Tech Unicorns
This is not a complete entry

There has been a lot of talk about unicorns lately, or, at least, I'm getting a nice Baader-Meinhof phenomenon for unicorns. At any rate, I think Aswath nicely illustrates some fuckery that can be done in valuation during an up round. It is nicely explained here:


And then there is this analysis of biotech unicorns and the idea that maybe it is better to invest in a basket rather than one:


In that article there is a link to a slideshare that, in fact comes from a bennedict evans post. You might as well check that out, too:


fascinating stuff.


The Best Customers
This is not a complete entry

Business models are changing.

Success doesn't really depend on an ecosystem or platform. It depends on access to the best customers. At an extremely simplistic level we can think of the best customers are those who are most willing to pay for what you're selling. That definition is broad in that it can encompass any market and the customers within markets are not disjoint. The companies that own access to those customers are the companies that are going to generate the profits. It is them who have the power to direct those customers to the products. They can influence, they can drive desire. This post's idea of success is that a company captures a certain type of customer, knows a lot about that customer and therefore is able to profit by directing them to the most efficient seller.

The modern way to get those users is to first deliver superior user experience. Capture the superfan - others will follow. To capture those fans, you have to have a superior product. Marketing can't make a mediocre product good. It can make is sell a few in the beginning, but it can't create a superstar. Simple as that.

What about the best businesses? It is no secret I am a fan of Aswath Damoaran. The Industry Average Excess Returns data he provides with the post (Investing in Bad Businesses)[http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/2015/05/no-light-at-end-of-tunnel-investing-in.html] is fun to look at. Download it and sort descending by the Average Excess Returns 2005-2015 column. While it is fun to dream of owning a company that consistently achieves double-digit returns and laugh at anyone who works at the bottom, I think the sectors in the middle are those who have the most interesting problems and who will probably be more willing to work on solutions.

This post is falling off the rails:

investing - the only thing that matters is you paid less than you sell it for. one way to do this is to find things that have a higher value than what they're selling for. one way to do this is by simply excluding the losers.

  • future consists as a range of possibilities with the outcome significantly influenced by randomness
  • using forecasts is dumb, unless you can generate a correct forecast that significantly deviates from the average forecast (you think it will drop 5%, everyone else is saying +2%. you'll make lots of money)
  • if you can't control the game, it is better to avoid losers than try for winners.
  • exclude the losers, hold on to the average or better. you make money by avoiding the losses.

  • primacy of risk control

  • emphasize consistency
  • the market has to be inefficient otherwise no one could make money
  • specialization is good. it'll give you an edge.
  • macro forecasting is not critical to your investment path but you have to have a framework when you predict the fortunes of an investment.
  • do not time the market. trying is futile.

  • what the wise man does in the beginning, the fool does in the end, first the innovator, then the imitator, then the idiot

  • never forget the 6' tall man who drowned in the 5' average deep stream
  • being too far ahead of your time is indistinguishable from being wrong.

Yep, the post is a complete wreck. must re-write.

YOU SHOULD DO THIS BECAUSE NOBODY ELSE IS DOING THIS AND IT IS A GOOD THING BECAUSE OF REASONS A B C and D. explain the merits, tell the story clearly, concisely and convincingly, you'll get the clients.

Self assessment is important.


I Can't Decide on a Domain Name
Trying to Build a Brand

I knew the day would come when someone would say, "Tricky Keg Stands? Really?" I didn't have a plan for what I'd do next, though. It has been nearly a year and I still do not. On one hand, I want to keep trickykegstands and just own it. On the other hand, it feels like it is time for something new. I am definitely overthinking it, but that's what I do. Also, there are so many domain names available I can't decide on something new. Let's start with the ones I already own.

  • armp.it - By far my favorite domain. Can't use it.
  • fiftytwo.net - My first domain. Too boring.
  • fiftytwodesign.(com|net) - equally as boring.
  • isthepatentsystembroken.com - yes
  • yakbuttertea.com - i wasn't drunk i swear.
  • (men|women)(facing|seeking)divorce.com - unused
  • androidindie.com - should have become a mobile dev.

I want to do some industrial automation work. If I do, I will name the company Standard Automata, Inc. I bought standardautomata.com and thought, hey, that's kind of a mouthful but it still might make a good name. Then I was going to change my twitter name to standardautomata. Sad trombone... too many letters. The best one I can find is standardautoma... but that sounds like hematoma. stndrdautomata? i don't love it.

So, yeah, I've got nothing. Should I keep trickykegstands?


The Paralysis of What-ifs

I have noticed my friends and colleagues who have had success are different than those who have not. Here, by success, I mean they are able to develop in the languages and frameworks they like the best while being able to hold down a job or book of business with minimal compromise. The difference is the successful devs are able to set ambitious, achievable, and measurable goals, and see their projects through to the end. That is, they wind up building a usable piece of software that installs and runs with minimal fuss. Whether it be a library, framework, or app, it provides a good percentage of wanted functionality out of the box.

What stops more devs from being successful? There is this fear of missing out or falling behind that is pervasive in our industry. Setting goals and committing to them is scary. What if you fail? What if a new language shows up or a cool new framework? What if you work on the wrong thing and no one cares? What if you get tired and abandon the project before it is ready? I call that fear induced by the what-ifs.

Here is what my successful friends do - They commit to their goals and see them through no matter how many what-ifs they make up along the way. They hold off on the immediate gratification of learning a new language or switching out frameworks. They don't waste a lot of time trying that fancy new editor because they know that sticking to their release schedule is more gratifying in the long run.

Money and popularity are a part of the success equation, no doubt about it. A dev cannot bury their head in the sand and pretend they live in some dev utopia where they get food and shelter just for being awesome. With that said, if you don’t make a significant income from your project, you will most certainly have to work a day job. This takes time and energy away from your project so your project will not be as good and therefore will have a higher probability of failure. That’s why you must try to make money from your project.

Imagine it this way - the fact that your project is making money means that it (or you) are providing some real value and inspiration to your users. This is about the most pure (i.e. bullshit proof) metric that exists. And, in some ways, one of the best tests you could possibly write. In fact, I always have a test called generates_cash_flow_test() in my harness.

Excitement and passion will only take you so far. At some point you have to build something and see it through to the end. Organize a concentrated and prolonged assault on business and do everything you can to gain and maintain momentum. This stuff is not magic - grind it out until you have your success.


Do I Want to be an Amazing Programmer?
Spolier alert - no

I found myself sitting in an airplane seat when this question popped in my head of ouf nowhere. The timing was good - I had plenty of it to entertain the question. I'm not going to lie, I do not like the answer.

An amazing programmer may eschew an ide for vi. They optimize to the hilt and use the latest and greatest tools for the job. I have forever wanted to be that guy. The one who doesn't have tmux and vi cheat sheets taped to his monitor. The one who uses arch linux and a tiling window manager like Awesome. As circumstances go, I cannot be that guy. Instead of worrying about fast runtimes, I tend to worry about cash flow. Instead of doing it right the first time, I tend to push an 85% solution to production as fast as possible to impress a paying customer. I worry about using the latest frameworks because I don't know if I'll be able to hire someone with that skillset when we lose the guy who decided to use it and probably wrote 90% of the code.

Do I want to be an amazing programmer? In theory, yes! I'm an algorithms guy. My first real language was Scheme. In college I wrote x386 assembly on paper and did it without making any mistakes. So, what happened? My priorities have changed, it is as simple as that. I'm excited about erlang, but I'm more excited about optimizing for the 100th, then 1,000th, then 1,000,000th customer. I love thinking about what taking VC money really means. I love cultivating a circle of people who I can call for advice on convertible notes. I spend a lot of time thinking about what certain strategies look like on a cap table and what signals they send to the public.

Do I want to be an amazing programmer? Apparently not. It seems like I want to be an amazing business person instead. I don't yet have a solid definition of what that means but I know I'm headed down that path. Follow your passions, they say, and that's exactly what I intend to do.

I will never let go of my programming roots. I strive for a balance between code (building great products) and business (building frameworks that promote selling those products.) I don't want to be a functional programming mascot thinking about monads all day, nor will I be a businessman who spends the day thinking about how hiring lobbyists could help my product maintain a monopoly in the market. I think being a success requires a little bit of both those sides. So, that is what I'm doing.


The Successful Programmer

I'm working on a blog post about what I think it takes to be a successful dev where "Success" is defined as being able to create a useful project that adds value.

UPDATE: It took until 2015-06-01 to write it - look for the entry titled "The Paralysis of What-ifs"


Ozark Astronauts
floating in stars

We were sitting on a platform surrounded by water with no land in sight. The air was crisp and still and it was good. My dangling foot was the only thing moving for miles and the starlit sky reflected perfectly in the shiny black water. It seemed like the stars were all around us. We were somehow holding hands and after a short burst of shooting stars the earth melted away at our sides and it was as if we were floating in space.

In a way, we all are.

It started out as the kind of trip that needed real flashlights instead of apps. Almost none of us... more


How to Write a Song
Come write a song with me

Read this quote from an article by David Samuels from n+1 called "Justin Timberlake Has a Cold" (then, when you're done reading this blog post, google it and read the whole article. It is pretty good.)

While [Mike] Caren’s rules are not comprehensive or exclusive, it is easy to measure their value by a glance at the dozens of gold and platinum records hanging in his office. He is happy to run down his rules for me. “First, it starts with an expression of ‘Hey,’ ‘Oops,’ ‘Excuse me,’” he begins. “Second is a personal statement: ‘I’m a hustler, baby,’ ‘I wanna love you,’ ‘I need you tonight.’ Third is telling you what to do: ‘Put your hands up,’ ‘Give me all your love,’ ‘Jump.’ Fourth is asking a question: ‘Will you love me tomorrow,’ ‘Where have you been all my life,’ ‘Will the real Slim Shady please stand up.’” He takes a deep breath, and rattles off another four rules. “Five is logic,” he says, “which could be counting, or could be spelling or phonetics: ‘1-2-3-4, let the bodies hit the floor,’ or ‘Ca-li-fornia is comp-li-cated,’ those kind of things. Six would be catchphrases that roll off the tip of your tongue because you know them: ‘Never say never,’ ‘Rain on my parade.’ Seven would be what we call stutter, like, ‘D-d-don’t stop the beat,’ but it could also be repetition: ‘Will the real Slim Shady please stand up, please stand up, please stand up.’ Eight is going back to logic again, like hot or cold, heaven or hell, head to toe, all those kind of things.” The ninth rule of hit songwriting is silence.

One of his examples of a song that uses the most rules in the fewest words is “What’s Your Fantasy” by Ludacris, which starts off with “I wanna li-li-li-lick you from your head to your toes.” Mike Caren says, “In the first line: a personal statement, ‘I want to,’ a stutter, repetition, ‘li-lick you,’ logic, ‘from your head to your toes, move from the bed down to the down to the, to the floor’” Caren says, “‘I gotta know’—another personal statement—and asks a question, ‘What’s your fantasy?’ So he’s got six of them, in the first two lines of the song.”

I love that. let's try to write some songs. I'm interested in writing a country sounding concept album in which the protagonist sings about the conspiracy theories he believes and his journeys with aliens. The plan is to make it so the songs sound like perfectly normal hipster country folk until you really listen to the words. Let's get started by listing the rules.

The Nine Rules of Hit Songwriting

  • Start with an expression of: Hey, Oops, Excuse Me.
  • Have a personal statement of what I am or what I need: I am a hustler. I need you.
  • Tell the person what to do: Put you hands up, Give me your love,
  • Ask a question of the person: where have you been? will you love me?
  • do some couting, spelling, or phonetics
  • catchphrase - (the hook)
  • do a stutter or repeition (is this different than counting, spelling or phonetics?)
  • go back to logic in a clever, hooky way, heaven/hell hot cold, head to toe
  • silence!

Ok, so this is very much more about the craft of songwriting rather than inspiration. That's good! I've been on twitter a lot lately trying to drum up followers and you know what? Everyone is chock full of inspiration, but not many people are doing things.

I like doing things.

Tangent over! Dan Harmon is kind of awesome. If you don't know who he is, look him up. He says that if you want to write, just write. There's no other way to get better at it. He does offer some advice on a story arc. It isn't anything groundbreaking, but for some reason I have to be constantly reminded of it. He says:

  1. A character is in their comfort zone.
  2. They want something
  3. They enter an unfamiliar situation
  4. They Adapt
  5. They get what they wanted
  6. They pay a heavy price for it
  7. They return to the familiar situation
  8. They have changed.

Good advice! Now I need to buckle down and write/record that album!


Javascript Micro-Frameworks
fun for the DIYers

A friend showed me some things he was doing with javascript micro-frameworks. So, I did something based on his work. Read about it here.


Maybe I should buy a duplex
I'm not super interested in real estate, but here is something.

  • Anything under 6 units is considered residential and requires a 20% down payment. You might get 15% down on a six-plex but if this is your first deal, I doubt you'll get that rate.
  • You'll need a cash account to deal with closing costs, insurance, transfer taxes, a lawyer, environmental fees (maybe?)
  • Don't forget, this isn't passive like a stock or bond. This is a second job. You'll have to manage it or pay someone to manage it for you . Companies charge 5-10% to manage a property. Don't go cheap. Find a good one and pay up to 10%. You probably don't want a large place at first. Get a duplex or triplex and get comfortable. Put systems and processes in place. Let the management handle tenant landlord law.
  • Location! Do your research first. Get a clean place that isn't high-end near good schools or transportation.
  • Your goal is to produce positive cash flow after covering management/taxes/mortgage/insurance/utilities/maintenance/snow removal/lawn care/liabilities/accounting/bookkeeping. Don't forget to build in a vacancy allowance, repair allowance (~4% of income?). Should we also build in a lawyer allowance? Do not forget to account for present and future interest rates. Use the IRS Schedule E as a reference to map income and expenses to the categories in the schedule.
  • Remember, your IRA can legally own real estate if you want it to be part of your retirement strategy.
  • Read this when trying to value the property before you buy http://pages.stern.nyu .edu/~adamodar/pdfiles/valn2ed/ch26.pdf
  • Assess where the rental/landlord market is right now. Does it favor renters? Does it favor landlords? What metrics decide this? What is the probability of the market switching? Spend time on CL to get to know the local market. Befriend a few agents (meetups?) Pay attention to how long units are listed on CL. Look at rent differentials by neighborhood.
  • Make sure anything you buy doesn't have weird zoning or neighborhood association issues (like rules that say you can't rent)
  • Is airbnb a good idea? That is a totally different business. If you want to do that, learn it.

Why would you buy a duplex? Not for the cash flow. You're leveraging the bank's money to get 100% of the appreciation by only putting down 15-20%. Of course, if that is your goal, you need to model long term real estate appreciation projections. Remember, you'll be tying up a lot of capital in a long, illiquid play.


Profound Thoughts From a Nuclear Physicist
Lighting a nuclear bomb is a lot like putting a hotfix into production.

Robert Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist who is generally known as the father of the atomic bomb. He once said the first atomic explosion reminded him of a verse from a hindu holy book that said, "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one."

Later, when asked about the moment on television, his response was,

"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another."

Wow, right? What kind of an amazing, smart person does it take to have such profound thoughts when there's a goddamned nuclear bomb going off a few miles away? But, you know what? His little brother, Frank, was there with him at the Trinity site that day. Here is what he had to say about it:

Robert simply exclaimed, "It worked!"

Brigadier General Thomas Farrell was also in the control bunker that day. He said that the second the bomb went off, Oppenheimer's face relaxed into an expression of tremendous relief.

What am I talking about? History! presenting yourself in the best light possible! making it sound like you totally know what you're doing and that you have these complex and deep thoughts at important times and that you are able to express those emotions in meaningful, even profound ways. Personal PR! I suppose it is his duty to assure humanity that nuclear physicists who can build machines that will eat the world have deep, inner monologue. But, in reality, the dude was stressed out of his gourd that his project was going to fail. When that thing lit up he probably experienced the same feelings you got that time you flipped the switch after changing your first light bulb. Also, little brothers... still annoying even after you do something badass like light up a nuclear bomb.


Real Analysis and Measure Theory
Not as scary as you might think

Do you know anything about real analysis and measure theory? I was thinking about a gambling problem I couldn't figure out and dug in to find out why. I still don't have an answer, but I learned that measure theory isn't as scary as I thought. If you don't know anything about it, these are two, very accessible introductions:

why use measure theory for probability part 1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjPXfUT7Odo&feature=player_embedded

intro to brownian motion and the ito integral part 1 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEsnMyi5-8k&list=PLC7A868A384F6EFF0

here is the guy from the first video http://www.math.missouri.edu/~evanslc/

Terrance Tao's boodk http://terrytao.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/gsm-126-tao5-measure-book.pdf

A really simple intro to financial math from a cs teacher https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1BaGV1cIH4UXkZgrX2TtXhvUQW6_4hZF

he also has a site for these videos, might want to check out the probablility refreshers for FE's: http://byrnetube.com/mathematicalFinance.php

this all started from some guy's comments about measure theory on this "how to quant" HN post https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8698986

I want to do a calc refresher. Here are some resources for doing that:

calc refresher (See notes) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2258794 http://ocw.mit.edu/resources/res-18-006-calculus-revisited-single-variable-calculus-fall-2010/ http://ocw.mit.edu/resources/res-18-005-highlights-of-calculus-spring-2010/ http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/resources/Strang/Edited/Calculus/Calculus.pdf

Mathematics: Its Content, Methods and Meaning - preview on books.google.com available at Olin Level B Stacks QA36 A453 in all three parts. And it is only $25 on amazon http://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Content-Methods-Meaning-Dover/dp/0486409163/

And also i should read Sheldon Axler's "Linear Algebra Done Right"


Quant Forums
you know, for quants

It has been a really long time since I looked at quant forums. i couldn't remember their names and somehow didn't have them in this doc. So, for future reference, here they are:

here's a new one i just found

and here is a rarely updated blog that has links to great references


5 Things I Learned About Startups by Touring in a Dirty Punk Band
We weren’t really that punk but wow, we stank.


Ok, fine, we weren’t really that punk and our “tours” consisted of playing out of town shows over extended weekends. But after 18 months of living the startup life I’ve realized that all those years I spent breaking guitar strings in front of strangers taught me a lot of what I needed to know to run a startup. For example, that time I was frantically editing code on the server during a live demo was a lot like that freezing cold night I hacked together our van’s broken fan belt with some tape and a few beer cans (no shit, that happened.) So, here it goes, 5 things I learned about startups by touring in a dirty punk band.

1. You Could Do It Alone, But You Shouldn't

The bass player is always late and the drummer drinks too much. You wind up carrying most of the gear but, you know what? That good for nothing bass player somehow manages to book amazing gigs and always writes a good hook. When you’re on tour, the drummer, who is always doing shots at the bar, is a lot of fun and almost always gets the band an invite to crash on a couch. He’s also a social media junkie with a ton of followers. The lesson here is simple. Sure, you might have to clean up a pile of vomit here and there, but the value added by a diverse team usually outweighs each individual’s annoying quirks.

The same goes for songwriting. Face it. If you’re not the next (insert the name of your favorite, insanely talented artist here) the songs you write won’t be very good. However, shove a bunch of mediocre musicians together and someone is bound to say, “Hey, I’ve got something that would sound really good right here!” And, “What if instead we play the song twice as fast and make it start with the chorus?” These are creative ideas that, if managed properly, can create an end product that is lightyears beyond what a single individual could produce.

In other words, there’s a lot you can do on your own, but having a diverse group of passionate people who each are able to contribute a unique facet conjures some sort of magic that will drive your startup to success.

2. It Takes a Superfan

It is August. You just drove 600 miles in an un air-conditioned van to a “show” that got moved to an abandoned K-Mart. You walk inside and are immediately told the guarantee fell through. “Don’t worry, they say, you’ll get a cut of the door.” What a nightmare.

To your surprise, kids start flowing through that door. You start playing and notice this girl is singing along and somehow knows the words to every song, even the new one. After the show she comes up and says, “I can’t believe you came to my town! I dragged all my friends to the show and they loved it. Do you have anything for sale?” You give her a stack of stickers and sell 15 shirts to her friends.

This is the super fan. These are the early adopters who force their friends to use your service. These are the people who retweet your release announcements and put your blog posts on hacker news. They are the drivers of growth. Find these people and give them things. Give them free invites for their friends, fun merchandise, some sort of gold status on your service. I don't care what it is, just give them something. Just make them know they’re special. And remember, you need them more than they need you.

3. Shit Happens, Deal

Probably the most important thing being in a dirty punk band taught me is that everything wants to destroy you. Tires blow out, amplifiers catch fire, and people will steal your shit. My personal favorite is when some kid decides he wants some retweets. So, he writes something clever that makes you look like shit. Thanks brother! We appreciate it!

You need a thick skin. You need to react calmly to crisis. You need let things go. Most importantly, you need to act on real criticism and blow off the trolls. That means you have to be good at telling the difference between the two. If that isn’t enough to worry about, you also have to keep your cool in every situation. There’s nothing worse than the regret that inevitably comes after overreacting in public.

4. Cash Flow is King

What do you do when the low fuel light is on and you're 500 miles away from the show? If your wallet is empty, you are fucked. The same goes for running a startup. If you mismanage your cashflow, you’re fucked. There isn't much more to say. Simply do not let cash-flow get away from you.

5. Perfection Will Paralyse You

You could spend 2 days in the studio getting a good sounding snare track but you’ll probably run out of money before you have anything to show for it. I call that paralysis by perfection. Any band who plans it well can record a rough but passable EP in 2 days. Why would you do that? Well, because something is better than nothing and you can spend your leftover money on what is important - getting yourself in front of the people who matter. Read: Grind out a ruthless multi-city tour.

I guess what I am saying is get an MVP out there in front of your customers as soon as possible then grind out some sales and get customer feedback.


So, there it is. Does this mean you should pick up a guitar and go play some shows? No. I think it means you should realize all that advice you read about how to build successful products applies to more than just startups. Also, look at your past experiences, no matter how unrelated to your business, and think about how those lessons learned can prevent you from making a similar mistake in your business. Oh, and take a shower. You smell like soup.


Self Storage as REIT?
Today I learned that most Self-Storage facilities are simply REITs.

I haven't had more than about 10 minutes to process this so I don't have a ton to say, but... Am I the only person who didn't know that most self storage facilities in the us are actually just giant real estate investment trusts? I have had a long-running joke with my brother (we come from a long line of hoarders) about quitting our jobs to open up a self-storage facility.

Aside from shattering all my dreams, I'm disappointed that using a REIT to finance this sort of endeavor had never even crossed my mind. I mean, it makes total sense. The capital structure a REIT provides (readily accessible, dirt-cheap debt) gives them one hell of a competitive advantage over any sort of mom-n-pop organization. Sorry, bro.


Quant - A Description
A naive description of quant as I've experienced it so far.

Throw an ice cube into the beginning of a class iv+ stretch of river. Now, write an algorithm that predicts (in real time) the magnitude and direction of every movement of said ice cube. Now, apply that algorithm to a bucket of randomly sized ice chunks and apply a transformation to each movement that represents taxes, fees, etc. and accounts for real-world issues like network hops and liquidity.

Or, you know, give up on that and write an equation that outsmarts the other guy's equation.

Of course, I haven't spent enough time on this to know what I'm talking about (I've found that once I reach a level of competence on a topic I wouldn't dare blog about it because I realize how little I actually know about that topic) but it is fun to think about and yep, this is what I've been thinking about lately.


Spaced Repetition Learning
Some advice

http://rs.io/2014/04/05/anki-10000-cards-later.html is a nice write up on how to use spaced repetition learning ( SRS ) and anki. I like his thoughts on what kind of things to put on the cards, how to write them so you will remember the topics from several angles, and what to put in your deck (don't just memorize state capitals... that's something I did when I first started and I quickly quit because it wasn't interesting or useful.)


Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling
Because I'm still trying to write that novel

I thought I had this somewhere on the site already. Seems not. Here it is:

Pixar's 22 rules of storytelling:

  • You admire a character for trying more than for their successes
  • You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different
  • Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite
  • Once upon a time there was . Every day, . One day . Because of that, . Because of that, . Until finally .
  • Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free
  • What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  • Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front
  • Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time
  • When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up
  • Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it
  • Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone
  • Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself
  • Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience
  • Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it
  • If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations
  • What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against
  • No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later
  • You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining
  • Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating
  • Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  • You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  • What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there


some finance, some other stuff

The guy who sold his startup for $25M. Good comments about due diligence and whatnots: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7858317

The Dirichlet Process Mixture Models - http://blog.datumbox.com/overview-of-cluster-analysis-and-dirichlet-process-mixture-models/

I was just about to close these tabs:

https://github.com/scoofy/wxStocks/blob/master/wxStocks.py is done by a guy on a few forums who likes to mention this code. I'd like to try to use it. It is a python app that scrapes yahoo and morningstar to get data about companies. Might be a good stock screener?

This http://dpinte.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/pyql/ is something else I need to use. Quantlib is supposedly awesome, pyql seems like the bridge between that and pandas. I'd like to use it someday.

I'd like to read this book when it comes out http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920032441.do Python for Finance - Analyze Big Financial Data

Relevant HN thread https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7680223

2014 04 28

This looks like a great pandas resource https://github.com/jvns/pandas-cookbook

And this is a good way to brush up on my vim knowledge http://yannesposito.com/Scratch/en/blog/Learn-Vim-Progressively/

And did I mention the track to learn options? yep, looks like I did on 20140421

There's a lot to keep in mind that is illustrated by "The Strategy Cycle" chart here http://alephblog.com/2014/04/26/why-it-is-hard-to-win-in-investing/. I think it is relevant to more than just investment.

and this is a fair way to do equity? https://medium.com/this-time-is-different/12ddebcc63ef


Explaining Yourself
a better way

When trying to explain yourself, try to frame the explanation as:

'I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z'

(this is from Laszlo Bock of google. He said, 'some people will say, I wrote editorials for the NYT. but it would be better to say Had 50 op-eds published compared to average of 6 by most op-ed [writers] as a result of providing deep insight into the following area for three years.'


Options Trading

I've been teaching myself options trading. I doubt any of this will be better than "Options, Futures, and Other Derivatives" by John Hull (i'm eeking my way through that right now) but a guy on reddit wrote a free book, i downloaded it (look for a file called developingOptionsIntuition.pdf) he linked to a good set of comments on reddit explaining options from the beginning http://www.reddit.com/r/investing/comments/pigr5/optionstrading_102_past_the_basics/ here is the original link http://www.reddit.com/r/investing/comments/239ncq/i_wrote_a_draft_of_an_intermediateadvanced_book/ and a complete list of the comments that explain options

http://www.reddit.com/r/investing/comments/pigr5/optionstrading_102_past_the_basics/ http://www.reddit.com/r/investing/comments/pnray/optionstrading_103_the_premium/ http://www.reddit.com/r/investing/comments/psxp0/optionstrading_104_mechanics_of_buying_options/ http://www.reddit.com/r/investing/comments/q067b/optionstrading_105_risk_and_strategy_part_i/ http://www.reddit.com/r/investing/comments/qsazd/optionstrading_106_risk_and_strategy_part_iia/ http://www.reddit.com/r/investing/comments/qsbh8/optionstrading_107_risk_and_strategy_part_iib/


Thoughts on Innovation and Startups
I need to tighten this up quite a bit...

notes: growth model + the innovation multiplier, see section 8 of model thinking. it taught me more about how startups are able to innovate so quickly and why large companies (who are already far along in their growth) require acquisitions.

It also helps me understand how those acquisitions can help growth. (small town entrepreneurship grants and capital are taking on risk by subsidising R&D for large companies.)

What are startups really doing? We are a part of this sort of distributed research and development service for large companies. That is, independent firms give us capital to perform R&D that probably should be funded by the acquiring company, but isn't for whatever reason (acquirer can't allocate resources due to risk) so, the burden of that risk is shifted to us, the entrepreneurs, and our investors, who somehow can bear that risk because they are properly diversified. The acquiring companies have to be good at absorbing this new, external innovation, without smothering it. Read this: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mgiresearch/2014/03/04/the-future-of-venture-capital-tech-valuations-and-the-fate-of-tech-incumbents-conversation-with-bill-janeway/

Ok, great, how do we become a valid acquisition target? I'm not sure. Let's talk about a TSLA analysis.

Their market is ev's, power train, batteries, IP, and engineering.

Look at their suppliers, first. Look at their patent portfolio.

Figure out their licensing deals (what tech do they buy? what tech do they sell?)

Look at their general numbers.

Look at appl and how they can benefit from battery tech. Look at all industires who can benefit from battery tech. Who owns that IP? Who are their competitors? What supply issues are in place?

How does the energy storage market compare to the EV market?

what happens when too many EV's are on the road and people reliant on fuel taxes? like, when is that tipping point?

who competes on tsla's patent portfolio? As in, if tsla has something important enough to patent, they're probably using the tech, who has similar tech and who builds it and how are they doing?

what suppliers do other EV and battey users use? How are those companies doing?

How about Tata motors? Chinese manufacturers?


Michael Jackson was SUPER talented
who knew? everyone? oh...

Like 15 years ago a friend of mine was explaining to me how Michael Jackson was a brilliant musician and referenced an interview on Oprah where he busted out a song and it was amazing. This showed up today:


and then there was a link to the Oprah interview:



and then there was this silly long deposition where he goes in depth about his writing techniques https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf5xsXWneQs


Decision Matrices
An unfinished thought

I'm wrestling with an idea that involves truth tables, decision matrices, simple 2x2 matrix. do an image search for "truth table xor". I love the idea of having your inputs on the left and a single output column on the right. the 2x2 matrix is good to visualize clusters, throw a quadrant over the top to identify groups of the items that have a specific kind of trait (slow and dumb vs fast and dumb vs smart and slow vs smart and fast.) Finally, go to the wikipedia page for decision matrix. Then try to help me figure out what I'm trying to figure out.

let's make a list of startups and what they did to make it happen

just works | fast | shiny | first to market | iteration of an old idea | 
   X       |  X   |       |                 |          X               | whatsapp
   X       |      |       |        X        |                          | dropbox
etc... i don't know where I'm going with that besides it is a contrived illustration of maybe how this can help me make sense of the world and present these thoughts in a way other people can understand/critique. There might also be ways to solve these in an algorithmic way, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-criteria_decision_analysis.

so, maybe a system of cheat sheets, checklists, and decision matrixes with truth tables and 2x2

UPDATE: still trying to figure out what was trying to figure out yesterday. I stumbled upon a course called "Model Thinking" on coursera by Scott Page at the U of Michigan. It is all kinds of awesome. you should check it out. Today I learned, "All finite, deterministic systems are guaranteed to cycle" after learning about cellular automata which is the ones and zeros qarl had on his site. Things are starting to make sense.




Q4 2013
not much going on.

I didn't write anything in Q4 2013 worth posting. Here's what I did write:

"i am becaus ew e are"

2013 12 21

"The girls in the video were cast by people who didn’t quite understand what they were engaged in culturally." http://www.vulture.com/2013/12/sir-mix-a-lot-baby-got-back-video-oral-history.html

2013 12 19

Jonathan Lebed http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/25/magazine/jonathan-lebed-s-extracurricular-activities.html

2013 12 18

We produce great quality work in an asbestos rich environment.

2013 12 17

opportunistic but not goal oriented.

2013 12 10

that accounting class I never finished https://class.coursera.org/accounting-001/lecture/index

2013 11 30


2013 11 28

Chicago: Their / They're / There http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m98pIKAYwbs American Football http://www.amazon.com/American-Football/e/B000APPVD6/digital/ref=ntt_mp3_rdr?_encoding=UTF8&sn=d Owen http://www.amazon.com/Owen/e/B000APOV3M/digital/ref=ntt_mp3_rdr?_encoding=UTF8&sn=d Owen playlist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiYpHzCBOyk&list=ALGLx1orRGw4VLFLCFfLPzluyBUsOUY7x0

2013 10 25


2013 10 15

danny brown franzen is a band I'd like to be in.


I'm not really sure

To win you must first identify what it means to win, then figure out what the game is. Learn its rules, find your competition. Once you know everything there is to know about the game, practice because the only way to win is either be better than everyone else or cheat. then there's the idea of focusing on 1) valuation - how much is this worth and how much is it worth relative to other things. 2) Trend - what is the macro doing in sum? expanding? contracting? 3) Inflation (this pertains more to finance than the general game) What's the overall trend? 3) Earnings - how are others doing in aggregate? Is the macro working or dying? 5) Credit - what credit is available and why is it (or why isn't it?) there has to be a reason and it likely is relevant.


on being an engineer

It was my first day at the job site and they said, "There is the pile of 2x4's. Build a wall from here to there and another over there." I got my tools and started working. I masured twice, cut the wood square, nailed it right. I worked quickly, methodically. I checked it twice with a level before securing it to the floor. My boss came back from the store and yelled.

"What the #%Cd is taking you so long?!?"

"I don't know how I can work any faster."

"Is that a level? Son, we don't have time for any of that. Eyeball it. We'll square everything up when we set trusses."

I am sure there isn't a civil engineer out there who couldn't design a concrete span that would last forvever. I'm also pretty sure there isn't hardly a bridge bult today that will last more than 100 years. We are engineers. Our job is to build things that are good enough. we aren't paid to find the best solution. we're paid to quickly find one that is just good enough and saves time and money.

I am an engineer. My job is to build things that are 'good enough' while working within the constraint of cost. I'd like to believe I could build something beautiful given enough time and money. However, that is not my job. I need to get something that mostly works into production so I can go home. This, of course, doesn't mesh well with the need to build good code but again, i am an engineer. I'm sure there are civil engineers out there who are sad they can't build a bridge that will last forever. I'm sure there are mechanical engineers out there designing car fuel pumps who laugh that what they're building likely will


Spaced Repetition Learning
this gwern guy is nuts

re: spaced repetition learning http://www.gwern.net/Spaced%20repetition

re: learning about monentary policy by reading a guy's lessons learned after trying to build a simulation game http://esoltas.blogspot.com/2013/09/5-things-i-learned-from-fedsim.html


vi, gametheory, and a new blogger
more rambling (sorry!)

Some vim plugins I need to take the plunge:

http://majutsushi.github.io/tagbar/ http://www.vim.org/scripts/script.php?script_id=3465 http://thomashunter.name/blog/installing-vim-tagbar-with-macvim-in-os-x/ http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6972114/vim-omnicomplete-in-real-time http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/dwatkins/entry/vim_omnicomplete_awesomeness/ https://github.com/Shougo/neocomplcache.vim

and I need to learn tmux - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tmux http://superuser.com/questions/236158/tmux-vs-screen

Unrelated - Game theory trail:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_E._Roth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stable_marriage_problem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospital_resident#Matching_algorithm


And even more unrelated, some reading from the epicuriandealmaker http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/cbl/Gorton_Some_Thoughts_on_the_Recent_Financial_Crisis_Aug_29.pdf http://www.lse.ac.uk/CPNSS/projects/CoreResearchProjects/ContingencyDissentInScience/DP/DP_Cartwright0509Online.pdf


Increasing Developer Stock in a City

A case study for increasing developer stock in a city. STL 2013

  1. attract existing talent
    • strangeloop
  2. create an attractive environment for the talent
    • big players
    • startups
    • education
    • recreation
  3. create talent from within
    • launchcode
    • urban programs

If only I had a month or two to devote to this!


Rambling w/o Context
i have no idea

Rambling Without Context: Why I'm Not Mad. There isn't a us v. them because them don't exist. To show this, we use a combination of nash equilibrium, the law of averages (and keep in mind just how average things actually are AND that there is a whole left hand side to that bell curve) and how people are indeed 'different' and have, dependent on the instant of time sampled, different motivations.

I noticed some talk about R&D and how that relates to a young company as it transitions to a more stable, larger and aged entity. To me, this helps explain where apple is at right now and why pfizer did what it did re: layoffs in r&d.

http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/2013/09/decline-and-denial-requiem-for.html http://www.whopperinvestments.com/rd-bureaucracy http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/2013/09/rebirth-and-reincarnation-escaping.html


More Links
here is what i've been thinking about

http://www.gametheory101.com/ http://www.reddit.com/r/finance/comments/1mkb3i/thinking_of_going_into_finance/ https://class.coursera.org/accounting-001/lecture/index

2013 09 21

"I don't know who discovered water, but it wasn't a fish." - http://www.ecotopia.com/webpress/futures.htm see also "this is water"-DFW





2013 09 12

Blind Willie Johnson

2013 09 11

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-09/woodford-s-theories-rooted-in-japan-slump-embraced-by-bernanke.html and "Interest and Prices: Foundations of a Theory of Monetary Policy"

Older versions of bootstrap docs - http://bootstrapdocs.com/

2013 09 10

Full Text Search for Apps and Patents - http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/index.html Assignment Data (missing pending and abandoned apps) - http://assignments.uspto.gov/assignments/q?db=pat Bulk Data From Google - http://www.google.com/googlebooks/uspto-patents-pair.html

2013 09 08

There are some interesting theories on L'appel du vide out on the intranets. There was a great comment on reddit that i can't find back, but there are tons of other theories out there. good fun!


Population and Farnsworth
why not?


I spent an hour trying to find this back. So, I'm placing it here http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/07/16/the-amazing-surprising-africa-driven-demographic-future-of-the-earth-in-9-charts/ and along those lines:

After visiting the Farnsworth house, this post makes me happy http://www.oobject.com/category/12-buildings-inspired-by-the-farnsworth-house/ adding a "steel house" section to my checklist.


no soup

Re: Salad - "Once your free your mind about a concept of ingredients and flavors being correct, you can do whatever you want. So, nobody told me what to do, and there was no preconception of what to do." I spent a few minutes last week thinking about what I need in a salad. Dark leafy greens, kalamata olives, cucumber, and marinated sundried tomatoes create a salad that is nearly spot on for me. I may add nuts when I decide which will work. Sunflower seeds, maybe? In the past, I felt I needed a good, stinky cheese on my salad. I've spent months smothering lettuce with blue cheese, feta, gorgonzola, but it never quite worked. Surprisingly, the kalmata olives provide the flavor I thought was provided by cheese. Today, I paired the salad with carrots dipped in peanut butter. I don't use dressing. (Photos available upon request)


Things I've Found Recently
all over the map.

I've had this link open for far too long. Finally putting it away. An interesting chart using d3 http://timelyportfolio.github.io/rCharts_nyt_home_price/

Some NLP people and things:

http://bcomposes.wordpress.com/ http://www.jasonbaldridge.com/projects https://github.com/turian/textrank

Some NLP papers: http://people.csail.mit.edu/francois/research/papers/is11-lda.pdf http://nlp.cs.nyu.edu/sekine/papers/li07.pdf http://cogcomp.cs.illinois.edu/files/presentations/BGU_WordRepresentations_2009.pdf

Some FP videos:

http://www.infoq.com/presentations/Value-Identity-State-Rich-Hickey http://www.infoq.com/presentations/Simple-Made-Easy http://www.infoq.com/presentations/Datomic-Database-Value

2013 07 27

http://www.zengabros.com/ http://www.zengabros.com/ski-boys http://www.zengabros.com/line-sight

2013 07 21

new metric - # mistakes per day. If I'm not making a ton of mistakes, I'm probably not doing anything worth doing.

2013 07 18

I'd like to read, "The Norm Chronicles: Stories and Numbers About Danger." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microlife,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micromort)

2013 07 15

What are you doing? How are you getting users?


Zurich Axioms and Prospect THeory

How is it I don't have anything in here about the zurich axioms?

And then there's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prospect_theory which is interesting in both a behavioral economics way and a how-to-live-a-life kind of way.


Machine Learning Techniques
stuff to learn!

again, don't forget

and, on the k-means clustering front, this might be nice: https://code.google.com/p/ekmeans/

and the idea of named entity recognition... i need to implement this: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/17352469/how-can-i-build-a-model-to-distinguish-tweets-about-apple-inc-from-tweets-abo

and, of course, all of these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:String_similarity_measures


The Red Pill
value screening and a short story

Starting points for value screening http://www.reddit.com/r/SecurityAnalysis/comments/1gag5l/value_screening_metrics/

A man in the parking garage shoved $5k and a red pill into my hand this morning. He said I could keep the money if I put the red pill in my next load of whites. The pill, he explained, would turn everything a pale shade of pink. I would have to wear the clothes in public. 'Trust me, we have people watching,' he said, 'There will be... consequences if you do not follow the instructions.' Apparently, they do this just enough to keep people buying fancy laundry detergent and splitting what could be one load of laundry into two or three. I converted the cash into a starbucks gift card because it is impossible to make drinkable coffee at home.


Five Things
i have no idea.

A nice intro to R data frames : http://ww2.coastal.edu/kingw/statistics/R-tutorials/dataframes.html

2013 06 17

"Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere." - googleit.


The difference between a rocket and a missile is a rocket is unguided. Also, you spell missile with two i's.

lumbermissile.com is available along with lumberrocket.com. This is funny in a certain context. thank you, come again.


Optimism vs Pessimism
some notes

Rule of Thumb - Guess how much money per year on which you need to live then multiply by 25. This is how much $ in a brokerage account you'll need with a steady 4% return after inflation to live off dividends forever excluding taxes and blah blah blah, etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depressive_realism pretty much says that nothing in this comment is Truth, but the comment http://www.reddit.com/r/depression/comments/1gdxry/depression_feels_more_real_optimism_feels_like_a/cajbziq is nice. Namely:

  • "It's important to realize the impact of optimism vs. pessimism. A pessimistic person is less likely to set high expectations, or high standards. As a result, they are less likely to be disappointed. A pessimistic person is less likely to be step outside of their comfort zone. As a result, they are less likely to face failure. [...] an optimistic person is more likely to attempt something that would be beyond their perceived abilities. As a result, they are more likely to succeed. An optimistic person is more likely to search beyond the bleakness of a current perceived state, and as a result is more likely to find happiness."
  • "Confidence is often just healthy, controlled delusional thinking. Confidence is choosing to press on despite failure and disappointment. Confidence is therefore strength;"
  • "Take a moment to separate pessimism from realism as well. Realism is the seeing of reality, in all its darkness as well as its light. Pessimism is the seeing of darkness and the giving into darkness. You can be a realist without being a pessimist."
  • "do you want to be a pessimist, and simply wallow in the bleakness of depression for the sake of seeing the darkness in reality, or do you want to fight it with confidence and control?"

And from an old episode of Mad Men, "If you don't want to drink, you don't have to drink."


Machine Learning
two links

https://bigml.com/features http://blog.quandl.com/blog/our-new-partner-bigml-lets-you-easily-create-powerful-financial-economic-and-social-predictive-models/



I've stopped taking my pills. I feel like I've welcomed a best friend back into my life

  • after years of voluntary exile
  • with a kind of hesitant embrace
  • playing my cards close to my chest

The pills were good because I learned something. I can now look at my old friend squarely and say, 'What is wrong with you?' It is like going home after graduation and having a night out with your buddy who still lives at home and blazes all day. You miss that life but you're looking at it from new eyes. With those eyes you know you'll be able to wake up tomorrow and do something. I once thought there was no prize for being functioning adult, but being able to get outside and pay your bills is the prize. It is Enough.

And, last night was spent with someone who is about to have a child. Sometimes I wonder why people don't ask my opinions or for advice then I realize all these ideas and thoughts are on the inside and the bit I let out is what typically makes an unlikable buffoon. So, I shrug and think, 'yeah.' As for the advice or 'what I've learned' there is one thing I'd probably not say to a half stranger over drinks. Having a child made me realize we are made up animals. Nothing special. We are ordinary mammals who are slaves to our own biochemistry and evolution with a level of whimsy enabled by our laughably large cerebral cortex. The whimsy can make us believe we are different than a cow or an orangutan in that we make up abstractions about ourselves that allow us to ignore what we are.


Three Things
blah blah blah

I should probably use recline.js...

It has been a long time since I've run a java app from the command line. Re: the class path - Don't forget the quotes:

java -cp " * " net.fiftytwo.juristat.misc.CaseLoader

Every night I sleep in the recovery position


Seth Godin Q&A
with notes

2013/05 Seth Godin | Q&A from CreativeMornings on Vimeo.

We read news and feel compelled to stay informed "to distract ourselves from the things we fear is being: criticized, called out as a fraud, being identified as a poser, being called out as someone who had no right to do the work that they just did." Find that person who's live tweeting the event you aren't at and wasting a half hour looking at those pithy comments. that person is hiding, they don't need that information. it's keeping them from doing scary work... What if you turn off information for a month and work on something that might get you fired or run out of town. Do that so you can say, "I made this." You have enough information to do your work. You don't need it. Talking about stories that worked years ago at one place wouldn't work at another place because some places (people) are already carrying a bias. People who are getting paid to do what they love aren't getting paid for the work, they're really getting paid for their story. Learning how to see is what design really is. seeing the gap, and visualizing in advance of what is going to work. Be connected to the output of your work. Use that connection to learn what worked, what didn't, and how you can do it again. Do this by using your experience and immersing yourself in the interactions to learn. once you are sitting there reading your comments and crying about them, then you're probably not "seeing" anymore in a way that will help your work in a way that matters. If you do something that people will have to reference to describe something, then it will likely spread because people will use that in conversation so others will look it up. And idea that is easy to spread and talked about means you win. Get your idea to spread and the revenue will appear.

I need a clear, locking thermostat guard.


Various Links
are good for you!

I need to implement this - http://www.elasticsearch.org/2011/05/13/data-visualization-with-elasticsearch-and-protovis/

An MIT econ and finance prof's very accessible class notes: http://web.mit.edu/rpindyck/www/Courses/

Mathematical primers - http://jeremykun.com/primers/

what is this? The master game by ropp. 60's creative psychology. wonder if it influenced dalio. (similar to alan watts? just realizing how much 60's pop philosophy i've gotten hit with today (something on reddit re:finance what if money was no object))


Risk Management
more re: my framework

I want to add a new dimension to the framework. one of risk management. So much of what we do is managing risk. Source control, alarm clocks, cars that never break down, air bags, and background checks, are just a tiny portion of what we do every day to manage or mitigate risks. I hadn't thought much of risk management before i studied finance. Seeing practical examples in that context helps me understand at a fundamental level how it bleeds into daily life and how people pay so much just to minimize risk. Whether it be paying top dollar for a reputable plumber, or subscribing to linkedin so you can get a handle on someone's clout before interacting with them. How I could have missed something that is so ingrained in the human (spirit? psyche? what's a good word to put here?) for so long boggles my mind. With that said, now we have something about a generalized framework for making people care about a product/cause/issue with a side of the "machine" idea (presented below), the habit cue routine reward motif, with a heaping side of risk management. This, of course, is a half-baked idea that has been kicking around inside my head for a few months. I'm waiting for it to click so I can write something about it that makes sense. Until then...


Some Links
Here is some crap for you.

People still listen to this? Youtube la dispute, defeater, touche amore, and pianos become the teeth.

skeuomorphism - http://www.themachinestarts.com/read/2012-11-how-we-started-calling-visual-metaphors-skeuomorphs-why-apple-design-debate-mess



Being Dad
This road is hard, don't you ride it alone

A few years ago I read The Road in one sitting and cried my contacts out at the end. My dad and I went through some shit together and he was pretty much all I had for so many years. He was the only person on this earth who I actually liked. Sometimes it was horrible but I knew that he was doing his best and so we made mistakes together and basically trudged through the buckets of shit that life threw at us. He had no idea what he was doing. I was a kid. In my mind, the only important thing was we were together. If you've read the book, you might understand why I lost it at the end.

Last night I watched the movie. I have my own son, now, and because of that, the story means something else. I'm no longer the scared child, I am the scared father who will do anything for the welfare of his child. I'll admit (sometimes too eagerly) that I have no idea what I am doing, but I am working with what I've got. I can only hope that I can be the father that my dad was to me.

I'm lucky.


Best Boat!
my favorite boat.

this might be the coolest boat on the planet



Roundup of Various Things
So many things!

https://github.com/cantino/huginn, https://ifttt.com/wtf


My check engine light came on. Here's what I need to DIY the OBD-II connection - http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=480261 Here is the cable I should buy http://www.one-stop-electronics.com/shop/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=16

How to Build Your Everything Really Really Fast

my new favorite font, proxima-nova I hear people like PT Sans which might be free. Open Sans? Oxygen? from google? oh, wait, Lato is my favorite free font from Google. Roboto is better for italics and there is Roboto Condensed.


Something About
tired, just tired

  • something about not blogging anymore because it is old, tired, and twitter/tumblr/medium/reddit is where I should be writing and if i want to make money, monentize a youtube video.
  • something else about how important blogging is because it is a resume/low-cal way for people to find out about you.
  • then another thing about music doing well because it sounds familiar and how outkast almost didn't make it with hey ya because it was too different and something else about how dj's did make it familiar by sandwiching it between music that did well because it was so familiar, making hey ya familiar and then selling a zillion copies.
  • and then another thing about how rosa parks wasn't the first person arrested on a bus, (read this http://digital.wustl.edu/e/eop/eopweb/nix0015.0307.078ednixon.html ) but how this particular instance (arrest) worked because she was well connected in the community, well liked by all, generally helpful and an all around amazing person who knew Edgar Nixon well enough who thought he could use her to win a case against the montgomery bus line. Heck, she even did work for the wife of a white lawyer who was the first person Ed Nixon called to figure out exactly why she was arrested.
  • then something about trying to go big always fizzles out (try to get everyone to buy in against a major issue and nothing will happen, but get an interconnected group to boycott bus service and get them to peer pressure everyone else into the boycott and then you've got something.)
  • something about a generalized framework for making people care about a product/cause/issue with a side of the "machine" idea (presented below) and the habit cue routine reward motif.


My Framework
based on cs183 and ray dalio




I'm working on a type of framework that draws from Peter Thiel's cs183 lectures, Ray Dalio's Manifesto, the habit ideas I ran across a few days ago with a little game theory and a lot of economics and stats.

Peter Thiel's c183 class notes:

Class 1: The Challenge of the Future

Going 0 to 1 is much harder than going from 1 to n because people will think you're crazy. "The path from 0 to 1 might start with asking and answering three questions. First, what is valuable? Second, what can I do? And third, what is nobody else doing?" or "What important truth do very few people agree with you on?" or "What valuable company is nobody building?"

Class 2: Party Like it’s 1999?

Learn about statup history then think for yourself.

Class 3: Value Systems

This is a good class to study/memorize.

"Great companies do three things. First, they create value. Second, they are lasting or permanent in a meaningful way (Great companies are durable.) Finally, they capture at least some of the value they create." This class explains some valuation equations (go back and learn them.) It speaks of competition and monopoly.

Class 4: The Last Mover Advantage

"The usual narrative is that capitalism and perfect competition are synonyms. No one is a monopoly. Firms compete and profits are competed away. But that’s a curious narrative. A better one frames capitalism and perfect competition as opposites; capitalism is about the accumulation of capital, whereas the world of perfect competition is one in which you can’t make any money. Why people tend to view capitalism and perfect competition as interchangeable is thus an interesting question that’s worth exploring from several different angles."

"Sometimes credentials do reflect significant degrees of accomplishment. But the worry is that people make a habit of chasing them. Too often, we seem to forget that it’s genuine accomplishment we’re after, and we just train people to compete forever."

"Things in the professional world are often worst of all; at every level, people are just competing with each other to get ahead. This is tricky to talk about. We have a pervasive ideology that intense, perfect competition makes the best world. But in many ways that’s deeply problematic."

People often tell lies:

"if you have a monopoly, you probably don’t want to talk about it. ... So monopolies pretend they’re not monopolies while non-monopolies pretend they are." (so investors will invest in them)

"People also tell lies about markets. Really big markets tend to be very competitive. You don’t want to be a minnow in a giant pool. You want to be best in your class. So if you’re in a business that finds itself in a competitive situation, you may well fool yourself into thinking that your relevant market is much smaller than it actually is."

"These questions are hard, but the bigger problem is that your incentive is not to ask them at all. Rather, your incentive is to rhetorically shrink the market. If a bearish investor reminds you that 90% of restaurants fail within 2 years, you’ll come up with a story about how you’re different. You’ll spend time trying to convince people you’re the only game in town instead of seriously considering whether that’s true."

The takeaway is that it’s important to identify how these rhetorical narratives work. Non-monopolies always narrow their market. Monopolies insist they’re in a huge market. In logical operator terms, non-monopolies tell intersection stories: British food ∩ restaurant ∩ Palo Alto. Hometown hero ∩ hackers ∩ sharks. Monopolies, by contrast, tell union stories about tiny fishes in big markets. Any narrative that carries the subtext of “we’re not the monopoly the government is looking for” will do.

Market Share lies:

"There are all kinds of ways to frame markets differently. Some ways are much better than others. Asking what is the truth about a given market—and reaching as close to an objective answer as possible—is crucially important. If you’re making a mobile app, you need to determine whether your market is apps on the iPhone, of which there are several hundred thousand, or whether there’s a good way to define or create a very different, smaller market. But one must stay on guard against the sources of bias in this process."

"It’s not surprising that this is Google’s narrative. Monopolies and companies worried about being perceived as such tell a union story. Defining their market as a union of a whole bunch of markets makes them a rhetorical small fish in a big pond. In practice, the narrative sounds like this quotation from Eric Schmidt:

“The Internet is incredibly competitive, and new forms of accessing information are being utilized every day.”

The subtext is: we have to run hard to stay in the same place. We aren’t that big. We may get defeated or destroyed at any time. In this sense we’re no different than the pizzeria in downtown Palo Alto."

Cash and Competition:

"One important data point is how much cash a company has on its balance sheets. ... n a perfectly competitive world, you would have to take all that cash and reinvest it in order to stay where you are. If you’re able to grow at $30b/year, you have to question whether things are really that competitive. Consider gross margins for a moment. Gross margins are the amount of profit you get for every incremental unit in marginal revenues."

"But in perfect competition, marginal revenues equal marginal costs. So high margins for big companies suggest that two or more businesses might be combined: a core monopoly business (search, for Google), and then a bunch of other various efforts (robotic cars, TV, etc.). Cash builds up because it turns out that it doesn’t cost all that much to run the monopoly piece, and it doesn’t make sense to pump it into all the side projects. In a competitive world, you would have to be funding a lot more side projects to stay even. In a monopoly world, you should pour less into side projects, unless politics demand that the cash be spread around. Amazon currently needs to reinvest just 3% of its profits. It has to keep running to stay ahead, but it’s more easy jog than intense sprint."

How to own a market:

"For a company to own its market, it must have some combination of brand, scale cost advantages, network effects, or proprietary technology. Of these elements, brand is probably the hardest to pin down. One way to think about brand is as a classic code word for monopoly. ... Brand is a tricky concept for investors to understand and identify in advance. But what’s understood is that if you manage to build a brand, you build a monopoly."

"Scale cost advantages, network effects, and proprietary technology are more easily understood. Scale advantages come into play where there are high fixed costs and low marginal costs. Amazon has serious scale advantages in the online world. Wal-Mart enjoys them in the retail world. They get more efficient as they get bigger. There are all kinds of different network effects, but the gist of them is that the nature of a product locks people into a particular business. Similarly, there are many different versions of proprietary technology, but the key theme is that it exists where, for some reason or other, no one else can use the technology you develop."

"Apple—probably the greatest tech monopoly today—has all these things."

Creating your Market:

There are three steps to creating a truly valuable tech company. First, you want to find, create, or discover a new market. Second, you monopolize that market. Then you figure out how to expand that monopoly over time.

Choosing the right market:

Find one that's just the right size - Too small = no customers. Markets that are too big are bad - it’s hard to get a handle on them and they are usually too competitive to make money. "Creating your market has nothing to do with framing stories about intersections or unions. What is essential is to figure out the objective truth of the market.

Monopoly and Scaling:

"If there is no compelling narrative of what the market is and how it can scale, you haven’t yet found or created the right market. A plan to scale is crucial."

"The best kind of business is thus one where you can tell a compelling story about the future. The stories will all be different, but they take the same form: find a small target market, become the best in the world at serving it, take over immediately adjacent markets, widen the aperture of what you’re doing, and capture more and more. Once the operation is quite large, some combination of network effects, technology, scale advantages, or even brand should make it very hard for others to follow. That is the recipe for building valuable businesses."

Tech Frontiers:

"There is always some room to operate in existing markets. Instead of creating a new market, you could “disrupt” existing industries. But the disruptive tech story is possibly overdone. Disruptive companies tend not to succeed. "

"Much better than to disrupt is to find a frontier and go for it."

"So where are the places where technology is happening? Where is there room for the journey to continue? The frontier is a promising place, but also a very uncertain one. You can imagine a tech market where nothing is happening for a long time, things suddenly start to happen, and then it all stops. The tech frontier is temporal, not geographical. It’s when things are happening."

"We should ask ourselves whether the right time to enter a tech industry is early on, as conventional wisdom suggests. The best time to enter may be much later than that. It can’t be too late, since you still need room to do something. But you want to enter the field when you can make the last great development, after which the drawbridge goes up and you have permanent capture. You want to pick the right time, go long on tech, succeed, and then short tech."

"Google, the narrative goes, is the last search engine company; it wrought a quantum improvement in search with its shift to an algorithmic approach, and that can’t be much improved on."

"But sometimes seemingly terminal markets aren’t. Look at aerospace. SpaceX thinks it can cut space launch costs by 70-90%. That would be incredibly valuable. If nothing has happened in an industry for a long time, and you come along and dramatically improve something important, chances are that no one else will come and do that again, to you."

"The question is whether there’s a gold rush in mobile. An important subquestion is whether, given a gold rush, you’d rather be a gold digger or the guy selling shovels to gold diggers. But Google and Apple are selling the shovels."

Frontiers and People:

"One way to tell whether you’ve found a good frontier is to answer the question “Why should the 20th employee join your company?” If you have a great answer, you’re on the right track. If not, you’re not. The problem is the question is deceptively easy sounding."

So what makes for a good answer? First, let’s put the question in context. You must recognize that your indirect competition for good employees is companies like Google. So the more pointed version of the question is: “Why would the 20th engineer join your company when they could go to Google instead and get more money and prestige?”

The right answer has to be that you’re creating some sort of monopoly business. Early businesses are driven by the quality of the people involved with them. To attract the best people, you need a compelling monopoly story. To the extent you’re competing with Google for talent, you must understand that Google is a great monopoly business. You probably should not compete with them at their core monopoly business of search. But in terms of hiring, you simply can’t compete with a great monopoly business unless you have a powerful narrative that has you becoming a great monopoly business too.

Class 5: The Mechanics of Mafia

Speaks of good company culture. Cult vs not having a culture at all. "You want your people to be different in a way that gives the company a strong sense of identity and yet still dovetails with the overall mission. Having different kinds of problem-solvers on a team, for example, can make for a stronger culture."

Does your company create or fight? avoid fighting where you can, but where you must you should fight and win. "You want to pick an environment where you don’t have to fight. But you should bring along some good fighters to protect your non zero-sum people and mission, just in case."

"... with such passivity, what are you going to do about your competitors? Can you even build a sales team? If you got run over so hard by investors, how are you going to fare against the entire world?"

And then a lot of good anecdotes about hiring and building teams.

Class 6: Thiel’s Law

This is where he starts comparing the nation's founding fathers to startup founders. How a founding can last a few months or several years depending on how long technical innovation is happening. Founders should stay in charge from 0 to 1, then the executives should execute to go from 1 to n. It speaks of trust and rules; a 2x2 matrix of lowTrust/highTrust vs noRules/manyRules. in other words, how much structure to impose on your startup to keep it going well.

It says to set up a Delaware C Corp and says why.

It talks a lot about equity alignment.

It talks about fundraising.(read/memorize this.)

Then it talks about the board.

Class 7: Follow The Money

This is about VC, history of, how it works. It introduces the power distribution. Good anecdotes from PG, and others.

Class 8: The Pitch

Great advice for pitching.

Predictable things that VCs will want to know:

1) Macro a. Are you a company or just a product/feature? b. Your vision for the company 2) Your product(s) a. What it is b. What problem it solves c. Why it is superior d. Why it is not likely to be displaced for some time 3) Team a. This is the ethos part of the presentation – why are you the right people for the task and why should the VC trust you? b. Are you missing anyone? c. How are you recruiting/convince the 20th employee to join? d. What’s your philosophy on compensation? 4) The Business a. Market size, specifically the “addressable” market b. How much of the market are you are going to capture and how c. Competitive analysis/advantages d. Business model e. How will you generate revenue? i. Sales process ii. Customer acquisition cost iii. Profitability f. Barriers to entry/exit 5) The Ask a. How much do you need and what will you use it for? b. What’s your burn? c. Valuation 6) Funding History/Syndication a. Who else are you talking to? (This is the pathos bit) b. Why do you want to work with this VC? c. What do you want from the VC besides money?

Class 9: If You Build It, Will They Come?

Distribution - getting your product to customers. Introduces Customer Lifetime Value, Average Revenue per User per Month, retention rate, Average customer lifetime, and cost per customer acquisition. You want CLV > CLA. A product is never so good it sells itself. He talks about how great salespeople basically hide their pitch in conversation, are able to hit all levels at once. Advertising that is hidden typcially works best. It speaks of engineering vs sales. You must find your unique sales angle, be it via complex sales


Class 10: After Web 2.0

Class 11: Secrets

Secrets -

  • monopoly vs competition (monopolies lie about being monopolies. competitors swear they're monopolies)
  • power law (most stuff is crap. about 2 things on the right side of the curve make up for everything else)
  • importance of distribution (salespeople are important)

trick is, there are a lot of secrets out there. you have to find one and execute on it. There is a framework for finding these secrets.

  1. natural secrets - go out into the world and work until the universe reveals the secret.
  2. people secrets - people don't tell you everything.

So, go out and figure out what people aren't telling you OR what the universe is not telling you. What people aren't telling you should give you a good idea of where to go looking for secrets. That's where you should direct your attention. Often, people will hide secrets about the universe, for ex. the power law. The idea is to ask questions to find out what is taboo, what is not talked about. Tesla succedded because they realized that cleantech was not about being clean, but more about being fashionable. So, they went for the high-end luxry market and won.

Now, what do you do wiht your secrets?

start up. don't tell secrets about people (julian assange). do share secrets about nature. tell your secrets and MOVE FAST.

Class 12: War and Peace

Decide if you want to fight or flee.

Class 13: You Are Not A Lottery Ticket

Luck vs. Skill in success. optimistic/pessimistic vs determinate/indeterminate - need to study this one more.

Class 14: Seeing Green

Of markets in clean energy and environment.

Class 15: Back to the Future

Ways to think about the future. Look at past predictions of the future and see where they went wrong. We're probably making similar predicting the future, now. Figure out where the "future" failed (nuclear, flying cars) and maybe concentrate in those areas.

Class 16: Decoding Ourselves

of biotech companies.

Class 17: Deep Thought

Of AI companies

Class 18: Founder as Victim, Founder as God

Traits of founders - one interesting thing here is finding/being the scapegoat and the politics of sacrifice (britney spears).

Class 19: Stagnation or Singularity?

talking about the future with three experts.


a book

Habits habit loop: cue, action/routine, reward

most cues fit into one of five categories: location, time, emotional state, other people or the immediately preceding action

  1. where are you?
  2. what time is it?
  3. what is your emotional state? (bored, sad, happy, etc.)
  4. who else is around?
  5. what action preceded the urge?

you can get The Power of Habit at the library


Eclipse and Pandas
work work work work work

This guy might be my new hero http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_McKay

When you get an error in your eclipse project that says "a schema cannot contain two global components," have a look at the xml file that it is complaining about. I had "http://www.springframework.org/schema/data/jpa/spring-jpa.xsd" in my schema location property. It should have been "http://www.springframework.org/schema/data/jpa/spring-jpa-1.2.xsd" (Adding the version fixed the error.)

Remind me to read this http://blog.yhathq.com/posts/R-and-pandas-and-what-ive-learned-about-each.html



The past 5 days included a lingering stomach virus, losing our 2 day a week babysitter, a dead battery, and a great band practice. In other words, I learned a whole lot. The most exciting part for me is I'm finally at my target weight. I haven't had any added sugar in 5 days mostly because any food-like item makes me want to ralph. BUT, last december's flu let me quit caffeine so I'm hoping this one will let me quit eating so much damn sugar. The babysitter situation is sad for everyone, but everything worked out. I got stranded with a dead car last night but a good friend came through and saved the night. This morning, another friend came through in the form of tools that let me run to the dealer to get a battery and install it. I read a ton of stories about how you had to have the computer reset if you changed the battery in my particular car. Apparently, you don't. A $200 battery is way better than a $200 battery, a tow to the shop (a shop that has the means to reset the computer), and labor. Oh, and I saved $262 at daycare because I'm a nice person and I asked for it. It's a great week, even though it isn't. I'm just glad I was able to eat something today. XOXO


I Have No Idea

Why do I always have to go to the cafeteria on Panda Express day and get a double orange chicken? I scarf it down then immediately feel like I'm going to die. It happens every Thursday. Blech!

Talking to a friend a while back about Saves the Day and he was like, "I never could get that into them because they always sounded so much like Lifetime." I was like, "who's lifetime" and he said, "Check out New Jersey's Best Dancers and you'll understand." Holy shit, he wasn't kidding.

While we're talking about that, I wonder if Ozma is pissed at Weezer for ruining everything.

Markdown + Pandocs + Latex = writing awesome looking documents. I'm digging into it, now. Also, looking into generating presentations with Markdown + Pandocs + Latex + Beamer.

Charlie Munger - psychology of human misjudgement PDF here


I was an Encyclopedia Brown Ghost Writer
not really...

The trouble with having a difficult to spell last name - http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/blog/BizNext/2013/02/st-louis-startup-juristat-wants-to.html

I would read anything titled, "I was an Encyclopedia Brown Ghost Writer."

This retina based macbook with the scaling turned all the way up (so everything is tiny) is wonderful. So much room for activities!

if you want to use pandocs to generate pdf on os x you have to install basictex and then run sudo tlmgr update --self

if you want to make a latex resume, use this guy's template and call it a day - http://www.toofishes.net/blog/why-i-do-my-resume-latex/


New Macbook
I got me the retina one

I received a 13" macbook retina and spent a few hours setting it up. I should have been updating this with details on how to deal with things like eclipse/tomcat integration (install the j2ee bundle, then install the wtp m2e thing necessary to hook the maven project up to the server in the server list) but, I didn't. I do still have the list of software i installed:

  • XCode - enable the command line tools through preferences to get make
  • VirtualBox
  • Oracle jdk
  • chrome
  • postgresql pgadminIII
  • mecurial
  • git
  • pandoc
  • s3cmd
  • R 2.15.2
  • RStudio
  • Dropbox
  • SourceTree
  • Firefox
  • HipChat
  • anki2
  • tomcat6 installed at /Library/Tomcat (symbolic link to /usr/local/share/apache-tomcat...
  • eclipse jee juno

The most annoying thing was getting eclipse working properly with maven and tomcat. I think I got everything working after an hour of fiddling. One Good Thing is I found some bugs in juristat that cropped up when trying to build it in this clean environment. While writing this I realize I have to rebuild the spelling dictionary for this machine. I'm sure there will be weeks of finding little things missing here and there.

The thing I fear the most is working in a non-case-sensitive partition. WTF Apple?!? When I bought my last mac I immediately installed a bigger, faster hard drive. I formatted it as case-sensitive. I'm going to try to leave this machine as-is from the factory. I have a feeling I'll have to bring up an ubuntu VM and do a lot of work, there. Well, a lot of testing, at least. I'm glad I have the continuous integration server working.

One part I'm happy about is this machine is going with me everywhere. I was EXTREMELY paranoid taking my other machine with me because it contained things like my budget, taxes, all my photos, scans, paperwork, and I'm sure plenty of other stuff I'd rather not be in someone else's hands. This machine is strictly going to be for work. I don't even plan to log into facebook with it. The SSD is only 256GB so it can't hold my music and pictures, anyway. Everything on this machine is in a central repo. If the machine disappears, I'll be able to recover quickly. Good thing, because I just noticed this does not have a slot for a Kensington lock. WTF Apple?!?

Things I still am on the fence about installing. Do I need an elasticsearch instance on this box? It would be nice. A full rails environment will wind up on a VM. A local SOLR would be nice, but... meh. I think the most important thing is to decide which music I want on this machine. So much to do!


Peacock Alley
blah blah blah

Zookeeper + elastic search with the zookeeper plugin that turns off Zen Discovery. Remember, zookeeper can keep track and manage SOLR instances, as well.

I love the idea of making an open source, boilerplate kind of spring app that has all the features I think are necessary/useful for an MVP, but actually doing it is tedious!

Some pomodoro notes - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_technique_software http://nodetimer.com/

I can get free access to ValueLine and Morningstar through the St. Louis County library. wow. http://www.slcl.org/research/databases-a-z/v, http://www.slcl.org/research/databases-a-z/m

Worthless trivia - Peacock Alley) and Club Riviera were the hot spots when my 70 year old friend was cavorting with the glitterati around St. Louis in the 1950's.

I would like to read this and implement it soon - http://centripetal.ca/blog/2011/02/07/getting-started-with-selenium-and-jenkins/.

There is a robot on another planet drilling holes into rocks right now. Humans effectively have a mine on another planet. Baby steps, of course.

The Antics Roadshow is a fun show that might have been created by Banksy.


The Pepsi Chill-out
do you?

Remember the Pepsi Chill-Out?

I learned about Haim) today from audioindie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ovrplcNwXo

I'm pleased with my Warby Parker experience. I bought the Crane frames in Sugar Maple. On one hand they feel like inexpensive frames. On the other hand, they're nice looking, you can't beat the price, I got them in less than a week, and I can see. The only downside is I'll have to adjust them myself so they fit my face. I wonder what people who do not have a heat gun do.

My app had a log4j.properties file in the classpath which had environment specific stuff hard coded into it (and therefore committed to mecurial.) Remember back when I pulled all the passwords and environment specific config out of the config files that lived in the webapp? I couldn't figure out how to do a similar thing with log4j.properties. So, I left it in my classpath (the WAR file.) Today I realized I can tell web.xml to look in /etc/\/log4j.properties for the file. Yes, that path is hard coded, but, the /etc/\/\.properties file is also hard coded in applicationContext.xml. I feel relatively comfortable having just those two places that call out a directory that has to exist before the app can start up. At this point, I can't think of any place in my app that has things that shouldn't be hard-coded in the source, database, or in some arbitrary place. Everything is in /etc/\/ * . Feels good, man. Added bonus is I can set up my graylog2 logger with appropriate originHost based on the machine that is running. That means I can filter by machine. Now I'll be able to easily tell what's coming from development, test, production, etc.

NEATWHEELIES.COM IS AVAILABLE!!! If only I had a reason to buy it.


So Much Stuff
blah blah blah

Three more reasons for using markdown instead of Word: grep, xargs and sed.

Sand Mandala & Sisyphean - I'm writing a book/short story about a young man who spends the majority of the time re-building the runway at his family's old farm. He steals airplanes and grows a little and eventually crashes and the runway turns back into an overgrown field. If everything goes to plan, the book or story should be finished sometime around 2022.

Are reposts (re: reddit) simply A-B tests for content? Or, maybe training sets for click maximization algorithms? Even I Can Haz Cheezburger admits that data is the most important thing to drive business - There is no way they only use algorithms to lay out their pages. Why wouldn't they do some crazy optimization for content to drag people in as deep and for as long as possible. In fact, that's the only thing they should be optimizing for assuming that is what drives their revenue.

I am feeling drained.

ok, weird moment

I have awesome, vivid dreams and I love coincidences. I know you're not supposed to talk/write about dreams because no one cares and it makes you sound like a nut, but this is all I've got today.

I took a break from working to read "A Look Back" article about 1940's gang violence in stl. I mapped a couple of the addresses including the one mentioned here: "The Rats��� hangout was the Maxwelton Club, on St. Charles Rock Road at Pennsylvania Avenue." There's nothing much there anymore except a few cemeteries (and a children's psychiatric hospital? sad!)

An hour later a FB friend posted photos of a mausoleum she was in (it was very cool!) someone asked her where it was and she said it was at Valhalla on St. Charles Rock Road... I was like, wow, that's weird, i was just looking at a cemetary on a map, i wonder if it is the same one. I found Valhalla's website and yep, it is very close to where the Maxwelton Club used to be. Then I scrolled down and saw the Valhalla building. Sho 'nuff, I was in and around building that looked exactly like that in a dream a few months ago. I was being chased and it wasn't cool but I stumbled on this very cool looking mausoleum and kind of hid there for a while.

Fun coincidences! I really want to drive up there to see if I get chased.


What I'd Say!
smiling like whitney houston...

I finally shut down my underutilized-but-always-on EC2 instance. Look at me, being all frugal and whatnot.

Regarding "What'd I Say" on the 2004 soundtrack for "Ray!" I love how the instrumentation slowly falls into place rhythm-wise. The band is like, "Whatever... We'll hit a couple things here and there until he gets a groove going." They get it together just in time for Ray Charles to miss the mic when the words start. The whole intro is somehow both wrecked and perfect. "Roller, baby..." I can't find much information on this particular recording. IMDB says it is courtesy of Atlantic Records but it says nothing about where or when it was recorded. I'd link to the song but I can't find one for you.

Wait for a sunny day and find a kitchen who's sink is under a nicely lit window. Thaw frozen blueberries in a stainless steel bowl. Eat the blueberries but leave the juice. Rinse that bowl under a stream of water and watch closely. Wait for the instant where the purple juice turns blue. That's my favorite color. A white bowl works, too. But, it has to be stainless steel to be my favorite.

Holy shit, my continuous integration process is amazing. I committed a change set to github. My Jenkins server immediately started building the project. When the build finished Jenkins deployed the war to my test tomcat instance. The webapp restarted and my changes are live. I'm checking my static code analysis results and smiling like Whitney Houston. I have no idea what that means...


is that a word?

If your csv file starts with the string, "ID," Excel thinks it should be a SYLK file and barfs a bunch of warning dialogs http://support.microsoft.com/kb/323626

I'm setting aside my hatred for funk and fusion so I can learn about The Meters today. They're a 70's funk band from New Orleans. I get it, I think. There was a 5 minute bass solo which included a minute of wha wha and a few moments where he ignored the rest of the band (it is a polyrhythm! applaud goddammit!) I guess they aren't fusion at all, certainly funky, though.

locking down my workflow for editing this site

Last week, (2/8/2013) I was complaining a bit about maintaining this site in markdown. Specifically, dealing with line breaks while writing and not having a good way to spellcheck. Thanks to a friend's tweet, I learned that VIM can deal with soft wrapped lines pretty well. Check it http://alols.github.com/2012/11/07/writing-prose-with-vim/. The first thing I did is convert this page's source (markdown) to soft wrapped lines. Then I realized I don't use VI. I happen to be using eclipse as a text editor because it is always open and I like organizing the files in a "project." Today I switched from the default editor to WikiTextEditor. Not having to manually manage line breaks makes typing and editing a breeze. In fact, it makes me want to type more. Ruh-Oh!

I converted the line breaks by hand. I might (eventually) have to run a script on all the pages if editing in this mode turns out to be better. So far, it is WAY better. I love it. If you're into emacs, i just found this http://blog.avarthrel.org/blog/2011/05/lets-just-use-emacs.html. That brings up some interesting ideas, like splitting your editor to work on 2 sections of the same doc at once (eclipse does this) and having multiple files open at once (also, available in eclipse). I'm still missing a decent spell check, though. Let me try to fix that.

Fixed it!. First, download one of Kevin's word lists from here http://wordlist.sourceforge.net/. Install it in eclipse as a user dictionary (Preferences->editors->text editors->spelling). I used Kevin's scowl list by concatenating all english and american words into a single text file. I saved it to /jordan/notes/allWordsForSpelling.txt and pointed the eclipse user specified spelling list there..

There are a ton of words in there and it has helped tremendously. I didn't think I could get the spellcheck to suggest correct spellings until I noticed wikiText editor has the "quick fix" option. Hover over the word and hit cmd-1. It gives suggestions. Rad! A few other ideas if you're using eclipse. Want a word count? Do a file search, select the file, enable regex and search for \w+ Sure, it's clunky, but it works.

I spent a few minutes looking at org-mode, but I don't have the energy to learn it. Immabe happy with a smattering of markdown files and my new, soft-break editor.

Have I mentioned how awesome pandocs and make are for generating the html and shipping the contents off to S3? If not, have a look at the github repo where all this BS lives and check out that make file. It isn't anything fancy, but it saves me a lot of time. I can publish with one command.

Finally, I set the font in the text editor to be something a little more readable. Now I'm writing comfortably inside a IDE. I have like no excuses left for not writing armp.it.


Google returns zero results for Compilenaut. Let's hope from now on it will return at least one.

Remind me to go here when they open this spring - http://www.strangedonuts.com/


Valentines Day
Not thinking about Valentines Day, Today.

Pandas explained in ten minutes http://vimeo.com/59324550

If you're sad that wasn't a video of baby pandas, here is a bucket of sloths http://vimeo.com/59234110


I've been working on a thought experiment where I derive paths to get $1.5M*. Or, rather, what exactly does it take to create $1.5M of value. Take t-shirt sales, for example. (I'm making these numbers up. I'm sure they're naive. Try not to get hung up on them.) Say you make $1.30 profit on each shirt sold. Assuming a 30% tax rate, you'd have to sell 1.5 million shirts. How can you sell that many shirts? It will take herculean combination of marketing and luck no doubt, but what about manufacturing and distribution? What kind of support would you need (server capacity, call center, physical warehouse, employees) What kind of pains are bound to happen at that sort of scale? What are your quantifiable risks?

Sure, it is silly but it takes me way outside my comfort zone. That has got to be good, right?. In the future I'm going to apply that sort of framework to the ideas I think of or get pitched. A sad part of it is applying it to most of my ideas lead to the whole, "You'll make more money opening a couple of Dunkin' Donuts and it will be way easier." conclusion. I call it "The Dunkin' Donuts Test" ®

Maybe I should write a self-help how to book based on the Dunkin' Donuts Test. Could that book net me $1.5M? How long would it take to write the book? What does it take to market a $1.5M book? What are the risks involved? Take an objective look at existing book sales, publishing figures and the number of starving authors out there... What's the back of the envelope conclusion? It would be eaiser and less risky to open a few Dunkin' Donuts...

And why Dunkin' Donuts? My grandfather was a baker so it is in my blood. Sadly, I can't bake so I'd needsort of a turnkey franchise to set everything up and I'd need to hire people who can deal with mixers and whatever it takes to make food.


The first thread on this HN post http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3816350 (which is about Gabe's argument for a single co-founder) is a nice conversation about diversifying with several, small, monthly income type projects.

The Show is the Rainbow is now Touch People and after checking his twitter feed it seems like he is a big gamer. Cool story, brah.

* - this is what I consider the lowest rung of f-you money. Enough to retire on some rocky land in the Ozarks and not do anything except maybe learn to hunt.


Deer Tick and Obama
Thanks Obama

Before this morning the only Deer Tick) I've heard is off Divine Providence (they're latest album.) Hearing some things off War Elephant) is a surprise. They're folk-alt-country? I had no idea. I'm sure the recent change to their sound was a deliberate move, but I like to think that through the years they've been accidentally writing these one-off songs that didn't at all fit with their sound. Then one day they were like, "let's finally record all these fuckers and put them on one album."

Last night in the State of the Union address Obama said, "Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer's." I work on the platform that handles imaging data for the Human Connectome Project and all that FDA stuff I bitch about is for a new class of Alzheimer's drug. Our lab is managing the brain imaging data. Fun!


Drivel. Just Drivel
bored and chatty

I have no problem with The Show is the Rainbow.

Little else going on today. This FDA BS is getting me down. But, band practice is in a bit so that'll make it all better.

She walked slowly though her gait was one of a barback sliding quickly through the crowd with buckets of ice. Her walk is best described as some sort of reverse moonwalk in high heels.

Practice was better this week. I was more with it than last week. The two new songs are coming along nicely. Best joke of the night was Frank Ocean was simply channeling the spirit of Wesley Willis Sunday night at the Grammy's.

Speaking of jokes, here's a doozie I made up while brushing my teeth, "Of course i'm jealous of her ex's. They can dodge bullets." This, my friends, is why I'm often confused for a comedy genius.*

* - not true.


Music I've Been Listeing To
blah blah blah blah

Frank Ocean is a little rough around the edges when it comes to Grammy performances. I should have watched. Instead I was working.

I still love We Were Promised Jetpacks and then a Counting Crows song came on and I thought, "oh you..." and then i listened to it and then i realized that there is always room for these effusive songwriters like Dashboard Confessional and now, who, Mumford and Sons? What are they really doing? Playing the game. And then 15 minutes later I realize I'm still listening to Counting Crows.

Oh, and yeah, so a lot of the stuff I've been listening to relies heavily on rich reverbs and echo (braids, givers, seryn, tree ring) so that's sort of the sound now. And then some old pearl jam or this counting crows stuff comes up which relies heavily on multitap delays. Was multitap delay sort of the sound of the late 90's? I know I was using the hell out of it (even though I had no idea what I was doing and it sounded like crap)

Friday the sys admins were losing their shit. Today it is the developers who are doing a live demo in ten minutes. I'm glad it isn't me.


Foodfights and Ray Dalio
I have no idea

"Foodfight" is a terrible movie I want to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uROQ9nplxIYi

Notes from Ray Dalio's Manifesto

If you can give society what it wants you have a higher likelihood of being "successful." If you can, move forward using a process of productive adaptation (assuming you can observe the landscape as you trudge through it and all of its inevitable setbacks) in an effort to "evolve" your process in cooperation with the general path of the system's nature. Don't let your self interests be in conflict with the system because you won't succeed. Nature is testing you and it is not sympathetic. You need to step back and design a machine of the right people doing the right things. Constantly assess and improve that machine by objectively comparing outcomes with goals. If the outcomes are inconsistent with your goals, modify the machine. Include yourself as part of the machine and place yourself in the correct role. If you aren't good at that particular role, be sure to fire yourself. Again, the most important requirement is you are objective and logical at all times.


The Gardner
Two hours with an accountant might have changed my life


I'm oddly excited about using Quickbooks. I spent two hours with an accountant this morning and it sort of changed my life (not really.) I wonder what else I could learn by hanging out with someone I normally wouldn't. For example, what could I learn in 2 hours with a tow truck driver? How about 2 hours with a funeral director, or, I don't know, an arborist?

I hang out with a gardener from time to time and you know what? It is fascinating. One time he was showing me a book (he's a reader)and I opened it up and some sort of pressed leaf fell out and he was like, "Wow, let me have a look at that... Oh, yes, that's from a blah-blah-blah(latin) which is a rare species of blah blah (more latin) typically found in (exotic location.) I was somewhere in Clayton when I saw it. I was so excited I took a leaf."


Sundry Topics This Winter
tonbee and superfuture - that is about right

My toynbee tile has not survived the winter.

This http://selectadecision.info/ is a cold war era russian choose your own adventure type game.

I pulled this next thing out of my checklist doc (private) because it doesn't belong there. It belongs here:

Things to remember:

The superfuture thing comes from something I read on /r/malefashionadvice regarding a boot choice and the fact that yes, someone could pull it off, but "you'd have to be so ridiculously on point you probably wouldn't be on MFA in the first place" and then someone mentioned superfuture and I went there and kind of get it but not really.


The New Band is Great!
They're making me sing...

It is impossible for me to fake my way through band practice with this new band. There aren't enough of us in the band to cover mistakes. I like that.


Boot Decision 2013
Chippewa FTW!

Boot Decision 2013! I wanted Wolverine 1000 Mile boots, but they were $340. Then I wanted Red Wing Iron Rangers, but they were $285. I bought Chippewa Apache Lacer's for $136.

The Chippewa boots are really nice! I busted out my vintage, made in England Doc Martens and cleaned them up. Now I have 2 pairs of boots. The docs are also very nice. I had no idea how good I had it back then. I've worn nothing but crap shoes for the past 10 years and, well, now I know the error of my ways. Also, wool socks are phenomenal. I used to only wear them snowboarding like they were only for special occasions. I asked for a few pairs for Christmas and have been wearing them ever since. Amazing!


Words Have Meanings
Words have actual meanings!

Words have actual meanings, like eschaton and echelon. I'm a fast reader in that I can get through something and get the general gist of it quickly w/o knowing the precise meanings of a lot of words. Works wonders in marathon long DFW novels, but I realized just now how many levels of awesome I miss out on by being good at extracting meaning from context. For example, the tennis academy kids played a game called Eschaton in Infinite Jest. I spent the entire book thinking eschaton was vaguely similar to echelon and that was good enough. A few minutes ago I realized I didn't really know exactly what echelon meant so I looked it up along with a bunch of other words including eschaton which really means the end of all things, or the final destiny of the world. Nice name for a game about thermonuclear political domination.


A Week
a rough one!

HA! this week has been one disaster after another, but everything still seems to be on course and everyone is pretty much fine. R had a cold, S caught it and started running a fever. We sat with him in the ER from midnight till 4am last night. Now I have the cold. I got rear ended on the day that I had to take a vacation day from one job to work a full day on the other of which I did not get enough work done and should probably take another day or two off. I'll get a new bumper, i guess, eventually. I had to take a few hours off today to recoup from last night's ER visit. As if R didn't already have enough going on taking care of her and S, she lost her wallet so we had to do the whole transfer money out of the ATM account and keep close tabs on the credit card statement, but luckily she found her wallet so that worry is done. Her computer was on the fritz and the parts for which she had to drop everything to go buy were incorrect. So, I wound up fixing the broken part with solder and tape while we ordered a replacement online and had to return the wrong part today on my way in to work (late.) I am falling behind on all 4 of my jobs to the point where all I can do is sit back and laugh. There is so much work I think Keeping Up is an unrealistic expectation. So, I stay the course. That's all I can try to do. I laugh as I type this because even though everything is falling apart, everything and everyone really is fine and there are no real worries. Everything is just a silly mess soaked with vomit and poo right now. Nothing more. This isn't supposed to come off as sympathy seeking or complaining even though I know it does. It is more of a setup for a side-note:

ER waiting areas really are something, aren't they? I work at a hospital so I'm exposed to them (and the places just outside where smokers sit) almost every day. The concern, tears, pacing and phone calls you see happening in these areas make them (the ER waiting areas) feel to me like the front row seat to the last, raw, true glimpse of human beings. Catching a shaky, one ended phone conversation that starts out with, "We lost him" and is punctuated by quick draws on a cigarette by someone sort of hunched over with one arm akimbo probably isn't right but accidentally catching that moment while walking between work areas (really, just cold, grey rooms filled with cubes.) on a generic workday is wow (this is something that someone else can do a better job of describing with real words that mean something but I'm a quitter who settles for wow.)

Last night, after committing various moving violations on the way to the hospital, I dropped S & R off at the door so they could rush inside while I parked the car. I got a good spot then walked with a woman into the ER. She beat me to front desk and asked about so-and-so and the ER nurse said so-and-so was getting a CT and they couldn't say anything more but that there was a whole group of friends there already who knew everything. She pointed to a dozen or so fresh faced HS kids each with that look huddled in chairs, texting and hugging. I eventually found S & R and R said, 'wow, did you see all those kids? I walked in behind 2 parents, i think their son tried to kill himself and those were all his friends.'

wow. yeah, i think my week hasn't been half bad.


Markov Models
getting started

To try to fix my little issue (2012 05 17) with using all the papers I printed out to learn hidden markov models and because I had to sit in a presentation (that really only contained about 10 minutes of material) for 4 hours yesterday I figured I'd give them a shot. Problem is, I took the wikipedia route which sent me to simple markov models which made me realize I didn't understand those enough. I dug in. Here is a free textbook that starts with some very practical applications of markov models in the real world. It's a great intro! Reading that made me realize that I keep forgetting what stochastic means so I thought I'd review today (by typing it out here) to see if I still understand it.

Something is stochastic when it isn't deterministic, meaning it can't be described by a solid equation and always end with the same value. Instead, it will take on a range of values described by some sort of distribution because it is affected by random forces or outside actions.

Think of it as the result of a function.. something like y=mx+b. in a deterministic model, plugging in x and b always gives the same y. in a stochastic model, x and b are not just numbers, they're distributions so the Y is kind of random but it should typically lie within some range. That range can be calculated given the distributions of y and b.

What does that mean for markov models? They're a way to model these sort of non-deterministic problems that vary over time. That is, a stageful model where the current thing moves from state to state with a known probability. I'd try to type out an example, but I couldn't do it justice (just yet) have a look at the first chapter of that book I linked to above if you're interested.

How does this apply to hidden markov models? Well, those are models that you use when you are pretty sure there are hidden, or unknown "states" but you are unable to find the probability distribution of reaching those states.

Reasons why I'm interested: This is a graph based problem which i sort of love. It's rooted deep in probabilities which I am trying to get a handle on because, well, they're useful. And, finally, I have no idea why I'm working on this. I just am. There is this intersection between stats, probability, finance, machine learning, computer modeling and analysis that I'm trying to crack.


Damodaran and Trunk Recording
ramblings of the day

Per the damodaran finance class i'm listening to, the risk free rate basically boils down to the expected rate of inflation in the currency in which you are working. (This is the sound of lightbulbs going off in my head.) Rule of thumb - Use the 10 year zero coupon rate for the risk free rate if the bond is rated AAA. If it is not rated AAA, then take the published rate and subtract off any default risk. You do this because often you will add in default risk at a different point in your analysis. You do not want to double count.

For me, this is kind of huge. I always thought of the risk free rate as the minimum return you could possibly expect with zero risk of default. Which, sure, that's true, but understanding that the market essentially drives that number to track expected inflation of the currency in which you are investing helps me to better understand the fact that different countries have wildly different risk free rates. I never knew why you wouldn't just shift currencies around to get the best deal.. well, i forgot to think about inflation.

update 20120519 - Heh, in lecture 6 he said that the risk free rate is really inflation + macro market growth. I guess that makes sense, too. Still learning

The difference between html's bold and strong tags and italic and emphasis tags eludes me.

Let's talk about hidden markov models. No, really, someone teach me because I ran out of copy paper this week and wound up using all the papers I printed out that I hoped would help me understand them as printer paper. Dammit.

I love John Steinbeck's letter that is on letters of note today:

"If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced that there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes but by no means always find the way to do it."

I know I'm no writer, but everything on this site and armp.it is from me getting this compulsive need (out of nowhere, typically) to put a certain feeling into words and most of the time it doesn't work. Or, rather, I Get It.

I'm putting together a comment service for the app i'm building. I think my implementation is interesting. Here's how i'm doing it. Everything in my system uses a UUID as its ID or primary key. Everything, including each comment. Each comment stores the UUID of the item to which it is attached, the comment text, timestamp, etc. All comments are shoved into this service so that when something says, "I want to display any comments associated with me." All it has to do is pass its UUID to the service which returns a (JSON) list of comments.

Easy peeeezy

The challenge here is how do you go from Comment to the Item. Well, since I don't store the Item's location we fall back to a searching pattern. Every item is indexed anyway, so we just hit the search service with the UUID and get the item back.

This is completely decoupled. It fails if you delete an Item (which, of course, you NEVER delete anything. So, that's not a problem.) Or, if you need to move the comments. Not sure why you would do that, though.

Finally, you can comment on comments. So, your comments can have comments that comment about the comments.

I'm recording guitar parts in my car again while I wait for band practice to start. YOU CAN RECORD DECENT SOUNDING ALBUMS WHILE SITTING IN YOUR CAR. I love the present.


The Real War
a quote!

Reading The Real war 1939-1945 and just wanted to keep this in mind:

A little booklet issued to infantry replacements joining the Fifth Army in Italy contained tips to ease the entry of innocents into combat: Don't believe all the horror stories circulating in the outfit you're joining. Don't carry too much stuff. Don't excrete in your foxhole -- if you can't get out, put some dirt on a shovel, go on that, and throw the load out. Keep your rifle clean and ready. Don't tape down the handles of your grenades for fear of their flying off accidentally -- it takes too long to get the tape off. Learn to dig in fast when shelling starts. Watch the ground for evidence of mines and booby traps. On the move, keep contact but don't bunch up. And use common sense in your fight against fear: \ Don't be too scared. Everybody is afraid, but you can learn to control your fear. And, as non-coms point out, "you have a good chance of getting through if you don't lose your head. Being too scared is harmful to you. " Remember that a lot of noise you hear is ours, and not dangerous. It may surprise you that on the whole, many more are pulled out for sickness or accident than become battle casualties.

There are ETF's that track daily s&p returns but are leveraged and inverted. For ex. you can buy an etf that tracks the s&p 3x's inverse. Meaning, if the s&p goes up 10, the etf will go down 30. I didn't read into it much so I'm assuming it is a percentage, and not actual points. it's got to be, right? Anyway: ProShares UltraShort Dow30 NYSEARCA:DXD and ProShares UltraPro SS&P500 NYSEARCA:SPXU seems like a good tool for risk management which leads to:

JP Morgan -> trading complex, highly leveraged, synthetic... hedges? Not sure what to call them yet (still wrapping my head around the syntax) to manage risk can blow up, and everyone makes mistakes, and JP Morgan is trading something like \$17T when they're worth something like \$14B (that's some leverage.) So, a \$2B loss isn't that horrible and it is bound to happen (risk is, by definition, risky.) I won't pretend to know if this kind of thing warrants regulation and as far as I understand of what I've read, they (JP's CIO arm) sort of cornered the market on hedging credit risk which pissed off hedge funds but hedge funds have been fighting regulation so there isn't much they could do but talk to reporters (mid April) which published, which got the attention of other JP arms which ordered CIO to unwind their positions at a costly time and so the pissed off hedge funds are going to sit and wait causing wide bid/ask spreads which will cost JP even more. whoops.


Kelly Criterion
a quote!

Let's talk about the kelly criterion. The Kelly Ratio is how much of your bank roll you should bet given a probability of winning, losing, and your edge over the house. This type of strategy can be applied in many different domains, obviously for gaming, sort of for investing but why can't it be applied when estimating other finite resources? Could your "bankroll" represent the "amount of time you can spend" (the finite resource)? Not sure that works because I haven't thought it through, just thinking as i type. I digress. to use the kelly criterion, we have to calculate the player's edge. Say you're playing a game with a dealer where odds are 6/5 and payout is 7/6, or, rather, odds of losing are 1.2 and payout is 1.167. Let's break that down. Say you play the game 11 times. you'll win 5 times and lose 6. Bet \$12 each time. You'll wind up with \$12x(7/6)=\$14 each time you win and \$0 when you lose. When you play 11 times, you'll win 5 times giving you 5x\$14=\$70. you spent a total of \$12x11=\$132. you lost 6 times which is 6x\$12=\$72. In other words, in 11 plays you lost \$2. edge is loss/total so that's \$2/\$132 = 0.015 which means the dealer's edge is 1.5%. Your edge is -1.5%. Don't make the bet. Instead, try being on the other side of the bet (become the dealer.)

We're trying to figure out the optimal fraction of our total wealth (bankroll) to bet on each game that will maximize our long term winnings, ignoring volatility but assuring we always have enough \$ to bet on the next game (don't allow ruin). The fraction is ((odds received on win)*probability of winning - probability of losing)/(odds received on a win). lets bet on a coin toss where the dealer pays us 100/99 (1.01) on each win. In english, that means for every dollar you bet, they'll give you your dollar back plus one penny if you win. pWin = 0.5, pLose = 0.5 so (1.01*0.5-0.5)/1.01=0.005 = 0.5% That means we should bet 0.5% of our bankroll on each toss. Given those odds and payouts, that makes sense because we get so little for winning. What if we played the same game but the dealer payed us 2/1 for a win? In english, they'd pay you \$2 for every dollar you bet. Bet \$1, you keep your \$1 and they hand you \$2 for a total of \$3. Common sense says you'd probably want to bet a lot more of your bankroll at that point. Let's do the math. 2*0.5-0.5/2 = 0.25 which means we'd want to bet 25% of our bankroll on each play of the game. Doing so minimizes the chance of ruin and maximizes our total winnings in the long run.

Let's talk about roulette. put \$1 on red which pays even money, or 1/1 or 100%. there are 18 red numbers and 20 non red. So, probability of winning is 18/(18+20) = 0.474. plug that into our formula to get 1*0.474-0.526/0.474 = -0.1097... what's that negative number? That means you should take the other side of the bet, or rather, bet AGAINST red using 10.97% of your bankroll. But, there's no betting against red, so you're better off moving along. The casino will always win. (this paragraph is copied from the wikipedia article on the kelly criterion. Go there for more fun information.)

Thinking about the best way to structure my Selenium 2 tests. Need to retrieve the base url from a properties file, of course. probably should have some support inside the application that lets the test avoid certain, untestable-by-selenium features such as email confirmation codes. Maybe the test could log in as admin for a second to grab a copy of the confirm URL so it can be used in subsequent tests. In other words, the app has to support certain features to make automated testing possible. no big deal, but yet another thing I didn't foresee.

Watching shark tank I couldn't off the top of my head how the sharks were valuing a company based on the founder's cash request and the equity offered... I was over thinking it, of course, but here's some things I learned. Typically, a VC wants a 5-10x return on the investment. If I'm a VC and I invest \$25k for 25% of a company and expect a 10% return then I want to see a check for \$250k when the company exits... That can only happen if the company sells for \$1M. If the company sells for \$500k then I get a 5x's return so, as a VC, i should still be happy. (rule of thumb, a company's valuation is sometimes 2x's revenue) (Fred Wilson says 1/3 sell for 5-10x's return. 1/3 sell for 1-2x's return and 1/3 fail (0x's return). Since VC's get any leftover cash first, the founders sort of have about a 1/3rd shot of making money, see the paragraph after the next for some discussion.)

But, that doesn't jive with the numbers they throw around on shark tank.. That's because they're not thinking of their return at that time. They're just valuing the current price of the company based on what the founder says. So, if the founder says I want 100k for 25%, the shark tank guys call it a \$400k company.

Back to the "founders have a 1/3rd shot to make any money at all" idea. This may or may not be a copy/paste from Fred Wilson's blog. if it is, well, then it is, if it is my words, then great: "A VC is negotiating how much of the upside they'll be in the 1/3 of deals that produce gains. Their deals provide as much downside protection as possible. A VC deal is sort of a loan plus an option where the option part is in the money fully 1/3 of the time and partially about 1/2. loan is repaid fully 2/3 of the time and partially 1/3 of the time."

With that said, I had an idea a few weeks ago. I propose a monte carlo approach to predict project viability and using the results of that calculation as inputs to a binomial pricing model that will let a founder choose among many projects (ideas) to maximize the likelihood of a positive exit. Here's the beginning of an abstract I wrote that day:

"This paper introduces a system for managing uncertain data when predicting market results using a binomial options pricing model to predict exit valuation across multiple projects. This system lets one choose the best projects based on predicted returns using a monte carlo approach to predict project viability."