Getting Started

Written by Nexcerpt on August 4th, 2012 in Patterns & News.
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[This article was published as part of Dr. Dobbs Develop In The Cloud on 04 Aug 2012. It does not appear to have survived subsequent migration of, where it originally appeared. As its author, I have taken the liberty of reproducing it here, and backdating this URL to that date.]

Do you have a great idea for an app, game, service, or business? Making your idea real can be a fantastic experience. Even if you have only an inkling, get busy. To have a startup, you have to start!

If you’re waiting on technology, excuses are disappearing fast.

I launched my first startup in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1996. A single ISP was our connection to the “outside” tech world. Today, any mobile device displaying this article has more bandwidth than our entire network — and more computing power than all our workstations and servers combined. You (and a billion other folks) can exploit some remarkable resources.

As noted in Keith Dawson’s inaugural column, it’s increasingly easy to work anywhere, at any pace, with anyone. Any smalltown startup can access tools to attract employees (if needed), investors (when wanted), and customers (paying or otherwise).

Perhaps you have no idea why you’d want a “debugger in the cloud,” or hesitate to enter a jargon-laden field. I can relate. Back in 1996, local bankers stared rather blankly when we merely asked to “process credit cards online.” Today, even in smaller communities, such concerns are dwindling.

In May, 2012, I helped judge the third Startup Weekend Kalamazoo. It’s part of Startup Weekend, which has sponsored 500 workshops worldwide, to help launch over 5,000 startups.

Startup Weekend’s powerful motto (“No Talk, All Action”) exaggerates slightly. Yes, the action is constant, but participants do talk, sharing whatever anyone wants to know about technology, business, marketing, and more.

I was extremely impressed with Startup Weekend’s supportive tone and cooperative style. People asked the most fundamental questions, yet received useful answers, respectfully.

No one seemed out of place. One geek admitted that his autism made it difficult to function in such a crowd — then nearly topped the winning pitch by an eight-person ensemble. Another young programmer, who had done Federal time for online scams, brought several pals to help launch legit companies.

Participants had from zero practical experience to oodles of street cred. The youngest of the crowd may have been a woman seeking help with a business model (and website) to market gourmet pancake mixes. One senior attendee was a seasoned venture capitalist whose partner helped me sell my startup in 1999. All received the same serious questions, great respect, and solid guidance.

The environment was electrifying for everyone. You want some of that. You really do.

For a sip of adrenaline right now, read Ben Davidson’s firsthand account of the exhilaration of building a company over a weekend.

Such extended workshops typically do charge a fee, perhaps $100 or so (in part because they feed participants for the weekend).

Organizers of our local Startup Weekend (and likely of yours) also host bi-weekly meetups, free of charge. StartupZoo sessions, hosted at The Bureau, carry the same excellent vibe. Attendees may have thirty years’ business experience, or none; upon arriving at a session, many are strangers to one another. We steadily and openly trade ideas, offer suggestions, and solve problems no one of us could address alone.

Every person leaves with new concepts, sharper focus, and more confidence about their own project. Support like this is available in hundreds of communities around the world, likely near you, perhaps frequently.

This open collaboration, and range of guidance, and depth of motivation is available to you, too, from the Startup Weekend community.

By now, you should be offering your location to to find startup events near you; or searching your engine of choice for “startup” and the name of the nearest sizable city. Join; follow; learn.

To have a startup, you have to start!

Conard Line

Written by Nexcerpt on May 6th, 2012 in Patterns & News.
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In this month’s New York Times Magazine, Adam Davidson does a heroic job of hiding his contempt for Edward Conard. For this, Davidson deserves considerable praise: Conard seems a truly contemptible character.

At the moment, Conard is pushing a new book, based on the startlingly tone-deaf premise that super-wealthy people make life better for the rest of us — that having billionaires (about 400 in the US today) tends to keep life nice for the little people.

Unfortunately for Conard, the conclusion he perversely chooses to believe contradicts best practices of wealth management. More on that after some orientation to Conard’s ultra-privileged world.


Piano Quality

Written by Nexcerpt on September 27th, 2011 in Patterns & News.
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The finest pianos in the world were built about a hundred years ago. Due to evolution in engineering, exhaustion of raw materials, and flagging business standards, we will never see their like again. Some people may build very good pianos; new forms of the instrument may exceed (in narrow ways) the magnificent machines built a few decades either side of the year 1900. But, from a musical perspective, there will never be a “better” piano than the typical concert grand of a century ago.


Passport to Lunacy

Written by Nexcerpt on April 28th, 2011 in Patterns & News.

[Sigh] OK, left-leaning conspiracy theorists — and you know you’re nearly as common as Birthers — I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the State Department has not gone batshit insane, no matter how many mouths have already frothed over the notion.


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