Some current tech topics

Some current tech topics

My buddy Rich has a lot of great info up on his weblog about a variety of topics. Recently he and I have been captivated with low cost storage systems. He’s figured out the way to build a really low cost 120GB file server for your network, including full mirroring for disaster recovery purposes. Very cool, I will probably build one of these. With something like this on your home network, you don’t need to worry about buying big hard disks on your PCs in the future.

Another thing coming to your home network is wireless networking. This site is a great source of news and tech tips.

We’ve also noticed in compusa and other computer stores recently that routers and wireless routers for the home are flying off the shelves. For instance look at the top sellers at Amazon in this category right now. Everyone who has a dsl or cable modem connection is wiring up their house to get all their PCs on that connection — and wireless is often the way to go.

We’re excited about this. With all this networking getting deployed, there is the opportunity to provide the solutions and apps on top of this infrastructure that consumers really want. For instance, why is it so hard for me to share pictures with the rest of you? Why don’t new pictures that I take just show up on your home network for viewing?

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

A great article on another recent attack. A sidebar — if you all have recent Windows machines (Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP), you should all be running windows update periodically to ensure that you have all the latest security fixes. The fixes marked “critical” are the ones you want at a minimum.

Wildseed

Wildseed

This is the coolest company I am working with. Eric Engstrom, the leader, is a brilliant guy I have known for years and he has assembled a killer team. And they have the most innovative phone product I have seen. We are very optimistic…

Idealab

Idealab

We are an investor in Idealab, and boy have we learned hard lessons here. Our one really bad dotcom mistake. Bill Gross the founder is brilliant but things have not turned out well. Business Week had an article on. And our lawsuit against the company is mentioned in Fortune and in Forbes (sorry you have to register at Forbes to read the article).

This was the quickest investment decision I ever made and the worst. The connection is obvious….

Baruch Lev's testimony to Congress

Baruch Lev’s testimony to Congress

A worthwhile read about corporate accounting and auditing, presented to Congress recently as part of Enron hearings. Per Baruch, our financial reporting is too narrow, our auditing is too cozy, and our enforcement is too late and opaque. And we have the best systems in the world.

Tucson Trip

Tucson Trip

We had a great trip down to Tucson and Scottsdale last week. It is our so-called “Mid Winter Break” or “Ski Week” — a week off from school in mid February. We get spring break later in April.

We had beautiful weather — approaching 80 each day, but cool at night. C and Liz stayed at Canyon Ranch, John and John at Loew’s Ventana Canyon Resort. Canyon Ranch is awesome, “camp for grownups”, but they have an age limit of 14 so we can’t all go there yet.

While the girls were spa-ing, John and John hit all the tourist attractions in Tucson including Old Tucson Studios — fun old west stunt shows, a real hoot.

Everyone is back in school and or work today, 6 weeks to spring break!

Alterna Blog

Alterna Blog

So I am playing around with a new toy, Radio, created by Userland Software. I don’t grok it fully yet but it has some interesting features. For those of you who are really into blogs and web services and RSS and XML, you can visit my sandbox site and follow all the links there to learn more about.

Ignition Values

Ignition Values

I’ve spent a lot of time recently with some of my partners talking about the values for our little company. I’m kind of proud of the statement we have come up with. I thought I’d share.

Our Mission: To help outstanding entrepreneurs build the world?s greatest technology companies

Our Values: To achieve this we will?
Act with integrity
. Treat team members with respect
. Earn and retain entrepreneurs? trust
. Stay true to what we promise investors
Maintain commitment
. Support our team members
. Cultivate long term entrepreneur relationships
. Build durable investments with superior returns
Keep learning
. Develop a culture of continuous team learning
. Engage constructively with every interaction
. Foster continuous improvement across investments
Stay focused
. Keep the team tightly knit with clear expertise
. Help entrepreneurs with their top priorities
. Always drive for outstanding results

Our Goal: To be the best VC to invest in and work with in North America

Back Live

Back Live

Whew the server is back live. Had some problems which I hopefully cleaned up. Mostly stupid configuration problems on my part.

Actually take one part general insecurity of the internet, one part windows nt security holes, one part laziness on my part, and one part stupid misconfiguration, and ouila, you have what happened to me. First of all my system was identified as a valid NT server by the various profilers that are running on the internet and my IP address was stuffed away into all the profiler databases. Then all the standard tools were run against my server to find potential exploits and many were found — mostly because I didn’t keep my server up to date on security patches and lockdown tools. Then I screwed up and let anonymous users write to my FTP server.

Nothing particularly malicious happened, some folks just used my server as a staging area for some pirated PC software and some pirated gameboy advance software and some pirated music. I have a large disk drive, I didn’t even notice the usage for a couple days. Then as I was doing some directory maintenance I noticed some unusual directories that I had not created. A little investigation of the directory contents and logs and running tasks and ports in use on my machine let me know I had a problem and so I yanked the net tap. After investigating all the issues for a couple days, I concluded the best thing to do was to reformat the drives and reinstall Windows NT with all the latest patches and lockdown tools. And also tighten up the firewalls between my server and the open internet.

Thankfully my website content is actually stored elsewhere and just propagated regularly to the server so I didn’t actually lose any content. Just some time. And I learned some great lessons along the way. In a strange way it was fun.

Glad to be back tho…

Herbfarm

Herbfarm

Well we had our Herbfarm dinner last night. Quite an experience, we can see why this place has a national reputation. The owners are passionate about their restaurant and they create a real event, almost a festival atmosphere.

The restaurant is in a beautiful building. A gorgeous dining room, a large open kitchen, an attached wine cellar, all in french country style.

We sat down at 7pm and got up a little after midnight. The food list (none of these huge servings):

– Sauteed Oyster with Sorrel Sauce
– Quail Egg Benedict with Cured Salmon and Watercress Sauce
– Perigord Black Truffle & Leek Tart
– Celery Root & Oregon White Truffle Ravioli
– Alaskan Side Stripe Shrimp in Truffled Garlic Sabayon
with Fennel Tempura and Apple Slaw
– Seared Duck Foie Gras and Perigord Truffles
with Yellow Finn Potatoes, Briased Endive & Shallot RIngs
– Sorbet of Douglas Fir
– Thyme-grilled Squab
with Oregon Black Truffles, Lentils, Bloomsdale Spinach and Golden Beets
– Juniper Grove Goat Cheese Buche
with Charlotte of Spice Bread & Tart Cherry Chutney
– Wild Huckleberry Souffle with Rose Geranium Sauce
– Armagnac, Thyme & Prune Ice Cream Crepe with Maple-poached Pears
– Chocolate Eclair with Lavender Praline Cream
– Assorted chocolate Truffles

And we had 6 different wines – 97 Argyle Brut, 2000 Matthews Cellars Semillon, 99 Adelsheim Clone 76 Chardonnay, 98 Beran Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir, 94 Chateau Sainte Michelle Artist’s Series Meritage, and an 1875 Barbieto Malvazia Madeira.

It was quite an adventure. We had more fun than we anticipated, the service was amazing and friendly, and we were seated close enough to other tables to talk with other diners (a couple who had driven 7 hours from Missoula for the dinner).

To our surprise I think we liked the Foie Gras the best of all the dishes. But they were all fascinating.

Herbfarm

Herbfarm

This coming Friday night C and I are going to dinner at the Herbfarm, the most famous restaurant in the Pacific Northwest. We bought the dinner at a school auction. You typically have to reserve a year in advance. Very French with a lot of snooty wine and stinky cheese and strange animals and parts of animals. Wish us luck.

Ooh I see this weekend they are featuring truffles. This is much preferable to sweetbreads or gosh knows what else.

Back to the Grind

Back to the Grind

Both L and J back to school today. A tough morning, everyone up and moving by 620 am. 6 weeks of grind until mid-winter break in february. That’s not so bad. We’re going to Arizona for a week in February so we have something to look forward to.

Raining raining raining today. As it was yesterday. Why we hate Seattle. But on the good side of the ledger, the daffodil shoots all broke thru in the last 4-5 days, so spring is already on its way!

College Update

Another school L is now considering is Occidental in LA. She met a student from her high school who now goes there and loves it. And per the website, Oxy is ‘Hot’, according to Newsweek and the WSJ.

C and I are trying to figure out why “Oxy” is the abbreviation for “Occidental”.

Webcam

Webcam

Another new toy I am playing with. You can check out the view from our back upstairs deck by clicking on the Webcam link at left. I only update this picture once a day at 10am currently. i am playing around with camera settings and location so it may change from day to day.

The Outback Bowl

The Outback Bowl

From my Dad, today’s guest blogger:

“Whoa! What a second half and a fantastic fourth quarter! We were glued to our seats for the entire game!(after the first half—there were some who wanted to leave!) We prefer to think that Ohio State lost the first half 14 to zip…but won the second half 28 to 17! The team played well but our offensive coordinator needs a little work. We expected them to go for the bomb on the last few seconds of the ball game…not with so much time left on the clock…..in my opinion the coaches got lost in the excitement of the game amd lost site of their objective. We would of preferred overtime to this ending! Oh well…there are many fans who believe Tressel will really make his presence felt in the oncoming years!”

For complete coverage, check out the Dispatch or the State.

Fitness

Fitness

One of the great things about our Outward Bound trip last year is that it forced me into a fitness regimen. I am a goal oriented person and I need some form of clear tangible goal to get me into the gym.

I think I have found my next goal. I want to eventually hike at least a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. I’d like to do a 5-10 day trip on the trail, in a small group. I have a lot to do to get ready. First of all fitness. Carrying a pack for 5-10 days while hiking some reasonable altitude gains is going to be tough. Then I need to get updated on first aid, on orienteering, on water use, on camping, etc.

Since we also have a lot of family activities, personal activities, and of course my job, it is going to take me a few years to get everything ready for this. But I am excited about the goal. It will be a stretch and I will learn a lot.

Books

Books

The Economist’s book picks for the year. A pretty interesting list. I’ve ordered 4 or 5.

As indicated in my book links, I am reading a great book on construction failure right now. Deep in my heart I’ve always wanted to be an architect and I guess I am going to slowly read my way through the field. The best thing I have learned in this book so far — poorly constructed concrete and masonry structures can be deadly out here in earthquake country. Now I understand why Seattle buildings have so little ornamental stonework on them — it falls off in quakes and kills people.