Opening up my calendar

Opening up my calendar:

I’ve freed up ~an hour/day in my calendar to help advise early-stage startups and young designers — Office Hours style. I chose the time slot 4pm GMT to be convenient for a range of time zones – that’s 8am in SF and 11am in NYC.

I’ll see how it goes and tweak as necessary, but for now if you’re a pre-money startup, or a (prospective?) design school student feel free to RSVP to one of these slots with your Skype or iChat username and we’ll go from there!

My availability on Google Calendar

[I’ve done this as well recently, although I’m more hesitant… maybe I should just leap in and see what happens.]
Source: Jon Gold

The Paradise That Should Have Been | The Cynical Musician

The Paradise That Should Have Been | The Cynical Musician:

What about a band? Let’s just quickly go over the same calculations for a standard four-piece rock group (vocals, guitar, bass, drums):

Amazon and iTunes, single-track downloads: 7,250 a month; 87,000 a year.
CD Baby full-album downloads: 619 a month; 7,433 a year.
eMusic single-track downloads: 13,567 a month; 162,807 a year.
Rhapsody streams: 509,890 a month; 6,118,681 a year. plays: 30,933,333 a month; 371,200,000 a year.
Aside: Even if you got the entire Chinese web-connected population to listen to your song on just once, you still probably wouldn’t meet your annual quota.

[And that’s for minimum wage and assumes no cost in the production of the music. It is to weep. Keep asking me why I no longer try and make a living in music… simple really. I found that I had to do other things to make a living, which was defeating the point. I also never thought the “Internet” was going to improve this situation in terms of sales or royalties directly. I saw it as an opportunity to market to larger audience more easily. And that it is. But that does not convert directly into sales where aggregation and a direct relationship with your audience is important. iTunes sitting between you and your audience doesn’t allow for this… or any other service of that sort. That’s why I think making credit card transactions simple is so key right now.]

No, Michael Arrington, you are not Jack Sparrow

No, Michael Arrington, you are not Jack Sparrow:

“But the real payoff is the pirate life itself!” The argument for doing the insane startup work is the slim potential the team sells for $100M or more, but really, you’re in it because you love risk. You love the lifestyle! You love the sailing around the world and visiting exotic new ports of call and the rum and the wenches and oh wait we’re not actually talking about pirates you idiot.

Real pirates tended to be out-of-work privateers who had nowhere else to go, criminals trying to escape the law, or the desperately poor; their careers at sea rarely lasted more than a few years and usually ended in death. The number who retired comfortably in their mid-30s to start investment funds to back new up-and-coming pirates is roughly zero. But in Arrington’s “fantasy pirate world,” they’re all Jack Sparrow.

There may well be an “entrepreneur lifestyle” which roughly corresponds to the pirate lifestyle. I know a serial entrepreneur who seems to always be traveling to meet with high-power executives and VCs, to make deals over lunch and dinner and wine and bocce, and I don’t doubt for a minute that he puts in 80+ hour weeks or that it isn’t genuinely hard work. But the lifestyle that people are “crying and whining about” is, ultimately, not the entrepreneur lifestyle. It’s the first-hire lifestyle. Arrington may genuinely believe that all hard work is roughly identical, but it isn’t. The hard work he put in building TechCrunch was finding and managing employees, writing, and a lot of meetings with Internet movers and shakers. Surely that is hard work, but it’s no more comparable to an 80+ hour week of sitting at (or under) a desk coding until you have RSI than it is to tomato farming.

What brought on Arrington’s righteous anger was the complaints that people like, well, me had about Zynga reneging on stock options. He thinks that’s just whining. Bullshit. Zynga is whining. And let’s not pretend that Zynga is a Google or Twitter or a JWZ-era Netscape—or even a TechCrunch. They’re a Skinner box. I won’t go so far as to say that Mark Pincus should be first against the wall when the revolution comes, but he should be sleeping under a desk.

Pincus started—started—where Uncle Mike is now: as a venture capitalist. The material wealth both of them enjoy came from work very far removed from first-hire engineering. Arrington may fancy himself a pirate, but he hasn’t ever had to worry about scurvy.

[Too brilliant for me not to quote so heavily. It’s worth reading the entire piece. There’s another confusion taking place as well. The one where someone writes code or has an idea they’re so passionate about that they can’t stop doing it. That happens as well, but it’s only slightly more common than winning the lottery, hitting it big with a startup, or becoming a rock star considering how hard it is to maintain that level of intensity over any length of time.]
Source: Coyote Tracks

The road you ride on

The road you ride on:

We cannot credit a single person for inventing roads but Pierre-Marie-Jérôme Trésaguet deserves a mention. A French engineer, he sat down to write guidelines for the construction of roads. In 1775 he became Inspecteur Générale for roads and bridges in France and the country began updating paths and tracks. Trésaguet insisted on excavating the ground, installing a layer of large rocks and then adding finer layers of gravel on top, all with drainage channels by the side. Like that, horse-drawn carriages could ride smoothly across mud-free roads as water would now drain away.

The next prominent name in early road construction is John Loudon McAdam, a Scot whose name lives on today thanks to macadam and tarmac. Macadam is the use of soil and stone that is then rollered into place to form a compacted layer that resists the passage of traffic, horseshoes included. This technique is still in use the world over and today cycling races use such roads in the strade bianche of Tuscany or the Colle delle Finestre, a regular in the Giro d’Italia  which was built for the Italian army.

[Imagine if the road could be patented (It no doubt could if it were “invented” today). Evolutionary development happens all the time. Real leaps in understanding, design, or application are rare. Chip seal roads suck because they are “tweeners”… neither gravel road nor pavement. They catch you unaware, lulling you to sleep with well packed sections when a sudden pile of loose stone or some fresh oil does you in. feh.]
Source: The Inner Ring

John Kenney: “We Are the One Per Cent” : The New Yorker

John Kenney: “We Are the One Per Cent” : The New Yorker: Do you know that feeling, upon waking at 4 A.M., heart racing, your mind looking twenty, thirty years down the road, wondering how you are going to make ends meet? Worrying about what would happen if you lost your job, asking yourself how you’re going to pay for your kids’ college or retire? Well, I don’t. But I read a story about it once and remember thinking, I’m so glad that’s not me.



Bitcoin: So it seems to me and my colleagues at USV that an alternative currency with roots in peer to peer networks and based on an algorithm that is transparent to everyone is an idea whose time has come. The question remains if the Bitcoin algorithm or some other algorithm (possibly a derivative of the Bitcoin algorithm that deals with some of Bitcoin’s weaknesses?) will ultimately win out. That’s an important issue that has a lot to do with when this space becomes investable.

[I’ve been following Bitcoin for a while, no some people who are more involved and still don’t understand how the shift will occur.]
Source: A VC

Adobe Systems holding users hostage?

An Open Letter To Adobe Systems « Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider Blog » Photoshop & Digital Photography Techniques, Tutorials, Books, Reviews & More: While I understand that Adobe needs to make business decisions based on how it sees market conditions, I feel the timing of this new pricing structure is patently unfair to your customers (and our members). Here’s why: You didn’t tell us up front. You didn’t tell us until nearly the end of the product’s life cycle, and now you’re making us buy CS5.5 for just a few months on the chance that we might want to buy CS6 at a discount when it’s released. Otherwise, we have to pay the full price as if we were never Adobe customers at all.

Those users who didn’t upgrade to CS5 or 5.5, either couldn’t afford the upgrade, or couldn’t justify the upgrade, or they would already be on CS5 or 5.5. But now you’re kind of holding us hostage—you’re making us buy something we don’t need now, just so we will still have the option to get something that we may want (CS6) when it is released without buying it all over again from scratch. You’re playing hardball with your customers—either upgrade twice or you’re out.

[Pricing is never easy but it seems clear, that anytime a company does this it annoys customers something fierce.]

Experience with Git

Experience with Git: From time to time, a test fails.  One of the first things I typically do is run git bisect.  All I need to do is to identify a good version, a bad version, and a test to run.  Even if the test takes 2 minutes and there are 30 or so revisions between the good and bad points, I get an answer in about 10 minutes without needing to be further involved in determining where the problem is.

[Yeah there’s good stuff in all this.]
Source: Sam Ruby

Apple to Allow Subscription-Based Gaming on App Store

You download one Big Fish app, and the games are all available within that app. Like what the Netflix app is for movies, the Big Fish app is for games. This is an interesting change in policy from Apple, to say the least.


[This was exactly the sea change I discussed elsewhere about apps being the new channel, or books.]
Source: Daring Fireball

[A follow up, that it looks like Apple allowed this by mistake and the app has since been pulled… We’ll see what happens next. But ultimately, apps as channels will happen IMHO.]