Category Archives: Blumbers

Weekly Commentary

Jun. 9, 2013 Blumbers



In a democracy, a government listens to its people. This week, we found out it really listens. I think there might be a whole new range of government services available. Does this mean we can get a discount on our Family and Friends Surveillance plan? Is the sound quality so bad because every call is a conference call? Do I have to share a pizza when I order one, if so who tips? Can they call and remind me when I’m late for meeting? Can I get a transcript of the conversation with my neighbor about getting my lawnmower back? Do you press star after punching the coordinates for a drone strike?

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.


May 19, 2013 Blumbers

Google Glasses

Google’s event in San Francisco last week had lots of people wearing those Google glasses. People were taking pictures just by winking and uploading them, including the restrooms! Obviously some details need to be worked out.

As a photojournalist I have some guidelines. There is nothing subtle about how I take pictures. I photograph people in public places. I have a camera around my neck. I usually introduce myself as a member of the press and ask if I can take their picture. Since they are attending a public event to be seen, they usually agree. If not, I move on. There are lots more people to meet.

I don’t post every picture I take. I try to edit out the closed eyes, open mouths and awkward expressions. I am trying to take this best possible picture of you with the equipment and time available. Sadly, there will be day when you won’t be around anymore, and your family may want a good picture of you. Hopefully I will have it.

Google Glasses take pictures but it seems more like surveillance than art. At this rate, we may create a transparent society that nobody is ready for. I am hoping for a reasonable solution.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 12, 2013 Blumbers

Commodity Or Oddity

When does something become a commodity? When it is mass produced and widely available or measured in bulk. The term is usually meant to degrade or discount something, like saying information or skills are a commodity. A way to avoid becoming a commodity is to be the oddity. This is more than being what some call a unique individual. That is such a redundant term. An individual by its very definition is unique. What makes you different, extraordinary? Can you create something that no one has seen before? Should you learn to do the same thing over and over or innovate? Do you want to be a commodity or oddity?

Cue Randy Newman’s song “I’m Different.”

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 28, 2013 Blumbers

Signed Pictures

Some people just don’t get it. This week, someone contacted me and wanted to use my pictures without my permission. They wanted me to remove my name on my pictures. They said it made it very difficult for them. I was astounded but calmly explained things. There are many reasons why I put identifying information on my pictures. It helps people contact me when they want permission. The number helps find the picture among the thousands I take every year. It helps give credit where credit is due. Artists sign their work. News organizations usually put their logos and a byline on their work. Organizations hosting press events usually have a speaker with their logos visible on a screen in the background. Reasonable people understand this.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 21, 2013 Blumbers


“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus

“Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

“There are a lot of good people in the world. Be one of them.” – DJ Cline

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 14, 2013 Blumbers

Wanted: Ballerina Brain Surgeon Rocket Scientist

The good news about the recovering economy is the disappearance of the impossible position posted online. In hard times companies consolidate several positions into one unlikely person. This is where you see a job posting that asks for a ballerina that is also a brain surgeon and a rocket scientist. Most candidates will do only one set of skills really well. Realistic job postings result in reaching realistic goals.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 31, 2013 Blumbers


Somebody asked how many pictures I have taken of people over the years. I’ll have to go back and check. It could be thousands, maybe tens of thousands. Many people use my pictures for their social media. Some wish they could use them on their driver’s license.

I have often wondered why California’s Department of Motor Vehicles does not allow people to bring in their own pictures. It would be similar to the personalized license plates they already sell. The US State Department allows you to send in your picture for your passports, why not the DMV?

They could charge more like they do for the license plates. The state could use the extra money and people would have an image they like. Get ready for the glamour shot ID.

Just a suggestion from the DJMV(tm).

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 24, 2013 Blumbers

The Charge of the Online Brigade

Into Silicon Valley Linked The 500…

This week the 500th person connected to me on LinkedIn. I meet hundreds of people a week and could have reached it years ago, but I wanted the list to grow one person at a time. Thanks everyone who took the time to connect with me. I have learned much from you.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 10, 2013 Blumbers


As another sign that the English language is being twisted beyond all recognition, some very nice person visited this site and “favorited” it. This the word the social media company used, not the user. I suspect it is too late to start using the word “favored.”

I’m also not liking the way social media use the word “like.” When news of some natural disaster reaches me, I do not want to “like” the bad news.

So, due to deteriorating usage, liking favoritidism is flatteration but a bad case of awkwardity.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 3, 2013 Blumbers

The New Wireless Wave

I used to take notes when I covered an event. It is easier to take a picture of a slide than to scribble it in a notepad. It is more accurate and I understood why other people were doing it too. People in the audience would raise their phone and take a picture. Lately people have raising their iPads to take a picture. If several people in the same row take a picture at the same time, it looks like they are doing the wave at a sporting event or making a bid at an auction.

It occurred to me that some tablet maker could put a crowd on some bleachers and give some sort of Jumbotron display like you see at North Korean political rallies. Somewhere there is a Youtube video waiting to be made.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 24, 2013 Blumbers


I support organizations that award scholarships, but it would be even better if everyone had access to a good education. Technology can create that opportunity. Online or distance education seems like the only practical answer to educate seven billion people.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 10, 2013 Blumbers

Phone Photos

I learned that John E. Karlin, Designer of the 20th Century Telephone, Dies at 94.

I created some squares of telephones. I have no trouble finding phones from 1900, but it seems impossible to find a cell phone from 1990. Doug Wray saw the pictures and noticed how little the form factor changed. I wonder if there are any lessons to be applied to wireless devices?


Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 3, 2013 Blumbers

The Lensman’s Cameras

I’ve used every sort of camera imaginable. I made the transition from film to digital images years ago. I avoided using cameras built into computers and phones because of the poor quality. Recently the image quality has improved to the point that I am considering using a mobile device. It will simplify the entire process, but I will miss a dedicated camera.


Note: The camera will be returned.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 27, 2013 Blumbers

Help Unwanted

It was revealed in legal action this week that some high tech firms had gentleman’s agreements not to poach each others’ employees. It is strange to hear captains of industry talk about market forces attracting the best talent and then discover them trying to subvert it. One the great things about Silicon Valley was supposed to be your ability to walk across the street and get a better job.

On the other end of the scale are companies nobody wants to work for. They have ads on websites all the time. They spam anybody on their mailing lists. One of their representatives showed up at an event and essentially begged for resumes. They even asked former employees to come back. They burned through so many people that the company has to go further and further afield to find anyone who has not heard of them. They cannot even place people in popular outsourcing countries.

They discovered too late that there are only so many talented people with a special set of skills and passion. How will these companies get out of their predicament? Make things right with people or lose their edge and close their doors. Good people don’t just cost more, they are priceless.

Until then they need to put up a “Help Unwanted” sign.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 20, 2013 Blumbers

The Fluper Bowl

Everybody has been affected by the current flu epidemic, even football players. In order draw a wider audience I think the Super Bowl should be renamed the Fluper Bowl. The football would be a Kleenex box covered in leather and the opposing teams would fight for tissues. Nurses and hospital beds would be waiting just beyond the goal posts. The players would wear jerseys displaying their current body temperatures. The half time show would display slides of the players blood work ups. Players would be tested for using antibiotics instead of steroids. The winning coach would be dowsed with Nyquil from a cooler. Winning players would turn to the cameras an announce that they were going to the Mayo Clinic.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 13, 2013 Blumbers

Early Observer Late Adopter

While I follow emerging technology, I don’t always ride on the band wagon. Here is a cautionary tale. I wanted to photograph some old brick cell phones, the kind used by Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. I tried contacting all the people I knew from that time who had those cell phones. They are all dead.

Now I should say they were all what many would call Type A personalities. They were driven professionals who wanted to keep on top of things. I should see if they died of heart attacks rather than cancer, but it does give one pause. I was the one of the last people I know to get a cell phone.

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jan. 6, 2013 Blumbers

Hitting 500

I created my 500th banner last week. Every time you visit this website you should see something different. A new banner will be posted almost every day. There seems to be no discernible pattern except that all the images fit in a horizontal format. The images leading up to 500 include some of the cameras and computers I used to create them. There is also a 501st image recognizing the designer Doug Wray’s work on this site.

What next? Squares.

Note: Removing the color from a photograph can say a lot. Just like taking off your hat. :-D

Copyright 2013 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 30, 2012 Blumbers

A Very Good Year

It was a good year. I met many of my personal and professional goals. I was grateful to be recognized with the Touchstone award and named Fellow by STC and Senior Fellow by SVForum. I hope to keep learning about the world changing around us.

This website continues to serve its purposes. I have photographed thousands of people and created hundreds of banners this year alone. I have been asked to keep writing more funny stories. Everyday you will see something new. I will not rule out using other social media to get the word out, but it will have to be worth the effort.

Thanks to what I learned this year at the Human Document Project at Stanford, everything I’ve done will be available for a very very long time.

Until then, I will continue to be a restless spirit and keep right on going.

“Where we will we’ll roam.” – from Hoist The Colours

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 23, 2012 Blumbers

The Social Elephant

Earlier this year Facebook bought Instagram, a way for people to show their photographs. Last week Instagram announced a change in the terms of service. It said a lot of things but many people interpreted it as Instagram owns your pictures and could put them in ads without paying you, or even telling you. Social network companies have a history of selling stuff you give them. The solution is not to give it to them. This is one very good reason why I have my own website to display my images. My site, my images, my intellectual property.

I was never on Friendster, MySpace or Facebook. I am barely on Twitter and LinkedIn. I don’t need social media to be social. I already know a lot of people and most of my life takes place off the social radar. There are limits to social media. I’ll give you an example.

A few days ago a friend called and said they got a call from a recruiter for Company X. They asked me if I knew anything about it. I went to several holiday parties and by the end of the night I found out what my friend needed to know about the job and the company. Maybe it was not as efficient as checking social media on my phone every few seconds but it was definitely more fun. I like being really social, not virtually.

What no one seems to talk about is the social elephant in the room. It takes a village to manage social media. I have people who monitor my few social media accounts because I am busy meeting people in person. They sort out all the retweets about cats playing piano and pass on the few bits that I have told them I am really interested in. One day a nice woman sent a story about an elephant to me. It actually went to one of my new young monitors who passed it on to me. He thought it was important because elephants are sacred to him and his family. While I completely missed whatever point was being made by the woman, I learned something wonderful when he invited me to his family holiday event. The pictures were amazing!

I learned something about my young friend and he learned not to forward things not on my list of interests.

In the end it may be best to live your real life in the real world with real people. I will now step away from the machine and do just that. Happy Holidays!

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 16, 2012 Blumbers

Remembering Richard Taylor

My friend Richard Taylor passed away last October. It has taken me this long to write about him. What follows is the formal information followed by a personal funny story about him.

Richard Taylor was the Senior Software Developer at SenSage Inc. a startup company that develops Enterprise Security Analytics software. Before that he was he was the Architect for the IBM Red Brick Data Warehouse, Informix, Red Brick Systems, Data-Cache, and DEC in various database development positions. Taylor was also a dedicated member of SDForum. He was a founding chairman for the Business Intelligence SIG and also worked on the website and Kitchen Cabinet committees to create the new SVForum. He was a very good friend to many of us.

The Funny Story

In the early days, the Business Intelligence SIG met at a community center, the kind of place that usually has nice quiet yoga classes. Our speaker was just beginning to explain a complex way to analyze unstructured or big data when the singing began.

This was not your average quiet folk singing. It was loud. Really loud. It was so loud I expected dolphins off the coast of Monterrey and dogs in Portland could hear it.

Richard looked at me and I left to find the source. I went down the hall and looked in the window of a door and saw a woman dressed up with her spear and magic helmet rehearsing Wagner with some guy playing a piano. I stepped away from the window, worried that it might break if she hit a particularly high note. She was probably very good, but to my untrained ear it sounded like a Teutonic car alarm.

I returned to the SIG meeting and stood next to Richard standing in the back of the room. I scribbled in my notepad for him to see:

“She is singing about the end of her world. It looks like a case of SIG versus Sigfried.”

He looked up at our speaker struggling to be heard over the singing and showing slide after slide of complex equations and formulas. He took my pen and notepad and scribbled back:

“Math versus Myth.” and then added “I wonder what HER slides are like?”

I laughed so hard that I could be heard over the singing. The singing stopped.

I learned that night that it is not over when some lady sings, it is just the beginning. You keep right on going and eventually she stops. Richard’s work building a community led to a better understanding of big data analytics and the world around us. He is missed but his work will go on.

Additional Comments:

Jonathan Baer “A real loss for his family, friends and the community.”

Joe Jasin “I cherish the note.”

Ron Lichty “Great story. Richard was a dedicated contributor to our community. And he was also always such a source of good cheer.”

Kim Murray “I love this story!!!!  It really captures, how special Richard was – and his subtle sense of humor. I remember being in that same room at an event, when he came in with a broken toe, from dropping a bowling ball on his foot. He was always so engaged in so many activities – and so funny and so passionate about his work and family.”

Kimberly Wiefling “Beautiful, DJ. Thank you for taking time to share this with us.” –

Taylor Richard 2 copy.jpg

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 9, 2012 Blumbers

Banner Scanner

Doug Wray told me there are now some 465 of my banners randomly displayed on this website. Every time you refresh the website you will see a different banner. Most of them are digital images from the past ten years. There are hundreds more on film that have yet to be scanned in. It will take some time but it should be worth it. Stay tuned.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 2, 2012 Blumbers

STC Renewal

I have renewed my membership in the Society for Technical Communication. I recommend you renew as well. Earlier this week I got a message from a recruiter who was trying to fill a tech writer position in Japan. I happened to know someone who knew someone who someone etc. With all the technology for social networking out there, it all came down to people meeting and connecting in person. STC has been doing social networking for over half a century. With our continued membership it will help the next generation of technical communicators get their next job. Renew today.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 4, 2012 Blumbers

Hurricane Sandy

The future is now in your hands.

There is nothing like a hurricane destroying a large section of the East Coast to focus the mind on the role of government. A big country is going to have a large government. People who keep talking about the Founding Fathers forget that two hundred years ago the United States had only three million people living on the east coast. We now have over three hundred million people living from the Atlantic to the middle of the Pacific. Helping all those people means taxing people who most benefited from all of our hard work.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, it is time to admit that the waters around you have grown, and grow up. Vote.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.