26 de febrero de 2009

Curriculum de un emprendedor

Menudo crack

Dear _________,

I’m writing to express an interest to interview with your company. I may need to leave my current situation. I know its against convention to trash my last employer when applying for a job. If you read this, I think you’ll understand and excuse my behavior.

For six months I’ve worked under the promise of an eventual pay off. To date, I’ve received minimal compensation for my efforts. The past three months, I’ve worked 12-14 hour days six days a week and my boss expects me to “stick it out” for success that may or may not come. I know the hours for a fact. When I had trouble getting things done he made me account in writing for how I used every hour of each day until I was in the habit of using company time wisely.

My boss doesn’t trust me. He had me write a contextual spelling corrector. I delivered on the product as promised with tests showing it worked and attesting to its accuracy. I was so proud I even gave a talk to my local ACM chapter on the work I did. He didn’t believe the results and he made me go back, generate new tests, and reevaluate the numbers. This time he was right but it took a week away from the progress of the product. Fortunately we institutionalized the test and evaluation process during this time. Still, it was mind numbing staring at numbers for a week to add extra accuracy to a spelling corrector.

I’m often asked to complete tasks with no direction about where to start. My boss is unwilling to mentor me and failed to set aside a training budget. I’m always expected to get it done regardless. Last I checked, he wants me to keep books, handle business paperwork, network and promote the business, design websites, write efficient code to process large sets of data, become an expert on linguistics, become an expert on machine learning, develop software in several languages, develop AND document a software service, test and fix defects, profile and improve scalability/performance, administer systems, create build and test processes, deal with outsourced help, provide technical support, come up with a marketing plan, and deliver on a high-level strategy.

The timelines my boss gives me are insane. Any competent program management team would laugh him out of a room. Still, he expects me to meet his goals. Each week we sit down, go over last weeks goals, and set goals for the coming week. I remember he gave me one week to design and build the back-end of our website. He wanted it to accept payments, process accounts, and talk to our software service. He also wanted a sketch of a plan to scale our service infrastructure with EC2 when the time came. What was my reward for completing these things on time? More impossible deadlines for more complex tasks.

On the positive side, my boss believes in what we’re doing. Through him I’ve learned time management, developed a belief in using metrics to measure progress, learned and applied graduate level computer science concepts, and have gained an appreciation for the soft skills that make a company work.

Starting this company and working for myself is, so far, the most rewarding and painful experience of my career. My product is almost ready to launch. My hope is the world finds it useful and I don’t have to send this letter. If this letter has made it to your inbox, I’d like to ask for an opportunity to interview with your organization. I have many skills, high standards, and can assume any roles necessary to help you succeed. All I ask for is fair compensation, a warm location, some risk/reward opportunity, and that you get me away from this mad man that I work for.

– Raphael

24 de febrero de 2009

23 de febrero de 2009

Ojo curvas

...La caída media de los resultados ha sido del 36% (el 80% de las compañías han presentado una reducción de beneficios)...





Post completo en Gurusblog

21 de febrero de 2009

Why the search for alien intelligence matters

Un maravilloso guiño a Roddenberry, que sin duda estaría orgulloso dado que ni la mismisima Janeway lo habría hecho mejor



Mi más profunda enhorabuena a Jill Tarter por ganar el TED2009. La charla de Juan Enriquez sobre el homo evolutis tambien merece ser vista

14 de febrero de 2009

Spotify

Muchas gracias a todos los que me habeis dado la paliza para que pruebe Spotify, tiene opciones de convertirse en todo un "iTunes killer"

12 de febrero de 2009

Video Red Bull MX Mud Kids (8 febrero, Valdemorillo)

Akaimedia acaba de publicar el video del Red Bull MX Mud Kids 2009 que estuvimos grabando el domingo y en el que las nuevas microcámaras han resultado fundamentales.



Si quereis ver algunas fotos del evento el enlace a flickr está en mi post anterior. Por cierto, si alguien encuentra unas gafas graduadas en las cercanías del circuito ruego se ponga en contacto (suena ridículo, pero se me cayeron del avión)

Más información en el blog de Akaimedia

Red Bull RB5 con KERS (ojo turbo)

82 caballos más durante 6,5 segundos cada vuelta no suena nada mal.... parece esta temporada de Formula 1 va a estar entretenida




Via Gizmodo

9 de febrero de 2009

Fotos Red Bull Mud Kids 2009 en Valdemorillo

El video producido por Akaimedia será publicado en Red Bull y Youtube a lo largo de los próximos días

6 de febrero de 2009

Sacrificandome por Akaimedia

Ayer el equipo de producción Akaimedia apareció con una pequeña emergencia de esas que te alegran el día: había que probar las nuevas cámaras POV1.5 para deportes de acción que acabamos de comprar para el Red Bull Mud Kids de este domingo y mi querida BMW650 GS era nuestra única opción :D



Publicaremos el video de verdad en el blog y canal de youtube a finales de la semana que viene. Por cierto, he editado este experimento con Kino bajo Ubuntu en un PC con menos de medio giga de ram.

3 de febrero de 2009

Una historia de 3 portatiles (post 3)

Cierro la serie (post1, post2) sobre mis desventuras con mis dos de mis tres últimos portatiles (el tercero es un Mac y de momento va como un reloj) con mi lista de puntos a recordar en una negociación importante. Si alguno estais interesado en saber más sobre el tema podeis descargar la guía practica, basada en las recomendaciones de Marwan Sinaceur, uno de los mejores gurus de negociaciones que he conocido y estais invitados al taller de "Negotiation Dynamics" en Okuri Spaces el 12 de marzo.




Este fin de semana terminaré de trocear el Philips Freevents X52 para aprovechar disco duro, tarjeta wifi, ram y otros componentes. Por cierto, estoy extraordinariamente satisfecho con mi "transición a la nube" que completé hace unos meses y me permite funcionar desde distintas máquinas con distintos sistemas operativos para evitar repetir episodios como este... postearé mis principales conclusiones y recomendaciones sobre ese tema en breve

1 de febrero de 2009

Los bancos nos tienen como rehenes

Nassim Taleb, autor de Fooled by Randomness y Black Swan, hace unos comentarios en la línea con Gurusblog en el canal Bloomberg (que por cierto no deja enlazar directamente al video)

Via Unience

Una historia de 3 portatiles (post 2)

Continuo la historia de la tragicomedia del Philips Freevents X53 y agradecimiento a Dell y su soporte en España apoyado por Unysis con transcripción de email actualizando al profesor, en el que cuento como conseguir que te arreglen un portatil fuera de garantía, en mi caso incluso vinieron a nuestra centro Okuri Spaces, y me dejen que un buen sabor de boca que me ha terminado de convencer de que les vamos a comprar unos cuantos Dell Mini12 con Ubuntu en cuanto les amplien el disco duro.


Dear Marwan

Heard rumors you have been sharing my laptop story and felt compelled to write an update with the latest developments...


Two weeks ago the replacement Dell I bought broke down (graphics card got burnt). Warranty was expired, but after breathing deeply for more than 10 days and rereading my class notes I gathered enough positivity to convince them to fix it for free even though the warranty had expired six months ago. This time research and empathy became the key factor, as knowing that the Nvdia cards had suffered huge recalls helped me make my point that it should be exceptional that a 2000 EUR laptop breaks down so fast and sharing having been an IBM employee and how Dell managed to outrun us in the laptop space by better customer care gave him the arguments to help. Even though I did say (while smiling) that if the didnt fix it Dell equipment would never be bought in any of my companies, I didn't have to resort to suggest him googling "philps freevents" (where my blog post still ranks 2nd, probably having convinced many potential customers to reconsider their purchase).



Technician comes on Monday, but in the meantime I have bought a Mac



See you around

L


En el próximo post que cierra la serie incluiré mi lista de puntos a recordar en una negociación a la que hago referencia. Por cierto, escribo este post desde el Dell XPS que ya funciona otra vez como nuevo y cierro con foto de el bueno, el feo y el malo

Una historia de tres portatiles (post 1)

Hace 18 meses compré un Dell XPS 1210 para reemplazar al Philips Freevents X53 que me ha permitido contar tantas batallitas

Fue una historia divertida, que escribí en su día en un "paper" de INSEAD y de la que he decidido publicar un par de secciones a raíz de que se me rompió hace un par de semanas y Dell se ha portado de forma diametralmente opuesta a la que lo hicieron Philips y PCWorld, por lo que quiero agradecerles publicamente dicho servicio

Continuaré este post con los updates que he ido enviado a mi profesor de negociación por email ;)


I have decided to condensate my experiences negotiating in the real world since the course started in the several chapters of my struggle to get a laptop after mine stopped working, a battle that has involved stretching myself beyond what I would have considered possible few weeks ago and which had enough spin-offs to test almost every recommendation I have learnt during the course.

The story starts back in November when I returned my work laptop and had to buy a replacement. In an effort to save some money I bought a 1000€ Philips instead of a Thinkpad . By February the letter “L” had stopped working and, after a series of calls which only served to vent my wrath against the call centre employees, decided to plug an external USB keyboard as I could not accept shipping my laptop away for a month. At least I was careful enough to have them log the report to save myself running through the “check-in” procedure.

Using a laptop without a key is one of those pains that builds up over time. Each time a word with the letter L comes along when I do not have the keyboard with me and need to look for an “L” in a document to “copy & paste”. I felt cheated and frustrated, but the worse was yet to come.

Around May 10th the laptop decided to stop working completely. After I discovered I had access to no tech support in France my objective became to recover the information . I dismantled the computer, removed the hard drive, and started a long quest across all IT shops in the Fontainebleau area. At the Saturn in the Carrefour I experienced a breakthrough after my persistence led one of the salesmen to give me the address of his favourite shop, place where I eventually found the component I needed. As I was not going back to Spain until two weeks later and the laptop would take about a month to repair, I finally decided to buy a new laptop and sell the broken Philips after it is repaired



My next challenge resulted from discovering French laptops are weird and that laptop distributors have both exclusive geographic agreements (i.e. A Spanish Company cannot ship a laptop to France) and no incentives to carry different regional configurations (i.e. A French Company selling a laptop with QWERTY keyboard and English/Spanish operating system).

I decided to employ two different strategies, an aggressive one (acting as a very pissed off customer) in anything related to the Philips laptop that channelled my negative energy and a Calimero strategy in seeking a replacement one.

The aggressive strategy only served to vent my wrath and, with a little luck, inform future potential customers who bother doing the research I failed to perform .

The Calimero strategy eventually led me realise Dell was my only hope when one of my former colleagues at IBM, after rejecting my desperate call for an exemption in the rules, suggested Dell was probably the only counterpart with the capability to help me . The important lesson here is to choose the right counterpart, a decision which can save you considerable amount of time and effort: choose wisely where and when to be persistent because days are short.

After playing around with the Internet site long enough to realise the product I was looking for was not available I gathered strengths to use my broken French in what looked like my last resort: contacting Dell’s call centre for France.

After being transferred four or five times and explaining my story from scratch I eventually found someone who would listen, (Name withheld). We spoke on the phone for 87 minutes according to my phone bill, time in which I used everything I could think of to make her my collaborator. She eventually found a way to process my order, and promised I would receive my new laptop within 5 days. When I did, I wrote her a long thank you note which I hope gets her a raise in her next evaluation.

Less than 24 hours after receiving the Dell XPS, when I thought the whole story was over, it stopped working. After researching the Internet and running some diagnostic utilities I discovered I had a broken Hard Drive. Having developed a good relationship with my salesmen served to repair the problem beyond my most ambitious expectations as less than 14h after my phonecall I was receiving a new hard drive at my home instead of having to ship over the second laptop and loose a minimum of two weeks.

Once I had the new laptop up and running I switched back to the battle repairing the Philips to get the maximum possible salvage value.

A couple of days after leaving the Philips laptop at my parents house during a weekend visit I contacted PCWorld’s call centre. But this time I decided to be friendly. Negotiations took about an hour because they wanted me to run the laptop through a series of tests which I had already performed, which was physically impossible as I was back in France, until after many questions I managed to recall the problem with the “L” key that had been logged into the system several months before and already qualified the laptop for pickup. The lesson here is again about persistence and developing a friendly relationship with your counterpart.

Overall I learned about the power of smiles, which I tend to underestimate, and about the need to develop allies because the “you vs. the world” battles rarely work out favourably. I need to be less confrontational because being soft on the people allows you to be tougher on the issues. And I also reinforced my view that creativity in addressing interests rather than bartering positions is essential, particularly when you are on the weaker side.

My Dell laptop has been working perfectly for the past few weeks, and I believe I will get a new computer, hopefully not manufactured by Twinheads, to replace the Philips.