Breaking the Silence

Earlier this afternoon, I officially sold my stake in Nobis, letting go of my creation that’s more or less dominated my life for the past six years (and is why I’ve been missing in action for the past few months).  The reasons and events that led up to this are complex on a level that I don’t think that I want to put too much out here (for risk of being misinterpreted) but I will leave this with these final words.

I’m grateful for all of the passion of their own that our staff put into building this thing that started as nothing more than some scribbling on a notepad.  Ubiquity has grown to scales that I never would have been capable of achieving alone.   We were incredibly fortunate to have had those first handfuls of hosting customers that stayed fanatics about what we were doing, still now, with thousands of others also worth thanking.  In just a few years, these experiences have taught me an incredible amount about myself, choosing friends, and the different effects that money and power have on people.  It’s also shown me what we are capable of building if we’re constantly optimistic and doing.

Nothing in my life has been more difficult that the events of the past year and a half, but looking ahead, there’s no doubt that I’m personally in a better place today than I was yesterday, and given the right efforts, I’m confident the next day will be better still, and so on.  I never really expected to run Ubiquity forever, nor did I ever believe that this would be the greatest thing in my life that I create.  It won’t be.   But those ideas will be blog posts for another day.

A Blog Update for 2010

It’s been over a year since the last time I updated this thing (which is amazingly more frequent than I expected I’d really be blogging by now).  About halfway through 2009 I in fact just took it down completely, which turns out is a great tactic in not reminding yourself that you haven’t updated your blog in a while.  So, for probably not much more than that this year, I’m a blogger again.  Hope you enjoyed it!

A New Years Rant

About 4 years ago now I watched (relative to your own disposition) liberal hippie lunatic / super-genius Noam Chomsky give a little talk in Braden Auditorium. He had no shortage of unique ideas to throw at the people that came, but among them, he summed up more with one sentence than I think I’ve ever heard a sentence sum up with it’s summing.

“There is nothing in life more difficult than seeing yourself in the mirror.”

The list of meanings that one sentence can pile on is endless. Personally it applies to me in this moment a sense of how often we forget that we’re writing our lives own narratives.. and abuse that fundamental ability to think ourselves into a corner like a confused irobot that bumped into the cat. So at the start of another year, I’ve decided that I’m done doing that. I’m done pretending that I have any actual problems, down to even the smallest things that bother me, that there aren’t solutions for… most of them pretty simple (unless barring some sort of disease I don’t yet know about).


Even though I constantly forget, I’ve had this perspective since one particular moment I can remember when I was 16. After taking over my dad’s old van, I inherited an old Crown Victoria, like right out of the Blues Brothers. It was a fantastic 2.5 ton car which I got into far more car chases with than any car since.Unfortunately I only have a (kind of dated) picture of the van. Pretend it’s a car.. it will make the story better.

1987

One day not long at all into driving that car, I learned that 2.5 tons of steel + original tires from when the car was first built 15 years earlier + rain meant that it could stop from 30 in about 100 yards. This information was not altogether useful to me though, because on this day, I learned that the car could also stop just as easily in about 20 yards should something get in the way. Something did.

I  was fine.. I somehow drove home with the hood sticking straight up, showed my parents the completely crushed half of my car. My dad told me what I knew but didn’t want to hear- that it was totaled, and even though it was just a car.. I had been more than a little excited about all of this having a car business, and I was pretty upset.

I spent a couple hours locked up in my room before my dad came down, and explained to me he was pretty sure we could find all the parts it needed from a junkyard. I didn’t hesitate to point out the fact that he fixed appliances, not cars.. there’s no way we could reassemble the more important half of a Crown Victoria from random pieces. My dad then gave me the same sort of answer to that sort of question that he always has as long as I’ve known him.. which I had never taken seriously.

“I can fix anything”

Said in really a joking tone at the time. I’ve taken that mentality to heart ever since, because it wasn’t a few days later that we had everything in front of the car’s windshield in zip-lock bags with labels, half of which were mostly meaningless to us. About two weeks of work passed in the garage, and when we were done.. despite the piles of spare parts… the car ran even better than it did before. We even re-painted each of the new pieces with the same tacky two tone look that the car had to begin with.

I’ll end this cheesy sunscreen-song-esque rant by simply saying that same mentality has stuck with me ever since. Don’t think yourself into a corner and don’t be beat up by circumstance in 2009, and I won’t either.

Where I Keep the Internet

Here’s what the Internet really looks like (photos taken at the Ubiquity data center in Chicago with Branden’s sweet camera.. paired with Branden‘s equally sweet knowledge of how to make the camera take pictures like these).


Internet storage containers

center of the universe

Modular Servers

Teleporter

The Matrix

Looking at the first picture, the blog you’re reading right now came from the 3rd ghost containment grid from the foreground… somewhere near the top.

Lollapalooza

A couple weekends ago I spent 3 days at Lollapalooza. My only initial ambition to see Radiohead, who I’ve seen once before in 2002 at a big outdoor show in St. Louis right after Hail to the Thief came out. Before that show I wasn’t really even a huge Radiohead fan.. after seeing Thom’s sweet dance moves in person I thought they were about the coolest thing I’d ever seen. In fact the author of the book that their most popular album (OK Computer) is largely based around (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy / Douglas Adams) has since been my favorite author.  Prior to this show I wasn’t totally sold on In Rainbows, but again I wasn’t sold of any of their other albums before the last time I saw them.

The show in Grant Park was totally surrounded by the Chicago skyline, with fireworks going behind the stage for most of the show and 100,000 people singing along..  Coldplay Radiohead was the only headliner the whole weekend that didn’t have any competition scheduled against them.  Though Kanye West and Rage Against the Machine were great in their own ways.. in the weirdest way possible, Radiohead’s mellow / bleak sounding albums translated into just about the happiest and highest energy show of the weekend. Wild enough that I just spent way too much time finding all these videos of the show on YouTube so that I could watch it all again.

Reckoner

Just

Just kidding.. that’s Gnarls Barkley covering Reckoner and Mark Ronson covering Just both later in the festival. I like the guy in the crowd of the first one that keeps saying “that’s radioheeeeaaaad”. These are the real videos.

15 Steps

Paranoid Android

2+2=5

Fake Plastic Trees

Idioteque

Everything in it’s Right Place

Not nearly as good as being there, but still nifty. A few more of their more piano and electronic songs would have been nice.. those all seem to translate really well live.. but overall an awesome show with songs from most every album and style of music they’ve taken over the years. Good stuff.

blogs, ideas, and suits

It takes some big ego to start up a personal blog. Really. Twice as much to name it after yourself. Most blogs I’ve read don’t make it past 5 posts; regardless of their agenda. Not only is it a big commitment, but it’s banking on you being interesting enough to hold the attention of random people on the Internet. There’s a lot of competition these days (citing: this, this, this, and that). Like much of any idea, it takes more than a passing thought, it takes the will to build something, and that’s something that most people lack.

I’ve been told that Albert Einstein owned 7 black suits, and only 7 black suits as his full wardrobe (the infinite wisdom of Google seems to back that up). More importantly, when asked about it, Einstein would say that he couldn’t afford to devote his mind to anything beyond what he was set on in that moment.. not even that bit extra it took on what to wear that day. To me that says quite a lot. That we all have ADD. That society’s perception of the word brilliance is really pretty much synonymous with focus. And that this blog is probably distracting me from something right now.

a quiet moment in a noisy mind

Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind become still.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
The way of nature is unchanging.
Knowing constancy is insight.
Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.
Knowing constancy, the mind is open.
With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
Being openhearted, you will act royally.
Being royal, you will attain the divine.
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.

-Lao Tzu

Zaazin’ and Harbors

I told myself that I wouldn’t write another blog about my spontaneous 14 day adventure up the west coast, but I caved. Seattle‘s definitely my new favorite city. In ten days in Los Angeles, I conversed with maybe 3-4 mostly unfriendly people a day (people I already knew there excluded).. in my first night in Seattle, I met probably dozens of super-intelligent, gratuitously nice people, which kept on all week. Not to mention some of the best seafood, beers, and scenery that I’ve found traveling to date.

seattle

zaaz

It’s also true that technology is everywhere in Seattle; among the most interesting / awesome people I was able to meet was the creative director / family for Zaaz.com on the rooftop pool of the Stadium Silver Cloud. For someone that spends most days looking at websites, the Zaaz AI is one of the best ideas I’ve seen, with wit that rival Bill’s IRC bots.