Author Archives: W.M. Shrubb

There and Back Again…

After a month in California, with no computer or agenda, I am back in Pennsylvania. However this is temporary.

One thing I have learned along the way is that I need to be more like I was when I was in high school. While some may think that sounds odd, it actually makes total sense. In high school I juggled a girlfriend, job, friends, homework, sports, fishing, family, and most importantly did that while not having the easiest home life. Of course I’m not going to elaborate on that, this isn’t the Oprah show, and even if it was I wouldn’t dwell on that because it is quite frankly pointless. The point I am getting at is even under pressure, I was able to juggle and deal with a great many things. Now being older, it seems there are many less things to juggle, perhaps my case is unique, but it is what it is.

I used to live by the Ferris Bueller mantra “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

It’s time to bring that back into my life, and remember that keeping a continual can of git-r-dun open will actually prove to be counterproductive.

So what have I been doing for the past month? Nothing, and everything. The change of scenery, and being for the most part utterly alone put me into a different mind set, and I started to look at the world in an old, familiar, and welcome way. They way I used to see the world.

Ideas began to flow, I started smiling more. NOT because I was in California as some would like to believe, but because I changed things, and after I did, without the distraction of a computer, work, television, friends, family, or anything else; I subconsciously started to see the world with a sense of wonder again. That is when the ideas began to flow.

This is a good thing.

Why am I back in Pennsylvania again? Financial, strategic, and personal. While I am most certainly planning on permanently returning to the left coast in just a couple months returning here has also been fantastic. I KNOW that I’m not staying, and with little agenda on my plate right now, I have been able to clear my mind. I now am enjoying my home state as if I am a visiting tourist that just happens to know a ton of people. Those people may not have the time to dedicate to my project, but they have an evening to sit down for a beer, they have an afternoon to go whitewater rafting, and even a LAN party or two.

Since returning I have been having the time of my life with my friends, starting a new relationship that has me feeling like a 14 year old doesn’t hurt either. I will be travelling over the next couple of months meeting with different potential advisors and investors. I am terrified and excited. Part of me wants to lock myself in a basement and bask in the glow of my monitor while tapping away at a keyboard working, while another part of me wants to see all of this over with…so I can get back to basking in the glow of my monitor working. The reality is, there is currently just a laptop that was given to me, and laptops are for when you aren’t in front of a workstation, they aren’t intended for actual work.

What I can do however, is get back to what I was recommending to myself in a previous post. Contacting individuals whom I respect professionally and asking their advice. Plato wrote in the Allegory of the Cave that you cannot look directly at a truth, that you have to come to it in a roundabout way. I now think I am ready to start asking questions and presenting my cause to the professionals I look up to.

Sometimes, in order to go forward, you need to stand still.

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Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Getting Started


A New Chapter Begins

Today is the last day I have in this house in Pennsylvania.  I am packing a small bag and headed for California.  Of course I am shipping my computer so I can continue working that is a given.  What I am really on about today is something else I have learned along the way.  You have to go where your passion is.  See, it isn’t enough being passionate about my project here in PA.  While people like the idea, the general enthusiasm level to work on such projects, couple with my aging friends, is not very high at all.

So I am headed to where most people go to fail.  Which means there will be lots of capable talent just waiting for the right opportunity to come along.  I am enthusiastic and nervous at the same time with this decision, but I guess like most things, ignorance is bliss and sometimes jumping in the deep end is the only way to learn.

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Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Getting Started


Dazed n Confused

Over the past several days I have been speaking with different potential members to join my project.  I know how essential this aspect is, but can’t help feel that this type of activity is detracting from what I really want to accomplish.

Enter the investigation of a Business Development Manager.  Rather, someone to do the legwork while I concentrate on project development and planning.  Someone who’s expertise in dealing with legal documents and finance could greatly assist in keeping this train rolling.

Here is where the trouble comes in.  Even though I live smack in the middle of one of the highest concentrations of people on the east coast, there is very little in terms of technology investment and angel investors willing to take a gamble on tech.  My expertise also lay with design and developmental planning.

It seems as though my conundrum only thickens as most of the people I personally know that I can tap into, while knowledgeable in their respective fields are older and unwilling to put in the time it takes to make a start-up happen.  I’ve been warned to not outsource development and that has been backed up with numerous horror stories as well.

I guess I am at a weird crossroads.  Just a few short years ago my network of potential professionals was much greater.  It seems these days they have settled into jobs, and families.  Finding willing and capable talent is proving to be next to impossible.

I really believe in this project and it’s potential.  I keep asking myself what would “insert industry professional” do in this set of circumstances?  I keep coming back to the obvious which is that I should just ask those individuals.  Sounds easy enough.  However, I am willing to bet that even with best intentions, and a clear message I get a next to zero response rate.

Those guys are incredibly busy after all, and who is this six-piece chicken McNobody asking for advice?  There is also the old phrase, you never know until you ask.  So I’m going to try taking the direct approach and attempt contacting several within the industry and see what happens from there.

Worst they can say is no right?

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Posted by on May 1, 2011 in Getting Started


Nobody cares if your child is missing, and yes my penis is awesome. True story.

Got your attention? Good, of course I’m not referring to your kid, your kid is awesome.  We’ll get back to my gentleman’s sausage later.

What I am referring to is stuff I see posted on Facebook and Twitter all the time from my friends that asks to “re-post or re-tweet this as your status to spread the word”.  Look, information on here can spread like wildfire, hence the term “viral”.  Please for the love of all that is holy take 5 minutes and at least research what you are thinking about posting.

It’s like being in high school all over again.  One person starts a rumor and tells a couple  people, then they tell at least a couple more people, and the chain continues.  With tools like Facebook, you can potentially hit tens of thousands of people within just a few minutes.  I thought for a brief moment about starting a false rumor just to prove this point, but the thing is…just like crop circles, once the originator of the hoax comes forward, there are still people who want to believe in the lie regardless of what evidence is placed before them.

What sparked this posting today was a friend of mine posted a similar post stating there was an amber alert for a missing child.  Look, nobody wants to see an abducted child not be found, but think about it.  REALLY think about it.  If the amber alert system were to use Facebook or Twitter to get the word out quickly, they would at minimum have the post contain a link to their official website so that the information can be backed up.

The post in question today had an individuals license plate number, and stated it was an extremely young child, doesn’t matter how old.  Add insult to injury to tug on everyone’s heart strings, they stated it was a little girl.  OUCH!  How on earth could any heartless bastard NOT want to save this child, I must get that information out YESTERDAY!

Now, I am going to give you an example that will quite literally make you shudder because it could happen to anyone.  Let’s say that the originator of the rumor was a pissed off ex, or someone going through a divorce.  Worse yet, what if it was an upset ex after a divorce that didn’t want to allow visitation rights and their former partner had just picked up the child and was on their way to see the Ice Capades or catch a baseball game?  Can you see some paranoid parent calling the police as soon as they see that license plate to report a missing child?  Sadly, the police, as is usually the case, will shoot from the hip and instead of taking the 5 minutes to actually research something, would merely respond.  Humiliating the innocent person in question, possibly even taking them back to the station, placing them under arrest…for what, because someone with a chip on their shoulder wanted revenge?

The user base for Facebook is over half a billion people worldwide, Twitter is over 200 million, and I’m not exaggerating.  However those of us who use Facebook and Twitter with regularity typically tend towards being in the age demographic of under 40.  Which means that in this particular example it’s pretty targeted to people who are parents.

Now this particular example is from the standpoint of social engineering utterly brilliant, because it is going to specifically target, no offense ladies, young mothers who will speak before they think.  It’s no fault of yours, it’s how we have evolved as a species.  That whole protect the young thing and all.  Guys have a similar response too, just mess with our woman and see what happens.  Girls may get upset that we are so amped up and ready to take stuff to fists, but it’s the way we are wired.  Just accept it, and deal.

I am 100% of the time able to debunk any of these false rumors, and this is no exaggeration by any means, within 5 minutes.  For instance today’s rumor.  Amber alert.  Guess what I simply searched Google for?  You got it, and once on the official government page for amber alerts, it stated, “There are currently no active Amber Alerts”.  That took me less than one minute, and I promptly replied back to the originator of the post that is was a hoax, and linked the accurate information.

Perhaps I should do something like refer to my man-horn three times to imprint a memorable event or start a rumor that I do in fact have the world’s most desirable pogo stick.  Hmmm, the possibilities.

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Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Getting Started


Even slow, things feel good.

No, that isn’t a sexy euphemism.  I’m referring to the past several days since I let someone go from my current project.  Even though now everything is riding on me, I somehow feel empowered, and enlightened at the same time.  Good things have been happening too.  I should have done this sooner.

Since my last post, I now have access to a couple former colleagues who have agreed to advice me, and one possibly could even join onto the project.  What is even more odd, is that I would so much rather work with these individuals than pretty much anyone else at this stage.  That isn’t lip service either.  To be honest they do not even know I am writing this blog.  Maybe one day we can all laugh about this post over a beer.

I guess the main lesson that I can take away from this, is that my previous notion of holding onto people and trying to nurture them may not only have been the wrong choice, but in the end I was pouring energy in the wrong directions.  Cutting those ties free, while at first seems a bit daunting, actually opens up new doors.

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Posted by on April 27, 2011 in Getting Started


Good people are hard to find

This is something we all certainly have heard, are familiar with, and no doubt agree with.  With past projects I have taken on people who simply have the know-how to perform certain tasks, which sounds good, but often isn’t.

You see, something I have done in the past is that I have given the level of dedication to these individuals that I have expected out of them as a way to set an example.  Again, this sounds good in not only theory, but practice as well.  Something I haven’t done however is cut the cord when people aren’t working out, and that is something that I completely blame myself for, because I have been involved in several projects myself that I have watched fall by the wayside for the exact same reasons that my projects fail.  Dedication to the individuals, and not the project.

Today, after a mere three days of involvement, I had to turn one of my people loose.  Professionally speaking, they are absolutely fantastic, however, they were beginning to overstep their boundaries right from the very beginning.  In the past I would have simply continued to correct them and set them on the path that drives the project forward, but not anymore.

While some who may read this post will think three days seems too short of an acclimation period for someone on a project, I can’t help but feel this would have turned into yet another case of me spending more time coercing someone to do the job they were brought in to do, rather than being able to trust in them tasks were being accomplished.  At the end of the day, if I have to take away from what I am working on, to have to continually remind them what their job is and how to go about accomplishing the tasks at hand, I may as well do it myself.  Essentially, if I don’t set the bar from the very beginning of this venture that results have to be delivered in order for you to remain on the project, things will simply deteriorate from there to a point where nothing gets done.

Even if it seems harder at this stage to let people go and take on more work for myself, I cannot help but trust in my past experience that this will be healthier for not only the project, but for my own sanity when trying to guide this ship.

I guess I have at least learned one thing along the way.

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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Lessons Learned


I got mad organimazational skills yo!

I’m typically not one to pat myself on the back, but in just 2 weeks time I have sorted through 1.5 TB of data (manually) and cleaned up all of my archived data.  I have laid out in front of me a working schedule (read: list of shit to do).  I’ve built a media center, internal fileserver, and setup a FTP.  I’ve also connected all of my social media together into a coherent ring that makes sense (at least to me).

Next thing to do is get my resume squared away, find a new house for my roommates and I, set aside a couple hours a day for blogging and development, and most importantly re-design and post about half a dozen websites so I can have an online portfolio of my work.  ETA on that, good question, which deserves a John Carmack level answer “When it’s done”.

Since this project will serve as the initial underpinnings for larger projects to come and also as a face for angel and venture capitalists I am not going to simply cut corners to get something accomplished by a certain date so I can say “look at what I was able to get accomplished in X period of time” when I would much rather present something that puts forth what my visions are, unadulterated, and uncompromised.

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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Getting Started, Planning