The New Facebook HQ

Updated Drobo Review

I’ve been playing with one of the New Drobos — the much faster Thunderbolt version, and they are very good! I have since updated my Drobo Review here on the site for you to enjoy.

Daily Photo – The New Facebook HQ

I had a fun afternoon walking around the new Facebook campus when I was recently there. Here’s a quick one! :)

The New Facebook HQ

The New Facebook HQ

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/5.6
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length14mm (14mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

View Comments

On Talent and Curiosity

I’ve thought about this a while before writing it. There were many jumbled thoughts and the shapes of certain truths, and I’ve done my best to sculpt them into something tangible.

So I had a lovely dinner with Vic Gundotra at his home. I actually wasn’t going to mention it at all until he did first. I don’t know what to do in these situations since there doesn’t seem to be any protocol, and I didn’t want to see internet-gauche. And so, here I am, after the seal has been broken, telling you some interesting things about our dinner.

We talked about everything from aesthetics to technology to time dilation to sociology to string theory to channeling emotions into creative output. Along these lines, I found out many things I never would have suspected, and it made me think more deeply about these notions of talent and curiosity.

Vic sat on the couch (after sending his well-trained son to the wine-cellar!) with some cheese and crackers, and vest and wry smile, and began to tell me something I never knew. It turns out that he has taken years and years of guitar lessons. He’s even had a private instructor come over to his home time and time again. He played proficiently, but one day after a straightforward question, his teacher gave him the bad news. Vic shifted in his seat and looked forlorn when he said, defeated, “I have no talent for it.”

And then later, towards the end of dinner, he told me about all the camera equipment he carries with him when he travels. He has more lenses than a Nat Geo crew jammed into his backpack, which means he is well beyond a “serious enthusiast.” Again, there is a tiny sadness in him that he can’t quite create the kind of images he really wants. There’s no doubt he’s got many winner-shots of his family in there, but I can tell there is more he wants to do with all that equipment. He has been unable to achieve the excellence he wants. Then, the topic turns to me, and he finds out that I’ve been at this for only a short time, and he chalks this up to the ever-intangible “talent.”

The conversation meanders naturally from subject to subject as we travel down various paths. He talks about time and people and the internet and the tendrils that connect them all. It’s more of a poem than a technical dissertation. He puts ideas into the shape of a cloud, shapes them with his hands, and then floats them across the room, only to offer up another.

His son comes down and Vic starts sharing some of my photos with him. He tells his son, with eyebrows high, “Trey has only been doing this for five years.” His son’s eyes get big, but I do my best to dismiss this by saying, “You can do a lot in five years if you’re curious enough.”

And then Vic goes back to talking about the connections between all of us, and how he and the team want to, essentially, enhance the humanness and connectivity of everything. He jumps between metaphors that bind together the theoretical and the practical. While he speaks with placid erudition, I can see glowing lines connecting the words and ideas that stretch into the future.

And while he shapes thoughts, I feel the edge of an idea. He has, in essence, a “talent” — but certainly not one with which anyone would be born, as talent is normally assumed to be divinely implanted. No one would ever be born with a “talent” for building social networks; there is no inborn talent to naturally work with a team to re-organize the web from pages to people. But certainly, one could say, that Vic has a talent for it. And maybe this is where curiosity comes into play.

Curiosity may be another word for “playful work.” I think all of us kind of stumble through life until we find something that resonates. And then, maybe, if you’re lucky, the curiosity will kick in and let you create what has never been created. The curiosity can help you find disparate parts of a whole and re-synthesize them into something that’s unique, unexpected, and wonderful.

So, Vic is “interested” in playing the guitar and photography, but he hasn’t let his curiosity run wild there yet. Over the past few years, his curiosity has been using up all his brain cycles over in the human-connection tech space. But a curious mind will wander, and maybe someday he’ll be able to release and explore other areas. The curiosity does require letting go and becoming one with the flow of the universe. I don’t mean to sound too Zen or anything, but you do have to let go of existing structured thought in order to let the curiosity blossom into something new. And I imagine this is exactly what he and the team have done with Google+ — in that they have let their minds go wild with every possible universe. And when you can see many universes in your future, you get to choose the one you want to be inside.

So I left his home later that evening and had a long ride home, thinking about everything. I can’t help but get excited like a little kid at these sorts of things. I’m not ashamed to say it. To me, these are the greatest conversations of all – those that deal within the spheres and magisterium of ideas. The notion of Vic’s mind running wild with the possibilities of what can happen when people are connected is like a waking dream.

I think about his family with him just before I left him for the night. It occurs to me that the root of all these people is that little network he holds most dear — his family as they buzz around him with ideas and thoughts and voices of their own.

And there, just inside the warm home, I see this family move about here and there, and I come to understand him even more. I feel why he is happy and curious. His wife’s smile shapes his day and his gentle kids set his mind to the dreaming realms.

A Great Day at the Google HQ! Wow that was a cool experience.  Those guys and gals over there are super-nice.  You never know...  I guess maybe Google seems somewhat intimidating from the outside, but after I met guys like Cliff, Brian, and Chip -- I felt right at home.I gave an hour-long talk in one of their theaters there.  It was super-packed and people were standing all around because seats were gone.  We were graced with the presence of one Sara Jane Todd from @Peachpit to help out selling books - and we sold out!  Also, my Brazilian friend Fabio, the editor of Abduzeedo was there too, so it was great to see him.The Authors@Google (video link) program has a neat deal where they subsidize books, so Googlers don't have to pay full price.  I saw all kinds of cool stuff and took a lot of pics.  I have to get most cleared with Google Corp Comms before I can release... but I nabbed shots of a spaceship, a new pseudo-holodeck, and more mysteries await!  We even got to eat lunch there in the Google cafeteria, which had some of the most excellent food I've ever had in such a setting... they even have a small organic farm on the campus... well, I could go on and on...  but I was very impressed and happy to meet so many enthusiastic people!The video should be done in the next 2-3 weeks or so.  We've got good-man Brian at Google slaving away on editing the whole thing together!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

View Comments

The Sharks are Circling Google

Multiple Layers in 100 Cameras

Now that the new version has multiple effects and an adjustment slider, I’m seeing all kinds of creative stuff! We’ve got thousands of people out there snapping up photos with 100 Cameras in 1, and it’s a blast to see some of the creations.

I saw this image on the right on Twitter.  It was created by Kamau Akabueze (click for his blog), and it came out pretty cool.  Although I’m not exactly sure how he made it, but I think he started with a black and white effect, and then started layering some of the hardlight or overlay effects before finally adding one of the heavy texture-effects.

Quick Mention on TapTapTap

Lisa Bettany’s finger looks better than mine, yes? Yes. There is little doubt about this.

She put together a video that shows off some of the cool stuff for Camera+ (You have that one too, yes? Go get it… these things are only a few dollars!)

See her video on about how to avoid blurry iPhone Photos.

Daily Photo – The Sharks are Circling Google

The very nice Cliff Redeker over at Google took me all around the campus after my Authors@Google talk. It’s a very cool campus, and I set up a for a bunch of fun shots.

I don’t know if this is supposed to be a shark fin or not, but it reminded me of all these silly recent news stories about everyone coming after Google. From the German government to other bureaucratic busybodies, things seem to be heating up. But don’t worry Google… I got your back… and so do all my friends here on StuckInCustoms! :)

Trey Ratcliff Google

View Comments

Google Street View Cars

Daily Photo – Google Street View Cars

After I was invited to speak at Google on HDR for their Authors@Google program, I visited another one of their buildings where I gave a little workshop. It was great fun! On the way over, I passed the fleet of Google Streetview cars. I set up for a shot in the awesome Mountain View afternoon skies.

I know there’s a lot of controversy over these cars. I think it’s all silly. Everyone is everywhere taking photos nowadays… whether with DSLRs, consumer cameras, or cell phones. The idea that Google can’t do what everyone else is doing in an organized way just doesn’t make any sense. I use Google street view all the time to help find my way around… it’s a huge time-saver! And, it’s super-cool on my Android phone, I must say…

HDR Photo

View Comments

Building 43 at Google – Buzz Alert

New Photos from INSIDE Google – Soon on Buzz!

I am releasing some new photos that I took while inside the Google HQ recently. I had to get them cleared by corporate communications, and now they are free to be released! You can find me on Google Buzz here. They’ll be released at some random time on the 16th…

Google Buzz – List of Photographers

Are you new to Buzz and looking for Photographers to follow? See this Photographers on Buzz list. Note, this is a BIG LIST, but I suggest you surf around it and see some people! You will likely find a few that you like… so many great photographers and artist out there – I hope this helps you to discover some new ones.

Daily Photo – Building 43 at Google

Wow I had a great time at Google! The guys and gals there I met were very nice and cool… After my Authors@Google talk, I stayed around for a while to take photos while waiting on the workshop to begin. There are sensitive areas of Google, of course, and I didn’t even try to take pictures of any of that stuff… Building 43 is the central building of the whole Googleplex. It houses the offices of Marissa Mayer (who did not show up for my talk *ahem*), Larry Page, and Sergey Brin. I wanted to pop into their offices and make unique photos of their offices for fun, but I did not want to ask on my first visit. Wouldn’t that be one of the most interesting things in the world? To see the offices of all these people? They don’t have to be awesome and all James-Bondy — even something mundane would be interesting, if captured in the right way. But I do picture Sergey stroking a white cat…

View Comments
Welcome to STUCK IN CUSTOMS Welcome to my travel photography blog!
Enjoy the daily photos, tips, tutorials & more!
Newsletter Sign Up
The Most Beautiful Newsletter Ever!