A Book Review – Scythe

Nice Robe

I am the blade that is swung by your hand,

Slicing a rainbow’s arc,

I am the clapper; but you are the bell,

Tolling the gathering dark.

If you are the singer, then I am the song,

A threnody, requiem dirge.

You’ve made me the answer for all the world’s need,

Humanity’s undying urge.

~ “Threnody,” from the collected works of H.S. Socrates

First as always i hope everyone is safe. Second, i hope everyone had an indulgent and superlative holiday season heading into the New Year! Third, i decided i wanted to write a book review since i haven’t in quite some time and given the number of books i have read recently figured hey lets do a book review!

This review deserves a little context. My middle progeny was assigned this book for a winter break reading assignment. i believe it is important to take an interest in your progenies’ activities and well reading is definitely one to promote and take interest. Thus when i was talking to her about what she was assigned, she said, “i think you will like this book.” She handed it to me, and i opened it to this page:

“It is the most difficult thing a person can be asked to do. And know what it is for the greater good doesn’t make it any easier. People used to die naturally. Old age used to be a terminal affliction, not a temporary state. There were invisible killers called “diseases” that broke the body down. Aging couldn’t be reversed, and there were accidents from which there was no return. Planes fell out from the sky. Cars actually crashed. There was pain, misery, and despair. It’s hard for most of us to imagine a world so unsafe, with dangers lurking in every unseen, unplanned corner. All of that is behind us now, and yet a single simple truth remains: People must die.”

~ From the gleaning journal of H.S. Currie

My daughter knows me well. So i said ok let us read it together but don’t think this is a race I’ll probably have this book finished in a week.

Ok this had my attention. So immediately i thought of Soylent Green meets Logan’s Run but there is a twist. In reading the back cover it paraphrases a world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things and has even conquered death. However, who are these scythes that are mentioned, and are the only ones who can “glean” life? So with the context out of the way let us get down to business.

The cover above depicts a Scythe. As most know or should know from Websters we have the following definition:

scythe (pronounced /sīT͟H/)

noun: a tool used for cutting crops such as grass or wheat, with a long curved blade at the end of a long pole attached to which are one or two short handles.

verb: cut with a scythe as in scythed.

Given many aspects of our so-called society today and social normalizations i believe this is a wonderful teenage adventure novel that sets the stage for some more esoteric readings in science fiction such as 1984, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Brave New World, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep (DADOES), Snowcrash and Neuromancer.

The book’s premise is that humans now exist in a conflict-free world where human-kind have conquered death. The world they live in is a Post Age of Morality world where one no longer has true crimes against humanity; poverty is not an issue, and hunger is solved via synthetic food engineering. As such over-population has overrun Mother Earth and elected Scythes must cull the human population. This culling process is known in the vernacular as “gleaning”. The Age of Mortality is the duration of time before the scythedom, revival centers, and the Thunderhead were established.

To this end, artificial intelligence has been amplified via the “ThunderHead” which monitors, recommends, and predicts AllTheThings. As such, there is no need for the concept or construction of a government.

Tyger shrugged, “One Splat Too Many. They gave up. Now I am a ward of the ThunderHead.”

“I’m sorry Tyger”

“Hey don’t be. Believe it or not, the ThunderHead’s a better father than my father was. I get good advice now and get asked how my day was from someone who actually seems to care.”

Just like everything else about the ThunderHead its parenting skills were indisutable.

~ Apprentice Rowan

Two teens find themselves volunteered as apprentice-Scythes which leads to a world of corruption greed and the finality of death.

Scythes are volunteered as apprentices and taught the ways of all of the classics, philosophy, chemistry (poisons), neural linguistic programming (person-reading), and of course, skilled in all the ways one can end a person’s life or if you will extreme social engagement called “killcraft”.

Scyhtes choose which lives to glean based on statistics of past Age Of Morality morbidity rates and behaviors, social class, and ethnicities. They however cannot show bias.

Scythes are ruled by a worldwide committee and meet on a quarterly basis where concerns are raised, appretences are tested, and old friendships are renewed. Did i mention that humans now live indefinitely and can rewind physical age and appearance to no lower than 21? However, given that most Sychtes choose ages between 35-45.

The Scythes lived by the following commandments:

  1. Thou Shalt Kill
  2. Thou shalt kill with no bias, bigotry or malice of afterthought
  3. Thou shalt grant an annum of immunity to the beloved of those who accept your coming and to anyone else you deem worthy.
  4. Thou shalt kill the beloved of those who resist.
  5. Thou shalt serve humanity for the full span of thy days and thy family shall have immunity as recompense for as long as you live.
  6. Thou shalt lead an exemplary life in word and deed and keep a journal of each and every day.
  7. Thou shalt kill no scythe beyond thyself.
  8. Thou shalt claim no earthly possessions save thy robe, ring and journal.
  9. Thou shalt have neither spouse or spawn.
  10. Thou shalt be beholden to no laws beyond these.

So we must ask ourselves that if in fact we solve all the so called woes of the Human Condition will we solve the root cause of the Human Condition? If we take away mortality (and morality) and can save and upload our memories then what is meant to be Human? Passion and Lust (of life)? Is compassion still needed?

Upon giving me the book to read my daughter laughed and said “Daddy maybe you are one.”

Then again, reflecting on what my daughter said to me when she was referencing the text, at the core maybe we all are Sycthes.

So if your in the market for a good book for your children or you just want a quick read that will be a good catalyst for your thoughts for our future, pick this book up. Here i even will provide the link to the ThunderHead Book Club In The Sky. Note: this is book one of a triology.

Until Then,

#iwishyouwater <- some footage from the recent 50 year storm on the left coast.

@tctjr

Muzak To Blog By: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Valery Abisalovich Gergiev conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. Spectacular piece Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, also known as the Pathétique Symphony (a.k.a. The Passionate Symphony). I recently got to see this performed by the Charleston Symphony with Jonathan Heyward conducting it was spectacular. I was sitting there thinking how someone who has certain sexual proclivities or other passions in their life that at the time were not tolerated in society could create such a work of art; then again, it just goes to show the extreme lengths humans will go to make their true passions as it were, incarnate. i also think it very ironic that this composer would probably not trend in the position of Tchaikovsky due to his political beliefs, but one never knows, does one?

Look Up Down All Around!

Your Brain 3D Printed [1]

The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts. Rather they alter patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance.

~ Marshall McLuhan

First i hope everyone is safe. Second, this blog is more meta-physical in nature. The above picture is a present i received from a dear friend who 3D printed it for me. A transhumanist pictorial if you will for accelerating our wetware. This brings us to the current matter at hand.

i was traveling recently and i couldn’t help but notice how many humans are just sitting, walking, running and even biking looking at their mobile devices. Families no longer talk to each other, couples no longer kiss. Kids no longer day dream. All no longer LOOK UP, DOWN and ALL AROUND.

i must confess at this juncture that, as a technologist, i am conflicted. As they say we make the guns, but we don’t pull the trigger. As a technologist, i truly love using and creating with mathematics, hardware, and software. it is an honor as far as i am concerned, and i treat it as such, yet when i have time to sit and ponder i think of the time i held the first telegraph in my hands. Yes, the FIRST telegraph that read:

What hath God wrought!

Invented and sent by Samuel Finley Breese Morse 24 May 1844. I held it. Of course it was behind plexiglass, and this is a link to said telegraph.

Why is this important? It converted numbers (morse code in this case) into a readable document, content if you will. Even if you do not believe in higher-order deities or some theistic aspects what was transmitted and received via the message of the telegraph herewith was multi-modal and carried some weight to the message.

There seems to be a trend toward a kind of primitive outlook on life a more tribal attitude and i think its a natural reaction to industrialization. Unfortunately i think it is a bit naive because the future is going to become more mechanized, computerized as you call it and i dont think there is any turning back.

~ Jim Morrison

Intelligence it seems, is now but a search engine away or if you will a “tic-tok” away. It also seems due to this immediate gratification of content and information that, we no longer talk to anyone. “The Pandemic” seems to have modified several aspects of our existence. The results of this i believe will take decades of evolution before this change is truly understood from a systems theory and first principles engineering view.

We have been sequestered into a living environment tethered to the LazyWeb(TM). Per my commentary about seeing families with their heads buried in their phones during all modes of so-called social engagement, this is creating considerable fractures in how we deal with friends, families, and most importantly ourselves.

Now in recent times, Humans are going into the office or “back to the hybrid workplace” and taking a zoom call in the adjacent meeting room to where the REAL PHYSICAL meeting is occurring. So the more i pondered, the more i thought i would post a bunch of pictures and talk about cyberspace vs real space.

Live Oak with Sunshine

i have read all the books: “Neuromancer, Cyberspace, SnowCrash,Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (DADOES), Super Intelligence, 1984, Brave New World, Realware etc”, i first worked on full Virtual Reality applications in 1993. Yes there were computers back then, big red ones called Silicon Graphics Crimson machines. These augmented with fixed point digital signal processing equipment created the first six degrees of freedom ( 6DOFS) head tracked stereoscopic renderings complete with spatial audio. So it is nothing new just executed in a different fashon.

i recently went to the NASA Astronaut Training Experience at the Kennedy Space Center with my eldest daughter and we took a walk on Mars and did some trivial tasks. It was tethered environment with mono-based audio however it was impressive from a simulation standpoint. When the alert system informed me that a sandstorm was coming, i was non-plussed. Having worked on top-secret systems, i understand the need for simulations entirely. Simulate all the emergencies over and over again that you can think of when going into an environment of conflict.

Double Rainbow

On a regular basis “Humans being” and living do not constitute simulation unless you buy into Bostrom’s theory that we are living in a simulation, then what of it? Please make the most of IT. Talk to that person across from you. What color do they love? What is their favorite food? Do they like puppies? If they are close friends and family, above all – show them how you feel. Hug them.

I believe that computers have taken over the world. I believe that they
have in many ways ruined our children. I believe that kids used to love
to go out and play. I believe that social graces are gone because
manners are gone because all people do is sit around and text. I think
it’s obnoxious.

~ Stevie Nicks
Sunset and Oak Tree

If you are not the talkative type go outside build a fire, Walk through the city. Go sit under a tree. If you live in a place where you can see the sky go outside and just stare at the sky and let your eyes adjust. The stars will come out and think about the fact you are made of the same substances.

Reflect on and into yourself. Shut down all the noise and chatter. Listen. What do YOU hear?

I can’t fax you my love.
I can’t e-mail you my heart.
I can’t see your face in cyberspace,
I don’t know where to start.

~ Jimmy Buffet
Full Moon At Night

When you get up in the morning, don’t start the Doom Scroll. Contemplate. Get a notebook and write some thoughts. The visceral act of writing activates differing neural patterns that allow us to remember and learn. Think about what you would like to accomplish. Hopefully, you made your bed. That is at least one thing you can check off that you did accomplish, and your parents would be proud.

i wrote a blog a while ago called Its An Honor To Say Goodbye. Many seemed to enjoy it for several different reasons. As you look up from your phone and are around, folks play a game. What if that person just disappeared as though they were shot by a BFG (Big F-in Gun) in one of the first-person shooting games and could not re-frag? Just gone from the simulation? Poof!

How would you feel?

Purple Beach Blue Night Sky

i’ll have to say if this is a simulation, it is pretty good and has to be some quantum information theoretic manifestation[2]. Yet! Feeling that embrace from a friend or loved one, feeling the spray from a wave, smelling and touching a rose, A dog licking you in the face, tasting that steak, the carnality and sensuality of it all transcend, at least for me, the “meta” aspects of the online experience.

Go Outside! The Graphics are Great!

~ Sensai Todd
Turquoise Beach Storm

So folks, when in doubt, put that device down for a bit. Go for a walk. Say hello to that person across the room and ask how the day is going, and mean it and listen. Go outside and sit against a tree at night, or take a walk near the ocean or body of water (my favorite). Draw. Shut your eyes and deeply listen to music. Dance. Make stupid sounds. Try something you have never done before. Do something besides being fed programmed content.

Look UP DOWN and ALL AROUND.

So question for all of you:

Q: Would you prefer a telegraph, facsimile or simulation of this life?

TV The Zero Day Virus

Until Then,

tctjr

#iwishyouwater <- Nathan Florence on a hellish scottish slab paddle out. He aint worried about who clicked like….

Muzak To Blog By Forestt “Into The Woods”. i would classify this as Martial Folk if i may use genre classification liberally.

[1] Someone i really respect technically and now consider a dear friend printed this out for me. He also prints body parts. Heavy stuff. He is a practicing ER doctor and also codes.

[2] On the above commentary concerning simulations, i do believe in the Minowski multi-verse theory and view of The Universe. Its all happening NOW with multiple probabilities, our noggin cant sample fast enough to reconstruct all of the information simultaneously. Also, remember, girls and boys, YOU are the universe.

[3] i took all of the pictures included herewith except the last one.

references:

[1] this is a great interview with The Lizard King (aka Jim Morrison when he was 26 in 1970. Listen. This isn’t hippie stuff. Click HERE.

By Request – A Book List Volume 1.x

I wish this was my library

Several who have read my blog contact me concerning reference materials and textbooks that I would recommend.  I must admit that I am a biblio-maniac.  I am unable to go into a book store especially a used  bookstore and walk out empty handed.  Even in this day and age of iPads I still love the visceral aspects of the printed form.  Call me a luddite. That said I do have have somewhat of an interesting per-view on the world of books.

For the software world the people that are doing the creating are not writing books per se.  Thus if your reading books your not necessarily creating anything novel.  Let me be more specific.  Many use books to find an answer.  Many use books as a catalyst or reference.  I fall into the latter.  There are no “give me a shipping product” books – no “what is the answer?”  – for some of the stuff that we create.  Yes there are several ‘cookbooks’ and recipes for say learning a language or a new framework but there are no books that will provide answers to production level novel solutions.  As a very succinct example I was having a discussion in NYC with a very respected Executive Engineering Director and we both decided that there were no books that dealt specifically with hiring great talent in the tech world.  Why?  Because most are not going to tell you exactly what it really takes to hire great people and to build great teams.  That said few are going to explain how they came up with great coding feats – they will explain it after the fact for reference see Coders At Work.

So without further “waxin all philosphical‘”  here is a laundry list of books that I have found useful over the years.  I will try and categorize them according to subject matter.  Its by no means comprehensive.  I will also utilize this same list format in the future.   I would love to hear feedback or your thoughts – please share your list, if you are so inclined – after the fact.

Machine Learning, Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery

Scaling Up Machine Learning (Cambridge University Press)

This book is phenomenal and is at the very for front of issues we are all trying to solve in the areas of large scale learning systems. The book contains everything from parallelization of Support Vector Machines to details of how one designs hardware architectures for the next round of highly scalable machine learning algorithms.  Note this is not an introductory text.  Also the book takes a very interesting view in that it is written mainly by the best in the field.

Machine Learning,McGraw Publishing

This is a seminal text in the areas of Machine Learning.  There is  enough verbiage if your not a mathematician and enough algorithmic pseudo code to follow the development of the explanations.  I find myself going back to this book over and over.  Covers most everything from Bayes to Boosting.  It also has updated chapters on his web page.  I also like this writing style.

Business Modeling and Data Mining  (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Data Management Systems)

Some purest might not like this book but I think it is a great read because it discusses why we actually need to consider a paying customer.  The book goes deep enough in the explanations and marries them to great scenarios for business models.  It also discusses in a ‘mind map manner’ how to design systems and algorithms.  The text also has a great bibliography.

Collective Intelligence, (O’ Reilly Press)

This is a great book that gets your toes in the water for differing aspects of “DataScience”.  Basically statistics and machine learning for data.  The book has examples for simple crawlers,  Bayes Theorem, Adaptive Neural Networks, Similarity Functions, Distance Metrics, and workhorse algorithms such as Support Vector Machines and Non-Negative Matrix Factorization.  Written in a pragmatic fashion.  Code in Python is included on the author’s website.

Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach 3rd Edition, (Prentice Hall Books)

Seminal book on the subject.  Spanning is the word I think of when reading this tome.  The book covers the usual suspects but goes on to a ‘meta-level’ to discuss varied fields of Logic, Qualitative Physics, Spatial Reasoning, Psychological foundations and fundamental mathematics.  The appendix and bibliography are worth the price of entry (expensive) for this oracle.

Introduction to Evolutionary Computing (Natural Computing Series, Springer)

I am a proponent of the ‘get it and go’ format.  This lives up to the title.  It is a good introductory text.  It starts off with a good introduction to Genetic Algorithms, not to be confused with Evolutionary Computing and proceeds to Learning systems and deeper issues as Non-Stationary classification systems, multi-variate parameter selection as well as a chapter on applications.

Machine Learning – An Algorithmic Perspective (CRC Press)

This book takes a novel approach that have an online presence and a hard text reference.  Stephen Marsland updates the code and book online and provides access much like the O’Reilly series.  Of particular interest is the format for review of such areas as probability, eigenvaules and fundamental algorithms.   The book also provides code examples mainly in the areas of Python.  This book takes exactly that approach, with each topic being presented both mathematically and in Python code using the Numpy and Scipy libraries.  As most know SciPy and Numpy resemble Matlab and is sufficiently high level that the book code
examples read like pseudocode.  SciKits would also be a good addition.

Semantics and Natural Language Processing

Programming the Semantic Web (O’ Reilly Press)

With the same eye towards ‘get in and get done’ Seagram wrote this because there was no middle ground for    Semantics or if there were such a text it was voluminous.  Great introductory text on Semantics with succinct code examples in Python.  The text emphasizes that you are not constrained to using data from only one database or server, but when the data is organized and stored in a standardized semantic format such as RDF, it may be made available for reading by anyone (if desired) without any risk of it being overwritten by using a query language like SPARQL instead of the better known SQL.  Once again complete code available via the InterWebz.

Semantic Web Programming (Wiley)

This book is a larger text that spans the areas of Semantics: FOAF, Reasoners, SPARQL, Linked Data, Microformats without getting too far in the weeds with theoretic gymnastics (read axiomatic proofs etc).  Written in mainly in JAVA.  The discussion of Semantics from a ‘non ivory tower’ standpoint is worth the purchase.  Then again it has been said in order to program semantics one has to believe semantics exist.

Natural Language Processing (O’ Reilly Press)

People often confuse Semantics with Natural Language Processing.  While the two are close cousins you can do one without the other and visa versa.  Historically NLTKas it is now known in the industry is becoming the “goto” Python Library for performing textual gymnastics.  This book is a wonderful introduction to Python, Text Analytics and analysis of grammer.  For example entity extraction which historically is extremely difficult is:

entities = nltk.chunk.ne_chunk(tagged)

I mean (pun intended) how nice is that?

Python Text Processing with NLTK 2.0 Cookbook (PAKT Publishing)

This is at a much lower level and assumes that you need to do perform basic NLP and is more text analytics based than extracting meaning, linguistic and grammatical behaviors.  One novel aspect to this book is the addition of creation of a corpora reader via MongoDb.  The book even addresses nuances like FileLocking during corpora edits.  It uses PyMongo as the front end interface with Python examples.  The examples go on the look at various aspects of NLTK and NoSQL architectures.

Network and Dynamic Systems

Network Crowds and Markets: Reasoning About A Highly Connected World (Cambridge University Press) 

At the moment this is one of the tomes that I am immersed within.  The book has a good introduction on Graph Theory but then quickly heads into territory such as calculations of Social Capital with emphasis on Closure within Networks.  The text also does a grand job of tying (pun intended) Graph Theory and Game Theoretic applications with emphasis on arbitrage environments.  The chapter on diffusion in networks is worth the price of purchase.  For anyone performing work in the area of Social Networks this text is a must.

Social and Economic Networks (Princeton University Press)

This book is a great mix of statistics, linear algebra and game theory as applied to social networks.  The economic emphasis is particularly cogent.  The detail and depth is world class.  The analysis of Stochastic and Random graph models is of particular interest for anyone dealing with adoption models in network environments.  Further the mathematical analysis of imitation in social networks is especially enjoyable. This is also one of the few text that I have seen that tie together Fat Tail, Long Tail and Poisson Distribution analysis.

Introduction to Dynamic Systems (Wiley)

This is an older text published in 1979.  Funny how those “maths” do not change much – eh?  I have owned this book since I have been involved with creating software systems.  The book while not “out of print” is commanding extremely large sums of money.  The objective as stated in the preface is: “to help one develop the ability to analyze real dynamic phenomena and dynamic systems.”  Seems very appropriate in this day and age of online behavior.  The book starts off with a review of differential equations, linear algebra and state space equations.  Then text then goes on to address both mechanical and electrical constructs with applications with tools such as markov models and control systems with z-transform theory.   You read this book and honestly you realize not much as changed with the InterWebz.

Math

Numerical Analysis, Sixth Edition  (Brooks/Cole Publishing)

Years ago when I was working on my Phd in Applied Science we had several levels of Numerical Analysis.  I love the aspects of Lagrange Polynomials, L2 Norms, Splines and the like.  This book covers them all and has a really cool glossary and index of defined terms for that moment when you literally forgot what a term means because your cross eyed.

Probability Random Variables and Stochastic Processes (McGraw Hill)

This is/was a text for a class at c on – Probability  Random Variables and Stochastic Processes.  The book is written by Athanasios Papoulis who is a legend in signal processing. I will tell you this is not for the faint of heart and neither was the class.  Now more than ever it is an important part of anyone doing data science.

Matrix Algebra for Engineers (Von Nostrand Company)

This is a straight ahead approach to Linear Algebra.  Written in a straight ahead fashion addressing fundamentals of matrix theory like simultaneous equations, determinants and eigenvalue analysis.  I probably have a high affinity for this book because it is a first edition published in 1965.

Programming and Code Development

The Art of Computer Programming Vol 1-4 

Colloquially known as TAOCP, I am not going to say much about these tomes except you should at a minimum know what they are and have in them.  Not for the faint of heart if you just want to do some PHP or ruby on rails. Having had the experience to take a class from Professor Knuth with variations of these via class notes being the backdrop, I cannot say enough about the text.  For the true software engineer a must for the arsenal.

Code Complete (Microsoft Press)

IMHO this is a great book for the thought processes that lead to creating production products.  It was a seminal work in the area before all of the Agile books hit the market.  While I myself am not a big proponent of ‘software process’ this book gets you in the modus operandi of how to think not just code.

Signal Processing

Adaptive and Digital Signal Processing (International Series on Signal Processing)

I was having discussion the other day with some I respect in the audio, semantics and data science field and we noted that long before you could spin up a virtual machine in the proverbial cloud there was a field called real time signal processing  – where you didnt have a database.  All the processing of streams were in real time – in memory.  Funny how the vissistudes of cyclialty come back to haunt you think Big Data.  I highly recommend this text.  Great examples of frequency and array based processing.  When everyone was teaching time domain behavior Professor Lindquist was teaching the law of dual domains and easier math.  It also covers various kernel transforms never covered in other text before the term “wavelet” came in to vogue.

So there is a first cut in a multi volume blog that I will continue.  I trust this was helpful.  If you find any of these text useful feel free to contact me with what you are working on or considering.  Also if there are recommendations that you find particularly informative as far as a certain text goes drop me a line.

Until Then,

Go Big or Go Home!

@tctjr

By Request – A Book List Volume 1.x

I wish this was my library

Several who have read my blog contact me concerning reference materials and textbooks that I would recommend.  I must admit that I am a biblio-maniac.  I am unable to go into a book store especially a used  bookstore and walk out empty handed.  Even in this day and age of iPads I still love the visceral aspects of the printed form.  Call me a luddite. That said I do have have somewhat of an interesting per-view on the world of books.

For the software world the people that are doing the creating are not writing books per se.  Thus if your reading books your not necessarily creating anything novel.  Let me be more specific.  Many use books to find an answer.  Many use books as a catalyst or reference.  I fall into the latter.  There are no “give me a shipping product” books – no “what is the answer?”  – for some of the stuff that we create.  Yes there are several ‘cookbooks’ and recipes for say learning a language or a new framework but there are no books that will provide answers to production level novel solutions.  As a very succinct example I was having a discussion in NYC with a very respected Executive Engineering Director and we both decided that there were no books that dealt specifically with hiring great talent in the tech world.  Why?  Because most are not going to tell you exactly what it really takes to hire great people and to build great teams.  That said few are going to explain how they came up with great coding feats – they will explain it after the fact for reference see Coders At Work.

So without further “waxin all philosphical‘”  here is a laundry list of books that I have found useful over the years.  I will try and categorize them according to subject matter.  Its by no means comprehensive.  I will also utilize this same list format in the future.   I would love to hear feedback or your thoughts – please share your list, if you are so inclined – after the fact.

Machine Learning, Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery

Scaling Up Machine Learning (Cambridge University Press)

This book is phenomenal and is at the very for front of issues we are all trying to solve in the areas of large scale learning systems. The book contains everything from parallelization of Support Vector Machines to details of how one designs hardware architectures for the next round of highly scalable machine learning algorithms.  Note this is not an introductory text.  Also the book takes a very interesting view in that it is written mainly by the best in the field.

Machine Learning,McGraw Publishing

This is a seminal text in the areas of Machine Learning.  There is  enough verbiage if your not a mathematician and enough algorithmic pseudo code to follow the development of the explanations.  I find myself going back to this book over and over.  Covers most everything from Bayes to Boosting.  It also has updated chapters on his web page.  I also like this writing style.

Business Modeling and Data Mining  (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Data Management Systems)

Some purest might not like this book but I think it is a great read because it discusses why we actually need to consider a paying customer.  The book goes deep enough in the explanations and marries them to great scenarios for business models.  It also discusses in a ‘mind map manner’ how to design systems and algorithms.  The text also has a great bibliography.

Collective Intelligence, (O’ Reilly Press)

This is a great book that gets your toes in the water for differing aspects of “DataScience”.  Basically statistics and machine learning for data.  The book has examples for simple crawlers,  Bayes Theorem, Adaptive Neural Networks, Similarity Functions, Distance Metrics, and workhorse algorithms such as Support Vector Machines and Non-Negative Matrix Factorization.  Written in a pragmatic fashion.  Code in Python is included on the author’s website.

Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach 3rd Edition, (Prentice Hall Books)

Seminal book on the subject.  Spanning is the word I think of when reading this tome.  The book covers the usual suspects but goes on to a ‘meta-level’ to discuss varied fields of Logic, Qualitative Physics, Spatial Reasoning, Psychological foundations and fundamental mathematics.  The appendix and bibliography are worth the price of entry (expensive) for this oracle.

Introduction to Evolutionary Computing (Natural Computing Series, Springer)

I am a proponent of the ‘get it and go’ format.  This lives up to the title.  It is a good introductory text.  It starts off with a good introduction to Genetic Algorithms, not to be confused with Evolutionary Computing and proceeds to Learning systems and deeper issues as Non-Stationary classification systems, multi-variate parameter selection as well as a chapter on applications.

Machine Learning – An Algorithmic Perspective (CRC Press)

This book takes a novel approach that have an online presence and a hard text reference.  Stephen Marsland updates the code and book online and provides access much like the O’Reilly series.  Of particular interest is the format for review of such areas as probability, eigenvaules and fundamental algorithms.   The book also provides code examples mainly in the areas of Python.  This book takes exactly that approach, with each topic being presented both mathematically and in Python code using the Numpy and Scipy libraries.  As most know SciPy and Numpy resemble Matlab and is sufficiently high level that the book code
examples read like pseudocode.  SciKits would also be a good addition.

Semantics and Natural Language Processing

Programming the Semantic Web (O’ Reilly Press)

With the same eye towards ‘get in and get done’ Seagram wrote this because there was no middle ground for    Semantics or if there were such a text it was voluminous.  Great introductory text on Semantics with succinct code examples in Python.  The text emphasizes that you are not constrained to using data from only one database or server, but when the data is organized and stored in a standardized semantic format such as RDF, it may be made available for reading by anyone (if desired) without any risk of it being overwritten by using a query language like SPARQL instead of the better known SQL.  Once again complete code available via the InterWebz.

Semantic Web Programming (Wiley)

This book is a larger text that spans the areas of Semantics: FOAF, Reasoners, SPARQL, Linked Data, Microformats without getting too far in the weeds with theoretic gymnastics (read axiomatic proofs etc).  Written in mainly in JAVA.  The discussion of Semantics from a ‘non ivory tower’ standpoint is worth the purchase.  Then again it has been said in order to program semantics one has to believe semantics exist.

Natural Language Processing (O’ Reilly Press)

People often confuse Semantics with Natural Language Processing.  While the two are close cousins you can do one without the other and visa versa.  Historically NLTKas it is now known in the industry is becoming the “goto” Python Library for performing textual gymnastics.  This book is a wonderful introduction to Python, Text Analytics and analysis of grammer.  For example entity extraction which historically is extremely difficult is:

entities = nltk.chunk.ne_chunk(tagged)

I mean (pun intended) how nice is that?

Python Text Processing with NLTK 2.0 Cookbook (PAKT Publishing)

This is at a much lower level and assumes that you need to do perform basic NLP and is more text analytics based than extracting meaning, linguistic and grammatical behaviors.  One novel aspect to this book is the addition of creation of a corpora reader via MongoDb.  The book even addresses nuances like FileLocking during corpora edits.  It uses PyMongo as the front end interface with Python examples.  The examples go on the look at various aspects of NLTK and NoSQL architectures.

Network and Dynamic Systems

Network Crowds and Markets: Reasoning About A Highly Connected World (Cambridge University Press) 

At the moment this is one of the tomes that I am immersed within.  The book has a good introduction on Graph Theory but then quickly heads into territory such as calculations of Social Capital with emphasis on Closure within Networks.  The text also does a grand job of tying (pun intended) Graph Theory and Game Theoretic applications with emphasis on arbitrage environments.  The chapter on diffusion in networks is worth the price of purchase.  For anyone performing work in the area of Social Networks this text is a must.

Social and Economic Networks (Princeton University Press)

This book is a great mix of statistics, linear algebra and game theory as applied to social networks.  The economic emphasis is particularly cogent.  The detail and depth is world class.  The analysis of Stochastic and Random graph models is of particular interest for anyone dealing with adoption models in network environments.  Further the mathematical analysis of imitation in social networks is especially enjoyable. This is also one of the few text that I have seen that tie together Fat Tail, Long Tail and Poisson Distribution analysis.

Introduction to Dynamic Systems (Wiley)

This is an older text published in 1979.  Funny how those “maths” do not change much – eh?  I have owned this book since I have been involved with creating software systems.  The book while not “out of print” is commanding extremely large sums of money.  The objective as stated in the preface is: “to help one develop the ability to analyze real dynamic phenomena and dynamic systems.”  Seems very appropriate in this day and age of online behavior.  The book starts off with a review of differential equations, linear algebra and state space equations.  Then text then goes on to address both mechanical and electrical constructs with applications with tools such as markov models and control systems with z-transform theory.   You read this book and honestly you realize not much as changed with the InterWebz.

Math

Numerical Analysis, Sixth Edition  (Brooks/Cole Publishing)

Years ago when I was working on my Phd in Applied Science we had several levels of Numerical Analysis.  I love the aspects of Lagrange Polynomials, L2 Norms, Splines and the like.  This book covers them all and has a really cool glossary and index of defined terms for that moment when you literally forgot what a term means because your cross eyed.

Probability Random Variables and Stochastic Processes (McGraw Hill)

This is/was a text for a class at c on – Probability  Random Variables and Stochastic Processes.  The book is written by Athanasios Papoulis who is a legend in signal processing. I will tell you this is not for the faint of heart and neither was the class.  Now more than ever it is an important part of anyone doing data science.

Matrix Algebra for Engineers (Von Nostrand Company)

This is a straight ahead approach to Linear Algebra.  Written in a straight ahead fashion addressing fundamentals of matrix theory like simultaneous equations, determinants and eigenvalue analysis.  I probably have a high affinity for this book because it is a first edition published in 1965.

Programming and Code Development

The Art of Computer Programming Vol 1-4 

Colloquially known as TAOCP, I am not going to say much about these tomes except you should at a minimum know what they are and have in them.  Not for the faint of heart if you just want to do some PHP or ruby on rails. Having had the experience to take a class from Professor Knuth with variations of these via class notes being the backdrop, I cannot say enough about the text.  For the true software engineer a must for the arsenal.

Code Complete (Microsoft Press)

IMHO this is a great book for the thought processes that lead to creating production products.  It was a seminal work in the area before all of the Agile books hit the market.  While I myself am not a big proponent of ‘software process’ this book gets you in the modus operandi of how to think not just code.

Signal Processing

Adaptive and Digital Signal Processing (International Series on Signal Processing)

I was having discussion the other day with some I respect in the audio, semantics and data science field and we noted that long before you could spin up a virtual machine in the proverbial cloud there was a field called real time signal processing  – where you didnt have a database.  All the processing of streams were in real time – in memory.  Funny how the vissistudes of cyclialty come back to haunt you think Big Data.  I highly recommend this text.  Great examples of frequency and array based processing.  When everyone was teaching time domain behavior Professor Lindquist was teaching the law of dual domains and easier math.  It also covers various kernel transforms never covered in other text before the term “wavelet” came in to vogue.

So there is a first cut in a multi volume blog that I will continue.  I trust this was helpful.  If you find any of these text useful feel free to contact me with what you are working on or considering.  Also if there are recommendations that you find particularly informative as far as a certain text goes drop me a line.

Until Then,

Go Big or Go Home!

@tctjr

The One Attribute

Passion comes in many colors

Recently I received an award for best presentation at a BarCamp entitled “Quick and Dirty Startups.”  I had a blast both creating the slideware and presenting it – although during the presentation the projector was intermittently shorting out which I feared would cause the audience to enter into epileptic fits.  Maybe the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands during my presentation was that or maybe the audience members realized how damn difficult it is to create company from the spark of an idea.   In the presentation I said do not create a company if the number one reason is to make a ton of money (that confused many…).

Hail to the Champ

At the same time I have been in varying degrees of discussions in and around the T’s of a Startup: Talent.  Most who have followed my blog realize the importance I place on talent.  I have also been speaking with various software engineers of varying skills sets from those who love CSS, to those who love HDFS, to those who love creating ensemble machine learning algorithms.  These two events had me reflect on something that I used to consider seperate entitites.  It was though I had an epiphany.  What if what you do to create and who you are –  in fact are one in the same?

I wrote another blog on the great human endeavor of software.  I would also consider music to be in that league as well.  The two closely align.  There are rules yet there are no rules.  There are fundamental symbolics and syntactics that allow singular and crowd sourced orchestration to create great works of art.  Those that truly create great music and software have one thing in common: Passion.  Which is the number one attribute I look for when either wanting to work with someone or adding someone to a team.  I also reflected on the views people have of software engineering writ large and realized that most like the music world look at as us as though there is no work involved.  Why?  If you look at anyone who loves what they do and who they are within the same instance performing a task for the pure desire of doing it – is not work.  It is what you do and who you are that create that perception.  I have had the extreme pleasure of working in many aspects of the music industry as well as the software industry and in fact some cases one in the same.  No one sees  the 25/8  (25 hrs a day – 8 days a week) schedule.  All anyone sees are the end results: Concert: On stage women and men throwing themselves at the stage, Software Company: Pulling up to your yacht in your Modena with a personal assistant. They do not see the massive amount of preparation, practice and planning involved.  However while it is grueling for those that love the process it is not work.  On the contrary for us it is pure adulterated freedom.  Why do i say adulterated?  Many would consider that to do what we do with as much fun as it is – IT MUST BE  A CRIME!  Sure there are incredibly difficult situations, many that are life changing, but what of it?  For those that are truly passionate about creating we really dont know what else to do.  I will leave you with a great clip by a legendary guitar player Steve Vai as he discusses the secret to his success.  Know what you want.  See it happen and the “Is To Be” will ring true.

Get into a line that you will find to be a deep personal interest, something you really enjoy spending twelve to fifteen hours a day working at, and the rest of the time thinking about.”~ Earl Nightingale ~

Until then,

Go Big Or Go Home!

@tct

The One Attribute

Passion comes in many colors

Recently I received an award for best presentation at a BarCamp entitled “Quick and Dirty Startups.”  I had a blast both creating the slideware and presenting it – although during the presentation the projector was intermittently shorting out which I feared would cause the audience to enter into epileptic fits.  Maybe the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands during my presentation was that or maybe the audience members realized how damn difficult it is to create company from the spark of an idea.   In the presentation I said do not create a company if the number one reason is to make a ton of money (that confused many…).

Hail to the Champ

At the same time I have been in varying degrees of discussions in and around the T’s of a Startup: Talent.  Most who have followed my blog realize the importance I place on talent.  I have also been speaking with various software engineers of varying skills sets from those who love CSS, to those who love HDFS, to those who love creating ensemble machine learning algorithms.  These two events had me reflect on something that I used to consider seperate entitites.  It was though I had an epiphany.  What if what you do to create and who you are –  in fact are one in the same?

I wrote another blog on the great human endeavor of software.  I would also consider music to be in that league as well.  The two closely align.  There are rules yet there are no rules.  There are fundamental symbolics and syntactics that allow singular and crowd sourced orchestration to create great works of art.  Those that truly create great music and software have one thing in common: Passion.  Which is the number one attribute I look for when either wanting to work with someone or adding someone to a team.  I also reflected on the views people have of software engineering writ large and realized that most like the music world look at as us as though there is no work involved.  Why?  If you look at anyone who loves what they do and who they are within the same instance performing a task for the pure desire of doing it – is not work.  It is what you do and who you are that create that perception.  I have had the extreme pleasure of working in many aspects of the music industry as well as the software industry and in fact some cases one in the same.  No one sees  the 25/8  (25 hrs a day – 8 days a week) schedule.  All anyone sees are the end results: Concert: On stage women and men throwing themselves at the stage, Software Company: Pulling up to your yacht in your Modena with a personal assistant. They do not see the massive amount of preparation, practice and planning involved.  However while it is grueling for those that love the process it is not work.  On the contrary for us it is pure adulterated freedom.  Why do i say adulterated?  Many would consider that to do what we do with as much fun as it is – IT MUST BE  A CRIME!  Sure there are incredibly difficult situations, many that are life changing, but what of it?  For those that are truly passionate about creating we really dont know what else to do.  I will leave you with a great clip by a legendary guitar player Steve Vai as he discusses the secret to his success.  Know what you want.  See it happen and the “Is To Be” will ring true.

Get into a line that you will find to be a deep personal interest, something you really enjoy spending twelve to fifteen hours a day working at, and the rest of the time thinking about.”~ Earl Nightingale ~

Until then,

Go Big Or Go Home!

@tct

Submarines, Shakespeare and Startups

The USS Sand Lance Nuclear Submarine

I have been doing some work lets say ‘out of the ordinary’ as of late.  I have also been extremely honored to be working around some former people who were directly involved “when peace broke out” during the Cold War.   I have also had the opportunity to work with people who have backgrounds in literature who now work in the technical industry.  Also, dear readers, as most of you know I am fond of the entrepreneurial spirit.    This  led me to thinking about how they all interrelate and then like magic!  Submarines, Shakespeare and Startups.

Submarines

So lets pick the first one: Submarines.  Some of submariners that I know were directly involved with designing, building and operating submarines.  Specifically Nuclear Powered submarines.   In listening to the stories I noticed how much in common Submarines have with Startups.   Let me be specific herewith:  I am referring to fast attack nuclear submarines.  Here is a wikipedia page for reference: Fast Attack Nuclear Submarines – Los Angeles Class.  I am also referring to problems areas posed as to why Russian Submarines were quieter than USA submarines (if your interested do the google grunt work).

So first let me explain why I believe in this day and age of Lean Startup mentality why we can learn a great deal from those that travel below the ocean surface.

Submariners are consumate planners.

Submariners are by definition – independent operations.  From the perspective of information and physical support the design, building and operation places a premium on planning.   The Commanding Officer (CO) must “go with what they know and have got”.  Efficiency is key.  Space is a premium.  Intelligence at the highest level are mandatory across all aspects of the design, operation and mission.

Submarines are the epitome of stealth

Submarines have been recognized as the preeminence of contributions to stealth and survival.  For instance the greater degree of enemy’s knowledge of the submarine – in both space and time – the greater the diminsihment of the submarines effectiveness.  Stealth relates to safety and the mission of the ship relates to efficiency.  Signature Management is the term given to the ability to lower the footprint of detection.  It ia also known as Stealth Technology.  Stealth technology also termed LO technology (low observable technology) is a sub-discipline of military tactics and passive electronic countermeasures,which cover a range of techniques used with personnel, aircraftshipssubmarines, and missiles, to make them less visible (ideally invisible) to radarinfraredsonar and other detection methods.  Stealth Startup anyone?

Submariners are Concise and Focused

Submariners need to be extremely consice in all matters of communication.  In most cases receiving communications may always be accomplished but it may need to be managed around mission critical requirements.  These mission critical requirements are in most cases time sensitive  In many cases communication transmission may not always be available without mission impact.  Thus one needs to be concise and make decision in-situ at the moment and go with what they know.  Communications are minimized while maximizing the ability to war-fight.

Shakespeare

Nowadays, literature folks abound in the technical sector.  I also include english majors and people who dig 17th century poems like Milton’s Paradise Lost in the group.  Why?  They know how to communicate and weave disparate information.  They also know how to tell a story.  They also know how to use commas accordingly.   Shakespeare being the preeminent example of author and playwright wrote stories that naturally mirrored life’s twists and turns.  What does this have to do with startups?  Let us take an example from Hamlet (NOTE: this a cliff notes exceprt from SparkNotes)

” On a dark winter night, a ghost walks the ramparts of Elsinore Castle in Denmark. Discovered first by a pair of watchmen, then by the scholar Horatio, the ghost resembles the recently deceased King Hamlet, whose brother Claudius has inherited the throne and married the king’s widow, Queen Gertrude. When Horatio and the watchmen bring Prince Hamlet, the son of Gertrude and the dead king, to see the ghost, it speaks to him, declaring ominously that it is indeed his father’s spirit, and that he was murdered by none other than Claudius. Ordering Hamlet to seek revenge on the man who usurped his throne and married his wife, the ghost disappears with the dawn.” ~ SparkNotes on Hamlet

Ok so how does this relate to startups?  Or submarines for that matter?  Inquiring minds want to know!  We have Stealth, Revenge and Strategy all rolled into one simple paragraph! Notwithstanding the whole sword fighting thingy (technical term) between Hamlet and Laertes! This!  This is the stuff of true competition!   Moreover Shakespeare mirrors life, life is about humans, humans are bat-house crazy, ergo startups are crazy!

So lets look at three aspects of many of the characters in Shakespeare’s plays and stories:

Shakespeare characters are consumate planners

Revenge usually takes planning.  Lets take the character Fortinbras, who has led an army to Denmark and attacked Poland earlier in the play, enters with ambassadors from England, who report that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead (ok think all that took some planning by Fortinbras or he just waltzed in?) . Fortinbras is stunned by the gruesome sight of the entire royal family lying sprawled on the floor dead (Ok Fortinbras time to make a quick decision). He moves to take power of the kingdom. Horatio, fulfilling Hamlet’s last request, tells him Hamlet’s tragic story (how nice of him).

Shakespeare characters are the epitome of stealth

Ghost and Witches.  Need I say more?  Don’t we create apparitions when we sell our pitch deck?  How about the reality distortion field?  Yes?

Shakespeare characters are consise and focused

Well they are  when it comes to salient aspects such as revenge, de-throning and well murder!   Things that carry high price tags if you really that can go off the rails – people get really motivated.  Kind of like startups.

So let me be specific here on startups.  I really like the terminology Lean Startups.  The book is great if you havent read it.  That said its really nothing new.  Incremental feedback based on whether a customer could really use something is a basic business premise.  We all have gotten caught up in making something “kewl” because we could but so what?  A little known fact is that process doesnt make great companies or great software.  Getting stuff done is about making a great startup.    Also having the ability to NOT PANIC is a good attribute for your founders and initial team.   Think a submariner stuck under the ice can afford to panic?  What good will panicking do?

Which in turn leads me to another issue on a recent development in the startup arena and that is the issue of Aegism and Founder Prejudice. Yep I said it.  It also cuts both ways.  Older founders and employers are seen as dinasours or cannot go the distance and younger persons do not have the pedigree to get through the tough times.  You need both.  Its a syncopated system.  I do prefer to work with those that have been stuck under the ice and do not panic.  If your in a startup you will get stuck under the ice.  Then what?  I dont care how many lines of ruby,perl,python etc you can write.  So can the next person.  Be calm.  Always remember to breathe and use the restroom, head or latrine.  Take your pick.

Remember:  To do a dangerous thing with style is the mark of a professional.  – #TCTRules.

For those that are interested here are some references:

1) Submarine Plans  from Alexander the Great to 1994

2) Submarine Technology for the 21st Century by Zimmerman

until then go big or go home!

@tctjr

Reprise Again – The First “T” of a StartUp

Recently Mark Suster presented a writeup at TechCrunch here: Whom Should You Hire? Of interest is the following extraction:

If you’re doing a great job at continually recruiting and if you have a company ready to hire several people, at some point when you have enough of a pipeline of talented people you need a way to separate them. I have a long-standing mantra, “attitude over aptitude.” This is assuming a raw minimum of MIPS in the candidate. They need to be seriously smart / talented in their field to make the minimum grade.

But within this “minimum acceptable talent level” you still have a wide variance of “employee types.” Let’s be honest – some uber talented people are PITAs. I never hire them. One bad apple spoils things for everybody.

You don’t see it coming. You figure, “sure, they’re a pain but they produce such high quality work I’m willing to put up with them.” Don’t. The last thing you need is some rat bastard fomenting trouble.

They’re the ones who are talking pop at cocktail parties when they’ve had one too many. They’re having private lunches with other employees talking about how they’ve lost faith in your vision.

When you hit internal moments of doubt you need the team members who say, “Guys, we can do this! We’re up against the ropes but we’re not down. Let’s dig in.” You need team members who do that when you’re NOT there.”

Truer words were never spoken.  We haven’t really changed much in our habits via our short time of evolution here on Earth.  Our survival instincts kick in and usually people freak out and do weird stuff.  I could write tomes on the things I have seen people do within times of tech world crisisdom.  There is an old adage “Do Not Panic and You Will Live.”  Most panic and freak out – but those that adapt and hang in there usually win out.  I wrote sometime ago about the The Three “T”s of a StartUp.  I also wrote sometime ago about the companies bidding on talent way before Zuckerburg bid on twitter for teams: Revisiting The Three T’s. I then wrote about the obvious talent shortage and how how we are going to see a swarming affect of teams much like the days of clans in Quake: Mercanaries For Hire.

Yet even with the best of the best of the best.  One thing still stands true: At some point the attitude does over shadow that compiler count.

Go Big Or Go Home.

@jaxsoncreole

StartUp Documents and Agreements

Agreements.  Yes you need them.  In fact you need many types but you do not have to pay an arm and a leg to a lawyer for them.  For some this will be rather pedantic yet I will add a nuance or two concerning these matters so maybe you will pick something up.  Remember even experts should do the basics over and over just to keep sharp.

The reason I am writing about this seemingly pedantic and rather boring subject is that many companies and people take HUGE amounts of valuable time and money going over and over and over these documents.  Yes you want to get the basics down but a startup SHOULD NEVER SPEND EXORBITANT  MONIES AND TIME ON THESE DOCUMENTS.  If your dealing with someone who is being overly difficult concerning getting all of the minutiae detailed up front and perfect – get rid of them and get someone else – unless they are writing a really big check!  I have seen several companies spend two much time working on these documents when they are essentially free.  TheFunded (http://www.thefunded.com/) has a great set of documents that were gifted by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati.  Don’t know who they are? Do some homework.

Here is a short list:

  • C-Corp Filing: Ok for some of you I can hear the groans or rebuttal.  Yes YouTube was a special case of and LLC.  Nowadays I am asked if companies are Del C Corp.  So please get the 250.00 or so put 2000.00 in and create your 20M shares.
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement – basically says you wont tell the world everything about the latest NewCorp.  A gentleman’s agreement if you will.   I would cap it at 3 years which actually should be 1 year but hey just sign it and get talking.
  • Offer Letters: Do not make it overly complicated.  State the basic work items of what you expect, meeting granularity, percentage equity stake, strike price based on current valuation, vesting schedule and retainer if any.  For employees also list salary if applicable
  • One Pager”: This discusses the company in a snapshot and allows you to quickly intro your company.  Here is what you want in the one pager: Who are the Founders, Industry, Business, Accountants, Current Investors, Your Ask in Dollars, Use of funds, Number of Employees, Clients, Exit Strategy, Contact information, Summary of Company, Market, Products, Company Management, Board Members (list companies they worked for and advise) and your Logo with address
  • Convertible Note: This eases the pain of raising seed and angel funding.  I am not going into the specifics here but suffice to say there are ways for debt financing and equity financing that can be clean no muss no fuss. Sign seal and get to coding.
  • CAP Table: This is who has what and at what price.  Important for raises.  It should be a very simple excel spreadsheet allowing you or others to put in raise amounts and compute dilution as well as percentages.  This also lists founder, restricted and common stock issuance
  • Your Deck: The pitch deck.  Know it love it and recite it in your sleep
  • Business Plan: What do those forecast look like and why are you going to take on Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook?
  • Stock Plan: This is usually referenced in the offer letters so at least have some version so the SEC wont freak out when you file your raise with them!

I have found that some people will try and get fancy with these documents because well honeslty they do not know any better and they want to appear smart.  Please if your faced with any of these documents just say you dont know what such and such is and get an answer instead of negotiating around the points.  Also just ask for what you want.  Say I want to have 10% restricted shares that vest immediately upon me hitting such and such milestone.  Especially if you’re a founder or a coder.  You have the ideas and the coding ability so you control the show.  I would recommend one item at the very least is ask for restricted stock for tax consequences.  If you’re a founder you should have founders shares.

So main point is that the document are out there and you don’t have to spend a ton of money.

My other point is if you run into someone that wants to grind on these documents instead of working them out in concurrence with taking your Idea To The Bank then tell them you don’t have  time and need to get someone who wants to start creating.

I would love to hear from others out there or any comments and questions.

Until Then,

GO BIG OR GO HOME!

Social Darwinism and Software Development

 

I was having a discussion the other day with a couple of very smart humans.  The discussion trended towards the aspect of performance which naturally led me to start joking about  meetings called “Nurturing Others In The Work Environment” and “I’m Ok – Your OK”.  A very bright software engineer,  on my current team, commented the software speaks for itself, which got me around to the current installment.  The software does speak for itself.  In fact, elite software truly speaks for itself.  Further software development is the ultimate survival of the fittest from an evolutionary standpoint.  For those not familiar with this subject matter I cannot at this juncture give you cliff notes.  Thus we are not nurturing others in the blogosphere.   Mr Spencer who was a pretty smart feller was attributed to coining the phrase “Survival Of The Fittest”.   Stanford is kind enough to give you a great rundown of the subject matter here.  Concerning the taboo terminology of Social Darwinism, we can locate the Wikipedia definition as thus.  Richard Hofstadter devoted an entire chapter of Social Darwinism in American Thought (1955) to Spencer, arguing that Spencer’s unfortunate vogue in late nineteenth-century America inspired Andrew Carnegie and William Graham Sumner’s visions of unbridled and unrepentant capitalism. For Hofstadter, Spencer was an “ultra-conservative” for whom the poor were so much unfit detritus. If you have not read Hofstadter’s book, you should. Once again it is outside the scope of this blog to review but it is one of the few tomes on the “taboo” subject of Social Darwinism.  Also if you have a Facebook account there is a Social Darwinism fan page.

It is my belief that the world of Spencer and Hofstadster via the foundation of Darwin, can be seen in the world of software development.  If you have ever worked on software that touched multiple millions of deployments to billions of feeds you know the importance of quality.  You also know the importance of performance and accuracy.  There is no arguing what happens when someone “breaks the build”.  It is NOT OK – YOU ARE NOT OK.  In fact you are probably going to get your ass called at 2:30 AM after you pulled a 3 day straight coding sprint to get up and fix it or else.  Does this sound like nurturing others in the work environment?  Hell No!  You are costing people money!.   It is a binary process.  Its either on or its off and it better be ON!  All systems go.  I am not saying that we should seek complete perfection, elegance and bug free coding that is impossible if your going to make bank through software creation.  He who ships first will win – if the quality is there.  Yet if your grinding and someone is lagging they are left severely behind the pack and if you watch the discovery channel you know what happens when there are laggers in nature.  It is not pretty.

This is a view from the inside.  From the outside most only see the frisbees and imported beer and sitting there with Pantera playing on the headphones whilst sitting in front of a computing device.  Easy huh?  Think again.  Real coders, data scientist, architects <<insert title de jour here>>  literally have ice running in their veins when it comes to creating software  – usually for money.  As I wrote in other installments, I discussed extreme capitalism and mercenaries.  Good, Better, Best.  It is especially exacerbated when the best of the best make it look easy.  The same for sports.  Kelly Slater, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan these people make it look so easy.  Aplomb comes to mind.  I am fond of saying, ” To do a dangerous thing with style is the mark of a professional”.

Historically the software industry was a juxtaposition of the peace love and happiness stuff which is in direct conflict with what actually occurs within the world of software. Another interesting aspect to the software world that one must always be A D A P T I N G.  Homeostasis is a death knell to software company.   Microsoft missed the internet but sat down and decided to give away Internet Explorer.  Apple was tanking and created colorful computers.  Companies that continually evolve and change adapt to technology trends and market pressures – win.  Antiquated static slow moving companies are akin to the diseased of a pack and will be taken down.

Dont let you or your company be the one that is taken down.  Evolve. Change. Grow.  Seek Power through great software.  Innovation and Great Code speak volumes.  Amplify those qualities.

Until Then,

Go Big Or Go Home!