[Podcast] Interviewing Matt Mullenweg

I have known Matt Mullenweg, CEO, and founder of Automattic, and co-creator of open source project, WordPress for almost a decade and a half. Given our close friendship and a personal bond, I have eschewed asking him about work and never interviewed him, barring a handful of WordCamp on-stage conversations. So, it was fun to go back in time and get Matt talking about his journey so far.

In this conversation, Matt discusses the beginning of WordPress, the growing importance of open source in the age of cloud, lessons he’s learned as a founder, and – more optimistically – why he’s excited about the distributed workplace, a core founding principle at Automattic.

Here is the podcast on Spotify, Apple, Overcast, and in the good old RSS.

Also, a word on this new podcast series — Foundation Podcast was originally started by Digg founder Kevin Rose. It has Continue reading “[Podcast] Interviewing Matt Mullenweg”

[Series] Scenes of San Francisco

A San Francisco View
A view from somewhere in Chinatown. Made with iPhone11 Pro


Just get paid & our culture of lies

The Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal has come to a conclusion. Just to recap: During the 2017, via a live feed from an on-field camera, the Astros decoded the signs exchanged between opposing catchers and pitchers. Then, using the crude method of banging on a trash can, they shared that information with their batters, who then knew what pitch was coming and could prepare themselves. It is safe to say that the Astros were able to radically improve their chances of winning thanks to this technology-enabled cheating. In fact, they won the World Series.

And what will they lose as punishment now that their methods have been revealed? A couple of draft picks. They are also fined $5 million for their transgressions, and the two guys on the top — general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch — are suspended for the year. There will be no punishment for

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The moral hazard of finger-pointing

When you point a finger at someone, remember you have four pointed at yourself. 

I was reminded of that proverb when reading this story in The Atlantic, about the moral hazard of dealing with China. While the thrust of the article was focused on academic institutions, I couldn’t help but notice the irony: The Atlantic is owned by the Emerson Elective, which is funded by Steve Jobs’ widow, Lauren Jobs, and much of her wealth comes from the continued good performance of Apple and its stock. Apple benefits tremendously from China and bends over backward to keep a toehold in this lucrative market and manufacturing base. 

The circle is weirdly complete, and I would say it is fair to call this a good illustration of the moral hazard of pointing a finger. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 

01.14.2020. San Francisco

Happy Birthday PhotoMatt

What better way to wish Matt Mullenweg aka PhotoMatt with a photo and a blog post. So happy birthday Matt, and wishing you a great year and wonderful life ahead.

[Photo Set] Around San Francisco

The iPhone 11 Pro, though only a few months old, has become a wonderful “every day carry” camera. Sure I take my kit — Leica SL, Leica f2/50mm lens, Really Right Stuff Tripod/Ballhead and WineCountryCamera filters — to make landscapes or abstracts on the beach. But when walking around the city or along the beach, I have found that the iPhone has become a remarkable tool. I don’t even bother with switching to RAW mode. I just leave it in default mode — just point, compose and capture. A quick edit using my bespoke B&W preset and I am done. Just take a look at these photos made while on the holiday break. You can do handheld long exposures as well — the last photo in color is a perfect example.

Y2K? It is more like Y2020 Bug

A problem that rears its ugly head twenty years later, because people took some short cuts — that is a norm in modern society, and the Y2020 bug is just a perfect illustration of the “kick the can down the road” philosophy modern world seems to function on these days.

The Y2020 bug, which has taken many payment and computer systems offline, is a long-lingering side effect of attempts to fix the Y2K, or millennium bug.

Both stem from the way computers store dates. Many older systems express years using two numbers – 98, for instance, for 1998 – in an effort to save memory. The Y2K bug was a fear that computers would treat 00 as 1900, rather than 2000.

Programmers wanting to avoid the Y2K bug had two broad options: entirely rewrite their code, or adopt a quick fix called “windowing”, which would treat all dates from 00 Continue reading “Y2K? It is more like Y2020 Bug”

What’s Worth Reading (today)

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash.

On the last day of 2019, I set myself a simple goal: I will get back to regularly sharing some of the best articles I read. I don’t think there is a good substitute for personal, human curation – at least, not yet. And yes, what we share does tell others a lot about us. (Anyone who says that retweets are not endorsements is so full of shit.) Personally, I won’t share anything I don’t like or recommend. Why bother wasting other people’s time on mediocre stuff? Our collective time and attention are so precious.

Recommended Reads:

So that’s the difference between AirPods and AirPods Pro!

I was reading this blog post over on the Klipsch blog and came across a bit that totally explains the difference between AirPods and AirPod Pros. One seems to be an earbud while the other qualifies as an earphone.

AirPods Pro

Earbuds are usually plastic and one-size-fits-all. Depending on the shape of your ears, these features can have an unstable, uncomfortable fit. For this reason, they can fall out frequently, especially during exercise. Since earbuds rest on the outside of your ear canal, they let in more ambient noise.

Earphones go past your concha and extend into your ear canal, thanks to silicone tips attached to the earphones themselves. This design creates optimal noise isolation, allowing you to enjoy your music more clearly and at a lower volume. It also makes your earphones less likely to fall out of your ears compared to earbuds. Plus, most earphone packages offer different Continue reading “So that’s the difference between AirPods and AirPods Pro!”

Apple & Steve Jobs defined mobile in the 2010s

Chetan Sharma, a very influential mobile industry analyst every year polls the industry insiders including leaders of some of the biggest and most important networking and telecom companies. He seeks their opinions on the year that was, and what to expect in the year to come.

“Over the course of the decade, the number of connections more than doubled, smartphones jumped 20x, and cellular data traffic grew 333,000 times,” Sharma points out in his report. “In 2020, 44 Zettabytes of digital information will be created. Over 420 Exabytes of mobile data traffic (which btw will grow 15x+ in the next 5 years).”

Person of the year: Steve Jobs. Despite being only a small part of the decade, his vision and his product roadmap defined the decade and was the overwhelming favorite for the person of the decade (only executives who have been chosen person of the year in prediction

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[Photo Set] Foggy in Porto

Porto, Portugal is one of my favorite cities. It also happens to be the home of Veniam, a company backed by True Ventures and I sit on the board of the company. So every year, at least once if not twice, I end up in the city, to enjoy its lovely landscapes and generous dollops of art and culture. Of course, on some days, Porto gets fogged in, and then it becomes a wonderful location for photography. I made these photos with Fuji xPro2 and Fuji f2/35mm (50 mm equivalent) lens in 2015. If you took away my SL, I would say xPro2 would be a replacement camera. Fuji’s RAW files are too saturated for my liking, but the same files make for a great option for B&W photographs – nice and contrasty.

A Decade of Self-Control

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. 

Charles Dickens (1859)

The start of a new decade is a good enough reason to start afresh and shed the bad habits of the past ten years. The 2010s will (or should) go down as a decade where the growing confluence of human capabilities (or, perhaps more accurately, limitations) and technological progress led to situations that can politely be called complicated.

At the start Continue reading “A Decade of Self-Control”

Best of the 2010s: Some of my favorite pieces from the last ten years

At the end of 2009, I launched a personal blog. It was hosted on ommalik.com, then omis.me, and eventually finding home at this final domain, Om.co. It has been my homestead on the web for almost a decade and has survived the vagaries of the modern Internet. Social networks may have taken some of the shine off the blogs, but they are still part of my thinking process. Thank you all for stopping by. Before the decade comes to a close, I would like to take a moment and share some of my favorite pieces from the last ten years.

Not all of them are long essays. Some of them are just brief wishes for better things. In 2010, we were on the cusp of the New Now. And the realtime Internet was in need of an off switch. I think Apple figured this one out and Continue reading “Best of the 2010s: Some of my favorite pieces from the last ten years”

No more 8tracks

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash

A very long time ago, I met David Porter, and we talked about music and its future. We talked about streaming and the romance of mixtapes. I wrote about his startup, 8tracks. If it was a great and clever idea, from an entrepreneur who loved music and its nuances. David is one of the good guys, so I rooted for him. Unfortunately, like movies, not all startups have a happy ending. Today, David announced his heart-rending decision to let go of 8tracks. Tomorrow, the music will stop. It is sad. If you want to know why it happened, just read David’s autopsy of his startup journey. It will be easy to blame the economics of the music industry or the growing dominance of Spotify. But in reality, there are more forces at work. David writes eloquently about the hard truths of an on-demand, Continue reading “No more 8tracks”

ReBirthday No. 12

Today is the 12th anniversary of my heart attack. Or as I like to call it, my ReBirthday. I don’t have any profound words, except I am really glad that I don’t smoke anymore. Or that I am eighty percent vegetarian. I am also glad that I have picked up hobbies that force me to walk every day. Today is a good reminder of fickleness of life. We don’t have enough time, and yet we have enough of it to change things. Here are my notes from #11

December 27, 2019. Michigan

2019: My visual journey

As the year — and the decade — comes to a close, I reflect on how things have changed over the past five years. I shed the old skin, entered a new profession, and found a new creative outlet. I try not to talk as much about my professional progress. As writing about technology became less of a professional focus, it is hardly surprising that I began spending more of my creative energies on photography. 

Since the accidental start of my journey five years ago (thanks to Vincent Laforet), I have been taking small steps toward answering the why of my photography

Earlier this year, I got a chance to spend time with visual artist extraordinaire Susan Burnstine, and the conversation proved to be transformational. Susan builds her cameras and her lenses, as they help her recreate her dreams. As she told me her story, I felt Continue reading “2019: My visual journey”

Why we need to feel the photos

Faroe Islands

There are more than 35,000 digital files in my photo library, and the number keeps growing. Though, it ticks up at a little slower pace than it did a few years ago. Even though I go out with my camera more often, I come back with fewer photos. I have become much more intentional and patient about finding the photo before capturing it.

The intentionality has come because I have started to be able to see my desired image in my mind before the camera and lens capture it on the sensor. And I would argue that the processing of the images has something to do with this. I now know the feeling and the emotion of an image and how to use tools such as Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop to create it on the desktop — or the Darkroom App on my iPhone.

This would be

Continue reading “Why we need to feel the photos”

7 Sins of remote meetings 

When reading Christian Heilmann’s blog this morning, I came across his list of seven sins of meetings with remote participants. It really resonated with me. I am in a remote meeting at least once — if not more than once — every day. I am a huge Zoom user. Whether it is chatting with founders or being on other conference calls, Zoom has become an indispensable tool. And at some point, I have experienced or, I confess, committed these sins:

  1. Thou shalt not forget about the agenda or deviate from it.
  2. Thou shalt not cancel meetings shortly before they start.
  3. Thou shalt not all speak at the same time.
  4. Thou shalt not keep your mic on when you are typing.
  5. Thou shalt not abandon the chat.
  6. Thou shalt not assume people can see your presentation clearly – or at all.
  7. Thou shalt not scribble on whiteboards and assume people can Continue reading “7 Sins of remote meetings “

The most important OS is….?

If you answered that question by muttering, Windows, obviously, then you are wrong. Instead, look at the little device in your pocket for a clue. All right let me make it easy for you. Unix. Paul McCellan over on the Cadance Community website makes a case for Unix, with a little history lesson. It is worth a read.

Failure is part of learning

I couldn’t sleep. Dreaming some dreams that were neither good nor memorable, I kept tossing and turning. At 4 am, I gave up and got up to make myself a cup of tea and read a bit. I got through about 30 pages of Working by Robert Caro before deciding to go out. I wanted to make photos, even though the forecast was a bit meh. No rain. No fog. Nothing atmospheric. Clouds without character. Not even a good sunrise. I still decided to go. I texted my friend Tim, and off we went to Mount Davidson Park.

Lack of sleep and medication that still had not flushed out of my system made it difficult to walk up the gentle incline. Nevertheless, when we reached the top, I stood right next to that once-famous tree that is now shunned and pushed aside and watched the city, its blinking lights and

Continue reading “Failure is part of learning”