Start ups are for everybody

I came across Dan Crow’s insights into startups and older workers this morning, and I couldn’t stop myself from nodding in agreement through out the article. Part of it, surely, is that I am now closer to 40 than 30. But everything he says about the value of spending time with family, the pointlessness of working grueling hours, and the skills that come from experience had an air of “I’ve been there”.

Many startups, especially in Silicon Valley, have a macho culture of working extremely long hours. I vividly recall a long stretch of consecutive 100+ hour weeks at Apple early in my career — which came on top of a 3 hour commute to San Francisco. The quality of my work noticeably declined, and it took me months to get my focus and energy back afterwards.

It seems that both corporate america and silicon valley startups, while vastly different cultures in almost every regard, still see people as expendable resources that can be used up and replaced. Sure, if you’re working non stop for a startup, you can tell yourself that there’s a huge payoff at the end, or the chance of it. But the risk is that you spend your 20s and early 30s working forever without much to show for it. That was never something I wanted to do, and I’m lucky that I didn’t have to, either.

Why startups shouldn’t just be for the young

Wait, Gingrich is the humane one?

I scanned the results of the latest GOP debate and while it didn’t turn up anything earth shattering, it speaks volumes that in the current GOP, Newt Gingrich is the humane voice. I’m not sure if he was ever an anti-imigration partisan, or if he’s genuinely not a nice, likeable person. But when he led the Republican house in the 90s, I recall a lot of anit-immigrant sentinement too. In fact, its what finally motivated my family to get our U.S. Citizenship. For additional weirdness, lets create a “red card”, which to most non-Americans, means you’re getting expelled from a soccer game.

At Tuesday’s Republican debate, Gingrich didn’t call for making all illegal immigrants citizens, or even allowing all 11 million or so to stay in America, but for some who’ve been here for decades to get “red cards,” establishing a special new class of non-citizens.

Gingrich Is Brave for Calling for the Humane Treatment of Humans

Mythbusting: Sugar & Hyperactivity

Posted since we were debating this weekend after giving Nicholas a little ice cream after 8 p.m. I figure consumer reports is pretty trustworthy, no? Sugar makes children hyperactive—and other medical myths: Consumer Reports Health Blog

More than a dozen good-quality studies have failed to find any link between sugar in children’s diets and hyperactive behavior. So, why do parents associate sugar with hyperactivity? In one study, parents were told that their children had been given sugary drinks, and went on to rate their children as hyperactive. What they didn’t know was that their children had really been given a sugar-free drink. The difference was in parents’ minds.

Two extremes of blogging

I find the time to write about the econmics behind my thrilling ISP/TV swtich and Patty writes a touching post about what it was like to meet Nicholas. Can you guess which one of us was described as emotional as a robot in college? Shouldn’t be too hard a task.

Patty, your post deserves a better response, so I owe you one + pictures. But suffice to say that meeting Ian was the highlight of my summer. Even at a couple of months age, Nicholas and Ian have their own special qualities and personalities, so you can’t compare them on any meaningful level. But Ian was a lot of fun to play with, he’s way more giggly/loud, like his Mom, and it was amazing to have the two of them together contemplating each other and, for me, thinking of what future adventures/trouble they would get into.

When the little sister is in town …

I’ve got another 5 day weekend coming up ahead.  Since Patty is visiting, I’ve taken the next 3 days off so that Staci, Patty, Nicholas, Ian, and I have time to hang out.  It’s been a blast to have her here again, and it’s made me more aware of how weird it is to NOT have her around.  Here’s a semi-coherent list of observations from her trip

  • We went right into our normal banter and talk without missing a beat.  We like to pretend that we dont’ liek each other and that we’re really competitive about our child / spouse / job / life / whatever.
  • Motherhood becomes her, although she’s prone to worrying so its fun to tease/scare her.
  • Sometimes Ian and Nicholas look a lot alike, other times theres almost no family resemblance.
  • Short hair  makes her look really adult/mature.
  • We have a lot of family, friends, "cousins" in the area.

First 3 months as a Dad

One of the first things I’ve noticed as a new father is how sensitive I am again to time passing.  After graduating college, my has not been measured in discrete chunks of time like semesters, nor have there been regular events like summer/fall/spring breaks to look forward to as a break in my schedule.  Time was very continuous, between work and the occasional trip or vacation to punctuate the year.  Since we learned we’d be parents, its been back to counting down the days to one milestone or another.  First, it was the trimesters during pregnancy, then the agonizingly slow march to the actual delivery day.  Now, every month has its little milestones.  By the second month, Nicholas was able to follow objects, and recognize voices.  In the third month, he’s learned to squeal in delight, "converse" and respond with baby babble.  Soon, he should be sleeping through the night, which will be a more a welcome relief for Staci than for me, believe it or not.

Besides these developmental milestones, clearly the biggest change is that his health and welfare are our foremost concern.  While I may want to squeeze in an hour here or there blogging, pokig at some code or project, or simply playing a game of FIFA, its been hard to come by those hours without sacrificing a lot of sleep.  And its no joke how much sleep you are deprived of during the first three months.  The first month was definitely the worst, but you get used to functioning with less sleep, or going to bed earlier.  For me, midnight or 1 AM used to be the norm, but just last night we were all in bed at 10 p.m.  It was a good night.

The first 3 months haven’t been all that hard or a very big adjustment, since our main job is to keep Nicholas fed, safe, and stimulated.  There must also be  an evolutionary reason for pushing the harder parenting years to when children become teenagers.  I’m enjoying being a dad, and I"m looking forward to all the new experiences we’ll share as a family in the coming years.

Other things I’ve learned as a new dad:

  • Changing diapers isn’t as hard or messy as I thought it would be, but he hasn’t gotten to a real squirmy phase either.
  • LIttle babies can make some big noises.
  • You have to be pretty creative to keep them entertained, the funny face or noise that worked yesterday probably won’t be as entertaining tomorrow.
  • Its nearly impossible to stop grandmothers from buying new toys and outfits for him.

I’m an uncle!

Not exactly up to the minute news here, where did the last three weeks go and I’ve left my blog sadly unattended.  The biggest news here is that I’m a real honest-to-goodness uncle.  Patty had a baby boy ten days ago, Ian Christopher. He’s cute, and sounds like he cries a lot.  They’re also lucky since he’s been sleeping through most of the night, from what I hear he wakes up once, maybe twice, during the night.  The unfortunate thing is, according to my mom and pictures, is that he looks a lot like me when I was a baby.  Hopefully, he’ll outgrow it, otherwise…

Seeing Patty’s pictures with him, and despite the stories of having to stop pee with her hand – I imagine it in an appropriately superhero-ey kind of way, has made me more anxious for our own son to be born.  Its only another 5 weeks or so.  It may seem long at times, but work is actually pretty busy so the days go by quick.

Is there really an income gap?

Cafe Hayek rightly takes an AP reporter to task for not questioning a recent study that found “Rich-Poor Income Gap Growing“. So while it sounds that inflation adjusted wages increased across the board, ie the income distribution (if you can think of it as a bell-shaped normal distribution) moved to the right. Which is good, people overall are wealthier. But it seems the study focused on the range between the highest and the lowest, which is less meaningful. It only tell you that your distribution got wider, not much more than that and certainly very little about overall wealth in your population.

This is fake analysis. It’s comparing two snapshots over time and
pretending that the people in the snapshots are the same people. The
implication is that if you were a poor family in 1980, you barely got
ahead while the rich families, turbo-charged ahead of everyone else and
left them in the dust.

Memorable quotes from after work beers.

Went out with Greg, Sandy, Nyk, and Corey to hang out and have a beer or more this evening. Some notable quotes from the evening:

Sandy
Oh was I drunk? Sometimes I’m a virgin when I’m drunk
Nyk
Greg, why do you have to be so f*cking belligerent
Corey
Five or six long island ice teas sounds pretty good right about now.
Schnippy aka Greg
Should I be watching Family Guy?
Me
It’s not named after the ship. It’s named after the ship’s class.

Pointers: running your own mail server

There are a bunch of reasons why you might decide that running your own mail server is something you want to do. You have a lot of free time and enjoy spending a lot of time at the command line reading howto guides and installation manuals. Hopefully, you know you are running a mail server and don’t have a Windows machine that’s been turned into a spam zombie.

Ok, so that may not sound like good reasons. There are some real benefits, you can give yourself unlimited email aliases, give your friends and family easier-to-remember addresses, and set up mailing lists to keep in touch with people.

If you’ve got a linux server, Postfix is one of the more popular mail transports. One of the things about mail server jargon is that there are a number of lego blocks that go into the mail chain. I won’t attempt to write a complete guide to setting up your server, instead I’ll point you at some useful links that I found helpful, and to boot not horrendously diffult to install.

  • Postfix takes care of receiving incoming mail and routing it to a local destination. I found the Postfix Anti-UCE Cheat Sheet useful for making sure I had configured the server correctly to make sure it is being used for good and not evil.
  • Amavisd-new is a perl script for plugging in virus scanners and spam blocks into the delivery chain. I use Clam Anti-virus, a Free virus scanner, and Spamassassin, to protect users from unwanted or dangerous mail messages.
  • Once you’re system is running, you might find that you’re looking at the mail log to make sure nothing is out of sorts. Download pflogsumm and schedule it to send you a report on how many messages are being delivered/sent/blocked and other useful metrics.