The End of an Era

Yesterday I said goodbye to the subscribers of the Roxio newsletters. And the email came pouring in. Sure, I’ve heard from people about the newsletters before. I always knew I was doing something right there. But (in spite of my considerable ego) I didn’t expect the warmth and kindness of some of the messages I received. Nor had I realized the extent to which I seem to have touched some people personally. Would I do this again? Yes, absolutely!

I don’t really know you, but I have the impression to know you from this tiny link. You’ve been a valued, *trusted* voice on many fronts.

I have found your writing to be “my kind of style”, very informal, sounding like it’s coming from a real living, breathing human instead of some corporate stuffed shirt in some cube somewhere.

In the short time I’ve been reading your Roxio newsletters, I’ve seen that you usually put some personal [HUMAN] touch in your work. So folks feel like there’s someone there, not just machines and programs. I like that.

Now you’re leaving Roxio and you’ve done something I’ve never seen anyone in the business sector do. You said goodbye. You didn’t just disappear. You’ve bid farewell. Lady, I appreciate that level of consideration you have extended to others. In today’s full-streaming online world, that is truly a nice little gift to receive! And I thank you for your gift.

You don’t know me, but you really has been a mentor in my World. I always thought you were some sort of gimmick to the company and that you were not real!

Like many others who have written you, I feel that your Adaptec/Roxio newsletters were much more than the typical “corporate communication”. I felt very strongly that there was a person who cared about the people on the mailing list — someone who wanted to empower them through Toast (and related technologies) to be the best that they could be. While sometimes the content was largely written by someone else, it was always useful, relevant, and clear — the hallmarks of a good editor. They were always a pleasure to receive… Not just for the information content, but because of the human face that accompanied them.

It was always good to find your newsletter in the intray – just like hearing from a old friend, who had some helpful tips to pass on. I will miss your warm and personal newsletters.

You have a very good writing style and it is this style that has kept me subscribed to the newsletters. Sorry to see you go.

Thanks for being a great support person who answered my questions perhaps before I even thought of them.

Your Adaptec/Roxio articles are among the MOST INFORMATIVE and accessible stuff I’ve read on CD-R Topics. …wonderfully chatty and friendly newsletters…

A really innovative, imaginative and charming person came through every time. I always enjoyed your e-mails and they made me a loyal customer of Adaptec/Roxio.

Your column was innovative, helpful and unique. I’ll miss your enjoyable, informative, and gracious reports. “You’re a Hard Habit to Break”

I’ve also appreciated the caring tone of your newsletters. I will miss not only your expert advice, but your clear, witty and superb writing style.

I have come to depend on your newsletters for hints, tips and a lot of humor. It’s been delightful having you as our hostess at Roxio.

Thanks to you, I went from a babbling idiot to master of all things CDR / CDRW. It was always a pleasure to read your newsletters, your personal touch made them so much more enjoyable. It made them standout and made the corporation seem a more friendly one even if it had an identity problem.

I feel as if you are a personal friend who always took time to help us discover new things with our computer-related hobby.

…it’s like losing a sister …feel obliged to you for much excellent advice, a great sense of forthright humour and a very human face, indeed.

You did something few can do on the net – you came through as a person, and friendly too.

We have enjoyed your help and friendliness. [Our workplace] won’t be the same after you are gone, it’s as though you were right here with us. We just want to say thanks for all the help and tech support. I know you don’t know us, but we all feel as though we know you.

Though we have never met, I looked forward to you regular e-mail as much as those from friends and family. I will personally miss the one on one feeling that I felt from you. You had the knack of putting a human and articulate side to the inanimate and often faceless e-mail.

I’ve enjoyed your e-mails … have had a sense of you as a ‘friend’ … Keep up your style and tone … it works.

How could you do such a thing I have only just got used to receiving e-mails from you being a new customer.

thanks for your wisdom – perky sense of humour – unflappability – and ever sincere honesty.

Thanks for being a human person that listens to the people.

Somehow Deirdre, you made friends whom you very seldom heard from. This newsletter of yours became so much part of my regular post, that maybe I’ll unsubscribe now.

I always looked forward to your news letters. I never really viewed them as Adaptec/Roxios letters but called them “Deirdre Grams”.

Just a note of applause for the info, energy you expend, and the tone or flow of the Roxio newsletter. I find it extremely informative . . . and user-friendly.

Probably what I enjoy most is your tender and gentle and loving approach. Makes me want to read and re-read it. …a warm, friendly writing style

BABY PLEASE DON’T GO

{D: …and ‘the experts’ say that email is a poor medium for communicating emotion!]

Some comments that were less emotional but nonetheless very sweet (and flattering!):
Your emails are kind of like the National Geographic magazine, you never throw them away.

You’re such a clear writer; you remind me of J.K. Rowling.

Digital Photos – Display and Storage

“WILL BAKER’S digital camera has helped solve quite a few problems around the house. Several old PC’s that Mr. Baker would otherwise have placed in deep storage have been put to work in the capacity of dynamic photo frames or, as Mr. Baker likes to put it, “picture flippers.” Mr. Baker, a 46-year-old entrepreneur, cut holes in walls throughout his house in Corona del Mar, Calif., installed monitors and used the old computers to display slide shows of the 15,000 or so digital photos he has collected. The pictures change every three seconds. The frame in the dining room generates the most conversation among family members and guests.”

Every Picture Still Tells a Story, but ‘Family Album’ Is Redefined By KATIE HAFNER, New York Times

This is an interesting idea, though of course it works better in flimsy American houses where you can easily cut holes in the walls. Even if we had any space behind our walls, cutting holes in them would involve drilling through concrete blocks and brick. So instead I’m experimenting with one of WinOnCD’s features, making slide shows that run automatically from a Video CD disc which will play in our set-top DVD player. (A great way to embarrass our daughter at parties!)

I would add a word of caution about storing the family mementos on disc: recordable CDs will not last forever. I’ve been archiving both work and personal files on CD since about 1993, so I have hundreds of discs, containing many duplicate copies of files. Every now and then I get into a housekeeping frenzy. To reduce the piles of old stuff, I recopy sets of files from CD to hard disk, consolidating the multiple copies from various backups into one final copy of each file Then I burn a new CD.

Recopying data from old discs has been a kind of ad hoc testing, with extremely mixed results. I have the uneasy feeling that recordable CDs are not reliable beyond about five years. There are many variables, such as the brand of disc, the recorder used, the recording speed, and the drive you read it back on. But it boils down to this caveat: if a digital photograph, file, or other data is really important to you, recopy it to a fresh disc once a year or so, to ensure that you don’t lose it.

Coupland, Texas – At Home in the Country

Ross can make friends with anything equine, including Rosie & Bill’s semi-wild donkeys.

rossbubba2

Even Bubba, the herd boss, fell to her blandishments.

ignoringeachother

Maisie was a tougher nut to crack. Here they’re pretending to ignore each other.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – My Favorite Obsession

Already a Buffy Fan?

Here are a few other vampires you might enjoy.

Convention Report, June 2001

By now “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is an international phenomenon. The show has completed its 5th season in the United States, and has generated a spin-off show, “Angel” which has been running for two years. My family have been fans for about a year and a half, thanks to my friend and former employee, Adrian Miller.

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George Hertzberg (Adam) with Ross

It’s also thanks to Adrian that we got tickets to the big Buffy convention held near London in June. If you’ve ever been to a Star Trek convention, or seen the movie Galaxy Quest, you’ll have an idea what these conventions are like (in fact, a lot of the same people go to conventions for Star Trek, Star Wars, Xena, and other sci-fi/fantasy shows as well as Buffy). I wouldn’t do this every year, but it was definitely a cultural experience.

The main activity at a convention like this is standing in line: You stand in line to get tickets to have your picture taken with one of the star guests, then you stand in line to have the actual picture taken, then you stand in line to have the picture (and other items) autographed.

In between lines, you can attend talks by the star guests, watch episodes of the show you have missed or want to see again, and – most importantly! – buy show-related merchandise from the sales booths.

There were quite a few star guests at this year’s convention, although Buffy and Angel themselves were not present. The guests included J. August Richards (Gunn on Angel), Andy Hallett (Lorne on Angel), Robin Atkin Downes (various monsters), George Hertzberg (big bad Adam on season four of Buffy), James Marsters (Spike on Buffy), Nicholas Brendon (Xander on Buffy), the three main make-up artists from both shows (Todd McIntosh, Dayne Johnson, and David DeLeon), Chris Golden (author of several fiction and non-fiction books about Buffy), and, best of all, Joss Whedon, creator of both shows.

What impressed me most was how hard all the star guests worked throughout the weekend. While we fans were standing in line, they, too, were on their feet: having their pictures taken with hundreds of fans, giving their talks, and spending hours at the autograph tables signing everything from photographs to books to toothbrushes.

Listening to and observing the guests, it was clear that these people work extremely hard, on average 14 hours a day throughout the shooting season (which seems to be nine or 10 months a year). Because the title character is a vampire, “Angel” is shot mostly at night, so the Angel cast and crew have the added stress of always being on the night shift. All the people involved with the shows clearly take enormous pride in the quality of their work, quality which can be seen on the screen – and they’re all having tremendous fun as well.

James Marsters in particular doesn’t seem to mind all the female attention he gets. One might accuse him of a slightly swelled head, but it’s also easy to forgive him, because he is clearly having so much fun being famous – no moans about the downside of fame here! And even idols have their own idols. James raved about how he had just spent several days with Roger Daltrey, who had even given him a guitar. During a Q&A session a fan asked him why he didn’t demand more lines in a movie. “First,” he said, “you don’t walk onto a set and demand more lines. Second, if there’s any opportunity to be in a film – even for a few seconds – with Geoffrey Rush, I’m going to take it!”

There is quality in the details of Buffy as well. The three make-up artists gave a demonstration: it took two hours each to reproduce two of the demon faces from the shows, plus one simple vampire make-up and one “glamourous” make-up. They mentioned that the soft foam rubber monster masks are each used only once. This a quality choice: in order to blend the edges of the mask invisibly into the actor’s skin, those edges must be very thin. It is impossible to remove the masks without tearing the edges at least a little, so if the same mask were re-used, its edges would be more visible when reapplied. Instead, a fresh mask is made every time, and the make-up is therefore as convincing as it can be – every time.

Most of the guests who came for the convention had taken advantage of their tickets to London to do some sightseeing, several bringing relatives or “significant others” with them. But they took time out from tourism to get together and celebrate a cast member’s birthday. I felt wistfully envious of the Buffy and Angel gangs: they work long and hard together most of the year to create some of the greatest shows on television, and they all seem to like each other. It must be fun.

buffygang
rear L-R: George Hertzberg, Robin Atkin Downes, Andy Hallett, J. August Richards, David deLeon, Dayne Johnson
front L-R: James Marsters, Rossella, Amber Benson, Joss Whedon, Todd McIntosh – photos (c) David Sumner

Articles

TV or Not TV?

Even conservatives like Buffy: Buffy Is Here to Stay, National Review

What Women Want : Buffy, the pope & the new feminists

Worlds of Whedon

Strange Wars: Evangelical Counter-Cultists vs “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – by Massimo Introvigne

God, New Religious Movements and Buffy the Vampire Slayer – by Massimo Introvigne

A teenager to get your teeth into: Bryan Appleyard on Buffy