archive for April, 2004

Google's S-1 Filing

Google is finally going IPO. As a part of that process, they were required to file a Form S-1 with the SEC. The first section of the S-1 is a Letter from the Founders which was written by Larry Page. It’s a very well written letter, and even if you’re not planning on investing in Google it makes for a good read.

One of the most interesting points that I got out of the letter was the mention of the new additions to Google’s board of directors. One of the additions, Art Levinson, is “CEO of Genentech and has a Ph.D. in biochemistry.” That’s CEO, not CIO or CTO. It really makes me wonder if Google is going to be getting into the business of organizing and searching genetic information as part of their mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

April 30, 2004 – Update:
I may have been reading too much into the whole Genentech angle, but only time will tell. Here’s an interesting commentary on the filing by John Battelle.

The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant

To copy Jef Allbright

The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant
By Nick Bostrom

Once upon a time, the planet was tyrannized by a giant dragon. The dragon stood taller than the largest cathedral, and it was covered with thick black scales. Its red eyes glowed with hate, and from its terrible jaws flowed an incessant stream of evil-smelling yellowish-green slime. It demanded from humankind a blood-curdling tribute: to satisfy its enormous appetite, ten thousand men and women had to be delivered every evening at the onset of dark to the foot of the mountain where the dragon-tyrant lived. Sometimes the dragon would devour these unfortunate souls upon arrival; sometimes again it would lock them up in the mountain where they would wither away for months or years before eventually being consumed.

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Customer Service

A few years ago when I bought my first digital camera, a Kodak EasyShare DX3500, I emailed Kodak to ask them if it would damage the camera if I took pictures of the sun. To this day, I still haven’t received a reply. Yesterday I wrote Canon asking the same question regarding my new PowerShot A80. Within a few min. I got an automated answer with a list of documents that might be of help. None of them were, but they also included a button at the bottom that I could click to have a human try to answer my question. By this morning, there was an answer waiting for me in my inbox (no).

I’ve emailed customer service at a lot of different companies with varying results. Disney for example seems to take a day or three to have a human look at the email, but then they almost always send a form reply, whether it answers your questions or not. Many companies, like Kodak allow emails to go unanswered. It’s rare for a company to respond within a few hours with the correct answer, but that’s exactly what they should all should be doing.

Telephone support costs a lot more per incident than email — nearly 10 times as much according to some studies. There is no reason for an email to take more than a day to be answered. If a business can’t respond to all of the emails it gets in one day, how is it ever going to catch up? Smart companies do everything they can to get their customers to use email instead of the phone for support, and it should be easy. All they have to do is: respond quickly and correctly. That’s it. It’s nothing more than they’re expected to do on the phone.

Last Weekend

Last weekend was very relaxing and fun. It got off to an early start midday Friday with an office Launch Lunch to celebrate the launch of our new product, Verbot 4 Standard Edition. I left the office right after lunch to pick up Jesse at her office. By 3:00, we were on our way to Anaheim to see They Might Be Giants at the House of Blues. Luckily, we gave ourselves plenty of time. Traffic was horrible, and what should have been an hour drive turned out to be two and a half hours of crawling along I-5.

Once we arrived at Downtown Disney we met my mom and her friend from work (they were in Anaheim for a convention). Dinner was at the House of Blues (I had a very good chopped salad, and Jesse had fried chicken). We got in line for the show a little late, so by the time we were let in, there was already a row of people lined up against the stage. We picked a spot to stand, right in front of center stage, and waited the hour for the show to start.

Corn Mo got everyone warmed up, and was really a very funny guy. During the change over between bands, one of the crew talked to the guy in front of us who was there with his little girl. He said that the band had asked if they wouldn’t mind moving up to the balcony because it might not be safe for the little girl to be down with the crowd. He also offered to get them a great seat right in the front of the balcony, and told them that they could meet the band after the show. So, anyway… the guy took the offer, and we found ourselves standing front and center ready for TMBG to come out. They did, and put on a great show that lasted over two hours (if I’m counting correctly). They’re going to be coming out with a new album this summer called “The Spine” I think, so they had a lot of new songs that they were trying out on us. The other big news is that their drummer seems to have changed. I don’t know what happened to Dan Hickey, but he wasn’t there. Instead they had another guy whose name I can’t quite remembered, but who played well and looked to be having a lot of fun.

The show got out just after midnight, and we took off to find out hotel. We had reservations at the Days Inn just outside of the park because we didn’t want to have to drive all of the way home afterwords. We eventually found it, and found the right driveway to get in the parking lot (it wasn’t exactly obvious). It turns out that they don’t have enough parking lot spaces for the number of hotels rooms, and with us checking in so late, we ended up having to park right by the street in front of some dumpsters. The room was ok, but we probably won’t be returning.

Saturday we slept in and then drove over to my grandma’s in Seal Beach. She had an eye appointment, so we had to wait around a bit until she got back. When she returned, we all went out to the Macaroni Grill for lunch. This was the first time for me to eat there, and it was a very enjoyable meal. Nice atmosphere, good service, and great food. What more can you want? We will be going back. The rest of the afternoon was spent driving home and napping.

Sunday was another big day. We had to pick Jesse’s car up from her office (we left it there on Friday), buy groceries, clothes, and a new camera. We ended up getting the Canon A80 (the same camera that my mom has) at Circuit City. We first looked at Best Buy, but I know that Circuit City has a nice policy on giving you the difference + 10% if you find a lower price, and on something so expensive I didn’t want to end up over spending. We also picked up 512 MB of memory for it so that we can take pictures at the maximum resolution without worrying about running out of memory. The A80 takes 4 AA batteries, so we picked up another set of rechargeables. It’s a good thing too, we killed the alkaline batteries by the end of the day. I’m looking forward to getting some practice time in with the camera. It has a lot of new features and options that my old camera didn’t have (shutter speed, f stop, exposure control, white balance, etc…), so I have a little learning to do.

That’s about everything. For being such a busy weekend, it was suprisingly relaxing and productive.

The long day

Yesterday I went into work at 9:00 AM. I didn’t get home until 5:00 AM today. We just released a new software product today, and there were a lot of loose ends that needed to be tied up. The evening turned out to be a lot of fun. We ended up taking a few hours off around dinner time to throw a little party and watch a movie. I really wish I had more to say about last night, but it’s pretty much a blur of normal work stuff that isn’t exactly interesting.

Oh, one thing I did learn from the experience: sleeping in the walk-in-closet is a great way to get some late morning z’s.

A Day at the Races

Ok, not really. Yesterday, Jesse, my parents, and I did go to Santa Anita Park and ate breakfast at Clocker’s Corner. I’m not really interested in horses, racing, or gambling, but it was a nice breakfast outdoors. After breakfast we took the “seabiscuit tour”. The tour is a tram ride though the back areas of Santa Anita and gives a small glimpse at what it’s like to be a jockey.

From Santa Anita we drove up to my uncles house in to pay a quick visit, and then we drove over to Sierra Madre, and I was able to see several of the houses that my grandparents lived in (my mom’s dad grew up in that area), and that my mom lived in for the first few years of her life. It looks like a very nice old community (rare for Southern California).

After the trip down memory lane for my mom, we drove over to her house and visited with my sister and her kids. It was a pretty long, but fun day.

Roomba Returns

Today our new Roomba Floor Vacuum arrived. As I mentioned earlier, we had to send our Roomba back to the shop because its wheel sensor died. The new one looks pretty much the same, except that it’s a little more gray than silver. It’s currently charging, and should be ready to work some time tomorrow. Yaaay! Clean floors!

Oh, I should also mention that I got home at about 6:25 today and found one of those little UPS sticky notes on my door. It said that they had left the package at the rental office. This made me a little nervous to say the least. Not only have we had trouble with the rental office losing our deliveries, but they’ve also recently changed their office hours to 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Of course, on most days I’m at work during those hours, so it’s really inconvenient for me to pick up packages. I decided to grab the ups note and and take a quick drive over to the office. By the time I got there, it was 6:30, and yes, the office was closed. Luckily I spotted some movement and flagged a worker down and showed him the note. I guess I looked desperate, or friendly, or whatever enough for him to let me in to pick up the package. It didn’t take him too long to find it, and before long I was home unpacking my new toy… er… appliance.

Running (Again)

I’ve been running every weekday morning for the past 3 weeks. This follows a hiatus, and I’m glad to be back at it. Last fall, Jesse and I did a 12 week running program that turned into 15 weeks. I think we ran for one or two weeks after the program, then it got to cold or someone got sick or we went on vacation (I don’t remember), and we fell out of the habit. This time I’m running with my friend Matt every morning at the same time. We’ve been steadily increasing the duration, and have been doing a pretty good job at not slowing down. If anything, we’ve probably sped up a bit. We just finished a week of doing 12 min. runs. I’m not sure what Matt wants to max out at. At some point, it’s just taking too much out of the day though. I’d guesstimate that we’re running about a 10 min. mile. It would be great to get up to 3 miles a day, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Sorry about the rambling nature of this post. I thought it would be better to write something instead of nothing though.

Gmail

Google is currently testing a new email service called Gmail. According to the site, Gmail is part of their “mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Basically it’ll be a free web based email system with a ton of storage (1000 MB), and only text ads. I’m sure it’ll be great for current hotmail and yahoo mail users, but I already have all of the email storage I need on my home PC. Google claims that they’re going to put some good search technology into Gmail. It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with. It’ll also be interesting to see how they deal with spam. I hope they do a better job than AOL.