Tag Archives: Business


“Analog Hole Bill Would Impose a Secret Law”

I wonder what other such gems can be found in the land of the intersection between technology and law…

Freedom to Tinker » Blog Archive » Analog Hole Bill Would Impose a Secret Law


The best or consistent?

Here’s a business question that I think about, and I wonder if people offering services to the world often have any explicit philosophy about it: is it better to always give a little extra when you can, or to be consistent?

For example, suppose you’re a chef, and during a slow period you could arrange the cilantro garnish in a pretty pattern, but when you’re rushed, you would only have time to scatter it around semi-randomly. (More dramatic examples are possible, but that at least gives the flavor of what I’m talking about. Flavor, ha.) Would you consider it better to always scatter it, so that customers get consistency, or to arrange it when possible, so that some customers sometimes get something a little extra?

My personal philosophy is to tend toward giving a little extra when I can. To me, the benefits (to the customer) of those little surprises, and (to me) of the attention to the little details, outweigh the advantages of consistency. However, I bet a lot of business environments do explicitly quash their people’s desire to do a little bit extra, on the theory that it will confuse the customer about expectations or that it will waste time.

This is probably similar to the division between commodity services and more differentiated ones. Certain businesses keep themselves in the commodity space to save money, and certain ones try to stay differentiated to increase customer satisfaction. It’s good, I think, that there is a mix of those two paths in an economy, or even within a business, but my personal tendency is toward the differentiated path.



Is it just me, or does it seem like the whole multilayered brouhaha (yes, I used the word ‘brouhaha’. Wanna fight aboudit?) about DRM, DCMA, RIAA, MPAA, WTFA is really a sideline from a more important question? The question is, why are we accepting this crazy model of top-down entertainment? Why aren’t we making music for our friends (and only for our friends), or stopping by a neighbor’s house when they’re doing a little play? Why are we even looking for entertainment instead of expression and communication? Why are we afraid to believe our own stories could be as enthralling as those enacted by someone who wouldn’t deign to appear for less than $10 million?


“The Google Story”

Just read The Google Story. If you’re fascinated by Google from a technological, financial, or entrepreneurial perspective, it’s worth a read.

It’s clear that the authors really like Google, Larry and Sergey, so if you want ‘balance’, look elsewhere as well (clues for further research are provided).

To me, it’s a pretty inspiring yet somewhat sobering look at the process of taking a big idea and realizing it in a big way. I see lots of little lessons about things to try and not try, and ways to get away with pissing off the established order via execution of compelling ideas.


Colored Bubbles/etc.

I never really thought about it before, but colored bubbles aren’t a bad idea. Check out the PopSci article for a story of persistence, entrepreneurship, and chemistry.


A brief catalog of things I learned for fun that later made me money

I’m thankful for… things that I learned ‘just cuz’, which later netted me some profit in my work life.

  • what drivers are and how they interact
  • how to build a PC from parts
  • how to install, administer, and run Linux
  • typing
  • 3D graphics/modelling/simulation
  • what’s underneath the covers of the Internet and Web
  • calculus
  • how to build an Ethernet network
  • x86 assembly language
  • Python
  • a number of other programming languages
  • computer audio

The list goes on… Most of my career has been a series of happy accidents combined with a general wish to align my interests and my work. That’s nice.


Oh, patents

You could claim that it’s a result of having lived in the world in which this had already been invented, or something like that, but the first time I ever thought about hot-swapping software modules, this is the basic scheme I came up with in about 10 minutes of contemplation. To think that I might be legally unable to use such a method because someone else wrote a massively oververbose document about it just seems wrong…
Real time control system and method for replacing software in a controlled system – US Patent 5421017

Patentstorm looks like it might be a useful resource.

(I happened upon this while doing the search for ‘entitization’ mentioned in the last post.)


Economic readin’

I’ve been reading an economic anthology, “The Economic Nature of the Firm” that’s far more interesting than I first guessed it would be. Economics is another case of how school can ruin someone’s appreciation of a subject; I never thought, from my Econ courses, that economics was actually interesting, ya know?

This book is giving me more to like about the study of economics, and is giving me insights into what firms are, why they exist, why they maybe shouldn’t exist, how I can fit in as an individual entrepreneur, etc. Fun.