How LinkedIn Saved My Wedding Photos

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of posts that I originally wrote for the official LinkedIn corporate blog, but decided they were more appropriate for my personal blog.  The first was Should You Be Eating Your Own Dogfood?, about incorporating your own experience into user experience design.

This may not sound like a typical LinkedIn success story, but it’s an important one.  LinkedIn saved my wedding photos.

In all fairness, the great folks at ScanCafe actually saved my wedding photos.  I read about ScanCafe in a great piece in Money magazine earlier this year.  ScanCafe provides a service where you send them negatives, slides, or photographs, and they scan them and return them to you in digital form.  They even have very high end services, like photo restoration or professional-caliber TIFF file support for true enthusiasts like myself.

After reading about ScanCafe, I was intrigued.  Our lack of wedding photos is a tragic story, dating back seven years to a extremely poor choice of wedding photographer.  Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that my wife and I ended up thousands of dollars poorer, with no wedding album whatsoever.  However, as a ray of hope, we did eventually get the original negatives.

Scanning single-cut medium-format negatives is not for the faint of heart.  It can take 5-10 minutes per photo, and that’s without touch-up work.  We had 400 negatives.  ScanCafe seemed like our savior, with affordable rates and support for all sorts of negatives.  But could they be trusted with our only hope for wedding photos?  Our original negatives?

Fortunately, trust is exactly where LinkedIn shines.  I typed “ScanCafe” into the search box on linkedin.com, and was delighted to find out that an old colleague of mine actually works for the company.  I sent him a LinkedIn message, and within a week I had his assurances and help in submitting my order.

Last week, for the first time, ScanCafe posted the results on their online website for me to review.  It was truly an emotional moment.  Wonderful photos and memories captured and restored, and now, with digital images, the freedom to finally share and publish wedding albums.  As we speak, 81.4GB of high quality TIFF and JPG images are on their way to my house.

I don’t think I would have had the courage to send our precious negatives to anyone without a personal reference and assurance, and I never would have known I had such a close contact at the company without LinkedIn.

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Father’s Day 2008

Another wonderful Father’s Day this year.  Simple pleasures.  We did manage to make it out to the mall for some updated photos of the family.  Here are some shots that capture a bit of Father’s Day 2008 for me.

Here is a particularly funny shot, that I didn’t even realize was funny until we saw the photos.  What can I say, it was a Zoolander moment…

Why Everyone In My Family Has Blue Eyes, Except Me

Today, I discovered “The Spitoon“, the blog from 23andMe, the company dedicated to personal genomics.   Really interesting material.  I found this article particularly eye-catching:

SNPwatch: One SNP Makes Your Brown Eyes Blue

I’m curious about this, of course, because while I have green eyes, my wife Carolyn & my two sons have blue eyes.  It seems that this isn’t even due to a single gene – it’s literally a single nucleotide pair.  From the article:

Three recently published papers (here, here, and here) report that a single SNP determines whether a person’s eyes will be blue; every blue-eyed person in the world has the same version. The findings also suggest that the blue-eyed version of the SNP can be traced back to a single ancestor that lived about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

It’s been known for a while that eye colors like green and hazel (deviations from the brown color found in the majority of people) can be explained by SNPs in a gene called OCA2. The protein made by this gene is involved in the production of melanin, a pigment found in the cells of the iris. This is the same pigment that gives your hair and skin their color. Darker eyes have more melanin than lighter colored eyes.

But none of the known variations in OCA2 could explain blue eyes. The new research seems to have solved the mystery. A SNP near OCA2, but not in it, determines whether a person will have blue eyes.

The SNP, rs12913832, is actually in a gene called HERC2. Scientists think that instead of affecting HERC2, the SNP controls how much protein will be made from the nearby OCA2 gene. Low levels of OCA2 protein, caused by the G version of the SNP, lead to lower levels of melanin, which in turn leads to blue eyes. 23andMe customers can check their genotype at this SNP in the Genome Explorer or in the Gene Journal (Note: In the Gene Journal you’ll see other SNPs also associated with eye color. The combination of these SNPs with the blue-eyed version of rs12913832 can end up giving a person green eyes instead of blue).

What a great blog.  Sign me up for that feed.

As a side note, Michael Arrington has posted his account info from 23andMe on TechCrunch, so you can live vicariously through him in case you are short $1000.  I have to admit, seeing those results makes me jealous – I’d love that kind of genetic detail on myself & my family members.

Memories: Apple ATG Summer Picnic, 1997

Thursday night, Carolyn & I went out with a number of close friends to celebrate her birthday.  Eric Cheng brought a very nice little present for us – a snapshot from the Apple Advanced Technology Group (ATG) Summer Picnic in 1997.

This snapshot is now the earliest known couple photo Carolyn & I have.  Friday, August 22, 1997.  At this point, we had been dating all of 12 days.

This is also, I believe, the very last Apple ATG Picnic, since this is also the year that Steve returned to Apple and officially disbanded ATG.

So a little nostalgia on the blog tonight.  Big thanks to Eric for the great picture.

A Far-From-Anonymous Birthday

So, today is/was my birthday, and as usual I celebrated it with my close family.

What was interesting this year is that this may have been my first “Social Networking” birthday.

Normally, I’d expect to get 10-20 notes, email and cards, from the subset of close friends and family who decided to take the time to do something.  This year was different, however.  I think I got over 100 messages, at least.

While I’d love to say it’s because I’m getting more popular, I think that there is something else at work: the social networking effect.

Let’s say you have about 50 close friends.  If about 25% of them remember your birthday, then you get about 10-12 messages.

Social networking, however, has changed that.  Skype knows my birthday.  Geni knows my birthday.  Facebook knows my birthday.  Even InCircle knows my birthday! (LinkedIn does not know my birthday… yet.)

If these sites let people keep track of 100, 200, even 1000 friends, then even a 10% sampling from these groups can lead to over 100 messages.  What’s more, these sites and applications make it incredibly simple to send a note, post on a wall, etc.

The strange effect is this:  On the one hand, you get more messages than ever before.  On the other hand,  the notes from your really good friends are obscured somewhat by the avalanche of notes from more distant friends who now can more easily keep up on these things.

So, overall, I’m feeling pretty good today.  It was quite a few notes to go through, and my apologies to everyone if I didn’t respond to them all yet.  But there is a little part of me that misses the implicit intimacy of knowing who actually took extra time to remember my birthday, the old-fashioned way.

I guess that nostalgia is a sign that I am getting old.  🙂