I came across this neat little billiards game:
I came across this neat little billiards game:
This is a message to startups worldwide – don’t ask for referrals from people signing up to a landing page with no information. Why on earth would I spend my personal “capital” referring my friends to your service when I don’t even know anything about it? That is just completely insane.
Let’s be clear – I’m NOT talking about websites that have a tour of the features and discusses what the company does or provides. If you don’t describe the features or show screenshots, you shouldn’t be asking for any of referrals. Referrals are an exercise of trust – you’re basically asking me to vouch for you to my friends based on.. what?
My rant for the day.
I’m surprised that this is my first economic blog post, considering that a large portion of the stuff I read every day is financially related, but something on www.ritholtz.com (via John Mauldin) caught my eye:
I am reminded of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s comment that “deficits don’t matter.” He is right, if the deficit never grows past the rate of the growth of the country (nominal GDP). It might not be wise to approach that limit, but it would not necessarily be a disaster. And, to be charitable to Cheney, I’m sure it never occurred to him that the US could run a deficit close to 10% of GDP. Such a notion would have been preposterous to him. Unthinkable. The US government would pull back from anything even close to that. And that remained true – until it happened and we didn’t pull back.
This guy is a “renowned financial expert, a New York Times best-selling author, and a pioneering online commentator” (according to his website) and he is unwilling or unable to admit that our debt has been growing faster than GDP for the past 30 years. Don’t believe me? Check out a table of the History of the United States public debt and cross reference the growth of the federal debt vs the growth of GDP – the numbers don’t lie.
The Reagan era was the start of the debt-fueled “boom” – in the vast majority of years, the debt was growing faster than GDP. And something that many people don’t realize is that deficit-spending gets added into the GDP calculation. That’s basically how we’ve been “growing” over these past 30 years.
Let’s run the numbers up to 2007 (before the crisis) from that table above just to be clear – in 1980, the inflation-adjusted debt was $1.808T, and the GDP was $5.422T. In 2007, the inflation-adjusted debt was $7.419T and the GDP was $11.329T. GDP increased 208% over that time period but debt increased 410% – *FAIL* (note: this doesn’t include the past 6 years where things get REALLY ugly because of the crash)
I don’t mean to pick on Mr Mauldin – I actually receive his weekly newsletter and it was there that I first started to open my eyes about our problem. Krugman and others on the left fail to mention or acknowledge it either. All they talk about is “growing our way out of it” when it’s plainly clear that’s bullshit.
I will leave you with this – 2012 had a GDP of 15.094T and a growth rate of about 2.2%, which means an increase of $332B. Except that our deficit was $1.1T.. oops. We spent $1.00 to get back $.33 but hey, I guess we’ll make it up on volume!
Office Nomads had this great blog post (which I now cannot find the link to) about visiting Office Xpats on Bainbridge Island, and I had made a mental note to do that one of these days. Which ended up being today.
I got into the office at my regular 6am time today, cleared my inbox and worked on some things that had popped up over the weekend. About 9:30am, I looked outside and discovered it was going to be one of those gorgeous Seattle sunny days. I checked my schedule for the day and figured I could use a break to get outside. And that’s when I realized today would be the perfect day to go check out Office Xpats – wasting some time on the boat commute each way, sure, but I could still get some stuff done while I was out there.
I just barely made the 10:40am ferry after mis-timing how long it would take for me to get to the bank. The great thing for me is that there’s a foot bridge starting on 1st & Madison right outside of SURF that runs under the Viaduct directly to walk-on ferry terminal. The ticket was $7.40 going to Bainbridge (return ride is free). It was pretty cold for being so sunny; I could only stand on the foredeck for so long before my eyes were watering and my ears freezing.
I haven’t been to Winslow since before I first left for San Diego in 1996, which means it’s been at least 17 years, and realistically more like 20-22 years. It still seems like a neat, sleepy little town – lots of little shops and stores along a laid-back main drag.
It’s about a 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal to Office Xpats, which is on the second story of a mini-mall, complete with a theatre, a small gym, some restaurants and shops. I think they did a great job fixing it up – lots of little partitioned spaces with comfy chairs, private meeting rooms and a kitchen.
I had a quick lunch at Casa Rojas on the 1st floor, then went up to to Xpats. It was pretty empty owning to the fact that the owners were at a coworking conference in Austin, and also presumably because everyone was out enjoying the sunshine.
I worked for a few hours and decided to call it a day to head back to SURF. A quick walk back to the ferry terminal (and a detour to the Blackbird Bakery for a delicious cranberry Oatmeal raisin cookie), and I was aboard the boat heading back to Seattle.
I wish I had a panoramic camera right now – on the boat ride back and all the mountains are out, from Mt Baker up north to an unbelievable shot of Mt Rainier to the south, plus the Cascades behind the city. Just breathtaking!
I would highly recommend this day-trip to everyone – you can have the veneer of doing some work, but also be able to get out on the sound, enjoy a quaint little town and hopefully some sunny weather!
A quick update on Chapter 2 of “iOS Application Development” which covered Xcode and the iOS simulator. I had played with an older version of Xcode (3.2 I think?) with the current version being 4.6 as I write this – seems like a lot has changed. I think the IDE has greatly improved – I like the Assistant Editor which pulls up header (.h) files in a separate side window from the current implementation (.m) files, and I like snapshots and the visual diffs they show, plus the error/warning feedback seems much better than I remember it.
I think the one thing I really like about learning from a book as opposed to finding stuff on the web – it’s great having everything in one place, and it’s great having stuff grouped together. It was nice to read a quick overview of the iOS Simulator’s capabilities, something I had never even thought to look up.
Now comes the actual learning part – starting the Objective-C portion next..
I’ve been wanting to learn how to develop iOS applications since the iPhone first came out, not because I have the perfect idea for an app but mainly just curiosity. I’ve dabbled a bit here and there, using some of the Apple documentation (which is pretty awful for those just starting out), but it’s just so graphically oriented, and that is so not my thing – that’s probably why I never really did it. I almost took an in-person class starting a couple of weeks ago – there’s something about having to actually show up at a specific place and time that’s very appealing to my procrastinational nature, but I was told by other iOS developers that it didn’t have a good syllabus and that it would teach me the bare minimum and also how most iOS developers DON’T write iOS apps so I skipped.
However, I’ve got a client with an existing iOS application that needs work, so now’s my chance to really jump in with both feet. I’m using a book I just bought: “iOS Application Development in 24 Hours”. It was the newest and highest rated book available (just released actually), and I have been told that Apple keeps changing Xcode and the libraries from version to version and sometimes they’re not backwards compatible, so it’s best to be developing with the latest information and the latest versions.
The first chapter was some good starting information about the the devices themselves, including the Retina display, which if you were using an earlier book, would not have mentioned. It also had some information about signing up for the iOS developer program through Apple, though not nearly enough in my opinion.
Let me first say, congratulations to the Seahawks! It was a great victory, a confidence-building victory, and I think it’s big to get that playoff road win under your belt. But I don’t think there was anyone out there that wasn’t sweating it out until late in the game.
You want the quickest of summaries? The Redskins had a 129-9 lead in yardage in the first quarter. After RG3 was injured, the Seahawks outgained the Redskins 371-84 in the remaining three quarters. Yet for as much as the Seahawks outplayed the Redskins after the first quarter, they didn’t actually take the lead until 7:08 remaining in the 4th quarter.
So let’s discuss some of the mistakes that were made to try and improve on their future playoff performances.
Giving up touchdowns to your homefield opponent on their first two drives is just a recipe for disaster. Good teams will put their foot on your throat and never let you up – it simply can’t be done. The Seahawks were lucky that RG3 was injured when he was, because it really limited the offense of the Redskins for the rest of the game, and obviously you cannot count on that happening each and every week. Had they put in Kirk Cousins at the start of the third quarter, and had they scored any additional points (touchdown or field goal), we might be talking about the Redskins moving forward instead.
I would say the most crucial play in the game was the shoestring 12-yard pass to Miller for the first down. If they don’t make that play, they give the ball back to the Redskins and who knows what happens at that point. That could have been where the blowout started. Instead, the Seahawks get the first down, the drive continues, they keep their defense off the field and they get a field goal and some points on the board. This, to me, was where the momentum shifted. The Redskins were 4-and-out on the next series and the Seahawks scored a touchdown after that. Probably the second-most crucial play was Lynch’s recovery of Wilson’s fumble. Again, it was right in the middle of the momentum shift, and solidified that shift towards the Seahawks.
The most glaring errors to me were in the red zone. One touchdown on six red zone possessions – that just isn’t going to cut it in the playoffs against the NFL’s elite. They had problems with this in the beginning of the year, and they resolved them from the mid-point on, but it really came back with a vengeance in this game. They need to fix this going forward.
Wilson had a solid day, but there is definitely room for improvement. He made some huge runs to extend drives, some great passes, made some clutch downfield blocks, and showed incredible poise and leadership. But he missed some wide open receivers, and took several unnecessary sacks while being chased when he had the opportunity to get rid of it.
In the end, the Seahawks outplayed and outcoached the Redskins. When the Seahawks went down 14-0 in a hostile road environment, they changed their strategy and found a way to win. The Redskins could not find a way to overcome the adversity of RG3 not being able to perform.
Can the Seahawks win in Atlanta? Absolutely. I’ve always felt the Falcons were a paper champion this season. Per ESPN: “Schedule is everything in the NFL, and the Falcons benefited by playing the league’s easiest schedule. They won 13 games against a schedule with a .422 opponent winning percentage, a schedule that featured teams with combined records of 108-148.” I challenge you to go back and look at their schedule this year – who have they beaten? Sure, they beat Denver early in the year before the Donkeys got rolling and Manning threw 4 picks, but that’s about it. And none of the teams they’ve played this year had a good defense (except Denver).
That’s not to say that Atlanta won’t score points – I think they will. But I think they’re going to find playing against a top-rated defense quite an eye-opener, even if Clemons is out. Wilson is probably going to need a 3TD+ (passing/running) performance in order to get by the Falcons. 187 passing, 67 rushing and 1 TD is not going to cut it in the playoffs.
There are intangibles to this game – travel and pressure. Let’s not discount that the Seahawks having to travel across the country for the 2nd time in two weeks to play in a charged up NFL playoff game. It has to be incredibly exhausting and confusing to your body to change time zones repeatedly while you’re trying to recuperate and prepare for the next game.
However, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on Atlanta to perform. They’ve had an incredible regular season, they’ve been scoring a lot of points, they secured the top seed, they’re playing at home, they are expected to hold serve at home and advance. But I just don’t see it happening – I think they run into the buzzsaw that is the Seahawks, and they learn what a real NFL defense is comprised of. I think Wilson has a much better game, the defense starts out much better and the Seahawks punish the Falcons from start to finish.
Prediction – Seahawks: 34, Falcons: 20.
I’ve held off on writing any political posts because I think a lot of people’s eyes gloss over, but I just can’t hold back on this particular issue: public dissemination of gun holder information.
My first reaction to this whole kerfuffle is: why on earth is any of this information widely available to the public? What the hell is going on in New York!? Why would any gun holder allow this law to be passed? But then I realized that NY is much more restrictive about guns than the “wild west” coast.
Even still, something about this really bothers me. I just don’t see why this information should be made public. What purpose does it serve? What’s the use case? So that you can check to see if your neighbor has a gun? Why is it any of YOUR (generically speaking) business whether your neighbor has a gun? If you really want to know, you can ask them – and the neighbor can decide if he/she wants you to know. It’s not your business to know.
Does it make you safer in any way to which of your neighbors has a gun? I hear the excuse, “I want to know who has guns so I can make sure my kids don’t go there”. What’s next, public maps on which houses have pools, trampolines, matches, small objects, solvents, alcohol, tobacco, and pornography? It comes down to you having to be a parent. You have to know where your kids are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing. If keeping your kids away from guns is that important to you, you will discuss your concerns with the parents of the kids play with, and if there are guns in the house (that the neighbors will cop to), then you take steps to deal with it. Incidentally, if your neighbors (as fellow parents) can’t or won’t tell you the truth about their guns, you probably have bigger problems to deal with.
I have been meaning to switch this site from Apache to Nginx for a while now – actually, to tune this website a bit better as a whole. I’ve been using various tools (Google PageSpeed, http://www.monitor.us, http://www.pingdom.com) to track the results and I thought I would recap how things have gone.
When I first started this project, I had a plain vanilla WordPress with no optimization running a handful of plugins on an old Dell 1U Solaris server using Apache+mod_php. PageSpeed showed my initial score to be 75. An infrequent monitor.us performance monitoring was telling me the average response time was about 650ms as a baseline.
My first step was to resize all the “system” images (NOT the gallery images). This bumped the PageSpeed score up to 77.
I tried installing W3 Total Cache, but the whole install was a mess. It wants to run to /wp-content, requests 777 permissions, etc. I had problems with the page display getting messed up, even after clearing the cache. Even though the pages were messed up, the PageSpeed score went to 81. I’m sure I could have figured how to actually get it up and running the way I wanted, but I wanted to do all this by hand anyway, so I scrapped Total Cache and moved on – back to Page Speed score 77.
Next up – enabling mod_gzip on Apache. PageSpeed score increased to 81 – not bad for a simple modification.
I was going to try and install mod_pagespeed from Google, but I had no luck getting it to compile with gcc under Solaris. I love Solaris, but I swear I need to switch to Linux one of these days. None of the new software compiles under Solaris. My list of stuff I can’t get to compile is long: mongodb, mcrypt, mysql-5.5.x, newrelic – and those are just the relics sitting in my /usr/local/src directory that I haven’t deleted in frustration.
I’ve been on quite the “office shopping” trip lately, first trying out Office Nomads for a couple of months (details here), and now here at SURF Incubator. Part of the excitement of a new place is trying out all the nearby restaurants. There are quite a few options so far, but I’ve struggled to find a good pho/banh-mi joint close by (I need to explore the International District much more).
But I think I’ve found a very good stand-in for my pho cravings, Pho Fuchsia. I was pleasantly surprised at a solid chicken banh mi – not as good as Pho Mimi on Aurora, but better than anything else I’ve tried down here. And the pho tai (rare beef) was delicious. Broth was dark and flavored well. Beef was good quality and accoutrements were acceptable.
Service was solid, although the server did warn me that it gets massively busy during the lunch rush (I’m not surprised).
At any rate, this will probably become a once or twice a week spot for me – I definitely recommend it.