Recent Books — Peregrine, Dog and Wolf, Baxter, Orfeo

  • Miss Pregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom HourBetweenDogandWolf_300dpiRiggs — basically, the X-Men in novel form. X-Men are more exciting tho this isn’t terrible.
  • Proxima by Stephen Baxter. Settling new planets isn’t for sissies. Unless you find a magic wormhole.
  • The Hour Between Dog and Wolf by John Coates. Our “rational” behaviour is driven by our physical bodies and emotions in ways we are just understanding. Interesting but drags on.
  • Orfeo by Richard Powers. A biohacker, a terrorist, or just eccentric? Nicely written.

Not getting much utility out of

I bought these because, well, i buy every gadget. But they are useless without widespread adoption. Because I am the only person I know using them, the only time I can locate my tile-tagged items is when I am right next to them running the tile app.

It is great if your product can benefit from a network effect, that is a powerful accelerant. But if your product is useless without a network effect, well, you don’t really have a product.

Finally trying Atom

atomFinally downloaded Atom. I am getting a little frustrated with the plugin community around Sublime Text as it seems that people may be moving away from Sublime, and who can blame them given the uncertain path for Sublime. Atom seems nice, maybe a little slower than Sublime Text, but still good. Most of the plugins I want seem to be there.

College football doldrums weekend — let’s look at 2015 schedules

While we wait for the bowl season to kick off, what to do, what to do.

Interesting to look at 2015 schedules. Given how the playoff selection worked out — with conference championship game winners having a clear advantage, and non-FBS games dragging teams down, look at who is in trouble for making the 2015 playoffs already:

  • Big 12 teams. No championship game, and games like Baylor-Lamar, K State-UTSA, K State-South Dakota, TCU-SFA, WVU-Liberty, WVU-Georgia Southern. These teams start out with two strikes against them, they have no margin for error. Only an undefeated Big 12 team has a hope of making the playoff.
  • ACC — Clemson-Wofford, FSU-Texas State, FSU-Chattanooga, Louisville-Samford, VT-Furman. One strike against, these teams better hope they look good the rest of the season.
  • Pac12 — Oregon-Georgia State, UW-Sacramento State, AZ-UTSA, AZ-Northern AZ, ASU-Cal Poly, USC-Idaho.
  • SEC — because of these perceived strength of the SEC, most of these schools will probably get a pass on playing one FCS opponent, tho they should be embarrassed. But Georgia and Auburn both load up with two, not going to help them.

WIll be interesting to see if any schedule changes happen for 2015 or 2016. If I was an AD of a serious team, I’d be looking to eliminate this cruft.

Books — Angelmaker, Coldbrook, Speedboat, Grasshopper Jungle

  • Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. A fun adventurous romp, reminds of the early Tim Powers books, but with a lighter touch.
  • Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon. Many worlds and zombies, almost a perfect book :). coldbrookA great tale, I am a little surprised he hasn’t penned a followup, tho some of the material might be off-putting to some readers.
  • Speedboat by Renata Adler. A stream of consciousness ramble. Not usually my style but I was engaged. The book has held up well.
  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. Zombies and giant bugs, another near perfect pairing. Not quite as engaging as the Lebbon but still quite fun.

New OSU 2016 football ticket policy announced — this will be fun

2688127883_0ba996ee25_zIt has always been a bit of a mystery exactly how our season tickets are assigned. Well, mystery no more. Starting in 2016 all ticket holders will get to pick seats in priority order based on their total giving standing. The brochure that OSU sent out has a handy stadium map and an estimated number of points needed to sit in a certain area, and the giving you need to do to get those points.

For example, you want 50 yard line eastside seats in the A section? 4500 points are expected to be needed, and if you haven’t given a dime, your 2015 gift will convert to points at a 4% rate, so a gift of $112,500 will get you in!

Prefer 50 yard line B deck? 2000 points, or $50k and you are in the bidding. C-deck end zone? A mere 100 points or a mere $2500. Your prior accrued gifts convert at a 2% rate, so those dollars still count.

It will be fascinating to see a) if people rush in 2015 in buy their way up the priority ladder, and b) how much OSU goads everyone to do this. I am looking forward to the “We’re sorry, but you’ve been pushed into C-Deck, only 30 days left in 2015 to secure your old seats” email.

The Raspberry Pi’s best features

I’ve had several people mention some other low-end hardware platforms to me recently — of course the beagle bone series, the intel galileo and edison products, and a couple others. All nice looking hardware with nice features.

And I am not spending any time with them. Because they lack the two most critical features of the Raspberry Pi — price and availability. If I need 100 Pis tomorrow, I can get them. And they are the cheapest thing going. The pricing on some of the Intel parts is wildly uncompetitive.

The open source linux software stack on the Pi is important too. Means I don’t have to worry about lockin, we can shift to another hardware platform easily.

All this adds up to a platform with really low trial friction — easy and cheap to acquire, no concerns about lockin. There is a reason they’ve sold ~4M and that the sales rate is apparently accelerating. And that is turning into an ecosystem advantage.

The exact technical features of the Pi are largely irrelevant. There are technical and design aspects of the Pi that I hate. I am sure the beaglebones have a better frimplestat and the intel parts are superior at ruzzmutzing and the nvidia tegra boards have nice plurblegots or whatever. But they all miss the availability, price, low friction marks. And are missing the emerging ecosystem advantage.

I just paved over my last Windows install

I’ve kept a home-built Windows box around for years tho most of my work has shifted to Apple and Linux platforms. But I still had some strange emotional tie, and I still played a Steam game on a regular basis.

But as you can tell from my lack of posting, real work has displaced blogging and game-playing. And the unusability of Windows 8 broke any other attachment I had.

I needed another Ubuntu box for testing, so I just paved over Windows 8 tonight. No real sadness, I left the platform long ago, but still a passing. I had a nice beer and we watched “The Good Wife” to celebrate.

Self hosting!

It has been a little rocky but we are finally self-hosting this week. It is going to probably be a disaster but I was reminded of this post today:

Have your team and yourself start using that minimum viable product, every day, all day long. This is way more than mere software development: it’s your whole life. If you aren’t living in the software you’re building, each day, every day, all day … things are inevitably going to end in tears for everyone involved. And honestly, if I have to explain this to you, guess what? You’re screwed.

The need to self-host using real customer configurations as soon as possible was “beaten” into me during my formative years in the software business (thanks Brad), and it is a vital step and exciting step.

I was most excited today because I accidentally left the system running and came back 3 hours later and it was still churning away! That is a great sign.

BTW if you want to help…we are hiring…drop me a note.

We’re hiring!

I buried this in a post the other day, bringing it to the fore. I am fortunate to be working with a small team of great technical and business leaders, and we are ready to expand. Drop us a note (or mail me directly) if you:

  • are excited about Raspberry Pis, the internet of things, embedded systems, and pervasive computing
  • have 2-5 years of hands-on experience in software development
  • have background with linux systems development, mobile development, or cloud/web development
  • as a bonus, have experience with image processing or computer vision
  • are interested in being part of small dynamic focused collaborative no-nonsense team
  • and are excited about joining an early stage startup with experienced technical and venture management

We are in the South Lake Union area of Seattle.

Recent Books — Goldfinch, Patrick Melrose, Divergent, Acceptance, etc

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. A wild trip thru a life marked by disasters, some external, some self-created, with a lot of introspection about life along the way. Dense but I couldn’t put it down.
The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn. Very well written set of books about a life among the English upper class. Very engaging, tho the characters are all hateful, misanthropic, abusive people. I’ve stuck with it quite a while but ultimately the misanthropy is wearing me down. Glad these are not the circles I run in.

On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman. Really poorly written but great insight into life of an oppressed minority in America today. Very topical and inspirational.

Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant by Veronica Roth. Saw the first movie on a flight and thought it was fun. The first book is clearly the strongest, too much dithering about in the middle, but ends strong.

Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer. Brings the Southern Reach trilogy to a close. Finally, halfway thru this book, I finally tripped to what the major themes of the trilogy were. The third book gets a little too mystical at times but still a very engrossing (tho at times challenging) read.

Letters of Note by Shaun Usher. Culled from the website, interesting insight into some historical figures.

What can you do if you have 10 or 100 computers in the room with you?

3.8M Raspberry Pis sold and apparently the pace is accelerating. I’ve got 8 sitting on my desk right now.

For well over a year, we’ve been asking ourselves “What could we do if we had 5 cheap computers on our desk or in the room? 15? 50?”

It is an exciting problem to think about. It certainly feels like the early days of the PC industry all over again.

Anyway, we are now ready to scale up our team, we are hiring. Drop us a note if you:

  • are excited about Raspberry Pis, the internet of things, embedded systems, and pervasive computing
  • have 2-5 years of hands-on experience in software development, preferably system level
  • have background with linux systems development, mobile development, or cloud/web development
  • as a bonus, have experience with image processing or computer vision
  • are interested in being part of small dynamic focused collaborative no-nonsense team
  • and are excited about joining an early stage startup with experienced technical and venture management

We are in the South Lake Union area of Seattle.

Recent Books — Sawyer, Rich, Hough, Rendell, Lakhous


  • Red Planet Blues by Robert Sawyer. Noirish mystery on Mars. Fun and engaging. I hope Mars is this cool when we eventually settle it.
  • Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich. I don’t enjoy reading farce, and this was drifting that way, but then the author made the characters very human despite being in the midst of a terrible tragedy. Surprised me in a good way.
  • The Darwin Elevator by Jason Hough. A set of mysterious alien artifacts show up on Earth and shit breaks loose. A fun ride. The following two volumes — Exodus Towers, Plague Forge — lose a little of the energy, the author wasn’t able to maintain the alien mystery, but still a fun set.
  • The St Zita Society by Ruth Rendell. Rendell is a great author, and this book is well regarded, but it just didn’t grab me, I gave up quite quickly. A rush of characters early that I didn’t care about.
  • Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet by Amara Lakhous. This was a very engaging tale about corruption and bigotry in modern day Italy. Great main character, I’m left wanting more.

Xfinity, who exactly is xfinitywifi helping?

So as I walk to get my morning coffee, my phone keeps hopping onto xfinitywifi ssids leaking out of nearby houses and apartments. And each time, destroys my internet experience. My perfectly happy LTE connection gets bumped aside, it takes 30-60 seconds for the xfinitywifi connection to validate and set up, typically any session i had (for instance downloading a pdf) is destroyed, and by that time I have walked out of range of the connection.

I’m a paying xfinity customer and I don’t get what this is for. Doesn’t help me at home. Doesn’t help me out and about town. Doesn’t help me at friend’s house since they all let me on their wifi. Turning on autoconnect to this SSID actually makes my internet experience worse.

That is the summary: “xfinitywifi SSID makes your internet experience worse”.

Recent Books — Balkans, Pereira, Cotterill

  • Interrupt by Jeff Carlson. Apparently the publishing business is booming, because somebody thought this was worth horking out there. Poorly written, dumb characters, just ughh. save your brain. no idea why I downloaded this.
  • Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill. This is a very funny mystery set in Thailand. Awesome characters, great atmosphere. The GWB quotes sprinkled throughout are the cherry on the top.
  • Pereira Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi. In pre-WWII Portugal, Dr. Pereira awakens to rise of fascism. Starts slow, slowly accelerates, and ends on a bang.
  • Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West. A fairly brilliant travelogue/history of the Balkans with deep insight about humanity everywhere. After reading this, I feel pretty shallow, this is a long and deep book.