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Month: August 2010

OMG – Nostalgia time

OMG – Nostalgia time

Green Jellö, or previously, (Green Jellÿ) who had a lead singer and drummer who later joined Tool.  I remember playing this album continuously as a kid and loving it.  Read more about the band on their wikipedia article.

Little pig, little pig let me in!
Not by the hair of my chiny-chin-chin!



Rant mode on:

Microsoft, we’ve been friends.  Good friends in fact – for many years.  And that one time we got drunk at the bar and … well.  But you’re doing me wrong.  Not just wrong, your KILLING ME.  WHAT THE F* IS WRONG WITH YOUR SEARCH IN WIN7 (and to lesser degree Vista)???

Why is it if I want to find a real, honest file, I need to open a command prompt and type: ‘dir fileIwanttofind.dae /s’ to actually find the thing?   Why is it if I type the filename in the ‘search’ box of my file explorer YOU NEVER SEEM TO FIND IT.  EVEN IF I POINT YOU TO THE RIGHT DIRECTORY.  EVEN IF I GO TO ADVANCED AND SELECT ALL THE CRYPTIC OPTIONS.  What. The. Hell.  You can’t even find a file anymore.

I was trying to walk a friend through a virus attack the other day (which turned out just to be a HORRIBLY written app), and needed to delete an auto-starting program called foo.exe.  I had her type it into the search dialog.  No luck.  I had her open the advanced options and select system+hidden files  – no luck.  We tried wildcards like foo.* and so forth – no luck.  I had her open the dos prompt and type the search in – bam – answer in 2 seconds.

You have this crazy service running constantly scanning and indexing my drives, you have search helper services running all the time and chewing up resources – but you can’t find a single file when I look for it.  I ALWAYS end up resorting to a seperate tool or command prompt.

How did you get so messed up?  Are you drunk? What’s wrong with you?

Launching a business from your idea in a nutshell

Launching a business from your idea in a nutshell

Sure, it obviously is a bit simplistic, but at it’s core, this is one of the best short descriptions of how you should go about converting your software idea into a business – and when not to – in as few as words as I have seen.

Quoted here for availability:

I’ll save you the time of getting an MBA (note this primarily applies if you are building a B2B product company, consumer is much harder to validate):

Before you start your new company, figure out what your product is, then figure out who will buy it (I mean, who is the specific person in an organization that would need to make a purchase decision). Then, go talk to 2 or 3 of those people.

At this stage, if you can’t figure out who those people are, then you have a problem that isn’t going to go away once you’ve spent 12 months building your product. You have no market, do something else.

If you can’t get a meeting with those people, then you also have a problem that isn’t going to go away after you’ve built your product. You can’t penetrate your market, do something else.

When you get a meeting with them, don’t try to pitch them your idea. Tell them that you are exploring a market opportunity, and that you’d like to describe a product and ask them if they would buy it. Make it clear to them that they are very welcome to say “no, I won’t buy that”. In fact, you should try to get them to tell you they won’t buy it. If they tell you they won’t buy it, your market doesn’t want it, do something else.

If they say they’ll buy it, ask them if they would sign a non-binding letter of intent saying that if you build the product, and it does what you say it will do, that they will purchase it. This commits them to nothing, but these LoIs are gold if you are ever pitching investors. They are also a robust sign that they aren’t just telling you what you want to hear. If they won’t sign LoIs, then they weren’t serious when they said they’d buy your product, your market doesn’t want it, do something else.

Get 2 or three LoIs in your back pocket, then you’re ready to quit your job and start your business.

I guess the key idea here that most entrepreneurs miss is that you really need to vet your own ideas. Many aspiring entrepreneurs dream up an idea, and then stick to it doggedly, either because its the only idea they have, or they find it technically interesting. They don’t want to discover that it won’t work, so they don’t try to figure it out! This is a bit like writing some code, and then not testing it because you really don’t want to discover that its buggy.

The one thing worse than not starting a company is wasting 6 or 12 months of your life on an idea that has no market. Be smart, and do your due diligence on your own ideas before you take the plunge and start a company.

And one guy responds:

Fantastic. Pure gold. But I’d like to add some stuff on the other side about avoiding bullshit.

The business field is absolutely chock full of narcissistic idiots. The tech field is particularly bad because we had a big bubble about 10 years ago and the field is still full of get-rich-quick morons. Do not listen to these people.

How to spot them? They’re fast talkers, make lots of promises, pad their resumes, name drop like mad, and if you probe a bit you find out that they really don’t know what they’re talking about.

Most of them position themselves as middle-men who will “get you funded” or as “business accelerators.” A few pretend to be entrepreneurs themselves, but what they’re really looking to do is get someone entangled with them so they can ride. They’re almost never willing to do any real work. (This is another red flag.) In the valley the slang for them is “wantrepreneurs.”’tv/whats-a-wantrepreneur-ask-ustreamtvs-founders-326951.php

You want hackers at first, preferably ones who know a little bit about business. Then you want sales contacts who will go out and sell for you in exchange for some commission. The latter should be familiar with your target market. You’ll probably meet them when you’re doing the parent post’s advice.

Remember: it’s easy to get someone to sell for you. Just give them a cut. They don’t even have to be a “salesman” per se. They just have to have a market available to them. For them, it’s all upside and very little downside. Structure the deal this way, and people will sell your product (if it has value to anyone that is).

Finally, a lot of bullshit circulates about the subject of business. This is business, in a nutshell:

To succeed in business, what you need is: 1) a product or service that people want and are willing to pay for, and 2) a way of delivering that product or service such that the amount of money you take in is larger than the amount of money it costs to deliver it.

That’s it. There are a lot of tangential ideas, but most of them “orbit” that one. (marketing, sales, margins, etc.) There’s also the topic of financing, equity, investment, and exits, but you don’t even need to go there until you have the big thing down or until you have some idea of how you’re going to get there.

The whole cult of the ever-ephemeral “what it takes” to succeed in business (hand-wave, hand-wave, bullshit, bullshit), “other peoples’ money,” etc. is just the aforementioned narcissistic idiots blowing hot air. Ignore it. Business ideas are like chemical reactions, and money is like energy. If a reaction is exothermic, it’s a source of energy. If a reaction is endothermic, it consumes energy. Same goes with profitability and money. That’s it. All the rest is bullshit. Bad business ideas are bad, and no amount of narcissistic bullshit will change that. Good business ideas are good, and if they are executed well then “normal” non-sociopaths can make them work just fine. Execution is mostly a matter of hard work, good planning, attention to detail, multi-tasking, and a lot of “boring” management stuff.

Wierd Al

Wierd Al

Wierd Al Yankovic visited Portland this week for a show.  Hoestly, it was one of the most fun concerts I’ve been to this year. Managed to score a back-stage pass for the afterparty and meet the band.  A really hard-working group of guys.  It was a solid 2+ hour performance with narry a break and an unbelievable numbers of costume changes between almost EVERY song.  Wierd Al earns his money for sure.

Videos from my iPhone (which means they aren’t super-great) on my youtube page:

Translating women-speak in a relationship

Translating women-speak in a relationship

Found this guide handy and somewhat humorous…

If she says:
Fine – This is the word women use to end an argument they are right and the only response you can make is to shut up.

Five Minutes – She means five minutes the same you do when you say I’ll be done with this website in five minutes. We’re both the same in this regard so don’t make a big issue of it. Keep a magazine nearby.

Nothing – This the calm before the storm.  This means something, and you should be on your toes.  Arguments usually being with ‘nothing’ and end in ‘fine’.  The best answer to this is, “Really? You seem upset. Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?” said with actual concern. If she says it’s nothing again, you ignore it if you believe her and work on doing something nice for her later to help improve her mood if you don’t.

Go ahead – This is a dare – not permission!  Either do it without remorse or challenge her by saying “do you really mean that?”

Loud sigh – non-verbal statement often meaning that she thinks you’re an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time arguing with you about ‘nothing’.  There’s really not much you can do about this one. You can say “I wish you would say what’s on your mind instead of making noises I don’t understand”, but your mileage may vary.

That’s okay – One of the most dangerous statements a woman can make to a man.  ‘That’s ok’ means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.  If you’re at fault for something and know she’s upset, you should probably proactively think of a way to make it up to her. Don’t surprise her with it, let her know what you’re going to do and FOLLOW THROUGH.

Thanks – She is actually thanking you – it’s not a question.  Just say you’re welcome.  UNLESS she says ‘Thanks a lot’ – which is usually pure sarcasm – which means saying ‘you’re welcome’ which will bring out a ‘whatever’.

Whatever – A womens way of saying F-CK YOU as clearly as she can.  It’s rude and annoying, but like the sigh, there’s not much you can do. The more literal translation is “I don’t care about your position at all. Everything you think and feel is invalid”. If you are in a relationship and hear this frequently, you need to do something or you won’t have to worry about the relationship much longer.

Don’t worry about it, I got it – Another dangerous statement meaning she told him something several times, but now she feels she must do it because you didn’t do it (at all, soon enough, the right way, etc).  If someone wants to be indirect about stuff, there’s no reason you should have to put up with it. A useful response would be “I told you I’d do it and I will, but if you want to do it now, go ahead”. Or if you never agreed to do it in the first place, throw the spear back with a simple “enjoy!”