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.

Learning Linux Shell Scripting and SVN

Since this took me a little longer than I would have liked to find, and improve I thought I would post a little nugget about Linux Shell scripting and SVN that I learned today.

You can use the following line to add multiple files to your repository:

svn st | grep "^?" | awk '{ print $2}' | while read f; 
    do svn add "$f";

However, the solution above from array studios to add multiple to a subversion repository fails when you have filenames that contain spaces. Normally files with spaces in them are not idea, however, I had a few files with spaces and I thought that there must be a solution. With a little digging, I found the AWK Manual very helpful. Below is an updated solution that should work with filenames that have spaces.

svn st | grep "^?" | awk '{ $1=""; print;}' | while read f; 
    do svn add "$f"; 


About is a short url service that creates location aware hashes.  The initial prototype of was created during the fall 2009 LA Startup weekend.  The idea was pitched by Justin Kruger, and was created with the help of Alexis Eller, and Andrew…. uses geolinks to represent geographic areas on a map.  Each geolink may be accurate enough to describe something like a region, city, or street address.  We can even define a specific GPS coordinate with about 12 characters that you can share in your tweets, on your blog, or in your text messages to friends.  Geolinks are especially neat because you can vary the precision of the defined area by removing characters from the end of the link.   Because of this special attribute, geo hashes are easily compared and hierarchically grouped, so a computer might be able to find all of the geohashes that are within a city just by comparing strings; no calculation is necessary.

The geohash algorithm has a few other improvements over the one found at, for one, our hashes dedicate the 1st character to defining the longitudinal region.  We use 1 of 64 possible characters in each character position thus breaking the earth into 64 vertical regions.  We even put the 1st region at the international dateline to make time calculations easier.  The idea here is that if your geohash was only one character long, or you/ your computer only wanted to look at the first character, it could then roughly approximate which time zone the remaining characters are in.  Using the 1st, and 2nd character, you should be able to define a region the size of Kansas.  Together the 1st two characters define 4,096 regions on earth ( 64×64 ).  The remaining characters work a bit differently and work more like a traditional geohash.  Each character in the hash describes with increasing precision an area inside of one of those 4,096 regions.  Using 5 or 6 characters should define about the size of a city, and 12 characters the area of a laptop computer.

Because geolinks, are both a geohash, and a hyperlink, we can collect interesting stats on who is visiting a given region, and we can crawl the web and twitter to see what people are saying about a given reason.  Think of it as a sort of pageRank for location on the web.  And because it’s a hierarchical data format, any shorter url can include the information from all of the locations that it contains.

We plan to have a lot of fun with taking the site further, how would you want to use the site?  Please provide us feedback through the Uservoice link on the left hand side and we would love to add interesting features.

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

Apps I can’t Live without

Apps I can’t Live without

Every now and then there are a few applications that I just can’t live without.  Right now I’ll tell you about a few of my favorite ones for windows xp.

Launchy (micro utility)

Launchy is a micro utility that launches when you type ‘alt+space’ ( I set mine to ctrl+space), and then you just start typing the name of the app or web address you want to launch.  The app makes it possible to use a lot more of Windows XP without using a mouse.  A few of the mondern operating systems have something simular, but if you are still on Windows XP, you will love launchy as much as you love your keyboard. 😉

jEdit (text editor)

Since being a developer these days means writing scripting languages on linux, windows, and mac os you will need a great text editor that works in all three.  jEdit is great because it runs in java, and thus works on windows, linux (ubuntu), and mac osx.  It’s lighter weight than using eclipse and supports 30+ languages with syntax highligting.  jEdit also has an easy to use plugin interface kinda like Firefox, that manages plugin installs, and plugin updates.  When I set up jEdit, I usually set the tab ( buffer )controls up to be the same as they are in Firefox.

Firefox 3.5 (development browser)

Firefox 3.5 is a huge speed improvement over 3.0, and it now supports all of your favorite dev plugins.  One of these days, I will have to see if I can configure different FF Profiles to load different plugin sets.  Maybe I would have one profile for speed, one for dev,  and maybe one for demos.

Google Chrome (performance browser)

Google Chrome is the fastest web browser, not just because the browser renders javascript at blazing speeds, but because the browser has several other optimizations in the user interface to make it light, powerful and fast.  You can even use chrome with a choice of themes now, and change the default search engine to something other than Google’s, but who would want to use that?  I use chrome whenever I don’t need all of the dev plugins loaded in FF.

Steam ( game app store )

I know a lot of you like the Apple app store, but for those of us that game, Steam is the best place to buy, download, and manage the updates for all of your video game needs.  Steam, produced by Valve Software, allows you to buy a game through there small desktop client and then it will download it on your idle bandwidth, and update your games in the background.  You basically never have to worrry about keeping your games or drivers uptodate again.  I now hate it when I have to buy a game any other way.  Oh, yeah the best part, no more annoying CD checks for games that you paid for.  I love this service so much, I have rebought games just so I don’t have to manage them or deal with CD cracks any more.  You can even gift games to your friends. 😉

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