Unpleasant Pheasant

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This past weekend, we took a drive to check out one of the colleges my son is considering. While he has had his license for a while, my son hasn’t done a lot of highway driving. So we let him drive for most of it.

The last leg of the trip was on a two-lane road. I could tell he was a little nervous because he would slow up a little when oncoming cars passed. A couple times he left off the gas as we passed through flocks of birds. I told him to just keep going. We’ll never hit the birds, they always get out of the way. I also said, when it comes to critters on the road, it’s us or them.

We crossed over a bridge, and two pheasants ran diagonally across the road. I blurted, “keep going,” and locked eyes with the one on the right who just barely made it. We hit the one on the left full-on. He bounced off the grill, then the windshield and finally rolled off onto the shoulder, leaving behind some muck the wipers couldn’t get off.

Once we got to town we stopped at a gas station and saw the grill had been cracked. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. They’re decent sized birds. It was like hitting a chicken at 60 miles an hour.

More installments posted

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There area  couple new chapters for The Cola Story online now. I hope to keep up the momentum as I’m enjoying reliving the whole thing again.

Thanks to my friends who’ve been giving me feedback and fact-checking. Also, a special shout out to Tony for keeping my grammar in check.

The Cola Story

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A week ago, we announced the sale of Cola, a startup I co-founded with some excellent people, and one, not so excellent organism. It was a fun ride. I decided to blog about it, and it quickly turned into a longer piece. What was originally, a short post turned into a mini-memoir.

Today, I’m posting the first installment of this tale. I hope you find it entertaining, and perhaps learn a few lessons along the way.

The Cola Story

 

Karma is a Bitch

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Okay, I’m sorry.

I have been bragging way too much about California weather since moving back here from Chicago 3 years ago. When we moved here, California was suffering an epic drought that appears to be over. As I type this, I actually heard thunder, something rare in these parts.

Shitty Bay Area Weather news.

Since January it has been raining all the time. While I could Google the stats and be official, I’d guess that we’ve had 85 days of rain out of the last 100. Today, the rain is especially annoying because it’s starting and stopping every hour. Just when you think we’re done, it starts again.

Granted, this is a shitty topic for a blog post, but I felt the need to apologize.

The last time I lived out here was the El Niño of 1997-98 and this has totally surpassed it for rainfall. I vaguely remember it being bigger news back then. The news about this winter’s rain has been tempered by the drought. We’ve needed relief so badly people are taking this in stride.

Eventually, it’ll stop and we’ll enter our 6-7 month dry spell and I’ll have forgotten what all this fuss was about.

Image courtesy of SFGate Website.

Cola makes a successful exit

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For the last 20 months or so, I was involved in a startup I co-founded called Cola. It’s a cool app that let you send interactive messages along with plain old texts. It’s an amazing piece of software built by one of the best team of people I’ve ever worked with in my 25 year career.

Last week, we announced Cola was acquired by a company called Layer. It’s bittersweet leaving a company you poured everything into, but also exciting to have an exit.

Granted, this exit isn’t nearly the scale of Postini, the first startup I did in the 90s.

Communication platform Layer raises $15M and acquires interactive messaging startup Cola

Meantime, I’m not sure what my next move will be. I still have the entrepreneur bug, so it’s most likely going to be something to do with another new business.

Stay tuned. I promise to expand on this later.

Happy New Spring

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Just killing time at a swim meet. I’ve been here since 6:30 in the morning. It’s now 1:30 and probably another hour and a half to go. Thank God I have the Westy. I have read books, taken a nap, and now writing a blog post. Having this little sanctuary on wheels makes all the difference in the world.

It’s a gorgeous day. We’re finally getting a break in the rain, and the hills are all green. It’s the most beautiful time of the year right now.

Speaking of the Westy. There’s always something to deal with. Some times it’s an expensive repair, other times, like now, it’s a little quirk. Lately the horn has been shorting out and honking at random times. What’s worse, I installed a train horn last year that’s obnoxious when it honks. The old one was like a duck fart no one ever acknowledged.

This new horn required some extra wiring for extra power. In fact, it gets louder the faster I drive. I think the short is a bad connector. It tends to honk when I flick the turn signal, or turn the steering wheel. It just kept getting worse. What started out as an spurious honk turned into a constant bleating. Which was especially embarrassing at 6am in the driveway.

I haven’t had a chance to troubleshoot it, so I disconnected the wires altogether. Now I have a raw steering column exposed, no horn, or turn signals. I’m kicking it old school with the arm signals. Since no on pays attention to them, I just use extra caution when changing lanes. Besides turn signals weren’t much use before. Whenever people see me signaling they just speed up so not to end up behind me.

Removed the steering column cover and pulled the wires to stop the honking.

I hope to get to it this weekend. Most likely, I’ll end up taking it back to Buslab in Berkeley to finish the job.

 

Classic Car Races at Laguna Seca

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A couple weeks ago, my father-in-law came to town with crew passes for the Laguna-Seca classic car races outside of Monterey. I drove down with him, my son, and buddy Jordan from Car and Driver. We saw some of the most amazing cars ever.

I finally got a chance to post pictures from the event.

Ford GT engine

Ford GT engine

Ford GT

Ford GT

Ford GT with my favorite paint job.

Ford GT with my favorite paint job.

Cobras

Cobras

Rare BMW

Rare BMW

Gullwing Mercedes

Gullwing Mercedes

Mint Porsche

Mint Porsche

Ferrari

Ferrari

Still one of my favorites on the hill

Still one of my favorites on the hill

Timeless logo

Timeless logo

Nice sponsor

Nice sponsor

McLaren

McLaren

Future of Text

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I was invited to speak at the Future of Text Symposium. The event was at Google headquarters in Mountain View. It was an open forum to discuss and predict where things are heading with written and visual communication. I gave talk on what we’ve learned about Cola and how messaging is changing the way people communicate and how our app is built to address these issues.

I was one of the few “business” folks presenting. The rest of the speakers were from academia and research. One of the highlights was getting to meet Vint Cerf and get my picture taken with him. He’s a charming guy, and he told me he enjoyed my presentation. That means a lot to me coming from someone like that. I couldn’t help myself, I had to ask if he’s sick of Al Gore jokes.

Me and Vint.

Me and Vint.

Vint Cerf and Peter Norvig

Vint Cerf and Peter Norvig