The Profesional Web Site Of Landon Blake

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I've added several new images to my "Scrapers" collection on Unsplash. (Unsplash is an amazing web site where generous photographers share their high-resolution photographs that you are free to use for non-commercial and commercial purposes.) My Scrapers collection features beautiful photos of skyscrapers, immense buildings, and other architecture taken by Unsplash members from around the world. This post has some of the new photos I've added to my collection. (You can view my other collections on my Unsplash profile.)

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I've created a new collection on Unsplash for my top picks from the set of my own photos taken in the California Sierra Nevada Mountains. Most of these photos were taken along highway 88, Highway 4, and Highway 108 in Eastern California and Western Nevada. (In this post are 3 photos from that collection.)

Unsplash is a great place to get high resolution photography free from copyright. I've got several collections there. One is my collection for landscape photos on Unsplash called "Beautiful Earth". I wanted to share a couple of my recent additions to this collection. The images are below.

If are a fan of photography or graphic design, make sure you check out Unsplash!


Econtalk, my all-time favorite podcast, had an episode in July with guest Ryan Holiday that talked about the need for humility and a recognition that others contribute a great deal to what we are able to accomplish.

After I heard that podcast I resolved to regularly think about and recognize how others have helped me be successful as a land surveyor (which is how I provide materially for my family). I hoped this would be a concrete effort on my part to cultivate a little more humility, which is a quality I could certainly practice more. In my last post on this topic, I recognized my dad Randy Blake for the training he gave me. In this post, I'd like to thank and recognize my friend and land surveying mentor Brent Boitano.

I started working with Brent as a rodman on a 2 man survey field crew right out of college. I was eager to learn and wanted to work hard, but I didn't have a clue about how to do my job. Brent was an outstanding survey party chief. He was also a hard worker and had high expectations for me. His high expectations were tempered with a willingness to teach me. Everything I have learned about being a good field surveyor, I learned from Brent Boitano. This includes the simplest things, like how to paint and flag stakes, to the complicated, like how to select the best control layout and survey method to execute a field survey. Brent also taught me how to search for property corner monuments, a skill that is easily underestimated by people outside of the land surveying profession. As a property corner monument hound, Brent Boitano is second to none. He was always willing to dig that hole in 105-degree summer heat to find the monument they needed back in the office.

My CAD skills and comfort with a computer meant I had less time as Brent's rodman than I should have. I was quickly moved into the office, or running a field crew of my own. I wish I could have benefited from more time as his rodman.

Almost a decade later, Brent and I had the chance to work together again. He joined my team as my field crew coordinator at O'Dell Engineering. It was a tremendous pleasure it was to have an old friend at my side once again. I'll never forget that.

Brent has always put my interests ahead of his own. He has also always offered honest advice. I've seen him willing to risk his own life to save mine in dangerous situations. I'll be eternally grateful that I had Brent as my first party chief. Many surveyors don't get that type of privilege on their first gig painting stakes, charging batteries, and pounding wooden hubs.

If you are a party chief today, follow Brent's example. Work hard. Set high expectations. Patiently teach. Put the welfare of your coworkers ahead of your own. Most importantly: Be a good friend. Your rodman will never forget that, no matter where he ends up in life or career.


In early of September this year, my wife Monique and I took a road trip along Highway 108. You can view photos from that trip on the Flickr album. The highway has the prettiest mountains and waterfalls I've seen in California.


The May 18, 2015 Issue of Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine has an article about the struggle of big IT infrastructure companies like Cisco caused by the rise of cloud computing and more open technology design and standards.

The article says that: "Increasingly, smaller companies that want their own data centers will also be able to order gear more customized for their needs than that of the Cisco generation. Dozens of IT companies now build chips, motherboards, and servers from designs published by the Facebook led Open Compute Project, a four year old effort to lower data center costs...Open Compute Project head Frank Frankovsky says its most active project focuses on  making cheaper network gear."

Rock on open hardware! What are the impacts of these changes on the established IT infrastructure companies? Creative destruction!

The article continues: "This new openness reduces the influence and profitability of massive sales teams assembled by the big IT companies."

It isn't just open hardware designs that are overturning the apple cart in IT infrastructure. It is also software.

Lew Cirne, the CEO of cloud software company New Relic, offers this quote in the article: "Given that customers can switch cloud providers with a few clicks, the only reliable way to compete is to have the best product."

What a horrifying thought! When vendor lock-in and monopolies fail, the only way to compete is to bring better value to your customers with a great product! (How I wish this would happen the the big 3 traditional survey equipment/software vendors, Trimble, Leica, and Topcon.)

There are big companies in the IT industry that recognize this trend and are trying to adapt to a more open, collaborative world. The article mentions Microsoft, which is producing versions of its office software for Android and iOs, and also Dell, which is working with outside makers of networking equipment instead of always pushing its own stuff.

Let the walled gardens crumble! Although this trend of openness is bad for big IT companies, its only good news for companies that consume IT infrastructure, for their customers, and for innovation in general. Lowering the cost of IT also makes it easier to start new businesses and non-profit organizations, which we need for a healthy and vibrant economy.

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