Category Archives: Inspiration

Thngs that inspire me and have made an impression upon me in some way

I learned to program…

I forget who exactly did, but someone not too long ago mentioned Ben Chun’s ilearnedtoprogram project, and I submitted my programming start. Apparently Ben has moved on to other things; so, I doubt that what I submitted with ever be shown at

Therefore, here is what caused me to learn how to program…

I learned to program…

using a Commodore 64 to replace my 3×5 card based stick figure animations after my Dad told me about sprites–that I could manipulate no less than 8 of them at a time!

New custom-built Wenge desk

Before I started my current position at Oracle, I took a short break from work and entered into one of my Dad’s hobbies: woodworking. Since he retired, he has assembled quite a workshop that has already produced many fine results enjoyed by family and friends. Instead of purchasing a new desk from a store, we decided to design and build my new desk ourselves. After looking over my Dad’s woodworking books on hardwood, I decided that the desk would be built out of the African hardwood Wenge.

The following pictures capture the process from sourcing the wood to realizing the finished desk. They are in chronological order.

MacBeath Hardwood
The Wenge hardwood for this project was sourced from MacBeath Hardwood‘s Berkeley location.
Wenge boards
The finished desk below began its life as a humble set of boards.
Prepare untapered leg
Some of the boards became legs.
Determine desktop grain
Other boards were selected for their grain pattern to form the desktop.
Learned a new power tool
I got to learn how to use a new power tool (i.e. a plate joiner) and apply biscuit joins.
Prepare center of desktop
At this point, my regular involvement in the project lessened quite a bit as I started my new job, but my Dad kept making steady progress.
Leg tapering jig
My Dad built a custom jig for the legs, which would become tapered along both sets of opposing sides.
Tapered legs in two dimensions
Model leg assembly
Each step involving the Wenge legs was preceded by a prototype in lesser wood.
Model leg assembly detail
Loose side assemblies
Loose bottom assembly
Before finally glueing pieces of the desk together, a dry assembly was made to confirm fit.
Securing side assembly to desktop
By now you can appreciate why my Dad insights that a woodworker can never have too many clamps (or too many gift cards to Rockler).
Unfinished grain pattern
The wood for the legs was selected to achieve a particular grain pattern, too.
Capture of 3D tampering
This shows the overall taper of the legs more clearly.
Sketching ideas for drawers and center shelf
At this point, it was clear that I needed to treat my Dad to a ØL Beercafe & Bottle Shop visit in order to spark our creativity over a Ægir Natt Imperial Porter and an Upright Engelberg Pils.
Preparing desktop underside for shelf and drawers
Unfinished side drawers
Unfinished center shelf
At this point, my Dad worked on the desk’s undercarriage.
Sanded, unfinished desktop
Here is the desktop grain pattern detail after sanding and before finishing.
Desk before delivery for finishing
Desk before delivery for finishing
Here is how the desk appeared before it was delivered to be finished by Englund Studio in Oakland.
Finished desk
Here is how the desk appeared after it was finished.
Finished shelf and drawers
So as not to draw attention away from the Wenge, the center pull-out shelf and side drawers were painted in matte black.
Finished desk
Finished desk
Here you can see the detail that my Dad put into the front of the pull-out shelf, which is held magnetically at an angle matching that set by the legs of the desk.
Finished desktop
Here is the desktop grain pattern after finishing. It’s what I get to enjoy now every time I sit down to work at home.

Now I am the very proud owner of a custom-built Wenge desk, all the more special since my Dad was essentially its maker. He was kind enough to put his wood mark on the right leg facing me as I work; so, I can glance down at any time to be reminded of this project and all I learned working at his side.

Thanks, Dad!


Every once in a while, something truly inspirational occurs. Earlier today I was able to witness one such event live with my kids via YouTube: the Mach 1.24 freefall by “Fearless Felix” (Felix Baumgartner) from over 24 miles above the earth.

The following pictures are courtesy of the iPad’s screen capture facility while watching the jump live on YouTube. They are in chronological order.

Felix Baumgartner
Vertical track
View of Earth below
Temperature and pressure
Inside closed capsule
Inside opened capsule
Stepping out
Stepping out
Stepping out
Jumping off toward Earth
Speed record achieved
Freefall short of record
Guided flight
Guided flight
Home sweet home

Although the world may have been focused on Felix (and his mom), I reminded my kids that even a seemingly individual event involves a team. This event was no different and the Stratos team is probably significantly larger than those captured on the video:

Stratos Mission Control Team

Thanks again, Felix and team, for inspiring me and my kids today, and congratulations on your accomplishments!

Adobe, Customer Experience Management and Day Software

Update 10/28/2010: Adobe successfully completes its acquisition of Day Software. Day will operate as a new product line within Adobe’s Digital Enterprise Solutions Business Unit, joining Acrobat, Connect and LiveCycle. Welcome to all my new teammates! :-)

Adobe has just announced a definitive agreement stipulating its intent to acquire Day Software. This acquisition will bolster Adobe’s leadership in Customer Experience Management, bringing Day’s industry-leading Web Content Management, Digital Asset Management and Social Collaboration applications, better known collectively as CQ, and Web scale content application infrastructure (CRX) together with Adobe’s LiveCycle, Connect and other enterprise software offerings–not to mention Adobe’s Flash Platform and industry-leading tools for creative professionals.

There is plenty to talk about in terms of how deeply aligned this acquisition is architecturally, technically and in terms of shared vision, and I plan to use this space to go into more of these details over time (e.g. synergies between Day’s targeting and optimization and Adobe Omniture‘s capabilities). However, I’m equally excited by the people involved here.

I’m looking forward to shortly being able to call folks like David Nuescheler, Kevin Cochrane and Roy T. Fielding not just industry colleagues but fellow Adobe employees. Welcome to Adobe, Day Software!

For more on Adobe’s approach to superior customer experience, I encourage you to subscribe to and/or follow @AdobeCEM.

Update 7/28/2010: The Web is all a-buzz about this acquisition, and I would say it’s with good reason. Simply put: customer experience wins and therefore customers win, which means that businesses embracing Adobe CEM increase their own profitability.

Since my brief post above, Adobe has posted a press release and FAQ about the acquisition. Rob Tarkoff, SVP and GM of Adobe’s Digital Enterprise Solutions Business Unit (or DESBU) has also posted his thoughts, offering some key takeaways to consider from this acquisition.

Adobe Community Action Week – RAFT

This week has been Adobe Community Action Week for Adobe employees globally. On Monday, I mentioned that I was looking forward to my particular action choice: RAFT. Today I had the privilege of serving local teachers with members of my team (LiveCycle) along with others from Adobe by investing time and energy into RAFT (Resource Area for Teachers).

Adobe at RAFT

RAFT provides thousands of Bay Area teachers and community groups with a wide range of interactive learning materials, enhancing math, science, technology and art programs. Materials are surplus items donated by over 1,000 local businesses and range from cardboard tubes to computers!

My Mom was a middle-school teacher for 16 years; so I know firsthand how great an impact teachers have on the lives of their students, yet how underappreciated teachers often are in broader society. So, it felt especially good to “give back” to such important individuals in the local community.

Adobe at RAFT

There were about 50 volunteers altogether and together, in just a few hours, we were able to make a significant contribution in the assembly of various kits that will be used by local teachers (e.g. glove-a-phone packs, sticker packs, etc.).

Adobe at RAFT

I was drawn, along with my project-teammates, to the adhesive paper station. Basically our task was to unroll, about 12 feet at a time, lengths of two foot wide adhesive backed white butcher paper, rolled up and rubber-banded for individual application by teachers. A full roll of this paper weighs about 350 pounds, and we proved this by finishing the better part of one roll and starting on a second, new roll before our time ran out. The photo above captures the state of the receiving bin for these individual rolls before we started with our contribution.

Adobe at RAFT

Adobe at RAFT

There were roughly four distinct tasks involved, although some of us on the team (ahem) were a bit more creative about “tasks.” :-) Unrolling was easily the most strenuous; cutting; re-rolling and rubber-banding; binning.

Adobe at RAFT

Adobe at RAFT

Adobe at RAFT

Adobe at RAFT

It may not seem like much, but when you compare the previous two images with the first bin capture, above, I’d say that we accomplished a fair bit of work. It’s fun to think about all the classroom projects that were enabled in the process, too!

Adobe at RAFT

Acts of service are always more rewarding to those who serve, and today’s experience at RAFT was no exception.

If you’re a teacher and can make your way to Sunnyvale, you should really check out RAFT. If you’re a parent of a student whose teacher can get to RAFT, consider giving a RAFT gift card. If you want to make an impact on Bay Area teachers, volunteer your time and energy at RAFT. You’ll be glad that you did!