A Real Cool Hand

I'm Craig Sturgis and this is a web site.

Swing and a Miss

If you’ve been paying attention to some of my recent writing you may have noted a more downbeat and reflective tone. The open secret behind a lot of this reflection is that the business I co-founded has stopped operating and is shutting down.

Naturally, this was a really big disappointment for all of us. Rationally, I know I will almost certainly have worse days in my life, but the way I felt the day we had to break the news to our team that we were out of money is not something I want to experience ever again. It felt like I’d let everyone down, from our investors and service providers, to our homeowners who spent their time and money with us, right on down to the dogs who wouldn’t get to spend days at our office anymore.

After a little bit of time, I don’t feel ashamed of the failure or have a desire to whitewash our story. We have no need for flowery “sunset” euphemisms. We took a big swing, and we didn’t connect.1 The disappointment lingers, but I have a big sense of pride in what we built, our culture of communication, speed, and continuous improvement, as well as the hard problems we were able to attack and make a dent in before we ran out of fuel.

I think calling attention to lessons learned when things don’t go as planned and the practice of writing post mortems is just as valuable as hearing the success stories that inspire us to take those big swings. Jim’s version of ours is here:

This is the End – Haven Post Mortem

It’s a really succinct summary of the many factors that led to us not being able to make the business work. The biggest lesson not spelled out in that post that I’ve internalized is one that’s really painful as a “product guy.” It was a line I’ve heard many times but didn’t really and truly understand until recently- the market is way more important than the product.

I can link the famous Mark Andreessen post but hopefully most have read it already. I did way back when, and didn’t learn the lesson, but it’s so blindingly obvious in retrospect. Even the best product in a market that isn’t good enough or isn’t ready will still fail to generate a sustainable business.

The iPhone is arguably the most successful single product in history not purely because Apple states that its mission is to make great products, it’s mostly because the smartphone market is maybe tied with railroads as the greatest market in human history.2

I still believe in creating great products — it’s the main thing that motivates creators. But, I have a new passion for minimizing wasted effort starting with laser targeting the right market first, then building the best possible product that fits that market, and making the iteration cycles take as little calendar time as possible.

I do still have a perfectionist instinct to indulge by making the things that I’m proud to share with others, but in the future I will make sure it’s a labor of love first and any business that comes out of it is a bonus.

In the end, my Haven stock is not going to make me wealthy and I do not have an “exit” on my resume. But, compared to the opportunity costs of a more comfortable job or a bigger salary, I believe the last few years with Haven and what is now SmarterHQ before that have given me an education I couldn’t have gotten any other way. I’m excited to leverage that hard fought knowledge and learn even more in what I do next.

One of our Haven lunch and learn speakers3 said something that really stuck with me. I don’t remember the exact quote so I’ll paraphrase:

This is not a line of work that has a high probability of success, but nobody here is going to starve. If you stay in it long enough and learn enough, you’re probably going to be successful.

It may take me a year or five or ten, but if I’m fortunate enough to stay on this Earth, I see myself taking another ride on the founder rollercoaster. There’s always more to learn, and there’s no better way to learn than by doing.

  1. Maybe I can use this metaphor to get my twitter circle to start arguing about hitting a home run vs. a major league pitcher vs. hitting a hole in one from the tips on a PGA tournament par 3 again.

  2. Almost all of this particular point is I’m sure cribbed from / better articulated by the brilliant Ben Thompson of Stratechery whom you should be reading and subscribing to if you are interested in the business of tech.

  3. Another thing I think we did way better than any other version I’ve been a part of in the past

My Couch Is Nerdier Than Most

Having a laptop or a tablet on the couch while watching TV is of course not a new thing. As soon as portable computers shifted from something that looked like a suitcase to the trackball sporting beasts of the early 90s, people have been participating in the dual screen experience. Lately however I’ve taken a new approach to partially reclined computing that I’ve been enjoying.

A pain in the neck

A couple of years back the consequences of 25+ years of hunching over in front of computers caught up with me in the form of some severe neck and back pain. This forced me to not only get a bunch of treatment, but also to really think about my posture and ergonomics in every daily situation.

One consequence of this stretch of time is I had to give up using a computer for anything more than a few minutes if it didn’t involve sitting or standing up straight in front of a screen at eye level. Not really something that’s compatible with a laptop on a couch.

My solution was to just not use a computer unless I was seated at my office desk with the full complements of my fancy chair and all the proper adjustments. Otherwise, any other electronics time was conducted exlusively via phone or iPad, and was mostly passive reading or messaging.


Over time, I’ve been mostly happy with my “OS X downstairs, iOS upstairs1” approach, but I’ve been more recently motivated to try something new. I have a wonderful girlfriend and a menagerie of pets that I would like to not be secluded from, but many things I like to do call for a good deal of typing, and I would like to do so without injuring myself.

That, and I wanted to be able to quickly and easily type incomprehensible gibberish reactions during Colts games in front of my big dumb plasma television.2

It’s alive

On a whim, I MacGuyvered a solution from things I mostly had lying around. The most important thing for me is being able to look at a display at eye level so I can avoid hunching over.

So, starting with my beloved iPad Air 2 I mostly use to read, I acquired a cheap adjustable arm, attached it to our always handy C-table, and paired up a salvaged bluetooth keyboard. Then, it was off to the comfortable typing races, with the added bonus of being able to quickly and easily dissassemble and stash away my weird looking monstrosity.

Kinda looks like screwball Daffy Duck if you squint

iOS 9

The thing that really makes all this work is the expanded keyboard support for iPads in the newly released iOS 9. Just the ability to cmd+tab between apps and cmd+space spotlight searches almost makes me feel like I’m right at home on a mac. It’s not quite 100% there, but it’s way better than other attempts I’ve made in the past. Often I prefer the more constrained approach to multitasking, especially when I am most likely already doing so by looking at a big screen in the first place.

But what does it do

I won’t lie, this is mostly a thing that will get heavy usage for chat slinging and checking fantasy football scores on fall Sundays, but I am intrigued at having another set of tools at hand to write with.

Right now it would be hard to make a complete end to end post to this site due to the way it’s built, but coming up with an easier process could be worth exploring. Either way I can type, and stringing words together is 99% of the battle anyway.

Another pipe dream is being able to write up some quick code from a shell or even something like Coda for iOS, but I’m probably way too picky make that work. But who knows, obsessing about only using just the right tools is something I’m trying to do less3.

I’m also interested in trying more things I would only consider doing on a traditional computer with this neutered robo-giraffe setup. Some interesting people seem to like creating things mostly on iPads. Maybe I will too. Clearly I don’t mind looking silly in the process.

(This post includes affiliate links.)

  1. Alternatively- business in the front; party in the back

  2. One of the last production runs panasonic did :(

  3. Which I’ve of course proven by writing 800 words about some tools I use.

Riding the Rails, Backwards

Recently I’ve been getting the opportunity to work with / help out some software companies that base their tech stack on rails. Now, languages and frameworks are all just tools, and one doesn’t necessarily have to be an expert in the tools to be able to make a material contribution to shipping a product.

But, in order to truly be helpful, one should probably be able to “swing a hammer” and have a good grasp on the mechanics and most of all the philosophy and approach to leveraging the tools.

Wait, you don’t know rails?

Sadly, no. I read the pickaxe Ruby book in 2005 right after I graduated from college, but that was around the time got a job for a company that did all its development in .NET, and during that time of my life the primary tool I was interested in spending my personal time mastering was the guitar. So, what software tool skills I developed remained mostly in that sphere until much later.

However, Rails was deservedly the poster child for the growing consensus around how data backed web applications should be built – the smash hit that launched a thousand frameworks. Frameworks I ended up learning in my previous life as a .NET developer and then as I became more and more a Javascript expert on both the client and server side, and informed choices in the tools I was using to structure my node/express and client side MVC code.

All aboard

So, while the concepts at play are very much an old, familiar hat, this particular set of tools I’ve only ever admired from afar, and my astigmatism doesn’t help. Time to get up close and personal.

At first, I thought maybe the quickest way for an experienced developer to get up to speed on the philosophy and approach of rails was to watch a video course. I have a pluralsight trial and a lynda.com subscription, so I went to both of those and started to dive in.

While the intro videos gave me some of the philosophy, the material was targeted way, way below my web development experience level. I needed something I could move through more quickly.

Getting Started

After some more googling around, and deciding I didn’t want a full book, I went full bore into the official Getting Started With Rails guide. Overall, it was a good intro to the framework, and provided a very decent overview of the simple MVC mechanics and how things are laid out. I was able to connect a lot of the dots and see the lineage of a lot of other things I’m familiar with from .NET MVC, express, Angular, and the like, and like a good student I completed the exercises.

What’s Missing / What’s Next

The problem I am running into while I look into the best resources to help me get up to speed effectively is that a lot of guides / tutorials I run into seem to be targeted towards a web development world that I don’t live in anymore.

The server side aspects of web development for me now are mostly about exposing a set of JSON based apis for client applications to consume, whether they are Javascript based web frameworks or native mobile / client apps. Good old static pages with some forms and javascript for flavor still have their place, but that tent is rapidly shrinking.

Javascript, whether you love it or loathe it1, is where most of the action is in terms of providing the surface area for users to interact with web apps. Really what I need is the ability to get up to speed on using rails to most effectively provide a set of APIs – CRUD is great, but based on my recent experience sometimes more tailored verbs are called for on API routes.

I’d love to find resources that help me get up to speed on the API focused approach so I can focus whatever other software tool based learning I do towards moving data around on the back end in the right way before it gets turned into JSON, and towards tools and conventions that help to build better client side applications both on the web2 and natively3.

I do think ActiveRecord is something I should dive into and understand fully, and I absolutely need to re-familiarize myself with the details and patterns of ruby the language, and especially understand how to do concurrency well in a rails context.


If you’re reading this somewhat recently after it’s posted and you are a ruby / rails expert, please do point me to the resources you think would be the most helpful for me at this stage. I’m in sponge mode but want to get the most bang for my time spent. Email away to craig @ this domain or tweeter me at @craigsturgis. I’ll owe you a coffee!

  1. I fall a lot more on the love side of it now that I use it mostly as the functional language it is and will even more when I can use ES6/2015 everywhere, and that day is pretty much here thanks to Babel and the like.

  2. I’ve enjoyed my dive into Angular, but React really speaks to me and I’d like to explore it more, not just because it’s the new hotness but the parts of Angular that chafe a bit seem to be addressed by React/Flux. We’ll see

  3. Dabbling in native development has been both invigorating and frustrating. But, I’m most interested in building great user experiences, and being close to the metal is a great way to be sure that no limitations will pop up to degrade that experience.

Craigslist Literature: Aeron Edition

When I post anything that’s not completely boring or straightforward for sale on craigslist1, I decided to try to add a bit of extra flair to my listings. If nothing else, to try to entertain people who might see it, and at best increase my chances of selling the item. This was my first attempt, and the chair sold today!

Wounded Aeron Chair Seeks A Better, More Mechanically Inclined Partner – $200 (South Broad Ripple)

I used to be so majestic.

I was a shining example of that most famous of office chairs, the Aeron. The crown jewel of Herman Miller’s eye, bringing joy and ergonomic fortitude to the backs and hind parts of the beleaguered office worker.

I was as flexible and supportive as any chair could be, until for reasons I’ll never understand I wasn’t enough. I was unceremoniously shipped off into the secondary market where I joined a group of my brothers and sisters in a lot put up for sale on this very website.

And that’s when I saw him – my new partner who took his time sitting in each and every one of the chairs – passing up the other brand new upstarts in the shop for old reliable me. I was the pick of the litter. My second act was about to take flight!

But the honeymoon did not last. I remained supportive as ever but my lower half was not as strong as it used to be, and I could not stay adjusted to the new height required to be ergonomically stable. And so I was relegated to the sidelines once again, awaiting a shipment of a hydraulics replacement kit.

When the day arrived for my surgery, I was apprehensive, but looking forward to getting back in the game. A couple of pdfs and some youtube videos later, and I figured it would be smooth sailing with all this support information.

The surgery was not a success. Despite clear instructions from all over the internet my new owner was not good at removing my well implanted seat screw, and ended up breaking out the screw housing completely. Also, despite his best efforts, he could not figure out a way to remove the hydraulic assembly that was the main reason he took me apart in the first place! I do not think he is as mechanically inclined as he thinks he is.

So, now I sit, in pieces, hoping for the day when somebody who actually knows how to properly assemble a chair will come and rescue me. To add insult to injury I had to watch as another more functional chair was wheeled in as I sat broken in the corner, a refugee from the island of misfit chairs.

Please, if anyone out there is not a complete failure at chair repair, you can have me and my $79 hydraulic replacement kit for one low, low price. I’ve still got so much love and support to give!

  1. I colloquially refer to craigslist as “my list”

I’m From the Future

I’ve had the occasion to be doing a lot of reflection on the past year and a half recently, on helping start a business, on running a development team, on being the primary person in charge of managing a product – all things I had never really done completely on my own before1. I’ve tried to focus on mainly on crystallizing what I’ve learned from those experiences, but the question “what do you regret” has also been rattling around in my head for quite a while, and has been asked of me directly more recently.

Human beings like to lean on pattern matching when evaluating their experiences and think it would have been easy to make better choices given more information, but by coincidence I’ve been finally reading through The Design of Everyday Things and it’s been helpful in giving me pause when doing this. Its description of hindsight was alone worth the price of the book, and the examples of how simple and easy it can make things seem when many factors that led to a strategic mistake can be glossed over. Luckily our mistakes did not lead to a life threatening situation like the ones described in the book.

There are many things I would do differently if I could travel from this moment back in time to the beginnings of the company2, but the present version me has that gift of hindsight. If I had to convince past me to carry out things differently, I’m relatively sure that my previous version wouldn’t have been ready with the tools or the understanding to follow through on the instructions even if they were listed out step by step3. Only now do I feel like I have the tools to do what should have been done to have a good shot at success the way I presently understand it.

Of course this is not some radical new theory, but that’s the point- you can take in all the advice and read all the books and do all the case studies you want, unless you are truly a phenom or truly lucky, many lessons can’t sink in until you live them. The content is not nearly as effective without the context. Whether you need somebody to yell at you or not, doing something is the most effective way to learn it, whether it’s a failure or a success.

It’s a big thing that motivates me to continue finding ways to challenge myself – if I look at code I wrote months ago and I’m not at least a little bit disgusted, I know I’m not getting better. If I don’t look back and think about how I could have approached a situation in a better way, I know I didn’t challenge myself enough.

Some mistakes are unavoidable, and even in success, hindsight should be there. But I try to incorporate a philosophy of continuous improvement and put systems in place to help make sure to confront where things could and should be better. Awareness of the biases and emotions and stresses that can affect our decisions is not sufficient to avoid being negatively affected by them.

I continue look forward to future me continuing to smirk at how naive current me was. The day I don’t want to travel back in time and knock some sense into myself means I’ve lost the drive to get better. That would be a true failure.

(This post includes an affiliate link.)

  1. My 1999-era computer building business does not count

  2. After the obligatory time traveling Hitler assassination

  3. Alternate timeline Biff Tannen still had to figure out how to parlay his money into dystopian power on his own.

Developing Product Management[0]: Starter to Finisher

Among the first things taught to students studying physics are Newton’s three laws of motion, the first of which (paraphrased) is that an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.

Many people struggle with being a starter and not a finisher on any number of projects, and can’t keep things in motion. Countless github profiles are just like mine on the public facing side – a few repositories created or forked with good intentions, but that don’t end up amounting to very many finished products if any at all.

This of course is not specific to open source contributions. Inertia is something that has loomed large for me over the last couple of years, in trying to build a business, in doing my job as a developer, and especially the not insignificant amount of time I’ve spent trying my hand at product management.

Coming at product management with a developer’s background and mindset has been one of the biggest challenges of my career, but it has also taught me quite a bit that I plan to write about as part of a series of posts.

First – how can I apply what I’ve learned doing product management to leverage inertia in my own personal projects, especially those that rely almost entirely on instrinsic motivation to stay in motion?

Personally, the biggest thing that tends to kill my projects is a perceived lack of progress early on, which leads to discouragement, which leads to an object at rest; a stone gathering moss.

I don’t believe anyone starts any project without some sort of plan – but how much of that plan lives completely inside the person’s head working on it?

As I’ve quoted before, writing is thinking. Getting the plan for what needs to be done into a tangible form has multiple benefits, not only leading to better definition, but also making it easier to gauge progress.

The suck threshold is a very important concept when producing any product, but it also applies to the process of producing something as well – the more quickly one feels like a badass, the more likely it is that momentum will be conserved.

The tools used to make a tangible plan don’t really matter. I’m partial to using Trello thanks to its flexibility, but plain old paper, a whiteboard, a spreadsheet, or even Microsoft Project1can be made to work. The key is to find the right balance between between getting enough of the plan in a tangible form to give yourself a road map without spending so much time planning and defining that the momentum of producing is lost.

Once the high level things are understood, more detailed definition is definitely helpful, but even if just one detailed task is broken out of the larger plan and completed, that can be enough to get the momentum going on to the next one.

Common pitfalls and bad habits I run into are screwing around trying to decide what set of tools or technologies to use to accomplish something, or spending so much time trying to learn the tool vs. accomplishing something. In the case of software, things like yeoman generators and the like can help get a project moving faster without fiddling with the setup. I also find it helpful to keep this thought in mind: “what is the primary goal?” Is it to learn how to use a tool2 or to produce a good product?

Even if the market for that product is only the person making it, staying reminded of what it means to finish something makes it way more likely that the endeavor will result in a finished product. The more of those you have, the easier it is to keep the stone rolling and being confident in being a finisher vs just a starter.

Postscript: Now, to practice what I preach. My overall plan for this particaular series of posts is to cover more abstract topics from this perspective, mixed in with specific examples from real personal projects which I will be posting as I go, some as open source software.

(This post includes an affiliate link.)

  1. Note: I’ve never used this piece of software. It looks like not much fun to me, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  2. A completely valid answer!

Slack Is the Future of Team Communication, but It Won’t Make Your Team Communicate

We’ve been using slack at Haven since before I made the first commit to our code repository, and it is a revelation. It deserves every glowing bit of coverage it has received. Given the opportunity, I would invest in them, even at their headline grabbing valuation.

The way they’ve stood on the shoulders of IRC and even HipChat to bring group chat from the super technical crowd to the rest of people who mostly work on a computer is inspiring from a product perspective.

In previous situations where I needed to collaborate with others to do my job, I was often frustrated by important information getting buried in email threads with too few or way too many people copied, or locked in conversations in meeting rooms that might as well have vanished into thin air after they happened.

After struggling to try to bring group chat into previous teams, I figured out a shortcut- founding a new company with like minded people who also despised the way email could get in the way of collaborating effectively. As a bonus of starting fresh, nothing would get in the way of finally have the correct tools for the job.

Of course, once freed from the shackles of internal email everyone in our slack team has communicated 100% perfectly from the start, from when it was just the 3 of us working part time all the way up to 10+ full time employees and external contractors and interns.

That is of course not true. No matter how we choose to share information, unless suddenly all parties can read minds like Professor X, collaborating with other people involves working with human beings, all of us imperfect.

Putting valuable information in searchable channels where anybody who might need it can access it is a huge leap forward. But, that will not get everyone to put enough detail or context into what they write, or stop incorrect assumptions, or even guarantee that a crucial piece of information won’t be lost in the shuffle of too many of those incredibly useful messages from integrations.

Team communication is hard. Doing it well takes discipline and constant reinforcement, and it’s so easy to get comfortable and assume understanding or even that the words I typed actually convey the correct set of ideas and not something close but very different. That degree of difficulty only goes up the more people you add to the mix.

Writing is thinking, and chat is immediate. Sometimes the immediate thought is not always the most coherent, so establishing ways to make sure everyone is not overwhelmed and is encouraged to layer on additional context via give and take is just as important as getting people to use the right tools.

Our team has had a lot of communication success and failure, but we’re always looking to build the discipline to make it easier, and the first step is not deluding ourselves that it is easy or automatic even with the best tools available.

P.S. – These are probably separate post(s), but I can confidently say slack is not a wiki replacement and it is definitely not a task management system, no matter how tempting it is to try to use it in those ways

The Learning Stops When the Writing Stops

It’s really easy to give or listen to advice. I’ve given plenty of mostly unqualified advice to people who didn’t really ask for it most of the time. I’ve read a lot of advice and taken really useful things from it- I’m a good chunk through a book1 that would qualify as just that right now. I have a drive to learn about great new ways to do things and a too healthy fixation on finding the perfect set of tools to help me and everyone around me do things the right way from now on.

Coming off of a week of vacation and stepping back, it’s funny to reflect on all the lessons and habits I find the most valuable in my life and in my career to this point were things I read or was told about or even talked about myself ad nauseum, but didn’t really absorb until I really tried it myself instead of talking about it or researching 10 different tools to find the perfect one to do it.

Recently at Haven we announced our arrival to the wider world2. I’m immensely proud of what my team and our whole company have accomplished so far, but I know how much more we need to do and how much better it can be as we try new things, find ways to test our results, and improve upon them. I want our company and products to be better, and most of all I want to be better, so I am going to commit to doing more things both professionally and personally with the bare minimum of prerequisites, because looking back that’s how I learned and discovered most effectively- by doing.

I’m also going to commit to make time to write about my experiments whenever possible, because writing is something I miss, and because I need to take my own medicine. I talk a lot about how writing is thinking but as you can see by my post history I’m either not thinking much or I’m doing it in private. I am to improve upon that as much as I can. Always bet on text.

I have some ideas. I may write a series3 about my ongoing experiments in product management coming from developer world. I may write about the classic movie I just watched for the first time tonight. I might write about the book I read on vacation that should be a movie. I might write a super technical post about code that should probably be a question and answer on stackoverflow. I may write a review of a grape Mr. Misty4 12 years after I said I would. But, I am setting a goal to write weekly, and I am going to challenge my inner critic to lay off a bit before obsessing over each thing I write, because the result of thinking more about what would be a good enough post to write vs. just writing so far is that I just stop writing publicly. I hope if I fall short whatever peanut gallery exists finds ways to remind me to do what I said I’d do. As previous posts to this site now show in the footnotes, future me will probably chastise current me regardless.

Coach Sellers used to say “the learning stops when the writing stops.” I’ve learned a whole lot without writing about it afterwards, but I feel like had I done so I would consider those ideas more carefully and have more clarity and understanding around them. I hope in the process to throw off some artifact that is useful or at least makes someone else crack a smile, but otherwise I am going to write to think, and to hopefully learn. An object in motion stays in motion.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

  1. About 60% of the way through I’m finding some of the thinking to be really useful and a lot of the specific content to be dated and very much “do what I did to get rich!” seminar kinds of stuff. Still worth the read so far.

  2. Or at least the wider Indianapolis metropolitan area.

  3. Inspired by series from Brent Simmons and David Smith among others, which I enjoyed even without knowing much about the surrounding material

  4. I think a Mr. Misty is called an Arctic Rush or something now. Some people are unjustifiably mad about Pluto not being a planet, I am unjustifiably mad about this.


Many people at times had difficulty understanding Grandpa when he spoke. Not necessarily because of his accent, but also because he had a knack for saying things people had to think about a bit.

There’s a famous story in our family in which before a birthday celebration he shared with my sister Jessica, he rose to speak and began simply saying “Today is the day…of 100!” Seeing some confused looks I explained that we were celebrating his 78th birthday and her 22nd birthday and those together equaled 100- it made sense to me.

It was clear to anyone who got to know Grandpa that he was a different sort of person. His relentless curiosity about the world and everything in it was evident. From working with countless mechanical things in his workshop to learning a new language to add to the many he spoke fluently so he could better understand people from other cultures than the many he already knew, his thirst for new knowledge was unending. His taste for adventure took him from Switzerland to his new home in these United States, and then with Grandma by his side to exotic destinations around the globe, and yet those great adventures did not diminish even the small adventures to be had such as trying out my brother John’s skateboard or even getting on horseback at 89 years old.

His acts of kindness and charity were frequent and not small. He gave to a wide range of charities, especially those that help the less fortunate and of course preserve the environment he remained fascinated with until now. His generosity and love allowed us to have a family vacation every year on a beautiful island that many of us call home now.

Looking back, it’s funny how nobody else I knew when they went to visit their grandparents was graded on how well they made the bed or was pitted against their cousin in an amateur olympic decathlon including such events as swimming, running, and indigenous blowgun target shooting.

But, nobody else I knew helped put together a water sensing vent closing mechanism. Or flew down an underground tunnel inside a box pulled by a lawn tractor. Nobody else I knew had a Grandpa who wanted them to build him a computer with a “video telephone” years before skype was a thing. Or shot targets with a blowgun.

The list goes on and on, and all those experiences helped encourage and inspire so many of the passions I hope to continue on in my life and share with others as he did. I can only hope to match his kindness and constant adventuring. On the other hand, we might think that we all should hope not to be as stubborn, but I do think there was a lesson in his famous story about there being “no such orders in the Swiss Army.”

Today we miss Grandpa, and we love and remember him. But we also celebrate- not the day of 100, but the day of the number of all the years combined of all the people across the world from Aarau to Tide Pointe who were enriched by his kindness, curiosity, love, and zest for life.

Later during your dinner I hope you all raise a glass, and “Prost” to Willi, whom we will not forget.

Schneier: The Value of Privacy

I recently came across a link to a post from 2006 from security writer Bruce Schneier that is very relevant to the recent NSA news, and probably puts forth the best succinct argument against the first sentence of this excerpt:

“If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?”

Some clever answers: “If I’m not doing anything wrong, then you have no cause to watch me.” “Because the government gets to define what’s wrong, and they keep changing the definition.” “Because you might do something wrong with my information.” My problem with quips like these — as right as they are — is that they accept the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It’s not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? (“Who watches the watchers?”) and “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The whole post is not very long and very much worth reading.

It seems to me that most people aren’t really that concerned with the recent revelations or are fixated on the man who leaked them instead of their contents. I think though that if people really understood just how much about someone can be figured out with even basic analytics, much less huge volumes of searchable private data and what the implications of that are, they’d be much more concerned.