Monday, February 25, 2013

Entrepreneur Exhaustion

I am spent and it is starting to show.
One of the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur is finding time.  You are under time pressure for new releases.  You are under time pressure for you day job.  If you work in the world of technology you are under time pressure to be the next big thing.  I am running into the challenge and it is starting to drain me.

This is going to be a short blog this week because I am dealing with exhaustion.  I took a three day weekend attempt to enjoy myself and it is clear that my body and spirit are broken in some fashion.   I have had trouble focusing on my day job and I have not been able to code with any dedication in over a month.   It is frustrating but I know recognize that the main culprit is exhaustion.  I spent the month of January rushing a prototype out to production to have it rejected by the client when I asked them to start paying me for the work. 

I have another project in the works along with the usual bug fixes and other pieces work necessary for the business.  There just isn't time to stop and take a breather.  This is affecting the quality of the work and how much I can get done.  Thus, beginning March 9th, I am going to slow down a bit.  I will start concentrating on product already constructed and move on from there. 

If I don't take this rest I am going to be an emotional and physical wreck who is not going to be able to help anyone; including myself.

Until next time.

Monday, February 18, 2013

About that Dell-Microsoft Deal.

This Dude is tring to build a better Dell Computer.
When news broke out that Dell computer was going private and that Microsoft picked up the part of the tab on the deal, I did not know how to react.  Mergers happen all the time in business and so Microsoft and Dell getting together doesn't seem that unusual.  Then it dawned on me that this was Microsoft and Dell making some pretty drastic moves in the market and I decided to reconsider the news.  I think this is going to be a good deal for both parties and for entrepreneurs like myself.   This also may make it possible for Windows 8 to finally take off.

Being a Microsoft professional developer is like being a New York Yankee pitcher living in Boston.  Others will judge you as a member of the "evil empire" and will not spend any time learning about you as a person or professional.  I have had to deal with that misconception for most of my career particularly from the open source crowd and Unix professionals.  I find this perception deeply hurtful because I have spent most of my career posting code on the web and helping others to make them better software professionals. 

Dell has been spending a lot of its time attempting to please Wall Street investors and hitting sales figures with its line of laptops and desktop PC's.  In fact, a simple Optiplex box on your desk is as common today as a tape dispenser or stapler is a testament to the company's ability to build economical and functional PC systems.  The problem is that Dell has gotten a little boring.  It makes most of its money selling to corporate and business customers.  Not since its "dude you are getting a Dell," advertising campaign has it had any cache with consumers.  Finally, Dell has not gotten into the tablet market like Samsung or Apple. 

These three factors mean that Dell would continue to be a profitable but boring company until it eventually lost market share as computers become more mobile.  If I was the CEO it would have scared the pants off of me.  Thus, with some creative financing Michael Dell is taking the company private so that he can make the next blockbuster innovation away from the people determined to make sure he hits his profit loss statements each quarter. 

I am kind of excited about this.  First, I think that Dell will improve the XPS line which features a tablet which also behaves like a laptop.  I am also interested in further innovations like Skype devices which will make the tablet behave like a personal conference center.  Finally, with Microsoft along we are going to see some cool Windows 8 devices which will be able to perform a range of duties.  On my personal wish list is a 17 inch laptop which behaves like an XPS.  I could just see reading the paper on the train with that beast.

I am not going to get all gooey about this deal because things like this in the past have gone horribly wrong. With both Microsoft and Dell betting their futures on each other, it is clear to me that they are going to come up with many truly innovative products.  I can't wait. 

Until next time. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Science Fiction Dreams and Travel Realities

Science Fiction Dreams and Reality this week on the blog
I have been busy with trade shows and travel this week and that makes it hard to stay on top of my business and blog.  One of the interesting things about travel is that it does move you outside your comfort zone.  I also got to see the best and worst trends in technology in their natural environments.  In this blog, I want to talk about how we are living in the best of all possible worlds right now when it comes to technology.
My flight was booked via an electronic system known as SABER which has been the backbone of the airline industry since 1960.  I traveled with a mobile phone running the android operating system with the Trackit application which allowed me in real time to follow my travel plans.  I also had a tablet which used Android with three books for me to read on my flight.  Throw in my laptop and I had more computing power at my disposal than many third world countries.  This was not out of the ordinary or unusual because many of the other business travelers I journeyed with were similarly equipped.
All of the airports I traveled through had Automatic Teller Machines but no pay phones because everyone had at least one mobile device to contact someone if they needed help.  Tweets were sent, Facebook status messages were sent and deals were negotiated in terminals while people were waiting for their flights.  There were even video chats taking place via Skype.  Again none of this was out of the ordinary or unusual.  The science fiction of my 1970’s youth had come true. 
This does not mean that everything was perfect.  American Airlines canceled my flight and their customer service was spotty.  Planes were on runways without crews and it was clear that some of the flight attendants were being forced to work extra shifts to deal with the traffic.  So a two hour trip to Atlanta turned into and eight hour adventure flying to Dallas and then to Atlanta. It was an example which illustrated even the best technology cannot stand up to bad weather, institutional inertia and poor service. 
I suppose this is why Voltaire spent so much time making funof Leibniz when he said that “We live in the best of all possible worlds.”  In spite of all the modern conveniences, which we enjoy, traveling still sucks.  It is also not made any better by the dysfunctional processes we have put into place to manage travel and airport security.  This has been mockingly referred to as a “First World Problem,” because this kind of thing is merely an inconvenience and does not have life or death consequences like cholera or malnutrition. 
We are living in a technological golden age; we just take it for granted.  We can communicate with anyone via our smart phones and computers but we find it hard to communicate with the people sitting next to us on the plane.  Social stratification, government short sidedness and corporate inertia make it difficult for us to utilize the utopian dreams of all the entrepreneurs who helped inflate the dot com bubble in the 1990’s.  I wanted to become an entrepreneur because I thought I could do something anything to escape the Kafkaesque world of software consulting.  I also thought that I could help small businesses play with the big dogs and better serve customers. 
It is a grandiose thought but one that still drives me and my business.  So we do not live in a perfect technology utopia which was promised twenty years ago but when I complained about my flight being late on Twitter no one censored me.  When I made a call to my bank to deal with an overdraft I was able to compare math with the customer service rep via a mobile application.  Finally, I made dinner reservations via text message and was able to update my boss via e-mail via my tablet. 
Travel still sucks but it sucks less thanks to technology people who like me who dream big and wish to make this the best of all possible worlds.
Until next time.