Thoughts on App.net
I got my alpha invite tonight for http://app.net/. I tried to upload a profile picture. I got this error.
This is 2012 and I’m not going to resize images on my own. This is such a simple task that almost every major platform online handles automatically already.
Also, a few tips to the creators of app.net:
- Get a UI Designer. Please.
- Make a good onboarding process. Suggest people that I should follow, especially people who I’m already following on Twitter.
Anyway, I’m interested to see where the service goes. In it’s current state, I get more value out of Twitter. Hopefully it improves.
California so far!
I’ve been living in California for about 3 months now. 2 months, and 30 days to be exact, according to Wolframalpa (http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=May+21%2C+2012+-+August+20%2C+2012). Who knew date subtraction could be so easy? They even compensate for the fact that I entered the smaller number first! Anyway, I lived for 2 months at a wonderful house in SoMa called the Startup House. Basically one step up from being homeless with the awesomeness of startup culture put on top. Though living there was a perfect place for having just moved to San Francisco. Having a temporary place to stay for 2 months really helped until I was able to find an apartment.
I got extremely lucky with the apartment too. I was browsing Craigslist and found a listing where a guy was looking to move into an apartment complex just a block away from where I was staying at the Startup House. We met, checked it out, both liked it, and moved in a couple weeks later! I had only tried a few other listings before finding this one. I miss the startup living environment at the Startup House but having my own room, shower, kitchen, and living room is definitely helpful for the long term. Plus I don’t have to always eat dinner at whole foods everyday and I can actually make bacon on a saturday morning. Mmmmm. The apartment smelled so good for a day after that.
Oh! Besides my living conditions, the work I’ve been doing has been incredibly exciting. The only thing I was working on from day 1 at Wanelo until we relaunched about mid-June was a complete rewrite of the website from the ground up. We moved ridiculously fast. Starting from 0 lines of Ruby code up to about 7,000 at launch in about 2 months all with the general feature set of the site before plus more. All clean, modern, rethought, and reloved. Now we’re literally shipping things daily and it’s just so much fun that it makes me want to knock over lamps! We also launched an iPhone app this past week that has kind of blown up in such a good way. It’s going to be incredible to find out what even the next few months bring if not years, decades, and the little less than a century that I’ve been given on this earth. Unless we really do reach the singularity.
The Myth of the Ninja Programmer
I’m going to go on a little rant here about something that deeply annoys me. The term “Ninja Programmer”. That term denotes a programmer who can seemingly work wonders behind his/her keyboard. Simply hitting a few keystrokes, and something functional appears quickly on the screen. It general describes a programmer who gets things done fast and only fast.
This style of programmer appeals perfectly to managers and bosses. They love to have things done fast. The term “ninja” completely resonates with them. So why is this so wrong? In the true ninja world, fast went completely hand-in-hand with productivity. The stereotypical ninja was/is productive when they take the enemy down swiftly and quietly. That’s their definition of productivity. In the programming world, fast does not equal productive. Simply cranking out hundreds of lines of code or strapping together tons of components does not equal productivity. The results will be immediate, but the long term effects can be disastrous and a maintenance nightmare because of messy code, lack of tests, and a rushed product.
I’m honestly guilty of falling into this “ninja” paradigm. There are no excuses and I think it’s something most developers can easily fall into. Why? Because it makes management temporarily happy if you can just always be available and work your “ninja” magic to fix something that could have been done right in the first place.
To any project managers: Encourage your team to take the time to do their work right. There still needs to be a timeframe, so I’d recommend taking a look at agile methodologies that allow your team to take an iterative approach to developing software. This will allow them to do their work right for only what they need to do based on what the user requests.
To any developers: Never accept a job offer that is looking for hackers or ninjas. The people offering the job don’t really know what they want and aren’t concerned with the long-term success of the project.
I’m going to write a post in the future though about Facebook’s “Hacker Way”. It’s an approach that encourages software developers to “Move Fast and Break Things”.
Anyway, end of rant. It’s 1 am and I’m dead tired. Good night, world!
A New Adventure
Guess what? Instead of college, I’m going to go make awesome at Wanelo, an online social store for people seeking awesome products, in San Francisco, California and here’s the story!
After being rejected from the Thiel Fellowship after reaching the third round back in March, I decided to take a trip out to San Francisco, California with my good friend Alaxic Smith. This trip was the topic of my last blog post and we both had a great time networking, attending many interesting events, and seeing cool things such as the launch of HopeMob (http://hopemob.org) at the Google HQ. We also got feedback from various people out there on our startup, The Sandbox. Basically, the idea needed much more maturing and refinement before it would have been truly successful. We applied to Y Combinator with the idea, but were rejected simply because of the abundance of other greater and more innovative ideas than our own. Though not that we lacked the skill to execute on the idea, as we had built a fully functional prototype, but we lacked the connections and the network of people to get accurate feedback on the product early on.
One interesting startup that I’ve been following and observing for about 6 months is Wanelo. They are a very hot startup that is growing very rapidly and is looking for talent. So, I applied for a job as a Full Stack Ruby Engineer on Tuesday of the week that I was in California. My goals? To work at a fast-paced startup that has a direct impact on individual people, has an excellent culture and team, and that I can grow and learn with. I receive a reply the next day asking me to come in on Thursday for a first round of interviews. The interviews all go very well and that night, I attended the SF Ruby meetup where the CTO of Wanelo was giving a talk on scaling Ruby on Rails beyond a small application, but not quite to the Twitter scale. I also got invited back the next day for more interviews. Those go well, but I unfortunately have to leave San Francisco on Saturday to head back to Longview, Texas.
I spend the next few days waiting and hoping that I’ll get the call. I finally get an email, and one more interview is setup on this past Thursday. That interview went extraordinarily well and on Friday, I get the call with the official job offer! I accepted, and am now winding down my life here and will be moving out to San Francisco, California in 3 weeks! As of this point, I’ve turned in my resignation to my current job at iClassPro, and will be preparing for the move!
This is going to be huge and extremely exciting. I cannot wait to get started. More tough challenges lie ahead. BRING IT ON.
Silicon Valley Immersion: Successful
One word describes this trip: “Wow.” This post is starting out with me currently sitting in the San Francisco International Airport at 2 am waiting for our flight that leaves at 6:10 am for Salt Lake City and from there to Dallas/Ft. Worth International airport. This trip has been absolutely phenomenal. The week has flown by yet it seemed to go so slowly.
I traveled with my good friend and business partner, Alaxic Smith. After we arrived at the San Francisco International airport on Saturday afternoon, the week begun by dropping into Startup Weekend MEGA at the Microsoft HQ in Mountain View, CA. There, I joined a team working on a mobile solution to parking tickets. The app would keep track of your location, auto-detect when you parked, and then automatically start a timer based on what the restrictions on the length of parking for that specific place are. We didn’t win anything, but it was still a great experience to be able to work with new people and test my knowledge of iOS programming. Hopefully there is more that can be done on the app in the future!
At Startup Weekend, the app Highlight allowed me to meet two incredible people who invited my friend and I to an event at an incredible place, located in downtown San Francisco near Twin Peaks, called TheGlint (http://theglint.com). On the way, Alaxic and I talked about ourselves and what we wanted to do with a guy named Chris Fornof. He gave us a 20 minute data dump of things to know about in order to live in the bay area! The event at TheGlint was a talk given by this guy who was studying the use of motion capture technology to create music! We then had the awesome privilege to crash on couches at TheGlint for the next two days because the place we had previously arranged to stay in Mountain View became unavailable.
Most of the day Monday was spent networking and exploring downtown San Francisco and getting a jacket! Oh! The weather in California was incredible. Much cooler than Texas, and even slightly cold at night. The sun was out for most of the week except for maybe a few cloudy mornings. Monday evening, I attended Sensored Meetup at Lemnos Labs in downtown San Francisco. Lemnos Labs is a startup accelerator that focuses exclusively on hardware startups. Hardware startups are way underrated as everyone is focusing on the latest iOS app or Web startup, but the companies there are doing some incredible things! For example, one company was working on a touchless touch screen. This is stuff you see on Star Trek. Though on the way back to TheGlint, we wandered about the streets of downtown San Francisco. Eventually we gave up and just got a taxi. Mainly due to the overabundance of homeless people.
On Tuesday, we made our way down to Mountain View to meet with Daniel Brusilovsky about our startup The Sandbox. We were a bit unprepared for the meeting and unfortunately showed a bit of the wrong aspect of The Sandbox. However, the meeting brought about some good points on how we were focusing on too much at once. We should instead be focused on a more central core idea instead of sprawling about while trying to be everything to everybody. More developments on this to come though! We checked in later on Tuesday at one of the Chez JJ Hacker Houses in Mountain View, CA. There were quite a few people staying there. People from all over the world. Australia, Ireland, Canada, and others that I can’t remember right now. They all had many interesting ideas that were all fascinating to listen too!
Wednesday was spent heading down to Santa Clara to check out DEMO 2012. I had no idea the VTA train went from Mountain View to almost right across the street from the Hilton so Alaxic and I took the Cal Train from Mountain View to the Lancaster station. From there, we hiked 3.5 miles up to the hotel. The walk itself was long but quite enjoyable. We passed by the yahoo headquaters and were able to see some other interesting companies, but if we had known about the VTA, it would have saved us a ton of time! There were some really cool people that we got to meet at DEMO. Not limited to Andrew Chen, founder of Tosigram, and Hanna Aase, an entrepreneur from Norway. We headed back to the house early Wednesday evening to spend some time working and hacking on a few projects.
Thursday started off with a bang as we made our way to the Google HQ for the launch event of HopeMob.org. At it’s simplest, HopeMob is a kickstarter for charity needs. People submit stories with legimiate needs, the stories pass through an interview/verification process, and then they are crowd sourced by actual people. A story then proceeds into a locked queue. The stories are then featured one by one and each story remains featured until it has become fully funded. I definitely recommend checking them out. The main founder/CEO, Shaun King, is a social entrepreneur who has raised over $5 million online for such causes as the Haiti earthquake. We then had a few meetings that afternoon and I made my way into downtown San Francisco for a meeting and the SF Ruby meetup. The main talk given at the event was about Ruby on Rails in the real world and it was given by the CTO of Wanelo. I definitely recommend checking out the slides here: http://www.slideshare.net/kigster/rails-in-the-real-world-breaking-things-up
Friday was more of a relaxing day. We went to downtown Palo Alto and then went to an event that night at another one of the Chez JJ hacker houses. Later that evening around midnight, we made our way to the San Francisco airport to get ready for our flight that left at 6. It would have been much harder to get to the airport at 4 am than to just head there at midnight. We caught a few hours of sleep, then hopped on the plane back to Texas! It’s now been a few days since we got back, and I miss California so badly. I met so many brilliant, passionate, and open people there. Based on what Alaxic and I learned in California, there are going to be some very interesting developments coming up soon. Some are secrets for now, but I may tell you if you ask. ;)
I can’t wait to go back.
Computers Will Never Be Smarter Than Humans
I don’t ever think computers of any sort, created by humans, will be smarter than the humans who created the computers. The simple reason for this is we, as humans, don’t know what we know at any given point. How can we give a machine our intelligence but we don’t even know the extent intelligence at any given time?
We can give machines an imitation of intelligence, but true human intelligence can never be given to a machine by a human. Human intelligence seems to more and more about creating connections. One connection leads to another connection, another connection, back to the original connection, and on to another connection. There doesn’t seem a real way to quantify all human intelligence so that it can be played back by a machine.
Does this mean we should stop trying? Absolutely not. Any advances in computer science with this goal in mind will be incredible, as it already has, but there will never be a point at which a computer is smarter than a human.