Monthly Archives: May 2006

Business Plan Blues

I’m working on a business plan today for like the third time.

I really hate paperwork.

Over the past few months I’ve come to realize that I might need to raise a little bit of funding or take on some partners to continue growing. Nothing huge, but developing any kind of product is a resource-intensive operation. I’d like to start on version 2.0 of batBack, I’d like to continue market validation, I’d like to add some cool gizmos for those of you who have already signed up. I’d also like to start configuring for heavy growth. And I’d like to make some plans for the next steps. But it is simply impossible to do all of that as one person. Or if it is possible, it must take a better person than me.

That means I have to figure out how to get funding. Let me tell you, it doesn’t seem so easy! So much seems to be built around a “who you know” network which is mostly connected to the larger cities. Guys me out in the hinterland don’t have those connections, so we have to use the net. And on the net, it’s even worse.

After searching around all day yesterday I found a business plan service offered by a nearby venture captial group. By “nearby” I mean a two hour drive! But I figured what the heck, might as well give this thing a shot.

So I went to their web site, signed up, and looked around for directions. I couldn’t find any. Heck — I couldn’t even find a spot to pay my application fee. The most I could find was a phone number.

So like a dummy, I called the phone number. What did I get? I got voice mail is what I got. I left a message yesterday afternoon. So far nobody has called back.

This has to be easier. Do any of my readers know anything about raising captial for a web start-up business? If so, please email me. Any kind of tips, contacts, or leads would be welcome.

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Welcome New Blogs

Welcome to a few new blogs that signed up for batBack over the past week.

my life is a blog by Ajay Abraham of Oman. Ajay — I hope you like batBack! Welcome aboard. (Ajay has a really cool phone on his blog) is all about a quaint town on the coast of Malaysia. From reading the descriptions, I can almost picture myself there. It sounds like a great place to visit.

My UnKnown Blog was created by Joe Klemmer from Northern Virginia. Joe used to run a dial-up BBS back in the day. Looks like some good material on the blog, Joe.

Finally, we had a sign-up from Italy — Clesius. I don’t speak Italian, and when I visited the site I couldn’t understand what it was for. Anybody out there speak Italian? Help is appreciated, as I would like to get the site set up if I can.

For those of you wanting to see the list of blogs using batBack, I have created a blog roll over at this page.

It’s good to have the new blogs onboard. Hopefully I can proivde new features for all of you batBack users out there in the new future. I have a lot of plans for version 2.0 and I know you’re going to like it a lot.

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Science Stories

Optical invisibility may be possible – Scientists say that new “metatmaterials” enable radiation of all forms, including light to be bent around them, making objects invisible. One scientist said that invisibility devices may only be five years away. There’s a problem with the multiple wavelengths found in sunlight, however, that might complicate things.

Reaction Drive work continues – As I’ve noted several times before, the only way for humans to realistically explore space is to stop taking their propellant with them. Having to propel both your spaceship and tons and tons of fuel makes the budget bottom lines go crazy. Some sort of reaction drive or field propulsion is simply a necessity. The problem is that nobody knows exactly how to do this, or even if it is possible.

Enter James Woodward, a professor at California State University. For the last several years, Woodward has been working on what he calls a “Mach-Lorentz Thruster” I believe he has reproducible lab results, which is a good thing. But the detractors are already out in force, and I’m sure the professor has a tough time ahead of him. Currently the effects are very small and the engines produce a lot of heat, which must be removed. But it appears that even a small-force engine could be used for things like satellite station-keeping. Or intra-solar system probe propulsion. Let’s hope some person or organization gives the professor the resources he needs to commercialize his inventions.

This is yet another great argument for the government sponsoring FEW, PUBLIC, SUBSTANTIAL, PRESTIGIOUS X-Prize type rewards. Not that they are listening, but 1-10 Billion spent now on breakthrough propulsion technology would more than pay for itself over a 20 year term. I would have three stages: first stage would be a demonstration practical and inexpensive reaction engine producing enough thrust for station-keeping. Stage two would be a demonstration of an engine that would work with larger masses, and stage three would be practically producing enough force to carry a large object (50-100 tons) out of the earth’s gravity well. The measurable criteria would be LEO for under a dollar a kilo. That’s it. No more prizes or solutions needed. If we can provide cheap access to space, we can increase the number of people working there. This will allow the free market to solve the other problems, like space gloves. Trying to solve trivial problems now with 10-20 million prizes COMPLETELY DEFEATS the core concept of the prize system. Having firm cost-to-orbit goals and paying large rewards (with 2nd and 3rd place) for them, along with fame and recognition is the way to go. From the government’s standpoint, it is an economic tool. But from the other side, the fame and fortune are big players in the mix. That’s why it has to be big, public, and rare.

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Things I Learned At The Beach

One of these is a monkey head

Here are the things I learned at the beach this year:

  • The Beach is More Fun without the people – we went the week before Memorial Day. The first few days, there weren’t many people there. When we left today, the place was crowded. I liked it better the other way.
  • Somebody is Sniffing WiFi Packets – i used the WiFi setup at the Embassy Suites. I did two things of note: I checked my business checking account and I posted a comment on a blog I visit. Sure enough, the next day, I get a phishing email regarding my bank account with the bank’s name I use, using the email address I used the day before. They never have matched up those two pieces of information before. Personally, I think it is organized crime. But the SSL was too much for them to crack, or i wouldn’t have gotten the phish. So no harm, no foul. Better luck next time, Guido.
  • Do not order beers at the poolside bar – Six bucks! Need I say more? What kind of stupid tourists do they think we are, anyway? Good thing I got my commemorative monkey-head planters punch with the take-home coconut monkey head souvenir. Otherwise I would have to drive somewhere for an adult beverage. Hey — six bucks might be too much for a Budweiser, but $14 for a genuine coconut monkey head with a mixed drink inside? That’s obviously a good value.
  • Do not wear expensive prescription sunglasses to the lazy river – If you try to get on the inner tube in the lazy river, holding your six-year old daughter, a monkey-head drink, and your prescription sunglasses, something will fall into the water. Perhaps everything will fall into the water.
  • Do not hold up the lazy river – No matter what the title says, the lazy river is not so lazy. If you hold up thirty people on inner tubes while you fish you daughter from the lazy river, people will make uncomfortable sounds at you.
  • Do not step on your prescription glasses – The title kind of says it all. This is definitely something to avoid. Even with the angry river people at your back.
  • Wearing broken sunglasses can make you look stupid – No matter how much they cost when you bought them, after you step on your glasses they are just not the same. People will stare at you. Some may laugh.
  • Throwing a coconut monkey head at a laughing fat woman is a bad idea – Ok, I made that one up. But I was tempted. I bet with the right windage I could get that coconut over a hundred feet.

All in all, we had a good time. Other than the glasses and a few small bumps in the road, this was our best summer vacation yet. And I have the monkey-head to prove it! (The monkey head is the one on the right, I think)

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What’s Wrong With Internet Rating Systems

Is it just me, or do the current batch of internet tagging and rating systems suck? I’ve been studying and working in this field for years, and it seems to me there are several major problems with the current crop of tools.

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Night of the Attack Clowns

“What’s the new guy’s name? Hey Bob! We got sumptin’ for you to try over here!”

Here’s the latest in the “Here’s Something For the New Guy” category for tactical teams, a patent for a launching device to catapult people onto buildings.

What with the Global War On Terror (GWOT), the War On Drugs, the War On Poverty, and the War On Land Mines, it’s about time somebody did something about propelling people through the air. The folks at DoD and DARPA are heeding this call, and US Patent #20060086349 is for a “controllable launcher”. The picture says it all: a seat mounted on a rail where compressed air shoots the user into the sky. How many times have you worked on a project where the goal was to “shoot the user into the sky?” I bet not many. i hope not many.

Something about this reminds me of circus clowns. Maybe it’s the whole “human cannon” thing. The inventors claim to be able to launch people up to four stories high. Let’s see. You’re in a tough tactical situation: you have hostages and heavily-armed doped up paranoid hallucinating criminals inside a secure building. What to do? Hey! Let’s launch ourselves up into the air on top of the building! Certainly seeing a sequence of fully-armed assault techs flying through the air would be enough to calm the situation down inside.

Maybe the clown idea isn’t so far off-base. Sort of natural camoflauge for the human launcher. Look! Must be a circus in town! No need to fear. I wonder if we’ll get balloons?

I’m not sure I would want to be a member of the “Fighting 42nd Attack Clowns”. The camo would be a lot easier to apply, though. And maybe you’d get free red noses.

Can I Take the Flower Squirt Gun With Me?

For those of you wanting links, New Scientist is also running the story.

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One More Move, and the Monkey Gets It!

Why is this monkey in danger?

I’ve been having more fun than a person should have over the past few months with Web 2.0, and you’re going to get a kick out of what I’ve been doing. Especially since it involves the impending death of a beloved Web mascot.

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batBack Performance: Thanks for the Memories

For those of you who noticed that batBack is performng unevenly, I finally have an answer for you.

I knew that with a cross-blog system I was going to run into performance problems. I just had no idea they would happen so soon!

As it turns out, I am pre-caching information on the web applicaiton in order to reduce SQL Server calls. My hosting provider, kind as they are, are monitoring my memory usage and rebooting my applicaiton when the memory exceeds a certain amount!

This would have been nice to know, as I have been banging my head against the wall trying to figure out the erratic behavior. Once I’m back from my trip, fixes are on the way. Apologies to bloggers noticing the problems.

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Uncle and an half step dad?

My son Bruce and I were talking last night over coffee about how it is diffcult to come up with the proper nomenclature for various relatives we have any more. The general terms “dad”, “mom”, “step” and “half” don’t seem to go together well with all of the arrangements.

I know it’s common for some to say something like “well, that’s because of the fragmentation of society!” but I don’t know if that is really true or not. For instance, my father’s mother died when he was born, so he was adopted by his father’s brother.

This, of course, means that my dad really had two dads, one of which was “uncle dad”

Putting aside the West Virginia jokes for now (for those of you out of the country, in the states usually there is some state near yours where the people just aren’t so smart and are very backwards. For those of us in Virginia, this state is West Virginia. Nobody knows who the West Virginians pick on), there has to be some kind of rhyme or reason to these names. Since my father had an “uncle dad”, this means I have a “great uncle ‘n dad” or something like that. This also means, of course, that i have great cousin-n-uncles.

The reason this came to this discussion was that my former wife, the mother of my son, was married for a while to a nice guy named Kenny. Kenny and Bruce, being family, like on another, so that even though he and my first wife are separated, they keep in touch. Kenny is Bruce’s step-dad. But now Kenny is getting married again, which would make the woman, what? Bruce’s double step mother? For Bruce’s half sister, she will be his step mother. So this is his half step mother?

Are there no standards here? Is there some sort of standard naming scheme for family members? Certainly with all the work we’ve done with programming languages, databases, and computer technology, somebody has come up with a standard family naming system.

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I’m Ready For My Close-up!

For those of you who are stuck in an office somewhere, thinking about the beach —

Yesterday we packed up and headed out. The drive was beautiful, and the beach is completely gorgeous at this time of year. There are no crowds. We spent last night checking in, getting groceries, and checking the place out. I got up this morning and sat on the balcony, by myself, and watched the sun rise over the ocean. Listening to the surf, I read a really funny Dave Barry book about song lyrics. After a while, I walked over (walked!) to the Starbucks for a large Chai.

Today? It’s fun in the sun!

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