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Merry Christmas – 2011 in Review

As I was reflecting on 2011 the other day, I had the thought “I didn’t do very much this year”. I mean, this should have been a banner year for me, and at first glance, I just kind of floated through the year. As I was sure that couldn’t have been the case, I figured I needed to do a year in review type of post to feel better about life :P So this is my attempt to show that I’ve actually done something this year and I haven’t just been eating cereal and watching movies (though I do enjoy that combo)

I started the year “living” in Utah, I put this term in quotes because I live wherever I am, and was only in UT for about 2 months, so most would dispute my resident status, I was living there for a bit, so whatever :) I tried ice climbing for the first time ever with an old mission buddy Dan. It was awesome, you’ll never feel like more of a man than when you have snow in your beard and an axe in your hand that keeps you from death.

A week later I drove the car home, parked it back at Mom’s and flew me and a suitcase + laptop bag to New York City. I moved into a one bedroom apartment with my good friend Sam right by Washington Square right downtown New York (it’s where NYU is) and worked on Union Square (where Max Brenner chocolate is). Honestly, it was a dream come true for me, I had always wanted to live in NY, never had an excuse to get out there, and had always been a bit scared of the city for some reason. After living there, it is one of my favorite places now, you really do fall in love with the city.

I saw some great stuff though, a few highlights are being the only guy working on Union Square with a red beard and a flannel, being offered drugs at least once a day cause apparently I look like white trash, eating every ethnicity of food I can think of, cambodian sandwich shops, football in central park with Quentin and the Vayner Media boys, snow storms in the city and pushing cabs out of snow drifts while walking home at 3am, the New York public library, meeting up with Uncle Bruce at grand central station, riding to the top of the Rock with my buddy Geoff, jogging and playing basketball along the river, getting caught singing my heart out at 5am at work when i thought I was alone, shake shack, living a block from the Comedy Cellar (where Seinfeld got his start) and just being around that community. I seriously can’t say enough good about that city.

Work was cool too, I was out there with some great people (tisch, cohen, keith and quentin and then all the Techstars companies) we had a great time building a great tech community in NY while building great companies. They blew it out of the water, seriously.


Middle of my New York stint, I had Katya Musienko, who was one of the first people I taught (she and her mother) as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, get married. I got my old missionary companion who is in dental school in Boston drive down to NYC (bolt bus rather) and we hopped a midnight flight out to slc, rented the car, drove the 3 hours and surprised Katya for her wedding. It was great to see her and her mom, couldn’t be more proud of her.

It was a fun trip and great to be with old friends. I saw Schlegelmilch while I was up there and we had fun catching up as well. Old droogs warm the soul.

So the end of April I finished up my New York stay, we did our Techstars demo day, was seen on TV in the Techstars TV series on bloomberg (for better or worse) closed up shop, and I gave Sam his house back, rolled up the air mattress, and hit the road.

I had been working on a conversation management tool called Rumzi that was at this point morphing into a social media aggregator / api. I started putting more and more time into that until August when we realized we were building an API, which we weren’t particularly excited about building, so in August we shut it down and moved on. One of the more educational ventures I’ve forayed into. But I get ahead of myself.

I moved home in April where I have good family and the quilt shop, and Missouri, all of which I love. The quilt shop has been growing like crazy, we are up to 20+ employees there now, and are a major part of our community, which is fun to be involved with. I’m a part of the county business association, and the city business association, etc. It’s fun to work on.

I went to Minnesota to support the SIFE team I helped get started while I was at school out in HI, they are doing amazing stuff (like really amazing stuff) and it was an honor to still be a part of their success and watch them continue to raise the bar for what is possible while you’re in college.

I spent the 4th of July back home, and went down to the Lake with the family, first time I’d been down there in probably 10 years. We played cards and went swimming for a solid 4 days, it was magical. I’m serious, going down there with all the kids was like rediscovering everything I loved about Missouri as a kid, it was pure unadulterated joy.

About a week later my old friend Justin flew out to Missouri and we road tripped to Chicago for the Pitch Fork Music Fest which was fun, not completely my style of music, but it was fun to be a hippy for a weekend and just love sweet jams. Then we flew out to Myrtle Beach and played in a condo there. Fun fact about Myrtle Beach, it is the trailer park of beaches, cigarettes and coors light were the main stay at this hill country resort. It was fun though, met up with a good friend, Geoff, and had 3/4′s of the Magicians Alliance (cruise troupe from last Christmas) back together. We went exploring (read antiquing) through the coastal towns of North Carolina as we meandered back to Washington DC. We stopped at Kings Dominion for my 3 year fix of amusement parks and had a total blast.

We topped the trip off with my first domestic train ride ever and trained it up to Boston from DC. It was actually really cool. Train stations are all on the backsides of towns anymore, so it was thick woods and coast until I got into a town then you saw the dusty old school part of the town. Loved it. Saw old friends in Boston, walked the freedom trail again, ate some canoles and real italian food, then flew home. Not a bad blip in the radar of the summer.

End of August I packed the car and drove to Boulder for another Techstars demo day (ten more companies launched) then continued on to SLC. Got an apartment, settled in with friends, got office space for Justin and I to work out of, then headed to the slot canyons of southern Utah. 127 Hours type of stuff, but I got to hike some of America’s treasures.

Beautiful area, everyone should go see this place, not even kidding.

Continuing the saga, I moved out of the apartment and into my car, went to Copenhagen to work with Alex Farcet and Startup Bootcamp. I have never made it up to Scandinavia in my travels, so it was fun to go see the land of my heritage and work with startups that I love so much. Saw the original Christus, ate some amazing food, tried to order a “danish” and made some great friends. Oh, and watching Denmark vs Portugal soccer match at a bar downtown Copenhagen was also a surprise highlight of the trip. Good times all around.

Justin and I taught ourselves Ruby on Rails (a rapid prototyping programming language) and I’ve been working out in office space in Utah since then. Moved into a new place right in Sugar House (south side of SLC) and have been living the high life of a true blue rent payer. Had Quilt Market in Houston where me, Dave (missionary buddy / business partner), Mom and Sarah had a weekend only us old women could appreciate, needless to say it was a blast. I flew home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but besides that have spent the rest of my time indoors in Utah. Girl troubles continue, but all in all, nothing really to complain about. In fact, after writing it all out, I’ve had a great year. My criteria for a good year is did I learn new stuff, make new friends, and see new places (as a single man that’s all I have see) so by that criteria, things went pretty dang well this year. To all my friends and family that were a part of my experiences this year, I thank you, you are what makes life meaningful. To those who are still friends but we didn’t get to connect this year, I’ll try to do better next year. Thanks for all the fun, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, and here’s to a great new year.

Posted 2 years, 4 months ago at 4:52 am.

2 comments

Ode to Canada and the good things thereafter

Alright, so let’s get started. June ’08 I took a good job with a great team over @ Symantec corp obtaining one of my favorite titles thus far – “Senior Principle Partner Manager” it was glorious and grand. Really it was a tough job, but I made some great friends while I was there and it was in Orange County, which was interesting as well (I’ve posted some about that). Well they moved me to Boston so I could take over some eastern responsibility and after a big drawn out move on my part, I settled in, spent 4 days total in Boston before I got the axe from them. It was a pretty sudden move, but with 3 prior RIFs I wasn’t completely shocked, just mostly.

I took some time and went a traveling a bit, then came back, packed my car up, and moved up to Toronto with my ole boy Dave Mifsud. An old mission buddy of mine and we decided to start up the businesses we’d been meaning to do for a while.

Blood shot eyes and cheesy grins

Blood shot eyes and cheesy grins

We did, we started EnviropureSolutions.ca with friends Ken and Robin, which is a great little venture that cleans and deodorizes using ozone. It’s an easy product to get behind because it takes care of mold, mildew, etc, and it’s quick and painless. Simultaneously we did Steadfastwealth.ca around Dave’s end goal of doing finance full time. We also started some database projects that are still in the works, and then lastly we did a quilt shop.

What’s that you ask? A quilt shop? Why of course, and when you look at me the first thought you have is “this man’s a quilter” I mean at 6’7” and an IT extraordinaire what else would I be? Actually, no, I’m no quilter, but this has been a fun project to do and I’ll tell you why real quick.

I started it for a good reason.

Dad works for the newpaper industry and the writing can’t get much bigger on the wall, they’re running scared and his job ain’t safe. So me and my sister went in on a building on the main drag of our small town of Hamilton, MO. Which reminds me of another reason I’m doing what I am; this town is dying slowly, and it’s obvious as you walk the streets, people are leaving in a vintage French flee-the-farm-for-the-city fashion, so that’s the other benefit – our community is excited to see something created…. and have that something working out. It’s encouraging to see that not everything is failing.

The shop a year ago

The shop a year ago

That was one year ago we bought the building and opened up this little shop.

MSQC 1 year later

MSQC 1 year later

So while in Canada, Dave and I decided to help juice up the Missouri Star Quilt Co and built the site Missouri Quilt Co using some work from a Ukrainian (those language skills are so handy sometimes) developer we sourced with, then the rest was me and Dave, 20 hour days, and 24” monitors.

This is my favorite because it’s an industry I knew nothing about, not a clue, and a demographic I was not necessarily in tune with, and in the course of about 7 months we have really been able to close that gap. Our first iteration of the site was a flop, no sales after 1000 page views, so we did a revisiting of the design, and it got better, then again, and again, and again. As we work with my sisters and mom on understanding the culture/demographic/preferences of the industry, we continue to customize, SEO, innovate, and implement, and the best part is the results are instant. We can see what the effect is if we change a header in a matter of hours. Also we’ve found that a lot of the tribal knowledge from other industries has an application in every niche, it’s just a matter of learning to apply it. So now the shop employs about 7 women in our community and our post office ladies, Christy and Betty, are in love with us (more-so when we started printing our own postage) :)

Posted 4 years, 4 months ago at 9:44 pm.

2 comments

Let’s catch up

I was talking to a buddy of mine, Josh, from Hawaii the other day and we were catching up just over the course of the last two years and when I got done he asked “are you blogging this anywhere, I’d love to read along with the story” and honestly, I’ve been so busy with life, I haven’t bothered. So for my one dozen fans out there, I’ve decided I’m going to catch you all up on life in a quick series of posts that will pick up roughly 2 years ago as I finished school and detail my journey thus far.

Be prepared however, as I begin to blog again, I may catch the bug…. I hope I do anyway…. and I’d love to hear how things are going with you, so either comment here or drop me a line – billnye [at] thenyelabs.com

Let's get caught up

Let's get caught up

Posted 4 years, 4 months ago at 2:20 pm.

1 comment

FUNEMPLOYMENT

So I picked this (article here) up off Digg several months ago and wanted to comment on it then, but ironically I’ve been far too busy to touch it till now.  It’s an article all about ‘Funemployment’ which defined in the article is “A period of joblessness that you actually enjoy — maybe you get to lay out, sleep in, work out, read up. It helps to have savings, severance, or an unemployment check to help pay the bills. We’re hearing this word used more and more, especially as people realize they may not be able to find a new job right away, so they might as well try to enjoy the time off.”

I think there is some merit to what the article goes after and particularly the phrase ‘funemployment’.  There is a crowd of 20-30 somethings that are realizing that life isn’t as cut and dried as they’d planned and find themselves in an interesting place.  Imagine the confusion if you’ve been told your entire life to get good grades so you can get into a good university, so you do.  Then it’s work hard and take on internships and extracurricular activities so  you can impress an employer and get a good job leaving school, so you do.  Then after you’ve done all this, you find yourself out of school for a couple of years and back at square one wondering where you went wrong.  It’s a common theme amongst many of my peers, as being jobless isn’t something that the ambitious, passionate folk I sometimes associate with have thought about enough to handle.

That being said, once found in a position of being jobless after only a few years on the market, you go through this phase of identity crisis.  You weren’t in the job long enough to tag yourself as a ‘finance guy for the restaurant industry’ because honestly, you were only there for a year or two, so do you want to do that again?  Or do you find something a bit more fulfilling?  If you want to look elsewhere, what do you look for?  For that matter, how did you get tied into the restaurant industry in the first place? And on and on the questions go.  It’s so easy to get stressed out by the needs of life when a major piece like employment is missing, that this article makes perfect sense to me.

It talks about how people are sometimes reacting with going into a mode of “I’m gonna relax, I worked my tail off all through school, all through college, right into my job, but now, the bills are getting paid, let’s do book clubs and lunch dates and take a break.”  Or even better, actually getting out traveling, or volunteering, or doing any of those things you always wished you had time to do, because right now, at the peak of a recession, time just needs to be used up, not slowed down.  So they do.  I do.

From my personal experience, I haven’t taken to lounging and drinking my juice box as I watch Dora the Explorer in my parent’s basement, but I do more of those things I never could before.  I travel more; I work from my laptop on projects I’ve wanted to explore for ages, so I do.  I pack everything up and hop in the car for a weekend road trip, then work the next week from a friend’s house in Utah while we mountain bike in the evenings, or head back to DC for the week to visit the girlfriend while I tour the capitol building and the white house.  I now take on projects for charity and friends because I finally have time to squeeze other things in.  It turns into a very glamorous and fulfilling life style.

The article goes into more detail on some people who have tried to do nothing with their lives (see the dora example earlier), but I haven’t seen this to be the rule.  Most of the people I know who have been cut up in this wave of economic drama have responded as I’ve described.  Filling their time with meaningful things that they always wanted to accomplish which can be a bit dangerous.  I’ve seen more great pictures and stories told from activities enjoyed in this quasi hiatus in the working life than I’ve seen in a while, so the drive to get back into a cubicle somewhere may not be all that enticing.  Of course, unemployment checks don’t last forever, nor will magical stimulus money keep making it last longer, so something has to give in the end.

I think this is a good experience to have though.  I remember reading a book a few years ago about the rock climbing movement through the 70’s where people would just show up at Yellowstone or other good climbing spots, setup camp, and live there all year, then work 7-11 to make money during the winter to come back and do it again.  The book glamorized the lifestyle, but I see it as kind of a waste long term.  But the stories and experience from a year or two of that would be great to have, and sometimes if you don’t have the guts to drop everything and go do it, life fixes that for you and pushes you out the door towards some great adventure.  Just make sure you come back in the end, cause no one wants to be that hippie uncle.

I only wish I’d taken my full unemployment instead of living off of the savings.   Indonesia with Dan could have been a reality…. :)

.

Posted 4 years, 7 months ago at 3:36 pm.

3 comments

where’ve I been?

So I’ve had some exciting things going on recently!!  Finally got the office done back in Missouri so I can setup a bookshelf and unpack some of the boxes I’ve been hauling around for 8+ years through college and life, as well as setup the server’s and various other computer hoo-hah that’s been waiting for a more permanent home than my BBP Laptop Bag (if I haven’t plugged bbpbags.com before, shame on me.  They’ve been great, and after about 6 months after my original purchase, a plastic snap broke, and their customer service was beside themselves and insisted on shipping me out a whole new bag…. awesome) so that’s exciting.  Here’s a pic of the office after it’s first painting -

office walls

office walls

and now I’m in Canada for a week, then a week in PA and a week in NH then home again.  Fun things are underway work wise, so that’s good, dating life is lose, so that’s lame.  But all in all, plenty to smile about.  Tomorrow is Dave’s little brothers wedding, so I’ll throw up a few pics from that.

Enjoy

Posted 4 years, 9 months ago at 2:47 am.

1 comment

The road home

Me and Mike

So I’ve recently decided to relocate from the very lovely, very snowy home I’ve enjoyed for nigh unto five months. This was imminent from the get go, as my living situation was always temporary up there, but all the same, it was the most permanent home I’d had in over a year and a half. Permanent, as in living in my best friend’s basement, stealing cheerios from the high chair of his little girl, that kind of permanent. As an ode to the time spent up there, we worked like the dickens and got three companies up and moving in the process. This equaled 20-22 hour days six days a week in the office, where I would literally take a lunch at the desk of a PB&J sandwich and not leave the house for 3-4 days at a time for me, and Dave still having to cover the daily bills with a real job would work his 9-5 and come home for a few hours with the family, then crank late into the evening, often crashing out around 2 am, where I would make him feel guilty for cashing in before the magical 5 am hour that was my wall.

We worked hard and had a blast in the process. It had been a dream to work with Dave since we grew to be such good chums years ago, and we’d giggle in gleeful spurts as we’d spin around in our chairs and sketch out strategies on our mini white board, then spin again back to the monitors to make it happen. It was great to get to realize that dream. We didn’t make our millions in 2 months, but we built some lasting companies that will hold a good legacy for a while to come. But anyway, home again, home again jiggety jig.

When I decided on when I was coming home, I didn’t have a calendar in front of me. I had, just two weeks previously, jetted down to Phoenix for Jared & Po’s wedding where I met a few new friends, slept in their apartment, and met up with so old buddies from Hawaii, then cruised up to Portland for the weekend to see Kim, Jane, and my old Institute director Bro Heiner. It was a solid weekend, and then flying home through DC, decided to take a week there to visit the girlfriend, then I got back to Canada. Well, turns out I was driving home 3 days later. Poor planning at its finest.

So for the trip home, I got my old roomie from Hawaii to fly out for what we have termed “The Ultimate Road Trip ‘09” which went like this – Pick Mike up at Buffalo airport, and drive through NY, camping out in the middle of northern NY, then about a week in Boston to visit some very good friends there (Ben and Mooney), north through Vermont, then south again to DC for a week of Sam & Audi getting hitched and hanging out with a woman friend of my own, up to Philly for 4 days with the BYU Hawaii SIFE Team to mentor and support and be mentored and supported by one of my dear friends out from Hawaii, then over to Gettysburg to see it for real (I’ve studied the battle my entire life), back to DC for a few more days, up to Baltimore to visit the family, down through Louisville, up past Chicago, then home to Missouri. About a month on the road in total. It was good to be reminded of how good some friends are, and really how much I have to smile about. Thanks to Mike and all along the trail who made it such a good adventure.

All in all, it’s been a great several months, but it’s good to be home. I haven’t had a summer back home in 8 years. Crazy to think it’s been so long, but it’s good to have some finality to the travels and be too poor to really go anywhere. I’m effectively back on the single scene which has removed the primary incentive for being out and about anyway, so I’m back in the office, cranking away. I’m on to company #7 now, which is fun to have some traction with what I’m doing and I find the diversity of my portfolio endearing. It’s fun to know I can pick up any industry from quilting to real estate, learn the inner workings and be an effective force in sales, marketing, and strategy all in less than 6 months.

Anyway, I’m working on a new project with a buddy of mine producing a podcast. So you’ll be able to hear my rants for about 30 minutes a shot, on a weekly, soon to be thrice weekly podcast in the very near future. But it has me writing and commenting a bit more regularly, so I’ll share some of that in the process.

Enjoy

Posted 4 years, 10 months ago at 4:38 am.

3 comments

Learn your lesson, take a bite out of crime…. etc.

So at the risk of having hordes of locusts sent down on me by Geoff’s mom, I’m going to share this story with you that she sent over to me the other for a couple of reasons.   The essence of this story is that someone we know was almost scammed, and the way they did it is a bit uncanny for my liking, and at the risk that someone could try it on someone else I love, lets talk about it for a second.

 

The issue is that in today’s day and age, information is prevelant.  It’s out there.  Being a techno giz kid, as I am, I have pretty much everything you could possibly want to know about me posted somewhere on the internet.  My thought around this is that I have my identity protected, my credit cards are all equipped with fraud protection, meaning if my info was stolen I could get my money back, etc.  I feel like I’m covered.  My oversight in all this may be illustrated in the story that follows.  And honestly, with things like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, gathering details like where I am, what I do for a living, who my friends are (just cruise pictures and find out who I’m with) even my birthday is relatively easy to get a hold of (the piece of information that thwarted this would be scammer).  What I’m saying is that we’re all very open with our information, and in that light we need to be more cautious in how we live our lives.  

 

I remember mom and dad, when we were little, setup a secret pass phrase (something like Camchucket or very near to it) that they would tell us in case someone ever came saying ‘yer mom and dad wanted me to come get you’ ie kidnapping rapists.  Boom, just like that, we were covered.  Someone asks you to go with them, ask them for the pass coeds.  If they don’t give it, run.  It’s funny that now that we’re older and more mature, we don’t bother with the simple things.  

 

Moral of the story, take some time and protect yourself.  Grandparents, nieces, nephews, etc, send them an email (link to this, don’t forward it for fear of the locusts) and give them a game plan you might use.  If anything, take some time to think about what could happen, and spend a few minutes to prevent the worst of it.

 

Now, the harrowing tale  - 

 

 

Just wanted to alert you to something that happened to Geoff’s grandparents yesterday, apparently by someone who was either very lucky or has picked up enough info about the two of you to try a scam.  This is an awful story but has a happy ending, just barely. 
 
Yesterday, someone named “Geoff/Jeff” (who knows the spelling) called my dad.  He told Dad this was his grandson Jeff calling from Toronto.  He told grandpa he had flown over from the UK to visit his friend in Toronto, they had been in a car accident, and he needed $2800 immediately.  I don’t remember why — to get the car out of hock, to pay his friend’s hospital bills, not sure, but it was something plausible enough that my dad believed it.  “Jeff” told Grandpa he could repay the money as soon as Jeff got back to London.  He told Grandpa he needed him to wire the money to him via Western Union.  He told him the account to send it to, and that he would call him back to get the pick-up number.  (I remember this procedure from when I had to wire money to Geoff in Ukraine.)
 
So, did my high IQ, savvy, well-educated but elderly parents think to call me to verify this story???? To see if I knew if Geoff was in Toronto?  To ask why he hadn’t called his Mom first?  Nooooooooooooo, I am alarmed to say.  Instead they went to the bank, withdrew $2000, went to Western Union and wired it to “Jeff.”  (ARGH!!!)  When “Jeff” called back to get the pick up number for the money, for some reason Grandpa decided to ask him what his birthday was.  “Jeff” didn’t know.  “Jeff” said he was in a hurry, couldn’t tell Grandpa his birthday, and for Grandpa to just give him the pick up number.  Grandpa said surely Jeff must know his birthday….but Jeff didn’t, so Grandpa hung up.  My parents decided something fishy was going on, went to Western Union, got their money back, got the bank to cancel the check, etc. etc.  So they barely missed being scammed by whoever this was. 
 
Sometime later, a man called my parents, saying he was from the Sacramento Police Department and that they had arrested someone trying to impersonate their grandson Jeff Evans.  I’m not quite sure how this part went, but my grandparents think it was someone trying to get them to believe the scammer had been arrested so they wouldn’t report it to the police.  Only my Grandpa, now suspicious, said his grandson’s last name wasn’t Evans.  The supposed Police Department guy didn’t know the real Geoff’s real last name.  When my dad started questioning the guy, he hung up.
 
My parents immediately went to the local Police Department and reported this whole thing.  The police department wasn’t the least bit interested because my parents hadn’t actually lost any money.  They said they only investigate when a crime has occurred.  (Kind of depressing the police had no interest, eh?)
 
Anyway, I am amazed my parents almost fell for this, and so grateful they did not.  But then I was thinking about it, and wondered if I might not have fallen for the same thing, at least part-way through.  Whoever did this was either was very lucky (randomly called elderly people till they found one who did have a grandson named Jeff, or else getting Grandpa to give out the name, or who knows what, and then guessing Geoff was living in the UK and had a friend in Toronto [something my parents didn't know, but I would have]), or else this person somehow picked up enough knowledge to know Geoff is in the UK, is currently traveling, and has a friend in Toronto.  If this person had called me and said he was Geoff in Toronto visiting his friend, I’m sure I would have volunteered Al’s name, kind of a fill in the blank thing.  I would have questioned him, and in my confusion, likely provided enough info for him to continue with the story.  I am confident I would have stopped short of wiring the money, but it’s all very creepy anyway.  I have  no idea how what happened took place, but just wanted to alert both of you, since the odds seem likely someone pieced together enough info about you to come up with a plausible scam.  Yikes.  I don’t know if there are any precautions you need to take at this point, but I did want you to know.   
 
I don’t think either of you would do this, but for goodness sake, don’t turn this into one of those chain emails sent around the world to alarm people about stories that happened to their friends.  You can tell people about it verbally, but don’t forward the email or I will send plagues of locusts to haunt you.
 
Cheers,
Glad it turned out okay, but you get the idea?  Be smart, take precautions, know what info people can see about you and act accordingly.

Posted 4 years, 12 months ago at 4:12 pm.

2 comments

Net Neutrality vs. The Tamed Internet

I have been interested in writing about this topic for several years, because this is something that I am torn over.  I have vested interests on both sides of the fence and thus, putting my thoughts onto paper holds a lot of value for me.  What the garbage am I talking about, some of you may ask?  Let me explain.

There are two arguments that have been going around for the last 10 years or so.  The issue is represented by two sides (obviously) with the one side arguing that the internet is too crazy and it can’t be used until there is an internet ‘FCC’ to regulate it and make it safe.  The other argument is that the internet is only the tool that it is because there is no governing body, and it is splendid putty that can be manipulated to fit anyone’s need or desire.  Obviously there will need to be one winner in the end, but there are more nuances to be examined on both sides.  So please bear with me as I delve a bit deeper into either side’s argument, then leave me some feedback / predictions.

First, the argument for leaving the internet as is.

The internet is great.  The thing that makes it great is that it is a proverbial wild west, a final frontier that is more accessible than space.  Why should we need a wild west in the tech realm?  Well it fosters free thinking, it breeds innovation and it is the ultimate sandbox wherein one can play, create, and live.  It is inherently global by nature and as such has stayed mostly ungoverned by necessity up to this point.  Certainly there are generally accepted practices that are adhered to by most and enforced in a vigilante fashion by a few, but even that is part of the allure; that you can be a good guy in a realm of little or no expectations.  So the good side of this is that it is a siren call to people who want to create, who want to innovate in an absolutely open space and run no risk of someone telling them that something can’t be a certain way, or that they need to change in order to fit in with a subset of social stigmas.  It is whatever we want it to be.

When I was a kid and the thought of an internet was brand new [BBS boards and shotgun modems] me and my best friend went exploring.  The concept that people would share ideas for the greater good was made real to me.  Opensource software and projects whose lifeblood required community contribution became the mainstay.  Newsnet groups and forums began popping up of people who were self interested but still there for the community knowing that there was a greater good at stake (perhaps sentiments of Tocqueville’s “self interested rightly understood” were evident here).  These were people who knew that building a community would service them better down the road.  Thus the internet was born.  I was right there through it all, and as a geek, I loved every minute of it.  This isn’t to say everything was and is cheery, with the development of the infrastructure, it would be naïve to think that it would only be used for noble purposes.  But overall, the internet as is has become a great resource that works well for most.

The second argument is one that is absolutely valid despite some saying it is almost solution less.

The argument is that the internet is a crucial part of society today and much of who we are and the business we interact HAS to move through the channels of the internet, and that being the case requires that the wild west of the internet not stay wild forever, but be tamed for the greater good of the people.  I can encapsulate the idea with the analogy of the Pony Express.  Business had to be conducted between frontier towns so a service was established, but this threatened those who already possessed the land and they would not let the service be conducted unimpeded.   The argument is made that akin to the Pony Express, there are business channels, scholastic channels, government channels, and family channels that are being trail blazed through the established internet.  They see it as taming a wild horse so it can actually work and be worth something.  The problem is that much like the wild west, there is no governing body with which to negotiate, so progress is a muddy conversation.

So that’s the problem.  You have the ‘keep the country country’ folks who realize the value that is had in having a sphere of ungoverned opportunity, and use it to their advantage.  It is anonymous, it is full of potential, it is whatever you want it to be.  This is contrasted by the ‘prune the tree, you’ll get more fruit’ folks who are pushing to a governing body to say what should go where.  Is one way the right way, or is there a compromise that can be reached?

Typical of good political fear monging, the arguments for a ‘safer’ net use great emotional tag lines like “protect your kids from porn” or “stop the illegal activity that is rampant”  of course no one wants their kids looking at a bunch of porn nor do they want illegal  slums in their backyard, but that’s not the best summary.  There is more being sacrificed than some 10 year olds ability to pull up a porn site (though honestly, this thought is what motivates me), this would potentially alter the development of a culture and generation that was born into the internet, so don’t make this decision lightly.

On the other side though, internet filters are hardly effective in keeping ‘bad’ stuff out.  If I am running a business, and give employees my equipment to use, and it is in turn spent viewing horseporn, there is something at stake.  I am largely responsible for what my equipment does, and if it’s serving offensive material or stolen goods to others, I am not able to escape all responsibility.  Not to mention that if my bandwidth and server cycles are spent serving someone’s non work related desires and interests, that is money I am losing as a company.  Then take the family lens out and realize that you can’t shield your kids from everything in life, but by the same token, you don’t bring drugs into the home and set it on top of the fridge and expect the kids not get into trouble.  Don’t open a tunnel wide to the seedy underbelly of society and expect them to only search for daisies and new coloring books.  This is a genuine dilemma.

So if we did want a governing body, who governs it?  Our attempts at truly international committees have been far from stellar thus far, so representation will almost certainly be sacrificed in such a pursuit.  Should we then trust a certain government with the discretion, perhaps the US, and what is to stop them from censoring mindlessly and killing the nature of the internet?  Once a regulating body is established, we’re kissing the internet as we know it goodbye.  Even if they’re good for the first several years, some congressman will get incited at the idea that you could talk treasonous things on such a public forum and regulation will be passed and things will curb downhill (see public television or radio and the FCC)

One idea is an organization called CP80 (cp80.org) that wants the internet to function in a channel type fashion over several ports.  For kids content, connect to port 55, for business stuffs connect to port 91, etc.  With the idea that there could be an adult channel and a ‘everything else channel’ where things could go on as is, but just like a channel, the user could block them entirely at the ISP level (translation, it could potentially be stopped before it even got to the home or business).  The downside here is that a governing body would have to be introduced.  Honestly, the only way I could see this working would be to give up on changing what we’ve got, and open up a distinct channel that is regulated and begin porting stuff over to it.  It would be decades of work to get something comparable to the internet replicated, but let’s be honest, it’s not a perfect solution.
Other ideas include similar approaches tied up into filters, but the problem here is filters are defensive tools, they react to what happened, so you’re always a few weeks behind the curve, which means you’re never entirely in the clear, and thus never more than about 75% effective.

So the thought is what is more valuable.  A regulated internet that has developers and architects who oversee its growth, thinking that in some strategic pruning, more fruit will be produced, or is it that a river will choose its own course, and by taking advantage of what it has become, we will get more production out of it.

I don’t have an answer for you, partly because I am not unbiased, I find myself choosing according to my own self interests.  I have predictions, but no answers.  My prediction is I see the internet being tamed by governing body, and in all honesty and it saddens me a little bit.  I see it as inevitable, someone will be put in charge, and it is the nature of the ungoverned to find some form of government to rule them eventually.  Is this the right solution, perhaps, but I don’t know and I find myself being put in increasingly influential conversations, and would like to give better answers than what I have.  So I’m asking, what do you see as the solution, or even what do you predict will happen?

Posted 5 years ago at 2:56 pm.

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economy visualized

So I don’t know if ‘s the fact that I’m watching this in my quiet office at 1:30am, or that I’ve been privy to much of the emotion portrayed in the shots below, but I really thought this was an interesting project.  The guys over at slate (via bb) setup a flickr pool and asked their readers to send in photos of the economic recession.  There’s quite a few photos in the pool already and makes for an interesting visualization of what we’re going through.

Check it out -

Posted 5 years, 1 month ago at 5:26 am.

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Why you haven’t heard from me

So I’m currently living up in Toronto.  Toronto is great, we play hockey on Saturday nights, cool city, great friends, fun stuff all around.  That being said, I’m not sure how long I’ll last up here.  I did buy a hockey stick, so that’s saying something right, :) But I am still pushing the entrepreneur angle and having a blast en route.  My latest two projects that are live are enviropuresolutions.ca, and then two more that go together, MissouriQuiltCo.com and QuiltersDailyDeal.com. The latter two have been a great experience for me really. Seeing something go from foundation to turn key is something exciting no matter what, and to be able to build something that will have a direct impact on several people I am personally connected to is a very rewarding feeling. I’m excited to see where it goes. But that’s been my life for 20+ hours a day, 6 days a week. I’m anxious to watch TV again, I feel like I’ve been away from life. But now that the foundation is laid and things are moving along, I’m scheduling in a bit more sleep and some exercise (this chair and ice cream sandwiches are a cruel mistress)

So anyway, I’m still floating really, in a great situation, but it’s definitely temporary, which is frustrating all over again. But alas, I shant bore you with the gory details of my inner workings. :)

As a side note, I’ll be manually restoring 3 years worth of thenyelabs.com for posterity, so if your rss feed starts wigging out on you, that’s what’s going on.

Enjoy

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 6:47 am.

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