Category Archives: Personal

Is an Economy of Leisure closer than we think?

I do feel like we are decades away from being able to create a leisure economy, and I think it’s a necessity.

On the epoch of the information age, we have been doubling our ability to store, archive and create data. We do it on blogs, on social networks and as we browse each website, and as we search via google. We are creating data from satellites, from outside our solar system and we are creating data at home with phones, camcorders, games, and cameras.

As a software engineer I think that we are upon an age of personal manufacturing and automation like we can not even begin to imagine. With so much data, and so many opportunities to create, organize and discover what all of this data we are entering into an age that demands creativity. It won’t be the means of ‘work’ or ‘production’ that enables great ideas to flourish, but how we share, discuss and appropriate resources to those ends.

We will demand creative solutions to existing problems rather than productivity. The means of creativity might be described as prolific, but not as something that can be measured in hours. I think going forwards as more jobs implore creative solutions, will will find that productive work will be taken over by systems that can be automated. Our network should start to fall, while our creative means will be required to increase.

Centuries ago economist and philosophers would talk of the leisure economy, but it was something that only the aristocrats could participate in, however, those that did, designed the 1st telescopes to explore the stars and the first microscopes to explore our cells. We had an age of enlightenment like never before in our history. Today we are on such a dawn, such an age where all of us should have the creative freedom to explore again, to investigate the vary nature of our world and to share in the tools to do it.

Software like Code Academy, Udemy, are putting classes online and disseminating knowledge like never before, while tools like ‘Light-Table’ will make it easier for anyone to understand how programing works. Did you ever wonder how someone might reconfigure a warp coil in 15 min on Star Trek? I can tell you that if they had to use the software debugging tools we have today, that it would always take hours. In the future we will have tools that as you work, as you create, as you think through a problem we will have smart agents that understand us and will test out millions of variants as part of that dialogue between us and our computer counterparts. Debugging and analytics of our designs will be a solve problem, we will measure everything in a simulation and we will be able to predict with ease the results of our creative effort.

The a new age of creativity and leisure is upon us. Those that wish to experience it first will find a way to limit their own ‘productive’ work, and will increase their creative means.

It’s Good to Promote ‘Women In Tech’

Every day I remise that my profession, one that is pictured as this brute, as a relic of an old era. I love my career as a software engineer. I get to choose my hours, hold great responsibility, and get paid pretty well. In the end I create things, and that too brings joy. But I hear that my life is privileged and that I was only given access to those things because I am a white male born to well off parents. I find violent sorrow in my soul when people tell me that the women I love can not do the same. The funny part, is it’s not men I hear murmur this. It’s women I hear shouting it.

Something must be wrong.

I would love it if my girlfriend, daughter, or mother were able to work in tech. They are all very smart women, and technology empowers people. It empowers women, it empowers the world. Technology equalizes the bar and no one knows who is sitting behind a keyboard at the end of the day except for you. Technology enables 3rd world countries to take part in the success of 1st world and 2nd world countries. Technology allows all of the worlds knowledge to be given to a young child in Africa for $100. It allows people to move from country to country, to work and to learn about other cultures. Technology has brought us so much closer. But for some reason women feel disenfranchised from it all.

When I have a daughter, I want her to feel what I feel in technology and if that means my industry needs some work, then yes, let’s start now. I want her to feel like she can do anything with a well trained mind and a computer.

Today, things especially got awash when I responded to a tweet that @ashedryden had posted.

@ashedryden : Reporter asked me if it was hard being a woman in tech. I immediately said “do you wanna pull up a chair?”

I quickly retweeted, and FAILed at twitter with

@jdavid: @ashedryden, women don’t get into tech because they get impression is that it’s easier to be a lawyer or doctor. good things are hard.

This spun out of control, and my point was lost.

I had written a much longer tweet, but upon that being closer to 200-300 chars, I started pruning it a bit, which had the undesired effect I was afraid of. I find it harder and harder to use twitter for anything that matters. So, instead, it came off as an attack, rather than support of women in tech.

My response should have been a larger response, because in whole I think technology as an industry get’s better when the ratio of men to women more closely matches that of a well balanced society at 50%. I also think that many of the problems we have in gender equality have to do with the simple fact that there are more than twice as many men in tech as there are women. In fact some studies suggest that just 27% of tech workers are women, and that there are as many as 9x as many men in ‘C’ level executive roles as there are women. Legislating requirements would be hard, and for larger companies there are laws, but tech is forged by small teams, and that means the changes need to come from within each of us.

For years articles have interested me in how to get women more involved. I have been reading article after article. Look at years of my twitter and facebook streams and you can see that I promote great groups like the Bay Area Geek Girl Dinners, scholarships for women to get into tech and anything else I can do. I invite my girlfriend along to all of the tech events I go to and would be happy to bring anyone with.

In the end I don’t know all of the reasons why women don’t end up in Tech. I do challenge the notion that it’s ‘just’ sexism and that men are actively keeping women out. I believe that happens some of the time, but it’s hardly the whole reason. Instead I see a lot of men trying to bring their loved ones along. I see fathers and daughters at Maker Faire and I see guys taking time out of their week to hold programing classes just for the ladies. I see Google and Microsoft offering scholarships just for women, and I see companies as ruthless as Zynga promoting women because the web is now Social, and 70% of purchases online are made by women. Tech needs women more now than ever.

If there is a larger problem with the industry then I think we should fix it. If we don’t know why it is, then we shouldn’t ignore that there is an issue, but we should move on to the things we can do. Not every problem is fix’able now, and in a ‘get things done world’, we often put things off if there is no clear solution now. I see articles all of the time where the tech industry is trying to figure out why smart women choose to be lawyers, or doctors or other professions that require more or similar aptitude as technical degrees.

There are things we can do now, and there will be trailblazers that have unique insights later, but I think at the root of it all we need to be positive an alluring to women in tech. We need to make the industry interesting enough that we can work at the gender balance issues, and then work on the other issues together. Adding more women to tech can only improve the industry.

Having more women in tech will make it easier and more probable for women to offer suggestions to make it better. It will make it easier to rally and build support for new ideas, to build consensus and to create a workplace and technology that favors both sexes equally.

Whose Responsible for our Country?

If the CEO isn’t ultimately responsible for his or her company than who is? If the captain is not than who is? When Steve Jobs was captain of his ship he did amazing things at Apple. When Bill Gates created MS he did amazing things. I certainly believe that a great president can help us build a great country. I also absolutely know that Mitt is not a great man, and I am pretty sure that Obama is not as well, however, he is much better at selling what he wants than Mitt is, who just comes off as angry and whinny. I want a leader in office, one who doesn’t need the government to do everything, but one who leads this country in all of it’s facets to make this country great.

When we finally stopped giving SETI money from the government, they rethought the problem and started a revolution in cloud computing. I would argue that Amazon’s EC2 is because the government stopped giving money to SETI, and people were so enthralled with the fun of searching for aliens that we started to share computing resources. It got people thinking of computer’s as a cloud to send data to and fro.

Durring this administration we stopped flying shuttles, and now private industry is going to pick up the slack. They are rethinking the problem and we have visionaries like Elon Musk and Burt Retan that can take their passion and get all of the support that the world has to offer. They are free to chaise their dreams with the world as their tail wind. When the government does it, they do a job that’s just good enough for no one else to try.

Yes we need services to take care of people when they get sick. Yes we need services to take care of people when they loose their job. Yes we need services when people make purchasing decisions that encompass the what they might earn over decades, but the government does not need to do those services.

I also strongly believe that, a good government inspires hope when there is none, and finds a way to charge forwards. To not go down the path of traditional liberalism, but to actually find it’s true latin root, in which liberalism means either to be libre or free or to drive change and actualization of some sort.

We are a wondering country who blossomed into something more than we were when we won WWII and since that greatness we have not had a proper vision to be more than to find the next bully and the next evil to attack.

For us to move forward we need to put aside this notion of bettering other nations, and we need to find out who we are and what we want to be. Essentially we are having our mid life crisis.

What if our census asked people what their 3year, 10year, and 100year goals were. What if as a nation we tried to understand where we want to go and we put plans together to get there. What if we had metrics that allowed us to not only track those goals but how well our laws and governance were working to get us there?

We would transform this nation from one of sound bites, to one of substance.

I am so sick of the rhetoric and the ‘red’ vs. ‘blue’ propaganda. I am sick of us throwing votes at a meaningless argument of who is the better politician, when we should be discussing what would make us a better country and how 100% of American can work together to get there.

In 10 years we could solve AIDs if we wanted to, if we wanted to dedicate the resources to it. I’m sure we could figure out how to produce enough food for the world if the world came together under that goal. Sure we don’t all deserve to eat like kings, but we all deserve to eat something. We all deserve to have access to the worlds knowledge, although we may not all have the privilege to have private tutors.

If as humans we can land a machine on mars that sends data across a solar system that takes at the speed of light minutes to get here, we can surely accomplish great things. 30+ years ago we sent a space craft into space that is now escaping the solar wind of our sun. Just think about that we launched something 30 years ago that is still working and is sending data back to us.

There is a foundation brewing called the long now foundation ( ) their goal is to engineer things that will make humans think about a new time scale, maybe moving from status update to status update isn’t enough for a Great Culture. Maybe quarterly reviews isn’t enough for a Great company. Maybe every 4 years isn’t enough for a Great Country.

Where do you want our nation to be in 25 years? How do we answer that question? How do we make and keep those commitments over that time span?

In Silicon Valley, to buy a home or not to buy a home

As many Americans are currently evaluating decisions they have made. I am currently evaluating a number of decisions that I will make in the future.

Owning a home might be one of those decisions. Right now I am working out the math on the topic. And it seems to me that owning a home allows one who has earned income to potentially do two main things.

  • move retirement income into a hard asset with fewer rules.
  • allow you to take a portion of your income and stash it in a hard asset.

The math is preliminary, but let’s just say that 1 year worth of rent in SF is about


So far is seems like the rent on a mortgage + taxes and stuff for the same type of place would require I buy a $500-650k condo.
The net year cost on that would be

~$30k + possible association fees.

The income tax code says that I can write off the interest on my income, and since it’s a new home most of that mortgage payment can be written off.
Right now the government says that I can write off about $7-11k per year.
This means that my post tax cost for the home is

$20k a year again.

some portion of that $20k that get’s spent is actually principle.

let’s say $5k

As that principle grows, I can use that equity, even though it’s trapped in a home, to take out an SBA Loan with only 25% of the total covered.

So that means with a 5% down ( yes this is still allowed on some homes ), in 5 years turns into

$50k. ($25k down payment + $25k in new equity )

This should allow for an SBA loan of up to $200k that you can use to buy hard assets. Now this does not get you that much if you plan to do software start-ups like i do, but it does provide you leverage on those hard assets. My point being is that just because money is at work in one place, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still get leverage other places.

So, there is a case for moderate leverage. But, what about buying pressure?

As people pay off their mortgage, more principal is paid off and less of that payment is interest. Over time they get less and less back from the government. I think this creates a sort of pressure to be on a new mortgage. I wonder if this has anything to do with why people tend to move every 7 years on average. There are also some interesting rules around selling a home and saving on taxes if you have lived in the home for 2 of the last 5 years. I also think that people get board, and want to move for various reasons, more kids, fewer kids, etc…

Heck I’d like a *maker* room for crafts, electronics hacking extra. In fact at maker faire one of the exhibits was for a company called the 100k garage. So yeah, i’d like to *paint* the walls but i’d also like to continue playing the *start-up* game a bit longer and it seems more and more like they are mutually exclusive if I am going to be really good at either one of them.

It seems to me that buying a home is only good if you have earned income, and secondly if you don’t expect to have to move in 3-5 years. Out here if your company get’s acquired by google or facebook, you might have to start driving to a new office 30 miles away. It’s been a pain for some people I know and it’s been part of the reason they shed the golden handcuffs a bit early.

If I bought a home out here, i’d have to make some major decisions about what my life is going to look like for 3-5 years. It would limit my job choices or my time, which can already be a 60+hr work week, before transit. I’d have to decide between living in the city ( san francisco ), on the peninsula near FB and Google ( where prices are 30% higher ), in the north bay ( very pretty and better schools, no public transit to the city ), around berkely/ oakland. Each has their advantages and their disadvantages.

I’m just not sure what needs to happen to maximize all of my options, and secures a future. I’m just not sure earning an extra $5k in home equity a year is worth it.

If not a MacBook Pro, what Laptop should I buy?

I did this research for a friend, so I thought I would share with everyone else.

The HP laptops have the highest performance to cost ratio with that said there are a few sacrifices for each model.

In your shopping you will want an Intel i5, Intel i7 or one of the AMD A6 or A8 processors. Do not get an Intel i3 processor. The Intel i5 or i7 should be fairly no fuss and I have enjoyed them. It’s the same processor found in the new Macs. The A6/A8 processors from AMD are really new and fewer computers have them, however they have a graphics card built right into the processor and in theory offer really low power operation, although this is the more darring choice.

For price performance, i’d probably choose an i5 or the AMD A8.

Here are list of graphics cards and their frame rates.

The HP models found below are really good, but you will need to choose the upgraded graphics processor. These are the fastest graphics processors in a Laptop in your price range. I also have one of these notebooks if you would like to see how it feels. We could even try your software on it to see how it runs.

HP High Performance Laptops

The other option is the Sony S series Viao. While it’s graphics card is not as fast as the HP, and the Sony has a semi-gloss-anti glare screen while the HP can be ordered with a matte screen. The Sony S series also have a really neet battery system and can last up to 15 hours with the extra battery ( *according to the site ), however, it’s probably more like 7 or 8hours with wifi on. The Sony’s should also feel better or feel more like a Mac.

Sony S series, stylish performance

I would also recommend that you upgrade to Windows 7 professional rather than just sticking with the Windows 7 home version. The professional version allows you to run software in a Windows XP mode and is more compatible with older software. I have used this mode on at least 3 different applications to get them to work.

The HP will be the fastest, but the Sony will feel nicer. HP also has a nice warranty program that can be upgraded over time, and they are the largest PC manufacturer. With the HP warranty I bought the 1 year plan and at the end of the year you have the option to extend it. I do have to say that even though the HP is very fast and it was a great bargin, it does feel quite different than working on a Mac, which is what I am used to.

I loaded up my HP and got i7 Quad core with 2GB of Graphics memory and 8GB of system memory, and a bluray drive to watch movies on planes. ( the Sony S, also can play bluray )

If the timing was a bit different, I might want to sell mine and get a Mac Book Pro 15 inch instead.

Let me know what you decide.

The Truth of Libertarian-ism..

The point of libertarian-ism is not forgo care, but to encourage people to volunteer care.

When 911 struck I didn’t know what to do, I was scared, and everyone was in shock, and things were closing down. The best idea I had at the time was to go to the hospital and to donate blood. It took 6 hours for them to finally get to me, but, while I was there people came in and brought food to the hospital workers working late, and to the people donating blood. As we where all there together it had a sort of healing effect to just give blood.

After that day I gave blood every 2 months for 6 years while I lived in Milwaukee. But one day, I went in and I was in a bad mood and I made a joke that the Vampires were coming to take my blood, and one of the nurses stopped me and said. Justin, we appreciate your gift, but we do want you to give cheerfully, and if you can’t do that then you should find something else you can do.

That’s the point of Libertarian-ism, we just want people to give cheerfully, rather than by the force of the Law.

The problem with forcing people is that they will fight it, and then we spend time fighting the people who fight it. In the end we end up spending all of our efforts fighting and not caring.

On the other hand, people who give with a cheerful heart, are those that will go an extra mile to care for someone.

I want to live in a world where people want to help each other out, and not say, hey here is a government that can take care of the sick and the homeless and I don’t have to. That’s what my taxes do.

The reality is that everything is in decay because we are leaving it to someone else to fix. What if you started fixing things you saw were wrong on your own?

Efficiency and Independence, Mankind’s next giant leap forwards

It’s July 4th, and it dawned on me today that so many of the things we grew up being futuristic actually depend on us getting greener. Look at any popular science, or popular mechanics issue from that last 50 years, and you’ll see articles discussing leisure, space travel, or solving large problems like world hunger. If you look at it, system efficiency are the largest hold ups. As we approach more efficient processes, things will get cheaper and easier.

Greentech is not just what’s needed to save us from a controversial end like, Climate Change, instead it’s how we can make Mankinds next giant leap forwards.

When my great grand father was growing up he witnessed something amazing, he witnessed the moment when mankind learned how to fly. He saw us go from failed experiments to creating roadways, and a deep transportation network that could transport resources over great distances cheaply. He witnessed what it took for us to land on the moon. At the core of it all was a shift in engine power density, or rather the amount of mechanical power we could generate with less weight.

Our generation will witness fantastic changes in efficiency:

  • Farming
  • Water
  • Computational
  • Lighting
  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing

For us to approach many of the challenges that we need to travel into deep space, we will need to be masters at living on less. It’s not about living with less, but that we might use less to do more. My hope is that we can look at green tech not as a way of scaling back, but as a way of reaching out.

Being green will allow us to leap farther, because we are weighed down less.

New Babelfin logo and Site design coming.

Babelfin Logo - Icon

Babelfin Logo - Icon

In the near future I hope to push out a version of Babelfin that will work in Japanese. Soon after I will release one in French. As part of that release I thought I would iterate a bit on the logo and the site layout. The previous logo was a one color logo with grey text ( which in print is two colors anyways ), this one is a two color log and is high contrast. I think the new logo is readable and distinct. I also hope that the subtle abstract nature of a fish bone is present.

I found inspiration for this logo via the hit show Mad Men and my recent visit to the Picasso exhibit.

Let me know if you like the logo, or if you are feeling bold, I would love to see what you come up with. Take this as inspiration.

As for the site at large, I really just need to add a call to action to collect email addresses and to send people a link to the plugin/ chrome extension. I felt like an email list is the best option until I can afford to dedicate some time to really write some copy. At some point I expect to add at least two more pages, one for each language. Over time I will start to add the other typical pages like About, etc… But for now I only need a landing page.

What are your thoughts?

Japan: Pay it Forward

I just sent this message to a friend in Japan. My hope is that others will do the same.

I was inspired by a few articles I had read about in the past about pastors giving money to the congregations members to do good in a community. I don’t know how my friend Jon will make use of the money but I trust he will slightly know better than I how to use it.

I figure that this $100 will work in different ways than the other money that I have sent to the relief effort via the Red Cross.

If I get a note back of how the money was used, I will update this post. Please let me know if you choose to do the same. #japan #payitforward

Jon, I am sending $100.00 to you in Japan, if you need the cash please use it. If you know of a way to leverage the money please do that. If you think someone else could make better use, pay it forward. Write back to tell me how you use it.



I just started a tumblr account. As I test it out I may push more and more content there. It seems that tumblr has a crazy growth rate, and really provides some advantages for sharing ideas. Maybe wordpress just is not social enough to keep up.

If you have a tumblr account let me know, my tumblr account is