Last Good Quote: Son's are the seasoning on our lives. - Someone on Facebook

Monday, March 2

Startup Weekend - Transformations in Business

I participated in the Charlotte Weekend Startup Event this past weekend. I had a great time, met some awesome people and learned a good deal about starting a business. I suggest it for anyone with a business idea.

That being said, I wanted to talk about Transformations. I was on a team of 7 folks and we spent 3 days working through a business idea. I won't go into the details of the idea as what I want to talk about is the transformations that I saw took place.

I think everyone could learn from the changes that I saw in my co-founders.

Shaun was the originator of the idea. He had been thinking of this business for quite a number of years and had some very strong ideas on what the business was about. While I think his vision is great, the scale of it was daunting. To be honest, I watched as for 54 hours 5 strangers poked and prodded at his "baby", criticizing and making "suggestions". He took it like a trooper!

The transformation came about half way through, he pulled the team together and said

"Look, I want this to be OUR business, we all have good ideas and I think the business will be better due to our collaboration". (I paraphrase)

From my stand-point this was an amazing way to engage your team and give them power to run with your idea.

Cris was our finance guy, I am not a finance guy. My eyes glaze over when you start talking assets, debits, bips and percentage points. (Not really, but you get the idea).

Cris could TALK the numbers! Within one hour of business planning, he was asking and pointing out concerns and benefits from a strictly finance perspective.

However, we were too early in the process, the value proposition hadn't been flushed out so conversations around revenue were pre-mature.

He must have realized that at some point. Because I noticed that suddenly he wasn't talking "numbers" but was talking general financing approaches and tactics.

I knew a transformation had taken place when I heard him mutter to himself "That's too much detail, that's too technical, how do I say it easier".

This was a transformation that I think we could learn from...bring our knowledge to bear at an appropriate level for the task at hand.

Filling the Gap
Dan was our "intern". He's a student at Davidson college and I think he came just out of pure interested and thought he probably wasn't going to have much to contribute, considering he was in a room of seasoned professionals.

He had come to learn as much as he could from the process and soak it in. (I apologize Dan, if that was not your first intentions, however that was my perception.)

At some point in the game he realized that he could contribute. He could organize the presentation.

See we had a lot of great ideas, our plans were coming together, but none us where slide show jockeys, or even that creative.

Dan saw a gap and filled it.

What was special was the smoothness with which this happened, we all just kinda turned around and there he was with the framework for a smooth "show", he just need the details.

I think his transformation was all about stepping up and filling the gap. There always is one, there is always "something" that needs to be done. You may not be the best for the job, but step up and do the best YOU can at it.

Learning to Sacrifice
Rama (short for a long Indian name that I can't remember, I apologize Rama)., he was our initial developer. Rama's transformation was "willing sacrifice".

It's an odd transformation to think about. A few hours into the project we realized we wanted some "demo" product to show, a simple website.

Rama was all over it. He jumped on Wix and began banging out some code.

Unfortunately, later in the game we decided to go with a mobile app. If I was in Rama's shoes, I'd have been a little pissed. All that hard work for nothing. However he took it like a champ.

He understood, and made some pieces of his work could be used in the mobile app, and he showed no remorse about us throwing his hard work away.

Sometimes in business, you start down one path and you find you have to back-track and take another. That's the way it is, and because of that hard work will be wasted. The best attitude to take is to salvage as much as you can and move forward.

Becoming the Glue
Maria was our glue. She held the team together. Typically you might call this a project manager. I don't think she knew that was going to be her role when she joined the team.

Her's was not a transformation but rather a catalyst for the transformations in the rest of the team.

I watched as she bounced from teammate to teammate and opened lines of communication, pointed out where we were not aligned and when an important concept was being missed.

All transformations need a catalyst to spark change, in your business you will have to be that spark or find people to give your business that spark. It is hard to see the transformation that need to be made from the inside of our problems. 

Transforming into a Leader
Carlos was our leader. He would NOT like me saying this. Other team members may lay claim to the title. But I watched the transformation. Carlos has a started a business, he had run large times, he was knowledgeable about management. Carlos was NOT there to manage. I think he joined the team because for once he wanted to sit back and let someone else run the show and just "help out" someone.

For the first 75% of our trip, we didn't have a navigator.

The business idea was too large

We were all trying to be "nice".

We were trying to incorporate all ideas and push nothing off the table.

It was GREAT...but we were getting no-where fast.

All this time Carlos sits quietly, nods his head, smiles, works a bit hear or there and generally goes with the flow.

12 hours to presentation time and we have nothing to show...we all go outside to talk about whey we were not getting anywhere. There's a 20 min circles. Frustration is starting to show.

Then Carlos looks up from his laptop and speaks.

"Frankly, I think we lack from leadership. We need some clear direction, even if it is wrong. We need to have some decisions made". (I paraphrase).

It was just a sentence or two... not more then 20 words. Said into the exact moment of silence when we all were thinking it.

Problem clearly stated, solution proposed and feedback requested. All said in a graceful but commanding way.

"Frankly", I was impressed.

For the reminder of our planning, I think he offered a maximum of 3 full suggestions. He didn't even go on stage with us, or come up after the presentation, or even mingle after the show. But he offered guidance and a beacon for a very large idea.

As for myself...

I'm not sure how I contributed or how I transformed. BUT I did learn a ton. And for me that was why I was there.

I thank all my teammates. I learned from all of you. I enjoyed my time with you. And find inspiration in what all of you did. Thank you.

Friday, February 20

To My Future Self

I was listening to The Tim Ferris Show, a set of podcast interviews with interesting folks. He was talking with Peter Diamandis,  the guy that ran the first Xprize.

He made three very interesting statement.And I paraphrase...

First: Think about what you enjoyed when you were a kid. What did you love to do and were passionate about it. Find a way to do that today. This will be your passion.
Second: What can you build that will impact a billion people?
Third: What can you do that will be remembered 200 years from now? 
The focus is to think BIG. Not incremental, not next new thing, but different...dramatically different.

You know, I love what I do. I'm very good at what I do. But I feel like my talent is wasted. I can be building something that will change the world. I have it in me.

My most compelling excuse...I get paid to well to stop doing what I do now and start doing what I was meant to do.

I would say it is sad, but I in actuality it's just reality.

But I want to say to my future self, think on this, perhaps there is a way that you can start small on this world changing idea.

Monday, January 5

Internet Background Noise, WTF?

Stumbled across and thought it was interesting.

From Wikipedia:

Internet background noise (IBN, also known as Internet background radiation) consists of data packets on the Internet which are addressed to IP addresses or ports where there is no network device set up to receive them. These packets often contain unsolicited commercial or network control messages, or are the result of port scans and worm activities. The Conficker worm in particular is responsible for a large amount of background noise generated by viruses looking for new victims. In addition to malicious activities, misconfigured hardware and leaks from private networks are also sources of background noise.[1] For example, some DSL modems have a hard-coded IP address to look up the correct time.
As of November 2010, it is estimated that 5.5 gigabits of background noise is generated every second.[2] It is also thought that a modem user loses about 20 bits per second of their bandwidth to unsolicited traffic.[3] Over the past decade, the amount of background noise for a section of the IPv4 address block that contains 17 million address, has increased from 1 to 50 Mbit/s. The newer IPv6 protocol, which has a much larger address space, will make it more difficult for viruses to scan ports and also limit the impact of misconfigured equipment.[2]
Internet background noise has been used to detect significant changes in Internet traffic and connectivity during the 2011 political unrest from IP address blocks that were geolocated to Libya.[4]
Backscatter is a term coined by Vern Paxson to describe Internet background noise resulting from a DDoS attack using multiple spoofed addresses.[5] This backscatter noise is used by network telescopes to indirectly observe large scale attacks in real time.

Tuesday, November 11

Thanks BDPA

I wanted to share a success story about how BDPA helped me in my career recently. Some history on me, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the past president for the Charlotte BDPA chapter and as an educational instructor for their High School Computer Competition program. I participated in BDPA as a way to give back to my community and a way to expose young black folks to the career of IT.

I had been working a job with LogiXML, great pay but it was a 100% travel. At the time I had a 7yr and 14yr old at home and my wife was working full time. Needless to say my traveling was wrecking chaos on the family. So I decided to find a job close to home.

I happened across a job posting from a recruiting firm, Ciber. It turns out I had met someone who worked at Ciber and I recall meeting her through BDPA. So I gave her a ring. Turns out she no longer worked with Ciber but she put me in touch with the right people and gave me a good recommendation.

Three weeks later I was hired at Duke-Energy, contracting through Ciber. Great pay, great folks and good hours. I'm still here almost a year later.

I thought I’d share this with folks for two reasons. First, we network today for what we may need tomorrow. And secondly because I wanted to express my appreciate for what BDPA has done for me in my career.

Wednesday, August 27

MSSQL - When does data move from Memory to Disk

So I had to ponder this question (I had a vague idea but wanted to get a firm understanding)

Question: We know SQL stores data objects in RAM as it needs, at what point does the changes that are made in RAM get written to the disk?

In layman's terms: In the background the server monitors it's memory. When a particular object has not been used "in a while" that object is moved to disc. It is at this point that the disc and memory are syncronised. This is also done on a proper shutdown of the SQL Server.

Side Note: If memory is full of objects that are frequently used, SQL Server will read directly from disk. This can negatively impact performance in a substantial way.

From Wikipedia (link):

SQL Server buffers pages in RAM to minimize disc I/O. Any 8 KB page can be buffered in-memory, and the set of all pages currently buffered is called the buffer cache. The amount of memory available to SQL Server decides how many pages will be cached in memory. The buffer cache is managed by the Buffer Manager. Either reading from or writing to any page copies it to the buffer cache. Subsequent reads or writes are redirected to the in-memory copy, rather than the on-disc version. The page is updated on the disc by the Buffer Manager only if the in-memory cache has not been referenced for some time. While writing pages back to disc, asynchronous I/O is used whereby the I/O operation is done in a background thread so that other operations do not have to wait for the I/O operation to complete. Each page is written along with its checksumwhen it is written. When reading the page back, its checksum is computed again and matched with the stored version to ensure the page has not been damaged or tampered with in the meantime.[58]

Saturday, June 28

Review of a Stock Trader

From time to time, I find a guy giving trading advice/posts online. I like to do my own due diligence on them. Here is another one.

A review of EasyDollars, a StockTwits user.

Comparison of close the day after twit was sent (Some rounding being done)

Stock                          on 6/19/2014                  10 days after post
05/02 - SWKS                +14%                     +3%
05/12 - ORCL                 +2%                       +2%
05/14 - IWM                   +5%                       +2%
05/20 - IWM                   +7%                       +2%
05/28 - PCRX                 +10%                      +7%
05/28 - KNDI                  +8%                        -1%
05/29 - HZN                    +9%                        +1%
02/06 - FEYE                   -51%                      +9%(he did say it could go either way)
02/06 -JRJC                     -32%                       +15%
02/13 -CSIQ                   +26%                        +5.2%
12/18 -FAS                     +22%                        +10%

This guy is magic when it comes to predicting stocks. Of course I added him to my favorites.

Tuesday, June 24

Awesome Desktops

Just click the links fool...

  • The hex background
  • The white and black theme
  • Side menu is neat
  • Side Menus and all around look
  • I like the blue outline around the menu

Saturday, June 21

Bookmarked Links - Very Cool - Advertising space - Freelance talent, I like how they do things. - Design Mobile Apps (good for prototyping) - Another mobile prototyping site, check out the Kitchen Sink Demo at the bottom. - another advertisment the site, never used them though.

Friday, June 20

Quotes on Starting a Business

“Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” -Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO

“An entrepreneur is someone who has a vision for something and a want to create.” -David Karp, Tumblr founder and CEO
“A ‘startup’ is a company that is confused about three things: (1.) What its product is. (2.) Who its customers are. (3.) How to make money.” – Dave McClure, 500Startups co-founder

Saturday, June 14

On Creating a Startup


I recently advertised my developer's guide to launching a startup on StumbleUpon. The plus side of StumbleUpon is that all clicks are 5 cents. The downside is the bounce rate is high since people are basically channel surfing. I achieved a 96.88% bounce rate in my experiment, with an average stay of 2 seconds. I wonder if it was something I said? In my test, only 25 visitors stayed longer than 5 seconds. I paid $50 for 1000 clicks, but since only 25 of them stayed long enough to read anything, I effectively paid $2 per click. Your mileage may vary, but through this and other experiments I've gathered the following tips for advertising on StumbleUpon:
  • Your #1 goal is to get stumblers to stay longer than 5 seconds. Your #2 goal is to get them to up-vote your page. Paying $50 for 1000 clicks is one thing. Having it go viral and receiving 10,000 clicks for the same price is another.
  • Don't send StumbleUpon traffic to a landing page that asks for an email address. StumbleUpon users are notoriously fickle about providing their email.
  • People stumble to be entertained, so if your page doesn't have the potential to go viral or turn into linkbait, you will not likely fare well.
  • Blog-like content and videos seem to work best. Anything that resembles a traditional landing page will bomb.

In 24 hours, my listing was shown 26,050 times (to 3,187 unique visitors). The link in my ad was clicked 419 times, resulting in a unique click through rate of 13.15%. Not bad – that’s about $0.09 per click.

Timing of your email and Tweets
Timing is also a very important aspect for getting you covered. The best days for traffic for getting coverage of your story I have learnt are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday is way too fast to get you written up, the inboxes of reporters are full it's just not a great day.
At the same time, I learnt that, whilst Fridays aren't as good for traffic, the news is slower. So your chances of getting covered on that day can be higher. With a recent story about Buffer on Mashable, I took advantage of this. I followed up on a story I had pitched earlier in the week. Since it was extremely busy, I wouldn't get a response, yet a quick follow up email on Friday would receive an immediate response.