Professional Geek. Decent Human Being.

Why I Give Money To Bums

Well the term “bum” is derogatory, but I was just trying to get your attention. Now that I have it, I want you to think about the last time this topic came up between you and your friends or you and your family and remember just how hostile a few of them got. Maybe you’re the one that’s hostile. Maybe you say, “Piece of shit should get a job. I have a job. I work for my money.” I don’t blame you. In fact, I appreciate that you have a job because, it means that you and I have at least one thing in common: we work to pay for stuff we want and need. That’s important, because that’s how our country is run. It’s a pretty good system, all things considered. Still, people tend to get heated on this point, … Continue reading

Ten Things I Learned At MicroConf 2011

Firstly, how about a big fat round of applause for the likes of Rob Walling and Mike Taber? They put on one rockin’ conference for self-funded startups. If you didn’t go, that was a bad decision. Don’t make that mistake next year. For, like, the amount you spend on bottled water each year, you could have listened to and learned from ONE-JILLION smart people talking about startups and what to do/not do with them. How’s that for value? (Seriously: 11 speakers, and 105 interesting attendees. Andrew Warner, Hiten Shah, Ramit Sethi, and Patrick McKenzie among them.) Here’s some stuff I learned that you would have learned if you had gone to Vegas instead of playing with Instagram filters at work: Test your stuff, but don’t waste your time testing. Email is not dead. Don’t let TechCrunch fool you. Investment, booooo. Bootstap, yay! Tomato juice … Continue reading

Tea and Conversation

In a recent conversation, all of the following were said to me — about me, if you must know. I had to post them because they’re both funny and sobering, and I just don’t know what to do with this information:   Knowing how shitty someone can think, but knowing they’re a good person, that sets the bar really high.   Really?   That’s the shitty great part about you.   Note: Not a compliment.   I don’t know anyone else that can do such a shitty great thing, that’s such a great thing.   Tell me how you really feel.   There has to be another way to say it so I don’t have to call you shitty anymore.   I sure hope so.     Thanks, Ryan. For the tea and conversation.

Eight Years

Almost exactly 8 years ago to the day and hour, I, tired from not sleeping and feeling outside of myself, got on a plane in Detroit to come home to Fresno. I’d been at work when my brother first called. Dad was in the hospital, he said, but not to worry about it. Probably just the flu, he said, and dad didn’t even want him to call. He was going to get a shot in the butt of something strong and flu-killing and then he’d go home and sleep it off. That was January 12, 2003. Roughly 2 in the afternoon in Ohio, where I lived. Last I’d talked to him was a week before. Sunday. I used to call every Sunday just to check in and make sure they remembered me. Dad was sick then too, had taken some … Continue reading

Geekwise Academy

The Big, Fat Idea [ 16-26 year-olds, please take the survey. ] There are some of us in the Valley that think we can do tech education, specifically for web development, better.  We think we need more geeks — good ones — to help push our region in the right direction. You see, there’s about to be a big gap in the industry.  We can already see the beginning of it.  People who are not developers are having ideas (some of them are good!) and want to build the next big thing.  Instead of hiring out to software firms, or potentially spending tens of thousands of dollars to have their idea built, the smart first step is to get a rapid prototype out there and see if the idea floats. The Problem We’ve seen a lot of this happen:  Entrepreneurs — … Continue reading

In Pursuit of Happiness. The Prequel.

Warning:  There are a lot of parenthesis in this blog post. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Over and over again you hear this thing: “Do what you love,” or, “Do what makes you happy,” or some variation on that theme.  Which, I have to say, sounds like great advice except that it’s useless to me. And if you’re like me (you are, I can tell) you have a pretty severe problem with that advice.  The problem is that you don’t know what you would love to do. Or put another way: We don’t know what makes us happy. Does that sound ridiculous?  Ok, kind of.  But not when you think it through.  Consider this scenario: You are given enough money to make your ends meet for 6 months; no strings attached.  That’s enough to quit your job and start fresh.  What do you do? (Or … Continue reading

Good Teacher

I was a teacher, once, for a year, at a high school where I learned that: There are students who will succeed no matter what you do, how you teach, or how hard you work. There are students who will fail no matter what you do, how you teach, or how hard you work. These two facts do not let you off the hook, but they will make you feel pretty stupid when you forget them. Being a good [subject] teacher, does not necessarily produce students that are good at [subject]. In my case, teaching Interactive Game Design for 11th and 12th graders, you’d think that being a good teacher would produce good game designers.  That makes sense, right?  That’s what I was being paid to do…right?  No.  That’s stupid and too simple. Honestly, we shouldn’t be aiming for that … Continue reading

The 59DaysOfCode Web & Mobile Apps Competition

So my friends and I are putting together this little ditty that, really, is going to be quite the big ditty. We are holding a Web & Mobile Apps competition that is designed to highlight the programming/nerdy talent in the area. It’s open to everyone and the prizes are pretty major. We are doing two categories: Zero Code, and In-Progress. Zero Code is a timed category. You have 59 Days to build your app once the clock starts. In-Progress is for those who might already have something started but still want to compete. The way that it works is this: Apply, Early March > Party + Kickoff, April 23 > Get your App Ready > Showcase + Awards, June 22. We’re putting together around $40K in prizes with one of the winners landing a chunk of cash. (More details about … Continue reading

Mexican Medicine

This post is not about the swine flu. This about real illnesses and real people. Some of them live next to you, or in the shanty behind your house.  Some of them mow your lawn and clean your pool.  Some of them have fixed your cars with five-dollar parts from the “swap meet”.  Most of them are related to me.  This post is about Mexicans. In order to understand this post, you have to understand Mexican families.  We have rules.  They are never broken. Growing up, we rarely went to the doctor.  Don’t ask me why.  My parents had rockin’ health insurance, so that wasn’t it.  We’re a very do-it-yourself breed, so that’s probably to blame. When you are young and (Mexican and) sick, you do whatever grandma tells you to do to remedy the problem.  It doesn’t matter how absurd it … Continue reading

Dear Dad,

It’s been a while since we last spoke, hasn’t it?  No need to place blame.  I think we both know what happened. Let me bring you up to speed: I know you know about grandpa, no need to go into a whole story about that.  Say hi to him for us. Your son got married (Jeanine, thank the Lord). They bought a house, and you now have two grandchildren.  They’re both going to be wicked smart, which scares the pants off of all of us because we know we’re about to be outwitted by amateurs.  Heaven help us when they are old enough to band together; we won’t stand a chance. Your other daughter went to “medical school” and she worked for several years in a gastroenterology clinic.  All her good stories start with, “So I was in the middle of … Continue reading