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Showing posts from August, 2016

Forging Your Own Path

This post inspired by this question: Ask HN: How Did You Escape 9 to 5?

I am curious about how you effectively spent your time while having a full time job and a side business and at what time did you decide to take the full plunge.
I have been online for about 18 years. I have been a moderator (unpaid/volunteer) on various projects which were kind of the cream of the crop for their niche and I have had one or more websites for about 15 years.

My first couple of websites were born of "popular demand" in that I often answered questions on an email list and my answers were popular on that list. For various reasons, that led to me creating some websites with information of the sort I wrote on list.

I felt it was reasonable to expect to somehow make money off of what I was publishing, which clearly had some value for other people. The reality is that as long as I was a homemaker, I really could not figure out how to make money online. I got divorced and got a corporate job a…

Business: Til death do you part

Paul Graham says that a startup needs to "not die" in order to make it. I will posit that even after the company is no longer new/small/young (however they define "a startup"), they need to continue to "not die."

I worked for a Fortune 500 company for a few years. When I got my job, they were rolling in dough. Every meeting was a McHappy Meeting and we were constantly handed tchotchke trinkets, like weird pens with the company logo, as our prize for attending the McHappy Meeting.

They were adding on to the building I was in. When the addition was completed, my department was moved to the new wing. They built a second building next door and had plans to build at least one more, plans that did not materialize in the time I was there.

The recession started and they froze salaries and the job listings online shrunk from many, many listings to a few scant listings. Promotions were few and far between.

As the McHappy Meeting tschochkes dried up, I eventua…

Names that allow a project to grow

I have written a little before about naming projects or businesses. I have thought a lot about such things. Here are a few more thoughts on the topic.

In one book I read years ago, they told the tale about a business that started out selling tools for gardeners. But they did not position themselves as a garden tools business. If I recall correctly, they used some generic name, like Smithfield, and subtitled it A catalog for gardeners. When they later decided to add seeds and seedlings, etc, they did not have to make any big changes because they had not painted themselves into a corner by unthinkingly insisting that "We only sell garden tools." The transition was smooth and easy and involved zero brand repositioning.

Historically, companies that position themselves as power companies or transportation companies are more able to weather change than those that identify as coal companies or horse and buggy companies. Sometimes, this is planned by smart people making big bucks …

That's No Joke

This post is about my reply here that has been flagged and I am being crabbed at over it because, apparently, people think I am being flippant. Nothing could be further from the truth. My comment includes the word "maybe," which covers the fact that I do not know the man, do not know his wife and might be wrong. But here is my thinking that I did not elaborate on in my one sentence reply:The OP has no trouble clearly communicating on HN that he feels so despairing over his situation that he feels suicidal. He indicates he feels suicidal over the idea that he is unemployable. He also indicates taking time off is out of the question because his wife will not accept it, in spite of him having adequate savings to do so.She is his wife. Presumably, they live together and sleep in the same bed. She should be the one person on the planet he doesn't need to explicitly tell that he is so stressed that he is suicidal. If she is oblivious to his suffering, there is one of three thi…

Tomato, Tomahto

I met my ex husband at age 16 in typing class in high school. I think they changed the title to keyboarding the following year, but when I took it, it was still called typing.My first conversation with my future ex was an argument about the pronunciation of the word tarot. I insisted the final T was silent. He insisted it was pronounced. This was before the internet and smartphones. When he went home, he looked it up and learned that the final T was silent. The next day at school, he told me he looked it up and confirmed that it was pronounced "taroe" and finished his point off with asserting he had been right, pretending our positions were flipped from what they actually were.He wasn't a good loser. His inability to accept defeat made him a very difficult man to be married to. I sometimes say that he had to win an argument at all costs, even the cost of his marriage, and it is part of why we are divorced.I got my start on internet forums with some parenting lists. For a…

The Invisible Elephant in the Room

Yesterday, there was a really small brouhaha on Hacker News, mostly notable for how rudely people disregarded the fact that they really should be saying "Welcome Sharon!" instead of arguing with me about sexism on HN. I said if I had any more to say about it, I would post it here in part because it was a huge derail.

This is not intended to be comprehensive. Here are a couple of quotes from there to get me started. If you want to know everything that was said, you can read it there.

Have you got some specific examples?

And Mz's unwillingness to take this fact on board tells me something about the content of her character, and also suggests an alternative explanation for her financial woes that I humbly submit she ought to at least consider. For starters, this discussion started with me calling out a specific comment. I did so gently, that it seemed like it probably was an expression of sexism. Then someone dismissed my observation.

So, if I do give specific example…

Comic Book Time In The Real World

We have expressions which refer to the idea that we may experience time as subjectively happening at different speeds. For example, "A watched pot never boils." But, we generally take the view that, objectively, an hour is an hour is an hour and all things move forward at the same pace.

Yet, in fiction, time passing at different rates is a relatively common concept. Perhaps this intrigues us because of real world experiences which fit that concept in some sense.

When you look at signs and symbols, a common phenomenon is that imagery initially comes from real world items in a relatively literal manner, but, over time, the symbols are kept even though technology moves on and the thing it refers to is no longer in use. Here are a couple of articles highlighting that practice:

The Floppy Disk means Save, and 14 other old people Icons that don't make sense anymore

The universal car horn symbol is a bicycle bugle from the 1870s

Thus, signage that communicates by referring to a…

For Just A Few Dollars More

I have been perma-camping for a bit over 4.5 years. In other words, I am homeless. I started this adventure in Georgia, but soon left on foot to cross the country and ultimately ended up in California.

I had been evicted from my apartment and I was in financial trouble, but I didn't have to be homeless. I still had a job at a Fortune 500 company and had recently taken a lateral move to a new team handling "problem files." They were in the process of reclassifying my job, which likely would have meant a de facto promotion and better money.

But, I have serious health problems and keeping my job was an obstacle to getting healthy. I had been planning to leave for some time.

So, I am not on the street due to incompetence. I am on the street because I have a goal that cannot be met some other way. I am not your typical homeless person.

I had been living without a car for several years prior to leaving my job. While in Columbus, Georgia, I had seen the positive …

College Bottlenecks

Increasingly, American college students are just notgraduating on time. Only about 40 percent of students complete a four degree in a mere four years.

The two articles linked above give some stats on the situation, but they fail to really explain it. This is part of what I understand to be true;

1) If you don't know what you want to major in when you show up, you are already in trouble.

In order to finish a four year degree in four years, you need to be hitting certain bench marks from the very start. For most majors at most colleges, there are certain general requirements. In most cases, you are going to need certain basics no matter what you ultimately major in.

So, it is possible to start taking those, and there is usually room for a few electives that do not fit into your major. But if you take a lot of classes that would fit a B.A. just fine and then you end up pursuing a B.S., you probably have too many humanities and not enough science.

2) Even if you pick a major from t…