Since we placed an order for the GlowForge laser cutter (more on this in another post), we got a pre-released copy of the Dan Shapiro’s upcoming book on Startups and Entrepreneurship “Hot Seat The Startup CEO Guidebook” Dan is the CEO of Glowforge and has a string of successful startups behind him such as Ontela (now Photobucket), Sparkbuy which he sold to Google, and Robot Turtles which is a board game designed to teach children as young as 4 years old about programming and logical thinking which he did as a kickstarter and which is now available in Target stores.
“Hot Seat” is basically a cheatsheet on startups broken into 5 parts. Founding, Funding, Leadership, Management, and Endgame. Dan explains his history and cites specific people and examples of practices that will help you navigate the dark waters of a startup. The first section of the book is all about Founding. There are some great tips here I wish I used in my previous business ventures. Founding is a dirty and scary thing for every startup. You want to think about contingencies from the start. Dan recommends to do this before you even incorporate.
In the first section of the book, Dan gives advice on everything from who should be a cofounder to even providing a template for a decision matrix on what projects your startup should focus on. He also gives great examples of how shares might be calculated for different types of cofounders, answering the question of “How much is each cofounder really worth?”. These kinds of things are what make this book awesome. Dan also freely gives advice that I’m sure he learned the hard way. Some of this advice is common sense, but there are plenty of gems you’d only learn from a good mentor.
Each section has several chapters in it. Again, the information comes straight from Dan’s personal experience. For the Funding section, there are slides directly from the pitch deck of some of Dan’s successful ventures. He breaks down what to put on each slide, and how to best present it. Arguably, this could be considered style more than anything else, but with a record such as his, and the fact that he now is an investor in other startups I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s more than just style. There ae several other chapters in the funding section that explain the differences between different types of investors and what each of their motivations are, which is what you need to keep in mind if you are pitching ideas to them.
In the Leadership section, he discusses the different duties of a CEO, and how to cultivate a good company culture. I think anyone applying for a new job or even considering changing jobs would find this section interesting because you can tell a lot about how day-to-day interactions reflect the culture. The CEO is the taproot of the company’s culture and is the archetype all the other management will follow. It says a lot about a company if everyone is constantly gossiping…
While I’m not a CEO right now, I am in a newer management position at my full-time gig. I found the management section of this book very helpful. I’ve memorized some of it as one-liners that I can repeat to myself to help me learn this new set of skills. My favorite and most obviously useful advice in this section was on “playing the CEO ‘Inspire’ card”. This section also gives great general tips on hiring, whether you should buy or lease furniture, how to deal with a board of directors.
The final part of this book discusses the Endgame. What are the different types of acquisitions? Who do you negotiate with? It stresses how important it is to have done things correctly and thoroughly from the beginning of the startup. Technically, the entire goal of any startup is to either be bought or to reach critical mass and go “Google” on the market and end up buying other startups. Either way it is important to know what to expect. Dan gives the example from his previous company Sparkbuy’s acquisition by Google and breaks down the different parties involved and somewhat what to expect in negotiations.
Overall, I really enjoyed Dan’s book. It gave more gritty details than any of the other books on buiness and startups I’ve read. The devil is in the details and while this book stops short of giving you legal advice, you get insights on how things are supposed to work. Personally, it reaffirmed my intuitions on getting a business started correctly and having contracts in place for the “big day”; be it an exit, acquisition, or other huge event for you or the company. The book will be available in paperback May 2015 and
I can no longer recall how this book came into my possession. Based on the title, my guess is it was purchased in person from a used bookstore. It is my binges at used bookstores or library book sales that result in my random and large assortment of books. My online book purchases are very deliberate and I usually remember purchasing them. I think I would have been drawn to this book because Indian culture has a pull on me. Side note: It is this same pull that results in me watching movies like Barfi! on Netflix. Whatever the serendipitous span of events that brought me this book, I am thankful.
As we shared earlier, we went ahead and made the plunge on a new rug for our office from overstock. This 8 foot by 11 foot rug set us back $185, but it has already proved resilient against our “vomity” cat. This is likely because this rug is meant to be poolside (outdoor), so it is super durable as an indoor rug.
Here is a before shot of our office.
And here is an office shot from another angle. Yes my husband sits on a pillow. (Maybe I need to surprise him with a new chair!)
You can see how the current green rug is just too small for the space. Now for the big reveal.
Ta da! And here it is again from another angle.
It is rug love! It fits in the space beautifully and the pattern provides a nice modern touch.
Seeing this “after” picture puts me in a cleaning and organizing mood. Got to go! Tell us what you think of the new rug!
A few years ago, we got a deal on some low-end recreational (Old town Otter, now replaced by the Old town Heron model) kayaks. Instead of opting for the model with all the bells and whistles, we got the base models. For years we were fine with them paddling on flat water (lakes and such). We’ve been using the kayaks a lot lately, and getting more into small rapids (in which foot braces are incredibly helpful).
I researched online for the best foot braces out there. The Old Town foot brace kit is $50! That price is ridiculous. I settled on Harmony Slidelock foot braces. Everywhere I could find them online they were $33 per set. Just by chance, a friend of mine flew to Florida for work and happened into a great kayak outfitter store, Canoe Country. He was able to get me the exact same Harmony foot braces for $16 per set– half price! They have great prices on dry bags too. I had to buy some neoprene washers from the hardware store, but they were very cheap. Overall It was a great buy.
Once I got the foot brace kits, I had to figure out how to mount them in the kayaks. The first step was to sit in the kayak and hold the braces against my feet to see what felt comfortable. Remember to wear your water shoes and life-preserver during this step so the braces will be the correct distance. I neglected to do this. Mounting position isn’t critical since the braces are adjustable, but try to at least keep them even with one another.
I mounted the braces by looking at pics online of my kayak model with foot braces and tried to use a little math to figure out the distances from major features on the kayak. I measured where I wanted them to go, and drilled a 3/8” hole in the kayak. This was worrisome for me because I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. I don’t want to ugly up my boat with a bunch of holes in the wrong place, etc. Drilling was very easy. The Otters are made out of a single layer linear polyethylenethat machines like butter, though it is very strong and generally deflects anything that might try to scratch it. I suggest using a knife to cut a small starting hole before using the drill bit to prevent it from wandering. I should have angled the drill to be perpendicular with the mounting hole on the foot brace, but I didn’t think about that until later. Once the first hole was drilled, I screwed in the first screw just until I could feel it penetrate the inside a little. On the inside, I placed the neoprene washer on the end of the screw before aligning the mounting hole of the foot brace. From the outside to the inside, it is mounted like the image below. This will keep the boat water tight.
To align the second hole, I held the brace up inside the boat to the approximate place I wanted it to be, then used a bright laser pointer from the inside of the boat to help me find where to drill the second hole (this was my friend Daniel’s genius idea). It worked great! The foot brace needs to bend a bit to be able to screw tightly to the side of the boat, so don’t worry about that when installing them. After the first brace was installed, the second one went in much quicker. We just mirrored the measurements and it was a breeze.
After installing them on my boat, it was time to install the braces on Jessica’s boat. Now, this wasn’t visible on mine, but her kayak had some spots from the mold that shows where the standard foot braces should be mounted. These holes didn’t match up with the new braces I got, so I just centered my screw holes to be along a line that connected the visible dots on the boat. Once again, I drilled the lower hole and screwed that in (with the neoprene washer) and used the laser to help me find the correct spot for the second hole.
The next day, we went on a two-day kayaking/camping trip. We paddles 16 miles down the Uwharrie river! Those foot braces made navigating the rapids a breeze and increased the overall comfort of the overall trip. The next step will be to add a seat pad and maybe even some knee padding. Future plan also include kayak sails, and a keel of some type as well. Keep checking for updates on trips as well.
Dick’s Sporting goods has Coleman brand cockpit covers and spray skirts on clearence for what seems to be the Coleman Rebel. We picked up two cockpit covers for $5 each and two medium spray skirts for $5 and $15 from different locations. These don’t seem to be available anywhere online, and you can’t really call store to check for them but get them if you can! They fit our Old Town Otters perfectly. These Spray skirts feel a bit cheap and aren’t made for hardcore kayaking, but at the very least they keep the paddle drips out of the cockpit and when they start to fall apart we can make our own using them as a pattern. The cockpit covers seem to be of a slightly better quality and do the job of keeping creepy crawlies out of the kayaks while in storage.
For the longest time, we’ve wanted some kind of light above the sink in our kitchen. We finally settled on a simple DIY solution to this problem using the IKEA Hemma cord set. The cord set comes with a long electrical wire that has a normal 2-prong plug on one end, and a light socket on the other. The light socket has a removable screw piece to allow you to attach a lamp shade. The screw piece holds the shade securely onto the light socket end of the cord. The cord itself is quite strong and can easily handle a glass shade hanging from it.
The cord set comes with an open eye hook, but it didn’t work in our situation because there was no stud in the ceiling where we wanted to hang the light. We ended up buying a hanging plant hook kit. We had to modify the hook slightly because the plastic wire hanger that came with the Hemma was too small to fit over the end of the planter hook.
To fix this, I simply cut the end off of the hook with a small hacksaw. The metal was very soft and this took only seconds. If you don’t have a hacksaw, you could possibly use heavy duty wire cutters to cut the end off.
These hanging kits are designed to hold hanging planters which are pretty heavy and come with the parts to install on either a stud or directly into drywall. The drywall anchor is a spring toggle bolt, which is capable of hanging a lot of weight. This is a bit overkill for this project, but it doesn’t hurt. For other projects, you may want to check out which kind of drywall anchor would be right for you. To install this toggle bolt, I used a half-inch spade drill bit to drill a hole in the ceiling large enough to accept the toggle bolt when it is folded.
We planned to power the light using a power socket under the kitchen cabinets by the sink but we didn’t want the plug just hanging down from the ceiling for two reasons; 1) Because it is unsightly and 2) because the Hemma wire was several feet too long. What we decided to do was to run the wire inside our cabinets and leave the extra wire on top of the cabinet. To do this, we used a larger drill bit to drill a hole bottom shelf and the top of the cabinets as close to the back corner as possible.
We threaded the wire through the holes and tied a knot just before the bottom hole leaving enough on the other side to reach the plug under the cabinets. This knot should prevent any extra wire from coming through the hole.
We got a shade from a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $2.00. These stores are great because they have a wide variety of random construction pieces and furniture for great prices and the money goes to help Habitat for Humanity. The particular share we got was a bit too big to fit on the screw part of the hemma, so I filed down some of the plastic on the hemma’s light socket to make some room. I was only able to thread a couple of threads on the socket with the screw piece, but that was plenty to hold the shade.
All in all, the IKEA Hemma proved to be a great solution for us. There are tons of really great examples out there using it as well. It allows you to be creative and still coming up with a professional look. If you have used the Hemma for a DIY lighting project, we’d love to see what you did! Leave us a comment with info and a link.
I like to say I am not cheap, I am frugal. I like quality and I would rather pay a little more for something that would last, but I also love to save money. Buying eyeglasses online was a bit of risky territory, but I did my research and put in my first order from EyeBuyDirect in February of 2011. I ordered a pair of glasses for $36.12 (including shipping!). I added a “Tint Key” of “Grey 60%” so I could use these glasses for driving. Essentially I created a pair of prescription sunglasses for only $36.12. Can you say sweet!
I’ve recently gotten into astronomy and astrophotography since I got an 8″ telescope for my birthday in 2010. Since then I have found that my Android phone is a must have tool! This is a list my favorite and most useful Android apps for astronomy. All of the ones mentioned here are free or have a free version. I suggest donating or upgrading on all of them if you like them to help compensate the programmers for their hard work.
UPDATED with new app (see end of post for the new addition).
Many people are curious about linux, or maybe have even tried linux at some point. There is a huge difference between people trying linux, and people using linux. Hopefully this article will sort of ease your transition into using linux, either as a full time OS or even just enough to get around if you ever encounter it. Once you are familiar with software on one OS, its tough to move on but with this article I hope to list out some linux software that replaces many of the XP programs I once loved and how to run certain irreplaceable Windows software on linux.
(Image provided by Wikimedia Commons. Authors Larry Ewing, Simon Budig, Anja Gerwinski)
I have had some issues dealing with “experts” at local music stores and even reviews of products online; in particular dealing with USB condenser microphones used for music recording. I though that since I could see how so many people claim to be experts, yet give misleading information, I should do my part is dispelling some myths about USB audio hardware using a particular example.
Even some “experts” at the music store will have no clue what they are talking about, so let me enlighten you something so you won’t fall prey to their stupidity.
I like to record music from time to time on my computer. Nothing special, a riff here or there on the guitar, or a cover song or something. I wanted to have the simplest method for recording so when I chose to, I can focus on recording music instead of setting things up. I found the MXL USB.006 Condenser Microphone to be perfect for my application, however everyone and their brother advised me against it. Even the guy who sold it to me at “Guitar Place” said it wasn’t as good as running a standard condenser mic through a mixer and using a USB sound card. The one he recommended was the Behringer UCA202. So I bought them both to see the differences.