What does "prate" mean?

What does "prate" mean?

From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prate:
To talk long and idly : CHATTER

Eno River Sunrise

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Who is a Journalist?

In general I would put this question in the category of "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" in that it is only interesting to a very small subset of society.  However, we have seen ongoing attempts to limit the applicability of First Amendment protection of freedom of the press.  That amendment was designed to protect everyone; now there is an ongoing attempt to limit certain aspects of these protections to officially certified press and journalists.

One manifestation of this narrowing is the creation of journalistic "shield laws."  The intent of these laws may be noble as they to provide protection for investigation and reporting of malfeasance.  However, they may only apply to officially designated journalists.  For example, the AP reported on December 7, 2011 that:
A federal judge in Oregon has ruled that a Montana woman sued for defamation was not a journalist when she posted online that an Oregon lawyer acted criminally during a bankruptcy case, a decision with implications for bloggers around the country.

Crystal L. Cox, a blogger from Eureka, Mont., was sued for defamation by attorney Kevin Padrick when she posted online that he was a thug and a thief during the handling of bankruptcy proceedings by him and Obsidian Finance Group LLC.
The law in question in the Cox case was a state law, but the trend is larger.  On September 12, 2013 AP reported the following:
A Senate panel on Thursday approved legislation designed to protect reporters and the news media from having to reveal their confidential sources after narrowing the definition of a journalist and establishing which formats - traditional and online - provide news to people worldwide.


The compromise also says that information is only privileged if it is disseminated by a news medium, described as "newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, news agency, news website, mobile application or other news or information service (whether distributed digitally or otherwise); news program, magazine or other periodical, whether in print, electronic or other format; or thorough television or radio broadcast ... or motion picture for public showing."

While the definition covers traditional and online media, it draws the line at posts on Twitter, blogs or social media from non-journalists.
I personally find this astounding.  I sometimes interview people to provide material for blogs.  These interviews are almost always done confidentially because the people are not authorized to make public statements regarding their companies.  This is exactly the same situation that "official" reporters are in for many of their stories.  However, they would be afforded shield protection, and I wouldn't.  

We seem to be on a path to constrict the definition of the "press".  No longer will it be the larger world of non-verbal communications, whether pencil, ink, electronic, sign language or smoke signals.  Now it will be the narrow world of J-school grads writing for the AP.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lucky 13 for Overture

Overture Logo circa 2000
Today is the 13th anniversary of when Jeff Reedy and I incorporated Overture Networks, right here in RTP at the First Flight Venture Center.  As I have written elsewhere in this blog, the year 2000 was a difficult time to start a telecom equipment company, and there was plenty of pain along the way.

Even so, it has been a tremendously rewarding experience seeing Overture grow.  We started with ideas being discussed in Jeff's kitchen on Saturday mornings, and grew to a company with hundreds of employees, tens of millions in revenue, and a customer base that is almost unbelievable to people in the industry.

How did we get this far?  A lot of blood, sweat and tears is a given, and a healthy dose of luck factors in.  However, those factors apply to just about every small company that grows past the embryonic stage.  What did we do that helped us make it?

If you asked 20 old hands at Overture, you would probably get 30 answers.  Since this is my blog :-), you will get my view.  Here are some things that I think were a factor:

Overture Logo circa 2008

Sell Something

We had an early focus on finding an application for our product that somebody would actually pay for.  They say you don't know what the price of something is until you sell it.  That's very true.  It's also true that you don't know if anybody wants your offering until they buy it.  Because we were able to win some early business, we knew the aspects of what we were offering that actually had some value.

Watch the Dollars

It's very difficult to get money in the door, be it through venture funding or sales.  It's very easy for those same dollars to find their way back out the door if you don't watch them like a hawk.

Here's one example of just how frugal we were.  When it was still just Jeff and me we landed a meeting with a service provider in the Denver area.  A flight from Raleigh-Durham to Denver was quite expensive, but a flight to Kansas City was pretty cheap.  I also found a western airline with low fares between Kansas City and Denver.  I hatched up the following itinerary:
  • Day 1: fly from RDU to KC and spend the night
  • Day 2: fly from KC to Denver at oh-dark-thirty, meet with the service provider, and fly back to KC
  • Day 3: fly from KC back home
That brilliant plan left only the matter of an inexpensive hotel.  I found one online, and we were all set.  There was just one small problem: we were sharing a room, and the second bed was a foldout couch.  The first night one of us took the bed and the other took the couch, and we swapped the next night.  Never again!
Overture Logo today

Be Honest and Open

This applies to your customers, your suppliers, your employees and yourself.

Like the People That You Work With

This is easier if you only hire people you like, but that's not possible.  Given that reality, liking your co-workers means taking an active role in seeing the best in them and ignoring or working to change the worst.

What's in Store for the Next 13 Years?

Hopefully a liquidation event that makes the employees and investors of Overture very wealthy!  Setting that possibility aside, I hope that Overture continues to grow and prosper, whether as a standalone company or as a part of a larger combination.  Wish us luck!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Why I Like to Break Clays

No, I don't mean throwing dishes. I am talking about the shotgun sports of skeet and trap.

Sometimes people ask if I am taking out my anger or frustration on the clay targets.  The answer is "no".  Instead, it is a positive experience.  Here are the aspects that I like:

Fresh Air and Sunshine

Like many of you I work at an inside desk job.  When I have some time for recreation I want to be outside.  Whether it's biking, boating, fishing or shooting, I want a chance to make some vitamin D.

Physical Activity

People today are much more aware of the connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind.  I also exercise regularly to build aerobic endurance as well as strength, but that is not very satisfying in terms of a sense of accomplishment.  Skeet and trap bring in the development of hand-eye-body coordination.


The principles of skeet are simple, but hard: keep your eye on the bird, keep your head on the stock, lead the bird, and follow through.  To achieve a hit, you have to focus on the task at hand and tune out all the other junk that is usually running through your head.  That's a useful ability.

Beautiful and Functional Tools

The modern shotgun is a very efficient and elegant tool.  The combination of steel, wood and synthetics creates a visually attractive and physically satisfying tool for the task of break clays.


Like other adult sports, a big part of shotgun sports is the fellowship of the other people.  Just remember - target shooting and adult beverages go well together, but you have to be sure and get the order right!

Give it a Try!

As a fairly recent entrant to the shooting sports I know it can be difficult to get started.  I now try to help others learn how to shoot in a safe and low-key environment, and I have found that many people who have never shot really enjoy it.  If you are a shooter, I encourage you to help others learn about the sports that we enjoy.