Subscribe to My Blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Welcome

This is my personal & professional blog.  It's a place for me to think out loud and learn. I'll sometimes talk about things I don't understand as a way to begin to understand them. I'll often be wrong, short sighted, and unclear. When you see this happening, please point it out!

Read More About Me>>

Advertisements
Squarespace
Powered by Squarespace
Friday
Oct242008

Halloween is the Best!!!!!

Halloween is my favorite holiday, at least right now.  I'm hoping a white Christmas in NYC complete with ice skating at Rockefellar Center changes that.  But for now Halloween rocks.  And here's why:

Thursday
Oct232008

Uh oh...How Do I Make Important Decisions?

I wrote this as an email to some close friends at the beginning of the year.  Thought I'd post it on my blog now that my thinking is less tumultuous.

 

There is, at present, some deep conflict in my heart I can't quite pinpoint. I don't know if it's mere restlessness & frustration or if it's some urge for change. It's been eating away at my will for weeks now and I'd better let it out....this is my attempt to let it out and/or cope.

I've long since realized the following:

1. I can't deny or avoid what makes me happy. (I could change it, but I probably don't want to do that).

2. Different people want different things and that's a good thing. Also, what makes me happy is different than what makes other people happy; I can't copy the life of someone who is happy to be happy myself.

3. I tend to want more than what is within my grasp/reasonable.

4. Life is really fucking hard. And it's very easy to fail and suck at it.  Optimistically, people who are happy have earned it.

 

My hope has always been to get rich ($500M) and then live life the way it was meant to be lived (like a fuckin rockstar). It turns out this may be the wrong approach:

1. The older you get the shittier life is. Being rich tomorrow may be worse than being poor today.

2. It leads to a very unexciting life today.

3. It's hard to change yourself later.

4. You may never succeed and die trying. Which would fuckin suck a lot.

 

While this sounds like bullshit, it turns out this isn't esoteric BS. It's real and affects how I live my life everyday:

-What I think about in the shower

-How much time I spend doing fun things versus working

-How I interact with friends/people I meet.

 

I think this also raises a couple other questions I can't quite resolve in my head:

Which is more important-to have fun or to leave a life of "meaning"?

And the higher level question to all this is really around compromise-when do you compromise? When do you say this is close enough? This is true for friends/wives/lovers/jobs/cities/food/clothes/art/everything...

 

The tradeoff here is:

If you're uncompromising you may end up with better results.

If you're willing to compromise, you'll likely enjoy the journey more.

 

Anyhoo, kind of rushed writing this.  Hopefully I don't read this 5 years from now thinking I was such a fucking idiot at the age of 26.

As always, would love to hear your thoughts.

Your friend,

Suleman mother fuckin Ali.

 

Monday
Oct202008

You're already naked.

I’ve been slowly balding for 10 years.  When I look back at my long, disheveled hair in photos of me as a sixteen-year-old, I can't but smile.  I didn’t know what I had!  I could have at least cut and combed the stuff!

And now, my full head of hair is disappearing.  Well, not disappearing.  I know where it's going.  It's under my pillow.  And in between my fingers in the shower.  Recently, the pace of at which I bald is accelerating.  Yikes!  I'm employing all sorts of strategies to make it look full.  But these strategies will soon start failing.  As my brother Moiz is demonstrating.

Recently, my hair started turning white!  I was so focused fighting the balding battle, the color battle didn’t even occur to me.  Balding is gradual and very subtle.  It's hard to notice.  But white hair screams loudly.  It picks up the light, it stands out even against a backdrop of thinning black hair.

You know what all this means?  It means that I’m dying!  Slowly but inevitably.  And the same is probably true for you!

How did I react to this news?

First, I freaked out.  A sense of naive invincibility and fearlessness has been a core part of my identity for a long time.  I've long been fearless of driving fast, strangers, the future.  And I've long bragged about it.  No more!  Oye!  So much harder to pretend you're superman when you're bald.

Now, I'm coping.  Specifically, I'm doing the following:

1.  Figuring out how to live as long as possible. 

It's scary how many people treat their bodies with reckless abandon.  In general, people are really bad at understanding how their behavior defines their future 10 years from now.  People also don't realize how many decisions they make unthinkingly, without analysis (including major life decisions like what to do for a living!).  When I say people, I mean me and I probably mean you.  Most of all, the world we've built around us optimizes for convenience and immediate gratification, NOT long term value or optimal living.

Balding and white hair made me realize this.  And I'm trying to adjust my behavior. 

Thank god for Science.  And preventitive medicine.  Preventitive medicine is the greatest thing in the world.  And it needs to be encouraged, it needs to be measured and rewarded by doctors and health insurance companies.

It's easy for people to know when things are going wrong, how about tools for us to know how right things are?  How to make them more right, how to optimize for longevity.  That's one of the reasons I'm excited about Fit Bit!  Or a toilet that scans your urine and poo (how awesome a word that is!) and tells you in real time how to improve your diet!  The proliferation of this genre of devices will improve our lifespan by 10 years!

Doctors only get paid when you're sick.  That's broken.  Think about doctors that, like banks, make more when you don't come by!  How do we change things to make this happen?

2.  Trying to pack as much life into my day as possible.  Carpae Diem baby!  No good tips on this yet!  Other than perhaps to surround yourself with amazing people.  Stay tuned for more.

 

The title to this post is borrowed from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address.  If you’ve never seen it, watch it immediately: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA

Oh, and if you've ideas about better living, do share!

Sunday
Oct192008

Yummy Postsecrets

 

Sunday
Oct122008

Radical Life Extension--let's do it!

Somehow, I just spent the last little while reading about Radical Life Extension. 

I'm a Peter Thiel fanboy and first heard about the concept when reading about his support for it.  In fact, if you don't know everything about Peter Thiel, read this: http://www.acceleratingfuture.com/people/Peter-Thiel/.  As far as I can tell, he's managed to do a lot of the sexiest things of the last 100 years: start a company and sell it for >$1B, start and manage a hedge fund, do the VC thing, contribute to the production of Thank Your for Smoking, & become a chess master.

Radical Life Extension is broadly defined in my head as anything that helps make dramatic improvements in our life expectancy.  So instead of living for 70 years, we live vibrant, able happy-ever-after lives for 200 or 500 years. 

At first glance, that sounds pretty hard.  But then a couple approaches sound pretty easy and intuitive.  Like instead of your cells aging 1 year every year, they slow down and age only a half year every year.  Suddenly we're living to 140 years.  We can make fruit and vegetables last twice as long/decay twice as slowly by sprinkling weird shit on 'em and popping them in the fridge, certainly we can do the same with humans! 

There are a bunch of other cool approaches like uploading your mind & therefore consciousness to a computer.  If Windows Home Server can do seamless backup and bare metal restore, this too should be possible!

Fabulous, aye?  How awesome that we have some brilliant minds working on this problem. Well spread the rumor that it's happening by 2020 and that people should prepare by taking good care of their current bodies.

Read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_extension

Sunday
Oct122008

Jessica Simpson

Ok...so this isn't entirely true from my Googling but it's such a great story I'm going to pretend it is.

Jessica Simpson saw The Notebook on an airplane.  When she landed, she called up her lawyer and filed for a divorce from Nick Lachey.  The movie helped her realize that she had to have love like that!

And I thought I was moved by movies...

Friday
Oct102008

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand is one of my favorite books of all time!  It makes me want to be a better human being.  It makes clear the purpose of life.  It says man is powerful.  Love is real.  Life is yours.  And that you must take it.

Reading Atlas Shrugged helped define and advance my life goals by years.  In a way no other book ever has.

If you haven't read it, please do!

I read it for the first time in college and I could not put it down.  I'm rereading it now.  As I reread it, I'm going to update this blog post with my favorite quotes from it.  Here are some to get started:

"I know it."

He [Fransicso] flew through the days of his summer month like a rocket, but if one stopped him in midflight, he could always name the purpose of every random moment.  Two things were impossible to him: to stand still or to move aimlessly.

“Let’s find out” was the motive he gave to Dagny and Eddie for anything he undertook, or “Let’s make it.”  These were his only forms of enjoyment.

“That boy is vulnerable.  He has too great a capacity for joy.  What will he do with it in a world where there’s so little occasion for it?”

 "The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours."

Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live--that productive work is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one's purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one's values--that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others --that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human--that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear-corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind's full capacity is to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay--that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live--that your body is a machine, but your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take you, with achievement as the goal of your road--that the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever prick up--that your work is the purpose of your life, and you must speed past any killer who assume the right to stop you, that any value you might find outside your work, any other loyalty or love, can be only travelers you choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power in the same direction."


Tuesday
Oct072008

Awesome Ads

I love these ads....<giggle>.  Whatcha think?  Perhaps I'm a little too simple a being!

Saturday
Oct042008

Best Get Will Gift Ever.

Especially if it's from Zach Allia.

Saturday
Oct042008

Fun Postsecrets

Postsecrets from this week that I like!

 

Wednesday
Sep242008

Graphs that turn me on


Sunday
Sep142008

In a free culture you get what you celebrate...

We'd better celebrate this! It's the Luke Arm by Dean Kamen

From here: http://www.medgadget.com/archives/2008/09/the_luke_arm_at_all_things_d.html.


Thursday
Sep112008

People should be Links

In real life, when someone mentions a name, you have the right to ask a 1000 questions about that person.  No less should be the case on the web.

Every time I see a name on the web, it should be clickable.  And it should take me to whatever page that person wants me to go to: their Facebook page, their Linked In profile, their blog, whatever.

This needs to happen pronto.

Thursday
Sep112008

Passion & Vision

From Will Shipley by way of Evan Williams blog:

"I believe the best software is written by small groups of people who have both passion and vision. Passion is easy to define; you care so deeply about something that it wounds you if it's done poorly. Vision can mean different things, but I mean the ability to not just come up with new ideas, but to actually be able to see how they would integrate with people's lives. Vision without passion gives you a guy who sitting on couch saying, 'Flying cars! Wave of the future! Mark my word, the guy who invents that's going to be rich... pass the chips.' Passion without vision gives you America's current political situation, where we allow huge companies to destroy the world but pass laws to make sure nobody marries a turtle."

Friday
Sep052008

Facebook Connect is ABSOLUTELY HUGE.

Facebook Connect is awesome.  Connect let’s you take your friends with you to any site.  You go to PerezHilton.com, suddenly you see that the VP at your company reads it too!  And you didn’t have to do anything!  The “you didn’t have to do anything” part is quite important.

I think the Yelp.com scenario is a better one.  You’re looking for a restaurant for your dinner date and you see that your friend Chris Fargo eats there with his rich lawyer friends.  And that he takes Dena there for romantic dinners.  Perfect!  You no longer have to rely on strangers.  Plus you are sharing an experience with your real friends.  Suddenly the internet is personal and not lonely and creepy!

Facebook Connect will dwarf Facebook Platform.  Facebook Platform is for apps that live inside Facebook.com.  Connect is for the web.  The web dwarfs Facebook.com and so will Connect.  As my friend Paul McKellar says, the web always wins.

The major concern entrepreneurs have with Facebook Platform is that Facebook owns the user.  And they really do own the user.  With Facebook Connect, you own the user and augment your site with Facebook goodness.

If only I owned Reddit.com or, say, the New York Times.

I’m super excited about this!  Oh, and the truly brilliant entrepreneur will figure out how Facebook Connect is disruptive even if you don’t own the New York Times yet.  Have any good ideas?  Let’s collaborate!

Read more on Facebook’s official site: http://developers.facebook.com/connect.php

Friday
Sep052008

If I was Reid Hoffman...

If I was Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, I would:

1. Own the job market.  Class it up just a little bit, but own a big chunk of it.  Make several times as much money as Facebook and smile.  Especially at Social Networking conferences. 

You might say you’re already doing this, but I don’t think you’re even trying.  Do a CNBC/LinkedIn Poll and ask users if they know they can search for open jobs on LinkedIn.  50% will tell you they didn’t know.

2.  Get people to log in more frequently.  I think LinkedIn is great but it’s something you go to once a month to accept/find connections.

Perhaps the thinking was that Answers would do this.  It’s a nice try.  But people with interesting questions are rare.  And I don’t want to help people that much.

I think the best way to do this is digg-like news integration.  Show me news  for the vertical I work in.  Replace news.ycombinator.com for me.

I personally love Tech/Business news and would love to see what my professional contacts are reading.  And I’d love to have them comment on stuff I post up there.

And go ahead and leverage all those fun business development deals you’re making with CNBC, the NYTimes, and WSJ…send traffic to the best content on those sites.

3.  Improve your navigation.  It just sucks.  You look more like a NYC based company than an SF one.  Hire a UX designer from Facebook who played a pivotal role in the Profile Redesign.  They get how to optimize for content creation/how to seduce users into expressing themselves.

Today, I log into the home page and, above the fold, see nothing actionable.

(Needless to say, I do not mean to imply I’m a tenth the man Reid Hoffman is…I just like catchy titles.)
Friday
Sep052008

A Forgotten Distribution Model

One of the biggest concerns/questions when considering a software venture (or really any venture) is how will you get customers?


In all the hype about Facebook, Twitter, and Web 2.0, I forgot about one of my favorite methods of distribution for consumer software:  OEM bundling.


I love the idea of coming up with a subscription service, getting Dell to bundle it, giving users a 30 day trial edition, and then using either love or fear to get them to pay you.


Interestingly, as the price of computers comes down, the price of Windows isn’t.  And the cost of Windows is becoming a larger and larger percentage of the price of a computer.  (Forget Microsoft Office which costs more than 3 computers).


OEMs supposedly pay twenty-some dollars for a copy of Windows.  They make some of that back with money they get from Google, Norton, and AOL.  I once thought a day might come where Dell bundles enough trial editions in that Windows is “free”.  I thought this might be an effective, market-driven way to incent OEMs to never ship Linux computers.


Think about it!  You get a PC and are already signed up for eBay, Match.com, have $5 in PayPal, have $5 on Full Tilt Poker, and have 1 message from a secret crush!


It’s going to be interesting to see when and how the desktop OS is simply a thin client….it’s already increasingly so for me personally…

Friday
Sep052008

Random Economics Question That Assumes A Billion Dollars

Let’s say you have a billion dollars.  And you’re charged with taking a 3rd world country with a stagnant economy, how do you systematically bring that economy to life?  How far does that $1B go?  Where does it go furthest?  Are your changes sustainable?

Thursday
Sep042008

Craigslist's Approach is Anathema

Craigslist thinks it’s great.  Craig Newmark loves to strut around and talk about how he’s not making money.  How they only charge users where they feel it’s “appropriate”.  And how they have a soul.


I tend to disagree.  I think Craigslist is not a good steward of their users.  I don’t think what their doing is noble or altruistic.


They’ve built a service that is just good enough.  They’ve got a relatively captive audience.  And instead of making money so they can funnel that money into innovation and making their service better (like, say, Google does), they’re happy keeping the product just good enough.  Who pays the price?  USERS.  In wasted time and missed casual encounters.  Oye!


Hire an ex-Googler (perhaps Mike Sego!) and make your search work.

All this said, Craigslist is pretty amazing.  I’d die a happy man if I had the impact CL has and will on the world.  Not to mention all the funny stories of what people have used CL for…

Thursday
Sep042008

Where are Newspapers going?

It’s absurd that the New York Times print and online editions look identical on the front page.


I once heard Greg McAdoo (who is awesome) say that the first thing people do when new technologies emerge is: figure out how to do the old things with the new technology.  That’s precisely what’s happening here.  The NY Times and most other newspapers aren’t leveraging the new technology like they should.


Don’t even get me started with CNN.com…or any Hearst magazine website.


Why aren’t they stealing the best from TV?  From Digg?  From Facebook?  Where’s the convergence between user generated content and old school journalism?  Why isn’t the front page personalized to show stories I’ll like?  Why can’t I comment on a single thing I read?  AHHHHHHH!