Love Catch LA. Fresh seafood. Great scene. Tough to get into.
Love Catch LA. Fresh seafood. Great scene. Tough to get into.
Encrypted and based in Switzerland? Sounds interesting.
On their homepage you'll find a bunch of cool features. At least cool to me. Swiss privacy. End-to-end encryption. Anonymous email. Open source. This is all good but ehhh. Intriguing for a nerd but the market doesn't really care.
Wait a minute...then they list easy to use and modern inbox design. Ok now we are talking. "Security without the hassle" and "Security with productivity" is catchy. This the market does care about.
Secure email will never get mass adoption without a great user experience. In the past, not many companies were able to solve this problem. When you think of security and encryption, I immediately think complicated.
Protonmail makes it very simple. Just as simple as creating a Gmail account. This is really the most important factor. The underlying technology is an after thought when you just want to check email.
The purpose of Protonmail and similar services is to keep your communications secure. Away from prying eyes. Corporate and government eyes. Even from hackers. You may think you have nothing to hide. That is true for most of us. I am mainly interested in security from hackers and general privacy when it comes to email.
This led me to Protonmail. Check out this video for more into. You got privacy?
I signed up for the free account to get 5MB to check out the service. I almost immediately signed up for the paid account. The setup was extremely easy and the user experience is great also.
For example, out of the box swipe right is archive an email and swipe left is trash. Simple. Touch ID setup was easy. Everything you would expect was simple.
They really thought about the user experience. Even using the ProtonBridge to setup encrypted email on your desktop was easy. The bridge also can setup your Apple mail for you. Brilliant.
The web portal is very good. They even show you how to secure your domain. This may be for a more advanced user but wasn't too bad for me.
There are some drawbacks. It can be confusing to understand which plan to buy. Some plans give you 20G of total space. Then some give you a different space per user. Then another one included VPN.
Setting up different email addresses seems quirky also.
The major drawback is contacts isn't integrated with iOS. Meaning I can't save Proton contacts on my iPhone to a iPhone contact directory. I understand they want to keep it secure. Problem is if someone emails me and I save their email into a contact, I won't be able to text them from iPhone. It doesn't transfer over.
Another big big drawback is no calendar support. This is a big problem for me. They say its on the roadmap. Even if it does come out I don't we will get iOS support.
This leaves me with still having to use Gmail. I'll live with it for now. At least I got one secure email account. Nice work Protonmail.
Design matters a great deal. There are a number of articles on how awesome the Model S is for EV car. Most notably the 0-60mph in just a few seconds gets all the press.
Yes, it is quite safe. Looks cool. etc etc. However, there are many overlooked design features that make the Model S truly a work of art.
To make a car where an overwhelming favorite for customers who "love" their Tesla means they did almost everything right. Most importantly they designed the user experience right.
Let me count the ways. In no particular order.
That's all I could think of for now.
Dairy is terrible for your health. Soy milk also.
Buying almond milk from the store is not a good idea either. They are full of chemicals and sugar if you are not careful. Any store bought milk is not good.
If you are looking for an alternative. Make it at home. Here is a super simple almond milk recipe you can easily make at home.
No additives. Ingredients controlled by you. Fresh.
This is a game changer. Don't have too much almond milk though.
One of my favorite sushi restaurants of all time. Right up there with Hiko Sushi. Both in LA. Unbelievable freshness. The owner gets select choice of seafood. You can taste when whatever you are eating melts in your mouth.
We were lucky to get crab that day. Limited supply. Some items are flown in from Japan. I wish I had some more time to get into the details with the owner.
Tried that Sea urchin. Not for everyone but damn it was good. And the crab. DAAAAAAAMN!
Oysters were so fresh. I would never order oysters but couldn't resist.
Definitely a gem if you ever make it out to the area. Do not pass up.
Nespresso should seriously pay me for this photo. Looks so professional. Whenever I am in Beverly Hills, I am not sure why but I love stopping by the Nespresso shop. One block away from Rodeo Drive.
I know its a touristy thing to do but look at that cold brew. On point.
Coffee is surprisingly good. Plus some small bites.
A fantastic video from Ray Dalio on "How the Economic Machine Works." I found it very comprehensive. This could have saved me years of economics classes.
Check out Ray Dalio's book Principles as well. He is a rare talent with a unbelievable ability to distill complex ideas into a digestible format.
For me personally, I have always been fascinated by technology and finance. The Dotcom boom and bust was a wild ride. From the rubble came a wave of new tech companies. Namely Google, Facebook, and many others. Tremendous investments were made to build out the foundation of the internet.
Wireless communication and the growth of LTE, Wifi, and Bluetooth have completely changed our lives. Mobile communication and the upcoming launch of 5G is going to be really cool.
The financial crisis and housing crash was an interesting experiment that seems to be repeating itself. Banking is primed for a major technology overhaul.
Every now and then we encounter seismic shifts in how technology will shape our future. Currently, that new technology is the Blockchain. You have probably heard of it by now. Bitcoin and Ethereum are examples of applications built on the blockchain.
There is so much to digest. It can be difficult to filter through the noise as most conversations right now are very technical. This is generally a good thing as we need really smart people to build out the infrastructure of what will blockchain do for everyone.
Although I have been following this technology for some time now. I am just recently focusing more attention to learn more about possible beneficial applications of the blockchain.
A blockchain is a digital ledger of records or transactions arranged in data blocks. Blocks are linked together through a cryptographic validation known as a hashing function. Follow the link if you want to nerd out for a bit or have trouble sleeping.
Linking the blocks together forms a blockchain.
What makes blockchain and this type of data structure so hot is applications can be decentralized. Records are not stored in any single location, are accessible by everyone, and are immutable. Meaning it is nearly impossible to hack.
Let’s look at the most popular application of blockchain technology. Bitcoin is a digital currency that is built on the blockchain. There is no physical paper, like a US dollar. It is all digital.
The challenge with making this purely digital is you could copy it for example. Also, how do I know your Bitcoin is legit and you didn’t counterfeit it.
This is where blockchain technology enables us to use Bitcoins to buy and sell goods online with the confidence.
Wait a minute. We can already buy and sell goods online. What’s wrong with PayPal and the current checkout system?
Well, for one thing, these transactions are controlled by just a few companies. We pay a ton in fees just to transfer money. Have you ever sent money overseas? It transfers from bank to bank adding fees upon fees and days to the process.
There is no central company or person controlling Bitcoin. Bitcoin technology does not recognize a person or entity for validation. Completely decentralized. There are blockchain applications which are hybrids though. So it is not all or nothing.
Blockchain hopes to make this more efficient by minimizing the middleman and enabling direct peer-to-peer transactions.
My focus here is to summarize my thoughts around Blockchain and related applications. Specifically around how to apply this exponential technology to everyday businesses. The intention is not to be too technical because Ill get lost myself.
How will blockchain effect banks?
How will blockchain effect supply chains?
How will blockchain be regulated?
How will blockchain affect my parents?
I hope to answer with future discussions. I cannot predict if Bitcoin will hit $20,000 or die out. However, one thing I know for sure is blockchain technology is not going away.
Peer-to-peer networking and cloud technologies are fascinating when you start to think about how information is moved.
Particularly with financial institutions that are prone to aggressive and constant cyber attacks.
A key aspect about blockchain is it is a decentralized network. There is no central control. This is important for security to not have a central point for attackers to focus on.
This is different from a distributed network. Even though Amazon may have various cloud services with servers distributed across the globe, it is still controlled by Amazon. An issue arises with Amazon and your data could be in danger.
I am personally not so concerned that Amazon controls the servers. It seems to be working well and thousands of businesses are built on AWS. They must be doing something right.
However, the future with blockchain technology promises a decentralized environment where no one company holds all the data.
A few years ago I am four floors underground walking to catch a train in Seoul I hear a loud “pop”! The 60 pound case I was wheeling around a foreign country decided it was time to break a hinge holding the wheel. The case now felt like dragging a house.
It was a crowded subway. I stopped right in the middle like a rock protruding in a stream. The stream of people kept going around me without any hesitation.
I managed to drag the case out of the way to the side. I notice the train is a few minutes away. After letting out a few expletives I think, “What I am going to do”?
We all have these moments where we are faced with a decision. Seemingly simple but what you choose and why you choose it makes all the difference.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “There are two guarantees in life, death and taxes”. It makes sense. These are two strong driving forces in our lives. However, for me something was missing.
I kicked and kicked the wheel hinge until I jammed it back in place. I tried to Macgyver a brace that would hold until my meeting was over. Now all I had to do was survive for a few more days while also dragging the case back to the Bay Area. How did I do on that trip? Did pretty good. I think.
“Seemingly simple but what you choose and why you choose it makes all the difference. ”
What motivated me to man up that day in the train station was bigger than death and taxes.
I believe there is a third guarantee in life. More subtle. Invisible. Nuanced. The third guarantee is “higher expectations”.
There is always more expected.
Ask any sales person. What have you done for me lately? Every year our quota goes up. Bank on it. Every year more revenue is expected. Cost of living keeps rising. Better products required. More features. Faster. Cheaper. Push the boundaries.
It is human nature to expect more. Venti mocha two-pump triple shot light ice frappuccino with whip, please.
What got me going that day was thinking about my family. They expect more from me. I expect to do more for them. I am constantly pushing myself to keep going.
There is no amount of money or fame to pick you up from the bottom. You have to have to turn to something bigger. For me it was family. For you, it may be someone else or an important cause.
As an entrepreneur, seriously think about your business. Build up a good network of friends, family you can turn to, advisors, and mentors. I truly believe there has to be a human element in what we do to make it more meaningful. Our personal connections are what drives us to do better. You’ll be more successful in every way.
Eating healthy and exercising may help prolong death. Educating yourself on money may lower your taxes. Higher expectations are a guarantee.
Finding something bigger than yourself will help you better handle the higher expectations. You will need it to pull you through the abyss of entrepreneurship and sales.
I try to eat some version of this salad at least once a day. Arugula is a super food. I add arugula to smoothies as well.
Still haven't figured out the perfect red bell pepper dressing.
Chickpeas should be a routine. Another healthy vegetable. Alkaline food. Chickpea flour is very versatile also.
Made my own red bell pepper dressing. Once I figure out how to make it right, I'll post the recipe.
Choley at any Indian/Pakistani restaurant is a solid option.
I love me some avocado toast. I don't love paying $15 bucks for it. That's straight jacking people.
Make it home. Super super easy.
This is my staple. I eat this often for breakfast. Actually anytime I get hungry. It is a good snack option.
Almond butter toast is another staple. However, for weight loss keep the almonds on low.
South Asian staple. I eat this often. Especially when eating out at an Indian/Pakistani restaurant.
If made really well, it will hit the spot and fill you up. Be careful not to eat too much. I tend to have this meal on a workout day.
I don't make it the traditional way. I actually don't know what that way is anyway. I reduced the salt and practically no oil.
Also subbed out white rice for wild rice. Wild rice another great alkaline food. Eat away.
Sushi is always a great choice when eating out. Plenty of good food choices. I took a shot at making my own at home.
Definitely not professional but was fairly easy to make. Best part was I was able to control the seasoning and put any veggie I had around.
Nori or seaweed is a great alkaline food. So is a wakame salad.
Turned out good. Similar to Sushirrito.
I personally love this sandwich. I could eat this everyday and every meal. The options are endless and fairly healthy as well.
I recently eat more spelt bread rather than wheat bread. Spelt is a higher alkaline food and less altered by man than wheat. Whole wheat is just ok. Go for spelt if possible.
This version is my go to.
Dropped in for a quick meeting at the Rosewood. Have not been here in quite some time. I wonder if Thursday nights are still poppin?
The view is amazing. The calming rolling hills of Portola Valley and Los Altos Hills. A bit hazy today.
The atmosphere at the Rosewood is always high-class.
In one corner you have want seems to be a few entrepreneurs who just finished a VC pitch. They seem stressed. Poor guys. I hope they get funding.
In another corner, probably the same VCs who were just pitched by the entrepreneurs in the other corner. They seem happy. Enjoying some midday drinks. Good stuff.
I decided to grab my own corner and get a bite to eat before my meeting. I wore my fancy coat. You got to look good here.
The bar menu at Madera is limited. However, looks well balanced and delicious. Always challenging to figure out what to eat when out and about.
I'm trying to go for that sixpack which means I should be careful of added sugars and empty carbs.
I settle on the mixed green salad with kumquat and candied pecans. I scratch the pecans and ask for dressing on the side. I have no idea what is a kumquat. I am hoping something not carby. Kumquat is a citrus fruit I find out later. Pretty good.
Tip: Order a salad with the dressing on the side or no dressing. Empty calories for no reason. You'll get used to the taste of actually tasting the real flavor of greens.
Solid place for a drink or small meal.
This is will keep me full for a few hours.
Adjust to taste. Blend. Serve.
Thoughtful, exceptional software begins with the end.
It takes clear definition of goals, understanding of business objectives, and alignment between software developers, clients, and users.
In this brief article, you’ll learn:
Work with partners who are genuine in understanding your goals.
“Thoughtful software is better for the environment”
- Fahad Shoukat
Currently, it is estimated that over $3 trillion is wasted on software projects that never come to fruition. This translates to a staggering amount of value lost for both businesses and consumers. And it’s not just the private sector that struggles; for example, the Air Force spent $1 billion on a software project and had nothing to show for it.
Looking back on failed projects can help determine why the project failed. Unfortunately, the success or failure of a project is determined by a number of factors. Recent statistics show the most common reasons for project failure are:
The figures shown above only provide a small glimpse into the complexity of software projects and factors involved that ultimately determine success or failure. Additional studies demonstrate that software projects tend to run 66% over budget and 33% over time.
Most businesses are able to handle the additional costs in time and money; however, reports show that 17% of projects are so poorly executed that they threaten the very existence of the company.
Prevent your projects from becoming part of these abysmal statistics.
Imagine and create thoughtful software.
Be committed to building, delivering, and maintaining software that is thoughtful, usable, and valuable.
Strive to build products that enhance user experience, provide value, and emphasize quality. But how do we define thoughtful software?
Thoughtful software is usable, unobtrusive, and is enjoyable to use.
It prioritizes the needs of users; rather than the needs of developers and designers. And for our clients, the creation of incredible, thoughtful software products leads to added value and tremendous opportunities for growth and sustainability.
Here we present how Skiplist builds software and what you should consider when building software and choosing a software development partner.
“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge”
- Thomas Berger
Ask why and understand the journey that creates that pain point. Experts recognize always starting with WHY and completing a successful software project are inextricably linked.
This does not mean starting slow. However, an initial meeting or call should be to understand the problem we are trying to solve. Seems simple, right?
Often developers are so quick to take on a project, they forget to ask about business outcomes. These are important to establishing the engagement and vision of the project.
Ultimately, these questions are not very helpful if not rooted by strong personal values of the people working together. After all it is people working together with people.
Alignment in values is important.
“A people that values its privileges above its principles, soon loses both.”
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Skiplist is a collection of talented individuals who came together to build thoughtful software.
We wanted to create a different experience for ourselves and our clients.
The software industry is full of bloat. Starting a project can be painful. Getting a master services agreement (MSA) signed? Forget about it.
Many projects never take flight due to legal teams going back and forth for months. Your project may be outdated by the time the MSA is finally signed.
Clients and vendors labor over writing a detailed scope of work (SOW) when in reality building great software happens outside the SOW. Through good communication and flexibility to make changes.
Corralling the relevant resources and managing a team in a rigid environment can be painfully challenging.
Relationships are more important than ever. Software is an iterative process.
There is a better way.
For that better experience, we stick to our 10 core values. We believe these should help you as well.
In the end, our journey and experiences together are what matters. Let’s make them good ones.
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
- Andrew Carnegie
We are all one team. Let’s do this!
When you have a team that is founded on 10 core values and a mission to build thoughtful software, quite a bit of good can happen.
Combined with enterprises who hold similar values, the possibilities are limitless.
One core aspect of great teams is specialization. To achieve the best outcomes, bring in talented people who excel in certain areas. For example, a user experience (UX) designer can be the difference between a successful or failed product.
Don’t just build an app for the sake of it. Carefully plan it out with experienced architects and designers who can help support the vision. Five star ratings correlate to a better brand image and increased revenue.
Leveraging data can be a competitive advantage if implemented properly. Data science isn’t just a buzzword and data scientists are very expensive.
It is more impactful to start with a proof of concept (POC) to test the idea. Then develop a roadmap to increase the probability of success.
We understand the need for dynamic, flexible, and dependable teams to complete our projects and form lasting relationships with our clients.
Listening and executing on software projects quickly and within budget is crucial to success.
“Software is a great combination between artistry and engineering.”
- Bill Gates
We firmly believe that software development is an iterative process that requires a phased approach.
A phased approach is necessary and important because it allows for our developers and our clients to provide continuous feedback, make improvements, and manage changes to the project without disruption.
A phased approach consists of 3 phases:
The requirements gathering or discovery phase is an essential part of any project. Though often it is overlooked as we rush to save time and start the project.
Experienced project managers will agree if requirements are identified early on, the probability of a successful outcome dramatically increases.
In this phase we want to establish a few important aspects.
If you are working with experienced professionals, this process moves fairly quickly.
In the proof of concept phase demonstrates that certain concepts or theories may have potential for real-world applications.
A prototype is a very useful tool to determine the feasibility of a product without the high cost and going too far into a project.
A POC may involve extensive research. It allows time to examine and test assumptions. Often wireframes and mockup designs are created to visualize what may be possible.
In this phase, we can also get a better idea of the estimated total cost of the project. Budget overruns are usually a result of poor upfront planning. Stuff happens and projects do get derailed. We understand.
However, we can make a conscious effort early to minimize these effects down the line.
The next step can be a minimum viable product (MVP). The MVP takes the POC a step further to build a functional beta product where users can actually use and play with something real.
This provides invaluable feedback of how users interact with a product. The next steps are to learn from our findings, iterate, and build a better product for a full launch.
The term “production ready” is often misunderstood. It depends on who you are talking to.
A programmer would say a “production ready” software is:
Management would say a “production ready” software is:
This all depends on the purpose of the product which we define by asking questions at the beginning of the project. For example, some research projects may not need to be a scalable solution.
However, if there is a bigger vision for a particular project it would make sense to plan ahead. Designing the architecture upfront to allow for scalability should not be overlooked.
Additionally, during this phase new features may be introduced and implemented. Feedback from the POC phase is important to refining a “production ready” product.
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”
- Paul J. Meyer
Planning ahead will save time and money. The challenge is always balancing being prepared with moving quickly to meet demand.
Experienced developers, designers, and architects know it is always better to understand the end goal. We may not always know how the end may look but we can guide the process with a vision of what we want to build.
When are you working with experienced professionals at Skiplist, we are able to move swiftly by following the steps outlined in this paper. We are also able to adapt and make changes to keep the project on schedule.
When we all have the vision in mind and are aligned in values. The future can be more predictable.
Now that you know what thoughtful software is, how there are different software partners in this noisy world, and what it takes to not be another statistic.
The question remains, will you be responsible for initiating an amazing, thriving software project?
Download the pdf version here. PDF version
Contributors: Andrew Wolfe, Samantha Wolfe, and Fahad Shoukat.
Pizza is so addicting. I read somewhere pizza is considered a perfect food. The triangle shaped slices are perfect for eating with the combination of a good sauce, cheese, and crust. Seems about right.
Problem is I am not a big fan of cheese. I'll have it from time to time but tend to stay away from diary as much as possible. Don't let them fool you. Diary isn't very healthy. Neither is meat.
Eating out might work if you order a pizza without cheese. I prefer to cook at home. Better ingredients and I can control what goes in.
TIP: When eating out, order a veggie pizza without cheese. Preferably on a wheat thin crust.
I came up with this recipe to satisfy my pizza craving without all the extras like salt, oil, cheese, and meats.
Vegan Pizza with Homemade Marinara
Super easy and very healthy. Maybe the healthiest pizza of all time. I sometimes sprinkle with nutritional yeast if I have some for that cheesy flavor. Add in chili flakes, jalapeños.
Serves one. I eat the entire pizza myself. Kids can make their own. :)