Sure, contact me. Ssaltman at gmail
These are some photos of my lime green Porsche 928 (1983). It had rollbars and racing seat belts in it that we removed.
Those of you who know me. And that’s basically nobody, know that I like to take things that are not being used and fix them up and get them back to being used. Especially anything that was well built to start. This saves resources since a new thing doesn’t need to made and the old thing doesn’t need to be tossed.
Case in point, my neighbors had an old shed built by the previous owner of their house. It was right at the edge of my property and they weren’t using it. I offered to take it away at no charge and they agreed. I hired Jimmy, a friend of my friend Mike, to come with his sawzall and move the thing to my driveway.
Jimmy is big and strong and knows his way around a sawzall. Despite the shed weighing around 700 lbs, Jimmy dismantled it and moved it. Shed saved. Yard cleared.
Same shed, moved and painted:
And if you are wondering why it’s painted like that, here’s my house (note shed on left side):
If you are like me, then you have a lot of problems. One of them might be that you go outside in bare feet regularly to paint your shed, grab a candy bar you left in your car or just stare mindlessly at the Planet Venus.
If you do this and you step on one of the many nails or screws you’ve left in your driveway while you were fixing said shed or perhaps putting together a flag pole for your son’s flag of his invented country the Republic of Pedestria, then you will feel foot pain.
The best way to collect all of the nails and screws from your driveway is a magnet. You can buy a rolling magnet thingy called a magnetic nail sweeper that you can use to sweep your driveway.
Alternatively, if you are like me, you can build one for more money and more time. It’s your call.
To build one you need a magnet. I was at a junkyard today and got a car speaker. Speakers have big magnets. Then I took a skateboard that I had found curbside and that my kids never used. I attached the speaker to the bottom of the skateboard and, Joila!, nail sweeper.
This is how I took two pieces of junk and made one piece of junk.
That said, we actually did clear the driveway of nails and screws.
See image below of speaker with nails that we found.
Below is a close up of the ground clearance.
Finally, a photo of my kids using the thing.
deleted for no real reason except to be nice
I recently got into a significant argument with someone over whether their mobile apps should be built native or in html5.
I was in favor of native apps. My opponent (I’ll call them that to be clear we were definitely fighting) was in favor of html5.
Their argument was that html5 was a single platform and thus would be faster for development and less costly for ongoing changes. It’s newer, they said, it’s the way things are going, they said. It’s faster, they were told by others. They all but said it was “trendy” (all but…)
And to that I say, sure, maybe you are right. Maybe html5 would be faster. Maybe long term it would be easier to make changes. Maybe it is trendy.
But here’s what I say: fuck that. New platforms, new languages, new methods suck ass for people on a timeline and people on a budget.
You want to know the best platform to use for your startup? Go to oDesk or vWorker and find the cheapest coders. Look at their credentials. What do they know? That’s what you should use if you want fast, reliable, cheap code. Those folks don’t code in Ruby on Rails. They don’t code in .NET. They code in PHP. And for mobile they build native apps.
Sure there are gurus out there who know Ruby and .NET and HTML5 wrapped gizmos fucking languages. But they are EXPENSIVE.
Be PLATFORM AGNOSTIC. Get whatever works. If you happen to have an indentured servant who knows Ruby then by all means, build your fucking hot startup in Ruby.
But if you have a drawer full of ramen and student loans, or want to save money or just like shit that works and don’t care how it works, use something cheaper…
When I built LandAndFarm.com the code that fit this model was Classic ASP - the cheapest, shitiest, crappiest platform out there. But here’s what I found when I was choosing a platform in 2001: php wasn’t stable yet, .NET was expensive, Lasso had no good hosting, etc.
Classic ASP was cheap to find a host ($9/month - 9 meals for me in those days) and cheap to find coders offshore on vWorker. So that was my platform. And it was easy to learn as well.
LandAndFarm.com was originally built on Classic ASP and MS Access as the database. Yes, I ran the largest listing service for farmland on EARTH in 2002 on an MS Access database. (They said it could only handle 5 connections at once…well, as long as you close the connections at the end of every page, 5 at once can handle a shit load of traffic….)
And goddamit, it was one of the few good decisions I made. I never regretted it. Even now, Loopnet still has my classic ASP pages running on inside pages on that site. Now that’s some fully depreciated code.
Sure, classic ASP sucks monkey balls, but it worked. And when I needed help, I could find someone on vWorker to get shit done for pennies.
When entrepreneurs ask me now what they should use, I tell them they should probably go with PHP. Not Ruby on Rails, not .NET, not some fancy shit. Just build your goddam site in PHP. Or even better, just skin a wordpress site for your content pages.
Why? Because it’s cheap and it works.
For mobile, native apps are cheaper to build and that means faster to build because there’s more, hungrier coders out there to get them built.
Everyone keeps telling me there’s a shortage of coders. Not with PHP there isn’t…
In a few years, maybe HTML5 will be faster. Or maybe MeebFloozeMervat/B will be faster. Who the fuck cares?
If your site works in five years, you won’t need to rebuild it regardless of the shitty platform. Look at Snopes.com…Tweet
(My mom’s recipe that she made every Thanksgiving when I was growing up)
CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE
½ CUP SUGAR
1 CUP DARK CORN SYRUP
¼ TEASPOON SALT
1 TABLESPOON FLOUR
1 TABLESPOON MARGERINE OR BUTTER
3 SQUARES UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE
1 TEASPOON VANILLA
1 ¼ CUP CHOPPED PECANS
1 9” PASTRY CRUST
BEAT TOGETHER SUGAR, SYRUP, FLOUR, EGGS AND SALT (if used)
MELT MARGERINE/BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE
ADD WITH VANILLA AND PECANS TO 1ST MIXTURE
POUR INTO PIE SHELL (placed on cookie sheet or similar)
BAKE AT 325 FOR 50 – 60 MINUTES OR UNTIL FILLING SETS.
CHECK AROUND 30 MINUTES AND IF IT IS NOT GETTING DONE, I RAISE
THE TEMPERATURE TO 350. WHEN DONE, A TOOTHPIKE SHOULD COME
OUT WITH JUST A BIT OF CHOCOLATE AT THE TIP. MAKES THE FILLING
A TAD FUDGY. IF YOU LIKE IT MORE SOLID, WAIT UNTIL TOOTHPIKE IS
i’ve now officially lost 7 Lbs with http://apps.facebook.com/hcgslim/. Has anyone else used it? If not, I HIGHLY recommend!!Tweet
Serendipity is a funny thing. And I don’t mean just the sound of the word. For instance I was hanging out in the lobby of MIT’s Broad Institute being generally annoying to the smartypants there and trying to get folks’ email addresses so I could add them to ReadCube’s beta test list when I randomly met Mónica Feliú-Mójer.
Now it turns out that Monica is not only the smartest person I met that day (and at the Broad Institute, that’s saying something), but she runs an organization called CienciaPR which is the largest scientific membership organization in Puerto Rico.
I’ve been to Puerto Rico and let me tell you, if you live there you are already smarter than folks who live elsewhere (assuming you like warm tropical weather…). So this group of folks who not only hail from PR but are also nerdy geeky types are really the cream of the crop in Carribean brain power.
All that said, Monica, a Havard neuroscience graduate student, sees opportunity and hurdles in making sure that Latinos stay represented in the scientific community.
Her advice goes far beyond the needs of just Latinos. Nearly any group of people can benefit from the model developed by CienciaPR.Tweet
I took these photos about 9 years ago at the birthday party of my neighbors daughter.
My neighbors got a nice butterfly piñata and hung it on the playset. Then everyone took mighty swings at the thing and accomplished nothing at all. As we all know, modern packaging is damn near impossible to penetrate. Piñatas are simply a way to frustrate birthday party attendees and create demand for crepe paper.
So after a dozen adults and children were frustrated by the piñata we called in Mike.
Mike channeled Big Papi and did his best. Note that I was broke and probably had no health insurance when I took this photo demonstrating yet again my inability to properly weigh risk vs. reward.
Photo 1: The Setup - Mike carefully arranges the butterfly piñata for its final moments
Photo 2: The Wind Up - note Alan waving everyone to stand back
Photo 3: The Home Run - note the candy flying toward me and the butterfly piñata exiting the photo stage upward
Let me start by saying that I had cancer. And it sucked. (extremely unsafe for work or home or anywhere, do not click. kidding.). And I survived. And it was Hodgkins lymphoma aka the malignant lymphoma formerly named Prince.
1. Get a three (3) opinions on your diagnosis.
Because you might not have cancer. Or might have a different kind of cancer than the one your doctor says you have.
Your diagnosis needs a second opinion and a third opinion. No matter who your doctor is, or what hospital concluded you have cancer or what tests were performed, your diagnosis should be questioned.
How do you do this? Good question, glad I asked it. I’m clearly very very intelligent. And good looking.
First, go to your doctor and say, “I’d like to have someone else look at my entire file and confirm that I have [insert horrible cancer name here].” Your doctor will not mind. If he had a life threatening illness, he’d get a second opinion and if your doctor is a woman then she’ll be offended by my assumption that she’s a he but English doesn’t have a neutral 3rd person pronoun and I don’t want to call your doctor an ‘it’ so get off my case.
Second, call your friends or call another hospital and find the names of top oncologists. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in cancer. If you didn’t know that already then you are surely going to hate cancer treatment.
By “top oncologist” I don’t mean an oncologist who likes to be on top, you pervert. I mean an oncologist who is better than other oncologists. How do you know they are better? You don’t. But you can get recommendations from people who have been through treatment for the same cancer you might have and their opinion is better than the opinion of your local hooker or cop. Other doctors as well can provide recommendations.
You should now have the name of at least one doctor that your first doctor doesn’t know and perhaps one name more that your first doctor gave you.
Get your current doctor to send your slides, scans, interviews, everything to these doctors. All slides and scans and everything should be sent by OVERNIGHT mail or hand delivered and insured for zillions of dollars. This shit is gold. If you had a bone marrow biopsy and they lose the fucking slides, how pissed are you going to be when they have to stick a screwdriver in butt cheek again to get more bone marrow?
I hand carried my CT scans to New York to get a second opinion from the father of my close friend Andy K. Then I also went to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for a third opinion.
When the opinions come back and everyone has agreed that you are going to die slowly and painfully from [insert horrible cancer name here], you’ll know you did the right thing.
2. Get three (3) opinions on your treatment.
You think the diagnosis was tough? Imagine how difficult it is to decide how to treat some [insert horrible cancer name here].
Generally the treatment of cancer is divided into three painful processes:
- Burn - radiation
- Poison - chemotherapy
- Slash - surgery
Yes, I know there are other treatments, like putting golden dolphin crystals on your forehead and eating tofu. Cemeteries pre-dig graves for folks who rely on those treatments.
If you are very unlucky, like me, then you’ll end up with all three treatments. They suck. They are not fun. So when your doctor prescribes 6 months of radiation, neck-removal surgery and arsenic drips, you should get a second opinion.
How do you get a 2nd opinion on your treatment? The same way you did with the diagnosis. Go to the same doctors and ask them how they would treat you. If they say different thigns, then you know something is amiss and you should kick someone in the nuts and go back to your original doctor and have him call the other doctors to discuss treatment.
Your doctors may not agree on treatment. You will have to decide. Since you don’t know shit about oncology, you will make a decision based on either contradictory information or guesswork or how you feel. What are you chances of living to have your own birthday cake again if your cancer treatment is based on whether you had a good dump in the morning? Not bloody high. But that’s the way it works.
As my doctor said, “You rolls your dice and takes your chances.” ( Dr. Roger Lange, one of the greatest oncologists in Boston or anywhere).
3. Once you have your treatment plan decided, it’s time to decide where to get treated.
Yea, it matters where you get treated. Maybe not for survival, but for your mental health.
Do you want to be in a giant chemotherapy factory with unfeeling nurses and an assembly line of drugs being pumped into your arm? Do you want to wake up from surgery with flies laying eggs on your sutures? Do you want to fall asleep skyping with friends while chemo drips into you and wake up stripped of your laptop, your watch, your glasses and your kidney? Didn’t think so.
Treatment can be in a hospital, in a doctor’s office, at home, etc. You have choices. Demand to know what they are.
List the options on a piece of paper. Go to them. Tour them like you would an apartment you are going to rent. Talk to some patients if you can (those people look really sick, eh?). Nurses are the key. Nurses will make this bearable. If you don’t like the nurses, don’t get treated there. Treatment can sometimes be so bad you’d wish you had cancer instead - figure that out.
How do you choose where to get treated? You rolls your dice and takes your chances.
Kidding. You talk to the nurses. Doctors don’t know shit about what it’s like to be a patient. Except doctors with cancer. But they’re dead, so you can’t ask them. Nurses, however, know. Ask the nurses.
4. Don’t change too much about your lifestyle.
If you are a bit overweight, this isn’t the time to go on a crash diet. Sure, you can skip the twinkies, but the doctors are treating you based on your current weight, current everything. Don’t mess with it.
In fact, treat yourself well. It’s not time to reconsider all those unhealthy decision that caused your cancer. If you smoke, you’re going to die soon enough anyway so why quit? Actually, if you smoke, you should quit. If you have other unhealthy habits, it’s too fucking late. And if you already live a healthy life, well, ha ha you got cancer anyway.
If you survive treatment you can start to follow basic advice like exercise, have a lot of safe sex, watch less television, get a dog, eat vegetables and drink a glass of wine every few days.
5. Want more advice? Buy my book Diagnosis + 6 Days
How to publish a book yourself.
1. Write a book.
2. Get it professionally proofread. I paid quite a bit for this service from http://proofreadnow.com, but it was well worth it. Boy, they found a lot of errors. ~$500 (seriously, they found A LOT of errors). I met the founder once (Phil) at a startup conference - he’s VERY tall. He needs a website redesign, but whatever, it works.
3. Get it converted to kindle (.prc) and nook (.epub). Look on the internet for someone to do this for you. I paid under $150 to hitch at booknook.biz. It’s a 2 or 3 iteration process while you iron out formatting and language (all the typos and grammar issues were found and corrected in step 2).
4. Buy isbn numbers at https://www.myidentifiers.com/index.php (I bought a pack of 10 for $250 - I’m writing 2 books) You may need 3 per book (1 for kindle, 1 for epub, 1 for print)
4. Open an account at Amazon Kindle Self Publishing and upload your book.
book in .prc format
5. Open an account at http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/ and upload your book. You need the same info you needed for amazon, plus your bank info and a credit card (no charge, but they threaten to charge you if everyone buys and then returns your book).
They are European Ibex and they like to eat the moss & lichen and lick the salt off the dam wall.
This is the Diga del Cingino dam in Italy (allegedly - got this from a chain email)
When Incubators Really Are Incubators.
Tim Rowe, a real estate entrepreneur in Boston, who built and runs the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square, one of the larger shared workspace/incubators/networking venues for startup culture in Boston, has started examining the idea of actual housing for entrepreneurs with a survey he sent out recently. This living/working space would let an entrepreneur truly code 24/7 without precluding showers, or so the theory goes. (I don’t know Tim though I’ve met him at Venture Cafe on Thursdays at the CIC).
Tim may or may not know this, but these spaces already exist informally and I’ve had the pleasure of staying in one in SF.
Last December I visited San Francisco for the umpteenth time for networking and catching up with friends, such as my good buddy Andre Marquis (Head of the Entrepreneurship program at Berkeley) and my sister (in-house counsel for Onlive).
But since I was no longer on the Loopnet payroll I had to fend for myself and staying with my sister is fun but she’s down in suburbia, not in the city. Being a bit of cheapskate and knowing that Andre had said something about a crashpad for entrepreneurs I hit him up for advice. He introduced me to Adam S, a xoogler whiz kid who has done well for himself and owns various things including an aging Victorian mansion in the Haight district (or is the correct grammar “the Haight” - I’m not from SF?).
After an email or two back and forth between myself and Adam, I was invited to stay at Chateau Sazerac, as he calls his abode, for a night or three on my trip. Adam provided entry instructions and sent out an email, cc’ing me, to “houseguests@….. Apparently the rumors were true that there are in fact a few other entrepreneurs coming and going from Adam’s house.
I took the Caltrain up from Burlingame and a taxi to the address sent to me by email. The house is right off Haight on a small, steep side street. I let myself in and found myself in a worn but well appointed gilded age sitting room filled with what was once expensive furniture but now appeared more dorm than gold rush. There were a few touristy San Fran guidebooks on the coffee table along with a soft porn graphic novel that I thumbed through while I contemplated where I was.
It was mid morning but the house appeared quiet. I had been told my room was on the top floor “in Russel’s old room” at the front of the house. And from here on the whole thing got weird.
I made my way up the 100 year old oak staircase; clearly the house had some history. I imagined a dowager, her gold rush millions sitting idly in a San Francisco bank, her dead husband buried in Marin, while she sat in her front room waiting for her son to visit from New York, but never will because WWI had taken her son and so she waits for death, lonely and alone. (My mind has a habit of going too far with daydreaming…) Could she have ever imagined me climbing her stairs?
These were the kinds of thoughts I had as I climbed to the third floor and made my way down the long corridor to the bank-ceilinged room at the front. There were three pieces of furniture on the floor in what was clearly a converted attic: a mattress, a chair and a lamp. The window at the front of the room was shaded with a strung-up bedsheet and after I uncovered it looked out at a row of painted ladies heading down into the city.
Back down in the kitchen I ran into Annette (names have been changed because I forgot them). She said she was “on a working vacation” from Boston where she was a neurobiologist working for a “stealth biotech company”. I have a thing for smart chicks but she had already put herself out of my league with the whole “working vaction” thing. What’s a working vacation anyway? She had been at Chez Sazerac for more than a month…
I also met Joe, a whiz kid coder, sitting in the cramped kitchen at a laptop, streaming computer code from his head while chatting with Danny, who was doing the pretty much the same thing across from him. Joe was talented in “all kinds of code, I’m pretty much full stack.” Danny and Joe were “helping Adam with a startup idea” that already had paying customers, despite the fact that it was only a few montsh old and was going to disrupt a billion dollar wholesale industry.
I knew about this startup from a previous conversation with Adam. I won’t say what it is because I implicitly agreed to keep it mum by being offered a room in Hotel Sazerac, or so my logic goes.
The last person I met was Doug, a dour, depressed entity who had cashed out of a startup whose name I recognized from a decade before. He seemed to have washed up at Adam’s house and couldn’t leave. At one point I saw his room on the second floor; it was spartan and had two large monitors with blinking pages. Maybe he was running a hedge fund? No idea.
And so I spent 3 days at kitchen counter of Chez Adam, working on my book, watching the comings and goings of various odd and clever folks. And the craziest thing is that I never met Adam in person. He ended up at another of his houses in another city for the 3 days I was there, even though we spoke on the phone when I broke the kitchen faucet (“Don’t worry, a few other guests have done the same thing.”).
And more interesting, I’ve got a similar potential set up in Boston. I’ve only had a single entrepreneur/friend stay with me but I’ve considered formalizing it through Airbnb.
Who knows, perhaps the future of coworking space for entrepreneurs is cohousing space?Tweet
I like Banagrams - the game that is basically Scrabble without the board. I was chatting (really flirting) with someone online who claimed ” I would kick your ass at bananagrams, and then kick your ass for daring to challenge me.” (This could seriously be a love at first hate situation).
So she and I produced the 7 tips that will enable #winning at Banagrams.
- Start with a long word. You need to take your initial letters and make the longest word you can. This way you create more possible branches to build your words faster.
- Continue with a another long word. This is her advice. I generally just try to use letters after the first long word, but she insists that a second long word all but assures victory over your literary lessors.
- Avoid dumping letters. You can dump letters that you can’t use. Don’t do this. It wastes time and penalizes you with more letters.
- Remember where you dumped letters. This is borderline cheating since you aren’t supposed to know what is under the upside down letters. However, you have a brain, use it. If you dump 2 Qs, don’t pick them up again.
- Never dump late in the game. When the dump pile is small, the only letters left will be those dumped by everyone else. These letters will suck. If you dump an X you’re sure to pick up 2 Zs and another X if you dump late.
- Learn a lot of 2 letter words. How do you get rid of an X? “OX”. How do you quickly move an R? “OR”. You know these words, use them. When you have 1 letter left, you will win. You can avoid losing with a single letter if you know your short words.
- Last, and possibly most important advice: Do not be afraid to wipe and rebuild all your words. You may have chosen a great first word but then your letter picks have left you at a dead end. Start over with a new, longer first word. You will often find that you end up ahead of the game.