Mar 27

Two forces of nature give talks that are a must-watch for anyone who is looking to change the world:

Steve Jobs’ commencement address at Stanford:

Randy Pausch’s farewell speech at Carnegie Mellon:

If you ever have an either/or choice of gaining all the knowledge or all the motivation to do something hard, choose the latter because it ensures you will find the former. Both talks put the daily minutiae of stuff like the post below in perspective and replenish the spirit that they sap. Do yourself a favor and take the next 2hrs of free time that you have and watch both talks. Whatever you’re working towards I cannot think of a more productive way to spend that time. Be warned- you will have a tear by the end of Pausch’s talk.

BONUS: The minute you finish the video, when you have the most possible wind in your sails, take another five to open source your goals.

Mar 26

Ahhh just need to vent here- does anyone using AuthorizeNet share an utter frustration with their support? This is a chat transcript after waiting on hold on their support line for over 2hrs and finally getting through only to be disconnected with a “your call cannot be completed as dialed.” I tried their live help system yesterday leaving a chat window open (of course needed to use a different browser because it continuously popped over what I was trying to do to tell me i was #53 in the support queue). Both times their support rep terminated the session due to inactivity when I finally got through because the window was in the background. Today this lovely exchange – and all I want to do is activate AMEX by giving them our AMEX merchant ID:

Matthew B: Hello Sean! How can I help you today?
Sean Tierney: hi Matt, we need to implement AMEX on our acct. i have a merch 
id from them but your knowledgebase says to contact you guys to set it up
Matthew B: Right however,
Matthew B: you would have to call us so we can verify secure information to do that.
Sean Tierney: hehehehh your call queue is even longer than the 30min wait time on 
your live help. can you call me at 480.967.5897 and we'll do it now?
Matthew B: Unfortunately I can't call you sorry I wish it was possible.
Sean Tierney: wow. okay. will get in line and wait on hold for an hour again- 
hopefully it doesn't disconnect again at the end like it did last time. Sorry to 
rant but you guys have some major support issues. should focus less on bringing 
in business and more on delivering reasonable support... thanks for your help
Matthew B: You are welcome I apologize for the inconvienience. 

I don’t blame Matt but I don’t buy the “I can’t call you” line either- that would have been the fastest way to resolve the issue and me calling them is less authenticated than them calling the number on the account. Would take all of one minute to resolve in that situation. If anyone at AuthNet is listening- your support is very frustrating. Seriously consider halting all new business until you can figure out how to deliver a reasonable support experience to your paying customers.

Thus concludes my rant.

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Jan 17

I just got it.


I’ve been on the fence about getting an edge card for us recently. The people at the Verizon booth at MacWorld were giving away the cards and waiving the activation fee today- that was enough to tip the decision for me. We are getting to the point where we need flawless connectivity at all times when we’re on the road. The new version (USB727) supports their Rev A network and gets theoretical speeds of 3MB down and 1MB up. I’m on it now in the airport in SJC and here’s the actual result I just got via speakeasy:

Not the fastest connection. I was getting 1MB down earlier today but even though the current speed is slow, I’m still stoked. It’s a classic “Innovator’s Solution” instance of “competing against non-consumption”- I’m thrilled to have any access right now.

The VZ Access manager software that comes with it was trivial to setup and it worked right off the bat on Leopard OS. It has some performance diagnostics built into it, although it appears to be over-reporting the speed according to the Speakeasy results:


All in all I’m very happy with this purchase. At $60/mo with 30 days to try it out risk-free and $175 to back out of the two-yr commitment any time after that, it’s worth the price to me at this point to have guaranteed internet access wherever we go. I don’t know how it compares to Sprint’s EVDO network but I vowed 3 years back to never give those guys another dime. So far so good Verizon.

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Jan 15

I just noticed today is the 3rd anniversary of when I started writing this blog. I’m not going to do a lame recap or any forward looking vision for what this will become because frankly there is no plan- I just write whatever is on my mind. Reading that original post again it’s crazy to think how much my situation has changed and yet how much is precisely the same. It makes me wonder if it’s truly possible to write your way out of a paper bag into the life you want. There’s no agenda here other than to:

  • keep my friends and family abreast of what I’m up to
  • expose situations that aren’t right and give praise where praise is due
  • share critical insights from the things I read and the people I meet
  • chart the life of our startup for posterity’s sake
  • document tasks and concepts that i’d forget without this reference
  • air out my mental laundry and weird ideas
  • and have a high pagerank soapbox when I need it
  • I realize that when almost every post is tagged with the category “nerd,” it’s more a statement about the author than anything ;-) If there’s a topic in particular you’d like to hear more about, I’ve added the skribit application on my social page as a suggestions box. Starting this blog was a big catalyst for me to get my $h%@ together and make progress towards my goals. I recommend it for anyone who’s on the fence about writing publicly because you’ll find that the act of writing itself will help refine your thoughts and having it public makes you accountable for what you say (*note- i believe blog as a verb should be banned). Thanks for continuing to follow along and here’s to imagining where we’ll all be in another three years!

    Dec 23

    I’ve just setup a Pledgebank here to encourage Kathy Sierra to start blogging again. For anyone who doesn’t know the story of what happened, you can read her statement and probably find traces of the original post somewhere in the wayback machine but basically some wacko made graphic death threats and scared her enough that she stopped writing. This thoroughly sucks because not only did her writing have huge educational value and daily insights for people making software, but it had massive inspirational value as well. The essence of her mantra “help your users kick ass” absolutely changed the way I look at how we build our stuff.

    Kathy’s last post to Creating Passionate Users was a call for ideas on how she could resume her writing while avoiding a traumatizing situation like that one from recurring. At least half the value of her blog was the conversation that spawned the comments of her posts. I propose a member-only community site where yearly membership dues paid to Kathy gets one a year’s-worth of access to her writing and the ability to interact with other readers. I’m willing to set up this private site and pay the fee if we can get 200 other people to commit to joining. If you’re interested in this, sign the pledge here and spread the word. It sucks that those threats occurred Kathy but the software world misses your voice. RSS readers everywhere have a serious void. Please come back.

    Expiration for the pledgebank is set for New Year’s ’08.

    UPDATE: put this image on your blog if you want to help recruit:

    Sign my pledge at PledgeBank

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    Nov 29

    dmvletter.jpgSo my friend Scott who I’m staying with in SF earned a few speeding tickets recently. You might expect a formal warning from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Or you might expect a letter like this one to come from a disappointed parent (if you were still in high school). But this letter originating from a government agency with the tone, the language of “we,” the feigned concern for personal betterment, the use of ALL CAPS… it’s just plain weird.

    I got $90 in parking tickets this morning for apparently parking on the wrong curb – if they had left me something like this on my windshield, it would have at least had some entertainment value.

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