Category Archives: Business and Technology

The Value of Browser Diversity

At the beginning of 2019, I made a conscience effort to reduce my usage of Google’s Chrome browser. I felt like Google was collecting too much of my personally identifiable information (PII). Based on the sites I visited, I would see similar ads in Gmail, video recommendations on YouTube, and news recommendations on my Android device. It was very big brother like, and quite honestly, it started to freak me out a bit.

Instead of Chrome, I began using Mozilla’s Firefox browser. The switch was gradual, and I probably use Firefox for 2/3 of my web browsing these days. The best part, switching was easy. Outside of controls being in different places, the browsing experience is identical. It’s the beauty of the web. Standards allow any company to make a browser rendering engine, in theory.

In practice, the number of browser rendering engines is small. There are 3 primary rendering engines – Blink (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge), Webkit (Apple Safari), and Gecko (Mozilla Firefox). There are a few others, but none have any significant market share. And of the three I mentioned, Blink dominates with over 70% market share (stats as of August 2020).

It begs the question, is browser diversity a necessity to maintain the health of the web, or is it OK if one engine dominates?

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Book review: Building a Story Brand

Book cover for Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

I’d been vaguely aware that the ability to tell a good story was important to building your business. People like to be entertained. People can relate to stories.

What I didn’t understand was how to tell a good story. In the past, when I’ve tried to tell a story about my business, it fell flat. It was a meandering tale that I had a hard time condensing into a narrative that would capture someone’s attention. Basically, my stories lacked structure.

It turns out there is a formula that good books and movies use to tell a story. I had no clear concept of this formula until a close friend suggested I read Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. In his book, Miller walks you through the formula that writers use to capture and keep their audience’s attention. As he does so, he shows you how you can apply it to create a strong brand message and grow your business.

So how do you tell a good story, why does the ability to tell a good story matter, and how does it help you grow your business?

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A lesson in marketing from a common kitchen utensil

Zulay kitchen bench scraper

I’ve recently become captivated by the process of baking my own bread. My kitchen is well-equipped, but not necessarily for making bread. After watching a few instructional bread baking videos on YouTube, I realized that I was missing a very basic but important tool for handling bread dough – a bench scraper.

The bench scraper is a flat, wide, stainless steel blade with a handle on one of the wider sides. In the world of kitchen utensils, it’s a commodity. There’s really nothing special about it. There isn’t a whole lot of differentiation. Therefore, I expected price would be the primary factor in my purchase selection.

Off I ventured onto Amazon in search of a ‘kitchen bench scraper.’ Of course, I was inundated with dozens and dozens of results. And as you would expect for a commodity item, the prices were pretty similar. They were almost all grouped around $10, plus-or-minus a couple of bucks. So how to pick one?

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Book review: Principles

Book cover for Principles by Ray Dalio

It’s up to you to decide what you want to get out of life and what you want to give.

As I read books from my morning reads, which are business and personal development books, I’ve started the habit of capturing notes from them. When I finished Principles by Ray Dalio, there was a lot to capture and digest. But if there was one key takeaway, it was the lead-in to this post. I’m a firm believer that life is full of choices, and it is the choices we make that shapes the life we live. But I would be short-changing Dalio’s efforts if there was only one key takeaway. There are many, many pearls of wisdom contained throughout the book.

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So you want to do a startup

Starting a company is hard. Having been there, and still going through the process, I sometimes wonder why anyone would want to do it. People will question your decisions and doubt you. Customers will reject your product and your ideas. There are long hours working day and night for little pay. Your life is turned into a roller coaster of ups and downs. It’s challenging, to say the least.

However, when things are clicking, there can be nothing like it. Building a product that solves a problem, satisfying customers’ needs, and creating value make it all worth while. These are the things that keep you coming back for more. They’re the goals every entrepreneur strives for. But achieving these goals is not easy, and sustaining them is a near impossible challenge.

So why on earth would anyone ever want to “do” a startup?

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HTTP Status Error Codes for REST APIs

I’ve been both using and building REST APIs in my software development work. One of the more confusing and controversial topics regarding REST APIs are the meaning of HTTP status error codes. By error code, I’m referring to those code that are of the 4xx or 5xx variety.

After doing a bit of research and reading the standards, I’ve distilled things down to the 5 basic error codes that I feel should be a part of every REST API.

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Transhuman

There’s a new term that I expect will soon become a regular topic of conversation – transhuman. It sounds like a new gender category, but it isn’t. It’s far from it.

Transhuman is the integration of technology into humans. It’s similar to genetic and cell technologies like CRISPR or stem cell therapies but much more invasive. A transhuman refers to someone who has integrated technology into their body in a way that substantially augments either their mental or physical capabilities, or in many cases both. Perhaps you’re more familiar with the term cyborg, the mix of man and machine, although becoming transhuman doesn’t necessarily require embedding a machine in one’s body.

While it sounds like an amazing thing to happen, and in some ways it can be, it’s also quite scary. Here are some of the benefits that could result from being transhuman and why I also thing it could be a cause for alarm.

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Rebooting Startup Lessons

I set a goal five years ago to blog regularly about my day job running a software company. I setup the Startup Lessons category and managed a handful of posts that year before things stalled. Since then, most of my Startup Lessons have been about related books or riffs on interesting posts.

So after a lengthy hiatus, I’ve decided to reboot Startup Lessons. My (new) goal is to write at least one post a month sharing what I’ve learned running a business over the past 15 years.

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My prescription for fixing the Post Office

The United States Post Office (USPS) has been in the news recently, and not necessarily for the right reasons. They’re asking for $89 billion dollars as part of the pandemic bailout packages coming out of Congress to remain solvent. President Trump’s opinion is that they need to fix their operations, starting by charging more to deliver packages (specifically singling out Amazon deliveries). There have been other opinions as well, but you know things have jumped the shark when John Oliver dedicates an entire segment to the topic.

It should surprise no one that I have an opinion on how to fix the post office, too. For whatever reason, it’s something I’ve thought about for quite some time. And while I can’t describe my solution as eloquently or deliver it in the same manner as John Oliver, I’m going to lay it out anyway. Here goes.

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