Louis Rossetto, Co-founder of Wired


Cool Tools Show 086: Louis Rossetto

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Our guest this week is Louis Rossetto. Louis co-founded Wired with his life partner Jane Metcalfe. During his five years directing Wired, it won the National Magazine Awards for General Excellence twice and was Adweek’s Hottest Magazine of the Year. Wired also pioneered commercial web media, launching HotWired the first website with original advertising and Fortune 500 advertising. Since Wired, he’s pursued different obsessions from real estate to helping start and run the high end chocolate company TCHO, to writing his new novel Change is Good.

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Show notes:

DxO OpticsPro
“I kept looking for something that would allow me to process images faster and better and I ran across this tool called DxO OpticsPro 11 and basically there’s a plugin that goes into Lightroom, you can export photographs directly out of Lightroom into DxO and then inside of DxO you can do the kind of image polishing that you’d like to do in Lightroom, but that Lightroom isn’t totally adapted to. Maybe that’s ’cause they don’t want to dent Photoshop. In DxO OpticsPro, there are a whole bunch of tools which are seemingly more intelligent than just a slider … things that just make the whole process of arriving at a really good image easier. …For example, you can pick spot reading and then look at a face, select the face on the image and the program will adjust the lighting for the face itself and for the rest of the image. … So it’s not just lighting the face and then lighting the rest of the picture, it’s lighting the face and making sure the rest of the picture stays in the right color in Lightroom.”

Botvac D3 Connected ($399)
“It’s a normal looking Botvac but the nice things about it are that it runs off an app. Once you set the whole thing up then you can just press a button or even it runs off Alexa, you can tell your Botvac to start cleaning. It has a little docking station, it starts at the docking station and then it starts to take off and go around and vacuum the floor like all of these things do. The one thing about this particular robot is it doesn’t just randomly run around the room, it actually it has a laser probe or something that’s looking out and it’s setting the parameters of the room and stuff in the room and then it goes around and tries to systematically, go up and down as much as it can go and vacuum that floor rather than the kind of crazy pattern that you might otherwise get by a robot that went banged into something and turned around and went the other direction or another direction again. So it’s more efficient in that sense … and then when it’s all done it runs back to its docking station, it sort of wiggles its back up against the dock and sends you a message it says, ‘I’m done.’ And turns itself off.”

Philips hue lights with Yonomi app
“When we first left Wired, I wanted to just put in state of the art lighting in our place and … among the solutions that came along have been Phillips Hue system which started out as sort of colored lights…but there was the implication there that there was something more that could be done and finally Phillips came along and it has a bridge that connects to your Wi-Fi or your network and then there’s an app to run it. They finally realized this could be its own little ecology for lighting and pretty soon they started introducing just plain white bulbs and then they introduced motion detectors and wall switches. For a few hundred dollars now you can get the starter pack of the bridge that connects to the light bulb so you get a bridge and two bulbs for around 60 bucks. With the app which is free you can then turn those bulbs on and off, you can set a schedule for them, you can connect them to motion detectors, you can connect them to switches. For a few hundred dollars then you can build a whole house lighting system that does about all the stuff that my multi $10,000 lighting system used to do 20 years ago. I think that’s kind of remarkable and of course it’s gone beyond that as home automation has gotten to be a new field.”

Foundation Wailer 99 ($799)
“It used to be that you needed multiple skis if you were a dedicated skier or you just liked skiing at all. You’d have to have one set of skis for powder skiing and another set of skis for barreling down the front of the mountain and maybe another set of skis for all mountain skiing where you’d also go on rough parts of the mountain. I got a pair of these a couple of years ago and it certainly changed my sense about dealing with the whole mountain and all the different experiences that you can have on the mountain. There were whole parts of the mountain that I would never go near because they were not groomed or they just seemed spooky or they were just too deep or whatever. And now with these kind of skis, the DPS skis and in particular width, this is 99, they also make 106 … are good for the entire mountain.”

About Change is Good
“It’s about the digital revolution that we experienced … in the 90s in San Francisco South of Market and it’s about the young people that came there with fire in the world to change the world. They didn’t come there to make money, they came there to create tools and use tools that they could personally lever their ideas and change the world for what they thought would be the better. We saw this up close when we were doing Wired and we saw the transformation as well from the beginning … In 1992 it was all about utopia, by 1998 it was about this bubble that was starting, the dot-com bubble. I’m writing about a week in January 1998, which is to me when revolution turned into the orgy of the dot-com bubble and six lives who were on that edge and how they are dealing with their ambitions and optimism and ideals and the reality that’s coming down on them.”