The Day is upon us.

We have packed the Abbey contents with just a few things we need to live for the next two days. On Monday, the moving truck arrives and the movers load it. Stef is heading down to the new house with the pups and a car full of things we do not want to put on the truck. (She did a run today, south). A week from today, the Abbey is put up for sale. Owning a number of properties does not make me a landed gentry, for I would like to sell the Abbey to someone who will enjoy it as much as we did.

Anyway, that is the status of this moment.

 

Ciao, for Now.

 

JeffMc

Moving to Oregon!

Almost 4 years ago, we moved to Vashon, Island, Wa. We bought a gorgeous country house that had a huge kitchen with 2 islands, a 28 ft ceiling great room, an incredible master suite with his and hers bathrooms. It was the perfect entertaining house. We hosted a fall brunch every year, where we invited neighbors, island friends, and off island friends to come out and spend the morning/afternoon in the splendor of the house. We jokingly nick-named the place Vashon Abbey. It looks grand from the outside, and the detailed woodworking inside makes it a unique house on this island.

 

But alas, our experiment with island living has come to an end.

As a lot of you know, we started a business building HW modules for cellular + Machine 2 Machine based telemetry. The modules provide the basis of flowmeters, agriculture sensors, environmental sensors, etc. But alas, living on an island, it is hard to travel to your contract manufacturer at a whim, or to go to meetings where everyone does not have to wait in a ferry line (which in and of itself is a pain in the derrière).

So we decided to look at the Beaverton Oregon area. The company reasons were:

    1) Close to a number of Contract Manufacturers.

    2) A workforce pool that includes HW engineers and FW engineers.

    3) Better value office space.

The personal reasons are:

    1) Close to my son

    2) Closer to our place at the beach

    3) Closer to Oregon wineries. ( I love good pinot noir).

 

So we found a house in Beaverton, Oregon, up on a mountain near the south end. About the same size lot we have here, but less square footage in the house, but the space is more efficient, and it is one level. But the yard is like a park. And it is 6 miles from where my son lives, close to shopping, restaurants, etc. But the big thing is: NO FERRY. I am not against the Ferry System of Washington State, but when I moved to Vashon, I mostly worked at home. But now with our own business, and my team on west and east coasts, I need to be a bit more flexible in travel and such. The other good thing about Beaverton, is that there is light rail into Portland and to the airport. And if I need to come back up to Seattle, there is Amtrak. (I supposed I would come back up to spend time at Xcoders once every couple of months).

So there it is. Moving.

 

Cheers!

    

This blog now has a JSON feed

Manton Reece and Brent Simmons have developed a new type of syndication feed. Instead of ATOM or RSS, both that use XML, they are using JSON. I have modified my blogs to provide this feed to anyone that uses a News reader that supports JSON as the feed.

To learn more about JSON as a feed, look at http://jsonfeed.org

To access my feed, scroll to the lower right of the side bar and click the link:
JSON feed for this blog

Micro.blog customization

So,

As I mentioned last week, I backed Manton Reece’s Micro.blog project. I have since set up integration with this blog. As you can see on the sidebar, there is a micro.blog feed. If you want to see the whole thing, you can click on the micro.blog link in the menu at the top right of the blog.

Best Regards,

JeffMc

New Micro.blog

I had backed Manton Reece’s Mico.blog Kickstarter. I think it will be a good platform.

 

Anyways, you can look at my microblog at: http://jeffmc.micro.blog/feed.xml in your favorite RSS newsreader (Mine is NetNewsWire for Mac, iOS and tvOS).

Hiring

This is an edited re-post of something I wrote in March of 2013. I am revising it for lessons learned and such.

 

I am on my 6th Startup in my life. I have been an exec at most of them. A couple I actually was a co-founder at. Most the time, I was brought in as the seasoned grown up to help facilitate growth. A number of times, I actually had to the the grown up and work hard to prevent management issue with young, in-experienced co-founders.

The one thing I always liked about a start up was the fun in building a company. It is a lot of hard work. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that work hard to build their respective companies. The hardest job, is hiring talent for your company. I have looked at thousand upon thousands of resumes’ in my time in startups, and it gets all a blur after a while.

REALITY

So, when you go to hire, the worst thing you can do is advertise for a “ninja” or “rock star”, for this will most certainly get you the douche waffle candidates. You know who they are. The faux-hawk hair style, always talking about how they can code javascript and Ruby faster than anyone. What I look for in a candidate is a number of things. I will attempt to spell them out here, because, a lot is on intuition.

Sincerity. This is big for me. I have distain for shallow people. If a person feels passionate about working in a collaborative environment, and doesn’t come across like they are God’s gift to programming, it is a great step towards a candidate. Now mind you, I do not want to confuse ego with a douche attitude. Ego is good. Inflated ego is not.

Confidence. A person who shows confidence impresses me. Even if they do not know the answer, but know how to be professional and confident, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they can solve a problem with resources. If they are over confident (see braggart), it is a red flag.Stay away from the braggart.

Manners. If a candidate has basic manners, they get a vote in the “could be a strong contender” camp. (Believe it or not, there are people who have bad manners in an interview, like texting, email, etc).

Hygiene. Believe it or not, this matters. Please do not come in with a funk. You will be working with a group of people who know basic hygiene.

Technical Acumen. Unlike the mighty Google, all I care is if you know what a hash map is, what a hash table does and whether you can reverse the order of a singularly-linked list. I want to know , if I am hiring you as a server engineer, do you know what a LAMP stack is, or a practical framework that makes you smile in the mornings. If I am hiring you to be an IOS developer, do you know the framework and Objective-C. If I am bringing you on to be an Android dev, do you know Java, bonus if you know NDK (and C), and you know what an intent is.If I am hiring you as a firmware person, do you know C, power management, and how to do the max for the minimum? If I am hiring you to design hardware, what about the toolset you use, etc? If you talk a lot and evade the questions, you are not going to be working with us. If you do not know an answer, and I can see your problem solving skills are good, I am not going to hold it against you. (FWIW, I have, myself, blown interviews. Being asked transmission line theory when I was going to be a logic designer on CPUs).

Understanding of the Platform. This might sound like the previous bullet item, but it is more about hardware. I do not care if you know the clock speed of a chip, I want to know if you know how the code you write can affect memory usage, translation buffer thrashing, cache issues, etc. If you know that, you have won a special score in my mind.

It’s Simple

Simply put, do not come across as a dick. If you are genuine, smart, love working together and are not hung up on religious things like (mercurial vs git vs svn) and want to work hard, but have fun at the same time, you would be welcome.

Something I disagree on with past board members (and maybe current 🙂 ) is the hiring of a business person. If your board forces you to do this, make sure you get someone good. If they come in asking for a HUGE salary and other perks, stay away from this person. If they want to help build your company, they will work hard for a startup salary and an equity position. Make sure, also, that they have experience in the area you are targeting. Do not hire a carrier-oriented person if you are targeting consumers.

Wanabee

The wannabe is the person who wants to do a startup for the quick exit and the bragging rights. It is all about impressing the groupies who follow the shallow startup community. They are usually marketing themselves, and have no time to apply their talents (if any) to your startup. They love to go to every networking event, party with all the groupies, and talk on social networks on how they are a rock star. Never once do they give credit to their co-workers, or even their boss. It is all about them. They show up late for work, and usually have to leave to go attend these social events. And when you do ask them to perform, they make up excuses why they can’t. Flush them ASAP, as they will be poison to your team.

Again, building a new company and making it thrive and grow is hard work. But it can be rewarding, especially with the right people and the right investors. Just remember, your people and your capital are the life blood. Do not waste capital on bad people.

Interns – They are not free labor (old post, reposted)

I am going to get on a high horse here.

I want to talk about interns. Interns are a very valuable resource to be fortunate to have. Interns are the future. They became interns to further their education in what you and your company do.

in-tern n.

A student or a recent graduate undergoing supervised practical training.

Interns are NOT:

  • Minions to do your dirty work
  • Someone to get you coffee
  • Someone to have clean up your mess
  • Someone you do not pay 

Now a days, people advertise for Interns that they do not pay, in exchange for teaching them all about what they do or to enhance the intern’s skills. What ends up happening is that they essentially use them to do the tedious work, without instruction, and then yell at them when the Intern does it wrong.

When I was pre-graduate, I got to intern at a computer company, that I later joined, because the intern experience was so good. I worked in the company’s traditional products group and did things like how to build a version of the PDP-8’s OS on a DF32 disk. (OS/8 was the OS). This was done by using a rack of paper tape in an ASR-33 teletype at 110 baud, toggling in the RIM loader, then the binary loader, then the system loader, system builder, etc, all on paper tape. I thought it was tedious, but it taught me one thing: I want to build better tools and better operating systems. So I went on in my career to do that. 

All because I was intern, I was paid, and I learned something invaluable.

I have someone very close to me who “intern’d” for a publication. That person did a lot of hard work, but it was mostly all the stuff the publisher did not want to do, and she never got paid for it. She kept asking to learn things, and was told “just do this tedious stuff, for free”

Too many companies are using Interns as free labor, and it is wrong. If you are not going to pay an Intern, you have an obligation to teach them what you do and how things work. Just having them to get your lunch or your coffee, our to clean up your spills is WRONG. 

You do not have to pay your Interns much, but even if you pay, you are obligated to teach them. That is what Internship is about. If you do not pay them, you have a larger obligation to teach them. This bullshit of having someone just to piss on needs to stop.

I have used interns in various places I worked, and I treat them, as I was treated when I was learning. How things are done, why we do things the way we do, and let them participate in that process , so they can learn.

I have no respect for people who do not value Internship and the people who want to learn.

What have I been up to?

Well, it has been a bit since I posted here. What have I been up to? Well, 2016 was a weird year.

In the March timeframe, I helped fund a company that was going to be developing IoT solutions over the cellular network with a new protocol. I had worked with these folks in the past. As the summer started to wane, they asked me to join with them, and help them take it to the next level. I ended up joining in November, and was named CEO. Since that time, we have helped develop a firmware stack for use over the cellular network to a backend service for IoT devices.

We have also designed and delivered a cellular IoT module that included some basic sensors, GPS and a reasonably powerful Cortex-M4 ARM CPU for continuing development of this end to end service. We are now working on our next HW device, which includes a newer radio device, that will allow us to use 3 different protocol paths (more choice for customers), over the cellular system, to said backend. It will have additional sensors. It is designed to be used standalone, connected to other HW or we can custom design a solution for any enterprise needed gone.

We have also developed a Cocoa framework that abstracts the backend from the developer and are providing sample apps for IOS, tvOS and even watchOS. In addition, using the same framework, we have developed a tool for the developers implementing IoT devices, using this backend and our devices, to provision and manage these devices on this service. I cannot go into more info than that, as I tend not to defy NDAs.

I have been working an average of 12 hours a day, including weekends, because I love what I am doing. I get to design hardware again, and help contribute to the FW and the Apps, when needed. What I find is that I am not living someone else’s dogma. My team and I are creating a culture of “getting stuff done and delivering” and keeping our egos checked at the door.

We also always hire the smartest people. My philosophy is we hire great people to help us win. We DO NOT hire people because they have some famous company on the resume’, or that they are in some clique, so we look cool. As I have found out in the past, they usually aren’t all that great. Our interview process is not arduous, but we do have a set number of things that will not let us hire a candidate. It has to do with religious wars over frameworks, and anyone who acts like a brogrammer, or doesn’t seem to embrace diversity.

I am also never the smartest person in the room. I like to surround my self with real smart people, who share the same ethics as myself, so I can be informed, honestly of issues, so I can make the informed decisions, and to learn from them.

Having a virtual office, allows me to travel to the east coast to visit the team and to sit and learn from what they have been doing, or what their concerns are. My job is 2 things: Help people accomplish their job, and to design the best HW.

This is the second time I have been the captain of the ship. I have learned valuable lessons from the first time, and I have witnessed other leaders while I have participated in other entities and learned what mistakes that they did, so I do not do those.

For the first time in 4 years, I feel energized, again. “Go seize the day, wake up and say, this is an Extraordinary Life!”-JW

An Extraordinary Life

We lost John Wetton on January 31st. In the 70s I had met John and had some conversations with him. I met John before he started his battle with alcohol, so I never really experienced anything that resulted from that. Long before Asia, I thought John was a extraordinary musician. When Asia formed in the early 80s, their first album was playing in a local record store. I said “That voice sounds so familiar”. Well it was John, and obviously he had spruce up his wonderful voice to something even better. In the past few years, we reconnected on social media. He was gracious, as he always had been back in the 70s. I know he fought a lot of demons, but he took control of his life and tried to put it back on track, and did a marvelous job. When I heard he had cancer, I was so proud he faced it with positivity. But I knew, he had a battle to fight, and he did a fantastic job, but cancer, sometimes, will win. I cried that day, because he made a difference in my life at a very young age. He lived an extraordinary life. Songwriter, bassist, guitarist, and pianist. His love for classical music and his love of football (soccer for you Americans) and his love for Lisa, kept him positive and fighting.

 

As I never experienced the dark times in his life, although I have heard of them, I am so glad I only experienced the young musician who was going to go places. And he did. 

 

Rip John. I miss you.

 

His words to live by:

 

Go seize the day, wake up and say, This is an Extraordinary Life. Enjoy today, come what may, This is an Extraordinary Life. – John Wetton.

Ghost

I have been listening ot the band Ghost, lately. I had heard of them when they broke on the scene in 2010. I thought they were a black metal band from Sweden. As time whent on, I started listening to them more and more. While their lyrics are all Satan stuff, in reality, they are protesting religion in general. The music though, is written with many hooks to get you to keep coming back. It is not all dropped-tuned guitar and growling. They are many fine pieces that border on Prog and heavy rock. But those hooks. Very talented and tight group. Of course these guys have played together in other bands in the past (and no, I will not go into who I think they are, or discuss why they shield themselves, etc). Their live shows are to be considered theatric. They have gone through 3 incarnations of frontman, Papa Emeritus. (Same guy, different costumes/makeup/mask). They never disappoint. All I can say is that I really enjoy their music. Some of my favs:

  • Ritual (first album)
  • Year Zero (second album)
  • Secular Haze (second album)
  • Most of the third album
  • and from their Popestar EP:

  • Bible
  • Square Hammer