Category Archives: personal


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When Product Management Meets Social Justice

In technology, we often find a lot of cool stuff that, as developers, engineers and yes, even product managers, we think is just plain cool. In agile development, we create epics, where we lay out customer stories and tie them into a set of features; however, while we’re working towards our goals we often find those technical places where we discover we can do something super cool. And we sometimes want to weave those into our stories as features in products simply because we want to make stuff that we’re technically proud of. But should we?

Too often we don’t consider what the social ramifications are to features. Time and time again we hear stories of what seemed like a cool feature that got abused. When we’re creating software, we think of the art. We want to change the world after reading too much Guy Kawasaki. We want to build sometimes just for the sake of building. And sometimes we come to a place where we think we just have to add something into a product. Then we stop and think about it, and we come to a place where we’re just torn about whether that feature is something that should go back to the obscure place we found it. And in times like that, when we’re torn about what to do, we have to remember that “we are the goodpeople” and do what’s right.

That is all.


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Work harder, faster and more… Or not…

The difference between being judgmental and caring can be the benefit of the doubt. Living in Los Angeles I got to learn a lot about people not giving two craps whether you were alive or dead. Unless of course you started to smell the place up. Living in Minneapolis I got to learn a lot about people being a little too much in my business. But then I realized that it’s OK to be in my business, as it keeps apathy at bay and helps make me a better person, provided it doesn’t come with a bit too much judgement. When no one cares, what drives you to be better other than your own desire to be, well, better. Which can be fleeting.

But that’s at home. At work, I’ve started to realize the various stages of my own judgement and don’t always look back on my actions (or judgment of others more to the point) too kindly. There was a time when I worked more 100 hour weeks than 50 hour weeks. I’ve never actually worked less than 50. There was a time when I expected everyone to work the same as me. I expected them to be in the office for a dozen hours a day and to stay focused the whole time. I can’t even do that any more. Having said that, I’ll put my 9-10 hours a day (often including weekends) against anyone else’s 16 hour days. Focus with age, or so I keep telling myself. It’s not about working more, it’s about working smarter. And you don’t want to work faster, because the quality of your work starts to decrease.

I also stopped judging how much others work because I started to realize I don’t see all of their work. On the Tuesday after Labor Day, I left the office at 4. But in order to meet some crazy deadlines I worked 30-40 hours that weekend. If anyone noticed me leaving at 4, they likely didn’t know that. But no one cares because they’re all too busy worrying about their side of the street. In short, who cares about working faster and more hours. More hours are just for show. For being a martyr. For burning out.

When I was younger, I didn’t realize that it was more important to work smarter. I thought if others saw me burning the midnight oil that they would be inspired. I also didn’t realize what things were like when you had kids or in general, when you have a life outside of work. Now, I reserve my judgement for the output over a longer duration of time over when I can see your mug in the office. And when the Apple Emoji for Poo hits the fan, I’m still there, and less distracted when needed – as the people around me are more understanding when I’m home more.

You see, with our personal lives bleeding into our professional time and our professional lives bleeding into our personal time, we start to realize that the barriers between home and work are more and more grey. We learn (hopefully you’re here) that we must disengage from the computer when our family and friends try to talk to us (I have to close my laptops). We learn that if you try to find a home-life balance that we end up setting the two to be in diametric opposition. Instead, maybe just maybe we learn how to let them coexist.


Crazy Russian Zombie Apocalypse Survival Training



Some time ago, I had the good fortune of reading Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment (thanks to MacTech for hooking me up with it!). It was a book filled with many of the things that are good in the business world today and how to make them better by adopting them in your own organization. Since reading that book, I’ve looked for enchantment. I’ve searched in the technology coming out of new products, in social causes that I’ve become involved with, in trips out of town and within myself.

Today (now yesterday), I was truly enchanted. At my new employer, there is a charitable foundation publicly released at the JNUC last year. I thought it was cool when it was introduced. But seeing the eyes of the person that administers the program light up as she went through all the nooks and crannies and seeing the importance placed upon it at the organization really made me take an even greater notice.

I like to give my time and whatever resources possible back to my community. I’ve never considered this charity, nor my duty, nor commendable, nor enough. Instead it’s just part of being a person. To see someone who is so enchanted with what the company is doing in that regard, that they can bring that enchantment to others and engage a room of new hires fresh off a heavy lunch (let alone keep them awake) was just… enchanting.


Thanks to all involved for the experience and I look forward to many more like it!


“No, I haven’t looked at my logs”


Regression/Unit Testing In Production


The 25 Nerdiest Kid Movies

Movies, movie trailers and TV shows helped to validate that many of us were on the right track (or wrong track) in school. For those that were kinda’ smart (or like me, liked being with the smart ones even if they weren’t smart) there was a whole stream of movies, starting with the advent of computers and moving forward until the cliché was beaten right into the poor dead horse with a party hat. So if you’re raising a kid and you want to start them off right or just validate them that they have started off right, here are some movies to help you along that path. From grade school to high school. Must glorify without making too much fun. Must not be animated (that would be a whole other list). The nerd (or kid who all nerds openly want to be) must be the protagonist.

  • War Games is about Ferris Bueller (or a younger, nerdy whiz kid of a Ferris Bueller) who connects into a top secret military mainframe and ends up with complete control over the United State’s nuclear arsenal. He then has to find the physical mainframe and disable it. What’s so awesome is that it’s InfoSec 101: use a password, put multiple layers of security in place and don’t hook ICBMs up to unsecured systems. Really makes the Wozniak quote “never trust a computer you can’t throw out of a window” make sense. I’ve been waiting for years to hear “shall we play a game?” Just like arguing with some people, “the only winning move is not to play.”
  • Weird Science is a typical 80s flick about two unpopular teenage boys who “create” a woman via their computer. Their living and breathing creation is a gorgeous woman, Lisa (the name of the predecessor to the Macintosh, whose purpose is to boost their confidence level by putting them into situations which require Gary and Wyatt to act like men. On their road to becoming accepted, they encounter many hilarious obstacles, which gives the movie an overall sense of silliness.
  • E.T.: Henry Thomas is a total repeat offender on this list. And E.T. is probably the biggest movie of them all. Don’t get me wrong, some easily eclipsed the box office revenue but if adjusted for inflation I doubt they would have. He’s a little young in this one to be a nerd, but we know it happens and when you have the star wearing a hoodie, Dungeons and Dragons, aliens and Henry Thomas in the same movie, I’m not-so-sure you can really skip it on a list like this. Plus, it’s not like Drew Barrymore has done that much sci-fi, so we’ll take it where we can get it! 
  • The Neverending Story: The kid is a bookworm, reading about magic, lasers, talking heads rock biters and of course Atreyu, a warrior. Our main character Bastian starts feeling what Atreyu does, including the love of Artax the horse. I find a common theme in nerdy movies is looking up to a warrior type and eventually finding your way to be your own person. For me, this was the beginning of a journey that eventually led to the older Doctor Who series, Brazil and a few others of the era. But it started when I was about the age of the kids in the movie (which was no spring chicken the first time I saw it).  
  • Flight of the Navigator: So much of the effects resemble a cross between Fraggle Rock and the original Battlestar Galactica. The most important thing this movie did was to be in the right place at the right time and teach me early on that I needed to get good with a joystick so in case aliens ever needed me, I had their back!
  • The Last Airbender: This movie got shredded by fans of the show. I watched all of the original series and have watched much of the diesel-punk inspired new series with my daughter. And we both loved the movie. Unlike many, I did not find the direction nor editing lazy. I thought the effects were good. I thought Noah Ringer was fine. I thought the creative license with much of the changes were merely trying to condense an entire season of storyline into a couple of hours. But most of all, I thought it was just a fun little movie. I’m still bummed they didn’t continue on with the other elements/movies. Maybe someday…
  • Kick-Ass: They’re a little older, but not too old to move into another category. A really good movie (despite Cage) about nerdy kids striking back. If you haven’t seen it, this is one of my favorites in this sub-genre!
  • Goonies: This movie did so much. I mean, it had pirates, a kid named Data (his Father in the movie was on The Closer), boys get the girls, a monster and a great legacy. I suspect they may wreck the legacy when they make part two. Josh Brolin, Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, Martha Plimpton, etc.
  • Ender’s Game: Harrison Ford returns to science fiction to train Ender to kill aliens. What isn’t better to a tween than killing aliens. Not so sure he killed $110,000,000 worth of aliens but a fun romp nonetheless!
  • D.A.R.Y.L.: After watching D.A.R.Y.L. I think I spent years thinking I was some sort of robot. Probably explains plenty. When I finally got around to reading Isaac Asimov’s Robot Series I guess I didn’t think I might be an android any longer. “It’s only human to make mistakes, but Daryl never does.” In this movie, a kid realizes he’s actually an artificial intelligence. He then gets chased down by the government, looking to reclaim their intellectual property. Classic ET-style the government are the bad guys kinda’ moments ensue.
  • Hugo: A crossover between nerdy kids and fantasy, this movie is boy meets girl, who happens to have the key to his steampunk inspired robot.
  • Real Genius: I know I said up to high school and these guys are in college, but here’s the thing. They started college early, so it wouldn’t go into a college nerd flick, would it?!?! But ya’, lasers, floating Death Star-esque ships, the Ice Man before he got buff for the role,  
  • Super 8: Trying to recapture the Henry Thomas look in the leading actor, this movie features young, middle-school aged budding film makers trying to track down monster aliens, escaped from a train moving it away from Area 51. Trite, yes. But the 70s nerd clothes are awesome! 
  • Back to the Future: “Are you trying to tell me that my mother has got the hots for me?” Freud would have been proud with how in touch a young Marty McFly was with his feelings. The Doc, borrowed from the TV show Taxi, sets a whole time travel scenario in motion that caused generations of chic geek to want nothing more out of life than a DeLorean. There’s a bully, a nerdy father, skateboards, mad scientists, lighting, plutonium powered cars. I mean, really… And in a sign of the times, there’s a lot of sax!
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: They’re teenagers, right? Nerdy kids liked them when I was a kid. Not sure if they do now. The franchise has never really gotten a proper crack at a movie (like Punisher). Or maybe it has and it’s not possible for a bunch of turtles yelling cowabunga to actually work out in a live action movie. either way, the next installment will be Michael Bay trying to start anew. Would love it if it finally works out!
  • Attack the Block: Kids killing aliens…
  • Cloak & Dagger: Yet another Henry Thomas flick! Trying to crack the code to a game that contains… Wait for it… Well, I won’t ruin the twist but another “It started as a game” with a boy saving a girl. Classic 80s pre-hacker crackdown flick!
  • Harry Potter: This was such a massive blockbuster I almost left it off the list. But the series occupies 1 slot of the list instead of 8. Harry goes from nerdy little kid to nerdy adult. Being a wizard will do that to ya’! Even if you don’t think they’re nerdy (after all, things are different on the other side of the pond, maybe all Brits are like that) you must admit that all geeky kids have wanted to be a wizard at some point or another. Lucky you, I found one clip that has all 8 trailers. Enjoy and hope the memories work well for you like they did for me!
  • Teenwolf: I almost didn’t put this on the list ’cause Michael J. Fox just wasn’t nerdy enough. But he was small and picked on and tried to play sports poorly before coming a werewolf, so why not… I drew the line at American Pie. They definitely weren’t nerdy enough…
  • Superbad: Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg when they were nerdy thirteen year old boys, oddly this movie is about a tubby Jonah Hill playing Seth and Michael Cerra playing Evan. Superbad has a young Jonah Hill, lamenting virgin teens and of course, McLovin and the cops. The boys basically get the girls in the end!
  • Can’t Buy Me Love: The nerd pays the girl to go out with him and when he breaks up with her (pre-planned) he becomes the talk of the town, only to realize it was a huge mistake and then he’s a loser again when it comes out he paid her. Yup, pretty much says it all. Nerdy guy gets the girl. Huge theme in the 80s, obviously. 
  • The Secret Lives of Dorks: The name says most of it. It’s nothing new in and could have been called “Love Potion #9″ or Rick Moranis gets Annie Pots. Or American Pie. Or Revenge of the Nerds (they’re in college). Or 10 Things I Hate About You. Heck it could’ve even been the first Transformers movie.   But it isn’t one of those and those will be on other lists upcoming so I feel the need to go ahead and just put this one on this list. 
  • The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes: had Kurt Russell. It was from the 60s. But the time spent on explaining all the computing was awesome! The best part about this movie is that glimpse you get of what computers were like before the advent of the personal computer. Thank you to the Altair, Apple and other machines that helped to get us into a new world order!
  • Time Bandits: Terry Gilliam probably shouldn’t make kids movies. Don’t get me wrong, everything is awesome as far as this movie goes. But I’m not so sure any kids would get it!
  • I Love You, Beth Cooper: His dad is Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. There’s a big bully for an ex-boyfriend. Hayden Panettiere doesn’t sing country. Totally cliché but that’s kinda’ ok ’cause so are the rest…

Honorable mention:

  • Antboy: If you’re thinking this would have been way better on the list than I Love You, Beth Cooper then you’re right.
  • Standing Up: Too feel-good. Obviously made for the parents more than the kidos (which is totally fine).
  • Star Wars Episode I: Anakin built robots, was immaculately conceived and raced a mean pod racer. But he was booted off the list because he put on a black suit, choked people and was intimate with Natalie Portman. All the other nerds on the list learned from their time at the bottom of the social ladder and didn’t become the bullies.
  • The Karate Kid: Excluded because of the swan kick.
  • The Lost Boys: It was the comedic sidekick who was nerdy. The main characters weren’t nerdy enough. And while the head vampire was pretty nerdy, he was too old.
  • Can’t Hardly Wait: IMHO there were too many characters that were “cool” kids.
  • American Pie: Just not nerdy enough…
  • The Brat Pack movies: The Breakfast Club, 16 Candles, etc. Yes, there were characters like Ducky, the kid that holds up the underwear and Long Duck Dong. But it just doesn’t fit into the list…
  • Transformers: 2 words: Shia Labeouf.
  • Movies about creepy kids: I hate creepy kid movies.
  • All Superheroes Must Die: I’m pretty sure they were too old, but they don’t really tell us…
  • Bad News Bears: The movie is about sports.
  • Napoleon Dynamite: Exposes the fine line between geek chik and just a plain weird person.
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story: He’s crazy, not nerdy. But Zach Galifianakis FTW! His mom is in parenthood too.
  • Juno: Kinda’ misses the point of the whole thing…