Archive for September 2005

Less is More, Less is Clever

September 28, 2005

From 43Folders comes an amazing display of less is clever. What a cool note taking device. By not doing a zillion things it gains 700 hours of battery life.

I’ve tried to make our PDK project exemplify this. The underlying metaphor of PDK is source code. Can I manage an entire linux distribution as easily as I could manage the source code to an ordinary project? Can I collaborate with others just as easily? Can the distro build process just build quietly and tell me if there are errors? Can I change (refactor) the structure of my linux distribution to make it more succinct? Can I refactor components of my distribution so that they can be shared among multiple distributions?

Certainly there is a lot of complexity in the problem space left to attack. But by literally using the source code metaphor, adding a simple cache mechanism for holding packages, we get the foundation for version control for distributions. Furthermore, source code and version control have a well understood relaxed data consitency that is well understood by nearly every programmer and manager in our target market. Now instead of dealing with data management issues, I’m focusing my time on refactoring mechanisms, sane default behaviors, etc. These are much more salient problem spaces, so I deliver higher value sooner.

I’ve tried to use the “less is clever” pattern, and hopefully I’ve succeeded well enough. Time will tell. So far, even with its warts, PDK has addicted at least one user.

Indiana

September 3, 2005

Don’t listen to Tim. We have a few things going for us in Indianapolis that make us attractive.

First of all, the cost of living here is negligable. My wife and I make a salary that, for my family of six, would approach poverty in California or New York. But here in Indianapolis I live in 2800+ square feet on a nice cul-de-sac lot, inside the beltway. If Progeny does well, I may be able to affort “executive” housing, without being and excecutive.

Our real estate market, while definitely a buyers’ market, is healthy and stable. There are some folks in what appear to be hot markets around the US that are in for a big surprise sometime soon. I doubt we will be affected much when those markets cave. Our real estate is priced well.

If you are looking for work in manufactuing, try elsewhere. The funny thing was, I read Tim’s post, and I was already thinking manufacturing before I even read the article. Sure enough, it’s manufacturing declines driving increased poverty.

If, on the other hand, you are looking to do some technology work, consider basing your company here. There is no shortage of universities. Local governements are motivated to fight a “brain drain” from local universities and will probably offer concessions of you come in well funded. Once you’ve imported or acquired your labor, you will have a dog easy time paying competetive wages. You pay less, and your little grunts’ standard of living is higher. Win win!

Even the traffic is decent compared to the California Bay Area or Chicago.

This is an awesome undiscovered place to work and live, and I think the real estate market reflects that.

Which leads me to some free advice: Know how to do more than one thing.

I work alongside my wife in real estate part time. (That’s on top of raising four kids.) I know I have to know more than one thing. Real estate is good money and it’s not the same as what I already do. The nice thing about real estate is that it exposes you directly to market pressure, so you naturally build up a little market savvy. I’m a more useful tech grunt because of it.

My Dad worked at Intel from before I was born until this year. He will be retiring soon. So that’s around thirty years. I think he’s one of the last people in the US to be able to pull that off. The folks in manufacturing here in Indiana are not so lucky. They were on that track, and went over a cliff.

The rest of us are going to have to figure out how to retire when moving jobs frequently. I’m 31 and have worked my current job, a tech startup, only three years. Not only do I have to be aware that I inherit all the risks of a startup, I compete, in the world theatre, with cheaper labor off shore.

So I do real esate as my “other thing.” Hope you have one too.


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