A Day in the Life

A day in my life. Thoughts on leadership, management, startups, technology, software, concurrent development, etc... Basically the stuff I think about from 10am to 6pm.


Out and About: February 27th San Diego, CA

I'm heading down to San Diego next week. If you're interested in concurrent software development: multithreading and grid computing please come by. I'll be talking to the San Diego .NET User Group, you can find out about the meeting here. Brian and I have plans to grab some food after the event so please plan on joining us.



If I had a nickel...

...for every product idea I've ever had, I'd retire.

This was a fun read today, Alien-hunting software rats out laptop thief and provided yet another product idea. Lojack for your computers.

Unless a computer-savvy thief uninstalls nearly every piece of software before connecting to the Internet, he said, SETI@home would track the machine -- and the thief would likely never know it.

"I have some advice for thieves: Don't connect to the network," Anderson said.
With the recent news reports of stolen laptops containing lots-o-confidential data, it seems there is a market for a product that can get your stuff back.

After searching the Internet it seems that someone already thought of this, Lojack for Laptops. Here is a review Does LoJack For Laptops Work?

Now I'm wondering why stolen laptops with confidential information ARE SUCH A BIG DEAL! The technology and service is available so that IT departments should be investing money here and protecting their customer's data. This makes it seem criminal that companies are having trouble finding recently stolen computers.


While I'm on a product idea rant...

Where is the social networking site for retirees? This seems like a huge untapped target market with money. Why build the next MySpace or FaceBook for teenagers and young adults when you can tap an entire un-served market space? Let's think about our retirees...

1. Statistics show that people live longer if they stay busy after retirement.
2. Retirees need to create new connections to replace the work related ones they've lost.
3. The Baby Boomers are a very large, technically savvy group.
4. Many have money.

Most of my immediate family members are 30 to 40 years older than I am. That's just how things worked out. My Grandfather suffered from Macular degeneration. I watched his world get smaller and smaller. Where did he turn for mental stimulation and social contact? His computer. He spent hours on his computer every day. I jacked the fonts up as large I could make them and he would sit in front of the computer with a magnifying glass. To me this is a BIG opportunity indicator. The guy was in his 80s.

So many people think that only the kids are technically savvy, this is a mistake. My Grandfather's generation went through an incredible amount of technology changes. And I am confident that when folks have something to gain by learning about technology – they can not be stopped.

So, build a social network for retirees. Provide a framework for them to make it their own. They are a group that knows how to lead and they will be very vocal in telling you what you need to build.


Talk to me

As is my wont I was looking through message boards and stumbled across a LinkedIn question about the strangest interview questions you've been asked or have asked. I didn't think my response was strange enough to post there but I thought I'd write it up here.

About 14 years ago I was interviewing candidates for a customer support position. I had already gone through the cover letters and resumes and eliminated folks who were either not technical enough or could not write well enough. At this point I thought that the most important skill for the candidates was how well they handled the phone. So when I called them for the prescreening interview, I asked them to just talk to me. Tell me how their weekend was, what they had for breakfast, I just didn't care. I told them I was just trying to get a feel for their phone skills and how well they communicated.

One candidate got frazzled and asked me what he was supposed to talk about, I reiterated that I didn't care I just wanted to get a feel for how he was on the phone. He got mad and hung up. This was for a job where he would have to spend a lot of time on the phone. His English was good and his technical skills on his resume looked sound, but obviously he was lacking in people skills.

The guy I ended up hiring had very broken English and a thick accent, but our customers loved him. He was very helpful, enthusiastic, and competent. When I had asked him to just talk he very excitedly talked to me, I don't even remember what it was about. But he made a positive impression and that was what I wanted my customers to come away with. (I'm going to call him Bing because my memory is bad and I can't remember his name.)

I suspect that Bing would have been overlooked by many people because of his speech. But I think people are more tuned into emotions and he had a happy, positive, helpful, and engaging personality. Any employee in a customer facing position becomes the voice or face of the company. When people thought of our company I wanted them to not only have their technical needs addressed but I wanted them to leave the encounter feeling good about it, about our products, and about our company. Bing was able to do all of that because he was able to communicate to the customer that he really cared about them and that he was there to help and support them. So his English wasn't so good...but he was a GREAT communicator.

So...what's my point? I don't have one today! I just wanted to share a random story. Have a good one.