Saturday, December 31, 2011

For last year's words belong to last year's language...

Hooray! The last post.*

If you listen to only one mashup each year let it be DJ Earworm's annual United State of Pop 2011 (World Go Boom). No one else can blend 25 songs into four minutes like Earworm can. Stream it from the site, watch the video, or download the mp3.

What's more fun that watching a video of Katy Perry getting a cast made of her boobs to auction for breast cancer research?

Readers' Choice General award winner from Aviation Week's annual photo and art issue, my favorite of the year.
The same people who think the internet is a series of tubes are considering two bills, Protect IP and SOPA. Debating their constitutionality is fun and scary but without doubt they are technical disasters. As one commenter wrote, it's like Congress saying "We have no idea how airplanes can fly so we're going to limit them to 40 mph." Read Stanford Law Review's Don't Break the Internet and then contact your congresspersons and senators and urge them to vote against them. I did. Let's hope these go down in history like the attempt in Indiana to legislate the value of pi. (Hmm. Political.)

Now you can print your own graph paper instead of buying it, especially that really expensive engineering kind.

I am so unproductive that I'm on a good productivity tool like Snooki on spray tan. I've bastardized David Allen's Getting Things Done for everyday use but this 1-page vision approach to productivity by the author of Out Think the Competition caught my eye. Now all I have to do is dream up about 6 goals for 2012.

Who has the time to read 101 resources for first time entrepreneurs? I hate long lists like that because they're virtually unusable. But, I suppose if you're thinking about quitting your day job, devoting evenings and weekends to this list might help you prepare for taking the plunge.

On the other hand, these 10 harsh realities of founding a company are more digestible but hardly actionable.
  1. Your first iteration of an idea will be wrong. Not in my experience at least. Maybe we're just lucky.
  2. Your friends and family won't understand what you do. They never did, so another strike against. Or maybe you're not explaining it well enough.
  3. You will make less than normal wages for a while. This should be obvious. I think my W-2 from our first year in business was less than half of my previous job.
  4. Everything takes twice as long... if it ever happens. While I know what they mean by that, it's a mixed bag. When you're doing everything yourself you need to account for all the overhead because you're doing 100 things at once which takes getting used to. But you can also make changes and decisions on the spot. On the other hand, in our software business I've stopped trying to pick release dates because its virtually impossible due to myriad variables. (Soon I'll write that work blog post "Addicted to Release Dates."). What's the old joke? Take any completion estimate, double the number, and increment the units for the actual completion date. So an estimate of 1 week becomes 2 months.
  5. Title means nothing. You will be a janitor. Absolutely true. Take out the trash. Fix the bathroom. Move boxes and furniture. Come early, stay late. Try to squeeze in some work related to the product.
  6. There is no silver bullet. True again and very similar to Fred Brooke's classic essay on software development, The Mythical Man-Month. There's no magic. Everything's a trade-off.
  7. Customers will frustrate you. This is a two-way street. You will be annoyed by their wacky expectations as much as they'll be annoyed by your product or service.
  8. You can't do it all yourself. Or as Dirty Harry said, a man's got to know his limitations. The article has a quote worth repeating: "Anyone can delegate stuff they don't like doing. What's hard is delegating things you like doing." Which is about where I am right now.
  9. Building a team is hard. True.
  10. You will LOSE all of your money that you ever earned, and then a bunch that you still haven't earned. This may be a bit of hyperbole based on a nugget of fact. You will spend a lot of money.
See the B-25 Pacific Prowler at Fort Worth's Meacham Airport.
For my sales-oriented friends, Inc. magazine tells us why sales forecasts are a joke

A blogger must wear six hats corresponding to the distinct states in which the brain can be sensitized. For example, the yellow hat is for optimism, value, and benefit.

Here's an idea, say, for a beer maven who's perhaps already been featured once in a news article. A gent in Fort Worth blogged about A Year of Beer, drinking and reviewing a different beer each day for an entire year, from malt liquor to Rochefort Trappistes 8, and it got him some nice local news coverage. I suppose the trick would be limiting one's intake to only one brew per day.

Prot├ęgion is a great stop-motion animation about folding paper into shapes.
I have no idea why these houses are inside this stadium in Osaka.
Attention getting opening line: "Even when things seem to be chugging along smoothly, most business owners always have a dark cloud looming over their heads." This post about lead generation talks about how to get found, how to convert traffic into leads, and how to analyze the effectiveness of that process.

Writing the next great novel need not be a life-long endeavor but sometimes speedy prose has unintended consequences. Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in only 9 days.

For MINI owners, a cool campaign of some pretty wild paint jobs.

Design News' 2011 engineering salary survey leaves more questions unanswered than it answers. 65% of respondents reported higher salaries than 2010 (up an average 5%) while only 4% reported a decline. Average salary was $93,465 but there's no correlation of that with age making the number virtually worthless.

The canopy of the top secret and cancelled A-12 Avenger II can be yours for only $620,000 plus change. Some guy bought it surplus from the U.S. government and is now auctioning it on eBay.
Philips Norelco REALLY wants dudes to be hair-free. They've got a a website called with a) a campaign to "help Willy deforest himself," (Willy? Really? Sounds sophomoric like I'd write.) b) a game where a Tarzan-like Willy runs through the jungle (Jungle. Bush. Get it?), c) a product called the Body Groom Pro that works on your head, face, chest, and "bonsai," and d) a poll about whether butt hair should be shaved or not. Either someone is running a really convincing parody or Norelco has some manliness issues. And how come the butt is the butt but Big Jim and The Twins are reduced to the bonsai, a diminutive Asian tree like the one I just gave my mother for Xmas? Damn, that's creepy.

Here's an interesting chart from the Economist about "employee holiday entitlement" by country showing who gets the most holidays and vacation. Of course, the USA is near the bottom and Greek and Spain are near the top. Draw your own conclusions. It's interesting that for the USA there's no mandatory holiday entitlement but pegs the average at 15 days. Because I realize the Brits use "holiday" for vacations too, I'm trying to figure out whether the dark blue portion of the bar is what we call holidays and the light blue is vacation.

How does your beard measure up? Get a t-shirt and find out where it stands from manly to beardly (kinda like who's in charge, you or the hair).

There's a lot of junk in here, but this list of obscure Disney gems includes a collaboration with Salvador Dali. Yes, that's right, Dali and Disney together produced Destino.

Abstract painter Helen Frankenthaler died this past week at the age of 83. Shown above is Tutti Fruitti 1966. You might think of her as a cross between Georgia O'Keefe and Jackson Pollock. (I didn't know she was married to artist Robert Motherwell.) image credit
Giving fair play to the other side, check out the blog post Butt-Ugly Artworks That Are Super Expensive featuring Pollock's #5 1948, De Kooning's Woman III 1953, and Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust 1932. I wasn't a huge fan of Pollock until I saw Lavender Mist up close and personal at the National Gallery of Art. Wow.

White Castle is testing beer and wine sales which is kinda odd cuz I thought you went to White Castle after, not during, a night of drinking.

I don't know which made me laugh harder, the fact that Robert Reich has a blog on Tumblr or the fact that he predicts a winning Democratic ticket in 2012 of Obama-Clinton. Wait - that's not funny. (Hmm, two political comments in one post.)

Can I get a rim shot?

Do you live in one of the 100 most dangerous cities in the U.S? Houston (#91) is the only Texas city on the list. 

Gamers: Infamous NES game Takeshi's Challenge has been translated to English. (This caught my attention because of the name. Takeshi's Castle was the Japanese TV game show whose video became the basis for MXC, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. MXC is to ABC's Wipeout as Brooke Burke is to Roseanne Barr.)

G-string. Vending. Machine. Can I borrow some quarters?

...And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. ~T.S. Eliot

*of the year.


Francis Shivone said...

This post is going to take more than one visit.

1. Concerning K Perry: damn

2. When the lead line is anything over 20 I don't go to it. Too much to read.

3. Absolutely loved the 10 things for people starting a business. It can include just about any new venture, in my view. I am copying and forwarding. Thanks.

John said...

I'm surprised you liked the starting a business list. You usually don't go for the biz self-help type of stuff.

Glad to have you back reading and commenting.

Francis Shivone said...

John, there is a kind of business advice that chafes me, i don't know why, but it does. But i' m a liberal arts guy so that probably has something to do with it.

Life is more-than an equation and a formula that if only discovered will make everything right. The scientific model when applied to humans will always get a sneer from me.

Also, most "10 things " contain a measure of hyperbole, or maybe understatement for effect. They are not perfect pieces of logic but they communicate a point thatthe writer believes true.

Anyway, as always, great posts.

John said...

While a formula is too much to ask, a reliable playbook would be pretty damn helpful. As an engineer, I lack a formal grounding in certain fundamentals that are now being learned from the school of hard knocks.

I agree with you on top 10 lists. Like most things in life, it's the little flaws that make them notable.