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Friday, November 19th, 2010

Subject:Harry Potter7 (minimal spoilers, lots of rants)
Time:10:15 pm.
Thoughts on Harry Potter7 (no major spoilers) I haven't read the book yet. Rotten tomatoes 77 is fair rating for the movie, less if you have no prior connection to the characters, would make it impossible to enjoy the movie at all.

This was in some ways the most mature of the movies, was less quirky delight, but the weak points bug me more in this movie than others. Read more...Collapse )
Comments: Read 2 or Add Your Own.

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Subject:Hello EVO goodbye Centro
Time:1:44 am.
So pleasant surprise, EVO 4G arrived today a day early. Obviously it's an amazing piece of goth side, totally loved the black and red insides, with pry offable hardshell :)

The unboxing experience was lovely, and far from the typical PC "He's your shit, getting it out of the box doubles as a childsafe puzzle..good luck!.

Honestly, first impression makes me get Deja Vue, Apple Newton 1995, Sony Clie 2000ish. I would have expected much more progress for the 10 years. Trying to type a letter I'm reminded that for all the touch display groovyness, it's still like drinking yogurt through a straw when it comes to writing, and comparitively to looking at the web through 4 HD monitors, I feel like I'm reading the web through a keyhole.

I had trouble activiating it. Apparently buying online they did not upgrade my phone account as promised/requreid. So I had to walk to the Sprint store

At that time I also recycled my Centro (i half destroyed it earlier in a fit of rage over how stupid this smart phone had become (no turning on/off phone correctly, no internet access at all etc), having a clean phone with no contacts/baggage, calendar is freeing in some ways. Perhaps it's best to NOT have to have your previous history follow you around your entire life.

Finally activated, the constant precense of google getting close to the hardware was a bit wierd, used to thinking of them as a website and my mail, not my device firewall e.g. I could not add a yahoo mail app without finish linking the phone to a gmail account, to gain access to the Android marketplace. Given the tight integration with google services I am aware that this device is the extension of the google monster/virtual world senses, slowly recreating a digital shadow of who I am in the internet consciousness and that aggragate data will be used in sometimes evil ways. Who knows this might be what sci-fi consider uploading.

It was fascinating to have this ever present internet connection to feed my email addiction, and connection to my team to continually unblock them. It's freeing and tethering at the same time. Monkey brain has instantly rerouted to have my "do I have any emails " every 20 minute inner loop to following me on my 4-6 mile daily walks, I find that one of the reasons I go home is just to see how the team is doing, and it's clearing to NOT have the internet. Now I don't really need to go home so much. To keep clear I think I will have the phone turned off and check voice/email 4 times.

Love the google map + GPS the one I have in the car is so finicky about street names and seems to get increasingly lost. Plus looks retarded when carrying it by hand.

Photos are awesome, but haven't researched how to upload/share yet. I take pictures of oddball things, like today it rained and the street car lights dancing with the ripples of the puddles was beautiful, and rare for LA.

Haven't tried videos. I did get a kick out of the 3 level flashlight, and the many mock glowing LED's.

I use my voice recorder a LOT, and wondering if I can get away with getting rid of the device. Want to try a voice recorder that doesn't use 3gp for audio but am a bit wary of walking around like a zombie, the big bright display at night screams "please mug me".
Comments: Read 8 or Add Your Own.

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Subject:Scott Pilgrim: The Clash at Demonhead vs Metric
Time:6:40 am.
Mood:in lesbians.
If you liked the movie Scott Pilgrim, and "The Clash at Demonhead" compare the two videos from the movie and the real band. I get chills from both, crunchy guitar back with searing echoey guitar. The Clash at Demonhead - Black Sheep Metric: Black Sheep

Damn I miss creating/performing music. But not sure at this rate if I'll ever be in one again time soon and with RSI not sure if I'll be able to do it seriously.

Like Icarus with his wings feathered, remembering flight. Le Sign.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Subject:Kolbe A 5-6-5-4
Time:6:35 am.
Was bribed into taking the Kolbe, what's yours?

Mine: Kolbe A 5-6-5-4

5 FactFinder, ... so that's what they call web browsing these days
6 FollowThrough, ...tenacity victory or death!...
5 QuickStarter, ...enough talk, let's fight!
4 Implementer ...apparently my delegation skills are paying off.

Hated half the test. False dichotomies, no relevant scales on the metrics, others with no preference: go left go right all same.

The report at the end is entertaining but strikes me as generalizations that at least in my case

It said in an striking opening remark, I'm working my ass off and I'm in a transition phase that could last days, weeks, months or years. But I wonder if that is just because I was up all night working.

I also wonder

if a person sufficently adept at tests is aware a test is being taken, is the test still valid? subconscious gaming to product the desired effect, or aware of the summary of all the actions.

if one is good at reverse engineering oneself through introspection and experimentation, does taking any of these generic forms of tests reveal anything? I know some that have taken this test and started breaking down like a baby that it was that revelatory for them
Comments: Add Your Own.

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Subject:Mawwage, Mawage is what Bwings us Togeva
Time:4:18 am.
Tonight I saw get married.

The ceremony was everything I expected except with more turtles and less live monkeys.

My head is scrambled but here are some highlights.

It was up in a almost hidden park in Beverly hills. The park nestled between two mountains and comfotabley buffered from the many super expensive houses that are sprinkled on any slope that isn't too steep to build on.

The ceremony involved live music with half the band members being family and friends (rock on!) had I only known I would have brought my kazoo. Nice use of "the Killers" track.

The ceremony was perfect and non-secular and made me smile and laugh brightly. I've grown quite a thick hide lately so it was pleasant to register on the radar.

A gust of wind picked up the rolled out walkway, and the almost on cue the bride and the grooms side people closest to the isle put a toe out to keep it down.

Once the ceremony ended, the Star Trek (TNG) theme was played :)

I had contemplated sharing a memory/giving a toast, but will do it here:

I vividly remember a few years ago shortly after giving a performance in San Francisco where they kindly showed up early enough to see me, walking around the back and catching them being cute and connected as they watched Drop Black Sky. Though still buzzing from the adrenaline from the first "big" show, I stood there for a minute captivated like looking at a campfire coals the "intONEss" each had for each other was palpitable and calm. Having seen that before in my family, my spidey sense suspected that they would be together for a long time.

What's amazing to me that event was like 4-5 years ago and though the faces have grown older (damn Time!) is they are still cute and my spidey sense still rings clearly and has every time I've seen it.

I don't know for sure if kids are in the picture, but hey people I actually want to see propogate (no not on video you perv)!

Back to the wedding, I was given my dinner seating assignment from the Governator and I was appropriately seated at the "Total Recall" table to have the delicious dilemma to get choclate, banana, vanilla or red velvet from the awesome cupcake tree.

On a personal level, this was a total recall like event. I have been so busy/preoccupied with stuff, that I have pretty much forgotten about LJ completely. However prompted by seeing so many familiar LJish faces at the event, logging into LJ tonight, it snapped into focus. But it's fuzzy and it feels like 6 lifetimes ago. In many ways it has been! so many things have changed for so many including myself. I see that many of those I used to read avidly like me haven't posted in ages. I suspect facebook replaces LJ for many, or perhaps like graduation people have moved on, to husbands and wives and family.

I was reminded that at one point in time how many I knew so much about them from daily (er. hourly?) updates on LJ. Now I don't know anything, which has the upside of having stuff to actually talk about when I see people :).

What's kinda funny is that if I had time to write yall would probably be relatively entertained with the daily rollercoasters. Days of our Troys...

Like I and my team of 4 have been building an amazing project that will easily be a multi-million dollar business mostly on autopilot, now just a few days from done I find that they may have just been flooded out of town (they live in Pakistan which has had the worst floods ever right now). and are potentially faced with cholera next

Given major parts of the country is largely filled with water, power and internet is not high on the prority list. Who knows when able to get a reliable home, let alone work again?

Sure puts a cupcake dilemma into pespective.
Comments: Read 7 or Add Your Own.

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Time:10:03 am.
I was writing a letter to a friend with an update, and figured some of yall would like the update too.

For an update, things have been pretty bipolar here but with luck 2010 is looking to be an amazing turnaround.

2009 is one of the most memorable years of my life..and not just because it's the most recent :)

I'm still in Los Angeles, still in the same semi-commune. We are having a largish Christmas dinner (16 people or so!) which is wonderful. I've been here for almost 4 years which I think is a new record (I usually move every 2 years) . Life is good, don't see this changing/moving but who knows. Life is hard to predict!

I'm uber busy. I have basically 3 jobs right now so not much of a life outside of that, no art, music, not even that much in the ways of movies, I gave up TV a long time ago and normally have no idea what people are talking about when it comes to popular shows and stars. But the sacrifice is worth it,investing in the future.

A couple years ago I read Timothy Ferris's bestseller "the 4 hour work week", which was an eye opening way to conceive of business and lifestyle. So my goal ever since was to develop a "Muse"

mostly passive income on highly automated profitable products, training and services. Nothing super fancy just enough to cover my basic living plus some to play. The internet makes this actually much easier than doing the same in an offline least it can be easy. Apparently I like to do things the hard way :) If any business is just a scaled up version of a lemonaide stand, instead of just selling lemonaide I've been working on setting up a lemon farm and a stand factory and distribution chain.

There is a large upfront cost to once things are setup and working, it's easy to have a better balance in life, as right now it's pretty much off the deep end on the work side. But things only need to be built once, and provide years of return at scales way beyond a couplee, then the needle can point the opposite direction.

I think one of the largest unexpected changes in 2009 is I'm back in school (nonacredited) to study marketing, with a focus on online. There's a great quote from William Deming that all business is, is marketing and innovation. I've had the innovation part down for years (ever since legos!) , but had to many innovative products on the bleeding edge end up in the trash can because they didn't understand the marketing or market. Got tired of that happening so figured out I needed to change.

Studying marketing for the current internet connected wireless world has been quite the eye opener so much has changed! With my roots as an engineer, some aspects of marketing are extremely counter intuitive -harder than calculus. It's like learning Japanese, it's not just the words and syntax there is many cultural things that have to be respected for the message to get across. But to my surprise my improv theater background gives me almost super powers into stepping into the right mindset to get marketing. In conjunction with my tech background, and I've been able to help many of my classmates both in message and in implementation.

2009 has been a bit of a "days of our startup" soap opera. My last startup company (kids education) which I left back in April, which I have a significant (almost 2 years of salaray paid in stock) investment in, ran out of money in November, and the board is currently feuding, and the CEO has been stripped of all power but not fired due to some positioning on his part. It's been an eye-opening experience in human nature when significant investments are competing against being friends and family ties (as the board is). On the dark side, I believed so strongly in the company, that I gave up about 2 years of salary in the form of stock in anticipation of the continual "just 2 months away" from the service actually being built and acquirig major funding, ...neither of which happened. So emerging with a significant amount of personal debt, and burnout made it a hard restart of my life. On the brightside, despite the drama, there are still many passionate and commited people trying to put things back together, and my new marketing skills may be able to help give it a fresh start, and getting into consulting my rate doubled. I'm very fortunate given the current economy.

Based on what I've learned in my marketing, back in August I started my first "real" company which helps small business owners make way more sales by amplifying and automating the sales process. I built the service primarily for myself, but now have 22 unsolicited beta users. It's been a rollercoaster of a ride so far, and we are getting ready to open the doors again in Jan, with a public launch in Feb at present velocity, which I am hoping will do well. With only 200 users it will support all my team to continue building the service out and all my meager living expenses.

To help build that and other things out, I've had an amazing connection to a great company in Pakistan, we have been building out a custom team for with amazing rates and super high quality people. This is going to be great as historically I haven't been able to scale well, as I couldn't delegate much, especially in Los Angeles where people charge $100 hour for rather mediocre work.

Since school is pricey and development is expensive, to pay the bills I still run a consulting company, with my role primarily doing fulltime doing information visualization for semantic webs. We are actually getting into the trendy multi-touch this month so should be fun and a perfect fit for me, and maybe even another showcase product.

That consulting company reached new heights, in helping out a friend with his showcase product I had the unique opportunity to get an major industry award, in front of thousands of people, and which got some 1 on 1 time with Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker and voice of The Joker).

Healthwise hitting Age 35 was a bit of hitting a wall. Notably having RSI (repetitive strain injuries) from pretty much all day every day computing get to the point I need to stop working at all for some days to combat it's various hydra symptoms. Plus also Rosacea+digestive issues. In theory these are both environment related so I'm doubly motivated to be successful so that I can get into an environment that is more natural + sustainable (I generally am healthy other than that).

I'm dating a French Grad student at UCLA. Though between our super busy schedules we rarely get to see each other. She's currently in Paris and London for the holiday, and as par for the course in our schedules, just when she gets back ..I'll be out in Vegas some high school friends I haven't seen together since over a decade ago.

Warm Regards

Comments: Read 8 or Add Your Own.

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Subject:DayInTheLife - AWS, Marketing, Semantic Webs, Socializing
Time:12:42 am.
In some ways this was an ideal day, a mix of multiple challenging projects, events, learning, new people, old friends, progress.

10pm yesterday long shower, get surprise peanut butter and jelly cookies from neighbors.

Submit two proposal to flash conference in New York

12-3am work on liquid button script and research top converting buttons for sales pages, in typical mad scientist fashion hybridize them to  create UBB "ultimate belcher button"   make a blog post on it and send it out too my marketing list, as well as try to get some backlink love.

Discussion some investor stuff, help two people in my marketing class on their projects. Get two contractors back on track -really happy with $10 egypt team, thinking how it is being islamic that projects transcend religious differences. Connect with good friend on skype (this has been the week of reconnections).

In the background continue kick of watching music videos from the 80's some youtube...most seeing videos for the first time for songs I love,  many I preferred not seeing the singers..some like Alphaville are kinda creepy.

3-8am work on Semantic Network layout algorithm,amazingly uneven terrain these sorts of features, some issues 10 per hour  others are 1 per 10 hours....they all look the same on the JIRA

8-noon   sleep (4 hours is not enough for the eyeballs)
noon-1pm  get ready, debate on public transit, walk or car to Amazon Web Services Event, wish I could walk procrastinate so car becomes the only viable option.

AWS Cloud for the Enterprise Event at the super fancy Sofitel hotel
1:30-2:00 miss opening statements, then hear CTO of Amazon, on how and why the Amazon Web Services came to be and where they are going (to the degree that's not based on customers feedback),with most excellent english breakfast tea in a "cup" that is about 1/16th the size I normally drink tea out of.
2-5:00pm, see customer stories from reddit (small team lead by a cogsci guy), eharmony (using hadoop for matching) and two others, learn about best practices.  3 pages of dense notes many good insights about how AWS sees itself (useful if I make it in the startup challenge) and how to best use them.  In background I continue to problem solve a binary search algorithm applied to looped data instead of lists.
6:00pm meet with Rightscale people and Ubuntu Server people. Figure out Ubunto vers CertOs as OS question. Opt not to network in crowded room as my head is too full and i don't really know who I am in this mixed crowd of mostly enterprise class people.

7:00pm - Pho and Thai Tea at favorite place a few blocks away  Reviewing notees realize that I've come to the very end of this journal and this is the last in my pile. This one has lasted a record 3.5 months, and to be honest I haven't reviewed it hardly at all so I've probably forgotten 30% of the stuff I wrote down so I wouldn't forget it :)

7:20 Leaving the at the uber trendy Beverly Center, with parking lot flow as bad as the 404 on rush hour.  Appallingly bad parking lot flow (?or is that bad design?)     Hundreds of thousands of dollars in high end hardware that can take tickets or credit cards or cash in teh same slot perfectly isolated away form use by people earning probably 8-10/hr.  Can't help but notice many yummy fashionistas, driving things like lexus hummers with  "lexis <3 lex" with tv screens big enough i could watch the sponge bob episode a car length away.  Ponder the metric of success "I want to be successful enough my wife doesn't *have* to work" to it's possibly logical consumerist conclusion.

7:40 min short power nap, the 3 'cups' of tea plus the thai tea, has done it's job in keeping me from going too deep, yet put me on the slightly irratable and quiet side of awake.

8:00 - strategize with Paul on Masquerade Constumes and transit to  MindshareLA, with deep red conjestion on the google maps (which now niftily shows side streets)
8:10 - break out 16th century masquerade costume with rather distrubing mask..that looks especially freaky when I have my glasses on underneath it.
8:44 f- inally make it to mindshare after missing two major turns. Get several compliments and 'pets' from wearing the costume.
9:00 - : some great presentations including some fashion history (some dresses were 4ft wide! and either had to be collapsed or walk sideways to make it through doors), plus some reconnecting with many geeks and freaks.
10:15 - with preoccupation and tiredness, instant autism sets in and I lose interest in socializing at all, or even watching the writing dancing girl in the LCD projector. All seem like screen savers.
Walk to car meet familar and new geeks on the street.  When asked what I am looking for, "world tilters, mad scientists, crazy inventors, performance artists"
Drive home, getting rerouted as a major part of Santa Monica Blvd is under construction, saved by GPS again.

11:pm  - Sauteed Portabella  + Zuchinni for "dinner" ...still wearing outfit, might make a good youtube vid series. Decompress all the geekery with roommate, and journal.

12:am back on Semantic visualization layout issues.
On marketing front get several new requests and good traffic on the button...just proof that information is increasingly not enough, the bar is getting higher widgets are good traffic getters.

1am break for chocolate chip ice cream run.

Tomorrow, more force directed network layout tweaks and Das Bunker 13th annual anniversary with fav Covenant.
Comments: Read 5 or Add Your Own.

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Subject:Ode to pet Spidey
Time:2:38 pm.
I've had cats or dogs or hamsters, most the entire I was a kid, dare say I get along and understand pets more than I do the owners. Being an entreprenuer means certain sacrifices have to be made. One of mine has been having pets.

For a awhile I didn't even want plants..too much responsibility. Partly also for fear of killing them, as the room and kitchen don't get much light. Ironically right now the dining room table is COMPLETELY filled with plants since the great roommate shuffle of July. I kinda like it, it looks like a green water fountain. So far it has been doing okay in the somewhat shady corner where my building is.

One exception to the pet rule is spiders. Not like the big exhibitioinist tarantulas, but rather the common crack in the wall, windowsill type. If I wasn't so enamored with innovation I might be an insectologist, as I find insects fascinating, so much variety, specializations. Spiders in particular as they are one of the few insects that are easy to study, they make a home, and tend to be rather introverted slender homebody but busy at nighttime creatures. So an affinity. Of course if they get ambitious and decide to invade the office or the shower, they typically are relocated or killed. Thou shalt not interrupt showertime.

Common spiders make ideal pets in some ways, they are almost zero maintenance, they are natural to the environment, 100% biodegradable, most don't bother you, sit on the keyboard, wake you up, demonstrate the ability to pierce multiple layers of fabric during needing, require daily walks, or stinky poop scoops (though they do require cleanup of the victims). They don't terrorize the neighborhood (at least at human scale), bring back trophy kills, or respond to every alarm and siren and airplane and walker that goes by. They don't need to be told to sit or comeback...especially in flamboyantly gay overly dramatic air-raid siren voices. Ahem *looks out window*.

I've been fortunate to have two cool spiders in the kitchen of very different temperments. One is a funnel web spider, he's the extrovert: commonly going out drinking, partying, hunting, bringing back people to his web and devouring them. Apparently funnel spiders eat other funnel spiders as some traveling salesman spider came by and now has been converted into a semi-translucent a lawn ornament. This appeals to my gothic tendencies like putting enemies on old school pig poles.

The other I don't know the name of, but was crystaline looking, a bead like body, tiny klingon like spikes. Typically he'd sit absolutely motionless, in a zen yoga like stance all legs held straight out pressed together, forming a single needle like form, possibly praying to some arachnid gods. Remarkably disciplined. In my frequent visits to the kitchen for water/food. He'd stay that way for almost the entire day motionless. At night he would spread his arms and reveal what a bad ass he really was. Each segment in the legs became barbed and ready like a fishing lure to catch prey. Occassionally I'd see him dancing (like vibrating his web).

Sadly this morning he was gone,makes me a little sad, we've been together for months, and there was no note. I think he gave me notice last night as he was in an odd position pointing straight up and down like a clock pointed at midnight. Since the pickings have been slim lately in the web I wondered if he too had been hit with the recession/depression, or if the two spiders had found each other (they are only a few feet away). I checked and couldn't find a body, so I hope he's found juicier pastures.

*spider pig, spider pig*
Comments: Read 3 or Add Your Own.

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Subject:LifeUpdate: 35 and still alive.
Time:12:37 am.
Figured since I hit a major milestone, should give a brief snapshot.

Just got back home from spending a week housesitting a 3 story, swiss chateau with 2 harps, 2 cats, 1 hen, and thousands of magic books and dozens of lithographs. It was a great state break from the normal routine. I figured out that the criticals that make home feel like home, fit into 2 trips by foot: portable heat, inflatable bed, laptop, extra monitor, tea, and clothes. It feels good to be back home though, already miss the pets.

last week while running across the street, to avoid blocking traffic (pedestrian auto tango). My favorite pen..dropped out of my trusty black hardback art binder, ringlike embrace. An hour later reaching to jot down an revelation I had the additional revelation I was missing the pen. Walked the path back, and in it was shattered into a thousand brilliant shards from the cars, quite pretty like shimmering diamonds in the bright summer sunlight, a fitting end. Thankfully I buy my favorite pens by the case, and had a spare in the car ;)

What's amusing, is how much of a space cadet I was when it happened. Shortly after reaching the pavement, 3 coworkers heading at 90 degrees of called out. They were only 15 ft away and I never saw them... so distracted of late.

Lots of things seem to be breaking hopefully with equally happy, replaceable endings. Just today after the week house sitting for friends, my geek glasses seen in the icon picture also decided to come apart. This time in a manner that can't really be rectified with superglue (which has happened 2x), and despite my love of MacGuyver, I really am not so hard up I have to resort to ducktape. Sigh I DO have other pairs of glasses but I feel like I'm looking at the screen through binoculars, and I do miss my old glasses a little. I've had them since 2000, a shift from being ubernerd to trying to be more hip geek. They've seen a lot. Many jobs, many relationships, many miles, many smiles, family deaths, graduations, and at least 20 trips up and down the I5.

They were so scratched up, the 'clear' plastic had gotten yellow. Since I wear them all the time I am rarely aware of what the world looks like without them on. It was on a trip up the I5 I was thinking "wow the sky really is polluted out here!..I thought it was just LA" took off my glasses and realized, they double as BlueBlockers. The sky really is still blue.

I got flak for wearing them all the time. "How can you see out of those". Truthfully, I didn't fully. It was memory-echolocation, as I'm so focused/monotonous don't go down that many new streets so really rarely need to read details at at distance. They had a nice blur quality, creating halos out of any point source. That made it impossible to spend so much time analyzing everything visually and just accepting. It was like life was my own private 70's TV show.

Putting the pieces in the case that protects my 'newish' glasses, and hearing the lid snap shut. It never occurred to me how cases meant to protect but have coffin like attributes as well. What is the afterlife for glasses? to come back as disposable contacts? telescopes?


I have given verbal notice at the company I'm and will be switching back to consulting. It's been 3 years, and frequently difficult ones at that, and though not a good time for the company for me to make this decision, it's the only one for me to make...else I really will be dancing with traffic.

JOB = Just Others BitchCollapse )

what's that?

There have been many changes here at the Ogdorm. L,B,and soon another will have left a few blocks away. We still have 3 of the 8 units. If you are looking we make great company :)

I've been dating off an on, mostly off, but when on having fun.

oh, I'm on twitter more out of curiosity than commitment. It will be low frequency pithy or snarky if anything at all. Not "I just wiped my nose!" etc. You're welcome to follow along.

Personal: @troy_gardner
Flash related: @troyworks
Marketing related: @troynotes

Aging sucks.

Recently self-diagnosed with Rosacea.> Sometimes known as 'adult acne' A common red flushing of the face, that plagues many millions of humans. Read more...Collapse )

Anyway hope yall are well and thriving.
Comments: Read 13 or Add Your Own.

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Subject:Party at the Ogdorm ....and Taxes are done ..yay!
Time:6:41 pm.
Party Lite at the Ogdorm on Thursday

First up,It's April, if you've been around the last few years around the Ogdorm, you should know what that means...

Meta and I are having a 'shindig'. Though much smaller in scale from the last party which literally shook the roof...

This year will be much simpler. Low key, laid back, Drinks, snacks, talk with excellent people such as yourselves we don't see often enough. In fact it's been so long, I think I'm starting to forget what any of you look like. Please come to remind me.

April shindigs are a tradition, for us, yet another year has passed in the awesome Ogdorm, taxes are done, various birthdays are happening.

This year is special, because B+E go back to SF Bay area on Sunday where E's new place/job is, so it may be quite awhile before they are seen down this way.

I will make a special guest appearance at home, driving from out far east (at least in traffic hour), where I am house sitting for 2 cats, 1 hen, 1 harp and an entire library full of magic books...

Taxes done...yay!"
With a whole day to spare. Damn it feels clean.

I was REALLY dreading taxes this year, being a standard employee plus maintaining side business, thought I'd have to manage essentially two worlds of tax frustration. Increasingly complex itemizations: trips, equipment, development, ads, utility costs, let alone all the hours in cabinets and accounts getting everything lined up.

Partly I'm still reeling from last year, my first year as a contractor and missing some quarterly estimated payments I got hammered. Plus I screwed up e-filing my last years state taxes and JUST got a note saying hey "we missed you.., plus here's a late fee, interest, and a default report we've filed for you" - I didn't realize they filed a basic return for you !. So this year I expected to owe and at this particular moment I'm generally cash strapped taking some marketing classes.

Anyway, except for a few moments, I was pleasantly surprised...

Let's start with this years taxes. Overall one of the awesome things about going paperless and doing business mostly online is pretty much everything is searchable and has relevant reporting. At times this is a lot of work so I sometimes wonder why I do it. While it still takes work to group things's not soul crushing work like trying to mine data out of piles of misordered paper cabinets.

Since almost everything is searchable, and receipts are mostly in email, I had very little footwork to do to find things...ironically the more obscure the easier they were to find, like I had a transaction for 'igoodz' about a year ago I had no memory of. Searched yahoo mail, and *pop* there it was for some dry erase whiteboard magnets, $100 that was deductible as office equipment. There were several of these, that add up in my case to about $500 of deductions.

For contractors, I've been using several outsourcing companies but favor Odesk and Elance. Odesk is not without it's quirks but they have really nailed the time management aspect, and delving into getting reports for taxes I was quite happy. Elance was good, just took a bit more time to find out how to generate a custom report, as the default ones only go back 90 days. Both odesk and elance appear to keep history for several years, at least 2007 in my case when I started using them.

For financial accounts, bank accounts and credit cards, things were less easy.

Let's start with the mediocre.

I use Bank Of America for checking and credit cards (rather they've absorbed the other companies I was using). I'm generally happy, but they are inconsistent on reporting. With the checking account you can do powerful searches, for credit cards you get almost nothing. Given I normally use credit cards as a 'financial firewall' and the checking to pay those off, I'd rather have more reporting on the credit and less on the checking. Also unlike elance/odesk, they end reporting 1 year back which is frustrating trying to get a whole tax years. I really should use quicken/etc up to speed. Just I really find quicken kinda hard to use relative to spreadhsheets...and zoom the year goes by so fast, and the ability to get that data is gone.

Over a year ago, following Tim Ferris's advice, I bit the bullet and got the AMEX platinum business card, which carries a $500 introduction fee (gulp!). With it's domestic companion feature it paid for itself within a few months by flying two to Chicago... which was nice, though probably not that much of a savings compared to bargain shopping airfare.....however a few months ago I got a letter in the mail saying they were discontinuing that. I now have 3 AMEX cards, I didn't start out that way most being converted from Visa cards from different companies. The platinum AMEX is unusual as most everything has to be paid of in 30 days. Given the other AMEX cards do allow carrying a balance on all purchases and have similar rates I began to wonder why I was still used it. Today I'm very glad I still have it. Since I do some AdwordsPPC traffic, one of the advantages is that unlike my other Amex cards, there isn't a spending limit, so due to the lag between paying for ads and getting paid by merchants, that can come in handy. It can be very hard to scale businesses, if cashflow is limited to typical personal credit card levels...businesses can grow faster than one's personal credit rating.

I recently found out they have even 'better' Amex cards..made out of imposing black metal. They have rather extreme entry. 250K year in spending and payoff of a platinum, 5K initial fee, 2500 annual fee...didn't realize credit cards were such status symbols! Though I do get compliments all the time on the mini-keychain credit card I have.

The biggest advantage was using separate cards for separate cateogries of purchases, which results in very clean reporting, the Platinum AMEX's reporting rocks compared to the minimal reporting of BofA's Amex. Slice and dice pretty much anyway you want, group by merchant, month by month, very powerful. While previously I've never really paid attention to miles/points across the cards I've racked up 70K points which is able to buy an ipod if I so wanted.

It's an eye opening experience sitting down looking at year with eagle eyes seeing what goes where. I really wish I had more time to do this more often...being a bit OCD I got into the deep analysis. As true with probably most new businesses, so much in startup costs, sooo much money on promising or dead ends, guessing 80% unavoidable, unprofitable 'waste' as I lost money this year on all the bad development and unprofitable advertising, the good news is that it's actually helping me get a refund.

Turbotax online keeps getting easier to use, and unlike the standard Tax forms it at least feels like it knows who I am, and what sort of my business deductions might appl. It still has a few bugs, and I hit two of them. It's a bit of a rude shock being on the blissfully ignorant clouds of convenience when errors hit to see the raw crude tax forms and the obscure language asking to correct things. They have an automated agent named "Tina" which was only half useful, and on some questions so far in left field to be worthless. ...thankfully the community of people off to the side has already hit the issues and posted work around... I guess there is a reward for procrastinating a little.

A nice touch, the Turbotax also gives you a thermometer indicating how likely you are to get an audit, based on the risk of information you entered. Sadly I was in the red. I've never been audited so I'm not of course looking to get audited, but on the bright side with all the electronic records and scanned receipts (trusty digital camera...nothing every hits the pocket) and/or hanging out in the email boxes, it's not terribly difficult to find things by amount, and justify what I claimed, which I think is the entire point.

To celebrate Meta+E, and I went out to a new BBQ restaurant, to catch up. it was a great way to end the evening. Hope your tax day treats you well.
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Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Subject:Good Credit Bad Credit Billpay Paradise, Hell, Limbo, then back to Mortal
Time:1:08 pm.

I have almost all my bills paid electronically, using the good Bank Of America billpay service. It accepts ebills and responds to them in intelligent ways, like pay precise amounts a few days in advance, pay the entire balance, pay on a schedule (good if your trying to pay things down) and if amounts exceed a certain value (e.g. as a warning if people are spending on the card without authorization, or to keep from overdrafts).

Last few years, with the goal of firewalling my purchases and building a stellar credit reputation, I've been using the credit card for *everything* I can and paying it off in a reasonble time frame. About the only thing that doesn't go through this is rent (damn) and miscellaneous cash only purchases. This strategy has worked well racked up 42,000 points (MEMO to self see what I can do with that). Another strategy is every half year or so, calling into the banks to increasing the credit limits, lowering the rates, this is actually a partly defensive measure, in identity theft one of the things they do is apply for new credit cards, and start using them. With this approach there is no room for that form of exploitation.

The combo of these two approaches has given me a great credit score, which will make it easier to buy houses etc, should the need arise. While sometimes I will end up paying for a month of interest, it can repay itself by helping get lower morgage rates etc. (if buying a house by cash isn't an option.)

I live pretty frugally, so what's not immediately visible is most of the money being spent is actually product development and adsense advertising. The reason for this for me is a gamble that spending more upfront will generate results quicker. Products take some time, and marketing with adsense can take months of playing. If a product/company can be bootstrapped in 9-12 months, this can actually be 3%, far better terms than going the VC, Loan, Angel Route, with less reporting and setup overhead, and you build better credit. To the degree that credit is necessary, this is credit paradise! low costs, high utility.


After about 2 years of things working smoothly on autopilot, I stopped paying close attention. Since I was doing sweat equity at the startup, somethings began to build up. I took advantage of a 0% credit balance transfer offer to offload some of my advertising and product development costs from another card, caused a cascade failure.

The balance transfer, caused the monthly rate to exceed the autopay no payments got made, which I didn't catch immediately, this is my fault for not paying attention.

This caused the bills to get paid 2 months in a row a few days past the due date, by only a few days...this is of course my fault.

This caused my low rate to jump to the default rate of 27.99%, on the entire balance, negating all the 0-3% offers...OUCH.

This is a shitty interest rate, especially if you have a relatively high balance.


This limbo/hell is normally stuck in place for 6 months.. at 30%/yr x 6 months is an relatively obscene amount of money. Meaning that essentially even if paying a high amount per month trying to pay it off, the interest monster gobbles it all up.. none of that ever pays down the balance.

One strategy would be to balance transfer to other banks. Ironically I have plenty of credit for this, but ironically, the bank mergers over the last few years, have gobbled up all the other high balance cards I have! and balance transfer offers don't work inside the same bank. I was able to get a new card the standard 3% transfer, and 0% interest for like 1 year. But trick can only been done 1-2 times, before setting off alarm bells.

The other strategy are P2P Loans, like Prosper. But Prosper is currently shut down for new requests, and most the other similar sites want to get long loans, or have some up front fees, which ends up costing a bunch when my goal at that point was to pay it off as quickly as possible.

This put me at a dead end.

Normal people blow this kind of money all the time on frivolities, gadgets, houses and cars they probably can't afford etc. For an obssesive optimizer like me, It eats into the mind like acid. The cognitive loading is HUGE, like trying to solave rubicks cube with one part glued together.

This really hard to swallow if already tight for money with a pile of things on hold, similarly on a business level as to opportunity costs, e.g. put towards advertising, or product development.


Thankfully there are some options I didn't think of. First being a stubbornly self-sufficient, individual, it doesn't occur to me is asking friends and family. I'm lucky to have friends in a position to help, even if I don't take them up on it.

Secondly, the other option is calling up and negotiating with the credit card company. This also I didn't realize was an option, it was very easy about 10 minutes. Called the credit department (you need a senior representative), converse in the most pleasant manner, mentioning how long I'd been there, how I got into trouble, why I was spending what I was spending (for business). Funny enough she was also doing some affiliate marketing and this built up a bit of rapport. But thanks to having some negotiating room, I was able to knock the 6 months purgatory in 28% interest, down to 2, and the rate down past from 28% down to 12%. Not as good as 0-3% but much better than 28% and less interest+hassle than going the P2P loan route.


Have good friends.
Get good at negotiating.
Credit Cards can be an extremely viable strategy to bootstrapping a business, if your're careful.
Being in debt sucks (brainpower), but there are many far worse tiers of hell.

Update: Crazy with all the points that have accumulated I could get an Apple Touch
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Friday, February 27th, 2009

Subject:JungleDisk saves my ass again!
Time:2:15 pm.
PC has been somewhat flakey lately, I think it's probably related to running out of space. As a result went through another data destruction rollercoaster.

Read more...Collapse )
Fast forward, the local backups were ancient, I realized I had to turn off the local backups, ironically: saving the work was interfering with work. bad. Then I tried to open jungledisk running quietly in the background...and it wouldn't open the remote drive. Fuck Fuck Fuck! I figured this might be my fault too, the version of jungledisk was a few versions old, and I had been told to upgrade. Fast Forward: Turned out that the hard disk cleanup was consuming all the CPU and just had to be patient, for JungleDisk to pop up. As told, it backed up everything nightly,. and deftly was able to restore at least these two files within a minute or so, leaving my research right where I left it. Wouldn't that be cool if only the physical world operated like this?

Thanks again JungleDisk!
P.S. I don't make any money off them.
P.P.S. 2500MB free space now woot! Thanks Windows Disk Cleanup Utility
Comments: Add Your Own.

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Subject:Creditreport Double standards.
Time:4:16 pm.
Almost everybank's Credit reports come bundled with a credit monitoring service.  Great money maker for the agencies, as they sneak two things in.  The first is the credit scores from all 3 agencies for about the same price as the report, given these are usually about the same.
Seond typically, first month free, then start charging something monthly $13 about the same as getting a 3 credit report.  I know it's probably helpful to combat identity theft, still pricy and sneaky.

What bugs me is the double standard typical with many of these online sites, like (which I do like the reports of)

To get through with a problem with an order?  instant response by operate, instant response in email box. everything web accessible.
To get through with a order cancellation?  have to call in.  "we are currently experiencing a high volume of calls", on hold for 3 minutes,

Why the double standard? Grrr.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Subject:Parakeet Lost, Free Bird brain
Time:10:31 pm.
{posted to craigslist)
While wandering in my hallway minding my own business, I nearly stumbled across an errant parakeet, looking up meekly from the hall carpet, *cheep* *cheep*.

Inquiring around the complex, nobody's claimed it. While there have been many possible explanations as to how it ended up on the second story floor of a locked building: Maybe like many in the US's dismal economy it got laid off and resorted to a life of breaking and entering, maybe it got hit with a ceiling fan went on disability then decided to join the ranks of homeless, maybe it got lost on it's way out for a evening flock. Anyway we rounded it up (in a neato popup laundry basket!) fed it (almost to the cats), gave it a perch (stainless steel martini shaker!) and now after the thrill of having a pet for an eve are looking to go back to our bachelor ways.

It's in good shape, yellowish, quiet so far, chirpy when hungry. No identifying marks I can tell. Free to owner if you can identify it by those identifying marks, or Free to good home. Must bring a suitable (bird suitable) cage, though can recommend popup laundry baskets if you don't have a portable one.

Will be around much of the weekend till the eve, near the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Fairfax, 90046. If interested, Email with a time that you can drop by.
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Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Subject:Geek: Skype is a perfect compliment to a cellphone
Time:12:18 pm.
By calling my cellphone from skype I could ringolocate it deep inside the pocket, of the dress jacket, deep inside in the closet, forgotten after holiday festivities.  Thank goodness for decently charged battery as it's been close to a week since I last used it.
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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Subject:Got kids? Countdown To Christmas with us.
Time:9:41 am.
So this last month has been crazy busy at work, we've been putting together a pretty unique product -a digital advent calendar with 25 daily games, with way less calories than the leading brand of advent calendars. It's now available for everyone to play with. Originally we were going to sell it for $7.99, but they decided to give it away for free...

If you have kids or know someone who does, please check it out, and pass on the good word. Fun cartoons, high quality games, no adverstisements...completely free!

You can catch a preview here

We've sneaked one of the cartoons here "The Snowminator"

On the note of thanksgiving, it's been amazing to work with such a small talented group of people, pulling together. Wrangling 25 games into one was no small feat. If you do play with it, let me know what you think.
Comments: Add Your Own.

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Subject:Bailouts, Bailouts, Bailouts...
Time:4:30 pm.

"Whatever the reasons, the Detroit Three are closer to collapse than ever, and likely won't make it without billions in government loans." [Auto Dealers ->looks to government->looks to you the taxpayer]

To me: We built too many houses, we built too many cars, we spent more than we had, and costs are going up pretty much at every level, consumer, state, federal. We ended up following the herd of money and ended up in a state of non-competitiveness. Some of this is just the bubble but some of it I do think reflects an irrevocable change. Another bailout, strikes me as as equally sane as getting a new credit card, as the other cards are tapped out, so that we can continue to spend without creating any value. Collective insanity is gleefully imagining that things can go back to the way they were, if *everybody* can just get one more credit card and join in the fun...until those cards are tapped out too.

For what though? I realize that oil prices have gone down, but do we really need an economy based on trucks and SUVs that most people really can't afford else they wouldn't depend on extensive credit to buy? if it's truly business critical, there are alternate ways to finance. I'm surrounded by small entrepreneurs who figure out ways to scale business though it takes time to do so. Fast forward, in 1 yr are Ford, GM, etc suddenly going to be globally or domestically competitive? or just going more of the same. In 5 years will something have changed? If I were a bank loaning billions I'd like to see a business plan that reflects current and projected markets instead of looking backwards.

It's fascinating to see the Auto Union, take some responsibility, taking over the pension, and agreed to match worldwide labor rates, some $30/hr lower. To me, Pensions and iconic institutions that last forever seem almost like utopian fiction. A mirror is also happening in the Airline industries, picking between consolidation or failure due to similar stresses. Many Airline's unions are also similarly bossy and parasitic IMO. I wonder how long before both industries are largely automated out of most the current labor. We already have UAV's and acrobatic helicopters that learn new tricks by watching videos, is flying a jet that much harder? We already have unmanned refineries, and many industrial robots, are the limitations to wider use in sensory, or manipulative, or IQ or just cost/benefit?
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Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Subject:Night of the Election and Cookies.
Time:11:16 pm.
Funny. I walked out for dinner a bit before 9pm. Streets were a ghost town, it's cold and windy, things felt very much like Harry Potter 3 shortly after he inflated his Aunt and runs away. Restaurants were empty, the one I was looking forward too open late, shortly after I sat down was approached by the apologetic manager saying they were closing an hour early due to zero clientelle...I think I was the only customer in the 50-100 person place.

While I could have pressed my advantage and gotten a Tiramisu, I without batting an eyelash "said no problem!" got up and walked out, realizing I had no idea where I was going to go. Noticing the the Fast Food Mexican place (strange how these places rarely close early was still open walked in... uncharacteristically, the mexican Muzac was turned down and the TV was turned up, all the staff, chairs and customers oriented like sunflowers to the TV on the wall , oddly reminding me of most people's living rooms. On it was CNN with the election results, a cute dial showing percentage of blue vrs red, and a set so Red White and Blue to make you nauseous. Obama wins, lots of glowing faces reporting back and forth.

While munching on the veggie burrito. I wasn't really surprised, as I had predicted Obama would win. This is not to say that he was who I wanted to vote for. Part is living in Los Angeles, at least in the circles I (literally) walk in, it's very rare you see McCain support. Obama on the other hand has posters, T-shirts, businesses with window paintings(!!). My other intuitions were, between wars and the economy, and years of republicans, the tide was shifting to something else, for the sake of something else. I suspect that this is true for many of the younger votes which voted largely pro-democrat, they just want to make a difference. The other motivation was superficial, in the 30 second 'taste test'. Obama was a more compelling relaxed emotional speaker and had the better smile/face, if voters were women and he a playboy, it's clear who would be getting the 10's vrs the cougars.. To the degree that both parties had non-traditional elements to pull from less active voters..minorities vs. housewifes. Palin while an interesting gender counterpart to the Obama race card, was less credible as a world leading politician...The mayor of many cities in California have more people+problems than the governor of Alaska.

Walking home, was a different world, like somebody had turned on the switch 'cue people stage left'. A cacophony of cars driving around honking, people walking in crowds near bars in numbers normally reserved for Saturday night, enticing the cars. All festive expressions which doesn't even happen on most weekends.

Supposedly the network at UCLA is somewhat jammed with people sending election stuff around.

That said, while I enjoyed the sensation of hope... I didn't really feel jubilant. I largely view the two major political party as two sock puppets with the same masters, though a different spin. The president is just one man. The weak economy, the weakening dollar, the bankrupt social security and welfare programs, the ongoing expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 10 trillion dollar and rising national debt, to solve each take very uncomfortable decisions that hurts somebody: raise taxes, cut spending, take the money on the war and spend it on more productive things. The severity of these are beyond a single term presidency, and hard to sell with major interests. In addition, I'm still disgusted with how blatant the omission or distortion of Ron Paul in the presidential race was, and how we got into this mess into the first place.

But at least there are chocolate chip cookies, fresh out of the oven. The world can't be all bad if there are still warm cookies is it?
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Friday, October 31st, 2008

Subject:Link: Awesome, Insect Sex
Time:10:03 am.
The fascinating sex lives of insects by Isabella Rossalini, very well done.
Comments: Read 1 or Add Your Own.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Subject:Thrill the world
Time:11:55 am.
While everybody I love is trying to change the world for the better, like fighting aging, super brains. Others's are trying to change it for the zanier, and exploring...better longevity via undead.

While metaeducation is down in Mexico, Ines the coordinator of Thrill The World, a guiness world record breaking event for the simultaneous number of Thriller dancers has been staying at the Ogdorm. Watch the video by the Ogden homie and coordinator mahdroo:

They were up to 4700 people this year, and are going for 10x that next year! So bring a friend.
Comments: Read 3 or Add Your Own.

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