Dec 062011

Today is officially the one-year anniversary since I left my day job in order to start a company. Wow. What a year. First off, I can confirm that working on a startup is like living in a time warp. This was easily the shortest year of my professional life. It is funny thinking back how much time I thought I was going to have without my day job “in the way”. Heck, I even thought I would have enough time to keep up with this blog (I’m still working on that!). It is a very strange feeling to know that you’ve worked so hard and been through so much, and yet have barely gotten started. To that extent, it is worth acknowledging that starting a business from the ground up is truly hard. This is as expected but, having been through it for a year now, I must admit that it is a very different kind of “hard”. On one hand, you have to literally create something from nothing; you start with no concrete direction, no momentum, and virtually no resources. On the other hand, it is painfully obvious that the world is full of opportunity and it is up to you to make the most of it. The odds are completely stacked against you and yet there are infinite ways to try to cheat them. So how did things go this past year? In short: as well as I could have hoped. I learned an incredible amount about myself, […]

Aug 252011

Yesterday, Steve Jobs announced his resignation as CEO of Apple. With the incredible number of blog posts and articles that are being written about Jobs at the moment, I thought I would quickly reflect on one simple question: What did Steve Jobs actually do? First, a confession: I honestly don’t know a whole lot about Steve Jobs. In fact, I was never really a big fan of Apple. I hated their computers in our school computer labs and, until just a few years ago, couldn’t understand why people would pay so much for an iMac or even an iPod. All of that has changed, of course. The iPhone is the single greatest gadget purchase I have ever made, and the MacBook Air is the most perfect laptop I have ever used. Yes, I’m a huge fan now. I still don’t know very much about Jobs, but I do know one thing: he has dramatically changed the world we live in – multiple times over. Personal computers The Apple II was the first commercially successful personal computer. The Apple Macintosh was the first computer to introduce the graphical user interface and the mouse to the masses. Most people – even those who work in the computer industry – probably don’t realize how much Apple did to kickstart and shape the personal computer revolution. Computer animated films Pixar’s Toy Story was the first full-length CGI animated film and made a major impact on the movie industry. Who doesn’t love a Pixar movie? […]

Aug 172011
8 reasons now is a great time to be

Recently, Varsha and I have been watching the Story of Us series about the history of America. It is really fascinating to see how the various inventions over time helped America develop into the world’s leading superpower. We highly recommend watching it – I’ve never cared about learning history but I truly love this series. To be honest, it has me thinking about what it would be like to be born in a different time period. OK, so maybe the colt revolver and the cotton gin are not my thing, but even the computer is now nearly 70 years old and has gone through a number of exciting innovations and developments. As someone who likes to create new things, I can attest to the fact that is easy to get caught feeling like we’ve already missed out on some “gold rush” period of invention and discovery. All the good ideas and their corresponding website domains have been taken, right? To make matter worse, there are a number of topic and trends we continuously hear about in the technology realm that quickly start to feel over-hyped. But perhaps… easy access to information has caused us to under-appreciate new advancements as they occur. I thought I’d take a few minutes to step back and consider the various trends. And the more I think about them, the more I realize that we are in the midst of a particularly significant age of innovation that will alter the world we live in. Here are […]

Feb 232011
One long, intimate month with the Facebook API

As I announced back in December, my goal for 2011 is to launch a full-fledged software startup. But first – I decided to spend a few weeks creating a Facebook app. Hey, why not? As many of you know, I run a Twitter over email service that has does really well within it’s particular niche. I’ve felt for a long time that a similar service would make a lot of sense for Facebook and finally decided to invest the time in creating it. Developing for the Facebook platform definitely has its challenges. I thought I’d take a few moments to reflect on the experience and share some of the technical details of working with the Facebook API. You might have seen news coverage about the Breakup Notifier app that just came out. I was planning to release a similar feature more than 2 weeks ago. We jokingly called it the Stalker Alert. However, during a private beta test with several users, I discovered I wasn’t able to provide an accurate notification due to unreliable data returned by the Facebook API. Kudos to the developer if he found a way to make it happen but I’m quite doubtful that his app always reports accurate information. I explain why below. Background: “Project Zuckermail” The purpose of this post is to talk about the Facebook API but I do want to give some background on my app. If you really just want to read about the API, feel free to skip ahead. The […]

Dec 272010

It is  hard to believe that it has already been three weeks since I left my day job. Although I have yet to start on what I would consider to be my real startup, these past few weeks have been really busy. I’ve been working on an existing project, my email-to-Twitter service, and trying to figure out how to maximize revenue without continuing to spend a disproportionate amount of effort developing and maintaining the service (this is both fun and frustrating).  Now that I am on “Christmas vacation” (mandated by the big boss), I thought I would take a moment to reflect on a few things I’ve learned during my first few weeks as a full-time entrepreneur: It’s tempting to move too fast My last day as a full-time employee was on a Monday and I immediately hit the ground running on Tuesday. Since then I’ve been trying to move at a break-neck speed. There is an enormous sense of urgency and I’m now able to move fast without other commitments or distractions in the way.  Sounds great, right? The problem is that it is really easy to get sucked into task after task and feeling like you can’t waste time by doing anything else. Should I  take 30 minutes to catch up on RSS feeds and my Twitter stream? No way. Take a shower and eat lunch? Maybe later. Can I just stop and think? Ah, when I have more time. Obviously, this is not the most effective mode of […]

Dec 062010

More than six years ago, I graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science and took a job at IBM. Today is my last day. So where am I going next? Good question… When I was twelve years old, I came home from school one day and decided I wanted to create a video game. I found an application on our home computer called QBASIC and discovered that I could use it to program my game. After a few hours of looking at the built-in help file and scouring the list of commands, I had my first program. Over the next few years, I had an insatiable desire to create. I programmed everything from a 3D basketball shoot-out game to a utility that allowed you to copy large files using multiple floppy disks. I even created my own version of Microsoft Windows (minus the actual operating system) complete with a start menu, control panel, built-in screensavers, and the ability to install other applications. At this point you should be picturing a little Indian boy with nerdy glasses and a fuzzy mustache. Yes – there was something that kept me glued to that computer. It wasn’t simply the satisfaction of being able to program; it was the opportunity to figure things out and turn ideas into reality. And somehow, over the years, I’ve lost touch with that. Now don’t get me wrong: These past 6 years of working at IBM were extremely valuable. Working at a large company provided […]