Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2008

"bet the farm moment"

You'll recall from this post, that I had decided to mount up my trusty steed and head down the road of venture capital and angel investment hunting about 2 weeks ago. It turns out that process is far more difficult than I thought it would be. I had the idea that IT folks would be willing to take a look at the implementation of my technology and be in a position to enter into an agreement to provide a portion of the funding. It just turns out that getting eyes on your product is not easy, even in the internet age. The first worry I had was the fact that most VC's wanted to see a business plan or an executive summary before they even agree to anything. Though my executive summary was general in its description of my business ideas, the business plan is quite detailed. I kept thinking, what is to stop them from passing that plan along to a few geeks they have waiting and funding their own version of my plan idea? The internet is filled with stories that go both ways, of investor…

start up talk

In today's daily blog hunt I came across this posting:

http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2007/06/25/guy-kawasaki-markus-frind-founder-of-plentyoffish-is-my-hero

which has a link to a google video on some start up stories. It really is amazing how varied the stories are. Now that I've finished watching the whole thing I can say a bit more about what I think about it. First, a common sentiment that seemed to weave through most of the panel members was the claim that they started from "zero", now as much as I'd like to believe that I can't. No one starts from zero, if these kids were doing this stuff while college students, where did the money come from to pay for college, and for the ones who were already out of college , how did they acquire the capital needed to get the development software and servers? I have been developing my framework for 6 years now, in that time I needed a great deal of money just to provide for the software and hardware to fund my work. I hav…

old object models to new object models....

I've spent the last couple of days researching the hot trend in software service enablement that is made possible by the idea of web services. I remember back in 2000, when I was still working as a network and pc support technician reading a book on the emerging tool of xml. At this time, the growing needs of web sites to store and provide content thanks to the exploding number of individuals coming online to buy, trade and interact necessitated a way to stream line content creation, transformation and delivery to different locations in different formats. Xml was the magic bullet that was able to provide all these things when used cleverly. I soon found myself during my free time at work, reading the chapters on how xml worked and how to perform xsl transformations. I became convinced that xml related technologies were the future and with that conviction in mind began a secret hunt for a job while I was still working at the bank. I was able to get a job with TheStreet.com in a mat…

Firefox 3 gets the bugs out...

I downloaded the latest beta of Firefox 3 beta 4 a few days ago and installed it last night. What a difference an upgrade makes. True to the claims of vastly improved speed, Firefox 3 impressed me with what you can get out of a philosophy of constantly pursuing tight code. In addition to being faster, the new browser also uses memory more efficiently. You'll recall my post on the importance of an almost manic obsession with reducing the memory footprint of every object when coding for scalable distributed web applications, though firefox is not meant to scale or distribute outside of a single computer, the designers realized that the area of memory utilization could be used to affect a noticeable improvement to the user experience and sure enough that is the case in Firefox 3. Pages load in a snap, firefox developers talked up the improvements on the mozilla blog take a look for the specific improvements made.

One thing that I am very happy about was a bug I noticed regarding the…

good enough redux...

In this post, I made the case that many internet companies are busy solving problems that aren't in need of solution. I wanted to differentiate the conclusion of that article from the ideas I've expressed else where that the optimal solution for a given problem over the long term involves making sure it solves the problem landscape with the largest scope possible. Over time these solutions will lead to reduced costs for the implementer in the form of maintenance and scalability issues which tend to kill projects over time as complexity (in the form of constant dam plugging and retrofitting for problems that weren't originally in the solution scope) builds to unmanageable levels.

This is a different focus from the ideas mentioned in the 'good enough' post, which were focused not on the actual solution, which in many cases in these many online business models are indeed ingenious, it is in the selection of those particular problems. In this case, the issue is that the…

How does a company keep its employees productive and happy?

I recently answered this question at the linkedin answers forum, thought it was worth reproducing here. I have some more ideas that will be forth coming.

1) Reward employees for what they know, not only for what you hired them. (yes, that is not a typo.)

2) Use your employees for what they know as well as what you hired them for. (see it all comes together. ;))

3) Allow employees to work from ...wherever. It saves you money and it saves them time...to make you more money.

4) Reward achievement on time as long as it is within project goals. ie. get rid of the time clocks.

5) Some people want to take a nap around lunch time, if you still have a physical office (I know some of you "older" businesses still do that kind of thing) provide a quite lounge precisely for this purpose.

6) If you are forced to lay off workers, offer them a reduced salary before you give em' the slip. It is the least you can do.

What are ways that you think companies can get the best out of their employees?…

Ubiquity of "free" and the new online business...

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kelly08/kelly08_index.html

The article linked above is an excellent analysis on the issues that attend the ubiquity of free content and free services online. It highlights the obvious truth that profitability in the long run will be found from attempting to profit from services that can not be easily copied and distributed online. It mentioned several qualities that can't be copied by the internet however it fails to mention only that the ubiquity of free is not restricted only to the ability for content to be copied online, it also involves the ability for the models of business to be copied as well. For example, "trust" is given as an example of a quality that can't be copied online but this isn't really true. If a network can be built that can harness trust between individuals that join that network it can be used to secure business from those users for having provided that service. Similar provider networks catering to the same …

less fiber more lambda's should mean lower costs...

Following article was written as a response to an email regarding the linked wired article back in 2/27/2006.


Leave it to the greedy corporations in search of endless revenue streams to satisfy their investors to come up with this idea. http://www.wired.com/news/wireservice/0,70292-0.html?tw=wn_index_16 I am amazed at the audacity of these telecom heads, as if the fact that people (consumers and businesses) already pay for internet access isn't enough. Now they want to chop up service on the internet to extract greater profit. Showing yet again why public corporations eventually succumb to evil by nature IMO, they can't help it. Investor driven businesses simply can not afford to have a moral compass. God this stuff makes me mad, though I am glad that unlike other business driven initiatives which the consumer has no hope of fighting against (anything the big Oil or Tobacco companies do or say) this one has other big businesses in opposition to the plans. Namely big nam…

the music of genes...

Gene Networks

The article linked above provides the latest news in the search for genes related to obesity. It turns out that genes are triggered in cascades of activity (expression) dubbed as "networks" by the researchers. I have been using the metaphor that our genes play out the music of our lives in their expression patterns and here is the proof! This research should lead to insights concerning the type of obesity that particular individuals are likely to develop should they over eat.

Great stuff.

finding problems that need solving...

Yesterday, I mentioned some of the pitfalls that attend developing complex solutions to problems that go beyond the "good enough" solutions that may already be in the wild. The internet is filled with business models that invent problems to solve that frankly no one was interested in having solved. I wanted to address in this post a bit on how to find problems that are worthy of solution. The trick is to look for problems that perform one of several things:

The problem is one you encounter on a daily basis while trying to get something else done. It is to you a "minor" but recurrent annoyance that you wish could be eliminated. Many great products and services came about from noticing a need for a slight improvement in a product design or how a service is delivered and then engineering a solution that addresses this problem. I'll call this type of potential solution an incremental innovation. The internet is filled with web sites looking to score incremental inn…

good enough is sometimes all you need...

I have been quite busy the last few days, evaluating venture capitalist firms , calling colleagues to rekindle old connections and mine them for leads on prospective investors. I have been refining my business plan and last night I spent all night compiling a presentation of the business model that I wish to seek funding for. The whole affair feels much like the type of research I had to do when I was a fresh college graduate. I had the sheep skin and a brain full of engineering knowledge, some practical experience and my voice. The search for a job was a job itself, daily searches of the newspaper and internet recruitment sites, setting up appointments and refinements to my resume soon was at its end about two months after graduation before I was able to land a position for which my practical experience was suited.

The difference between then and now is that instead of having a resume and a diploma to sell myself, I have a presentation and a business plan to sell my business. The same…

the increasingly telepresent workforce...

The following ideas were written in email on 12/16/2006, I thought it an interesting topic to start are post on here. Any thoughts? How do you think technology will change how we commute ???


Increasingly businesses are seeing the power of decentralizing their businesses so that expensive large monolithic central offices will no longer be required. We have the pieces coming into place, secure remote access to business locations, instant communication in the form of cell/IM/conferencing, pending high bandwidth pipes (FTTP) to people's homes and nearly ubiquitous wireless access and increasingly electronically run business processes in all types of businesses.

All these factors when fully employed in the business world will mean a much lower need for physical office locations and workers AT those locations, which means cut costs on maintaining such properties, paying rent, paying utilities and hiring repair and maintenance folks.

This means vast reductions in commuting workers and re…

statistics and the perception of merit...

http://www.gladwell.com/2006/2006_05_29_a_game.html

Very interesting article, I've noticed the tendency for people to give more relevance to the wrong data points in all sorts of problems I've come across in my life, school and work experience..precisely as described in this writing. It is very interesting how people applying the wrong algorithm of choices to their lives, end up making the wrong choices. It would be interesting if the researchers could apply their "win score" algorithm to other complex relationships and interactions to make predictive projections. Imagine running the algorithm in a hypothetical but possible complex problem space and then letting the predicted win score for a given course of actions in that problem space determine a real world response to the problem should it ever materialize. In computer science research, scientists have been doing something very similar to solve complex problems for years called "genetic algorithms…

Incremental truth and Wikipedia

Update: 3/17/2008

I was made aware by a reader that this post might be taken as acceptance of the practice of using wikipedia as citation for research work. I am not making this point, I am simply highlighting the vector toward more truthful , that all articles on wikipedia tend to be directed as time and contributors increases. In the most mature wikipedia articles, one will note a plethora of valid technical first source citations at the bottom of the article that can be used for academic sources. Again, the post below is simply illustrating the trend toward "incremental truth" that attends wikipedia articles.

I originally commented on this article in an email to my brother, the entire comment in transcribed below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/21/education/21wikipedia.html (may require free registration to access)


This article is a perfect example of why Wikipedia is soo cool! On one hand I agree with professors that say it shouldn't be used as a citation source …

IT Labor shortage?

I originally wrote this as commentary to an article from last year, regarding the so called IT labor shortage. I transcribe the article in its entirety for discussion here.

http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2111347,00.asp

I agree with a comment made in one of the talkback posts, there is no IT labor shortage (well not yet a real one is anticipated in the next few years), only a shortage of cheap IT labor. However there is a dual statement that can be made that I feel is also necessarily true, namely that US IT workers will need to differentiate their knowledge above and beyond the "cookie cutter" knowledge that is provided to recently graduated IT workers to improve their value relative to the foreign workers and command higher salaries while receiving first dibs on the available jobs. This additional knowledge provides value above what is otherwise comparable knowledge coming from the same cookie cutter IT workers graduating from the best Chinese and Indian universities.

Of…

Nortals...

A few weeks ago I was having an IM chat with an old friend and as is usually the case, I started talking about some aspect of my work and off hand mentioned the fact that to me , fun is working on a hard problem. It can also be incredibly frustrating when a problem evades solution but that only makes me want to solve it more. I realized that this way of looking at problems is very rare, this was something I noticed not in software engineering but in art. When I was a child I had a bit more talent than my peers when it came to line rendering, it was something I enjoyed and practiced by reading comic books and then drawing the characters in them by eye. As I got into my teens and entered HS I became more interested in under standing the mechanics of drawing. As I've mentioned in past posts , skill at any thing can be learned, it is only a matter of figuring out the necessary object interactions and mastering them to the point that we can visualize and create arbitrary configurations…

VC hunt day 1

Today I finally got started on researching , compiling and contacting venture capitalists for the purpose of securing funding for launch of my business plan. I was thinking today just how amazing it is that the resources to so many firms are literally at my fingertips. If this were 20 years ago I'd have to be doing some serious leg work just to get the chance of being in contact with these firms , today many are just an email away.

The online VC funding business is alive with incredible diversity as far as resources that can be used to get in touch with the right firms. The very first search landed the go big network, this seems like an excellent place for a company with a product can go to be connected with investors with the funding. I was all excited about signing up and eagerly hit the "join us" button, I was taken through the task of specifying my company and personal details and detailing a loose description of my funding needs. The hook didn't come until the ve…

closures, Ajax, javascript and the hard easy....

A key aspect of AJAX based development is the use of javascript to provide the A in the Jax, all the buzz over web 2.0 is boiled down to one single javascript object now implemented in all major browsers that was first conceived (amazingly) by Microsoft.

XmlHttpRequest

This object allows the set up of an asynchronous http request, essentially a request that is not tied to the state of the currently requested page resource by the users. Allowing separating of requests from the resource allows us to retrieve resources at different times , hence the that Asynchronous word. Anyway , the object is great , has simple methods for passing in the url and does what it was made to do but because javascript forces some interesting issues to crop up.

Closures:

In javascript the closures allow a function declaration to persists the current state of a calling function in order to await a response from another objects execution. Since XHR objects process asynchronously they are tailor made to be used w…

effective public speaking

..I was spending some time surfing and came across the always informative 37signals weblog. An article there referenced this link to a set of video tutorials made a Harvard professor on how to give effective presentations and talks. Always useful for those of us that feel that our oratory skills could use a bit of brushing up!

Enjoy

verbose link:

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/html/icb.topic58703/winston1.html

the butterfly effect and green coding

Optimization of code is for me one of the most fun parts of development, at the same time it tends to be one of the most fleeting. The reason is that if you take care to ensure that your design is optimal for the problem scope encountered during the application life time, you reduce the need in a general sense for optimizations that require design changes. This minimizes a class of optimizations that tend to be the most costly to repair, which is a good thing. Still though, you are likely to need several rounds of optimization that involves the elements that are not directly made more efficient even when you have selected the optimal overall design, these elements show up in the minutia of the actual code, inside the classes and methods. The Java language has various gotchas that can affect code and reduce performance even while the code itself looks fine. Circular object references can pop up and despite judicious attempts by the automatic garbage collector , memory leaks will resul…