Person as Icon: Goodbye, Steve Jobs

Millions of words will be written about Steve Jobs today. The fact that a large portion of those will be written on devices that sprang from his imagination is fitting tribute enough.

From my first Macintosh, back in the 80s, to my news MacBook Air, I’ve been a fan of the company and its products. Since Jobs reassumed the helm of Apple I have also been an investor in their stock and wow has that done me wonders.

From what I hear, Jobs was a devout Buddhist. The search should be begin soon for his latest incarnation!

Thanks, Steve.

Blogging Personal

7 steps to a pleasing personality

I said before how I am reading (well, listening actually) to Napoleon Hill’s seminal ‘Laws of Success’. The book truly is amazing.

Right now I am on the chapter about developing a pleasing personality. So, to remember the seven steps to doing this I am going to write a sarcastic blog posting, which, while it might help me remember the steps, surely is self-undermining. Oh well.

First: Form the habit of interesting yourself in other people; and make it your business to find their good qualities and speak of them in terms of praise.

Hmm…good qualities in other people? That is going to be tough.

Second: Develop the ability to speak with force and conviction, both in your ordinary conversational tones and before public gatherings, where you must use more volume.

I think I can do that, maybe. Would you believe me if I did…I might be doing it wrong?

Third: Clothe yourself in a style that is becoming to your physical build and the work in which you are engaged.

Fat people – note the ‘style that is becoming to your physical build’. Terrycloth tracksuits, and lycra are not becoming to your physique (in the case of the former, any physique).

Fourth: Develop a positive character, through the aid of the formula outlined in this lesson.

This is a crappy step.

Fifth: Learn how to shake hands so that you express warmth of feeling and enthusiasm through this form of greeting.

Touching people? Yuck!

Sixth: Attract other people to you by first “attracting yourself” to them.

I have attracted myself to Jessica Alba… now what?

Seventh: Remember that your only limitation, within reason, is the one which YOU set up in YOUR OWN mind.

Well, there you go. I knew I couldn’t do it.

Blogging Personal

Napoleon Hill and the 17 principles of success

I am listening to the amazing audio book version of the update revision to this timeless masterpiece. True, it clocks in at around 20 hours, but it is time well worth spent (and you can’t / shouldn’t listen to too much at a time, you should let it percolate).

If you don’t know who Napoleon Hill is then read this to discover the man who pioneered self-help. All who followed have done little more than rearrange the deck chairs on his mansion.

My problem is that I have fallen at step one! (How embarrassing to admit). Step 1 is: ‘A DEFINITE CHIEF AIM’. i.e. decide what you want to do. How much is wrapped up in those 4 little words?! If I knew what I wanted to do the rest would be easy!



So much going on… so little blogging

I have been horribly remiss at this blog. Not that anyone cares, but, it seems hard for me to keep this going. Despite my busy life – work is insanely busy… recession, what recession? – and my various personal pursuits I just can’t keep it going.

Some would say ‘who cares’. Or ‘why bother’. Both of which are great questions. (The first is easy to answer… no one!). There is so much blah blah blah out in that blahosphere of the internet that sometimes I think that perhaps NOT blogging is a greater contribution than blogging.

But of course, here I am. Blogging again. It is a way of occupying my mind, or relieving the built up pressure. Writing is a good way of focusing, and maybe writing here (those thoughts I think should be public knowledge) will help with that. God knows I need focus.

My chief goals at the moment, outside of servicing my 3 major clients, are:

Improve my Japanese

You may or may not know that I bought a house earlier this year in Kyoto, Japan. I love Japan, the people and the culture (and the fooood!!!!!). But, there is an insurmountable barrier if you don’t speak the language. So I am muddling along, doing the best I can in the Nihon-deprived region called Andalucia.

Be creative

When I get stuck into a length of time where I cannot exercise my creative demons I go a bit crazy. I know that I need to do something – write, music, film… something. I can feel an immense pressure building up inside of myself. This has happened before and the resulting explosion is not pretty.

Give back

I believe that contributing to the world is important. For years I have been trying to find a way to donate myself – not my money – to a cause. It is, quite frankly, impossible. Early in the decade I contacted every NGO type organisation I could find that did work I was interested and said I wanted to come work for them. For free, if need be. Only 1 responded to me… in the form of a letter that basically said ‘thanks, but we don’t want you. We want your money’. The search continues! If anyone knows of an organisation that wants an experienced business person, with lots of practical technical knowledge, public speaking experience, etc etc… ah forget it. I know that isn’t going to happen!

Anyway, that’s all for now. That is enough despair for one day!


Very Handy Site for the Cross Time-Zone Worker!

I was looking today to figure out how to schedule work time for California (Toygaroo) while I am in Kyoto (Japan).

I stumbled across this site. There are probably others like it, but this is the one I found.

TravelMath lets you pick two places (very nice that you can just enter airport codes) and it will tell you not just the time difference – and the current time in the two places – but it also has a nice little chart about what work hours overlap! And what would be good times to schedule business calls between the two. Nice!

I’ve put two links into my brower’s toolbar

LAX to KIX (Los Angeles to Japan)


FRA to KIX (Frankfurt to Japan)

Very handy! Nice work TravelMath!

SmallBiz Toygaroo

Toygaroo in TechCrunch – and growing up

TechCrunch did a nice article about Toygaroo and the Shark Tank appearance… and the resulting investment from Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary. It looks like the company and the site are starting to get some traction and we are still getting some great traffic – even after the ridiculous original spike from being on the show the numbers are still very good!

For us as a company of course this is a learning experience. We’ve gone from 5 people with an idea to having some serious investment. That means firming up how we work internally – assigning more concrete roles, etc. Being several thousand miles away shelters me somewhat from the storm, but even here in FilmAmora central things are having to change!

The hardest part is actually that time difference. Like most things it has pros and cons! One of the big ‘pros’ is that I can work on the site in the morning my time and release a new version while it is still around 4am over there! The con of course is that I am having to check email and respond and be involved up until at least midnight (and the wife is getting tired of it!).

But, until such time as it is financially viable to move closer (and personally desirable… if THAT ever happens) things are how they are!

Next month I am off to Japan for a while – which is then going to mean I am many hours out in the other direction. I’m not really wanting to spend my time in Japan huddled over my computer (wearing a Radiation suit, if things keep on going as they have been!) – but you have to do what you have to do.

Of course, Toygaroo are not my only obligation. The juggling is also a component of figuring this whole thing out.

SmallBiz Toygaroo

The word is out about Toygaroo and Shark Tank!

So, now that the show has aired, and most people have watched it either live or via DVR, we can start talking about it!

If you want some details on what transpired you can read: this article.

Basically, we took $200k from Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban in exchange for 40% of the company. These two bring some good things to the party – O’Leary ostensibly (I will let you Google it to see what I qualify the statement) has some good contacts in the toy industry and Cuban brings some good internet scaling and content delivery chops.

Only time will tell just how this whole arrangement works out but of course we are excited about the prospect of what the future might bring!

Toygaroo is America’s biggest, best and perhaps only quality toy rental company. Right now we only service the continental US (even though I am a Canadian living in Spain! Go figure). Plans range from around $30/month on up, depending on how many toys you want and for how long.

Under the hood Toygaroo runs on Ruby on Rails and utilizes a version of the software we developed for I am on board as CTO.

Since the airing of the show – 2 days ago – we’ve had over 100,000 page views and a whack of signups. In other words – it pays to be on TV!

SmallBiz Toygaroo

The immediate aftermath of a Shark Tank appearance

Last night my company, Toygaroo, was on Shark Tank (America’s version of Dragon’s Den). Our segment was around 8 minutes long.

Let me say that we hadn’t really done any advertising before and our pageviews, pre-sharktank, were pretty close to 0, once you factor out employees and testing.

Yesterday we had 70,000 page views. All of those were within an hour of each showing (east coast and west coast). I’m putting in a screenshot of our analytics because it is so dramatic.

Thankfully our servers survived fine, and our Ruby on Rails app suffered no issues!

For all of you on upcoming episodes… you’ve been warned!

SmallBiz Toygaroo

My company Toygaroo on Shark Tank premiere.

My new company is Toygaroo. Toygaroo is an innovation in the toy business. It is a rental company – similar to let’s say something like NetFlix – where you can rent toys instead of buying them. It was started by some great people out in California and I was brought on as CTO, bringing along the great platform that we have been running FilmAmora on for 3 years.

We’ve had a big break in that we are going to be featured on the official season premiere of Shark Tank. Shark Tank is the American version of Dragon’s Den (why it had its name changed I have no idea). Anyway, the show airs tonight, March 25th, at 8pm on ABC.

Once the show is over I can start blogging more about the company and its future! Exciting Stuff!


Busy, busy – Toygaroo, Kyoto and more

Haven’t been blogging on here at all lately! Things have been quite crazy!

#1 – Toygaroo! My new company is Toygaroo. Founded by a bunch of great guys (and a gal!) in California this company looks set to change the way parents get toys for their kids. Toygaroo is a rental model, like FilmAmora and NetFlix. I came on board as CTO, bringing along the software and experience from years of renting DVDs and FilmAmora. If you live in the US check us out at

#2 – Kyoto! At the beginning of the year we completed our purchase of a house in Kyoto, Japan. After the series of disasters there it has been difficult to not just watch the news all the time. Luckily the house is a long way away from the problems.

#3 – FilmAmora! We’ve taken FilmAmora offline for now. We are looking at changing the business structure. There is a lot of potential in the business, but we need to do it right. I think it was suffering from some problems. When it comes back it will be bigger and better than ever.

I’m trying to get more disciplined about blog writing. I’ve got 3 on the go – this one (ostensibly about business related things), (about buying our house and spending more time in Japan) and rorramblings (occasional notes on software development).

I’ve never been a fan of blogging for blogging’s sake, but, there is lots going on now and hopefully I can find the time to write coherent articles that might help others.