Thursday, April 21, 2011

My New Job

Returning to my old blogging format (heh heh, I referred to blogging like it was still a thing), here is a list of 8 things about my new job, and some about my old job, and some about other stuff.

1. Today is my last day at Lookout Mobile Security.

When I started at Lookout 2 years ago (and it was called Flexilis) we were 10 people working in a loft apartment near Skid Row in Los Angeles. Skid Row is a real place, and it's a lot like you might imagine if you listen to the band. Nobody had ever heard of us, but the CEO was planning on announcing the official launch of the company in a feature article in the New York Times. I was like, "yeah, good luck with that," then this article appeared and I was like "oh, never mind."

Then we launched a great product and got 7 million users and thirty something million dollars in venture funding and forty some employees and we were suddenly the market leader in the mobile security sector. This was all pretty impressive, especially since the "mobile security sector" wasn't even really a sector when we started, and our main platform, Android, wasn't really a platform. Remember the G1? It's been a big 2 years.

Some other things happened in those two years. I married my dream girl Kestrin and we moved into a lovely house in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. Flexilis became Lookout and we moved the company to a lovely office in the SOMA district of San Francisco. See where this is going?

For the last year and a half or so I've been getting on a plane every other week, leaving my pretty wife and little doggy and two cats at home, and staying in hotels in San Francisco to be close to the company. There were some bright spots of this arrangement. I got to visit my family in San Francisco a lot. Being gone half the time let Kestrin and I kinda ease into the first year of marriage, which was nice. I got to work at home half the time, sitting in a sunny little writer's hut in the garden behind my house. I got hella Southwest miles. But I knew at some point I would need to fully engage with Southern California, and today is that point.

The company is thriving now, and my original one-man PM and Design department has grown into a four person team plus some open reqs. (The company is hiring, email me if you want an intro. I think I still get a finders fee. I should probably check on that.) We also have a full engineering management structure and a big marketing department. My leaving won't devastate anything, and some people probably won't even notice (that's a good thing), so I feel like I'm free to go. I will now transition from employee to happy shareholder. The company will thrive and grow and dominate, and I will cheer from afar. Go team!

2. I'm joining the best mobile design agency on earth, Iconmobile.

They probably designed something you used today. They're in Santa Monica (and Berlin and Seattle and Beijing) so I'll be closer to home, or sometimes much further away, but it will be fun in any case. I'm working on a really cool project that I will tell you all about when I find out how public it is. When it's done you'll almost certainly use it on a daily basis. I'm really, really excited.

At this point you might be asking, "But Jonathan, what does this mean for ME." Well that's a selfish question, but I'll answer it anyway.

3. If you live in LA, this means that we'll be hanging out more often.

Especially if you live on the west side, since I'll probably be killing time some evenings to wait out the traffic. Scott and I are also getting the Hipster Timeshare going, where he gets keys to our east-side guest room and I get the code to his sweet pad on the beach. Which basically means that whenever their's traffic on the 10 I'll be hosting a beach party in Venice.

4. The RVIP Lounge will be rolling in LA more often.

This summer we're doing a full test of the late-night public transportation system, giving free rides on a semi-set route from Echo Park through Silver Lake and over to Hollywood. Details forthcoming at

5. The RVIP Lounge will visit San Francisco for the first time ever to celebrate this transition.

We think it will be next weekend. Get ready.

6. If you're a designer you can come work with me at Iconmobile.

Visual design, interaction design, user experience design, front end code, project management. On-site in Santa Monica is preferred, and the company will temporarily or permanently relocate the right people. Drop whatever you're doing and come live in the sunshine. We can ride beach cruisers and go surfing on our lunch break. Join us. Email me for details.

7. If you live in LA, we'll be celebrating this transition over drinks this weekend.

Maybe Friday night at Tiki Ti. Watch Twitter for specific.

8. As soon as I hit the Publish button I'm going to walk in to the kitchen at my office and get a beer.

I'm going to keep drinking them till I go to sleep. I'm thinking we should meet up at the Burrit Room at 9.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hi old blog!

It's been a couple years since I wrote anything here, and I actually thought I had taken it down, but here it is. When I saw it was still live I considered deleting it because my old writing mostly just embarrasses me, but I think instead I'll spend a little time deleting the old posts that I think are no meaningless/lame/boring, and writing updates on the ones that I still like.

(If I keep feeling the pull to write I'll put up something new. In any case I'll turn off comments and analytics because I feel like they give me the wrong incentive. Analytics make me focus on writing stuff that will get a lot of links, and that usually means petty controversies and things that are generally mean spirited. If comments are on I'll check to see if anyone is commenting, and sometimes I'll let some ass clown ruin my day and/or take the conversation in a direction I don't really feel like going.)

Though I haven't been publishing here I'm actually coming off a week of some wide distribution of my writing. My new hot wife Kestrin and I wrote up a recap of our wedding to go along with the wedding photos that our photographer submitted to blogs and magazines. It was a funny thing to write, since we put it in the third person with quotes from ourselves, but I think it came off pretty well. I measure my own writing on two scales: 1) when I see it later and forget I wrote it, does it make me laugh? 2) Does my sister Flora think it's funny? I haven't asked Flora what she thinks, but this quote made me laugh when I read it in a wedding blog:

As the bride’s limousine was pulling away from her hotel, something magical happened. Kestrin has been obsessed with Star Wars since childhood; when the couple met and fell in love she was wearing one of her 15 hand-made Jedi costumes and wielding a glowing Luke Skywalker replica light saber. Then, as she was on her way to solemnify that love, none other than George Lucas stepped out of the hotel lobby and walked in front of her car.

“His silver hair and beard flew past like a flock of doves released in Kestrin’s honor. George was blessing the union, not with his words, but with his mere presence, and with it flowed the blessings of Han, Lea, Luke and the entire Rebel Alliance.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

This, my friends, is an Opportunity

Check out these charts.

I wanted to compare something unknown (Brad Pitt) to something known, so I picked your friend and mine TechCrunch. The result: Brad Pitt destroys TechCrunch when it comes to search queries, while TechCrunch kills Brad in terms of pageviews. The same holds true when any movie star is compared with any tech blog.

Google Trends: brad pitt, techcrunch
SnapShot of, (#2,002) - Compete

You might be more popular (on the internet) than Madonna

I'm working on some analysis of celebrity websites and the results so far are surprising. I started with the Forbes Celebrity 100. Here are some very rough notes.
  1. As expected, none of the top actors had a site while almost all of the musicians did. Other categories like athletes, directors, and comedians were mixed.

  2. The Forbes list matches up pretty well with the number of searches on Google Trends. That is, people of a similar celebrity level tend to get a similar number of search queries. They spike above each other based on news events, but most stay in the same range.

  3. Traffic on an individual celebrity's site may be surprisingly low. I looked at Madonna as an example of a celebrity with extremely high stature and a nice looking website. According to the reliably unreliable stats she only gets 25,000 visitors a month. So I'm guessing that an actor of similar stature, like Brad Pitt, would get roughly the same level of traffic.

  4. At current traffic levels it would be a money-losing proposition for an actor to build out a big website and make money by selling ads and merchandise. I'd charge a few hundred thousand dollars to build and maintain a site like, and even if every single visitor clicked through to iTunes and bought a CD it would only make few hundred thousand a year. This is the best answer so far as to why actors don't have websites.

  5. Oprah is an exception to any rule. She has a huge site with very high traffic -- it knocks all the others off the charts. I also found it to be the most engaging site I came across in my browsing. I'm not considering Oprah an actor (though she does act sometimes) and I really consider her site to be more of a brand site than a personal site. At the same time, Oprah and Martha Stewart are the prime examples of people who branded themselves and ported that brand to the internet. If all media as we know it ceased to exist tomorrow these two would have no problem porting their brands to whatever came next. Who wouldn't want a brand like that?

  6. That said, "Oprah" and "Madonna" get about the same number of daily search queries, so the market is there for Madonna. It just isn't going to her website.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Actor Websites are Terrible - A Look at the Top 8

I've been looking at celebrity websites a lot lately. My conclusion: actors have terrible websites. I'm not quite sure why. They have the money, they benefit from exposure, they all have something to sell. My best theory so far is that their managers just don't care about the internet, and/or prefer that information about their clients goes through other media outlets.

According to Wikipedia these are the highest paid actors and actresses. I'm not sure how accurate the numbers are, but you get the point.

  1. Keanu Reeves
  2. Bruce Willis
  3. Tom Cruise
  4. Johnny Depp

  5. Julia Roberts

  6. Cameron Diaz

  7. Reese Witherspoon

  8. Angelina Jolie
Looking at these sites and their records gives me another idea. For a lot of actors their main experience with a personal website looks something like this:
  • Some guy registers "" in 1998 and tries to auction the name.
  • Julia sues on the advice of her lawyers.
  • The lawsuit continues for 10 years and Julia Roberts never wants to think about "" again.
  • A new actress, say 21 year-old Juno star Ellen Page, thinks "if Julia Roberts doesn't need a website I don't need one either."
  • Some guy registers
  • ...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Rubyred Labs!

January 15 marked the second anniversary of Rubyred's official launch. Woohoo!

The original vision for the company was to do whatever we thought was fun, and that vision is still very much alive.

We also have a policy of implementing the dumbest ideas we could come up with. Here are a few examples:
  1. Start a company with no real plan.
    Back in the fall of 2005 Thor, Amy, and I decided that we wanted to have a company but we weren't sure what kind of company. Instead of figuring out what to do we concentrated on how to do it. We started by making up a name, hiring employees, and getting an office. We figured the rest would work itself out.

  2. Have a party every Monday morning.
    There was already a South Park area happy hour on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evening, so we decided to have a party first thing Monday morning to beat everyone else to the fun. We didn't expect it to make the international news or anything. But it did.

  3. Seek out clients with no money.
    Our first consulting client was Yahoo, but we quickly got bored working for a company that made success so easy. Instead we sought out startups that could barely scrape together enough money to get us started working, and it was way more fun.

  4. Go to parties instead of working.
    We didn't feel like overworking ourselves in typical startup fashion so we went to every event we could find, starting with one of the first TechCrunch parties. We thought we were going to parties because they were fun, but it turns out we were working every night. All of our employees and most of our clients were found at/through parties and happy hours.

  5. Launch a schwag subscription company.
    What should you do when you assemble a great software development team? Start a business mailing people stickers and t-shirts, of course! Valleyschwag was a huge time sink but it made us famous in the web world. It was on track to be pretty profitable, but it was way too hard to keep up with the customer service issues. So what did we do?

  6. Cancel the revenue stream and concentrate on the hard annoying part.
    When we realized that customer service issues were killing our profit margin and distracting us from consulting we shuttered the Valleyschwag service, took a break from our profitable consulting business, and focused on just doing the hardest thing we'd encountered. The idea was to pick the most troubled company around and spend our time/money providing great customer service for their products by, in Lane's words, "enabling the customers to service each other." We spun-off Get Satisfaction in early 2007, and I took over as CEO of Rubyred.

  7. When all is going well, switch industries.
    Now I've moved to Los Angeles and have plenty of client work coming in, much of it with the great designers at 17FEET. It's a good time to be a consultant, and the years I've put into my personal specialty of mobile interaction design are really paying off. Clearly the smartest thing to do is to keep up the consulting. So I'm forced to ask myself, what's the dumbest thing to do?

  8. Announce new ideas before they're fully baked.
    I'm not one for secrets or big surprises, and Rubyred has always tended toward transparency. We figure the input we get will be more valuable than any mythical "first mover advantage," and if someone steals our idea it probably won't make a difference anyway. Ideas are free, execution is everything.

    So, as a prize for reading to the end, I'll tell you that Rubyred is putting together a plan for a new service. It would help professional actors, musicians, politicians, and other public personae use the internet to connect directly with their fans. It starts with consulting, moves into software integration, and finishes with a full web product with broad appeal. I'm not sure that we'll actually do it, and the plan will change every two weeks if we do, but I'm pretty excited and ready to talk with all who are interested.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

3 Rules For Naming Your Internet Company

I seriously thought this headline on GigaOm was a joke: "Update: Like Gaboogie, Foonz Losing Its Voice Too." It turns out Goboogie is changing its name to Lypp, while the Foonz team will be focusing on Utterz.

This has to stop.

Here are 8 rules for naming your internet company.
  1. Use real words.
    The companies I've worked with over the last few years all follow this rule:,,,, (The first two were named by Thor, but under our Lennon/McCartney agreement we shared credit for all concepts. We're still arguing over who gets to be John.) Of course, it would have been nice to get "" or "" but of course they were taken. Still, I think it's better to have a long name with multiple real words that a short name that is unpronounceable and stupid.

  2. Forget about ".com".
    This is the hardest one for most people, and the main reason I'm writing this post. We are simply out of dot com names, and we need to start using some other TLD's. Specifically, I think we need to make ".TV" cool, and this will happen by having some successful companies with .TV names. If had been there would be no stigma attached to .TV domains, and we would all be buying our names using the auction process (which I'll get to in a minute) and domain piracy would go away, as would Lypp and Utterz.

  3. Buy a premium .TV domain using the official process.
    I'll assume you're naming a video sharing company, since we need 3000 more of those. Here's a secret: when they created .tv, Network Solutions pre-registered every real word domain name and now they're selling them for profit, anywhere from $100/yr for to $500,000/yr for When I first heard this I thought it sucked, but after a few minutes of browsing the domain list I changed my mind. Why? For $1000 I could get "" or "", both of which are way better than If the company is doing well then $1000 a year shouldn't be a problem, and if it fails then the domain goes back into the pool to be leased by another legitimate company.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Beach Boys recordings recunstructed as live performances

A few of my old friends, including my original design mentor Tony Rose (of, have been working on a cool project over the past few years. It's called Back to the Beach Boys, and the basic concept is to reconstruct Beach Boys recordings as live performances. From the website:
No details were spared to recreate the sounds of the original recordings. Using period correct instruments, the music featured everything from marimbas and accordians to horns and strings...the keyboardist even built what is most likely the only exact replica of Paul Tanner's electro-Theremin that he played on the original “Good Vibrations”...and many of your favorite sci-fi movies!
So if the recording has 5 beach boys singing 3 parts each they need 15 singers to do it live, and if a 1963 Fender guitar played 2 parts and was redoubled in the recording session they need 4 1963 Fender guitars. You get the picture.

Check them out playing Little Saint Nick in somebody's livingroom.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

8 Things about LA (so far)

  1. The weather.
    How come nobody told me it would be beautiful every day? The down side: when will I get to wear my collection of fur hats that I accumulated while living in San Francisco?

  2. The smart people.
    In addition to their general goodlookingness most of the people here are also interesting, hilarious and, yes, smart. They are also engaged, ambitious, and fun.

  3. The stupid people.
    And then some of them are not very smart. There is some level of stupidity that just isn't tolerated in San Francisco. You're not required to be smart to live in the bay area, but there are so many smart people competing for the jobs/friends/mates/etc that stupid people just don't like it and eventually wander off. Not so in LA -- stupid people can live and thrive here indefinitely. But ugly people eventually leave.

  4. The coffee.
    Lucky for me there is finally a good coffee shop in LA. Yesterday I rolled into Intelligentsia around noon for a coffee and the barista said "hey, you're here early." I said "no, you just work the afternoon shift and usually miss my whole morning visit." If I'm not a recognized regular at a coffee shop I feel empty inside.

  5. The driving.
    You have to drive everywhere. I've even found myself doing the Caravan, where three people each have their own cars and drive somewhere together and talk to each other on cell phones. It is the LA equivalent of walking down the street chatting with a friend.

  6. The art.
    Sorry San Francisco, the art here is better. I like the artists in SF more than anything, and I love being there for the process of creation, but the product here is incredible.

  7. The love for San Francisco.
    That there is an intense rivalry between SF and LA, but only San Franciscans know about it. Everyone here loves San Francisco, but the standard habits that people have here really are the things that make them hated up there. I'm talking about driving aggressively, not bussing your table, dressing well, and ignoring people who bore you.

  8. The velvet ropes.
    San Francisco is all about trying to convince people to come to your party. LA is all about trying to get your friends to come to your party while keeping out the thousands, thousands of people who will show up, drink your free beer, sleazily hit on your friends, and try to spot movie stars and ask them for a job. Sad but true: every event I've been to that didn't have a guest list totally sucked and we left immediately.

Monday, September 17, 2007

8 Things I might do next

  1. Move to Los Angeles
    Actually this isn't so much a "might" as it is a "when." Los Angeles has many repellent things and many attractive things, but it pretty much comes down to one issue for me. If you've met her I'm sure you understand. San Francisco has given me 7 good years, and I'll probably come back at some point, but for now I'm outta here.

  2. Have a giant send off party
    The party will be epic, and you are invited. I just need to figure out where to have it and when and how.

  3. Launch version 3.0 of Rubyred Labs
    Version 1 was what most people think of as Rubyred; Thor, Amy, and myself running a design/development consultancy with a bunch of side projects like Valleyschwag, Cereal Bar, cowboy parties, etc. Version 2 started when we spun off the best side project, Satisfaction, and I kept Rubyred running as a boutique consultancy. I can share details if people are interested, but basically Amy and Thor (and Lane) wanted to build a product company, take funding, and stick with it for the years that it takes to make that sort of thing work. I wanted to slack off, take my dog for walks, and hang out with my girlfriend in LA. So I kept my shares in Satisfaction and took on an adviser role, but spend the bulk of my time working with clients and other agencies to design and build mobile/web applications. So that's been Rubyred 2.0, which is fun, lucrative, and low pressure. I'm not sure what v3.0 will be like, but I'm thinking it will look a lot like v2.0 with some entertainment industry stuff thrown into the mix because, you know, it's LA. Or maybe I'll get the fire in the belly to hire a staff and build a new product. Any ideas?

  4. Write a sitcom
    When you change your address at the Los Angeles DMV you have to show them your screenplay, so I'm getting started on that. You're supposed to write what you know, so mine is about a designer who hangs out at a hip coffee shop with his dog and is best friends with the homeless guy who bums change out front.

  5. Have an art show
    I haven't done one in a while, and I need to make some new stuff. I'm working on some pieces that aren't stuffed animals, returning to my roots of rusty metal glued to old pieces of wood. Maybe my big party can be at Flora's store and double as an art opening.

  6. Keep getting rid of stuff
    When I'm giving design critiques I always tell people to remove half the things on the page, then remove half the things on the page again. (Incidentally, my formula for time estimates is to make your best guess, double it, then double it again.) The design with the least stuff is usually the best one. I already got rid of half my things, so now I'm working on doing it again. The second round is way harder, but the stuff I give away this time will be twice as good.

  7. Watch more TV
    Now that I'm going to be a superstar screenwriter I have an excuse to watch TV all the time. I also have an excuse to be on the internet all the time since I'm still a designer, and I'm working on a system for doing both at once.

  8. Get a tiny apartment
    This is going to be hard, but I'm planning on moving into a significantly smaller & cheaper place when I go to LA. I've never had anything smaller than a big one bedroom, and I'm actually excited about the prospect of a tiny studio with a nice porch.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

8 Steps 1000 Perfect Things

I have too many things, and as of today I've implementing a plan to reduce the number to 1000 by my 30th birthday. It's not that I don't like things -- I love things -- but I think they make me less happy, so I'm going to set up a structure that will keep stuff from piling up. Much of the inspiration for this comes from the "Power of 10" section of Sean Kelly's satirical inspirational seminar, Power Up.
Here are the preliminary steps and rules.
  1. Empty my storage unit. (DONE)
    I couldn't have done this without the gentle but firm hand of KP2, who opted to spend days driving around in a truck with me and getting whistled at by gross guys at the dump.

  2. Do the stomach test on everything I own. (1/2 done)
    This sounds kinda hippie but it totally works. I pick up each thing I own and if it makes me feel good I keep it, if it makes me feel bad I get rid of it. Some things make seem like they should make me feel good because they came from someone I like, cost a lot of money, or were purchased with a grand plan in mind. Often these are the ones that actually make me feel the worst in my stomach because, if they ended up in storage, they represent some sort of disappointment. Prime example: a PDA that I bought about 7 years ago that never quite worked right and cost a lot of money. I kept it around because it was still working and in perfect shape (since I didn't use it much because it sucked) with a loose plan of selling it on ebay. The most joy I've ever gotten from the PDA was giving it to someone on the street today as I piled up boxes of free stuff.

  3. Photograph and count everything I own.
    Since I'm interested in stats I need to know where I'm starting. I also know that it it psychologically easier to get rid of something once it's been photographed and cataloged. I won't really know how many things I want until I do this step, so 1000 may be way too high or too low. A wild guess is that I have 5000-1000 things right now, most of it in the "art supplies" category.

  4. Decide on rules for what counts as one thing.
    - Most things count as one thing, such as furniture, clothing, electronics, a toothbrush, etc.
    - Sets of things usually count as one thing, like a set of silverware or a ream of printer paper.
    - Living things don't count at all, such as plants or animals. This is mostly because I want to get more plants.
    - Food doesn't count.
    - Each piece of clothing counts as one thing, though a three piece suit or a pair of socks only counts as one.
    - Each book counts as one thing. This one will be especially hard since I have hundreds of books. CD's count as one thing if they're in individual cases, but a book of CD's only counts as one thing. Not that I use CD's much anyway.
    - Art counts as a thing, but a set of 3 prints just counts as one.

  5. Purge the easy stuff.
    Put the totally lame stuff out on the street or give it to the thrift store.

  6. Spread the good stuff around.
    I'm going to make nice stickers or labels for stuff that I thing has some value (monetary or aesthetic) but that I don't want. I'll then give the labeled things to my friends who will love them, and every time I visit someone I'll see something that used to be mine and feel warm inside because they're actually using it and it isn't cluttering up my house.

  7. Decide what I actually want to keep.
    This process will be a combination of deciding on invidudual items and setting rough goals for the percentage of things I want in each category. For example, I might want 10% clothes, 20% art supplies, 10% books, 5% pieces of technology, etc.

  8. One in, one out.
    Like a super exclusive nightclub full of douche bags, I'll have to get rid of one undesirable thing each time a more desirable thing wants in. When it's time to buy my private helicopter that's fine, as long as I get rid of my old broken toaster that has a frayed asbestos cord and stays on indefinitely when the bread gets stuck in it.

    When I can't find anything that I want badly enough to get rid of an existing thing I will know I've reached my goal of owning 1000 perfect things.

Friday, August 17, 2007

8 ways I've used Jonathan's Law of Defaults

I owe much of my success in life to something I call my Law of Defaults. It's really more a guideline than a law, and I haven't decided exactly how to state it yet, but here's the rough idea:

"When you're not sure what to do, default to doing what someone older than you would probably wish they had done."

Here are some examples:

  1. Started my 401(k) when I was 19.
    Yes, I have 10 year's of retirement savings before my 30th birthday. It was nerdy when I started it and it's nerdy now, but I projected forward 50 years and tried to guess which statement would more likely be running through my head: "I wish I had saved more money" or "I wish I had spent all my money when I earned it." Since that 7% of my salary wasn't going to make a big difference in my day to day life I defaulted to saving.

    I read somewhere that the single largest reason people don't save money is that they fail to set up the mechanics. They have the money, intention, knowledge, and ability to save, but they don't spend the 20 minutes to set up the automatic deduction.

  2. Bought the maximum of every stock option or employee stock purchase program I could.
    This is another financial one that has treated me well. I always default to buying the maximum allowed. This one is a little funny because I also sell all the stock options the minute they vest -- I think my future-self would be pissed about having gained money then lost it by holding an individual stock for too long.

  3. Stayed at Yahoo when I could have gone to Google.
    I have to include one sad story to show that The Law doesn't always work out: when I had the option to switch from Yahoo to Google I stayed with my Default, Yahoo, because they seemed about equal and I thought it better to continue on one track rather than switching for no good reason. That decision probably cost me a million dollars, but what are you gonna do? Gotta have a system.

  4. Worked all summer even though i didn't feel like it.
    A few months ago I didn't know what I wanted to do next and didn't really feel like doing anything (I think they call that "depression") so I defaulted to working. Now I'm still not sure exactly what to do next, but I'm not depressed, I met some cool people and did some decent projects, and I still have money in my bank account.

  5. Didn't drink or do drugs as a teenager.
    It's true, I didn't drink until my 21st birthday. I wasn't specifically against it, but I figured that future me would probably prefer less brain destruction and stupid behavior rather than more. I sometimes feel like I missed out on a part of my youth, but I have plenty of time to drink and act stupid as an adult, which is probably more fun any

  6. Didn't do anything that would look bad in a political campaign attack ad.I used to aim for President, hence the no drugs, but now I just aim for mayor of San Francisco, which is much more forgiving. Still, there is no video of me naked, no shady financial dealings, not secret support for terrorist organizations. Because you never know when you're going to want to run for mayor, and why ruin your chances when all other things are equal?

    (Luckily we now have Arnold and GWB to lower the bar for political office, so I'm free to do nearly anything.)

  7. Assumed all of my emails would be released publicly.
    I know that data lives forever, and that nothing is secure, so I always default to writing email as if everyone I discuss is CC'd. It encourages politeness as well as assuring that no mean/rude/libelous emails surface and hurt me in the future. Don't get me wrong, I'll talk some serious shit in person, just not via email. I'm sure if future me had some relationship ruined or business deal go bad because an old electronic communication surfaced I'd be pissed at past me, so why risk it.

  8. Took risks.
    One might read my Law of Defaults and think that it would make me a boring, overly cautious person. But I think the main thing future me will want is a history full of risk and adventure. I took some smart risks, like dropping out of college and quitting a well paid job to start a company with no business plan. There are more risks that I could tell you about, but writing it here would give too much fodder to my political opponents. You'll have to ask me in person. :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

8 ways I'm super excited about the internet

A few people I respect pointed out some problems with my previous post. I stand by everything I said, but I will now offer a point-by-point rebuttal describing exactly why I was wrong.

  1. The parties are more fun than ever.
    Laughing Squid held a big party at my sister's store last week, and since my friends were throwing it and my sister's name was on the building I guess I was a sort of half-mini-semi-host myself. Towards the end of the night Batgirl was doing her jump-through-a-hoop trick in the crowded interior of the store when the staff announced that it was time to go home. I volunteered to be the asshole who kicked out the leftover VC's, a-list bloggers and fancy new york reporters. I kicked them out with gusto not because I don't like these people but because I was so happy that I had nothing to prove to them, that I wasn't going to line up and try to impress them. I was at a party with my friends having a good time, and a few people were trying to impress me. Realizing my role at the party makes the party much more fun.

  2. I don't have to do much selling.
    I also recently realized that now is my time to relax and profit from all the sales I did over the past 10 years. I spent a lot of time talking about work and proving that I was worthy, and now I get to talk about whatever I feel like.

  3. I don't have to listen to people who bore me.
    Since I have nothing to prove I'm allowed to simply stop listening to things that I don't care about. This doesn't mean I'm going to be rude about it, but I might just try to change the topic in a subtle way. So if you're starting the third paragraph of the recited pitch for your new social network and I say "do you have any pets?" please take the hint and talk about your pets, which I promise to be interested in unless it's a cat.
    (Note: I'll wait for Thor to rebut my point that "the success of a product has so little to do with the quality of the idea, team, strategies, etc that it isn't worth talking about.")

  4. I am overflowing with hope.
    I believe so strongly in the power of technology to improve the world that it makes me sad to see people with such small ideas. You have to believe a few things for a startup to really be worth it:
    a. Though I may not be smarter, faster, or better than anyone else I have an idea that I believe in so strongly that nobody will keep me from doing it. And if it fails this time I'll do it over and over again until it works.
    b. If I make piles of money along the way it will simply remove the obstacles that a lack of money causes for a person like me. I'll be able to have bigger ideas, cause bigger change, and attempt things on a scale I never thought possible. I'll fail better than anyone has ever failed before!
    c. I will sacrifice the profits at every step if it doesn't support my larger goal, and I'll be the boss so nobody will be able to make me compromise my ethics.

  5. I want to be rich, rich, rich!
    If money is power, and assholes like money, then all the power will be in the hands of the assholes. I think that I can be enough of a non-asshole to spend a good percentage of my money on things that are good for the world. I also want to commute in a helicopter. Cuz, you know, who doesn't?

  6. The best software is about communication, and communication is the best thing we have.

  7. It doesn't matter that I'm not very nerdy.
    The users' experience of technology is reaching the point where you don't have to care about technology to use it and benefit from it. The iPod is a great example of this: much of its early success was caused not by the design buy by the small, cheap hard drives that hardware companies had been working on for decades. But Apple still gets the credit for putting on the polish, and lucky for me I'm a polisher.

  8. We've only just begun.
    The web is still just barely a teenager, and the innovation will continue to accelerate exponentially. When I got my first computer I stayed up all night playing with the flying toaster screensaver, which is the rough equivalent of what we did for the first decade of the web. Webvan and were the Alpha, Web2.0 is the beta, and I should at least stick around long enough to launch the Version 1.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

8 ways I'm sorta bored with the internet

  1. Big parties are boring.
    I know it's kinda trite, but when all the new people show up to a scene it gets a little old for the old people. I was a new person getting to SF in 2000 just as things started to fall apart, and now I'm an old person who's a little cynical and curmudgeonly. It's not that I don't want fresh people in the party, it's just that I don't want to go to their party because they're excited about things that I'm already feeling done with.

  2. I don't feel like socializing and talking about work.
    It was better when I had some product/service to sell, but now I'm doing consulting and the work is coming in without much promotion, so going out and doing social sales at startup parties just isn't that much fun for me.

  3. I'm bored to tears hearing about other people's web products.
    Pretty much every idea I hear sounds terrible or impossible. Everyone wants to make roughly the same 3 products with a slightly different slant. I'm sure some of them will be successful and I'll seem like an idiot for thinking the idea was boring, but I've really come to think that the success of a product has so little to do with the quality of the idea, team, strategies, etc that it isn't worth talking about.

  4. I'm cynical.
    For evidenced see #3. I know that cynicism, or even realism, doesn't mesh with the startup world. You have to believe a few things for startups to make sense:
    a. Since I'm smarter/faster/better than everyone else I can beat them even though I'm an extreme underdog. I can be the exception and succeed where nearly everyone else fails.
    b. When I succeed I'll make piles of money which will make me happy. (For more on this see #5.)
    c. While I'm doing this I will make the world a better place, even though the nature of business is to make money above all other things. (ok, this one might be a little more cynical than I actually feel.)

  5. I don't want to be rich as badly as I used to.
    You may or may not know that I grew up pretty poor. We always had a house and food (good food, actually) but my clothes came from the thrift store and I went to public school and got free lunch. At a pretty young age I decided I didn't want to keep living that way and I started earning money with the express goal of becoming middle class with a clean house and a fancy car, like a Toyota Corolla. I was successful, and by the age of 20 I had my Toyota and cool electronic toys and a nice set of knives.

    In my early 20's I had to come up with the next goal, and the logical step seemed to be getting more money and being super rich. It was internet time and I saw other people making a lot of cash so this didn't seem to far fetched. And it had already worked once -- I had been poor and adding money had made me happier, so more money should make me more happier, right? After working on that goal for a few years I've started to look around an realize that the people I know who made lots of money don't seem any happier because of it, and some of them seem much less happy. I guess I just have no reason to think that I'd be any different from most people who go from being poor to being rich: they get depressed and confused. I could go on about this but I'll save it for later.

  6. No matter how cool your software is you still use it on a computer, which is fundamentally kinda boring.
    I've compensated for this a little by working in mobile, so at least you can use my stuff outside. But if you're outside why not climb a tree or something rather than reading news feeds or texting all your friends to talk about climbing a tree.

  7. I'm not nerdy enough.
    I've never been fascinated enough with technology to talk about it for its own sake. I sorta envy people who like things just because they're newer and better. It must be great to be one of those people, because every week something new comes out and you can get excited about it and dissect it and make a linux version. I just can't get into that.

  8. It worked.
    I've been interested in new technologies because of the impact they could have on human interaction and communication, and I wanted to spread the word by making cool apps. Well, it looks like the word is spread. The mobile social internet (which is really the major thrust of my career) has been recognized as the next big thing. The iPhone hype has even reinforced my theory that the mobile browser is the place where the internet will happen on a big scale. And I'm talking about a really big scale here, like 3 or 4 billion people, not a hundred million.

    Of course, the funny thing about this is this: now that I've done all this stuff enough to get bored with it I'm finally actually qualified. The last thing I want is an internet job designing another stupid mobile social application and the recruiters are calling every day. I don't mean to complain or to gloat, but I really want to do something different and I have no concept of what it might be. Any ideas?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

8 Things I'll Leave Behind

I just signed the lease on a new apartment, inspiring the most mundane blog post in some time. Here are 8 things I will get rid of when I move into my new apartment.
  1. Gray leather jacket.
    If you are one of my fashion-conscious friends and you're thinking to yourself, "Hey, I don't remember ever seeing Jonathan in a gray leather jacket" it is because I never ever wear it.

  2. Purple Doc Marten boots.
    I bought these my first time in London when I was 18. (I've been to London maybe a dozen times, but since that first time I've only visited the London airport, never going further than the little bus-train thing would take me.) The boots were never quite right, the sole started coming off the first time I wore them, and they've been in my closet since the 90's. Gone.

  3. Non-working rice cooker.
    Why did I carry this with me for even a few years? It had no sentimental value like the boots, and it isn't even purple. It didn't even work when I got it. Rice cooker, you are terminated effective immediately.

  4. Storage unit full of art supplies.
    If you're seen my "art" you know that "art supplies" means "trash." I should have given this stuff away years ago. I'm keeping the burning man costumes and shade structures though.

  5. Several modes of transportation.
    I am way over-transported. I have a Mini Cooper, 2 motor scooters (a working BKM and a not quite working Yamaha), an adult-size tricycle, a fancy Merlin road bike, a junky Nashiki road bike, a decent Trek 8500 mountain bike, an old Dunelt 3-speed city bike, and a razor scooter. (And some Bart tickets.) Anybody who wants one of them (besides the Mini, BKM, and Merlin) please please make me an offer.

  6. Goodyear lighted clock.
    This is the sort of thing that really brings the tire shop decor together. unfortunately it didn't do the same for my living room. Current location: the sidewalk behind my house.

  7. VCR and CD player.
    I think it's time that I enter the new century by releasing my antiquated media devices. Plus I routinely see my VCR in thift stores for $5 or less, so I can always replace it for less than the cost of a video rental.

  8. Presto Automatic Hot Dogger.
    I may really come to regret this one. The Hot Dogger is a 1960's device that cooks up to 6 hot dogs at once using an impressively elegant design: it just blasts all of the energy on the power grid through the hot dogs. There is no transformer or resister or what have you. There are two rows of aluminum spikes that connect to the two parts of a power cord. The big plus is that it must be nearly 100% efficient. All the energy is going into the dog, because where else could it go?
    I decided to finally let go of it after thinking through a few things:
    a. I have never cooked a hot dog in my home even a single time.
    b. This thing probably gives you all kinds of cancer. I just don't trust that logo.
    c. If I really want to I could just rig up a new Hot Dogger with an old frayed extension cord.
So farewell, sweet possessions, you have served me well.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

8 ways to mobilize your web product

Today has been a very mobile day in Jonathanland for two reasons. First, I gave a presentation about adapting web products for mobile devices to a group of visitors to our office. Second, Yahoo launched OneSearch, a product that I had something to do with forming a few years ago. I'm very happy with it and will probably use it every day.

Here are my notes from this morning's presentation, in my standard 8-point format:

  1. Figure out how your product would be more useful if it wasn't computer-based.
    This is different from guessing which part of your product would work best on a phone (which is how people usually go about things). Imagine yourself sitting at your computer holding your phone with your product open on both devices. Which feature would you prefer to use on your phone rather than your computer? (One prime example: make a phone call.)

  2. Figure out where the web/computer aspect of your service fails.
    This is closely related to #1, but a bit more specific. Walk through the whole cycle of using your product and see where the user needs to stop using it to continue with their task. Driving Directions are a great example: The web product works perfectly, then the user prints out a map and leaves the house. With the map still sitting on the printer.

  3. Figure out what aspect of the mobile device makes that feature better.
    The answer is often "mobility." It's nice to walk around the room talking on the phone, and it's good to have a friend's address in your pocket rather than on your computer. Other advantages of mobile devices are privacy and the ability to hold it up to your face.

  4. Design your mobile product around this small set of features.
    The mobile product shouldn't do everything that the desktop version does (but see #7). It should have an extreme focus on activities that the user wants to do when they're mobile.

  5. Use the oldest technology possible to accomplish the task.
    In the US text messaging is just reaching critical mass, and the technology is something like 20 years old. Some countries have crazy fancy mobile features, like watching TV or playing realtime location based games, but most phones are old phones. If your product will work via SMS, that should be your primary method. For most product mobilizations I recommend SMS and XHTML as the base; of course you can build fancy cool stuff on top of it for your high-end users.

  6. Work on as many phones as possible.
    After spending a half dozen years designing global service delivery platforms I've learned this: global service delivery platforms are nearly impossible to build, and by the time you finish customizing for all the devices you'll have to start all over again. DON'T TRY TO CUSTOMIZE FOR SPECIFIC DEVICES.

    Just pick the simplest code you possibly can, test it on your top 5-10 target devices (usually the ones your company staff uses), and get your customers to do the rest for you. Start a conversation with your users and ask them to write a version of your render code that works on their device. If the device is important somebody will step up, and it will save you lots of time and money.

  7. Back it up with a stripped down version of your desktop site.
    There are some sophisticated mobile browsers out there (Opera, Nokia, Mozilla, IE) that can render big, complex pages. The best thing you can do is get out of their way by offering a stripped-down version of your CSS. It should not look pretty, but you might as well offer all your functionality just in case it works. For the time being these users will be pretty sophisticated, so you can let them try to use your site even if it breaks sometimes.

  8. Or just let others do it for you.
    More phones are coming with built RSS readers, VOIP clients, syncing calendars, etc. Your best strategy might be to open up a really great API and let your users hack it until it works with the features on a specific device. There are (hopefully) more of them than there are of you, so they should be able to figure it out. If they have a profit motive it works even better. Free it up.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

8 Things that are happening at Rubyred Labs

  1. We've gotten tired of a world full of bad customer service, and we're dedicating ourselves to fixing it.
    We recognize that this is a big problem to take on, but that's what makes it fun.

  2. We're making a new product called Satisfaction.
    We've spent the last 18 months or so building web products for other companies and now we want to make one for ourselves. Actually we're making it for you.

  3. We're launching a new blog at
    We'll be writing about customer service. The good, the bad, and the Cingular-level-awful.

  4. We're spending the week in Tahoe developing like mad.
    Here I sit, watching the snow fall and listening to the Safeway 3 hour firelog crackle. We have a whole case of firelogs, a fridge full of food, a hot tub, and a full bar. We'll be here for a while.

  5. We're raising some cash.
    Since we want to minimize consulting work during out product development we've been meeting with rich people and asking them for money. So far they seem to like our hot product name and cool meeting costumes.

  6. We're having a party at SXSW.
    No, this isn't why we're raising the cash. The party won't be too expensive or extravagant, but it will be fucking awesome. It's on Saturday, March 10 at the Red Scoot Inn in Austin, TX.

  7. We're making a really cool new logo.
    Actually our friend Jody is making it. I'm pushing for it to look as close as possible to a Chris Ware comic.

  8. We're continuing to rock.
    Which is why I still love it here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

8 Things I Did at the Sundance Film Festival

  1. Actually saw some films.
    I don't want to overstate this. I only saw 2 films.

    The first was Expired, in which KP2 masterfully portrayed a pregnant minivan driver. This premier was the main reason that KP2 and I went to Sundance, and it was totally worth it. The movie had the perfect combination of dark humor and cringe-inspiring relationship scenes between a metermaid and a meterman. Hopefully coming soon to a theater near you.

    The second film was The Oates' Valor, an excellent short that you can watch by clicking on the link. This one only sort of counts since we watched it on TV in the condo where I was staying with the people who made the movie. But it was great, and it sounds impressive if you call it "an exclusive private screening" instead of "watching it in the condo."

  2. Got the movie star treatment in the "gifting lounges."
    The big criticism of Sundance is that it isn't about the films anymore, it's all about the free stuff and star-spotting. I would self-righteously condemn the consumerization of art if I had actually gone to the movies, and if the gifting lounges weren't totally fucking awesome. We made it into a few, and I got some swag (it's true, they never call it schwag down there) from the good people at Diesel, Onitsuka Tiger, Absolut, Del Forte Denim, and some skincare company.

    It is worth noting that Fred Siegel wouldn't let us through the door, and In Style Magazine had us physically removed from the premises. In Style Magazine, I hereby curse you and hope your styles become out of style. And to the yatch who pushed me, you're lucky I'm not actually important, because I'd totally call my agent or something if I was.

  3. Kicked it backstage with Mandy Moore.
    Well, "kicked it" may be a little strong. We didn't actually talk to each other, and backstage was more of a hallway by the bathrooms, but I think we both laughed at the same joke once.

  4. Got photographed by the paparazzi.
    For some reason the French media think I'm Julian Lennon, a 44 year old man who looks nothing like me. Or maybe I heard them wrong and they thought I was a different Julian. Either way, they jumped in front of me and yelled "Allo Julian" three different times.

  5. Roadied for KP2.
    I carried KP2's cello into a party where she performed with Carey Brothers. Then we were invited to a rocking 5 course sit-down dinner where we sat with actual roadies (the kind that design and execute huge global touring shows, not the kind that carry their girlfriend's cello). And there was soup with cotton candy in it.

  6. Didn't go snowboarding.
    Park City is supposed to be one of the best ski resorts in the world, but I wouldn't know since I have a mortal fear of mountains. The whole thing looked terrifying.

  7. Drank a lot.
    On day 2 we realized why all the parties have to have free booze: buying a drink of reasonable strength in Utah costs $18 - $20. Recognizing that this was insane, we bought our own box of booze, drank a lot of it, and had terrible hangovers. Plus the Absolut House's combination of free chair massages and hot coffee vodka drinks lulled us into a state where we could have drunken indefinitely until we all died.

  8. Met all kinds of great people.
    I know people from LA are supposed to be a bunch of superficial starfucking cokeheads, but I'm just not seeing it. Maybe I'm going to the wrong parties, but I loved pretty much everyone I met.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

8 Types of Burning Man Attendees

I don't remember if I've written this post before, but I got a bunch of visits from some burners so here goes.
  1. Hippies
    Sad but true, there are a lot of hippies at burning man. They eat terrible vegan food, do a lot of yoga, and spin fire. The good news is that you can easily keep them away by cooking bacon in front of your camp.

  2. Yuppies
    Just like regular life, the hippies and yuppies travel together. This is because they are the exact same people, one group is just 10 years older. I actually prefer the yuppies, which I guess makes me a yuppie. They're less self-righteous that the hippies, and they have good cheese.

  3. Rednecks
    A lot of first-timers are surprised by the number of real live rednecks. They drive trucks, hunt, drink cheap beer, fight wars, and vote republican (though they still dislike Bush). They also have way more fun than anyone else. Plus they have really nice generators that they keep around in case they need to go off the grid for a few years. Try to get to know the rednecks.

  4. Software Engineers
    These guys (they are almost all guys, like the rednecks) do a few good things for burning man.
    1) They build all the cool techy stuff, like super LED flash walls and video feedback systems.
    2) They pay for everything with their fat technology salaries.
    I like these guys because I'm sorta one of them.

  5. Retirees
    Another underestimated group, these folks show up in their RV's and seem very prepared because they spend the whole year going from one event to the next, or hanging out in Slab City. They are generally great if you can get them drunk. A large subcategory of this group is the Shirtcockers.

  6. Frat Boys
    Frat boys are bad people who should be destroyed. My policy is to treat every frat boy as if he is a cop. We know you're a narc, narc.

  7. Fetishists
    These are seemingly normal people who usually keep their weird fetish private, but for one week a year they feel free to let it all hang out. I once saw a dude totally naked chained to a board next to the road with the words "caught masturbating" written on his chest in magic marker. He was having the time of his life. These people are great because they scare off the toursists

  8. Burners
    These are the people who make the event happen, and who live the lifestyle year round. They're easy to spot:
    1) They have a funny name, like Dookie or Bloody Knuckles.
    2) They seem to be doing exactly what they want to do.
I like to think that I'm at least half Burner, even though my name is just Jonathan and I have a steady software job. I honestly hope I'm more Yuppie than Hippie, which is pretty likely since I have a Schwab account. (And I opened it myself; a surprising number of dirty hippies have trust funds.) I'm not a Frat Boy or a Fetishist, unless snacks count as a fetish. I aspire to be a redneck retiree by Burning Man 25.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cool, simple mobile product

I just heard about Teleflip, a new service that lets you send a text message to any US phone by emailing [mobilenumber]

I bring this up because it reminds me of a little story. At Yahoo a few years ago we were working on a project to allow users to register for Yahoo over a mobile device. Believe it or not, this service is still not available. It's been *years*.

Anyway, I had this clever idea: just give everyone in the world a yahoo account by making every phone number a yahoo account. If you phone number is 1-555-1212 then your yahoo ID is You send a password txt to your number to confirm your account and that's it.

The service would spread virally when people sent messages to friends. We would convert any email to txt for free, and when users replied we would get a cut of the mobile-originated txt message fee. If it was a landline we could place a voice call and read the message with text-to-speech. We could put ads in any un-used space (i.e. a 10 character txt message has 150 characters free for ads). Users could opt out any time, make black/white lists, forward messages to an email address, etc. We'd have to build a good anti-spam system, but we already had the carrier relationships and most of the technology to make it work.

I still think this is one of the best ideas I had while working there. Actually, thinking about it now, this was one of the best ideas I've ever had. But I couldn't get anyone to go with it. Maybe I'm wrong and it's a dumb idea, or maybe I just did a bad job of promoting it, but mostly I think it was just too bold. It was an end-run around the mobile carriers, and it was a huge, market changing concept. Yahoo couldn't handle that kind of thing.

Around that time all the talk was of "game changers." Each group was challenged to come up with some really huge ideas that would change a whole market. This was one of mine. (The other was a totally free ad-supported mobile carrier.) Neither of them were seriously considered by anyone but myself.

It's fashionable to criticize Yahoo this week, so this is my contribution. These were two bold ideas promoted by a low level employee that were dismissed immediately. Maybe they would have been huge money sinks, but maybe they would have been real game changers. Yahoo (and I) will never know.

I'll keep my eye on Teleflip and see how they do. I wish them the best. And if they want a couple hours of free consulting I'm available; I'd like to meet some people who are thinking big.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'm big in the UK

Last weekend my regular day of bumming around Ritual paid off when I met a reporter for The Observer and did an interview about, you know, Web 2.0 or whatever. I didn't want to tell the reporter that I mostly read The Guardian for my British news, which turned out to be a good move since The Observer is the Sunday edition of the Guardian. Sort fo like the NYT Sunday edition for England. Which is cool.
I got one of my favorite quotes in there, which Thor and I developed after thousands of meetings with startups:
Grubb said: 'We work with a lot of start-ups. Everybody wants to be the MySpace of coffee drinking with iPod-like simplicity - "We're going to be the MySpace of music". Well, MySpace is the MySpace of music. The best products grow out of trying to solve a problem, not copying a success story.'

I might also be in the podcast, but I can't stand the sound of my own recorded voice so I'll let the community listen to it and report back.
The story is called www.thenewrevolutionaries, which is sorta funny since we don't use the www anymore, but it's way better than

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

8 things that I wrote really quickly

Bogger has a scheduled outage in 26 minutes. Can I make a full list of 8 things in time?
  1. The New Yorker is totally worth reading. I'm thinking about replacing all other news sources with The New Yorker for one month and seeing if I'm smarter/happier/more informed.

  2. I think I might take a break from politics for a while. Maybe sit out the midterm elections. Of course I'll vote, but I might avoid learning anything about candidates from other districts, and I might try to avoid hearing anything about Bush or the war(s).

  3. If I take a break from politics, what should I replace it with? Technology news? Local news?

  4. After a funny/random email exchange it looks like I'm going to talk with 826 Valencia about doing an art installation at the Pirate Supply Store. This would dreamy. It would be my best art show ever.

  5. I paid all my bills using my phone browser last night. It seems that my PG&E bill wasn't being deducted from my checking account as I had thought, and that I had only paid one electricity bill in 2006. My lights are out. Ooops.

  6. I have a new saying: "Don't worry, it also happens to the best of us." If you don't think this is funny keep reading it. If you still don't think it's funny don't worry, it also happens to the best of us.

  7. I only have 9 minutes left.

  8. There's a theory that the universe is full of planets teeming with life, so it's curious that nobody has made clear contact with us yet. It could be that earth is the most advanced planet (extremely unlikely) or that every more advanced planet has decided to leave us alone (also unlikely). If every planet develops technology then they'll all hit upon space travel at some point, but this theory says that the technology level that allows for space travel also enables easy destruction of all life on that planet. Every single time a planet reaches this level of technology there is a single religious fanatic who destroys the planet rather than have it proven that their religious beliefs are false.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

8 Favorite Sayings from Burning Man 2006

  1. "You should just do whatever you want to do."
    Use this whenever somebody starts talking about some responsibility they have and how they would rather just wander around looking at fire or something. I mean, you are on vacation after all.

    "I'm supposed to go eat some pancakes, but the people in that dome are making bacon and it smells really good."
    "You should just do whatever you want to do."
    "But I told my friend that I would taste the syrup he brought from Canada."
    "You should just do whatever you want to do."
    "Yeah, but my Canadian friend will be--"
    "You should just do whatever you want to do."
    "Yeah, you're right."

  2. "Blam! Hip hop pool party!" Use this whenever somebody starts complaining about anything. Force them to dance around, put their hands in the air, and beatbox. If the person fails to join the pool party, pour some water on the ground in a circle and make them dance in it. (Like all good ideas, the credit for this one goes to Sean Kelly.)

    Example: "I feel like I'm doing all the cleaning while everyone else just--"
    "BLAM! Hip hop pool party!"
    "Oh yeah / Uh huh / pool party / pool party."

  3. "Hey! You're puking on yourself!"
    You can use this one when you're in the medical tent and someone is actually puking on himself, or in any other situation whatsoever.

    Example: "Man, I'm tired"

  4. "We know you're a narc, narc." Use this when someone walks by and looks like a narcotics officer. Or whenever any group of people walks by. It should be directed at nobody in particular.

    [Shouted toward the street from a dark, hidden spot] "Hey narc. We know you're a narc."
    "Your blinky lights aren't fooling anyone."
    "Are you talking to me?"
    "Narc Narc."
    "Who's there?"
    "You are, narc. Have fun in Narcland."
    "Dude, I'm not a narc"
    "Did they teach you to say that in narc school, narc?"

  5. "Snack or whip?"
    Use when you are forcing people to take a snack, and punishing them with a whip if they don't want a snack. And I'm not talking about some lame riding crop, this is a twelve foot bullwhip. Laird whipped people for hours, usually aiming for their bike tire or camel back. It was funny and frightening.

    "Snack or whip?"
    "Do you want a snack, or do you want Laird to whip you?"
    "Ha, no thanks."
    "Laird, get the whip."

  6. "Move along. Keep movin. No chit chat."
    Use when you've just done something really nice for someone (like making them a drink, giving them a hot chocolate with Irish Cream, or fixing their bike) and you don't want to hear any of their dumb hippie thanks and appreciations.

    "What do you want to drink?"
    "Hi! Oh, cool, a bar. What's your specialty?"
    "Hey, no talking, no stupid questions. This is a bar and I asked what you want to drink."
    "Oh, ok. Gin and Tonic."
    "We don't have that. You're getting a margarita with tang in it."
    "Oh, that sounds--"
    "Hey, no chit chat. Here's your drink, now move along"
    "Ha, cool, my name is Playa Angel."
    "Stop talking and start walking, hippie. No chit chat."
    "Ha, you guys are--"
    "Seriously, move along. Keep moving."

  7. "Game on, man, game fucking on!!!!"
    Use when someone says anything that you could conceivably be even a little excited about. Some guy was trying this one out in our camp, and we totally thought it was a dud. Not funny. But he kept doing it every minute or so for a half hour. A few days later it had permeated our camp.

    "I think I might drink some lemonade"
    [Screaming and slapping hand on table] "Game on, man, GAME FUCKING ON!!!!"

  8. "This is my first year." Use whenever someone tries to establish their credibility by saying how many years they've been to Burning Man. This works better if you've actually been coming for 15 years, you used to work for the Burning Man organization, or you're dating one of the event founders. I used this one on a particularly annoying person I who came into our camp and spewed her self righteous hippie vegan bullshit for a half hour. This is an actual conversation I had. She never realized I was fucking with her, even after I told her.

    "I've been coming here for 7 years and working the event for 5, and I think at some point you'll learn that it really is all about giving, and love, and helping other people to heal, and maybe then you'll be able to lose your negativity."
    [Referring to the whole camp, some of whom have been working at the event site for a month and have been attending since the '80s] "It's all of our first year here."
    "Oh! Welcome home!"
    "Yeah, thanks. We have this idea that so many people come here to give to the community, so we're here to take what they have to give and just keep it. Just take it all in and keep it for ourselves"
    "Oh, that so isn't what this event is all about! You should learn to give love to the universe! But, you know, it's only a week, and you can--"
    "Actually I'm here for 10 days, so it's technically more than a week. We'll call it a long week."
    "Well, I'm here for 11 days, so--"
    "I'm here for 12."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

8 things I like about my new Nokia E61

  1. Full keyboard, allowing for constant texting.
  2. It is nerdier than I am, balancing out my G-Star jeans, which are hipper than I am.
  3. Cool browser, which I use constantly.
  4. It can play music really loud.
  5. When it's in my pocket it doesn't feel that much bigger than my deceased SE 800i.
  6. No touchscreen, making my look about 0.5% less dorky.
  7. It's faster to check my phone calendar than my web calendar.
  8. It can record a phone call and play it back during the call, so 2 people can sing together in 4-part harmony.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

8 Songs about California

I picked my vacation. As expected, Southern California won based on its proximity, ease of travel, and list of people to visit. I'm going to rent a car and cruise around, so-cal style. Agenda items include meeting up with some friends for a movie or something, maybe going to Santa Barbara for a party, and going down to San Diego. And maybe I'll sneak into the Yahoo office using one of my old business cards and a convincing story.

Who wants to hang out? What should I do down there?

Here is a list of my favorite songs about California, all of which I will listen to in my rental car. Add suggestions in the comments.
  1. "California Stars" by Wilco & Woodie Guthrie
  2. "California" by Rufus Wainright
  3. "Piazza, New York Catcher" by Belle & Sebastian
  4. "California Dreamin" by The Mommas & The Papas
  5. "California" by Joni Mitchell
  6. "California Uber Alles" by The Dead Kennedys
  7. "Californication" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
  8. "California Girls" by The Beach Boys
And here are some specifically about LA:
  1. "Drinking in LA" by Bran Van 3000
  2. "L.A" by Elliot Smith
  3. "April 29, 1992" by Sublime
  4. "Born in East LA" by Cheech Marin
And some facts I learned while researching this post:
  1. There are at least 90 songs called "California"
  2. Wikipedia has a list of songs about California
  3. Wikipedia also has a list of lists of songs

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

8 ways to have a good meeting

Most of my posts work-related posts have been about scamming your way to success. This one is slightly different, and the first in a series of posts on meetings in a sort of followup to my #1 post of all time, 8 Types of Meeting Attendees. The goal here is to get everyone to be a #8, "The productive, reasonable contributor."
  1. Have a goal.
    I don't think agendas actually work, but the meeting will be much better if everyone agrees on the goals at the beginning. If you don't have any specific goals you should just go out for drinks.

  2. Have a leader.
    One person should be in control of the meeting and decide what gets talked about. When that person says "let's move on" everyone should say ok and move on.

  3. Listen more than you talk.
    If everyone does this the meeting will probably be productive. If one person talks the whole time it's a presentation, which is different. When everyone is listening at once and no one is talking you can end the meeting.

  4. Let people finish their thought.
    When smart people talk they say unexpected things. You probably don't know what your colleague is going to say, so listen to the whole thing. If they say exactly what you expected then you wasted a few minutes, which is much better than making someone hate you.

  5. Don't interrupt.
    Don't talk when someone else is talking. When you *do* talk people will listen much more closely. This is really hard, but when it works the meeting is extremely friendly and relaxed.

  6. Never ever roll your eyes.
    If someone you work with makes you roll your eyes you should quit your job. Or try to have them fired. According to the pop-psychology book Blink the rolling of eyes is a sign of contempt, which is the worst emotion for any relationship.

  7. Speak slowly.
    This will relax you and everyone else.

  8. End it when it's over.
    At Vodafone we would have specification walkthroughs, in which someone would read an entire 50 page document to 10 people. They were often scheduled for two and a half hours. At some point, when people were sleeping, emailing, chatting with each other, someone would say "ok, lets just get through this." This is the death point of the meeting. Nobody was paying attention or contributing. The meeting was over, but nobody had the guts to kill it. They wanted to keep reading because they were supposed to keep reading. Kill it when it's dead.

Monday, June 19, 2006

8 Ways I met people with whom I later had a significant business relationship

I think it's fun to trace back significant events/people in my life and see how random or inevitable things were. Here are 8 ways I met people with whom I later had a significant business relationship, in rough reverse chronological order.
  1. Waiting in line for mix drinks at SXSW.
    I met Leslie, the newest Rubyred team member (welcome to SF, Leslie!) in line for drinks at a very late party at South by Southwest, just a few minutes after I offended all of Austin at an open mic event. I was more than a little drunk and thought it was fun to ask people interview questions instead of party questions, and her answers were actually pretty good.

  2. At a fake product launch party. I met Cameron, a long time Rubyred team member (6 months!) at the fake launch party for a fake company called

  3. Through my friend Shawn.
    I met Patrick (and dozens of other people) at Vodafone when my friend Shawn asked me to come in for a short design contract. I stayed at Vodafone for about 3 years and got to travel a lot and meet some great Europeans.

  4. Through my former-manager Patrick.
    Patrick contacted me when he went to Yahoo after leaving Vodafone. I went to Yahoo and stayed for a few years. Shawn also recommended me for the Yahoo job, making him partly responsible for the 2 jobs that established my career. (Shawn eventually went to Razorfish, where he helped bring on my friends Rebecca and Lizzie, and is now at Organic.)

  5. Through my sister's friend Rebecca.
    When I moved to SF my sister Flora was working at with Rebecca, who helped me with my resume and introduced me to Thor. I worked with Thor at Trapezo and, on my second day there, I went to his house to watch the ill-fated 2000 presidential election results. There I met his wife Amy. Thor and Amy are now my partners in Rubyred.

  6. Through my dad's cousin Tony, and his business partner James.
    I met Shawn when we both started working for Tony & James around 1997 near Philadelphia. I also worked with Ted there, who is now at Rubyred.

  7. Through the guy in charge of my college dorm, Brian.
    I somehow impressed Brian in my first week at college, and he recommended me for a job with my dad's cousin Tony, who I had never met before.

  8. Through my sister Flora's friend Christi.
    Flora told her friend Christi how I was smarter than other high-school students, and Christi introduced me to her boyfriend Chipp, who owned a company called Human Code, which later sold to Sapient. Chipp gave me a summer job the day after my high school graduation, and gave me a good reference when I went to work for Tony & James.
Is there a point to all this? Lets find a point.

Point 1:
Having a few strong advocates can make a huge difference in your career. My sister Flora introduced me to some of the people who had huge effects on my life, and she isn't especially connected in my industry. She just constantly talks about how great I am, and some of the people she talks to turn out to be great business contacts.

Point 2:
You can run into great people anywhere. Don't spend all your time scheming for business contacts like a smarmy salesman, but just because someone is a sloshy drunk bothering people at a bar doesn't mean they're not also a brilliant engineer or marketing genius. I like to force people into uncomfortable conversations about their life motivations as soon as I meet them, thus eliminating boring shallow people quickly.

Point 3:
Business relationships last a long time. I'm barely 10 years into my career, and I expect to keep interacting with these same people for the next 20-30 years. When hiring or recommending people I always prefer those I've worked with in the past.

Side note: I think the worst thing you can ever do is personally insult someone. If you're lazy or you fail to deliver people might forget after a few years, but if you personally insult someone they'll remember forever. If that person happens to be well connected, or has a blog, their negative impression of you can effect you for many years.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

8 Great things that will happen this friday

Here are 8 Great things that will happen this Friday, June 16 2006. Most of them will happen in San Francisco, CA, USA, though some of them are placeless and will happen everywhere at once.
  1. Jonathan, the author of this blog, will turn 27 years old. I know, I seem older, I have gray hair, I'm way to wise to be so youthful, etc etc. I hid my age for a long time, pretending to be older than I was, and I think 27 is a good age to stop doing that and lay it all out there. It is worth noting that I was born in the 1970's, not the 1980's, and that Carter was still president.

  2. We will celebrate my birthday by gathering at 8pm at Ritual Coffee Roasters on Valencia street. Eileen, from her infinite well of generousity, has invited us to grace her fine establishment for evening coffee. I didn't really want to have a party, but when Eileen mentioned this idea it suddenly sounded fun and I couldn't resist. I really just wanted to sit around the cafe all day anyway.

  3. Eileen (and others?) will attempt to make Spanish Coffee which (like all the good things in life) involves coffee, booze, sugar, and fire.

  4. I will unveil a new art piece. It is the much anticipated Religious Monkey, and it's been in a half-finished state for a while now. Hanging the monkey will technically make this an art opening, giving us permission to force paying customers to move out of the way so we can drink and be loud.

  5. When we start to annoy the paying customers & staff too much we will leave for a nearby bar or houseparty or something. I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up at the Latin American Club, Amnesia, or the Lone Palm, all of which are within a couple blocks. We'll leave a note.

  6. I might be in a terrible mood. I don't much care for holidays, and birthdays almost count as holidays.
    Two things I don't like about birthday parties:
    a) RSVP's. Please don't tell me whether or not you'll be attending. For some reason RSVP's annoy the shit out of me. I'll try to use my 27th year to get over this problem, but for now it's safer to avoid the issue and just show up or not.
    b) singing of the "Happy Birthday" song. I know the whole purpose of a song is to make the birthday person miserable, and I know people will probably do it even though (or because) I hate it, but I'd really prefer if everyone would sing a different song. Anything by Bowie or The White Stripes would be great.

  7. There might be an earthquake. This is always a possibility in our fair city, but someone I was talking to outside the coffee shop swears it's going to happen this week. Consider yourselves warned. I'm going to wear a helmet.

  8. Nacho Libre will premier in theaters. If all goes well, I will be in the 4:40pm show at the Metreon.

Monday, June 05, 2006

8 ways to be an arrogant prick

I've been neglecting this blog a little, since I can now post to the Valleyschwag Chronicles and get 150 comments, which is bloth flattering and overwhelming. Since I do my best writing when I'm tired and overworked, I'll write a little piece right now. (This may be a re-tread of some old post. I often worry that I'm repeating myself on my blog, but I'm probably contradicting myself too, so it evens out.)

This one is a set of tips that you should not follow. Do your best to not do these things. They're anti-tips.

Here are 8 ways to be an arrogant prick. I think I've done all of these things, and I hope I never do them again.
  1. Talk about how rich you are.
    Look, everyone already knows how rich you are. Shut up and drink your latte.

  2. Drop names to show how important you are.
    I don't care if you went to camp with the guy or whatever. If you were really that important he'd be dropping your name.

  3. Tell people they should be more active in politics / social change / linux.

I just got tired of that list. It was depressing. I'm going to switch to a new topic.

Here are my favorite kinds of light bulbs:
  1. Incandescent clear bulb with chrome finish on half the bulb. This is a rare bulb that can be put to great use

  2. Blue LED. I know an LED isn't actually a light bulb, but I think it should count anyway.

  3. Flourescent Black light. These are overused in clubs but it is because they rock so hard. They are magical, and can make things appear where nothing was visible before.

  4. Flickering candle lights. These are cool innovative lights that have two plates instead of a coil, and the movement of the plates makes this light flicker. I've seen some plates that are the shape of a candle flame and others that are the shape of the virgin mary.

  5. A pickle with electricity flowing through it. This is actually possible, as you may remember from 6th grade science class. It glows green.