here in the U.S. dedicate a great deal of resources and money on creative direction. They do extensive research on what their customer’s target audience is, and are expected to come up with proposals that are creative, innovative, effective and are appealing (for the most part, to the marketer).

So what on earth am I trying to get at? I think the majority of offshore web companies out there are still in their very early stages. They have Web Development and productivity down, but they still lack the critical aspect to every project, which is creativity. Once these companies begin to focus more attention on spending time to “think” about projects, research and educate themselves about the U.S. consumer, and build their experience, I think we’re going to begin seeing some awesome work out of these companies.

// Jacob