As I was driving around the Streets of Silicon Valley- I stumbled upon yet another in the many contenders for self driving cars. This is a Chinese company with a presence in Cupertino called Roadstar.ai.
I’ve been trying to dump all relevant stock photos from a month of stock shootin’ on the web. A while back Godaddy- one of my hosts, changed some settings screwing up my “imagefarm” that I setup a couple years back.
But alas, I finally found the setting and fixed it.
So here’s a Lightroom Web Gallery for last May:
A Bitcoin ATM
That Android Graveyard again
Mercedes-Daimler Silicon Valley Research
GM- Cruise Automation
Legion of Honor
Alphabet Waymo Chrysler minivan in the wild
Intel’s “Garage” in Silicon Valley
Yesterday I hit the jackpot doing the Silicon Valley paparazzi thing. First off, I visited Intel’s “Garage” for their self driving car project. I read there was a media event there the day before. When I arrived it looked like the event was still in swing. Delphi’s self driving Audi was being demonstrated and another white vehicle with the give away Lidar setup on the roof was visible in the distance. Walking up the rather terse security guard asked if I had a badge. “No” – well than you can’t come in!
But alas, I had my new Sigma 150-600mm contemporary I purchased with this sort of thing in mind. Fortunately, Delphi’s “Intel Inside” Audi Q5s is plastered with logos of the various suppliers to the project, Intel, MobilEye, Vehicle 2 Everything, Ottomatika, and a big “Self-Driving Vehicle” notice on the back. Why that’s fortunate, is that unlike most other Self driving cars I’ve stalked, Delphi’s doesn’t have the big Lidar bucket atop. Instead, If you look closely at the full resolution photos, you can see cameras and sensors all over. Not only the more obvious ones in the rear view mirror assembly, but also in various subtle spots I would likely miss walking past this vehicle under normal circumstances.
After my parking spot expired, I moved on to Google in search of the ever illusive new Waymo Chrysler self driving minivan. And this time I found them! In fact, the new Pacifica minivans were so common- it’s my guess that was the reason I didn’t see a single one of those super-cute “pod cars”, perhaps all the “drivers” are busy testing the Chryslers?
And last but not least, I stumbled upon the robot security guard at Microsoft’s Mountain View Campus.
The Knightscope robot is a bit overly cute, it even has a soundtrack with a futuristic sound.
Greetings from Silicon Valley!
And speaking of vintage technology…. with the lightbox setup already in place, I figured there were some other vintage tech items to photograph.
I’d recently purchased a 16mm film reel from Urban Ore as a prop. So I tried a few of the yellow/blue polarizing filter shtick like with the cassettes.
The effect isn’t as dramatic, because there isn’t enough of the clear plastic to do the rainbow effect. But I did like the general hues given the background.
I also really like the plain pattern of the film with the backlight peeking through and the slight curve of the lines.
I also had a good time playing around with the film leader.
Unfortunately, my light table is too small to show the entire reel.
Dropping a color gel behind the setup added a bit of drama.
Looking at some of these, I thought they might work well as book covers, so I made up a simple mock book jacket as a sample of how I think these images could be used.
I’ve got all these cool old analogue items around me. Truth is I’m something of a hoarder- especially when it comes to gadgets and tech stuff.
At some point recently I thought it would be fun to plop some of my old cassettes with clear plastic cases on a light table.
Then add a little rainbow effect with double polarization.
And if that wasn’t enough- I used a yellow-blue polarizer for following effects (see two photos below.)
A robot just made my espresso! A quick stock photo excursion brought me to the newish Robo-cafe in San Francisco’s Metreon.
Cafe X is clearly intended as a prototype or a publicity stunt. There’s actually a human watching over the entire operation. And there’s no way I can see that they’re even able to cover rent at San Francisco’s Metreon selling a couple hundred espresso drinks at ca. $3/ea.
But it was fun watching the “Barista” nick-named Gordon at work making my espresso and cappuccino. Best of all he doesn’t accept tips!
(and check out this video)
Recently I stumbled upon a story by the British publication The Guardian warning that sea level rises threaten Google, Facebook and other tech titans‘ fancy buildings. I’m not a big climate skeptic, but this article really appeared to have some major factual errors and was designed to alarm and incite.
First off, they start with a map of the San Francisco Bay with selected tech companies dotted along the coast- then a second map with where the coast would be with a 6’ sea level rise. What’s wrong with that picture? First off, they don’t point out that 6’ is the most pessimistic estimate for the year 2100! I’m reminded of the steamroller scene in Austin Powers.
Scientific American published a similar story in 2012 with some easily verifiable errors and some golden quotes like: “’They don’t think long-term’” (duh, the lifespan of SV companies is about as long on average as mice,) and this rather curious quote: “….Silicon Valley is 3 to 10 feet below sea level…..” There may be an exception here and there, but the VAST MAJORITY of Silicon Valley is not below present sea level, or even very close. You can poke around the map of SV with this tool for the actual height above sea level as could Scientific American if they cared to fact check anything.
Let’s put this in perspective…. Why don’t we look back about a century and ask about the status of the biggest companies of the day?
In researching this, I found that the Fortune 500 list is only available starting in the year 1955. As you might have guessed- many of the companies on that list only 61 years ago are gone or forgotten. Number one on the list was GM, that narrowly avoided collapse by government intervention a decade or so ago. I don’t even think it’s worth the time to research, but I’m assuming that many of those companies HQ’s have been bulldozed, burnt down, or more likely sold and reused for another purpose.
Another way of looking at this: If I told you that MySpace HQ was near a fault line and would likely collapse in an 8.0 or greater earthquake you would likely either 1) ask “what’s Myspace?” or b) say why should I care, they can retrofit, or move or go out of business for all I care.
Of the historical tech companies of Silicon Valley we have some remnants. But not much is left- including interest by the young and wealthy hipster class that writes that dribble. You can visit the house in Los Altos where the first Apple computers were built. You can see the garage where HP got their start. But if you do, you will usually only see a couple of die-hard tech fans. And most of the sites where Silicon Valley history was made are lucky to have a brass plaque. Visitors to Silicon Valley are likely to breeze past.
It’s easy to get caught up in the here and now. Yet we can look at things in perspective. Empires rise and fall- so does sea level. Though we should take adequate measures to avoid problems, the fate of a bunch of the playgrounds of the ueber rich in a century shouldn’t be on our list of priorities.
It’s no wonder Google is changed their name to Alphabet. Their business endeavors are a veritable alphabet-soup so as to have a hand in just about every subject under the sun. I’m a regular chaser of self-driving cars and do my share of stalking the Googleplex and document other Google’s fingers in various pies.
But Google also has a project within earshot of my house on my fair Island-city of Alameda. They bought out Makani- an alternative energy company that has an unusual way of generating wind energy. The concept basically is flying up a “wind kite” that once reaching a high-ish altitude where the wind is stronger and spins around sucking up more wind energy while tethered to the ground.
Today Makani was testing out one of their kites when I was driving back from a meeting at Rockwall. They even started up the engines- and I realized then the sound of which was one of the mysterious sounds we occasionally hear at our house!
I took the opportunity to get a few shots (and even some crappy stock video) of the tests in action. I spied a colorful Google bike way off in corner of the lot complete with a pirate flag and parked nearby to get a shot of the bike and kite together.
There I noticed a gal in a blue hardhat with a video camera and a dSLR pointed at the kite. She came over and we had a nice chat. I’m so used to the Google people shouting (figuratively) “get off my lawn!” So it was a pleasant change of events. In any case she introduced herself as Andrea and a quick search came up with her blog… check it out here.
Another gap in my photo library was temporarily patched. I’d been meaning to give a visit to
Google’s Alphabet’s Youtube HQ in San Bruno for a while. And this time I was just passing through anyhow.
Turns out another subject on my list was right across the street. Walmart eCommerce HQ is a long way from (Ar)Kansas – apparently they are willing to spend top dollar for a spot in our high rent district.
As is often the case, this isn’t a particularly interesting subject to look at. That having been said, these sort of stock photos are among the most used of those I’ve taken. Seldom do photos I’m proud of actually see the (back)light of screens around the world.
Lighting was less than ideal and I’m sure I’ll go back for a repeat sometime. But at least I’ve got this covered. But how a company can make the fortune 500 list by hosting largely millions of funny cat videos remains a mystery to me.
On my way back from some other business I opted to take a detour through San Bruno. Searching for the address of YouTube, I stumbled upon a Business Insider article that Walmart’s eCommerce HQ was next door. Two
birds HQs, one stone parking spot.
Once again, not the most interesting subject. But I got the usual logo closeups and the like that tend to sell. Another box checked off, yay!