A little perspective

Here’s a quote I overheard this week about the economy in the US:
“You have to close your laptop because you can’t stand to look at your retirement fund any more.”

Let’s think about this for a second. This one sentence is very indicative of many of the situations I hear people in. This sentence indicates a few things:

1. You have power in your house (ie, it’s warm)
2. You have internet connectivity
3. You have a portable supercomputer ON YOUR LAP that is connected to a global network of computers that allows unlimited communication with almost anyone in the world
4. We assume that if you have the 3 above, you have some sort of food.

For you, it’s not THAT bad. You’re smart. Really you are. DO SOMETHING. Invent something new. Start that novel you keep saying you’re going to write. Solve the world’s energy problems. Pick something and DO IT.

And while you’re at it. help your neighbor out, I know you know someone who has lost their job and might not eat tonight but would never tell anyone. That is a real problem.

Your retirement will bounce back. And if it doesn’t, you’re not starving, so keep that in mind.

Twitter Updates for 2009-02-27

  • I don’t often laugh out loud at stuff, but this is hilarious: http://tinyurl.com/aqp8ta #
  • The further south we travel today the nicer people get. I think we should move. #
  • coloring outside the lines #
  • Retweet @motionblur: Apple introduces Safari 4 beta: http://bit.ly/jteBY #
  • Looks like we’re going to have clear skies to observe Comet Lulin tonight. #
  • WhiteKnightTwo to Make World Debut at Oshkosh: http://tr.im/gK7P #
  • Shh, the recording light is on at Imapenguin. Can’t you see the red “On Air” light? Sheesh. #
  • RT @battamer: At least I got rid of my blackberry, they were becoming too popular. Thank God Android is Linux based, it’ll never be popular. #
  • RT @OnOrbit: Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project Progress Report: More Lunar Boulders http://tinyurl.com/df3nbr #
  • OmniWeb, OmniDazzle, OmniDiskSweeper, and OmniObjectMeter are now available as freeware: http://bit.ly/pq6A3 #
  • I love that I got excellent customer support from @linuxjournal via twitter. Kudos to those guys for “getting it”. #
  • Holy crap Safari 4 is fast #
  • Thank you @1Password for making a Safari 4 beta solution so quickly. I’m in love with both. #
  • RT @yatinsactivity: A fully functional 5 watt Linux server http://ff.im/-1delR #
  • RT @StephanieBamBam: hahaha get a shirt with your twitter profile: http://shirt.social-shirt.com/index.html #
  • RT @tferriss: Love this track – Ghostwriter by RJD2: http://ping.fm/6HUR5 Great for writing. #
  • BlobLive: I am continually surprised by how many venture ideas come after people backpack the world. (via @BrianReich) in reply to BrianReich #
  • RT @hotdogsladies: Hooters should do a Sadie Hawkins Day where chickens get to gnaw on fat guys while skanks pretend to like them. #
  • RT @Veronica: My idol, Mike “Dirty Jobs” Rowe, is on Twitter. Show the man some love! @mikeroweworks #
  • RT @delucajared: M$ sees Piracy & Linux as biggest threats “Ballmer: Linux Bigger Competitor than Apple” http://tinyurl.com/debyky #
  • Fighting with a clients #scalix server this morning #
  • “Carrying around an iPhone in Japan would make you look pretty lame.”: http://bit.ly/oqILw #

Netflix To Offer ‘Streaming Only” Plans

Netflix Inc Chief Financial Officer Barry McCarthy said on Wednesday it plans to offer its online streaming service on a stand-alone basis.
“We’re likely to do that in the foreseeable future,” McCarthy said at the Jefferies 5th annual Internet and Media conference in New York.

via Netflix To Offer ‘Streaming Only” Plans .

App turns iPhone into a credit card terminal – Springwise

As if phones didn’t already do enough, one of the latest mobile apps transforms iPhones and iPod Touches into portable charge card terminals. ProcessAway plugs into Authorize.net’s payment processing platform, allowing entrepreneurs to accept credit card payments anywhere they can access the internet.
via App turns iPhone into a credit card terminal – Springwise.

Some thoughts on Dollhouse

There is a new series on Fox called Dollhouse which I’ve been watching(at least the first two episodes).
An organization keeps programmable humans that you can have customized for any purpose and “rent” for a large fee for whatever you want.
The idea is pretty interesting.  As with most Sci Fi shows, the audience is expected to be largely male, so the main character, Echo, played by Eliza Dushku is overtly sexual.   Once the boobie fixation dies down, the premise of the show is potentially pretty interesting.  Each show has the opportunity to tell a completely different story, and then there is a long term tie in where the programmable people will almost certainly start remembering things.

The show has promise, and tying it to the timeslot after The Sarah Connor Cronicles may help it to survive. Since the audience that watches SCC at least likes the genre Dollhouse occupies.

Eliza is really going to have to work on her acting skills.  She is very girly, but in a part that requires her character to be both tough and sexual, her performance in the first two episodes comes off as a little immature.  This past week she played an outdoorsy type who gets hunted by the man who “rented” her.  Watching her run though heavy terrain in combat boots while flailing her arms awkwardly like a little girl actually made me laugh out loud.

This is painfully obvious partially since it follows Summer Glau’s performance as Cameron just minutes before Dollhouse is on.  Summer has this character nailed in most episodes, in no small part because it’s very similar to the character she played on Firefly: River Tam.  She appears distant, like a Ghost in a Machine, but still present somehow.

With Battlestar Galactica wrapping up, I’ll need to find my SciFi fix somewhere.  I’m not convinced with Dollhouse yet.

Twitter Updates for 2009-02-20

  • Retweet @motionblur: Google Chrome for Mac is on its way. Here’s the first screenshot: http://bit.ly/3Ezh8 #
  • 10 ways Microsoft’s Retail stores will differ from Apple stores. I like #3 and #5 best: http://tinyurl.com/brtan8 #
  • Anyone have any thoughts on the costco executive membership vs the gold star? #
  • Retweet @Veronica: New blog post: The Trilogy Meter http://tinyurl.com/c325ly #
  • Deleting a bunch of stuff from Facebook. Their new Terms of Service suck and I’m not playing along. #
  • I’m loving TweetDeck. It’s replaced twitteriffic. I wish there was something like this for iPhone or blackberry. #
  • just reading that the Palm WebOS is going to support XMPP out of the box. This is huge for multiplayer games. #
  • The 100 requests per hour limit business on twitter is irritating me at the moment. #
  • Checking out Virb: http://virb.com #
  • Retweet @nealcampbell: ScreenFlow 1.5 looks pretty awesome: http://tinyurl.com/5lbvdu #
  • Retweet @OnOrbit: Oil Prospecting From Space http://tinyurl.com/b7qmrf #
  • looking for a breakthrough #

Twitter Updates for 2009-02-13

  • Having fun outsourcing, who woulda thunkit #
  • Anyone know if the Kindle 2 has native PDF support? #
  • Installing google sync: http://www.google.com/mobile/default/sync.html #
  • Full moon tonight. Remember to load your favorite weapon with silver bullets just in case. #
  • Move over Mozy, Sugarsync is here: http://www.sugarsync.com/ #
  • The Kindle and the End of the End of History: http://tinyurl.com/br85an #
  • Favre announced he’s retiring. Again. Again. Again. I’m not watching him cry this time. Again. Again. #
  • I’m spending a lot of time on skype doing overseas calls. I wonder how much money that’s saving me. Quite a bit methinks. #
  • Phew, finally got those TPS reports done. Crap. I forgot the new coversheet. Where’s the memo on that anyway? #

Twitter Updates for 2009-02-06

  • I think its funny when I’m taking notes on my blackberry and get accused of not paying attention because its mistaken for emailing. #
  • trying out google earth 5.0 #
  • I really wish the apple app store approval process was shorter #
  • I really wish I could attend the TED conference live #
  • Searching for virtual research assistants with excellent written English skills. #
  • Rereading a few of my favorite books in Feb #

American Knowledge Workers are in Trouble

I need some research done for a project at Imapenguin.com. We’re developing a database of popular Open Source software and instead of starting with a blank database, I wanted to research the top 150 or so projects to kick the database off. This requires at least a working knowledge of the technology space and good research skills. Something the average college graduate can handle just fine.

I asked around my network, no one is really interested in helping out. Mostly because I don’t really have much of a budget for this. I considered doing it myself, but before I started, I decided to post a request for research help on elance.com. I figured this would take me 15-20 hours to do myself (so maybe $1500 of my billable time taken up), so looking for a specialist to bid on it certainly couldn’t hurt. It’s free to request proposals so what the heck.

So on a Wed night, I spent 5 minutes submitting the following proposal:
I need a spreadsheet compiled with the top 150-200 Open source projects in use in the world with a brief
summary of each to include:

Contact information
project start date
primary use
interesting facts
mailing list information
current product status.

This list should include at least 35 entries that are Open Source Operating systems such as Linux Distributions, etc.

I would prefer this in a spreadsheet with good formatting.

Excellent written English should be used for the delivery of this research.

I checked the box that said I don’t care where in the world this work is performed, but I did specify in the description that excellent written english is important.

In 12 hours I got a few bids. This was the first one from a guy in India:


My bid is $100 for researching 150 open source projects. The info will
be provided in an excel sheet and will list the following fields:

1. Project Name
2. Contact Email/Contact Form URL
3. Website
4. Project start date
5. Software Category
6. Interesting facts
7. Mailing list
8. Latest version


1. Project start date may not always be available for all open source
projects/products. In a number of cases it may simply be a year or a
2. Since I will be researching the top open source projects, I guess
they will all be in active status(hence no need for current product
status). I have instead put in the version field
3. A number of products are now coming up with online support forums
instead of mailing lists. In that case the field mailing list will
contain the URL of the support forum.
4. I do believe that there will be 35 open source operating systems.
However, it is possible that some are very small. Shall I still note
those small projects to get to the 35 mark?

Tell me what you think about my bid and if you feel that
something has been left unaddressed.

Estimated time to completion = 1 week after the award of the project.

(name removed by Michael to protect privacy)

There are several things that struck me right away:

1. This proposal was responded to by writing the requirements back to me in his own words. This is a HUGE plus. It demonstrates a clear understanding of what I’m looking for. When I reread my proposal request, he actually better defined my requirements than I did and made some excellent points about the probability of the data I’m looking for.

2. Elance has a feedback system. This person, who is not in the US, has 100% positive feedback on 123 projects on elance.com. 31 of those are repeat customers. This is a VERY good sign. People went back to him.

3. $100 is cheap. This person is going to spend at least the same amount of time I would, 15 to 20 hours, so this is about $5/hour. Given that the requirements were demonstrated to be understood very well he’ll probably do a better job than I would and I’m an Open Source Expert.

We’re over here in the US bailing out car companies that make cars people don’t want to buy, we produce almost nothing any more, and we whine about everything.

The rest of the world is quietly moving up by working hard at a bargain price.