On Being An Enterpreneur

This post on Random Thoughts On Being An Enterpreneur got me thinking about my experiences of being an entrepreneur for over 25 years. First of all let me pick my favorite points from the post.

  • Products are idea amplifiers. The molecules and/or bytes are secondary.
  • In terms of becoming an entrepreneur, probably the most useful thing I learned in the last twenty years was how to enjoy my own company for long stretches of time.
  • One successful entrepreneur I know well has a wonderful quality, namely that he never, ever compares himself to other people. He just does his own thing, which actually serves him rather well. Just because his competitor has bought himself a bigger motor boat, doesn’t mean he feels the need have a bigger motor boat. This quality helps him to build his business the way he sees fit, not the way the motor boat people see fit.
  • Running a startup is full of extreme ups and downs. Which is why so many successful and happy entrepreneurs I know lead such normal, stable, unglamorous, “boring”, family-centered lives. Somehow they need the latter in order to balance out the former. Extra-curricular drama looks great in the tabloids, but that’s all it’s ultimately good for.
  • Bill Gates may have a million times more money than me, but he isn’t going to live a million times longer than me, watch a million times more sunsets than me, make love to a million times more women than me, drink a million times more fine wines than me, listen to a million times more Beethoven String Quartets than me, nor sire a million times more children than me. Human beings don’t scale.

None of my companies have been venture funded. So I did not have any of those issues mentioned in the post. As an entrepreneur who always bootstrapped, here are my observations:

  • Don’t jump in if you are not there for the long haul.
  • If you cannot enjoy the journey, don’t get in (the destination may be farther than you think)
  • If you are married, your family will carry a huge chunk of your problems as well. So if you do not have the support of your family (wife, children), you will be miserable
  • If you have to choose between something that you enjoy doing vs something you have to do for money, pick the first.
  • Entrepreneurship is a way of life

Google Apps Premier

I saw the Google Press announcement this morning and immediately signed up. I have been using the spreadsheet in a collaborative mode for a while and did not hesitate too much to spend the $50 per year. It was a small investment for trying out a service. I have been using Google tools for such a long time for free and they are of such high quality, I felt I owed the company some money. I was glad to do my little contribution. After a few months of trial I will bring other people in my tiny organization to use this service.

Here are some reasons why I signed up:

  • Their products are reliable and consistently of high quality
  • The user interfaces are simple and do not really have a big learning curve
  • They have been giving away stuff for a while and I have tried them enough to know they are useful
  • 99% up-time, ability to have a small website (with tools to build the sites) is really compelling
  • Good functionality now and it can only get better (based on their track record)
  • They let you export stuff to Excel and Word and I can always put them in my Microsoft Office, which I own anyway
  • I really wanted to explore their API for business integration and see what I can do with it

I don’t consider these products comparable to Microsoft Office Products. They do not have the same power or even the same ease of use of desktop apps. But for 80% of what I do with docs and spreadsheets, these are more than adquate.

I will end it with a few wish-list items:

  • They should do desktop versions of the online products and provide capabilities to synchronize with the online versions
  • They should provide better links across micro-content in these documents which make them more useful
  • It will be nice to have a couple of gadgets that provide these docs embedded in websites
  • Finally, my favorite topic – they need to add wikiness to both docs and spreadsheets

For more ideas, here are my two earlier blogs – one on using Microsoft Word as a blogging tool and another on my wish list for Google Spreadsheet.

Using Microsoft Word to Blog

This morning, I saw Jon’s blog entry on Blogging Using Word 2007, and my jaw dropped. I do not believe in coincidences. But this is uncanny.

I was jotting down some points on my flight from San Jose to Hartford, CT, yesterday. Since I was not online, and I wanted to blog, I thought I would type it into Word and do a cut and paste later. This got me thinking about a few ideas and I noted down in my Idea-log (a moin-moin desktop wiki). I have reproduced a fragment of my idea-log here. Look at the last entry.

idealog-fragment.jpg

And here is the page on the Word plug-in.

blogging-plug-in.jpg

At that time, I was not thinking specifically of Word 2007.  I am so glad Jon is on to this. I look forward to some interesting developments in this space.

Tech Links – Feb 16, 2007

Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures

This is a dictionary of algorithms, algorithmic techniques, data structures, archetypal problems, and related definitions. Algorithms include common functions, such as Ackermann’s function. Problems include traveling salesman and Byzantine generals. Some entries have links to implementations and more information. Index pages list entries by area and by type. The two-level index has a total download 1/20 as big as this page.

This is an invaluable resource to any one programming. I am glad that there is one place we can go to, to get this information.

How Social Sites Reveal What Your Audience Likes

Understanding your audience is the key to success in any business – including blogging. Lately the Read/WriteWeb authors have been discussing what it is that keeps readers coming back here. Our recent poll indicated that most of you come back to this blog for Analysis and Reviews.

I found the next few links from this blog. It is fascinating to watch what people read on your blog too. I wish the blogging packages do a better job of providing this info. You can do some Google Analytics magic to do this yourself.

The Top-100 Alternative Searches

Ask anyone which search engine they use to find information on the Internet and they will almost certainly reply: “Google.” Look a little further, and market research shows that people actually use four main search engines for 99.99% of their searches: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask.com (in that order). But in my travels as a Search Engine Optimizer (SEO), I have discovered that in that .01% lies a vast multitude of the most innovative and creative search engines you have never seen. So many, in fact, that I have had to limit my list of the very best ones to a mere 100

Silicon Valley Meets American Idol

Yes, something like an “American Idol” for the technorati may be coming to Silicon Valley.
Venture capital firms are considering contests that offer competing engineers and entrepreneurs multimillion-dollar prize purses if they come up with innovative technologies in various industries.

I am a fan of both American Idol and American Inventor. This one has great promise. There is something invigorating about watching creative minds at work. Even the ones that do not win, inspire me.

From Read/Write Web on Search 2.0

You may feel relatively satisfied with the current search offerings of Google, Yahoo, Ask and MSN. Search today is undoubtedly much better than what it was in the second half of the 1990’s. But Internet search is still in its infancy and there’s much room for improvement. Moreover, the super high valuation of Google on NASDAQ pushes investors and researchers to find better search solutions – to be The Next Big Thing. And these wannabes are not only working on discovering better indexing techniques, they’re exploring new horizons like vertical engines, meaning-based search, intent-driven search, new clustering methods, and much more. In this post, we look into latest trends in the search industry.

We have positioned the latest search trends into 3 main categories:

  • UI Enhancements
  • Technology Enhancements
  • Approach Enhancements (Vertical Engines)

In MashupCamp2, I did a session on Next Generation Search Mashups. It is somewhat similar to this. There I divided the search mashups under a different categories:

  • Pre-processing (A set of tools that take searches of different types and convert them to the syntax search engines use)
  • Post-processing (A set of tools that take the search results and massage them to provide different outputs)
  • Extensions (Extensions to search engines themselves to improve search semantics)

XML Is The Fabric Of Web 2.0 Applications

From by Chris Gruber, Technical Manager for Developer Initiatives, works with IBM Information Management:

While some may not know, XML is the fabric of Web 2.0 applications

Chris is giving a talk in AjaxWorld 2007 titled Streamlining Your Web 2.0 Solutions with XML.

I agree. Everything about Web 2.0 application is XML:

  • The client side is AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML)
  • The server application typically exposes data through XML
  • The interaction model is web services
  • Mashups combine multiple webservices to create new types of applications

While JSON is replacing the client side XML to some extent, Web 2.0 applications still heavily rely on XML.

Krugle at Yahoo

I was browsing through Yahoo Developer Network yesterday. I have not done this in a while. What led me to YDN?

  1. I was chatting with someone using Yahoo instant messenger (YIM) and noticed something called plug-in’s in the tool bar
  2. I do not recall seeing that before (might not have noticed it) and went to investigate. Yahoo has all these cool plug-ins to scribble, co-browse etc. Some of their are third party plug-ins.
  3. The moment I saw “third party”, I decided there must be a developers kit some where for plug-ins. That took a bit more of exploration and that is how I stumbled on Krugle.
  4. I have used Krugle before and liked it. I found the messenger plug-in sdk, finally.
  5. This morning, I came across this announcement via Scoble’s blog

This makes sense. Krugle has a great code search engine. Yahoo has some great Web developers tools. They can probably extend Krugle to use Yahoo Pipes too.

Seven Wishlist Items for Google Spreadsheet

I use Google Spreadsheet more as a collaborative database than as a spreadsheet. I looked at Google Base. But it does not have the same level of collaborative features as Google Spreadsheet. It was an amazing experience to have people across continents updating data simultaneously in real time.

Here are some of the things we used it for.

1. I have a contractor in another continent doing some research on schools and adding the list to a Google spreadsheet (a list of schools)

2. I use it as a task list, to track activities on a project. We have this common list of tasks, three of us in three very different places update it with new items, status updates and we have one place to look for information.

3. We use it as a product idea list. We simply divide them into features, design, coding, libraries, testing and put them in one sheet each. Again a common list shared across multiple people.

4. We recently had a reunion. We used it to update who is attending, when they are arriving, any accommodation needs, food preferences etc. About 30+ people had access to the same spreadsheet for updating their one line entry.

5. Finally I am also using it as a way to gather a list of companies, products, people in XML space. My colleague in India updates the spreadsheet based on Google/Yahoo alerts of XML news and I simply add tags and description.

I think the row/column format is great for managing small lists of data. We can add new attributes, sort data in different columns for viewing, etc.

Here are a few features I would like in the Spreadsheet:

  1. Alerts when the certain types of data is entered or modified (row or content based filters would be great)
  2. An automatic mechanism to high light changes since you last visited. This will allow me to come in and with one quick glance see what has changed.
  3. Ability to enter hyperlinks in the cell. Wiki style links and regular URLs would be cool. This will allow me to link to other sheets and external sites.
  4. A filtered view (where I can specify filters and the view reflects only the rows and columns that match the criteria) and the ability to share the filtered view with others (viewers only).
  5. Ability to have a rich text format in cells. Some wikiness in cell editing would be an added advantage.
  6. Google Spreadsheet as a front end to Google Base. There is nothing special about this request. Excel does this fairly elegantly.
  7. Google Spreadsheet as a front end to XML files (many of Googles own products like Checkout use XML)

Programming Language Trends

Here are programming language trends from very different sources.

1. According to TIOBE Programming Community Index, here are the top 10 programming languages.

Position
Sep 2009
Position
Sep 2008
Delta in Position Programming Language Ratings
Sep 2009
Delta
Sep 2008
Status
1 1 Java 19.383% -1.33% A
2 2 C 16.861% +1.48% A
3 5 PHP 10.156% +0.91% A
4 3 C++ 9.988% -0.73% A
5 4 (Visual) Basic 9.196% -1.29% A
6 7 Perl 4.528% -0.31% A
7 8 C# 4.186% -0.15% A
8 6 Python 3.930% -1.08% A
9 9 JavaScript 2.995% -0.14% A
10 11 Ruby 2.377% -0.38% A

TIOBE Programming Community index page, shows the trends of increasing/decreasing popularity as well and contains lots of other useful information. This changes every month so please make sure to check the latest.

2. This programming language usage index shows information about languages used in open source projects. It has a slightly different story to tell. Obviously VB is not the most popular for open source software.

3. The SkillMarket provides a tech hiring patterns.

4. Google trends, which shows search trends, only shows 5 different terms at a time. I broke the list into compiled languages (C, C++, Java, C#) and scripting languages (perl, python, php, ruby, javascript).

5. In addition you can check indeed.com to check the job trends of the top languages.  Here are both absolute and relative trends for Aug 2009

Absolute.

programming language job trends - absoluteRelative Trends.

Programming Language Job Trends - Relative

Probably  tracking  the searches at major book sellers, publishers may provide more useful information as well.

Programming Language Ratings
Sep 2009
Delta
Sep 2008
Status
1 1 Java 19.383% -1.33% A
2 2 C 16.861% +1.48% A
3 5 PHP 10.156% +0.91% A
4 3 C++ 9.988% -0.73% A
5 4 (Visual) Basic 9.196% -1.29% A
6 7 Perl 4.528% -0.31% A
7 8 C# 4.186% -0.15% A
8 6 Python 3.930% -1.08% A
9 9 JavaScript 2.995% -0.14% A
10 11 Ruby