Category Archives: Personal

Life changes you, things learned.

It’s almost been 2 years since i moved to california and its been a rough adventurous ride, and I don’t regret a moment of it. However, when I look back it’s odd to see just how different I am today.

Since sundays are for reflection, here are a few bullet points.

  • • living in milwaukee i felt very connected to the community, i knew so many people by name that everywhere i went was like an episode of cheers.
  • • i used to drink and eat a lot more, today i eat 2/3rds to 1/2 as much food. it’s so warm in california you really don’t need much.
  • • winter seems like someplace you visit, rather than live through.
  • • i used to feel tech deprived, now it’s easily accessible and to some degree less exotic
  • • i understand better how some ideas are good ones and others are a waste of time
  • • i now know i own too much stuff, too much ownership is a burden; you end up consuming more resources just keeping it and not appreciating it.
  • • women like geeks and entrepreneurs here, i feel sexy here
  • • hackathons used to be parties, now they seem like work
  • • i miss bucketworks, but….. have found noisebridge, and techshop, but don’t go enough.
  • • owning cars seem silly, but i still love my 350z, but now i don’t have a venue to enjoy it. i may just sell it and rent a sports car for a day, even at 500 dollars every few months, it’s cheaper, than paying for insurance and parking.
  • • in milwaukee, geeks were most easily found at goth industrial clubs, but out here, they are everywhere.
  • • you live in a city, not in an apartment, neighborhoods are probably more important than your home.
  • • being able to bike everywhere RULES.
  • • public transit is better than no transit, but it still sucks, its a tragedy of the commons.
  • • some graffiti is good, some is bad.
  • • political parties are not relevant.
  • • some people are so angry about somethings, that they will never listen about other things
  • • what its like to have a lot of friends that are female, what it’s like to have a female room mate; the secret is it’s really not that different, except your guy friends probably are more likely to drink your beer and watch the same tav shows.
  • • on average women think about sex way more than I would have thought 2 years ago.
  • • women may think differently, but they think about the same things. ( ok, maybe not all of the same things, or maybe just not at the same level of detail )
  • • the goal of any good conversation is to derive respect of and for someone regardless of weather you agree, find enjoyment in their fellowship, however not all people are respectable, and so don’t spend your time with them
  • • no matter how much you may want others to be independent and self capable, some people just want to follow, or lead. people may not be built for an egalitarian maximum.
  • • any good piece of art, creates a deeper connection between people. it should make good conversation easy. ( see above )

Open Loft privacy divider design.

I finally have a new place, and it’s an open concept loft in San Francisco’s SOMA district. It’s got everything I have ever wanted in a place, but it’s got one problem, to afford it I had to take on a good friend as a roommate. I love having roommates in a traditional space, but having a roommate in an open concept loft could, well ,,,.. get bothersome in the future.

I am currently exploring and brainstorming concepts to create privacy. However, building a full height wall, although a feasible engineering solution, is not what I am looking for. We are looking for something that keeps the loft as open as possible, while allowing us to define private spaces. We have thought of the following options, but what ideas might you have?

  • using plexiglass panels
  • using triangular plexiglass panels and create an uneven surface
  • using plexiglass with a negative pressure interior ( vacuum )
  • using glass
  • using foam
  • hanging rugs
  • hanging curtains
  • using bloxes
  • using a rubber skin around a substructure/ skeleton
  • creating a plexiglass substructure
  • creating a wooden substructure
  • creating a cardboard substructure
  • sucking out the air from with in the rubber encased structure
  • doing something organic looking
  • doing something modern
  • using small bright light sources like LEDs to trick the eye of an on looker to contract and thus be unable to see passed the array of LEDs, one might call this a ‘light screen’
  • use a light projector to overpower any refracting light in the room, thus creating optical privacy in one direction.
  • using some sort of blinds

I will try to update this post with examples of interesting design at some point.  Maybe you can comment on a few.

Validation: Sometimes as an entrepreneur you think you are crazy.

As an entrepreneur you are constantly coming up with ideas, some good, some bad, and you are always looking for someone that will buy your story.  So,  sometimes when a 1st customer, an investor, your parents, or even when a competitor just gets what you are up to feel set free, validated and even empowered.  Now, no entrepreneur likes to loose, but sometimes just knowing that someone else is thinking what you are thinking, well, it validates you and your hair brained ideas, and sometimes that feels good.

So, when I saw that eventbrite had revenue of $100 million in what they thought was a $35 billion dollar market place, it kinda gives me goose bumps.

Over 2 years ago I started pitching a company called “Social Helix” and then and now I am still excited about the idea of connecting people thr0ugh events.  I always felt like profiles like myspace and facebook were a bit lifeless compared to the real thing.  I mean the people we care about, really care about, well we meet them in person don’t we?  And when I realized that, I started to get really excited about changing the way events work.

Today, I am working on a few other ideas, some with potential investors, and others are just engineering projects with a possible revenue upside, like, but in those cases, SocialHelix got me in the door, but we never got the money we needed to make it happen.

Sometimes as an entrepreneur you think you are crazy, not because other people tell you so, but you really wonder if your bet is right.

Today I received some validation that I am not crazy when eventbrite announced revenue.  Eventbrite claims they have revenue of $100 million ( some of that goes to event curators ), and placed their market size at $35 Billion.  $35 billion is an interesting number because that is what we predicted with SocialHelix nearly 2 years ago.

The event space is huge and ticketmaster plays a role in such a small space of it.  It’s the classic problem of long tail vs short tail.  Ticketmaster went after some of the worlds largest venues, and secured deals with those locations.  Large Venue style ticket sales which are usually divided into primary and secondary sales total about $1.5 billion and $6 billion respectively.  While movie ticket sales are around $10 billion a year.

Sites like Eventbrite and SocialHelix would rather target long tail sales which are usually personally, or organizationally curated instead of venue curated.  In that industry we have several interesting segments, and this market is huge, it so huge that most people don’t think about it.  Groups and Meetings which include corporate events, business meetings, and

Startupweekend Micropost

At LA startupweekend I built with one other team member
a geolinking service that computes a geohash for gps coordinates or a
street address.  The resulting geolink will provide a map, and some
other interesting information when a user clicks the link.

It’s kinda a little cobbled together, but by dec.3rd it should be working well.

What would you want on the landing page?

Federated Twitter bots

Just a quick thought.

I wonder if all of the the twitter bots are a result of people trying to gain free api access to twitter.  Normal rules allow a certain number of requests per minute or or something.  However if yo were to have 1,000 accounts, you could perform 1,000x that number of requests and searches per hour.

I bet if twitter looked for accounts that were performing high volumes of API requests, they would find accounts that were most likely linked to bots.

I am not yet sure if it is worth it for twitter to remove these accounts or if they are oddly good for the ecosystem.

‘The Calorie-Restriction Experiment’

Read ‘The Calorie-Restriction Experiment’ ( NY-Times )

After reading this article I am convinced that calorie restriction will at least improve the quality of my life, but it may also extend it. New evidence is showing that adding ‘some’ exercise to your life, and reducing calorie intake will reduce your chance for cancer, and or heart disease by more than 50%.

While living in Wisconsin, I used to eat till I was full, and it was leaving me to not feel healthy. This spring I decided to start changing my behavior. I bought a bike, and started biking. At first it was just to and from the beach, or Mitsuwa ( ). Later I moved on to up along the beach towards Topanga Canyon, and before long a 5 mile ride was achievable. The next leap I made, was to start biking to work, an 8 mile ride there, and an 8 mile ride back. The 1st time I did this on a weekend, and I went there and back, the full 16 miles. It took me 2 hours 15 min. I felt tired, and sore, but I felt great. All the while I started having just yogurt for breakfast and bring in Apples and Bananas to work to snack on, and although I was feeling better, I was not loosing weight. I think this was because for lunch and dinner I was still eating out.

Come June, I was laid off at work, and my income drastically changed.  It was a good excuse for me to start changing my habits.  Once nice thing about consulting is how it allows for more time to exercise.

I started dining in, eating when hungry, and watching what I ate.

2 weeks ago, I was able to see that I am making progress.  I am now down to 202 / 4 where as in mid summer I was between 215 / 218.

Now, I try to eat a reasonable amount and try to ride 13 miles a day on my bike in Griffith Park ( but it’s probably more like 4 times a week ).  Out here in California eating till full just was not going to work, 1st, eating that much food causes you to sweat in this weather, so eating less means I have a lower body temp, so I can cope with the weather better.   It’s also the reason I am loosing weight.

It’s not a lot but it’s at a healthy rate. By the new year I hope to be well into 190. In college I was at 174, and I felt really good. I was able to run 5 miles a day, and lift weights for 1 hour a day. Right now I am getting good at biking 13 miles a day, and I may up the load again. I may add a 1 or 2 mile run 3 days a week. I put this out there so that you can spread the word to the people you care about. Eating well, and exercising is more than looking fit, its about quality of life.

;and I feel so much better now.

healthcare reform.

Dear John,

While I do not like government run institutions, there are a few things in life that the government has made our lives better while managing it.

Our government has the right to manage interstate commerce, and as I see it now, our Health System is an Interstate Commerce problem. Not only do companies have employees in several states, but people travel, move and have families dispersed all the time across our great nation. In addition, people who require help in an emergency, or people that have contracted a communicatable disease put a stress on all of us when their health care is not provided for. Either hospitals treat these people without getting paid, or they die, or worse they spread the disease to others.

As our country continues to grow to being more and more urban, we need to deal with problems as a set of communities rather than as a body of individuals.

So, in general I support a number of points of health care reform.

Early In my life I worked at a medical billing company and I know all too well how insurance companies skip out on paying bills, and how doctors inflate bills to get good payers to pick up the slack for other more dishonest insurance companies.

I urge those that are passionate about health care to help us simplify, streamline, and clean out the corruption in the healthcare industry. Our parents, and grand parents are at risk.

I propose several changes to the system.

1. provide leadership and standardize payment processing, require that health insurance companies pay 80-90% of claims. right now they pay less than half of all submitted claims.

2. provide a validation engine for said claims, such a validation engine has been built to determine if an HTML document is valid. I suspect such an engine could be built to validate a medical bill. this would validate the patients identity, the medical practitioners identity, and the payers identity. the system would also validate viable pairings of CPC codes ( medical care line items ). Items that are unusual could flag a review process by a board of medical practitioners.

3. record all bills and assemble a medical care census, and provide the data in aggregate, and autonomously to the public to crunch. with proper statistical records on care patterns people can dig into the information and get a good view on where innovation needs to occur, and where current innovation is not yet being used. right now only health insurance companies have this data, and this should be public data so others can help and map out solutions for our general well being.

4. provide leadership in sourcing funding for problems in the system that are identified through statistical methods. in some cases direct taxes might make sense to provide research funding, and in other contexts, businesses might rally together to provide said funding in a prize economics / ‘netflix prize’ sort of way. using the data from #3 we can very easily identify treatment pairs that are raising in cost and ones that need additional research done to better advance them.

5. require that insurance companies can not deny someone based on pre-existing conditions. this forces insurance companies to have a broad demographic.

6. allow young individuals some sustained benefit for purchasing health insurance at a young age and keeping it up. I think it’s silly to pay $2400 a year and visit the doctor once in 3 years. Paying straight cash for a $500 doctors visit is still cheaper. For people that invest in the system and don’t have health problems, some percentage of their payment should lead to reduced payments later in life. it should kinda be an investment vehicle, and if one pays additional dollars at a young age into the system one should get better care later in life, as health costs should always be more later in life than earlier in life.

7. build an infrastructure so that doctors can virtually review a patient together via video conferencing. reviewing patients with multiple opinions can reduce errors. In the programing space we call it extreme programing, or pair programing, and certain cases might be flagged for care that is prone to error.

Black Monday: The Monday after Defcon

Black Monday: The Monday after Defcon

It’s the Monday after DEFCON 17, the world’s* largest Hacker convention, and like many attendees I am writing just a little bit about my 4 days in Vegas.  For the most part this is going to be VERY edited, as what happens in Vegas tends to ‘Stay in Vegas’, so for the very best stuff you will just have to join us in Vegas next year for DEFCON 18 when we rehash stories of previous DEFCONs.

DEFCON is a bit different than you might think and although there are people there that are writing the next virus; 9,950 of the 10,000 (or 99.5%) people that show up are probably there to figure out how to help you secure your computer, or just enjoy technology and have some fun.  So it’s really a lot like any other geek conventions with people sharing ideas; wearing t-shirts, dawning costumes and hacker fashionable apparel, or just partying.   This year I had the chance to participate in some of the better after hours parties of DEFCON (let me tell you there are plenty of parties that go from 9am to 6am with talks starting at 10am.  ) and so I spent less time in sessions and more time socializing.  DEFCON is a whole lot more playful than its brother convention, Black Hat (another security convention), which usually deals with the more corporate and work related issues of Network and Computer Security.

DEFCON’s attendees include everyone from hackers, crackers, artists, activists, Feds, Spies, bands, DJs, fashion designers, writers, and journalists.  It’s really a diverse and well established subculture of geekdom and technology elitism.  When DEFCON happens the dreams and fantasies of technology subcultures come out to play, and you get to live for 4 days in its subconscious alliterating technology and the Internet.  Some of the more interesting talks range from World of Warcraft, UFOs, HackerSpaces, OpenSource, Iran, hacktivism and pre-purposed innovation ( ie innovation without a defined purpose ).  One such talk actually demoed how one might establish a hidden network of command signals through the power lines in your house and have that communicate with your hard drive or bios directly without the operating system detecting it.  The ‘World of Warcraft’ talk exposed an API extention that allowed for the creation of ‘decision making helpers’ that would allow 2 humans to run a raid and control 12 characters.

Other things I noticed was the pending red hair singularity, as many people are seemingly converging on vivid magenta, maroon, red, and pink hair highlights; where as in previous years hair color was a mixed as a box of Crayola Crayons are.

This year DEFCON kept up a many of its other traditions, like a micro controller based badge, and competitions like Capture The Flag ( aka, root fu, kenshoto, etc.. ) and other competitions that if won get you a ‘Black-Badge’ which says you are elite, and you get to come to DEFCON forever for free.

I love hackers, hackers in the true sense of the word.  They are the painters and artists of technology, where they play and sculpt technology from its parts.  They are a playful, free, and inquisitive group that is more than comfortable with having a few questions pop into their mind.  I like DEFCON because where many of the other conventions in the field are either small like barcamps, or very ‘White Hat’ and deal mainly with corporate and overtly legal concept, DEFCON asks questions of technology even if the answer is a little bit scary at times with 10k similarly minded people.  It’s for this reason that the FBI is actually in support of the slightly skeptical, and often slightly Anarchist groups that meet there.  It’s the worlds chance to get the twitter like ‘pulse’ of technology and what is going on.  And after getting back from DEFCON 17 I definitely feel like I have a better read on how the internet will work in 2009/2010.  I hope to see you there next year.

‘Hack the Planet’



Need to add links and references

Startup coffee

One of the most important things a startup can do, is build friendships.  I created startupcoffee as a casual and quick way for people to get together and talk about their startup, or ideas they have about startups.  Come join us for a startup coffee.

I created 2 twitter accounts for startup coffee, but I am sure there will be more as people start their own startupcoffee(s) in their own communities.  I registered to announce new startupcoffee(s) as they pop up, and general things of interest to the community.  I also registered to announce meet ups in the Los Angeles area.  I am going to try to do this regularly (2-3 times a week) at various times in the day and in neighborhoods around Los Angeles, so you might want to send device updates to your mobile phone.

If you would like to throw your own startup coffee in Los Angeles, just @ reply me, and I will try to retweet it for you, please allow a few hours for me to catch it an retweet it.  If you would like me to do this ASAP, direct message me on twitter @jdavid.

If you would like to run your own startupcoffee in your own city, please follow these guidelines.

  • Keep posts limited, so people feel comfortable setting your startupcoffee(city) account to device update so they can get TXT messages when you tweet a new location.
  • Keep the meet ups to about 2-3 per week
  • Vary the location, so different people can make it, however find a regular spot for a given neighborhood.
  • Do not post news articles or links in these feeds, please keep that to your personal twitter account.
  • Refer people to for more information about startupcoffee
  • In your personal tweets use @startupcoffee(city) instead of a hash tag, its easier to click through and follow the account.

Ok, now let’s have some fun and get to work.

new decade ;-) new blog

A few years ago, I started a blog, and then in the ‘Summer of 2008’ I stopped writing for it.  So much in my life was changing and I didn’t really have a personal center to write from.  Since then, I have moved to California, lived in both San Francisco, and LA and have worked for two of the world’s most interesting and visited websites, Hi5, and MySpace.  I meet a lot of great people along the way, and I am now looking for yet another job in the Social Media space.

I would love it if that job involved getting funding for, a social calendar/ event network idea I had with a few friends over 2 years ago.  Today we have a business plan that is about 1 year old, and lacking the experience I have gained working at both Hi5, and MySpace.  In the next few days, I hope to put some spit polish on the business plan and to update it for the current economy, and with a few tidbits of knowledge that I have gained over the past year.

As of now, I could either see myself taking another job, consulting for awhile, or getting SH funded.  I however, don’t know where my preferences lie for living.  In SF I have some of the world’s smartest and brightest in the web working to create the web standards of tomorrow, but in LA I have the opportunity to see a different creative class; one that is playful, and just as smart in their own way.  In the next few weeks I hope to evaluate my options and make a decision on where I should live.

I do finally plan on bringing my furniture from Milwaukee out to California, or going back to sell it once and for all.

I really feel like the last year was one of transition, and this year will be about personal growth, as today is the 1st day of a new decade for me.  Maybe this decade demands that I write my 1st book or screen play. 😉