Saturday, November 27, 2004

Entrepreneur Diary #3

I promise to live my entrepreneurial life in solidarity with the Jews.

The day before my elbow surgery, Wayne called to say he was considering job offers from a school and others. This would be fine, except that the day before that we were approved for our $250K SBA loan. Needless to say the lack of his collateral killed that deal. It will be a little harder getting the marketing and engineering done, but it won't be impossible. Not like staying alive.

I woke up this morning with a dream of the loan officer. He is simply a half wit, but my mental state cast him in the role of antagonist. I promise to work hard and skip the dreams.

Great show on INHD about a blind person climbing Mt Everest. If he can do that, I can bring a great idea to market.

One last thing: so i'm laying there not wanting to get up. I have this recurring vignette pop in my head about how little money some people start with to end up with a fortune. I'm already mad about losing the $250K loan and the loan officer; I suppose I'm still vain and trying to make myself seem even smarter since I'm going to be successful WITHOUT the $250K.

But then it occurs to me: those stories about becoming successful with $10 ten dollars (I think the last one i heard was on C-SPAN about Franklin,) are all BS. They should record for history that they became successul with a $1 Billion idea in their head. With that kind of idea it hardly matters what money you have.

The physics of entrepreneurship demand that money flows to value. Maybe you have value in assets like Carnegie, or maybe you have value like me. There's an E=mc^2 of entrepreneurship too. But it's P=ci^2. Profit is produced by the application of capital and the squared value of the idea that drives the business.

Has the fourth interesting meeting with a reseller prospect in a week today. But I underestimated his power and interest, but finally figured it out. He said some important things: Resellers are opportunists; They want - like end users - to find someone else to be responsible. We should craft the FE message to appeal to those motivations.

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Ran across these 'to good to throw away' thoughts when i was filing today:

How important is the truth?

Life is about spinning facts which surround you into a story you like to tell yourself about you. (1/21/2004)

Imagination + Courage = Thinking outside the box (4/3/03)

At O'Reilly Conference: Homeless people with laptops; weird glow on faces of people attended seminars in dark rooms.
It's the decision that's expensive

To Boot from a GRUB prompt, type:

root (hd0,0)
kernel /vmlinuz-2.4.18-3 ro root=/dev/hda2

Brandon's remote copy solution:

tar cz * | ssh kim@ "dd of=file.tgz"

A School is a Marketplace of Ideas
A Teacher is a Broker of those Ideas
A Student is a Trader, Not a Consumer

Not HOW but WHAT is the most important question.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Political Debate

The Hancock County Farm Bureau held it's first annual Meet the Candidates night last night. I got the questions on Tuesday and studied like it was the SAT. Aside from one question, I planned to get a B+. (I have a regular job, right?)

The event was taped and broadcast on radio. The other candidates were all courteous, reasonably intelligent and genuine. The other Libertarian, a young man of 23, was very nervous, but he didn't throw up. It was over in an hour. I got to answer two questions: How I felt about all day kindergarten? and How should schools be funded? During the scripted part of the evening, the moderator asked the questions and the candidates were called in turn to respond. Boring.

But the exciting part was after the scripted program. An audience member vigously disagreed with my asertion that we are getting less for more from school investments. A woman explained that property taxes forced her to go bankrupt.

If I hadn't thought this politics stuff was serious before now, last night changed my mind. This is serious business.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Entrepreneur Diary #2

Tom called and turned down the job. After a very lengthy interview process, I really thought he'd accept our offer. We were probably $10K (20%) lower than his target, but he seemed really interested in all the things we were doing. And the money was going to be there in the next 6-12 months. I guess it was really just about the money.

This highlights what a hard job entrepreneurs have. They have to compete with incumbent businesses in their market, struggle to make investments with paybacks that stretch for months or years into the future (where their competitors already have begun to see a return,) defend themselves against start-up costs of all kinds including a rash of government friction costs (including compliance, risk and unexpected expenses) AND compete for talent with competitors and the negative image of being a small/start-up company.

You have to wonder how small businesses EVER succeed and WHY entrepreneurs even try. It must be about FREEDOM. It is no less a primal force in business than in life

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Various Billboards

As a member of All Saints Episcopal Church, I posted this message on the parish message board: People are Analog, Prejudice is Digital. I don't think many people who saw it inderstood it.

On my office door I've posted this message: People are Polynomials, Life is Non-Linear.

Of the two, I can't decide which I like better.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Entrepreneur Diary #1

This week saw more positive chatter on FileEngine. I co-hosted the inaugural meeting of the Open Source Software For Business (OSS4B) Peer Group of TechPoint, gave an interview for Paul Overhauser's imminent selection as an Innovator for the IBJ, received a referral from the Exex Director of TechPoint to a principal of project hosted by IUPUI concerning open source application testing and quality, received an invitation from an IU development directory to take a VIP tour of the new IUPUI technology building.

The frequency and quality of chatter gives me hope that the intangibles surrounding the FE business will consolodate into connections and outcomes.

Next week will be just as important: We'll likely hire a technician, I'm meeting with an attorney who wants to merge with Computer Experts, Jeff (and possibly Clara) may join the FileEngine marketing team with Bob Badger's assistance and a meeting with Garth Dickey may turn out to be critically important to the FE Linux distribution.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Those of you who know me are familar with my college conspiracy rant . . . so I wont repeat it here. But here is a new twist:

Misidentified causes of complex symptoms is the bane of science. To identify college as the 'cause' of success in later life is to misidentify the cause. My feeling is that a person who has the discipline and brains to get through college is probably headed for success anyway!

So, my advice: save the money, join several service groups to get the social networks, get a job + subsidize your own experience. You'll be better off.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Parents with students

So, the weekend has been spent under the cloud of our daughter being accused of cheating on an Economics assignment. The process of resolving a dispute is so inefficient. That's why lawyers have a code of civil procedure. But it would have been senseless to sue her school for the zero her teacher gave her on a homework assignment worth six points...she still has an A in the class...

Fact situation: C and two friends study together over the weekend in an Econ class that is being delivered on-line. When the assignments are turned in, the answers to two questions are remarkably similar from C & M. Teacher notices the similarity and zeros both students' grades for the work.

Teacher snatches C from class in the company of the Dean of Students. C is quite upset - as you would suspect. Mom gets upset - to put it mildly. Her daughter's honor has been assailed!

Long story short: both mothers, C & M are on the phone with the teacher multiple times over the weekend. Tempers rage. E-mails are authored in emotional explosions of cathartic prose and self righteousness indignation. The stage is set for a Monday morning show down. The parents plot an ambush to vidicate their daughters!

Somehow reason intervenes. A call from the teacher to C's mother sues for peace. She wants to move the time of the meeting so the combatants are not brought together at the same time. The issues, (see my reference to Civil Pro above,) are finally made visible to me separated from their vitriolic packaging.

1. The answers from C & M to the one question the teacher read to me were clearly the same. No need to read the answer to the second question.

2. All parties stipulate there was a study group and that the girls collaborated on the answers to many questions. This is OK by the teacher.

3. The teacher claims that the offense of literally copying another student's work is subject to summary judgement on the basis of a finding that two students have the same answer to a question on an assignment or test. The punishment is to give BOTH students a zero for their work. The assumption is they conspired to share the answer.

4. I introduce a varilable: What if the first student is unaware of the copying? Say, for example, student one has her paper copied by student two without her knowledge? This causes the teacher to pause. She concludes that under those circumstances, student one would be innocent and vindicated. The charge would be ammened to plagiarism; a crime in which their is no conspiracy and only a single criminal.

5. The teacher thus has a dilema to solve: how to detemine if C shared her work with M improperly, or if C, (who turned in the work first - online courses have date & time stamps,) was simply the victim of plagiarism. C admits that they 'collaborated' on the answer to many questions. Where is the line? When is it crossed? At a trial, the matter would be a the subject for a jury to decide.

6. The teacher simply says: A) C's grade is an A and won't be affected by the zero. (To which we counter that HONOR matters more than a stupid HS Econ grade!) B) This should be a lesson for C. (To which we counter: What lesson? That study groups are dangerous? No - That some 'friends' will take your work and pass it off as their own. This can put you at risk to be considered a cheat. The same thing happened to the teacher in college she admits. The defense feels the tide turn!)

7. However, there is no jury. The teacher will not be able to decide for herself between the two scenarios. Her 'only' option is to blame both students. This, I feel, is poor public policy. But under the circumstances, I understand her problem. She can't validate one student's testimony and invalidate the other's. There is only one chance that C will be judged not guilty - if M admits the copying.

8. C has learned another lesson: Her parents are very passionate about HONOR and the threat that it might be diminished by baseless accusations. Hopefully, she will take this lesson and an amplified caution regarding the perils of associations (George Washington had warned against similar alliances...) Concern about the friends you keep is an important lesson indeed.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Let the Games Begin!

Well, at least let me overcome the inertia of getting started.