Archive for the 'work' Category

The Times Wins 5 Pulitzer Prizes

NY Times newsroom, Pulitzer announcement
Photo by Soraya.

The New York Times, my employer, won 5 Pulitzer Prizes today, “for work on subjects as varied as America’s wars in Asia, the sudden downfall of a political titan, art from ancient to modern, and a history-making presidential campaign.”

The interesting one, from my point of view, is the award for breaking the Gov. Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal. No, not because it’s salacious or bawdy, but because the exclusive wasn’t held for the next morning’s paper – it was put up online, on NYTimes.com, in the middle of the day. I think that this will be an important milestone in the evolution of quality journalism.

The Nieman Lab points to a funny anecdote that ran in the NY Observer last year:

Back in the day — you know, five years ago — when a big news story had been written, edited, fact-checked, vetted, proofread, and anguished over one last time, an adrenaline-pumped editor would cry out, “Run it!” As in, the presses.

When The New York Times was ready to report that Eliot Spitzer, then governor of New York, had been implicated in a prostitution ring, managing editor Jill Abramson yelled 20 feet across the newsroom, “O.K., hit it!” As in, the button to publish the story on NYTimes.com.

I love that. Congrats to my colleagues in the news room, and let’s keep it up!

New York Times Anthrax Scare

Who?

Equipment and officials from some government agency that I’ve never heard of, in the lobby of the New York Times Building in midtown.

The lobby of The New York Times Building, where I work, was closed this past Wednesday, after an employee on the 13th floor opened an envelope that contained a powdery substance. (The 13th floor is where the editorial board and some columnists have offices.)

It turned out to be a hoax, but for several hours the building was in near lock-down mode. Unfortunately, I decided to disregard warnings and went out to meet Lisa for lunch. When I returned, I was locked out for almost an hour, as the police had roped off the building’s entrances. Peering through the windows on the 8th Avenue side of the building, I saw a huge curtain stretched across one of the elevator banks. Some firemen went in with a stretcher, and the broadcast news media started converging on the street. (Apologies to the very friendly NY1 camerawoman, for refusing to talk to her on camera.)

All I could do was to take some photos, and wait to be let in. After about an hour, I received word from a colleague inside that they were letting employees back in through the freight elevators in the loading dock down 40th st. That was about all the fun I could handle for one day… back to work.

More Photos below the jump.

Continue reading ‘New York Times Anthrax Scare’

How Hackers Show it’s Not All Bad News at the New York Times

Apologies that this blog looks a little New York Times-y lately, but I had to share this – O’Reilly’s Andrew Savikas wrote a very interesting post on some of the interesting stuff we’re doing:

…there‘s something going on at the Times that probably won‘t make it to Silicon Alley Insider, much less the mainstream business press, and it‘s something that‘s starting to make me think the Times just might succeed in adapting to the changing rules of the media and publishing game…

So what’s the Times doing that’s so important? They’re hacking.

Savikas goes on to list a lot of examples, but the best one that I can provide is the coming release of our APIs, which will enable people on the outside to play, tinker, and mashup NY Times content. There are only a few APIs currently public, but there will be a flood of releases in the coming months.

[via Jeremy]

UPDATE: Oh man, a bit after I published this today, we launched our Visualization Lab – a partnership that uses IBM’s Many Eyes technology. More Info Here »

Ready for David Pogue

Shadows
Me, standing in, as lighting is set for a David Pogue shoot.

Today, myself and a few colleagues helped Zach Wise set up and shoot some green screen video of New York Times Technology Columnist and near-Broadway performer David Pogue. The video will be integrated into a multimedia piece that Zach and I are working on, which should be done before Thanksgiving.

This is the first real video shoot that I’ve worked on, (having in the past done a lot of voice-over work with sound engineers). What’s scary is that we did this largely by ourselves – Zach found a studio at the nearby CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, we hung the green fabric, and we set up the lighting with a little help from their engineer.

David Pogue came in a short while later, I grabbed a boom mic, and we were off to the races. It was a lot of fun, and Pogue nailed the takes – I have no idea how he did it without a teleprompter, but he had us all laughing several times. And he was very patient and friendly throughout the shoot, even when we had to embarrassingly scramble back to the office for more P2 cards.

So, that was the hard part – now we have to design and build this thing.

Economix & Green Inc. Blog Headers

The Times is in the process of beefing up its business coverage online, adding new verticals on the economy and green energy. As part of that roll out, we launched two blogs last week, and I was tasked with the header designs and illustration assignments.

I really enjoy the little bits of art direction that I get to do at the Times. It’s fun to search for the illustrators, work with them on concepts and sketches, and in the end they do all of the work.

Economix

Economix Blog header
Illustration by Headcase Design

Economix is written by David Leonhardt and Catherine Rampell, and will focus on both the global economy and the personal decisions readers make everyday.

The illustration was done by Paul Kepple’s team at Headcase Design, with art direction and design by myself.

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Farewell Sean & Louise

IMG_2875.JPG

Cupcakes! – Photo by Villafranca.

This week, the nytimes.com Design group says farewell to two really talented colleagues – Sean Villafranca and Louise Ma. Sean is leaving to become Design Director at time.com, and Louise is going to freelance, full-time.

I’m still new around these parts, but Sean and Louise made me feel at home. We’re going to miss you guys! (But, we are hiring…)

Continue reading ‘Farewell Sean & Louise’

Outlook 2007 & Gcal

I’m one of those stiffs who loves his Powerbook, but is forced by necessity (and Corporate IT) to work in Windows XP and Outlook all day. Meeting requests come in and tasks are assigned, all using Outlook. However, because I rely so much on Gmail in my personal life, I store personal events online with Google Calendar.

Everything works seamlessly on my mac, as Apple’s iCal software allows subscriptions. But there is no way to get Outlook 2003 to sync or share data in the iCalendar format… in fact, I think that Outlook stores its information in some Microsoft proprietary format, by default. I think you can import/export ICS files, but there is no subscription or publish method.

Gcal Subscribe

Gcal allows subscriptions to iCalendar feeds

I shouldn’t forget to mention the excellent open source project RemoteCalendars, which allows you to subscribe to iCalendar feeds, with a bit of tweaking. But, this wasn’t quite what I craved – I wanted to not only subscribe to my Gcal calendar, but also allow Gcal to pick up my work appointments. That way, I can get reminders of early meetings, etc., when I’m away from my work desk.

Outlook 2007 beta 2

Enter the new Office beta. Not only is this version the Bravest Software Upgrade Ever, it also added a lot of great functionality to Outlook.

Out of the box, you can subscribe to iCalendar feeds, such as those provided by Gcal, 30Boxes, or other online apps. More impressively, you can publish your calendar to either your own WebDAV server, or to Office Online directly. Then, you can subscribe to the published iCalendar feed in any online calendars that support the standard. Outlook will periodically update the published file as you make adjustments or additions to your calendar.

Publish to Internet

Outlook 2007’s Publish to Internet feature

So, now I have access to both my personal and work calendars at all times, no matter where I am. (Hell, if I wanted to pay Cingular for bandwidth, I could use GcalSync to push everything to my RAZR.)

The only real caveat is that you have to publish your Outlook calendar with “Unrestricted Access”—because Microsoft uses their LiveID technology to grant access on a per-user basis, and Gcal (or any other service) won’t be able to authenticate unless it’s public. I’m not sure how secure this is yet, but for the moment I’m too in love with this setup to let that bother me.

Another minor caveat – you’ll have to uninstall Acrobat 6, as it causes Outlook to crash a lot.

Other than that, it’s a pretty stable beta.

Digg This

Productivity

I may diss Microsoft Windows as a home Mac user, but I’ve always thought that it is a more productive OS. Working in a corporate environment on a Mac is still such a headache, probably because corporate IT is so built around MS technologies. Whatever the reason, I get things done on my work PC.

Dual-Display

It’s no secret that designers love screen real estate — but, everyone can benefit from more desktop space. There was an article in the NY Times just last week.

The company I work for is notoriously frugal, shall we say… so, a while back, I decided to break down and buy a dual-display graphics card, out of my own pocket. I even dragged in my old 19″ Trinitron monitor, which was collecting dust in the closet. For only $35, I bought an ATI Radeon 7000 32MB card, thinking that it would be sufficient as a secondary card.

Of course, as soon as I popped this into the vacant AGP slot in the Dell GX260, the computer’s on-board AGP chip was disabled. Luckily, the card has two display outputs, and it even managed to put out a resolution of 1600 × 1200 for my main display, and 1280 × 1024 for the secondary monitor, (an aging 17″ Trinitron that I “found” in an empty cubicle) — but only at 65 hz, and 16-bit color. I remember thinking that this would fry my eyes, but didn’t give it another thought.

Fast-forward 5 months — my eyes are fried by the end of the day. So, I broke down yet again, and bought a $60 PCI card, a generic GeForce MX 4000 128MB card. Now everything is crisp at 75 Hz (the max these Trinitrons can do at high resolutions), and 32-bit. Hopefully I’ll notice a difference.

Remote Desktop

VPN access is retardedly slow, (I realize I’m being redundant). So, rather than trying to work on network shares from home, I instead connect via Remote Desktop to my workstation. This allows me to have access to everything I’d have sitting at my desk, from home. This is especially handy when moving around large files on the network, or using Trados TM tools that require a dongle.

There is even a great Mac Remote Desktop Client, so there is no need for me to fire up that 4-year old Dell laptop.

One annoying thing about Remote Desktop, especially if you have multiple displays, is that when you return to your desk in the morning and log in, your icons are usually scattered across the main-display’s desktop. Thanks to Icon Restore, two clicks, and you’re back, good as new. I’d love to see NVIDIA build this into their Desktop Manager, the way ATI did with Hydravision.

Latitude

Well, I feel a bit guilty about this, but they gave me a laptop at work this week… a Dell Latitude C640, 1GB RAM, 40MB GB HD, etc. Why do I feel guilty? Well, my friend used it until she quit last week… so, it feels like someone else’s PC.

Now, I can VPN in, and work at home! Hooray!

“sacrilege” on Flickr.

Trados 6.5 dongle

dongleFor 2 years, working in Localization, I had to scramble around for a Trados dongle whenever I had to do some analysis or Translation Memory maintenance. Though I work for a major localization vendor, with global offices and almost 2000 employees, we still had to share dongles… expensive little buggers.

Today, however, I finally received my own. I was so accustomed to the old Parallel-port version, that I was excited to get my hands on the smaller USB one.

Only problem is, now I can’t use the excuse “I don’t have a dongle“, when my boss asks why I’m not working.

October Scare – 2000 Redux

What happens when you’re a new publicly-traded company, and you announce that you’re not going to meet the quarterly projections?

Stock free-fall.

  • Bad news? Lay-offs and termination. 10 people at our site, about 10%.
  • Good news? They fired some really useless people. Also, the only team mentioned in the meeting as doing well, was my team and my project.

Whew.

Still, it is scary– like it’s the year 2000 all over again. Strangely, I wore my defunct dot com fleece jacket to work today. What a bad omen.

Smart-Target

I peed into a plastic cup this morning for the first time since my job application to Wilson Farms convenience store, when I was sixteen years-old.

Why, you ask?

Well, some friends and I are going to spend the weekend driving a SmartCar around Boston, dressed in Target logos from head-to-toe. We’re supposed to make ourselves seen to all of the returning college kids, reminding them that there is a cheap place to dress up that gray-brick dorm room. I’m 26 years-old, so this is a bit embarassing.

But, It’s only 2 days, I’ll be a couple hundred dollars richer, and I get to tear around town in a car that is roughly 1/6 the size of your average SUV. Should be safe…

Last year, they gave my friends Target Vespas—but, there was an accident or two… apparently it’s safer to shill on 4-wheels.

Backup

My boss is Out of Office again this week, so suddenly Project Managers are turning to me in meetings, and asking the tough questions.

It’s been interesting… and gratifying, to know that I can manage to sound articulate and knowledgeable, when called upon.

Old Times…

Presley and I were invited out last night with my old boss, who is visiting Boston on holiday from his teaching gig in Japan. It was the usual shitty service at the Enormous Room, and then across the street for a little rock n’ roll Upstairs, courtesy A.M. Stereo and The Glow. A.M. Stereo was fun, Indie post-punk — each member singing in turn, (except the drummer, who looked like something out of Spinal Tap). The Glow was a tighter, keyboard-driven, cross-over ska outfit, which I really enjoyed — their guitarist reminded me of Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse… decide for yourself.

It was good to see Bob — I probably know him the least out of everyone last night, having just been hired a couple of months before he left. But, his stories of teaching English to Japanese kids in a small, remote village, were funny… I can’t imagine communicating, alone, in such a foreign environment. He’s a long way from Tokyo.

But, it was also good to be out with work mates — we work so hard on a daily basis, and we each have our own lives, so it’s rare that we go out for a few drinks. But, having been out with Bob last night, I have the feeling it was a lot more common before he left…

Doppelganger

Apparently, I have an evil twin in my office building… people keep telling me that they say “hello” to me, and I act as if I don’t know who the hell they are. Doppelganger!

Sales Adjustments in IT

WorldmachineRandomly browsing the web today, I found that the web shop I worked for in downtown Boston during the waning days of the internet boom, Worldmachine, appears to be back in business.

It was just about two years ago that they called all of us into the conference room to announce layoffs and that they were shutting the company down. The obvious reason given at the time, was lack of new sales.

This I still find interesting, because the excuse all sales professionals seem to offer in this dreadful economy is that the sales cycle is much longer—sometimes 18 months or more. At my new company, a company which focuses on localization and testing, my co-workers and I were treated to a sales presentation recently, in which the same kinds of excuses were offered.

Unlike Worldmachine’s woefully understaffed Sales dept., however, this team seems to be adjusting to the “new” New Economy. They’ve accepted that the IT market is a shirking pie, and that price competition is getting too cutthroat. Instead, they are looking to new verticals for growth.

In Boston, the Bio-tech boom is providing a new market in the life sciences. As drug manufacturers look to market their products overseas, partnering with a top localization firm is going to be critical. The planet’s population is only going to get older.

An interesting theory our Sales team is going to try, is to group their teams by vertical, rather than by location. Though it may have made sense a few years ago to send your Tokyo team to Hong Kong clients, and your California team to clients in Los Angeles, the reality of a long sales cycle and a need to patiently educate clients is forcing a reconsideration. Sales needs to educate themselves first—and to do that, they need more involvement from production and operations people. People like me.

The good news is, we are profitable, and I’m confident that the company I’m part of now is on sound footing. I wasn’t at all confident of that in September 2001.

W32.Welchia.Worm

It’s worm week here at my workplace. The lastest little virus is the W32.Welchia.Worm, which has attacked our internal servers here, and spread like wild fire.

The funny thing about this virus, is that it’s purpose seems to be to clean up last weeks’ mess, the MS Blast worm. The Welchia goes into a system, deletes the MSBlast virus, and tries to download a patch from Windows Update. How friendly!

At least it’s a friday — maybe we can all get out of here.

Delivery Nights

We have to deliver stuff to that certain $oftware company at 7am, and, here we are, still at work, at midnight — trying our damnedest. This certain $oftware company is a stickler about scheduling.

So, on this 18+ hour work day, I had BBQ for dinner, a few coffees, a diet coke, and 2 beers (gotta love it when the senior manager invites you to make use of his mini-fridge). And it’s 93 degrees in this fucking place.

I feel like There’s More to Life Than This.

Looking at the Work Week Through the Eyes of a Gigolo

When I leave work tonight, I will submit a timesheet that, on sum, will be greater than 90 hours for this week. 90 hours. My co-worker Akiko will exceed 100 hours.

I know we get paid by the hour, but doesn’t that strike you as a high-tech sweatshop?

Job Update

Just a little update on my current employment — I’m being taken off “contract” status, and made a temporary employee, which is terrific news. That means I don’t need to submit for a P.O. every week, which takes around a decade to process.

I need cashola. Unemployment ran out in September, don’t even ask me how I live. And the sad thing is, since I’ve got this gig, I’ve been spending like a madman. Good thing, that.

UPDATE: Miria, another contractor that I shared my cube with, quit today. I don’t think she liked sitting in front of a computer for 9 hours, doing tedious, repetitive work. God Speed… I wish I could afford to have standards!

Shoddy Flash

So, my new job involves localizing and updating Flash demos of products by a popular software corporation. The original english files were produced by said corporation, and I’m surprised at how truly spotty they are.

We were given a specification document to use as a reference, yet the original files rarely match their own spec. So I find myself rebuilding the movies, tweaking and writing action-script, and debugging… more than just swapping out a little English for Spanish.

It’s hard to imagine how these things get past their quality assurance people– the english movies are being used with the general public, as we speak. It makes me think that it’s, a) not so hard getting a job at huge software corps, & b) they don’t require you to do good work…

Although, I could be talking about the work of one person. I guess that shouldn’t count for too much.

Damn the Flavia Machine

I’m absolutely addicted to the Flavia machine here. $0.50 a cup, but a cup is like 6 oz. It’s Yum.

UPDATE: Note to self: Cafeteria closes at 1:30. You will not eat a late lunch, unless Dorito’s and Ramen out of a machine count.

A New Era

Today marks a change– I’m finally working again, albeit as a contractor, for a localization company west of Boston. Which means several things:

  1. It actually matters when I get up in the morning
  2. I have somewhere to be
  3. I am in charge of some other people
  4. The words “Flash” and “Specialist” are part of my job title
  5. I have a cafeteria that sells all kinds of hot and cold meals, very cheaply
  6. I like everyone I meet here
  7. My deadlines are intense, and there are whispers of required weekends
  8. I don’t care about that, because I’m paid hourly.

That is all. Oh, and I feel just awful commuting 20 miles every day. I am not doing my part for the environment, and I am disappointed in myself.

Fire up the Flash Skills

Good news, mes camarades! Just when I thought my job search had hit another record low, a woman from a multimedia localization company contacted me to do some Flash work.

They take English multimedia and websites, and translate them for international audiences. Then they hire people to swap out the english for the Japanese, Spanish, etc. It sounds like grunt work, but I’m just happy to say that I have another interview for next week.

A Kick in the stomach

Yes, so the other shoe dropped today, as I found out that I finished in second place for the BHCC job.

I kind of knew last week, when I called a woman there who was, up until then, giving me terrific signals. She acted very stand-offish, but polite on the phone, and I should have guessed what message was being conveyed. The VP for Communications, the big man, said that they went with someone who had more experience, (yet the person in the position now has no experience, design or technical, in making websites).

I really want to wring some necks, but obviously I am failing to convince people that I can do the job. Either that, or there is a glut of talent in Boston, and too few opportunities. I’ll go with option 2.