•October 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This blog post by former Wesabe CEO Marc Hedlund is a breath of fresh air.  So often leaders don’t take responsibility for their mistakes and missteps.  They blame the market, the customers, their competition, anything but themselves.  Marc on the other hand says “you know, maybe it was me, after all I was the guy calling the shots”.  I like his honesty and I like his suggestion that others try to learn from what happened with Wesabe and Mint.


What is a Bastard?

•May 7, 2010 • 1 Comment

Often we ask ourselves hard-to-answer questions, like, what is a bastard exactly?

So we start philosophizing, with metaphysical postulations, incomplete aphorisms, and inconsistent sophisms that only make one more and more sure that the only true thing is that a picture is worth a thousand words.

In the photo below, the guy on the right is a member of a bomb squad in the middle of a deactivation, just doing his job.

The guy behind him, well, he’s a bastard.

Way to Go-oogle!

•March 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Today I was setting up a Google Voice account.  During the account creation process I got one of the bot-proofing “type the word in the picture below” items.  The word choice was epic!

Bobby McFerrin hacks your brain with music

•February 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Check out this 3 minute TED video where Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”) demonstrates how our brains are hardwired for music using the Pentatonic scale, even though for hundreds of years Western music has been based on the Diatonic scale.  It is crazy cool.

Bobby McFerrin hacks your brain with music

For the non-musicians out there, get your music geek on:

Diatonic scale – Wikipedia
Pentatonic scale – Wikipedia

The best part of this for me was that for 2 hours after I showed this to my son, he was wondering around the house improving melodies on the pentatonic scale.  Mind blowingly cool!

The 7th Deadly Sin: Sloth Programming

•November 12, 2009 • 1 Comment

As I work here on my laptop I have a bunch of apps open but they are idle, not opened since yesterday:  a word processors, spreadsheets, two email clients, two web browsers with 34+ tabs full of html, java, and flash.  Today all I’m using today TextEdit (writing this blog post) and iTunes (currently playing some Rodrigo Y Gabriela), and I’m reminded of something Sun’s CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, said – “Most modern user-applications are over-served by Moore’s Law.”  What he means is that getting yourself more memory and a faster processor isn’t going to make iTunes play your songs any differently or your email tool do something interesting while waiting for your slow fingers to type the next character in your sentence.


Frankly, the work I do most of the time (reading email, reading web pages, creating word documents and spreadsheets, listening to iTunes) would be perfectly well served by my 7 year-old PowerBook G4 (and it was way back then).  What annoys me is that I’m running on a modern 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, by all rights a screaming machine, and my computer is doing NOTHING right now, yet the system is running at 64% of max!

Faster processors and larger memory have made software developers LAZY BASTARDS!  They write big fat bloated apps that have memory leaks galore.  My modern machine easily has 8x the processing power and 4x the memory of my old laptop, and that lets me run more apps at once, but not too many more because while “idle” they continue to suck up more and more resources.

The only truly “active” app on the list is iTunes, in 5th place and using only 3.2% of 1 CPU.  Safari, which I haven’t touched in 2 hours is choking up 97% of 1 CPU.  WTF?!


Dear programmers of the world… Being “green” shouldn’t just be about recycling your soda bottles and writing software to run the smart grid, it should be about not wasting ANY resources, including the “free” ones like the unused memory and CPU cycles on my laptop.  I could argue that efficient, clean code would consume less CPU, meaning less power consumption, saving battery life, which in turn means less electricity is used charging the laptop, but it shouldn’t just be about that.   You should be embarrassed that your app runs amuck and requires your customers to restart it (or worse, reboot the whole machine) periodically to clean up after you.

Imagine if other objects in your life worked like that.  Suppose that if you left appliances on for more than a week they began to consume more and more resources (electricity), after two weeks your refrigerator might be sucking up 80% of the entire capacity of the wires coming to your home, the toaster would be getting hot even though you haven’t used it since last Tuesday’s breakfast, pretty soon you’d have to go unplug your devices, or even trip the main breaker to reset everything and get your electricity usage back down to the tiny percentage of resource utilization that is warranted by idle devices.  You wouldn’t tolerate that!  Nor should you of your software!

Moore’s law doesn’t give you carte blanche to write sloppy code.

My dream is of a day when I can get away with a cheaper, lower-power laptop because there just isn’t anything I need it to do that warrants a more powerful device.  As my freshmen comp-sci professor used to say “All computers wait at the same speed.”   Frankly my typing just isn’t fast enough to wear out a dual core 2 GHz box, even with a little flamenco music on the side.


And the 8th deadly sin is… PIZZA!

The Gabe Dixon Band Fishbowl

•November 8, 2009 • 1 Comment

Amazon holds periodic promotional events, for lack of a better phrase, where a featured author or artist from is brought in to talk to employees over the lunch hour.  They do this every 2 weeks or so; I attended my first one this week.  The Gabe Dixon Band came in and performed a fantastic set for us.  Gabe played piano and Jano Rix played percussion using only a guitar body.  The music was great.  Gabe has a high smooth voice that reminds me of Jason Mraz, and he’s a hell of a piano player.  His songs have smart, interesting lyrics – no popcorn to be found (yea!)  He did some mellow stuff and a few hoppin’ songs that had us all clapping along, and he closed with a “sing-along” where he taught the crowd a “wooo hooo” sort of line, very fun!

Jano’s percussion was incredible.  His method was based on hand motions on a guitar.  He placed a clothespin across all the strings, right over the sound hole and when he smacked it with his fingers it sounded for all the world like a high-hat.  He’d use the heel of the same hand to pound the guitar body just below the hole which produced a deep base drum sound.  With his other hand he’d tap his fingers against the side of the guitar, producing a higher pitched drum sound, and periodically he’d let the ring on his finger smack the side giving a nice snare drum rim-shot effect.  You would have sworn there was a drum kit in the room, or at least a drum machine.  It was amazing to watch.

I went home that night and downloaded the band’s self titled album.  It’s only $6.95 and worth checking out if you like piano rock.  Good stuff!

Thoughts from the Fuselage: Part 4– July 2009

•August 14, 2009 • 3 Comments

Thoughts from the Fuselage: Part 4 – July 2009

The final(?) installment

Ideas, thoughts, musings, and drivel captured while commuting by air.

(a slightly belated post – completed on 25 days ago)

July 3rd

Due to my screw-up, Sandy and I are on separate flights heading home.  She’s onAlaska-airlines-4@AlaskaAir and departed at 5:05.  I’m on Southwest 905 and departed at 6:40 – 30 minutes late, on a ground hold due to big thunderstorms in Denver.  Poor Sandy *hates* flying and not only had to go alone but also is flying into a potentially ICK landing… and now she has to wait 90 minutes at DIA for me to arrive and drive us home.  Sigh.  I suck.

We have the clearest skies I’ve seen yet leaving Seattle.  I booked both Sandy and I on the starboard side of the plane and we have absolutely AMAZING views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Hood. *W*O*W*

Diggin’ me some Dave Matthews Band – Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King album.  “Shake Me Like A Monkey” is pure funk genius!  Those horn riffs kick butt!  I’m gonna play that again!

Traveling in Crocs is comfy enough but removing them to walk through security was not at all pleasant.  Walking barefoot across dirty floors full of people’s nasty feet filth is just not a good thing.  Dear TSA, can you please get over this ridiculous shoe removal nonsense?  If you can’t detect a knife in my shoe WTF makes you think you’ll detect one in my pocket?  Either make us all go through naked or let us leave our clothes on, KTHXBYE

I’m enjoying the album SNL 25th – The Musical Performances Vol I

I dunno about your political leanings and I’m always careful not to start down that slippery slope with friends, but I can NOT stop smiling about the Sarah Palin resignation.  “Executive experience” my ass, she was mayor of a town that was smaller than my high-school before she somehow (her looks) got her hands on the unsuspecting Alaskan government. She is a stolid soundbite slinging sanctimonious stooge; a babbling beauty buzzword bingo bluestocking.  The girl couldn’t find a cogent sentence if a Russian wrote it on a sign in his front yard.  Palin isn’t qualified to run a Jiffy Lube much be a heartbeat away from the big chair.  Thank gawd she is over (for now, until they make her the female Rush Limbaugh).  Oh wait… you say she’s a Leviticus zealot?  Well never mind then!

Who put all these clouds over Oregon at 35,000 feet?

Watching my favorite Podcast – Tiki Bar TV.  Today I’m enjoying Episode 42 – Fishbone.  This one’s not as pure as some of the others but it’s funny (and not kid safe).

I was NOT expecting to listen to SIR-MIX-A-LOT today, but my iPod served up Baby Got Back and now I’m down wit dat.

We had an exciting landing today – just before we touched down the plane started slewing from side to side in a nasty wind shear.  The pilot pulled up and gunned the throttle.  It took several seconds the plane to really respond and climb out.  We circled around twice and made a 2nd landing pass with almost the same results.  The pilot battled through it and put us down for one of the smoothest landings I’ve seen in weeks, but it was pretty dicey before we touched down!  Applause from all aboard, well deserved IMO!

July 7th

Hey, it’s my first flight of the month –> New in-flight magazine!!!  W00t!

Counting Crows “Baby I’m a Big Star Now” – one of my favs!  By the way, that name “Counting Crows” – is “counting” a verb or an adjective?

Ever since airlines started charging for food on the planes (beyond the miniscule packet of kibble) more and more people just bring their own.  Everything from fruit to dried oatmeal (which they mix in a cup of hot water from the drink cart) to nasty Egg McMuffins that they carry on the plane.

You know that Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” is a limerick right?  The whole song, verses and chorus too.

This is odd… Elvis Costello doesn’t show up as an artist on my iPod, yet I have at least 5 of his songs and I can find them all by title, but not by artist.  Bug?

The guy next to me is reading Tony Hillerman, very cool.  I’d strike up a conversation but he’s reading and I’m working, so no good can come of that.

DKO’sIntangible Attraction” – the funk horn lines at the end are fantastic!

The girl next to me is reading “Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea” and laughing constantly.  It must be good.  But she’s laughing a lot.  Loudly.  A n n o y i n g l y . . .

July 17th

Who the hell put Wham on my iPod?!  (Freedom)

Today begins my last commute to and from Denver.  I’m on the last flight out today and come back to Seattle on the first flight Monday morning.  At that point I’ll be “going home” to Seattle.  I must say that overall the 3 months of commuting was quite easy and there’s a part of me that will even miss it.  In fact… I’m gonna go blog about that.

I woke up this morning and watched the news… King 5 decided it would be funny to play a full 30 second bumper of Copa Cabana!  OMFG that sucked.  The song was in my head the entire day.  I tweeted about it and tortured a few other souls too.  Several folks tried to help me with other songs to clear my head, including @King5Seattle – who punked me with another bleeping Barry Manillow song – I’ll get her!   The “winner” was @ThinGuy who for entirely other reasons stuck Hollaback Girl in my head about 3 in the afternoon.  That is different but not at all better.  Ugh!

@CollectiveSoul’s “Adored” is so amazing.

Hey look, Lake Dillon!

(Denver’s drinking water source, on the other side of the Continental Divide)

It’s really depressing to see the pine beetle damage from the air.  The thickly forested mountains of my youthful camping trips are no more.  It’s like the moon in spots down there.

July 20th

I said goodbye to my home in the dark hours of the morning and drove out of Longmont for the last time.  As I crossed the final streets before the highway KBCO was playing to “Linger”  by The Cranberries.  I’ve never been so sad.

Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” was playing in the plane as I boarded.  I’d forgotten that song… and for good reason!  Ugh.

It was a tough weekend without much sleep.  I had an unplanned nap for the 1st half of the flight.  I guess I fell asleep on the tarmac, missed takeoff completely.

Chingon’s “Malegania Salerosa” – I have no words to describe how awesome this song is.

I’m hammering away on project plans, issues, and risks this morning… not many fun thoughts to add here…  I can see Mount Hood and Mount Adams out my window, both perfect volcanic cones – that’s pretty cool.  Rainier  and St Helens are just ahead.  The pilot is throttling back for decent… spotting Rainier is the signal that it’s time to get ready for landing.

Today Seattle’s light rail is up and running for it’s 1st ever “for pay” service day.  The rail terminal at SeaTac isn’t done yet, so there’s a shuttle bus that takes you from the airport over to Tukwila which has the closet light rail terminal.  I’m tempted to try this because today I brought 2 carry-ons and a big checked bag (bringing some final items from home that we didn’t want to wait for when the family arrives this weeked).  Getting on the 194 with more than one small bag is a huge PITA, but on the other hand it’s the devil I know.  I’m sure the light-rail will be much roomier for bags and passengers, but I have NO idea where the shuttle bus will be nor how getting on it with bags will work.   Hmmmm….

3’s & 7’s” by Queens of the Stone Age – good rockin’ morning music.  I love the guitar lines and the power bridge.

Wow, there’s been some significant snow melt on Rainier in the last week!  I tell you, if you’re flying to Seattle make sure you sit on the port side of the plane so you can enjoy the views.  It never loses it’s magic.  I swear the pilot must have to correct the level of the plane as everyone leans to the left to look out the windows.

The woman next to me is making her 1st trip to Seattle.  She lives in Denver with 2 daughters still in school.  Her oldest daughter (19) is married to a soldier who is stationed in Seattle and is shipping out to Iraq this week.  She’s here to support him and help her daughter get settled once he leaves.  As often as I think my life is difficult at times, it pales in comparison to those who are sacrificing for our country.  Perspective!