Console Cowboys LLC

The musings of an entrepreneur as he develops his company.
Mar 7 '14

View comments

Jul 3 '13
This is the book that I grabbed to guide me in the start of this process, mainly because it had “organize” and “office” in the title, and the library where I work at had it on shelf.
Two chapters in, and I’m already seeing this book is great.  Ricci is very keen at recognizing personality types (or the types she recognizes include mine) and catering to those types, and understanding the limits and blocks you might come across, even if another type appeals to you.  
An example she used in chapter 1 about a combination speed-demon personality type (everything is about getting things done quickly) and a visual personality type (likes to see everything in front of them).  She talked about how a color coded sticker system might appeal to visual side of your personality, but the second you run out of stickers, the speed-demon part of you will never let you recover.
You don’t know how close that hit home for me, trying to use very detailed and organized systems in the past, and failing because I am a speed-demon personality type.
So, I’m going to try to go through a chapter a day (today is Day 2).  It may be too much to chew, but we’ll play it by ear.

This is the book that I grabbed to guide me in the start of this process, mainly because it had “organize” and “office” in the title, and the library where I work at had it on shelf.

Two chapters in, and I’m already seeing this book is great.  Ricci is very keen at recognizing personality types (or the types she recognizes include mine) and catering to those types, and understanding the limits and blocks you might come across, even if another type appeals to you.  

An example she used in chapter 1 about a combination speed-demon personality type (everything is about getting things done quickly) and a visual personality type (likes to see everything in front of them).  She talked about how a color coded sticker system might appeal to visual side of your personality, but the second you run out of stickers, the speed-demon part of you will never let you recover.

You don’t know how close that hit home for me, trying to use very detailed and organized systems in the past, and failing because I am a speed-demon personality type.

So, I’m going to try to go through a chapter a day (today is Day 2).  It may be too much to chew, but we’ll play it by ear.

2 notes View comments Tags: organization organize your office one day at a time

Mar 21 '12

Okay, this video has gotten everybody up in a tizzy today.  I’m going to explain why I’m fairly certain this is real.  I may not know much about aeronautics, but I do know a fair bit about the technology the guy put into designing these wings, and I think it’s possible.

Simply put, it’s understandable why so many people think that this is fake:  the human arms physically are not strong enough to produce enough lift to lift a human’s full weight into the air.  We’re just not built that way.

But here’s the catch:  he’s not really providing any strength to the wings.  It’s easy to see why people are confused, they see his arms pump, and the wings pump at exactly the same time  Also, the website talks about how the wings “amplify his arms motion to drive the wings”.  This isn’t wrong, but it’s meant in the same way as saying that a steering wheel amplifies your arms motion to drive the car.  Even if you don’t know what a power steering pump is, you know that there’s something else there amplifying your arms strength to move a whole ton car.  The same is true for this guy’s wings.

What’s going on is that he is actually using an accelerometer strapped to each of his arms, as well as to his feet.  These all talk to an HTC Android phone, which in turn acts as a driver for two brushless dc motors, powered by batteries in his backpack, and which pump the wings.  An Arduino ran towards the guys feet to help stabilize him.  And this isn’t even used for the majority of the flight; all it’s doing is providing him some mechanical help finding some lift so he can take advantages of wind and up drafts to help propel him further.  Essentially, once he has the first little bit of lift, the wings turn into just a hang glider.

This isn’t some sort of esoteric science in the aerospace industry.  It’s the same driving principle behind larger birds, such as an eagle or an albatross, as well as sail planes.  Once you’re in the air, it isn’t much trouble at all to maintain flying.  You don’t see an eagle flap its wings much after take off:  it just soars.  Same thing here.  In fact, the test flight location was actually chosen for its favorable up drafts, which isn’t much surprise. 

So, why did the guy decide to use flapping his arms to propel him into the air?  My money is on style points.  If the guy had a switch in his hand that started the motor, probably no body would have doubted this flight at all, not to mention the wings would have worked much more efficiently.  But by using accelerometers and flapping his arms, it felt like he had a lot more control over the process, and helped him feel like he could really fly.  Man has figured out how to soar through the sky.  We don’t even get the same sense of adventure with kite planes or hang gliders, but this way, he really sparked people’s imaginations. 

I, for one, whole heartedly approve.

View comments

Mar 13 '12

View comments

Mar 9 '12

I guess VCs aren’t chosen for their singing abilities… xD

View comments

Mar 5 '12

Huh, this is late…

Aww, shoot.  I posted a humor post (read it, it’s the one below, and I thought it was funny), and forgot that I didn’t write my actual post for this week…

Not much to report.  My milestone for this week was to have the PCB layout for the hardware designed.  I didn’t hit this milestone, not because I was busy, or got lazy, but because we realized that we’re changing the hardware on this guy too rapidly to invest money in printing out custom circuit boards.  Rather, we decided to use prototyping boards as the core hardware for our early field testers/customers. 

That way we can swap out a device at a location, and reuse the parts for the next iteration, which is a lot harder with printed circuit boards.  After we solidify everything, and have a design that doesn’t change very much, that’s when we can worry about printing up circuit boards

View comments

Mar 2 '12

From a company memo—

As the CEO, I would like to use this time to clarify some of our policies on relationships:

We at Console Cowboys LLC do not believe that any employees should be engaging in any activities that distract from the company’s vision and hinders the process of making the stockholders filthy rich. A non-exhaustive list of not-allowed activities includes: school, sleep, fulfilling hobbies, exercise, spending time outdoors, and having friends. Relationships can be especially troublesome, as they run the risk of making employees happy, which upsets the delicate balance of self loathing, aloofness, and complete disconnect with reality that makes a truly top tier programmer.

However, the executive management does understand that the fear of dying alone can become overpowering. In most situations, cases of sudden relationship can be solved through a technique management likes to call “Being-An-Asshole”. Being-An-Asshole may seem complicated at first, but through simple tricks, like skipping planned dates, asking if she has gained a few pounds every time you see her, barging drunk into her apartment in the early hours of morning, and sleeping with her best friend/sister/grandmother, you’ll be out of a relationship in no time! If you want more information, HR has a pamphlet they would be glad to show you.

For clingy girlfriends, family, and friends who actually care, more drastic measures may be needed to cut them out of the picture. As such, HR offers consoling sessions on topics such as forging travel documents, crime scene clean up, body disposal, and proper usage of a silencer.

Because we care,

Dale
CEO
Console Cowboys LLC

View comments

Feb 28 '12

The Social Network

When going into hacking mode, I like to have The Social Network playing in the background.  It’s the fantasy version of what I do, but the dramatization of being an entrepreneur, mixed with the story of a person who hit it very, very big, is inspiring, and it helps me stay on track.  But I can tell where Hollywood biases cloud real businesses.

The biggest example is when the Winklevosses start screaming how Zuckerburg got there first, launching Facebook after leading them on for 41 days while he coded his own site.  I can tell you, finding out you have a competitor that you didn’t know was there can hurt, but what Zuckerburg did wasn’t that big of a deal, and you can tell that by how much money that the Winklevosses got.  Sure, to the average person (even the average entrepreneur), $85 million is a hefty chunk of cash, but it’s pennies compared to the entire valuation of Facebook.  

Now, Eduardo’s $5 billion dollars, that’s a bit bigger sign of some foul play…

View comments

Feb 24 '12

Off Week

This was one of those weeks.  Through factors outside of my control, working on getting a mortgage for a condo I close for next week, weirdness at work, and Jakob being super busy with work as well, work on the product has slowed down incredibly, and this week’s milestone was reaching a completion milestone. 

Unless the weekend is super-productive, this is going to be a miss week, my first.  Ah, well, sh*t happens.  Time to buckle down for next week!

View comments

Feb 22 '12

499 notes View comments (via carrieannschumacher & amandaonwriting)

Feb 18 '12

Making Phone Calls

Following the advice of Kevin, and to meet this week’s milestone, I spent the entire morning making phone calls to potential clients and interviewing them on their server room environmental needs, see what they currently use to mitigate the problem, and start gauging the price range. 

The first bit of surprising data I found was that my original target market doesn’t actually exist.  Small web hosts don’t actually host their own servers anymore.  They use other larger, more sophisticated, hosts to house the physical servers, while the smaller companies just manage them, and the large hosts already have some kind of tracking in place, usually through their HVAC systems, so they really aren’t a target for me at this time.

However, I stumbled on my new market just as suddenly:  when I started calling up potential customers, I started by calling some libraries and schools in the area, mainly because it’s the type of place I have most experience with, and I felt starting off with a bit of home court advantage would help boost my confidence.  I discovered that these guys, on a whole, really liked my product. 

Expanding outwards, I realized that there is a small-to-medium sized company, typically around 100 employees, that typically needs to host some kind of server themselves, even if they put their web and email services in the cloud.  These companies don’t have the money for the sophisticated solution that the large server farms have, yet these machines still tend to be fairly mission critical for them, shared file servers, active directory and LDAP servers, and the like.  Nearly everyone of them had a story of walking into their server rooms a couple of times a year, and the temperature being through the roof.  To them, a device like this was very valuable, and they never heard of any alternatives before.

Interviewing them about price, I found out that around $500-$600 for an initial cost is about the sweet spot.  Although earns me a nice return on the device itself (even in development, the material cost ends up being somewhere around $300), I need to work on a good subscription plan that doesn’t seem to expensive, but earns me yearly income on all deployed devices, so I don’t have to sell a kajillion of them a year.

All in all, this process very scary for me to start, but returned some very important data, and validated my idea.  A major win!

View comments

Feb 17 '12

Lifestyle

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Dadaist literature, and I have to say, I’m thinking about adopting it as a lifestyle.  It really speaks to my inner Giraffe.  Indigo Banana.

View comments

Feb 16 '12

View comments

Feb 14 '12
Courtesy of Jakob.  ^_^

Courtesy of Jakob.  ^_^

View comments

Feb 12 '12

The Need of an IT Guy in the Founding Team

This was a long-winded response I posted on Ramzey’s blog on Compulsive Innovation.  I was kinda proud of it, and it does represent some of my beliefs about new ventures, so I’m reposting it here.

Are you planning on paying the web developer with money or equity?

I ask, because I’ve actually been on the other end of the stick before, working as a tech guy on a consultant basis for a guy who was starting his own telemarketing company, which, because of VoIP and outsourcing, surprised me by how large a part technology played in the business. 

In this situation, I was payed hourly, which led to some awkward situations.  The guy who was starting the company was an older gentleman, who was doing it in his retirement, and didn’t have very strong IT skills.  Because of that, he used me heavily, sometimes for things that I would have normally considered non-IT (typing up letters, etc.), but mainly for the smaller, nitpicky computer things associated with starting up a tech business (installing software on new employee computers, being there for when they installed the new internet line, etc.). 

I became a money hole.  I knew it, and felt bad about it, but I had a rate that I negotiated walking in the door, that he agreed to, and I made sure to be clear that I would do anything he wanted me to, but my rate would apply.  I tried to teach him how to do the tasks himself, writing up help documentation and training him, but he wasn’t interested, but nor was he interested in bringing anybody new on board with technology skills. 

Eventually *he* realized I was a money hole, and tried to save money by re-negotiating my pay down for certain tasks, which I allowed in the short-run, but it left a bad taste in my mouth because I knew that I could be earning more money elsewhere.  After a while, I politely bowed out

The lesson I learned from this long-winded story is that if you are starting a tech company, make sure a tech guy is there at ground floor, a member of the founding team, who gets paid in equity.  Don’t jump in and hire someone just to hire someone, but find someone who is as passionate about the project as you, because this person will be expected to put in the same ungodly hours as you do.  Understand that the IT guy won’t get why you aren’t putting as much time working on the tech as he is.  Develop a patient way of explaining what you do, and be there, and *really* listen when he tells you what he’s doing.

It’ll go a long way.  Trust me.

View comments