Crazy Ideas

I went to the 106Miles meeting last wednesday night. This is a really interesting group of engineers in Silicon Valley with entrepreneurial motivations. Started going to this group at their second meeting after hearing about it on Jeremy Zawodny’s blog, which interestingly enough I had started reading because I found his account of difficulties with a water heater interesting as I was replacing my own. The group has grown dramatically in a very short period of time and often has to turn people away due to the groups inability to host 100+ people.

Some times the ideas I encounter at the meeting are eye-opening. Other times it’s just worth it to go chit-chat with other like minded individuals. I’m still surprised at some of the ideas that make it off of the scribbling on a napkin stage, some even make it to full funding and employees. Not sure if this is a comment on how there’s too much money and not enough ideas these days or if a certain number of crazy ideas always get funded in the hopes that maybe they’re not so crazy.

The ideas that seem to be the most out there for me are the ones where alternative market places are set up, complete with their own currencies. I wish the people behind these ideas the best of luck, but just wonder if they really understand how markets work.

One final comment, on non-content sites, putting google ads on your webapp is not a business plan.

RCP versus AJAX

So in evaluating possible tools sets and app frameworks for a new product aimed at the consumer and small business market, what are the considerations in making this decision. There are some bleeding edge trends out there that have a lot of advantages over traditional Microsoft app development. The two that I’m currently considering are RCP from the Eclipse group and a Web app using AJAX.

There are several advantages to both strategies.

A lot of it is going to depend on the reality of being able to create a fully functional UI using AJAX. If it is possible to do everything in the browser that used to require a downloadable application then I feel that the AJAX route has a lot of advatages.

1) No need to distribute the application.
2) Don’t need to suppport client install and versioning issues.
3) Backward compatibility with existing client base problems disappear.
4) Hopefully easier cross platform support. (Depends on Browser issues).
5) Client is able to access application and data from anywhere with internet connectivity.

With initial testing some issues are already showing up.

1) Tools support for complicated javascript development is very limited.
2) Pre-canned AJAX type tools are getting mixed reviews.
3) Debugging javascript problems can quickly turn into a nightmare.

So, it’s still too early to determine how this experiment will turn out. The hurdles of using AJAX effectively look like they’re doable.

On Being An Entrepeneur

So the term Entrepeneurship is a bit loose in meaning. However, over the last several years I’ve come to realize that it very much applies to me.

I grew up in the midwest where there just wasn’t a whole lot of focus on business. After college I started to look around at a lot of things happening in the world around me and was surprised to see so much happening. I can’t figure out why I didn’t see what was happening earlier, while I was in school. Must have been too focused on passing the next test and figuring out when I’d get the next mountain bike ride in to notice dot-com bubble inflating. I moved out to San Francisco in early 2000. Right at the tail end of the gold rush. This was purely by luck though, as my primary goal for relocation had been Atlanta at the time. Since I’ve been out here though, I’ve been learning more each day about engineering, science, and business than I ever did in school.

Some of the lessons in business have been the most astounding. To see first hand some of the insanity that happens, and is considered normal, was amazing. I never realized how spot on Dilbert was until I started to live in that world.

At this point though, I’ve come to realize that what I really want to do is to be able to create my own product vision, grow it and launch it. I’m driven by the fact that I don’t think I can ever be happy spending my years working trying to make someone else’s dream come true. To really feel that I’ve accomplished something in life I have to make one of my dreams come true.

So now the problem is, what is a dream worthy of following that actually has a chance of being succesful? Working in the Bay Area and talking with other engineers I’m still amazed at some of the dreams they choose to chase after. Putting Google ads on your new web based app is not a business plan, but there are so many startups getting funding with little more behind their idea than that.

I’ve currently got an idea in the oven. It’s been baking a little while now and seems to be rather promising. I’ll fill in the details as it gets closer to being done. Hopefully, this is the dream that I get to fulfill. In the meantime I’m going nuts, which is what being an entrepeneur really means.

Experiment in Management (Part 2)

So after the first set of meetings it appears that there might be some issues with this experiment that need to be worked out.

1) Does anyone have the power to make final decisions or is it a pure democracy?
2) Since it’s impossible to completely segregate the different groups completely what is to be done with product idea overlap?

These issues have been brought up and everyone is currently mulling them over to see if a solution can be found.

The joys of home ownership

So, you go out and plunk down that enormous sum of money and now you’re a home owner in the bay area. You’d think that after the price you paid and everything you’ve had to go through to get to this point that the rest would be easy. Of course you’d be completely wrong.

Now you get to experience the wonderful joy of dealing with neighbors. From the unsightly things they do that drive you nuts, to the nasty old cats they keep that you have to keep scaring away so they don’t use your vegetable garden as a litter box, to the cigar smoke that infuses your entire house at night because the wind happens to be blowing the wrong way and you have to have the windows open because of the summer heat.

But then you have the satisfaction of being able to go home at night to your own place and take a walk around you’re own neighborhood and it’s all worth while.