Idlewild

Seas of Faces leaving places,
Racing Emptiness one by one.
Facing Skywards to bold horizons
Shooting vapor tails at the sun
There’s nothing to declare, this race is run
We never even cared, we came undone

Idlewild, you’re not the only one.
For pity’s sake these fake goodbyes you offer everyone
And Idlewild, no time to come undone
The bitter truth is blinding you for staring at the sun.

Posted: jeffmc.micro.blog

Computers of yesterday

When I first got into computers, Apple and Microsoft weren’t even companies.
Computers used to take up rooms (some buildings). I had the pleasure of working at a company called GenRad (formally General Radio) which used the Digital Equipment Corp’s PDP-8/E and PDP-8/A in their test systems. I got hooked on the PDP-8, which caused me to get a job at Digital Equipment Corp (DEC). I specialized in older machines like the original PDP-8 and the siblings PDP-8/S (it had a serial adder and a slow clock cycle), and the PDP-8/I, PDP-12 (a LINC/PDP-8 lab computer with real A/Ds).

The Living Computer Museum in Seattle, has a number of computers that I learned to program, or repair. What is funny, for 18 months in my early career, I was detached to Gordon and Gwen Bell’s Computer Museum project in DEC’s Marlboro facility and worked on getting the MIT TX0 (first transistorized computer. Google it) running, as well as a number of other DEC classic computers.

My good friend, David Brown, turned me on to this wonderful kit. It is essentially an emulated PDP-8/I (using a RaspberryPI) and a PDP-8/I replica control panel. I want to build this, and have it in my office. Why? Because .

http://obsolescence.wixsite.com/obsolescence/pidp-8-get-one

Now call me an old git, if you like, but I can appreciate the new technology we have today, because I lived the stuff that got us here. I have been privileged to have worked in an industry where I got to learn from the masters, and got to play a key role in some of the modern computing technology of today. Something I never take for granted. When I see the FB app for IOS at 700mb in size and remember writing code that had to fit into 128 12 bit words of memory, I want people off my lawn.

Anyway, I should write a book of my adventures in computing. The title would be:

“Screw your JavaScript, we wrote operating systems in assembler for breakfast!”

Or

“An Extraordinary Life in Computing”

The former title could be the subtitle.

Cheers.

Classic Jeeps

A lot of you who know me, know that I love the older Willys Overland Pickups and Wagons. I think they have a unique style and are built like tanks. I own a late model 1953 Willys Overland utility pickup truck.

IMG 2382

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which comes to my biggest complaint about these vehicles. People who modify them as street rods, or even wedge V8s in them. I personally feel it does a dis-service to the memory of these fine vehicles. As they were built, they were functional, solid utility vehicles. I drove one of these vehicles as a kid. My dad bought one off my uncle, and it was such a great truck. I bought my late model 1953 2 years ago. It was rough in many places, but the body seemed reasonable. In July of 2017, I sent the truck to Willys America in Cazadera, Ca. Paul and his team, there, take these poor neglected vehicles, and makes them look like they are new. Paul and his team have been working on mine. They pulled the engine, rebuilt the engine from the ground up, balanced, blueprinted, etc. (I have the F4-134 75HP 4 cyl.) They also converted the vehicle to 12Volts, put in a new wiring harness, new gas tank/sending unit, added an overdrive, so the truck can go over 45 MPH, and are fixing the Wind shield, repairing and balancing the drive shaft and a firewall blanket. So, some  small cosmetic changes. The picture, below left, was how the center dash looked when I sent it. The right picture is what it looks like now.

Old bezelIMG 2060

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, these are real jeeps. Jeeps made by the inventor of the Jeep. Remember, in the late 50s, Willys Overland was sold to Kaiser Motors. In the 60s, Jeep was sold to America Motors, and then was sold to Chrysler motors, who have take the Jeep brand and perverted it into something it is not. Only the current Wranglers have any connection to the Jeeps of old. I should be getting this vehicle back from Paul and his team in April. I will enjoy driving this around the area. If you see me around, wave hi.

Remembering the past

When I first got into computers, Apple and Microsoft weren’t even companies.
Computers used to take up rooms (some buildings). I had the pleasure of working at a company called GenRad (formally General Radio) which used the Digital Equipment Corp’s PDP-8/E and PDP-8/A in their test systems. I got hooked on the PDP-8, which caused me to get a job at Digital Equipment Corp (DEC). I specialized in older machines like the original PDP-8 and the siblings PDP-8/S (it had a serial adder and a slow clock cycle), and the PDP-8/I, PDP-12 (a LINC/PDP-8 lab computer with real A/Ds).

The Living Computer Museum in Seattle, has a number of computers that I learned to program, or repair. What is funny, for 18 months in my early career, I was detached to Gordon and Gwen Bell’s Computer Museum project in DEC’s Marlboro facility and worked on getting the MIT TX0 (first transistorized computer. Google it) running, as well as a number of other DEC classic computers.

My good friend, David Brown, turned me on to this wonderful kit. It is essentially an emulated PDP-8/I (using a RaspberryPI) and a PDP-8/I replica control panel. I want to build this, and have it in my office. Why? Because .

http://obsolescence.wixsite.com/obsolescence/pidp-8-get-one

Now call me an old git, if you like, but I can appreciate the new technology we have today, because I lived the stuff that got us here. I have been privileged to have worked in an industry where I got to learn from the masters, and got to play a key role in some of the modern computing technology of today. Something I never take for granted. When I see the FB app for IOS at 700mb in size and remember writing code that had to fit into 128 12 bit words of memory, I want people off my lawn.

Anyway, I should write a book of my adventures in computing. The title would be:

“Screw your JavaScript, we wrote operating systems in assembler for breakfast!”

Or

“An Extraordinary Life in Computing”

The former title could be the subtitle.

Cheers.

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.