Karma is a Bitch



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


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


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.


Future of Text


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

Hi Fi


Linda has been on the hunt for an old school hi fi since we bought our daughter a turntable for her birthday. The original plan was to check the Treasure Island flea market, but we didn’t feel like making the drive. So she hit Craigslist and five minutes later found the perfect match.

It’s a Magnavox with a tube amp. Judging by the style, I’d guess it’s from the 60s. It sounds pretty good. We dug out some vinyl from our vast collection and spent a good chunk of Saturday showing the kids what “real” music is.

IMG_4194 IMG_4195

"real music"

“real music”



I’m kicking myself for not making it down to Hollister this year for SyncroFest.

Sunday morning we sat in front of the AppleTV watching any clip we could find with a Westy in it. This one in particular cracked me up. It’s a VW internal communication video extolling the virtues of the Vanagon. I love the part where they dismiss the competition from minivans.

Bumpy day


Today was one of those days where all the little things just kept going wrong.

I tried to go for an open-water swim to practice, but forgot my goggles. While driving there, the sliding door on the Westly slid open. We got to the lake (actually an old quarry), and no lifeguards.

I tried to fix the Westy door, but the screws were rusted in and now they’re stripped. I had a few other things to fix, but didn’t want to risk it and did something simple by stitching up the steering wheel wrap.

The second half of the day was better. We went for a 4 mile hike up in the ridge, and it was perfect weather – not too hot or cold. We did spot a gopher snake on the trail.

Macbook Back


My Macbook was acting up the other day. There was something wrong with the USB ports, and my wifi was shutting off intermittently. I’ve been troubleshooting Macs for so long, I was able to figure out it was hardware related pretty quickly.

I called service and they told me it was 17 days past warranty. However, they extended it and replaced the motherboard for free. While that was pretty cool in and of itself, I was actually surprised that it would have only cost $280 had I gotten stuck with the bill.

Anyone who ever had to get a Mac repaired in the past should appreciate this. It used to be 85% of the cost of the machine plus weeks away, pretty much to do anything.

Armed with a new motherboard, I’m noticing how much zippier my laptop is.