Archive for the ‘geek’ Category

Fireside Chats.

DFOF has been silent. But a travesty has driven him to return to wordpress, and press a word or two.

Fireside chats.

A fine idea in theory. One takes two or perhaps three important people, and places them on comfortable seating upon a stage, where they have polite discourse, watched by an audience,  and recorded in full HD for those that were unable to feel the warm glow of the event.

The history of the fireside chat is long, stretching back to the first evening after the discovery of fire. However the term was made popular by FD Rooseveldt, who held 30 evening radio broadcasts between 1933 and 1944.  His banking chat is really rather good but  DFOF digresses.

Fireside chats almost always involve slouching and the unfortunate exposure of too much sock or hairy ankle.  Sometimes bar stools are used instead of cheap copies of Le Corbusier’s iconic Bauhaus sofa. This has the advantage of keeping all the speakers awake.

DFOF has heard that there is a programme on television called “big brother.”  From what he can deduce the fireside chat seems remarkably similar.  For those who watch British television, the Royale Family is apposite too.

DFOFs biggest criticism though, is that there is no fireplace.

DFOF implores that we find an alternative name for the VCs on the couch, but in the meantime all men invited to fireside chats are kindly reminded to wear matching socks, preferably of an appropriate length. Even though the thoughts and minds of venture capitalists may be riveting viewing, their ankles bring little to the party. Sitting up straight would add to the aesthetic, but that is perhaps setting the bar too high.

DFOF will leave female attire advice to his incomparable  co-correspondents.


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Recently on one of my travels while I was waiting at the gate for my flight home from Stockholm, this guy sat down opposite me. There was something about him which made me look up. A nerdy coolness. Geeky perfectionism if there is such a thing in fashion. (Or maybe it was just the red socks?)

His second hand or well used red leather attache with matching red socks.
The horn rimmed glasses.
The knitwear with the suit.
The suit jacket which was longer than the winter jacket he was wearing.
The colour of the winter jacket which wasn’t perfectly matching that of the suit or the sweater.
When he pulled out a 13,3″ MBP, I was in love.

I still cannot make up my mind if this is something he put together effortlessly, having done it like that his whole life, or if he actually spends time putting together a look. Wish I had gone over and talked to him, instead of just secretly shooting a picture with my iPhone.

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Microsoft and fashion

Occasional DFOF contributor Steve Clayton alerted us to the Microsoft foray into apparel, and it has been covered by the broader fashion blogosphere. and tech types too.

DFOF supposes that if Camel and Caterpillar can be used to sell clothing, then why not other brands? There are enough geeks out there would would like to own t-shirts with DOS on them. DFOF can think of several of his friends who would love one. 



Microsoft is having some fun with this.


DFOF reckons that Microsoft would be best keeping this to tee-shirts. The brand would be a flop in the undergarment department.

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Shoe Follies

shoesI really should know better.  It’s not like I’m a child.  I am aware of the Santa situation and I know a deal that sounds too good to be true is.  Yet somehow I cannot really keep myself from falling victim where fashion is concerned.  There are many examples from bad perms to leg warmers.  Some are just financial losses, some also require time to for recovery.  I do wonder if I’ll ever learn.

My latest disaster was the result of joining twitter.  Of course it’s not the fault of twitter, or even the person who passed along the link.  Somehow I found myself reading a NYT article on women’s shoes.  The specific article was from a woman who gave several shoes a test and found heels that could be worn without pain. 

I know, I know, I realize now that this was stupid to believe but alas I really do want to wear cute shoes!  So I found myself buying two pair of heels to match my new pantsuits.  Both were cute, both were expensive and both were a really bad idea. 

Armed with my fantasy, I went to Zappos and stupidly ignored the reviews, jumping in and buying them right away.  Next I hemmed my pants to a longer length than usual and tried the outfit on to great joy and amazement.  Of course, I’m not a complete novice, I wore the shoes to work first to get over the inevitable blisters.  It was during the walk from the parking garage that I knew I was in trouble.  Of course I didn’t stop there, I decided to follow the advice from the review and put in some extra cushion inserts.  That sealed the deal that there was no way I could return them.

Now a few months have gone by and I have yet another thing in my closet that I cannot get rid of (I paid a lot for those cute shoes!) but I’m loathe to wear.  Since I live in the Bay Area my closet is the size of locker and this is a real problem. 

I intend to keep these shoes, and even wear them on occasion when I don’t have to a) walk anywhere or b) wear them too long.  I will keep them as a reminder that my true authentic self has serious back and foot pain issues and has no business wearing heels. 

Any recommendations for cute flats please do send them my way.

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DFOF, like most people in the software industry it seems, reads Hugh’s  Gapingvoid. Hugh currently resides in West Texas. You may be relieved to know that this post will not discuss how one should dress in Alpine Texas. DFOF would not dare to discuss Texan fashions, as that is not in his research area.

One of Hugh’s real life friends (so more than a mere follower) is Thomas Mahon. He is a tailor who blogs. He makes bespoke suits. One day DFOF hopes to own a Mahon suit. In the meantime, DFOF must be content merely to read his blog.  This video is well worth a watch.

Thomas  and Hugh are friends with JP, whose blog, Confused of Calcutta, all people in the software industry should read. It will make you smarter, and you will also learn about cricket. JP picked up on the Advertising standards authority’s decision to water down the meaning of the word bespoke. Nasty stuff this, JP covers it well. 

Moving on to the shirt.

Thomas used to have a line in shirts too, but the suit business is so busy that he hasn’t got the time to focus on shirts. All is not lost, as he says on his blog:

As you know, I always like to keep an eye on wonderful products made here in the UK , and recently I found this super little business called “The White Shirt Company” It’s an unusual concept, but it’s one that makes good sense. Lola Cashman is a little fanatical about the virtues of a crisp, beautifully made white shirt. This is, of course, very understandable because it is a classic that never dates or fails to make you feel brand new in the morning. Lola has them made here in the UK and amazes me how far she goes to look after her clients.

All the details regarding materials and workmanship are all you’d expect on the finest of English shirts. The beauty is that they’re ready to order online and you can be wearing one of these in a couple of days, or even in three hours if you’re in central London. She does offer made-to-measure, and she’ll also alter stock sizes for you. So all-in-all it’s a very nice service. I know this because I wear some of Lola’s shirts myself and they’re what they say they are. They also supply this little gem, what a super idea.

It seems an odd concept to only supply white shirts, but it is also so refreshing that someone wants to specialise and do it so well. Check them out. You won’t be disappointed by the product or the service.

DFOF has discussed the white shirt before, but good things are worth repeating. If in doubt, go with a white shirt.

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A sartorial wilderness.

DFOF didn’t attend the Crunchies, so he is relying on flickr  and blogs for his coverage.  The folks from Zivity sponsored the photo shoot.

It was, by many accounts, an excellent bash. For those that don’t know, the Crunchies are the

The Internet Startup world’s equivalent of the Oscars

Across the vast expanse of chinos, dull blazers, and blue shirts, the occasional glimpse of something resembling an interesting outfit could be seen, but the dirty tide of business casual overwhelmingly dominated.

The dress sense of the award winners is grim.  Nothing hip, nothing radical, nothing innovative, perhaps one here or there vaguely smart, but really just oceans of drab dullness. A payroll conference would be more fashionable and edgy.

An honourable exception mention should go to Matt from WordPress.  He, at least, wore a tie. And it matched.  DFOF would have avoided the button down shirt with a tie, but compared to the other winners,  Matt was Jude Law.

Fewer men than try it can do stubble though.

Before next year’s awards, DFOF hopes that the nominees and attendees visit The Sartorialist Blog.   DFOF would prefer to write something upbeat.


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As a Dedicated Follower of Fashion, you cringe when handed another stupid T-shirt at a tech conference, you adjust your New Media glasses, glance at your iPhone, and move on. But what if that T-shirt embodied the hipness you so desire and that is your hallmark? Well, Atlassian is having a T-shirt design competition. You no longer can sit idle. This is your opportunity

Disclaimer: We have not formed a judging committee, I have no idea whether or not I will be on the committee, and the decision could be made by a couple of engineers over a lot of beer in Sydney. These facts do not prevent me from giving you, Dear Reader some valuable insights into this hotly contested competition.

As an employee I am officially disqualified from Atlassian’s T-Shirt competition, which irks me to no end as I would whip everyone’s ass in this competition. Nevertheless, I am compelled to dispense potentially useful information on how you might stand out from the crowd pounding down our doors with spectacular designs and ideas. Here are some possible strategies for you Closet T-Shirt Designers:

Strategy #1: Design something a woman might wear. Being engineers and being men generally, we have a terrible habit of designing things that are questionable when written across a woman’s chest. The original clean, simply designed Confluence T-shirt is one of my favs but as you can see…


This is a risky, breakout strategy as our founders are 28 year-old Australian men and of course, engineers and opinionated at times. But I think the timing is right to do the right thing by women, as Kathy Sierra pointed out a long time ago.

Strategy #2: It’s all about a clever, funny tagline. With this strategy, the design is irrelevant. Take our most coveted JIRA T-shirt. To this day, people love the tagline:


Strategy #3: Get edgy. This is risky as you might go too far. Here’s an example of one of our more recent T-shirts which may have gone too far:


This one may say something about engineers who spend too much time in front of their monitors, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusion.

Strategy #4: Make something retro and timeless.
The problem with retro is it is in the eye of the beholder, and I’m not sure there’s anything retro about a 5-year old software company. My favorite example but a really sweet T-shirt is this beauty I got from Ted Leung:


[Disclosure: I used a Newton for 18 months. I still own it.]

Strategy #5: Sex. That’s right. Sex would be a cheap trick but Hey, stooping to the lowest common denominator works often. Here’s Yelp who in a lot of their branding uses some of the same tricks as American Apparel:


Yelp can get a bit frisky with their marketing of their apparel:


Would this cheap tactic work with a bunch of young engineers in Sydney? You decide.

[as blogged on www.radiowalker.com]

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Seen at Le Web 3. Caption award.

photo from Leweb flickr

Robert Scoble talks with Philippe Starck, design überguru. wow. DFOF wishes he had been there.

In the meantime, let’s have a caption competition. 

DFOF’s caption attempt.

“Is that your Motorbike over there?”

“Yes,  I’m going to drive over your Kindle with it.”

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Sublime elegance from Xavier of Geneva.  DFOF has met him on a number of occasions, but alas, without a camera.  DFOF stole one on this particular evening in Stockholm, but you will agree it was in a good cause.

Here,  at the end of a very long day, Xavier  immaculate  in an  ‘old’  Corneliani Suit.   Please note the cuff length. He obeys the first rule of suitdom;  make sure it fits.  The starched but unbuttoned cuffs add a deft touch,  finished off with a neatly tied scarf.

He takes the DFOF award for the Most  Sartorially Adept  IT project manager.

And here, the perfect winter boot, in this case from Prada. A blot in the copybook as they could do with a shine, but in Xaiver’s defence, he’d walked through the worst that a late November Stockholm  could throw at him. Also the carpet wasn’t his fault. Note the sock length – no winter shins peeking out here, even though the legs are crossed.

DFOF is attempting to snare him as the French speaking correspondent. 

By the way, Xavier’s project was a great success with ROI galore, but that would be for a different blog. 

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Some of DFOF’s enterprise irregular blogging cohorts recently attended Oracle Open World. As the eagle-eyed Zoli noted, the EI dress code was a small notch up from their usually rather dire threads.

DFOF is rarely to be seen in a blazer or sports jacket himself, but he is pleased to see his fellow EIs at least making an effort. However, it does seem that Josh Greenbaum is having trouble keeping his trousers up. Despite this improving effort from the American EI contingent, Sig remains the king of the blazer.

Charles Phillips is absolutely impeccably dressed. DFOF will need to do more fashion forensics on the Oracle President. Perhaps it is the rather scary combination of background in investment banking and the Marines, but DFOF is mightily impressed. Never a thread out of place. Masterful.

The sports jacket / blazer was obviously in strong demand in San Francisco.

Here Michael Dell. thanks to amorimur’s photostream

If one is going to do the navy blazer and jeans thing, make sure the shoes are sparkling and the shirt crisp. Full points to Mr Dell here. The two tone effect does make his legs look shorter than an suit would.

An interesting choice for a keynote presentation, as it lacks the coolness of the Steve Jobs casual look, but it is not as sharp nor as imposing as a suit.

Larry Ellison, like Steve Jobs, has a look that he has made his own. For years he has worn the turtleneck cashmere with a suit, and it works very very well. It is far more elegant than an open neck shirt. Double Breasted Jackets are rare these days, but Mr Ellison cuts a fine figure in one here. Google tells me that his suits are handmade in Italy, but more info would be appreciated. They fit him precisely. He is not a Larry Laffer.

Photo courtesy of Lou Springer’s flickrstream

Different shades of brown – Larry pulls it off with aplomb.

Returning to the sports jacket- blazer theme…

More brown. This time, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, looking smartly professorial. Tie is super, the blue and red lifting the brown, but DFOF dislikes the button down collar with a tie, it is an evil trend. A two button brown sports jacket is a good wardrobe staple if you are a lecturer in 18th Century English literature. Shoes impeccable. Trousers are almost too long.  (Cote, please comment on the Vaio).

Thanks again Lou springer‘s flickr.

Update: upon reading ZDNET, dfof was shocked to see JS from this angle, not because he was breaking bread with Michael Dell, but those trousers are too long. Way too long.


Thomas Kurian, yet more brown. Ensemble fuses together rather well. Double cuff shirt is excellent, but the jacket seems the wrong size, too tight on the chest between the two top buttons, yet far too long in the sleeve. High-waisted, pleated trouser. Patterned tie and jacket perfect in an American setting, or on a grouse shoot. Immaculate knot.

Here he is again, this time looking a far smarter in a charcoal suit, bold red tie, white shirt, just a little cuff showing.

Photo thanks Dan Farber.

Again, impeccable knot. A 4 in hand, the simplest, but most elegant tie knot. For a presentation, a well ironed white shirt and plain bold tie is tough to beat. It is the Occam’s razor of business dress. It is timeless. The narrower tie suits him better than the broader tie in his brown ensemble did.

If, dear geek, you only have one formal outfit, make it this one. Only once you own 10 jackets, buy a brown one.

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DFOF is impressed with the humour of Loic’s new hire at Seesmic, Vinvin. His  Bonjour America vlog  is seriously funny.


Typical french business look, dark blue suit, straight and narrow trouser, narrow suit lapels. White shirt, subdued, relatively narrow tie. Conservative but elegant.

The shirt, though, is too long in the sleeves, and is a little loose around the collar.


The America meets France and the socks are the ocean comment  is up there with Eric Cantona and the Seagulls.

DFOF wishes Seesmic success and riches.

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This may or may not turn into a series on fundamentals.

ETech 2007 (Wednesday)

From Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

His flickrstream is a prime source for “geek celebrity” fashion successes and blunders. His laughing squid blog is rather good too.

DFOF is a big fan of the Converse Chuck Taylor. He is not totally convinced about the rather lurid colour scheme shown above. Perhaps they signify support for a sports team? Or they were in the deeply discounted section of the shop?  Or are they being worn for a big bet?

Nevertheless the classic Converse All-Star should be part of the geek wardrobe.

A bit of history, enter stage left,  Wikipedia.

Chuck Taylor All-Stars are canvas and rubber shoes produced by Converse. They were first produced in 1917 as the “All-Star”, Converse’s attempt to capture the basketball shoe market. They were not particularly popular until basketball player Chuck Taylor adopted them as his preferred shoe. He was so impressed with the design that he became the shoe’s leading salesman. After proposing a few changes to the shoe, the shoe got its current name and Chuck Taylor’s signature on its ankle patch.

Converse now is a subsidiary of Nike, so those that wear them as a protest against the evils of global capitalism etc are well and truly deluding themselves. One can however, buy a pair as part of the excellent and worthy (PRODUCT) RED programme, though DFOF suggests one avoids plastering the RED logo all over the said custom shoe. The aging punks amongst us could, one supposes, get a pair of these.

DFOF is a recent convert and only owns one pair of high tops. He is likely to buy more though, as they are a) comfortable  b) rather cool c)timeless d) design icon e) very cheap.



Serious Fashionistas wear them too, but don’t let this put you off.

BTW. DFOF seeks guest posters to write about jeans. Levi 501′s good or evil? discuss, with photographic evidence.

Author: Thomas

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Tom Wolfe, the profoundly brilliant journalist and competent novelist, can wear a white suit. He has done so for forty years. If you had written the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and watched very carefully where you sit for all this time, you could too. If you haven’t, don’t.

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(photo Pedro Parga’s flickr)

The starched high collar, pocket handkerchief and “hats tie” are pure Radical Chic. Impeccable.

Tom Wolfe chronicled a generation.  DFOF fondly remembers carrying a  copy of The Pump House Gang around at university. It was the only hip thing he possessed.

Unless this is some deep American-Hawaiian cult thing of which DFOF is entirely ignorant, these gentlemen pictured below are about as far away from the Right Stuff  as is sartorially possible. This is not good to be looking at over breakfast, or indeed any time. (thanks Zoli and Vinnie!) 

(photo Brian Solis, via Zoli. The DFOF spy network is gradually infiltrating the digerati.)

DFOF has understood that these fellows are serious players in the valley. The photo is taken on a golf course, but even that is not a mitigating factor. This look should be consigned to the bonfire of the vanities or worse. It is cruel and unusual punishment. Even Americans could surely agree that a white suit in the wrong size is tantamount to torture?

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The answer is always, always a very strong, and very loud: no!

(Note that whurley‘s face has been photoshopped on to the above.)

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Tie Time!

The good man Thomas has seen fit to add me to the “editorial team” here, as he likes to call it. Like that old fool Socrates, my first confession must be, “oh, dear Agora of fashion, I know nothing of fashion.”

In this case, it’s true. It’s only in the last 6 months that I can tie a tie unaided. Seriously.

Until very recently, I was what you might call a victim of spending my Friday nights editing .ini files instead of scheming how to further The Man agenda with The Ladies. That is, I was a severe geek.

Of late — over the past 5-6 years — my dear wife has done much to reform me. Not having any inner gauge of fashion, I have no idea what the progress is. Sansei The Wife seems to find new things frequently.

That said, I can proffer several tips and learning that have been passed down to me. And, I enjoy being snarky, which seems to fit around these parts.

Top of my mind at the moment are two things:

  1. Halloween! Coming fast is Halloween. As geek adults, you know what this means:

    That’s right: you’ll eventually have to come up with some costume to wear. I had a bit of a Halloween costume tragedy a few years ago when I couldn’t find gray hair color and thought silver would do. The result was a robo-Hemmingway look. Yow!

    The question here is balancing that fine line between “yeah, I know how to install anti-virus software” and “one of the programmers came as a tentacle.” Yeah. It’s a mine-field.

  2. It’s Fall/Winter! This means jackets, coats, and sweaters and, as I understand it, dark clothes. The problem for geek fashion here is that the jacket wagon is wide open, even accepting of what I’d call hipster-ware.

    I recall walking the streets of New York several years ago in February and marveling at all the black, wool thigh-length coats all the dashing folks wore. They look sharp, you bet: but, come on, the geek ware thing is more about peacock than fitting in.

    At any rate, the agenda item here is to get some good snaps of jackets, coats, and warm-covering combos that work and don’t work in geek-land. Feel free to send them in. I’m awaiting the short-sleave, conference shirt over the long-sleave shirt look: geek fashion straight outta the back wall at Target, buddy!

  3. Get my hair did. A few years ago, my friendly fashion advisor (see above) told me I needed to start using hair-gel. I had no idea what this meant and, indeed, feared it. I still have no idea what I’m doing in the morning when I stick a bunch of sticky goop in my hand and mess it up in my hair. Pursuant to that ineptness, I’ve decided I should take a picture of the resulting mess everyday and see what evolves.

    In addition to displaying my own ineptness with “product,” I’ll be on the lookout for those who’re more skilled than I.

Enough of this meta-content. Onto something real.

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