Our Lives are Spent in Boxes

31 Jul

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We sleep in our “home-box,” we work in our “job-box,” we learn in our “classroom-box.” It seems life, nowadays, has us cubed-in, enclosed and withdrawn from the outside world; away from nature, away from others, away from our mother: Earth.

The reality of the matter is, people have become complacent that this is the way life should be spent — hurrying from one box to the next. They are told this is the right way to live, and they believe it. Being quartered off promotes productivity; companies and schools realize this. But I feel mankind has become disconnected because of this square obsession. In their boxes, people are so fixated on accruing wealth, knowledge, or success, that they forget the simple joys in life. They forget about simply living, and the entity that allowed for their boxes to be built: Earth.

I’m not advising you to sleep in a tent after reading this article, but I feel this caged lifestyle is wrong. Do you really want to spend your life in a box? Shackled by four walls. Step outside, enjoy your life with the Earth; and in doing so, prevent its destruction in the need to produce more boxes.

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Why college is the best time to experiment

26 Jul

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College can be a fantastic opportunity.  I wish that everyone realized this.  For this post, I’m primarily talking to people who don’t have to worry about paying their tuition (either their parents are paying for it, or they have scholarships).  On the other hand, if you are paying for your own school, I give you nothing but mad respect.

Anyways, if you do happen to fall into the first category, I do hope you are taking advantage of this incredible situation.  You’re living for free.  You have very few obligations outside of school work.  School work doesn’t take up all of your time (if it does, I’m sorry to hear that, but you must be killing yourself).  You don’t have to deal with maintaining a home, working a full-time job, being responsible for other human beings, etc… Basically, it’s great.

There will never be a time quite like this for the rest of your life.  If you don’t take advantage of this precious, FREE time, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say you’re losing out on a huge opportunity.  You’ve got nothing to lose, you’re in safe ground.  If you go out and try 100 new things, and fail at every single one of them, so what?  You’re still in school, living your life, getting a great education.  No harm done.

Therefore, I challenge all of you to do something with this time.  Try to become a master juggler, learn to speak a Khoisan language, start a business selling hand-sewed mittens, or write a novel about an insect on an epic adventure.  Just do something, anything!  This is your chance to learn about who you are as a person, what you enjoy, and form new friendships with interesting people.

I’m not interested in your excuses, and frankly no one will feel sorry for you when you look back on your years in university, wishing you tried new things.  So if you haven’t done this so far, now’s your chance, you still have a lot of time left.  And if you’ve already been doing this, great!  In fact, we’d love to hear about it.

So next time you’re at school and you’ve got some free time, think twice before you jump on Hulu and watch a few episodes of your favorite show, think twice before you study 10 hours when you only needed to study 4, think twice before… it’s too late.

Why native apps will lose

21 Jul

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We live in an app universe.  We live in a mobile devices universe.  Have you seen an Apple commercial lately?  There’s an app for almost anything on our phones these days.  However, not all apps are the same.  We like to group them into two categories, native and web.

A native app is an app that is installed on the device, for the iPhone this could me Mail, Notes, or any app you download from the iTunes App Store.  These apps usually offer users a better experience, because the operating system has control over how they are presented to users.  As an iPhone user, I’ve become used to the way apps are downloaded, the way they open, the way they update, the way they present notifications, the way they close, the way they enter the background and multitask, and a multitude of other details.  It is this familiarity that makes iPhone apps so pleasant.  I know that when I open the App Store and download the latest hot app, I will interact with it exactly the same way I do with all of my other apps.

Native apps are also nice because they are closer to the hardware than mobile web apps.  Processor intensive apps such as apps with rich graphics and animations just work and perform better natively because they can interact more closely with the GPU and processor.  This is one of the biggest hurdles to the uprising of the mobile web app seeing as how 20% of apps in the iTunes app store are games.

Enter Sencha Touch and SproutCore.  These two technologies essentially make it very easy for app developers to create web apps that function just like their native app counterparts by giving them access to the hardware (I will spare the details, but feel free to ask me if interested).  Imagine I’m facebook, and I want to create an app so that people can use facebook on their phones.  I have to make an app for the iOS devices, an app for Android devices, an app for webOS devices, an app for Blackberry devices and so on…

Or I could just make a mobile-optimized web app, an app that people access through a browser like Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer from their phone.  And with the addition of these new frameworks, I can make some pretty sick apps in the browser that allow me to do cool things like detect touches, drags, swipes, pans, and do graphically intensive processes across all mobile platforms (eventually).

I predict these two technologies and others like them will usher in a new era of web apps for mobile platforms.  The development cost for a web app will be significantly lower than that of a native app.  The potential audience of a web app will be significantly higher than that of a native app.  It therefore makes sense for companies to start focusing their development efforts on mobile optimized web apps.  Over time, the web app will dominate, the native app will lose.

A Man Cave Special

25 Jun

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Blogging lost its priority during production of “American Heretic: A Message,” my newest short film and entry for the 2010 Telluride Film Festival.

I have come to the Man Cave for the film’s World Premiere!

It is a conceptual ride, open for interpretation. I think of it more as Art than Film. The following verse offers the best synopsis:

America must stop
Its fascinated gaze.
America must slow
Its patriotic haze.
America must grow
From slick and broken Mays.
“America must know,”
Three persons always say.
America IS pride.
Mighty, strong and brave!
America’d be wise
To curtsy on its way.

I’m open for any questions and comments surrounding my film.
Write me your interpretations!

WATCH IN HD here:

TSLA and RAX

16 Jun

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Tesla Motors earlier today filed documents for an Initial Public Offering.

Tesla Motors started out as a Silicon Valley venture-backed electric car company that was founded in 2003 by ex-PayPal CEO and Founder – Elon Musk.  He is also the current CEO and CTO of SpaceX, a space transport company fighting furiously to lower the cost to deliver equipment above out atmosphere.  He has a very impressive track record for tackling complicated problems.  It fits then, that he is the man to lead the new born electric car company in a war against such giants as Toyota and Ford.

Tesla’s first and only commercially available vehicle is the Tesla Roadster, a luxurious and purely electric speed demon that is valued at $109,000.  It is known for it’s sleek design and impressive 0-60 in 4.0 seconds and has made Tesla a household name.  They’ve sold about ~1,000 vehicles to date, which puts total revenue at about 100 million.  Unfortunately, Tesla has never reported a profitable quarter.

However, with the IPO, the partnership with Toyota, and a new strategy, Tesla hopes to take the world by storm.  Their plan is to use the funds from the IPO to expedite the time to market for their newest model – the Tesla Model S (do I smell a link to the Ford Model T??) sedan.  A much more affordable vehicle with a price tag at ~$50,000.

Tesla plans to offer their shares between $14 and $16 dollars, and I am interested.  Although they will face hard times in the next few years as sales of their Roadster dwindle and production of the new model ramps up, I think Tesla has a huge opportunity to shake up the Detroit-based old school Automobile Industry with their Silicon Valley roots.

In other news, I bought some RAX last Friday.  Rackspace is an IT hosting company.  They operate data centers all over the world and have a very promising cloud hosting platform.  In fact, I am using their cloud platform for one of my projects and can attest to it’s quality and affordability, as have many other techies I’ve talked with.

The rate at which data generation is increasing is higher than the pace at which our capacity to store data is increasing.  Their services will be in strong demand for the foreseeable future.  Their product is strong, and they are well positioned to take advantage of the huge growth of data generation in the next 10 years.

So much excitement this week, hope you are all enjoying it!

We don’t need no… ed-u-cation

2 Jun

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Learning is a funny concept. In this day and age, Americans are expected to complete a minimum of 13 years of school. Tens of millions of students choose to extend their education for another 4 to 11 years. We believe that an educated society is a more moral society, a more productive society, a better society. And we’re right. However, I’m here to tell you that while we learn a good amount from classes, reading, homework, and from our peers, the ultimate learning experience is jumping straight int he deep end and getting your hands dirty. That’s right, I’m talking about a job.

Last Monday, I started my internship at Apple Inc., a mobile devices company in Cupertino, CA, famous for such products as the Apple Computer, Macintosh, iPod, iTouch, iPhone, Macbooks, and most recently, the iPad. Unfortunately, it turns out that Apple is a very secretive company. I am not allowed to talk about what I’m working on or what team I’m working for. So, I will talk about everything else.

Working at Apple as a rising sophomore is daunting. I feel as though I am lightyears behind my peers in terms of knowledge. I have to ask questions all the time. Things that would take a regular employee a few minutes sometimes take me a few hours. I spend most of my time listening to conversation without the slightest notion of what is being talked about.

Each morning I return to work, I feel a tiny bit more confident than the last. I imagine by the end of the Summer, I will have learned more than I did all year at school.

It is interesting to meet all the different people working here at Apple. My roommates and I combined come from the following cities: Dallas, Austin, Pittsburgh, Hawaii, Canada, and Boston. We have a lot of different perspectives, which is really cool to experience.

Cupertino is a suburb plain and simple. Neighborhoods are ubiquitous, shopping centers, grocery stores, movie theaters, restaurants, and all that good stuff. The main difference between Cupertino and other suburbs is the quantity of tech companies in the area. It is after all located in Silicon Valley. In a walk to the grocery store I passed by Apple, HP, Symantec, and half a dozen other smaller software companies. The focus on technology in this part of the country cannot be escaped. Restaurants embrace products such as Yelp and Foursquare. Coffee shops are filled with young techies jabbering about the latest news on TechCrunch and Hacker News.

While the omni-presence of technology is awesome, it can get overwhelming after looking at a computer screen for X many hours a day. Luckily, the beach is less than an hour away, a short drive through the mountains. The city of San Francisco is 45 minutes to the north. The beautiful campus and area of Palo Alto just a short 15 minutes to the west. All in all, a great location.

As I mentioned, my last few weeks have been really busy, but I have been doing some homework on the markets. More normal posts to come the next time I get a chance to write. As they say in silicon valley, exit(0).

The Man Cave is Alive Again! Not So Sure About BP.

2 Jun

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It’s shameful how I’ve treated the Man Cave lately. More than two weeks have passed since my last post. Two weeks! And for that I am sorry guys. But I do have some good excuses, so please forgive me.

During my absence a barrage of activities have been going on in my life. My family vacationed to Collville, WA (Farthest-Town-From-A-Major-U.S.-Airport Capital of the World!), I began production of my film, and (I’ll admit) participated in some notorious Summer non-productivity.  But, as good as that all sounds, I’ll have to fill you in later. I came to WRITE! — Write some meaningful Man Cave stuff!

The specific issue I wanted to discuss was The British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

First, I want to emphasize the severity of this matter. Domestically, concerns have permeated into various market sectors. The restaurant, shipping, tourism and energy industries have all negatively responded to the now “Largest Oil Disaster In History” Gulf Coast spill. Oil residue was discovered at beach resorts across the Gulf rim, and was sadly televised washing into Florida’s tender marshlands. Shipping liners are having to circumvent expansive oil slicks, critically slowing down shipment time of essential products into the US. Restaurants have worries about the quality of  their ingredients as the fishing industry has now come under scrutiny. But the most heavily hit sector, bar none, is energy. And that is what I would like to talk about today.

Last week, President Obama called for an immediate moratorium to be placed on all offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of his announcement, companies with large exposure in the offshore drilling space (most notably Anadarko Petroleum and Transocean) began to experience significant market pressure. These company’s operations have come  close to a complete halt because of Obama’s initiative — drastically limiting their potential profits for 2010.  Investor response to this news sent some stock’s prices reeling. Understandably, instigator British Petroleum was one of the largest sliders, pulling back 38% in the 44 days since the spill’s discovery.

The President’s ambitious strategy was not the only event pressing oil equities lower. Failure by BP to adequately respond to the vast leakage and pollution seeping into the Gulf of Mexico also has governments, environmental agencies, and traders concerned. Over the weekend, British Petroleum was unsuccessful in the first counter-measure procedure, the  “topkill” approach. This method involved pumping a thick, mud-like, substance into the spill’s crevice. Earlier today, news broke that the second contingency plan, the “cap containment system,” has also failed. This was an attempt by BP to saw off the split portion of the petroleum pipe, create a level and hollow opening, then hopefully lower a cap over the opening to seal the system. Unfortunately, the saw-blade severed before it completely finished cutting through the metal petroleum pipe. The recurrence of failure has left engineers scratching their heads for a quick and effective solution. Interestingly, I saw that THE James Cameron was consulted to provide ideas for spill containment. Cameron was contacted because of his underwater filming/remote vehicle expertise, which he developed during the production of his film Titanic. Engineers believe his unique knowledge of the underwater environment could arise better methods of  counteracting the spill. I wouldn’t doubt it, after watching Avatar, I feel like this guy can do anything!

My real disappointment is the fact British Petroleum had no clear contingency plan prepared for an issue of this proportion. It is simply unacceptable for an established, blue-chip, petroleum giant like BP to not foresee and have a solution prepared for an underwater drilling accident. Strong companies have safety-nets (contingency plans) in place for almost every potential liability. It’s hard being completely prepared for any disaster of this magnitude, but, I feel in this specific circumstance, BP is at fault. They are in the deep-sea drilling business, its not the craziest idea that an underwater oil rupture might happen!

Owners of BP’s stock, I wish I could provide you with an optimistic outlook, but I don’t think the near-future looks too bright for BP’s shares. I think any proposed solution will be hard to implement at the extreme pressure and depth occurring at the spill’s opening (roughly 5,000 feet below the ocean surface). A guest on CNBC today claimed that oil might continue to pour out of the broken system until December! DECEMBER! Think about the quantity of pollution, waste, and lost revenue if another 6 months were to pass without mitigation! Scary.

Analysts speculate BP may lose upwards of $20 Billion trying to end the melee in the Gulf.

Second time’s the charm

20 May

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Today, Apple finally decided to approve my second iPhone application – Beamz.  I initially submitted Beamz to the Apple App Store two weeks ago, on May 5th.  In my mind, I had sufficiently tested Beamz.  No bugs, no crashes, smooth gameplay, everything seemed great.  But one week later on May 12th, I received an e-mail from Apple saying that my application was rejected.  Apparently, I had made a very foolish oversight.  I forgot to test the app on a much older version of the iPhone OS.  Sure enough, I loaded the app on my old 1st gen iPhone and it crashed.  I made a couple of quick fixes in the code, and resubmitted the binary to Apple.

Now, one week later, Beamz has been approved – and is now on the Apple App Store.

I spent a lot of time on Beamz, which is kind of strange because it’s a very simple game.  Developing an application during the school year was very difficult.  It was hard to find a solid 1-2 hours where I could just sit down and crunch on development.  And when I did, I would spend a good bit of time figuring out where I left off the last time and what I needed to do.  As the semester went on I got better at this by keeping track of what I was working on, problems I encountered, bugs, and what I still needed to do in a spreadsheet.  This helped a lot.

You’ll note that the graphics and sound in the game are really high quality – and for this I have two guys I found over the internet to thank!  They’re names are in the credits in the App Description so you can check it out there.  We were constantly emailing each other our ideas, feedback, and progress updates throughout the semester.  We collaborated without ever talking face to face over the internet pretty effectively, and it’s fulfilling to finally see our work come to fruition.

So I hope you all go download Beamz now! I’m very excited to move on to a new project, I don’t know what it will be yet – but exciting nonetheless!

The other half…

17 May

The Man Cave gets a break for the summer

And as one good thing comes to an end(temporarily)… an even greater journey begins.  Looking forward to an eventful Summer – I will be keeping you all posted on my journeys and ideas.  So until next time, I will be sitting on my couch watching movies.

One Cave to Rule Them All

15 May

Man Cave Skeleton

Just yesterday I finished up my last exam of the year. Shortly after, my father arrived to help me pack-up and move out of the dorm. I’ll admit, deconstructing “the cave” was a hard thing  for me to do. A lot of work had gone into it. A lot of great memories had been shared there. Ups, downs, strides, travails, frolic, drama — The Man Cave saw it all.

Despite my nostalgia, I want to officially announce that The Man Cave lives on! College is not somewhere we have to be to make this happen. Our habitat has simply relocated. This summer I will be blogging from my hometown, which is near Dallas. Mike will be contributing from a little bit farther West ;).

Also, I would like to wish everyone a wonderful start to the summer season. I look forward to starting production of my film, traveling, and, of course, devoting as much time as possible to The Man Cave.

OH!, and a quick aside. The Man Cave now is on YTMND. Check our page here: http://mancave.ytmnd.com/ Uhh.. its pretty B.A… cough…cough

stay cool,
Dan