Immersive History

Posted in Career, Media, Tech, Uncategorized, Web at 10 am

Recently Tim Bray wrote about some new VR hardware and noted that the software was from Immersive Media, a company that seemed familiar to me. Bray noted that they were in Western Canada, but I seemed to remember working with a company in Portland that was doing 360+° video with that same name. Hurry Kids! To the WayBack Machine!


Huh, would you look at that? (Not for too long, mind you. HTML from that era was made with a combination of HTML 3.2, font tags and asbestos.) They were a client for a start up web agency that I worked with 1999 to 2001 called Exact Interactive. You can tell the site was done fast and cheap, they even took the discount for us to put our own logo on the site.

Let’s count the oddities on this single page, ignoring the “gateway” page. The GIF logos at the top are atrocious and I can’t fully apologize for the glowing white edges of the RoundAbout logo. Obvious it was originally supposed to be on white, maybe it was originally supposed to use a PNG with an alpha channel, but we had to fall back?

Hey look at that titled background, clouds and a ghost grid. What were we smoking? Maybe it was the fumes from the fixing agent used in the pre-press room we were next to.

Rotating wireframe dodecahedron Ah the dodecahedron animated GIF. Since it is a wireframe you can watch it for long enough and it will seemingly, suddenly, start rotating the opposite direction.

If I remember correctly, there was a math site that had an interactive solids demo that you could rotate via the mouse. I took screen captures of that interactive display, slowly rotating the solid pixel by pixel. I then gathered the screenshots, cropped them down and compiled them into Photoshop layers to align them. I don’t think Photoshop handled animated GIFs at that time, so I probably put them into “GIF Builder v1.0“. [Pause to look at the binary data…] Nope, it was version 0.5. Wow. Okay. Moving on.

And now the piece of resistance: The site menu, placed in the bottom right corner of the page template. This is worse than looking at my high school yearbook photos. Obviously a conscious decision to buck the trend of ‘normal’ or ‘correct’ or ‘rational’ design. IT does force the user to see the whole page in order to link to another page on the site. But ultimately it did not catch on. I cannot imagine why.

Ah the Wayback Machine, what would we do without you? Probably forget our mistakes for far longer.


HIPPA, Reducing Insurance Exclusionary Periods

Posted in Career, Family at 10 am

I was looking into information about a Certificate of Credible Coverage which is a “Proof of Insurance” for healthcare.

…some people with a history of prior health coverage will be able to reduce the exclusion period even further using “creditable coverage.”

It turns out that HIPPA isn’t just about patient privacy. Its primary purpose is to allow “portability” of insurance between jobs, as long as there isn’t a break of more than 63 days of coverage. (The waiting period when you start a job doesn’t count against that.)

If I have “credible” coverage and less than 63 days of time between jobs, insurance companies are required to take that into account and reduce the exclusion period.

If I had just come from a long-term job (say 3 years or more) and had insurance during that job, a new insurance company might eliminate the exclusionary period altogether. Because I had a short job over the summer with only a month of actual coverage from Cigna, I will probably have a month knocked off my exclusionary period, bringing it down from 6 months to 5 months.

If I could get an additional certificate from the United Healthcare (insurance provider at my job of 7 years prior to last summer) I could probably get the exclusionary period waived entirely.

Here is the relevant text about HIPPA insurance portability from Labor Dept.:

…a preexisting condition exclusion can be imposed on a condition only if medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment was recommended or received during the 6 months prior to your enrollment date in the plan. As an example, you may have had arthritis for many years before you came to your current job. If you did not have medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment – recommended or received – in the 6 months before you enrolled in the plan, then the prior condition cannot be subject to a preexisting condition exclusion. If you did receive medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment within the past 6 months, then the plan may impose a preexisting condition exclusion for that condition (arthritis). In addition, HIPAA prohibits plans from applying a preexisting condition exclusion to pregnancy, genetic information, and certain children.

If you have a preexisting condition that can be excluded from your plan coverage, then there is a limit to the preexisting condition exclusion period that can be applied. HIPAA limits the preexisting condition exclusion period for most people to 12 months (18 months if you enrole late), although some plans may have a shorter time period or none at all. In addition, some people with a history of prior health coverage will be able to reduce the exclusion period even further using “creditable coverage.” Remember, a preexisting condition exclusion relates only to benefits for your (and your family’s) preexisting conditions. If you enroll, you will receive coverage for the plan’s other benefits during that time.

The portion in bold in that last paragraph is something I had never heard of before, but it could potentially eliminate waiting periods when you change jobs.


Jobs in Portland and how to find them

Posted in Career at 4 pm

1) Mail: You should certainly subscribe to Mac’s List: I am also on CyberCoders and Monster.com. I’ve also seen great results from ziprecruiter.com. I would suggest setting up a separate email account to handle these sorts of registrations, as you will get an uptick in spam when you start job hunting.

2) Twitter: find me @rossolson and look at my lists. One of the lists is for Portland employment. I also keep an eye on the #pdxjobs and search for “portland jobs -maine”

3) LinkedIn: Be sure you’re on LinkedIn and have set the options to show you’re looking for work: (Account & Settings menu – upper right corner) => Privacy & Settings => Communications => “Select the types of messages you’re willing to receive”. Put as much of your work history in there as you can using as many keywords as you can that you’re looking for. The KEYWORDS are the most important part of your resume. They are the ONLY WAY most recruiters will find you.

4) Agencies: Get in touch with at least 4 recruiting agencies. TekSystems: www.teksystems.com is one place to start. You should also contact www.vanderhouwen.com and www.roberthalftechnology.com and you might contact Triad at www.go2triad.com but they seem to have mostly programming jobs. You should get your name out to as many agencies as you can find. They make money by getting you a job. Help them make money.

5) Resume: Make sure you have your resume URL and a PDF ready to hand over. Some places like the MS Word .doc file, but fewer and fewer. I have mine available in all three. Most of the agencies will want to hide your name and contact information from the companies they are showing your resume. They can do that most easily in a Word Doc, but you can also have that version available for them. The old adage of only having a one page resume is outdated. The key is to have a long resume where people only need to read the first page to figure out why you’re applying and why they should hire you.


My Bio from Portland State

Posted in Career at 10 am

Ross Olson is the senior Web architect for Planar Systems, a leader in specialty displays, following recent stints as a producer and project manager for Hot Pepper Studios and Amazing Web Development. A graphic artist and Web developer, he has led the drive to develop Web-based tools at many local companies and organizations since 1994. His previous experience includes work for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Nikon, PGE, PacifiCorp, Fred Meyer, and Oregon Public Broadcasting. Mr. Olson teaches and lectures at universities and professional organizations, and writes articles about the Internet and Web technologies. Mr. Olson teaches the Producing Digital Media course and co-teaches the Foundations course.


What's Online

Posted in Career, Design at 3 pm


My friend Bo sent this to me. It’s a little slow, but someone put a lot of work into these graphics.

You can send a postcard from OMSI now: <http://www.omsi.edu/online/> is the page that shows most of OMSI’s online activities (at least the ones that are okay to show right now. I can’t wait until I can put Forest Puzzles up there.



Last Week's Itinerary

Posted in Career, Transport at 7 am

This was my travel plan from last week’s business trip. The only change was that I ended up on an earlier flight on the way home, the first leg of which was in United’s Economy Plus featuring 5″ of additional leg room. Nice for a free upgrade, not worth purchasing though.


Flight   574
United Airlines Inc Confirmation Numbers: ZCWTNI
	Depart: Portland Intl Arpt (PDX)
	06:34 AM
Arrive: O'Hare Intl Arpt (ORD)
	CHICAGO, Terminal 1
	12:22 PM
Seat 19C

Flight   536
Depart: O'Hare Intl Arpt (ORD)
	CHICAGO, Terminal 1
	02:00 PM
Arrive: Logan Intl Arpt (BOS)
	BOSTON, Terminal C
	05:25 PM
Seat 23C


Confirmation Number: 00710940US6
	Pick Up: Tuesday, September 04, 2007
	Logan Intl Arpt (Terminal)
Phone: 617-561-3500


The Westin Waltham-Boston
Confirmation Number: C531347547
	The Westin Waltham-Boston
	70 Third Ave
	Waltham Ma 02451 Us
Phone: 781-290-5600
Check In: Tuesday, September 04, 2007  3:00 PM
Check Out: Friday, September 07, 2007  1:00 PM


Flight   881
United Airlines Inc Confirmation Numbers: ZCWTNI
Depart: Logan Intl Arpt (BOS)
	BOSTON, Terminal C
	09:00 AM  Friday
Arrive: O'Hare Intl Arpt (ORD)
	CHICAGO, Terminal 1
	10:37 AM  Friday
Seat 17D

Flight   929
United Airlines Inc Confirmation Numbers: ZCWTNI
Depart: O'Hare Intl Arpt (ORD)
	CHICAGO, Terminal 1
	12:20 PM
Arrive: Portland Intl Arpt (PDX)
	02:38 PM
Seat 13D



Recent writings

Posted in Career, Life at 11 pm

So in the last couple of months Amy and I went on vacation, Planar purchased Clarity Visual Systems, the Home Theater business unit launched, I had my 32nd birthday. In place of the journal entries that should have been coming from these events, You’ll have to settle for the three articles I posted: http://www.ordersomewherechaos.com/rosso/articles/.

More news coming this weekend.


Writing Tool No. 13

Posted in Career, Media at 11 pm

Poynter Online – Writing Tool #13: Show and Tell

On the Ladder of Abstraction:

An old essay by John Updike begins, “We live in an era of gratuitous inventions and negative improvements.” That language is general and abstract, near the top of the ladder. It provokes our thinking, but what concrete evidence leads Updike to his conclusion? The answer is in his second sentence: “Consider the beer can.” To be even more specific, Updike was complaining that the invention of the pop-top ruined the aesthetic experience of drinking beer. “Pop-top” and “beer” are at the bottom of the ladder, “aesthetic experience” at the top.

Bartelby the Product

Posted in Career, Design, Life, Media at 7 pm

Over at Design Observer: writings about design & culture: Dmitri Siegel: Bartelby™

In his essay “Free Time,” philosopher Theodor Adorno explains how our time away from work has gradually been filled with economically productive activities masquerading as leisure. He further explains how we become habituated to this functionalization, so that when we have free time we don’t feel relaxed, but instead feel an anxiety to function, commonly known as boredom.

The article prompted me to see if I should add Bartelby to my Amazon wishlist… which I could but then realized that Melville’s work is almost all available through Project Gutenburn’s Archive.

Both the essay by Dmitri Siegel and the short story by Melville made for some great reading. However I’d like to learn more about Adorno’s work as that “Free Time” essay sounds like a major problem in my life at times.


Planar kiosks in USA Today

Posted in Career at 10 am

From USA Today: “Retailers lack hot item to ignite toy sales

[…] They are pulling more than price cuts out of their bag of tricks, however, to draw traffic today–the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. That includes stocking up on some nostalgic items, such as the Slinky, which is turning 60 this year–along with the leading edge of the baby boom.

It also includes attempts to stand out from rivals with exclusives. At New York’s FAO Schwarz, a Hot Wheels Custom Car Factory kiosk will give kids, or gift givers, the opportunity to add special colors, designs and wheels using a touch-screen monitor by Planar Systems.

Creative marketing is critical for the holiday season that provides the toy industry about 50% of revenue. […]

It’s a little out of context, but it’s great to see Planar mentioned in the USA Today. These kiosks from Planar have been a big new project, and it’s nice to see that we got some traction from the press release that went out about them.

In fact I’ve been finding a few interesting Planar references including this one on our 3-D displays.