The Technical Co-Founder

The jm3 guide to achieving technical startup success without losing your soul

Five Great Books (That Are Not Game of Thrones)

Voronoi Bookshelf

Kindle-friendly edition

Many of my friends have emerged recently from the Dorito-stained pages (or finger-smeared screens) of Game of Thrones Book V, blinking and pawing at the scroll bar, desperately seeking something new to read, anything, just to “the high” going. FRIENDS, I AM HERE TO HELP YOU.

All are of the following books are available as ebooks and in dead-tree format, and come highly recommended from me:

This Machine Kills Secrets by Andy Greenberg
The human history + politics behind Wikileaks and the crypto-mask TOR
Andy, the author, is a smart obsessive, which means he and I get along along great. The book is a great walk down memory lane for me, being an owner of the early ’90s editions of both PGP: Pretty Good Privacy book (before RSA bought them) and Schneier’s Applied Crypto, the bible of modern cryptographic implementation. As you fall into the story, you’ll learn about the smart, often scary governments and agitators building the cyptography architecture that will one day enslave (or free) you. Trigger warning: beards.

Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality of Race in America by Bakari Kitwana
The interlink of pop, music, race, and anxiety in America, yo
America is racist. As. Hell. Growing up on the outskirts of the only apartheid city in the US (Detroit), you see this every day. Kitwana does a nice job in this one. Highly recommended for Americans whether you identify as white, black, or something else.

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
Post-apocalyptic biopunk fiction from the author of The Windup Girl
Biopunk is the name for fiction focused on what horrors and wonders will be unleashed on society as DNA splicing and genetic engineering become commonplace. Think cyberpunk but wetter and smarter, with fewer cyborgs and more science. Dark, fun read about a potential future tribalized state infused with shades of a more American, energized JG. Ballard. Trigger warning: lots of child soldier stuff.

The Power of Introverts [in a World That Can’t Stop Talking] by Susan Cain
It may not shock you to learn that I’m an introvert.
To be quite honest I’ve not finished this one yet, but it’s great so far and very eye opening with respect to how much 21st century western society worships extroverts, everywhere from politics to business to dating. Pretty gross.

The Power of Gold: History of an Obsession by Peter L. Bernstein
Are you a raving survivalist with AdBlock, a Go-Bag, and a self-sustaining farm in the words that will feed your family when “The Big One” hits? Then this book isn’t for you! ;) Instead, it’s a hyper-detailed history of the evolution of gold as a precious metal, monetary sink, and currency, from antiquity to the present. I learned a bunch.

And by popular request, my top five financial meltdown books:

  1. Winner-Take-All Politics by Jacob Hacker & Paul Pierson
  2. Richistan by Robert Frank
  3. Griftopia by “Raving” Matt Taibbi
  4. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
  5. Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confession of a Hedge Fund Manager by Keith Gessen

N.b. The above links are Amazon affiliate links meaning I get a few cents kickback if you buy them. If that bothers you, just google the book name and click that link, and I’ll get nothing.

The Truth About Pivots

U Michigan • Entrepreneur Hour • Guest Speaker

University of Michigan’s engineering school has a great program, ENTR407, for engineers who reject the notion of being a cubicle slave at Google or Facebook, and instead are passionate about starting their own companies. In other words, a class for entrepreneurial engineers. What a great idea.

Each week a different distinguished (ahem.) startup founder flies in to share startup stories with a class of young engineers. On October 5th, I was invited to Ann Arbor to speak with over 400 future founders about how our company, 140 Proof pivoted from a social analytics shop to a $25+ million+ social technology business. With a 45 minute time slot, we probably talked for an hour and 20 minutes. I can’t wait to go back.

Click (the right-hand side of) the slide above to view the slides.


Video coming soon, please come back next week to watch the 3 minute highlight reel.

Design Hacks

A new course for coders on hacking design. Get your tickets SOLD OUT!

Design Hacks

As a software engineer, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside great visual and UX designers for nearly 10 years of my life. Under pressure of shipping many sites + apps, I’ve studied how great designers work. I’ve hired and mentored leaders in the design field, and borrowed many of their tricks and tools, tweaking them to incorporate what I know about building web apps. This class is the first edition in my sharing those hacks.

Design is no mysterious black art that requires loving Helvetica and smoking a lot. Design is something you do, not something you are, and everyone, even straight up command-line nerds like us, can learn it, at least well enough to bang out some decent looking version-ones. Time to get serious.

Sign up for DESIGN HACKS now and learn in 90 minutes how to be good (enough) at visual and UI design to ship sharp-looking alphas and betas.*

Design Hacks at General Assembly, the first rapid-fire design course taught for engineers, by an engineer.

Secure your seat now:

* Skinny jeans not included.

Why do Tumblr, AirBnB, and Path cause so much excitement? DESIGN.

Why did Facebook buy Instagram, Daytum, and Gowalla? DESIGN.

Why did the iPhone win? DESIGN.

Are you delegating the future success of your startup up to some art-school kid with skinny jeans and a weird haircut? F that! Tickets!

OS X Rsync

Getting rsync on OS X Mountain Lion / Leopard to respect all file attributes, hidden resource forks, Finder labels, etc. involves a bit of homebrew magic. To get it working, do this:

You’re welcome. :)

Twitter Logo Deconstructed Into Circles Using SVG

I deconstructed the Twitter logo into its component circles using SVG (scalable vector graphics).

Final result: smoooooth scaling!

For a scalable Twitter button for your website, check out the scalable CSS Twitter button I created:

scalabletwitter button

Happy hacking.

APIs and LEGOs


via Kirill Sheynkman:

Open source popularized the idea of creating public projects and actively soliciting community feedback and involvement. Tens of thousands of open source projects have been created, but only those projects that built sizable communities have thrived. Most of the large infrastructure software categories were eventually filled by strong open source projects and some spawned successful commercial software companies, like RedHat, XenSource, Sourcefire, MySQL, and JBoss. These companies span a broad range — from operating systems/hypervisors to security to middleware and database/content management.

Coders now expect the same instant gratification as end users. Instead of having to download, configure and manage all the associated software components, more and more of these capabilities need to be packaged “as-a-service” — hence, the move to cloud services. It is also important to remember that software development is an art, not a science, and programmers want a very simple and elegant programming interface.

Read More: APIs and LEGOs

LEGO computer

Redis Stats in R

RStudio in action, by jm3

A History of ‘Pivot’ Press

New York’s business press like the WSJ and Forbes are classically slow on the draw… :)

Don’t Use Cucumber

Cucumber sucks

Don’t use Cucumber unless you live in the magic kingdom of non-coders-writing-tests (and send me some fairy dust if you are!)

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