David Reich

My grandfather on my mother’s side, David Reich, lives in New York City, New York where he founded and is currently involved in a block association focused on helping the older people in Bloomingdale, a neighborhood on the Upper West Side, feel part of the community. Before that, he worked at IBM for more than thirty years as a researcher at the Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.

David was photographed with his colleagues for the cover of this IBM recruiting pamphlet

Every day, David Reich is reminded how much the world changes. He was born on November 19, 1938 in a two family house in a residential neighborhood of Brooklyn. He lived with his mother, father, and younger sister on the bottom floor. His aunt and uncle lived on the second floor. He remembers a man with a horse and a wagon coming to collect junk put out at the curb. When he was ten years old, New York City was hit by a large blizzard that cancelled school and left snowdrifts taller than he was, but, as he mentions, “[he] wasn’t very tall at the time.”

Excepting a few summer jobs, David has worked exclusively at IBM. He was hired as a full-time employee in 1963 after a brief internship, and was soon transferred to IBM’s first research lab (and the current headquarters of IBM Research), the Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. The research center (and IBM’s artificial intelligence) is named after an early CEO of IBM, Thomas J. Watson. At Yorktown Heights, he helped scientists submit jobs for the computers to process. Computers then were “very large machine[s] in [very] large room[s].” After about a year at IBM Research, David became assistant to the director of the laboratory at  the time. He scheduled meetings, got reports written, and anything that the director needed done. Eventually, David went into various work involving the computer programming at Yorktown Heights.

David received a BA in Engineering and Applied Physics and a BA of Science at Harvard. At the University of Michigan, he studied in a communication sciences program, which was a combination of math, linguistics, psychology and electrical engineering. This was because “at the time people thought of computers as mechanical brains, so it was considered appropriate to study how human brains worked as well.” There were few computer science courses available at Harvard at the time, and the rapid evolution of technology at IBM Research meant he learned almost everything during his 35 years there. When asked what advice he had for young people, he talked about the importance of taking every opportunity to learn, in school and in the world.

David worked at IBM for about 30 years before “retiring” in 1993. IBM wasn’t doing well financially, and they were offering large retirement bonuses to older, higher paid employees in order to hire younger, less expensive workers. For the most part, David enjoyed working at IBM. He describes it as “being in a university, but [with] a lot more resources.” IBM had lots of people that cared about what they were doing, and worked well as a team. This shows just how much he values community and education. Just after he left, his boss hired him back as a part-time consultant, which quickly became a full-time job. After about five years, he decided to actually retire and leave IBM.

While working at IBM, he lived in Hawthorn, a New York suburb 15 minutes north of Yorktown. When he retired from IBM, he was divorced for about four years, and decided to move out of the suburbs after he met his partner, Susan. When he was packing and preparing to move, one of his neighbors leaned over the fence and told David how he was “such a good neighbor, we never knew you were there.” David felt a lack of community in the suburbs, one of the things that spurred him to move and later to found BAiP. “People wanted everything to be quiet. They didn’t want to know you were there.”

When David moved to New York City, he was immediately involved with the local block association and started taking on various jobs. Eventually, he became the chairman of the West 102nd & 103rd Streets block association in Bloomingdale, his riverside Manhattan neighborhood. Some years after David was involved with the block association, he and several others founded Bloomingdale Aging in Place (BAiP), a non-profit organization that focuses on the older residents of the Upper West Side.

Always on the hunt for new knowledge, David is currently auditing a course at Columbia University about how people are living longer, and how society needs to adapt to that. One focus of the class is loneliness among the elderly, something that BAiP works to prevent in the neighborhood. David thinks that “[One of the] great things that BAiP does is bring people together so they actually get to know each other, because they’re in groups doing things that they like to do, such as talking about books, going to movies, or playing ping pong. People then get to really know each other, and the chances of people simply being alone in the world—and there area a lot of people in our neighborhood that live alone—and feeling lonely, are reduced.” Today, David is involved in doing “office work” for the organization, however he attends chair yoga and ping pong classes regularly.

I hope you like your music 😉

My Tour of Pixar

Last Wednesday, I got to visit Pixar’s Emeryville campus, which is just a short bus ride from my house. We got visitor badges from the security guard, and entered the campus. It’s gorgeous. There are lots of tree-lined paths and brick, metal, and glass buildings. Our friends Patrick James and Kim Ross who work at Pixar gave us a tour of the facilities.

Visitors are normally only allowed to visit the parts of the office with wood flooring. The carpeted areas are off-limits. You’re not allowed to take pictures in the upstairs gallery. After we walked around the balconies and bridges that surround the Cafe Luxo and Pixar Gift Shop, we walked on the forbidden carpet and walked past Pixar’s beast of a render farm and into the sports area. In addition to the soccer field in front of the Steve Jobs Building, Pixar has a basketball court, a heated swimming pool, and a volleyball court. Pixar encourages their employees to take breaks regularly to prevent injury.

After lunch (a delicious spiced-chicken piadina at the Cafe Luxo) we went back past the sign reading “Closed Set; Producer approval and employee escort required” with our guides to see Pixar’s crazy offices. I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures, but you can search online for pictures of the crazy cubicles. Here are my favorites:

  1. The small, Mexican-themed shed, complete with a sign reading “Tacocat Taquera” and wall of books about Pixar and animation.
  2. The Indiana Jones-inspired cubicle with old maps, props, and photographs, and vines hanging from the curved ceiling

We also saw a group of people wearing blue and red jumpsuits. They’re the animation interns, and they always wear ridiculous outfits on certain days. It supposedly comes from an “old” Disney tradition.

What Does Facebook Know About You?

The internet is an integral part of everything that we do. We use Google Drive to do work, watch our favorite shows on Netflix, and connect with our friends on Facebook and Instagram. News about Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, and Russian meddling has raised questions about our privacy online, and what is done with the wealth of information collected by Facebook and other websites.

Recently, Facebook added the ability for users to download a “data archive,” a large file that contains almost everything Facebook has collected about them. Many people have been surprised, and even horrified by what they have found in their archive. Dylan McKay discovered that Facebook had logs of calls between him and his partner’s mother. He posted a screenshot on Twitter, and numerous other users replied that they had found similar data in their archives.  Facebook stores information many feel is unnecessary. Following the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal involving the sale of data from more than 87 million users, many internet citizens worry about the safety of their personal data. Facebook claims that they do not share your data, and that it is used for internal purposes only, but these claims are obviously no longer dependable.

Facebook claims that they do not share your data, and that it is used for internal purposes only, but these claims are obviously no longer dependable.

As if the billions of active users on Facebook didn’t generate enough information, Facebook also has ways of collecting information about users when they’re not on the Facebook website or in the Facebook app. Facebook provides many “free” services to website owners to enhance their websites that tend to also benefit Facebook. One such service is called a Social Plugin. Social Plugins, as Facebook calls them, are small pieces of code that developers put on their websites that allow users to “like” that page or user without visiting Facebook. Even if one isn’t logged in to Facebook, the plugins are also used to track the websites that users view, because Facebook can connect an IP address (a unique set of numbers that identifies your computer online) to a Facebook account. Another way they can track users is with Facebook Logins. A Facebook login is a way that websites can have you log in to their services. Instead of entering a username and password, users can click a button to sign into a website using their Facebook account. Like social plugins, these track your browsing history to target ads. Another tool developed by Facebook that can collect information is the Facebook Audience Network, Facebook’s advertising network. Like Google’s AdWords network, this allows website owners to display ads from Facebook advertisers on their website for a small profit.

“So, how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?” Senator Orrin Hatch asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on April 10. A smirking Zuckerberg replied, “Senator, we run ads.” While the 84-year-old senator from Utah may not have completely understood how Facebook makes money, it is important to understand how Facebook profits off user data. The Washington Post reported in August of 2016 that Facebook has more than “98 personal data points that [they use] to target ads to [users].” When Facebook updated the Ads Manager (the platform used to create and publish advertisements) in 2015, they added hundreds of categories for advertisers to target users. Some notable data points include house square-footage, political affiliation, year house was built, and net worth.

It’s just a matter of time until Facebook slips up again.

Advertisers use these advanced features to target ads to very specific groups of users. They can even pay Facebook to send ads based on location. According to CBS News, Facebook can track users’ locations even when they aren’t using the app. This allows Facebook to push ads for stores and offers near users’ current locations. Facebook will also “suggest” content and advertisements based on places visited in the past. Even worse, Facebook keeps a map of users’ precise locations. While some users have disabled this feature, it is still an unsettling thought for most people.

With new data laws and lots of bad press, Facebook has started working to collect less information on billions of Instagram and Facebook users, and improve the security of that data. However, Facebook is an advertising company at its core, and they will always probably know more about you than you expect. It’s just a matter of time until Facebook slips up again.

Adobe’s Pricing Sucks

TL;DR: Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, Adobe should let users mix and match.

Let’s suppose that I want to purchase Photoshop. I head to the Adobe website, and navigate to Photoshop’s page. So far, so good. I choose “Buy now.” This is where everything falls apart.

For $20.99/month you get:

  • Adobe Photoshop CC
  • 100GB of cloud storage

For $19.99/month you get:

  • Adobe Photoshop CC
  • 1TB of cloud storage
  • Adobe Lightroom CC
  • Adobe Lightroom Classic CC

Yeah. It makes no sense to me either. I’m sure there’s some logic behind it, but I haven’t figured it out yet. I saw this, and immediately thought of a better way to do this. I’m not sure if it’s financially viable for Adobe, but here it is:

When I go to buy Photoshop, I now only have two options. One option is to purchase all the apps in the Adobe Suite for a certain monthly fee. The new second option is to mix and match. Here’s how that would work:

  1. Choose how much cloud storage you need: 20GB, 100GB, 1TB, etc.
  2. Choose the apps you need. The apps would be priced similar to how the single app plans are now. The more popular apps would be more expensive, but as you added more apps to your plan, the monthly price for each app would decrease until all the apps had been added, and the mix and match price was the same as the full suite price.

Let me try to rephrase that if you didn’t get that. The more apps you buy the cheaper each app gets. The apps keep getting cheaper until the entire Adobe suite is added to the plan and the price is the same as the plan that includes all the monthly apps. Cloud storage can also be easily chosen, as all of Adobe’s apps have some kind of connection to the cloud. Someone with Adobe InCopy CC (text files) won’t need as much space as someone with Adobe Lightroom CC (full-resolution, usually RAW, image files).