Road Hacks #1: iPad In The Car

Apple iPad permanently mounted in the car is inevitable.  iOS CarPlay is just a gateway technology for iPad-in-the-car.  The money cost of buying a new iPad and leaving it in the car is already inexpensive.  Probably sooner rather than later, people will no longer connect their smartphone to the vehicle with Bluetooth or anything else.  Car owners will instead just leave the iPad mounted on the dashboard.  The iPad will detect when the driver enters the vehicle and automatically login with the driver’s preferences (music stations, map destinations, etc).  That’s where Apple is really going with its new Car Keys for iPhone / Apple Watch.  iPad-in-the-car also doubles as a convenient wifi hotspot.  Some newer vehicles like Tesla already have those kinds of features.  But even in vehicles like Tesla, the interface is Tesla-specific and you can’t run “real” third-party apps, certainly not the number of apps available on iOS.  I setup an iPad to use in rental cars on several work trips earlier this year and now find it essential.  This post is about the configuration I found that works best, which consists of an iPad with cellular, CD player slot mount, car charger, auxiliary audio cable, two Lightning cables, and prepaid hotspot account.  People are moving, not traveling, this summer, and I have more to write about that.  This is the first in an ongoing series of road hacks. Continue reading

Back In The Day #6: Maximum PC

Excitement about a new era of computing intersected the end of the millenium.  MP3’s, CD burners, DVD’s, hardware-accelerated 3D, and broadband.  Computing started to get really fun for non-nerds.  Consumer computers became powerful enough that there started to be specialized systems like the home theater computer and gaming computer.  The “computer” started to become what we now call a “device”.  Steve Jobs envisioned it in his “Digital Hub” strategy.  Bill Gates announced it in his keynote at Consumer Electronics Show.  As everybody partied their way into Y2K, I had the best custom system for its day.  And it would be my last truly personal computer.  Servers and networking became the popular interests for many techies.  Along with this new technology came Maximum PC, a new magazine for the new generation. Continue reading

Corporate Compliance In The Startup Industry

(Editor’s note: A conscience is consistently lacking in the startup industry.  Compliance may be that conscience.  I have more to write about compliance as a conscience, and this essay is a good foundation.  This is in thesis form for a writing credit in my second law degree, a post-doctorate Master of Laws (LL.M.) at Delaware Law School.  My professor was Aleksandra “Ola” M. Tucker, JD, ACAMS, an expert in Corporate Compliance in the Financial Services Industry and founder of Compliance Notes.)

Disruption of traditional industries by companies in the startup industry leads to new innovative solutions to existing problems, but that innovation also results in consequences to society by ignoring existing laws and regulations.  The startup industry consists of new companies, often just a few co-founders and an idea, and the investor network that funds those companies.  Traditional companies compete on a level playing field that is made up of well-established laws and regulations in their industry.  Startups, unlike traditional companies, take new approaches that often ignore those laws.  Sometimes the result of ignoring laws and regulations is innovative solutions and the creation of wealth.  However, ignoring laws often has costs both predictable and unpredictable.  A comprehensive compliance program is the solution to allowing startup companies to innovate while also complying with the laws and regulations that apply to everybody. Continue reading

Back In The Day #5: Internet Video

YouTube just turned fifteen years old. That means there was no YouTube before 2005.  And how quickly we forget that YouTube was controversial in the beginning.  YouTube was considered mostly pirate music videos, used as much as 80% of the Internet bandwidth traffic (which was in 2005 still mostly text and low-resolution images), and had no business model.  YouTube was also Google’s first major acquisition.  Google’s biggest single expense, for years after acquiring YouTube, was subsidizing all the bandwidth to watch all those uploaded videos.  Now over a billion hours of video is watched every day on Youtube and the site routinely creates new Internet celebrities and millionaire influencers.  But to get to YouTube, and communication apps like Zoom, other technologies needed to exist.  Back in the day, those technologies include QuickCam, CU-SeeMe, RealPlayer, MP3, Winamp, and DivX/XviD. Continue reading

Y Combinator Is Going Out Of Business Immediately Permanently

Or at least maybe they oughta.  After ten years, I’m disgusted with consistently hearing from many founders after they “do Y Combinator” that they wouldn’t have wasted any time on it at all if they had known the firm effectively belongs to the computer scientist’s wife (Jessica Livingston) instead of the computer scientist (Paul Graham).  There seems to be a misunderstanding that I’m frustrated about not doing Y Combinator.  Although I’ve applied, just to have the experience of applying, I would never take that firm as an investor.  For one thing, I’m already synonymous with the term “y combinator”.  For two, I don’t need the firm’s $80k (or whatever it is now).  For three, many people that have gone through the program anytime recent say that it has turned into twelve weeks of nothing more than the firm teaching everybody (falsely) why Airbnb is a great company and a great investment opportunity.  Without even bringing it up, founders says if they had known the real details of this firm upfront, and could do it over, that they would skip the stupid dinky Y Combinator shit and go to a real venture capital firm instead.  The sentiment from founders that have just finished the program is increasingly that they want to sue the venture capital firm to get the equity back and then politely tell the venture capital firm to fuck off.  This post includes my well thought-out criteria for writing it, the real history of the venture capital firm, and why I very sincerely think they should do the right thing and just go out of business immediately permanently.  I really don’t want to write this post, but after ten years I feel obligated to do so for the greater good. Continue reading

Airbnb Hosts Possibly Begin Bulk Deleting Listings

Airbnb hosts can’t pay the rent on their “Airbnb rentals” properties because nobody in the world can travel and cities/states/countries are indefinitely banning short-term rentals (less than 90 days).  Simply put, Airbnb hosts are collectively about to, or already in the process of, break thousands of leases on their rental properties, move everything out of the properties (furniture, appliances, fixtures, etc.), and completely abandon those properties to avoid having to pay rent out of their own pocket.  This issue with hosts right now reflects the fundamental problem with Airbnb itself: that Airbnb has never owned any of the properties listed on its service and the overwhelming number of hosts don’t own the properties, either.  Airbnb announced a Host Relief Fund and claims to have $250 million dollars set aside to compensate hosts for cancelled bookings.  I personally doubt the company has $250 million dollars at all.  My opinion is that the Host Relief Fund is chasing bad money with good and a futile attempt to prevent the inevitable. Continue reading

Back In The Day #4: Beta Software

Beta software is pre-release software, sometimes almost experimental (alpha) software.  Beta testing was as cool as it got in the mid ’90s if you were into computers.  As a beta tester, you were getting to play around with, and help develop, software that potentially millions of people would use.  The only way to get beta software was to either be in an official beta program or know somebody.  That was because of two details I can’t stress enough: the Internet wasn’t popular yet, and those of us that had Internet access almost always had a slow dial-up connection.  Getting beta software meant relying on big software companies to ship out a CD-R to you every week via UPS.  When I was fourteen, I found the email address for Microsoft’s Senior V.P. for Developer Tools and emailed him requesting to be on some beta programs.  He emailed me back and said he’d see what he could do.  I can’t prove he had anything to do with it, but I ended up on at least three good betas: the Windows 95 Preview Program, Microsoft DirectX 1.0, and Microsoft FrontPage 1.0.  As a teenager, routinely getting UPS envelopes with CD-R’s of unreleased software, and being asked for my feedback, made me feel important. Continue reading

Airbnb Is Probably Bankrupt

Airbnb is undoubtedly burning through all of its cash reserves with no income to make the money back.  It’s impossible right now for any travel-related business to make any projection with any certainty about future revenue.  Airbnb has used every financial strategy possible just to get this far.  Now is also not a good time to ask anybody for money for anything.  Airbnb’s solution to everything over the last ten years has been through taking new investors or, in the CEO’s words, “doin’ uh raise”.  Airbnb has also been long rumored to spend way more money on headcount and officespace than they were ever making in revenue.  The argument for that spending has been to facilitate long-term growth.  However, that approach was a gamble that appears to have caught up with the company.  Airbnb will inevitably need to close offices and reduce headcount.  Drastically reducing overhead may not prevent the company from ending up in federal bankruptcy court.  If I were an investor in Airbnb, I wouldn’t wait for the company to burn through all of its cash before coming up with a plan.  Here’s how I might hypothetically deal with this situation now if I were a major shareholder in Airbnb or on its board of directors. Continue reading

A Post About Series of Posts

Some posts on this website are effectively part of a series.  I decided to finally organize posts that are part of a series, which are now listed on their own page in addition to the main complete archive of blog posts.  So far, I’ve been able to identify at least six sets of posts that are effectively entries in a series.  They are (in no particular order): Back in the Day, Book Reviews, Documentary/Movie Reviews, Aaron Swartz, Song Lyrics, and Airbnb.  Here’s a description of each series. Continue reading

Back In The Day #3: My First Custom Computer

Built by my own hands.  My second computer was my first custom setup.  An Intel Pentium 150 MHz with 16 MB 72-pin memory, 2.1 GB Maxtor hard drive, Diamond Multimedia Stealth 64 graphics card with 1 MB of video memory, genuine Sound Blaster AWE32 sound card, the new Microsoft Windows 95 with Microsoft Plus! Pack, all in a mid-tower AT chassis.  Most of the parts had already been accumulated as upgrades to my 486.  All of the money to buy the rest came from an essay contest that I won on Microsoft’s website.  As usual, these kinds of posts are really just a literary device to explain what technology was like in olden times, which in this case means early 1996. Continue reading