Sunday, 20 March 2005

Make Meaning

There really is only one question you should ask yourself before starting any new venture:

Do I want to make meaning?

Meaning is not about money, power, or prestige. It's not even about creating a fun place to work. Among the meanings of "meaning" are to

  • Make the world a better place.
  • Increase the quality of life.
  • Right a terrible wrong.
  • Prevent the end of something good.

Goals such as these are a tremendous advantage as you travel down the difficult path ahead. If you answer this question in the negative, you may still be successful, but it will be harder to become so because making meaning is the most powerful motivator there is.

It's taken me twenty yeas to come to this understanding. [Guy Kawasaki - ]

For six months I've tried to answer that question. I've thought about the times I was happiest in my life. I realize that I am happiest when I am teaching and inspiring people to do something they consider impossible. That is my purpose in life.

What should I teach? I've thought about teaching technology, but that bores me to tears. One of the few good teachers I've had was my high school chemistry/physics teacher Mr. Seela. He won Iowa Teacher of the Year for 2004 and he deserved it. Mr. Seela was one of the few people who never gave up on me in high school. No matter what I did, he kept trying to reach me. I've thought about following in his footsteps and teaching high school science. But the pay sucks. And the system sucks. Mr. Seela deserves to make 10 times what he makes but most of my other teachers should not be allowed within 100 yards of the nearest classroom.

When I was younger I dreamed of being a software developer, a Navy SEAL, or a Navy fighter pilot. At one point I planned to become all three - a real life MacGyver if you will. Eventually I realized one of my dreams. I became a software developer. I should be happy right?

Last year I realized that writing code to make someone else more profitable, by making banks more profitable, isn't that fulfilling. That's when I decided to go into business for myself. I thought that if I chose the products I worked on, I could make meaning with the products I created. But the idea of writing code in my spare time doesn't appeal to me anymore. I want new challenges. More importantly, I want to spend more time working with people than I do working with machines.

Then I remembered one of the other passions from my youth - flying. I've thought about becoming a flight instructor in the past, but like many teaching professions, the pay sucks. But I see ways to change that. And I want to change it. I want to change the way the flight training industry works. I want to find a way to make flight instructor the premium position in the aviation industry. I also want to find a way to reach kids that are like I was in school. I know that Mr. Seela could've reached me by teaching me to fly. That would have been the motivation I needed to live up to my potential in school. I know that there are kids out there like me, who need something to focus their attention. I know that through flight instruction, I can change the world. And who doesn't want to change the world?

So thanks David Seela. Thanks Guy Kawasaki. Thanks Robert Scoble. Thanks Steve Pavlina. Thanks Dave Winer. Thanks Adam Curry. Thanks Eric Sink. Thanks Jon Udell. Thanks Seth Godin. Thanks Jack Canfield. Thanks Harvey Mckay. Thanks Duane "Dog" Chapman. You have all inspired me to change the world.

03/20/2005 11:16:06 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Tuesday, 15 March 2005

This Is Your Life

This is your life, are you who you want to be?

This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be... ...when the world was younger and you had everything to lose?

- Switchfoot

03/15/2005 08:12:57 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Sunday, 30 January 2005

Design Magazines

From the Department of Broader Horizons I bring you two excellent design magazines:

01/30/2005 21:04:31 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

Web Development Tricks: Dynamic Properties & Conditional Comments

This weekend I learned two new web development tricks.

Do you need to set the width of one element equal to the 2.78 times the width of another element? Use Dynamic Properties.

Do you need to include different code, or CSS styles, for Internet Explorer? Use Conditional Comments.

01/30/2005 12:45:56 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Thursday, 20 January 2005

Markdown.NET - A .NET implementation of the Markdown text-to-HTML syntax

Milan Negovan ported the Markdown conversion tool to C#. It is BSD licensed. I can't wait to try it out! See Milan's Announcing Markdown.NET post for more information.

01/20/2005 17:58:33 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Wednesday, 19 January 2005

Free .NET Component Inspector from oakland software

Sometimes the best way to learn a new object model is to explore it at runtime. That is what makes OutlookSpy and OfficeSpy so valuable. The .NET Component Inspector, from oakland software, will let you do the same thing with any .NET assembly. Very cool!

01/19/2005 11:31:36 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Tuesday, 18 January 2005

Surviving the Visual Studio .NET Designer "Woe"

In this article mwadams describes some of the problems in the current VS.NET designers. Some of the same problems exist in the Web designers too. So far all of the Web Designer problems I've tested are fixed in VS.NET Whidbey. I hope the same is true for the Windows Form designers. But until Whidbey arrives, mwadams provides some excellent advice.

This post brought to you by the letter W and Mike Gunderloy.

01/18/2005 07:14:46 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

The best is the enemy of good

Joost Ronkes Agerbeek is documenting his experiences as he readies his first product for release. In his latest post he discovers that some times good enough is, well, good enough. This is a lesson that I am reminded of by my current employer every day. In fact, if you plan to start your own software business I recommend you work for a small ISV for a couple of years first. Or better yet, start your own ISV today and document the process the way Joost is. You are bound to learn a lot that way too.

01/18/2005 06:50:42 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

Improve the design time experience of your .NET controls

In this article Jason Bock documents the trip he took to get a better design time experience for one of his Windows Form controls. Thanks Jason!

01/18/2005 05:50:41 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Monday, 17 January 2005

What pieces of Windows Orchestration (WinOE) will be available in Whidbey?

WinOE Workflow Prepped For Whidbey, Longhorn, Office 12 In 2006 - Just in case you're not tired of learning new APIs yet. [Mike Gunderloy]

It isn't clear what is going to be available in the Whidbey timeframe, but I definitely need to look into this further for my day job.

P.S. I didn't get around to saying this when Mike posted his 500th post. But I don't know how Mike does it. I love The Daily Grind. I would be lost without it. If something interesting happens in the Microsoft/.NET world Mike points to it. The Daily Grind is a must read for any Windows developer.

01/17/2005 17:02:36 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback