Shiny Penny 2001 D Macro April 30, 20101

Image by Steven Depolo

My thought process started with a comment I stumbled across recently on a blog the name of which I can’t hope to remember. The author was responding to a user complaining that he [the author] had taken the easy route” when he attached a link to an informative post rather than summarizing and republishing it as his own. It went something like this

As a community there should be the mentality of giving credit where credit is due. It’s thus necessary to provide credit in the form of forfeiting your traffic to the original author.

In other words, adding a meaningful thought doesn’t justify directing web traffic away from the original poster and towards your site. It’s this mentality that makes the blogging community so unique. I see an opportunity.

Unlike other online social communities, bloggers possess an unbridled appreciation and value for the work of others. In an effort to show that appreciation a social norm has developed around the idea of providing authors the credit they deserve. It’s a positive one and shows itself far more frequently than places like Facebook and Twitter, where a horde of parody accounts rip each other off within seconds, to the point that it’s utterly impossible to discern the true author. Well, what if there was a way to give credit in the form of say… credit?

You’ve heard the horror stories. The value of the penny is shrinking by the second! The coinage bearing arguably our most beloved president is headed straight for the light and there’s nothing we can do about it. The situation is gloom for good ole’ Abe. What’s fortunate is that it’s the pennies own insignificance that makes it perfect for ‘other things.’ Of the dozens of possible reuses that might revive the penny, I think it’s best to keep giving them away.

I Like Facebook

When’s the last time you routed through a pocket full of change for exactly seven pennies to round out that perfect, no-change necessary transaction? Hopefully, too long to remember as that helps the cause!

Imagine for a moment that you

  • Give up one Dollar.
  • Get back one hundred ‘Likes.’
  • Like‘ things.

My thinking is that honestly most of us can spare a buck or two every once in a while, even if it’s just for fun. Say you offer up one dollar and get 100 somethings in return. Call these somethings ‘Likes’ and it’s simple enough, ‘Like’ a post and the author gets one penny or more. Now unfortunately for lesser-known bloggers this won’t really be of any value as they don’t achieving enough volume to make it worthwhile. Obviously the opposite is true for the big-leaguers. Millions of views and hundreds of likes could translate into something sizable. It’s more than they got before.

In all honesty there probably isn’t much promise in such an idea. It’s almost guaranteed that the practice wouldn’t catch on in more widely used networks until it adopted elsewhere. Not to mention the act of money handling makes an otherwise straightforward process into something much more involved.

While I don’t see much hope for this kind of reward system in the crude form above, with a good deal of alteration it has the potential to make a stir. Monetizing one’s personal thoughts with the internet is a relatively new idea and as a result there really isn’t a way to do it, yet. The first person to successfully implement a way of paying people for the data they generate online will likely make a lot of money.  ‘Likes’ are a solid place to start. Everyone wants them, many want more of them, and those that get them are a bit obsessed. Find a way for Kim Kardashian to earn some dough from her Instagram ‘Likes’ and I think you’ve got something.


San Jose Baby

“Sure ya are”

It’s cliché to move to California. A million people move west for a million different reasons, most of them outlandish. Expressing the desire to make such a move garners mixed responses from folks in the mid-west. Some of us live and die without residing beyond the borders of our home state or an immediate neighbor. As a result, intent to call the golden state home is often commended by mouth, but brushed off by the eye-balls. Southern hospitality at it’s finest!

2896131064_8533e53007_oWhat us “hopefuls” have in common is the unconventional belief that upon arrival the clouds will part, light will shine down, and the heavens will rejoice: “Welcome home,” at which point all of life’s problems evaporate into thin air. California brah.

I’m not entirely naïve, but it’s difficult to let go of the belief that California saves lives and all too easy to find proof that it in fact doesn’t. It’s stupid to consider the failures and successes that come out of California because they aren’t you. The statistics shouldn’t be ignored so long as they don’t prevent you from actually doing it. I watched too many peers sell themselves short because the “odds” were against them.

A comfortable life is what everyone around you is living. Those dreamers you’ve never met? They left decades ago, failed until they got it right, but live a bit more comfortable now and somewhere a little more scenic as well. It’s not about the material things or the view. Those are the rewards for overcoming what the rest of the world could not. Ultimately, you’ve become a better version of yourself, one that will never stop improving because he can.

“Valley of Heart’s Delight”

San Jose, CA. The third largest city in the state and the tenth largest in the country. Also home to the highest cost of living in the United States thanks to the big-name internet and technology companies that coined the term “Silicon Valley.” A high unemployment-rate and influx of job-seekers make San Jose one of the least job-friendly cities in the country. For whatever reason techies and entrepreneurs alike still flock to the valley. One day myself included.

I don’t plan to move to California for the sprawling urban metropolis, Hollywood, the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnight-life, or any of the typical motives. I do want the weather, but it’s just a plus. I’ll live in California for the people. I want to surround myself with people who think to the same extreme, but in entirely new directions. I want to engage driven people and have my thought processes challenged and refined.

If I surround myself with people who think as I do, and more importantly those who don’t, I know success is the only option. As great as that sounds, I recognize the enormity of such an undertaking and don’t expect everything to fall perfectly into place. Life’s challenges have shaped who I am today. Rather than avoid what life may have in store, I’ll tackle the biggest challenge I can think of.

Another year and I’m CA bound.

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Prompt from Make It Anywhere

Step 2: (Really) Learn Java

I had to double check that a Step 1 was not already present before attempting to assign the title to this post, lo and behold it was! Step 1 was simply to think. I encouraged you to spend an increasing amount of time each day contemplating alternatives to your current path. Quite honestly, it doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, tenured employee, or something in-between. Everyone will benefit from developing a loose ‘Plan B,’ just in case things go awry.

No less than a month later I’m ready to dive into Step 2, really learning Java. Anyone with a computer these days knows the name, but Java the software platform (the occasional prompt to update before being able to watch that weird cat video) is a world apart from Java the programming language. Check out Oracle’s About Java page for a brief explanation. Now back to Step 2.

After a great little incident yesterday, which involved me finding a lone Cocoa Programming textbook on the ‘free books’ table of the Informatics and Computer Science building at my university, Step 2 presented itself early this morning. I likely have no more knowledge of Cocoa (the Application Programming Interface (API) used for the Mac OS X operating system) than you do, so I won’t attempt to educate. What’s important is that developing great applications for iOS and OS X, something I’m very interested in, requires a deep knowledge of Cocoa. So, without going too in-depth, developing applications for Mac and iPhone require at least and in no particular order:

  1. Knowledge of Cocoa, Apple’s API for iOS and OS X applications.
  2. Proficiency in Objective-C, the programming language in which Cocoa is written and built upon.
  3. Knowledge of C++, an incredible, low level object-oriented programming language, upon which Java, and other versions of C, are based.
  4. (Optional) Knowledge of Java, a safe, portable, and universal programming language used in millions of web-based applications.

*Bear in mind that I left out a number of specifics. Such as extensive knowledge of Apple’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE) Xcode, which is required to make use of any of the above abilities.

So of the four general requirements I listed above I’ve decided to further my skills in Java. Why?

Learning a programming language is comparable to learning a spoken language. On top of mastering the structures that a language is built upon (human or machine), one must master the language itself. You probably learned this first-hand in high school foreign language class. Object-oriented programming languages are similar in this sense, but between them share almost the exact same underlying structures. Unlike Spanish and French, the difference between Java and C++ comes from the specific way each utilizes the same set of universal structures. Essentially, once you’ve learned object-oriented programming in one language, you need not re-learn it in another, only the “words” and their meaning within the new language.

The process of learning object-oriented programming is arguably the most difficult hurdle the beginner must clear. Especially since it almost always requires using and learning a new language at the same time. My universities’ CS department chose to introduce object-oriented programming with a language called Scheme. That’s all you’ll hear about Scheme, because I absolutely hated it. Looking back it was probably a better way to introduce the concept than a more massive and complex language like Java, but that’s beside the point. The following semester I was exposed to true object-oriented programming through Java.

For this reason alone I’ve decided the next step is to further my understanding of the Java programming language. While I already have a good grasp on it, I want to take my understanding to the next level. Ultimately, I wanted Step 2 to involve learning C++. But as Java is so closely related to C++, and knowledge of both is encouraged before learning Objective-C, I see no reason to not first expand and refresh my Java skill set.

Big JavaBig Java, 3rd Edition will serve as my guide through the endeavor. I was familiarized with the text through my course in Java and found it an excellent resource for the beginning object-oriented programmer. Ideally this step will be short and sweet. I don’t plan to write any code unless it proves essential to my understanding of a topic. My hope is that by solidifying my knowledge of object-oriented programming through a familiar language, the process of learning C++ and Objective-C will go much more smoothly.

If you’re at all interested in beginning to program this book is a pretty decent starting point. Albeit, learning any programming language on your own, especially your first, is quite a challenge. The author of Big Java published two similar introductory textbooks titled Big Java: Late Objects and Big Java: Early Objects. As I previously mentioned, grasping the basics of object-oriented programming is more difficult than learning the language itself. Horstmann offers three versions of the text to satisfy different learning goals.

The regular version, pictured here, introduces both Java and objects (the basis of object-oriented programming) at relatively the same speed. For a person with some knowledge of objects, Big Java might be the appropriate route. The alternate versions introduce the concept of objects before (early) or after (late) the introduction to Java itself. Generally, one of these two versions are the best route for absolute beginners. In my academic experience the choice is entirely the professor’s, usually based on his personal opinion of when objects are easiest to understand. I happen to have taken the same Java course twice, with each professor preferring a different version. In any case, objects must be fully understood before proceeding to learn any language. Which method is best for you only experience will determine.

It’s impossible to fully grasp the concept of object-oriented programming until you do it yourself. Languages of any kind are incredibly complex mechanisms for communication. Transforming human thought and action into ‘1’s and ‘0’s that a computer can understand is difficult, but very rewarding. Furthermore, after mastering the basics programming is entirely self-taught. Courses and workshops certainly make the process less time consuming, but the most enthralling aspect of programming (especially to the aspiring entrepreneur) is the means available to learn anything and everything you wish right from your desk.

What began as a simple update has once again evolved into an effort to inspire. I leave you with this: For anyone with which the word ‘entrepreneur’ sparks feelings of excitement, determination, or inspiration, learning a programming language is the first item on your list.  


Featured Image: Java Photo By [Shereen M Link to Flickr]

The Curious Case of the Used iPhone

True or False: There’s an iPhone somewhere in the vicinity?

Without getting too particular, the probability that the above statement is ever false is increasing low. Clearly those not in ownership of an iPhone, or living in isolation, will recall a scenario in which one of Apple’s earth-shattering devices wasn’t within a 100 ft. radius, but other than that? Really think about it. It’s a rare sight to find an iPhone alternative in the hands of anyone under… thirty well, any age really. I’m trying to stress the prevalence of the iPhone in numbers here, not popularity.

The production numbers of the iPhone 4 and 4S are arguably the highest of any iPhone model to date. Hundreds of millions were produced in the four years between the iPhone 4’s introduction in June 2010, to the 4S’s discontinuation on September 9, 2014. I still use an iPhone 4, albeit not by choice. In any case, despite the several variations of iPhone 5’s and iPhone 6’s roaming the streets, the iPhone 4 and 4S stand resolute. What other phone has stood the test of time besides the Motorola Razr V3? It doesn’t happen often.

My Question

With millions of iPhone 4 and 4S’s still in existence, and quite frankly dominating your area’s Craigslist “Cell Phone” classifieds, why hasn’t someone capitalized on the availability and ever falling market value of both models?

Yes, I don’t care to look at the ridiculous number of options I have to “turn that used iPhone into cold, hard cash.” That’s not what I’m referring to. Firms like Gazelle have established services to make it easy and hassle-free to receive money in exchange for your old phone. That’s all well and good, but if in 2014 you find yourself looking to get some cold, hard cash for your old iPhone 4, Gazelle’s willing to hand over a hefty $15 for an 8GB model in ‘flawless’ condition. FYI, that’s five more one-dollar bills than you’d get if it was ‘good.’ I won’t delve into the fact that they turn around and sell 50% as refurbished for only 10 times more than they pay you for a flawless trade-in.

Services like Gazelle are great, don’t get me wrong. They’ve found a way to capitalize on the availability and shrinking market value of all phones. I’m speaking strictly of the good ole iPhone 4 here. The thing is ancient, but it’s still an incredible phone for a huge demographic. Smartphones have largely taken over the world, yes? Well, name a few family members or friends that really don’t utilize a smartphone to it’s fullest extent or maybe even nowhere near it. If we all knew just two people who fit that bill, the total would be astonishing. I’m thinking we do.

The Problem

So let’s assume there is a substantial demographic of people who just don’t use a smartphone remotely close to what it’s intended for. Combine them with countless other people, all having their own reason for not truly needing a smartphone, be it age, money, or ease of learning, that demographic is HUGE. But what do cellular providers do to address the needs of this market segment? Why, they offer the most glamorous of Samsung flip-phone’s or your choice of twenty feature-filled, entertainment-oriented, productivity-boosting, pixel-packed smartphones. Leaving the majority of people using a smartphone out of the desire not to carry around a ten year-old piece of technology.

Call it inevitable, but when these same people upgrade beyond an iPhone 4 what are they getting in return? The carrier gets $200 and another two years, the customer a minor physical update to a phone they were once hesitant to buy and use out of conformity.

Looking Forward

What we need to do is breathe new life into what was once the epitome of cellular innovation. The iPhone 4 and 4S are two amazing devices more than viable to several demographics. Provide these segments with an inexpensive solution with a stand-out advantage or two and I believe there’s a potential for profit. What more interesting is the thought of these customer’s being able to strategically utilize their now pointless upgrades to coincide with the release of a major phone. Now you’ve provided that customer with a phone that suits his needs and an extra $600. Assuming all goes perfectly.

I’ve even pondered the possibility of users being able to essentially give their upgrade to this fictional service and have them handle the selling process. There are sure to be a slew of problems, legalities, downsides, and what-not that accompany such an idea. I can think of quite a few. But with the help of the right minds anything is possible. Critique away!

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So lately I’ve been thinking: How do I start collecting all this ‘helpful’ information I’ve alluded to?

The answer lies in the underlying reasons behind my choice to (re)pursue a blog. There are two:

First, I recognize that I see things differently. Realistically, there are plenty of like-minded people who share my thought processes and open-mindedness, but our paths have yet to cross. At least in the right way…

Second, I will be successful. I want to help people like myself in any way possible, and in turn help myself.

I don’t exactly where to go from this point either, but I can guarantee I’ll eventually be somewhere. I know no better way to help others than by personal experience. So as I collect my thoughts and start the gears turning on this whole entrepreneur thing, I want to share every thought process along the way.

I’ve identified the most immediate hurdles as brainstorming and idea development. The plan is to learn everything from the ground up.

I’m glad to have finally narrowed it down to just this skill set. I should hopefully now be able to improve the frequency and relevance of my posts.

Business, a Remedy for Collegiate Confusion?

Studying for a marketing exam prompted me to pass along a piece of advice I would find helpful had I not already declared a minor.

If you find yourself questioning your major, minor, or any of the serious, life-changing decisions a college student must make on a regular basis, I encourage you to not only consider taking, but to enroll in, at least one business course.

Business majors are no doubt victim to some of the more severe stereotyping known to accompany a field of study. A degree in business carries with it a set of negative connotations. As a result, strangers may be quick to make assumptions about you as a person, or more specifically, your work ethic.

This certainly doesn’t apply to everyone. But, after just two years attending a university with a top ten business school, I’ve seen nearly every stereotype validated more times than I can count. Fortunately, if you heed my advice, only a few will apply to you.

Whether a senior in high school, an incoming freshman, a fifth-year, or anything in-between, a deeper understanding of business is never a bad thing. The decision to declare myself a business minor has (so far) proved equally as rewarding as the decision to pursue a BS in computer science, if not more.

For students positive they want to pursue a career solely in entrepreneurship, a (full) business degree is a no-brainer.

For the rest of us, the benefits of a business minor might not be immediately obvious.

Let me clarify that I’m not encouraging anyone to declare themselves a business major. Rather, I’m encouraging all who have found their respective field of study, yet refuse to eliminate the possibility of an entrepreneurial career, to take at least one business course.

Take anything. Be it a 100-level introductory course or something more specific like accounting or marketing. It really doesn’t matter as long as the door to business remains open.

In the end, if you decide to declare yourself a business minor, congrats! I can’t think of a better way for an aspiring entrepreneur to improve him/herself than in this very manner. While rudimentary when compared to their “major” counterparts, courses designed specifically for business minors (a.k.a. non-business majors) divulge a wealth of general business knowledge essential to every beginning entrepreneurs arsenal.

Having completed just three of the required courses for my business minor, I’m already unable to find a reason not to recommend them to everyone I see.

Find a career path where a deeper understanding of accountingbusiness law, and marketing is entirely useless and throw it in a comment below.

Opposition welcomed.


Featured Image: Market Photo By [Miroslav Petrasko Link to Flickr]

I’m Lovin It

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to sit down and write something worthwhile. The past week was nothing but tests and homework leaving me little time to do anything extracurricular.

I’m trying a new theme and will hopefully find a good way of organizing content here in the next week. I want to continue blogging as normal, but I’m looking for a way to separate my somewhat personal blog and the information that I plan to gather.

So far I’m thinking most of the navigation should be centered towards finding major articles and subjects rather than a live blog feed. As a result, I’m in the process of switching several posts to pages. I’m thinking the more informational pieces will be on pages rather than posts.

I’m still pretty new to customizing to the fullest extent, but I’ve really been considering going self-hosted just so I have full CSS control. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to layout and design, and would rather have complete aesthetic control over the way content is arranged.

However, I think I’ll hold off a while longer just to see if there’s enough promise in this before making a larger commitment. After all, I’ve just now been back for a month.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to get back to publishing at a normal rate. I’ll continue to tweak the site for some time until I get it right, but don’t be surprised if woos me away.

Any random advice for balancing an informational and semi-personal blog?


Featured Image: An Open Invitation Photo By [Quinn Mattingly Link to Flickr]