Patience is a Liability

Patience is a liability within the context of business.

A few weeks ago, I resigned from my cushy job to pursue creating something new. I have been working on the idea for the past several months. My untested belief is that I have planned it well with many mitigation points and exit strategies.

Beyond my literary addictions; I’ve been actually working as a full-on technologist for some time. In that realm, there’s a healthy part of anyone who has a little bit of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in them.

There is no doubt that if you want something so bad, you ought to face a new set of problems. Specifically speaking, it is hard to be commercially viable with passion projects. In contrast, most people have to find a way to balance what the world will pay them to do with what they love to do. Some never compromised. My new endeavor is just that.


Today, I changed the .com name of the blog to GrayTurf.Com. This should not materialistically change anything if you’re following the blog through WordPress, Twitter, or Facebook.

I needed to assign the old website name ( to a business. Thanks for understanding.

Post More Selfies

Every day, I find myself in the middle of two groups of people who are theatrically different -in terms of their online presence. The first group, mostly college friends and (former) coworkers, are those who carefully curate their LinkedIn profiles and maintain executive pages with a nicely erected headshot. The second group are the ones who fall into deep depression without their facebook posts.

I have personally embraced the online presence to a large degree. For instance, I have two facebook accounts. The first one is dead in terms of activity. I opened it literally a day after Facebook got liberated out of the college circle. Most of my college friends, former and present coworkers are connected to me via that account. The second account is more active. I use it to keep in touch with my close circle of friends.

Last week and during my flight from Seattle to SF, I connected an analyzer to both accounts to study the nature of the news feeds on each account. Counting by the number of ‘likes’, here are the most disliked feed themes on my dead account :

– 41% : Political messages
– 24% : Self Promotion
– 14% : Baby photos
– 13% : Pictures of partying
– 7% : Fundraising

The result on the second (active) account is much more interesting. Here are the most disliked themes on my personal account:

– 51% : Self Promotion
– 32% : Baby photos
– 10% : Pictures of partying
– 5% : Selfies
– 0.9% : Relationship status update

Measured by data, most of my close friends are apparently a bunch of insecure motherfuckers. Besides, can you imagine how much they talk about each other given these themes? That should be a very abutting experience if that’s what gossip does. One might assert, I am gossiping too -given the nature of this post. But at least I’m doing it publicly since most of my friends read this blog.

Mass emails, facebook posts and tweets are guilt-free ways to brag about accomplishments and acquisitions. After all, the sender doesn’t get true feedback on reader response, as most people know better than to respond angrily and leave a negative e-trail. One of the sad things about the one-sidedness of social media communication is that it allows people to live the fantasy that their mundanities and complacencies are anything but.

According to thousands of near death experiences or survivors, many of them faced a life-review. A full holographic display of moment to moment, since their birth to their death. What stood out in these reliving moments was that they were able to see the impact and ripples of their conduct, behavior, thought, word and deed, on not just on the person they spoke about, but also on those connected to that person. Now if this kind of knowledge was made public, people would pause before they went about talking ill about others. The ultimate matrix watches us and plays back to us every tiny thing we have ever done in our life, or in every life.

Softie’s Split Personalities

If corporations are people, they often seem to have personality and identity disorder. From the one hand they seem like an unforgiving monster, and from the other hand they look protective and respectful of their employees.

Today was my last day in the only corporation I’ve ever worked for. So many years –and countless memories. I went in as a green technology enthusiast, and left as a seasoned man with a great deal of life lessons. Above all, I learned to give.

They say the price of mistake is high when you’re in a mature stage of your career. True, but so is the cost of not knowing when it’s the time to pivot. Like many of my peers and coworkers, I can’t still believe I left the softie, but I feel good about it. It is the time to try something new while I still have it in me. I am not ready to cruise and not worry, despite the fact that a great level of comfort has been in place.

Nowadays, the softie might be at the peak of his split personalities, but he has been very gentle and sweet to me all along. His split personalities came to me in different forms of his sweetness which expressed an openness to the world, a wish to be useful, an innocence, and a guilelessness. If there is a poster child for this odd form of sweetness, it is the softie.

Altitude Matters

Like many, I had the opportunity to waste 6+ years of my life in a couple of universities. As always the schools of medicine, engineering, and law were the ones that had long queues of enthusiasts. I picked Physics for undergraduate as my first choice because back then I believed “science rules man!”. How naïve.

Physics was an honest and clean pain in the ass as a faculty. No course was like the other. The epitome seemed all over the place in that it touched chemistry, electrical engineering, solid state, astronomy, statistics, and religion. It was only during the first year that I enjoyed some fun stories such as: apple fell from the tree while Newton was observing and flirting with the girls, -or- the twin paradox tale where someone tried to part the age of twin brothers by years, only if one of them could travel close to the speed of light. After the first year however, it all became mathematics of most intense kind –where we almost ran out of symbolic characters and had to tap into Greek characters to explain why space bends around mass.

Every learning was theory bound. Though that applies to all areas of science, Physics is highly theory dependent. Every theory starts and end with something like this: one day Adam was doing something and suddenly realized:

– A ~ B : A increases or decreases proportionally with B – Observation / Theory
– A : B : Let’s do some experimentation to find a curve as to what that proportion is – Experimentation
– A / B : All experimentations suggest there is a constant (=K) that relates A to B – Thesis
– A = K * B : and K came from experimentation. – Conclusion

And suddenly we have a constant and a law. The constant is called Adam’s Number. And ladies and gentlemen, here I give you the Law of Adam. Almost all of Newton and Thermodynamic laws were formed like this. The only complexities had to do with the context and environment where K could be a function of temperature, time, or dimension.

This is how physics legitimized itself. Physics went to bed with Mathematics, to look secure and complete. I know my description seems funny and simplistic. Doesn’t it? Read on…

During graduate studies and in order to get accredited I had to take two other courses: Philosophy of Science and History of Science. That was a treat. Simply put, these two courses felt like some stood right in front of you and said “You think you learned some serious shit? Go Fuck Yourself”.

After six years of hard work and studying some of the most complex and abstract areas of science that had no resonation or correspondence to the outside world or everyday life, it was argued that : you should take everything you learned relatively and consider that some of the laws have been contextual and have lacked objectivity of criterion. Therefore they don’t pass coherentism and have problem of the criterion.

The punch line of the course was even more piercing. It inferred, Altitude of Perspective matters. The simple example was: the earth seems flat when you’re close to it. It’s round when you elevate. So we have two sets of laws that equally apply within context. Newtonian laws of gravity and General Relativity, respectively. After that course and the sudden collapse of my scientific beliefs, I have stopped placing all of my hopes on science. We all thrive to blend our beliefs in science in the hope that the overwhelming certainty and inevitability of science will prove our points. It’d take one years of logical and emotional exhaustion to realize how over-rated and relative that hope is.

Science is one of the best vehicles we possess to explain scoped problems, but science is not the only vehicle. Instincts, philosophy, and synaptic elasticity provide an invaluable sea of data. Human beings fall short of enjoying the ability to articulate or reason within that realm.

Program Managers

At work, some of my best friends are senior level Program Managers. They tend to be the most entertaining people: eccentric, fanatic, creative, violently verbal and deeply hilarious. The sort of people who sat in the back of the room in high school and shot spitballs at the future CEOs and scientists sitting up front. But their impact on technology and science has been perverse. Rather than make the game more interesting, they have sucked a good deal of the life from our daily work. They have become specialists in caution, politics, and literal reactionaries … they react to the results of their ambitions and fears. They fear anything they haven’t tested! 

Program Managers (PM) are unavoidable, given the complexity of modern communications. But I have a hazy hope that the most talented PMs now realize that internet community and multitasking generation have come to understand what market-tested language sounds like, and that there is a demand for leadership, as opposed to the backward mentality of carefully massaged medicine of secret and unproven or dubious effectiveness. To be sure, the old tricks: the negativity, the cautiousness and cronyism still work, but only in the absence of an alternative. 

I hate predictions. Most PMs, like most managers, get their information by looking in the rearview mirror. The winner will be the one who comes closest to this model: A PM who: 

– Refuses to be a "performer," at least in the current sense

– Speaks but doesn’t orate

– Never tries to hold look as is s/he holds a press conference on or in a meeting

– Doesn’t assume quiet people are stupid or uncaring

– Believes in at least one major idea, or program, that has less support in the team

– Can tell a joke at his or her own expense

– Can get angry, within reason; gets weepy, within reason … but only if those emotions are real and rare

– Isn’t averse to kicking his or her opponent in the shins but does it gently and cleverly

– Radiates good sense, common decency and calm

– Is not afraid to deliver bad news

– And above all, is not afraid to admit a mistake

Web 3.0 – Part II

All aside, I think there is a conceptual component missing here. I admit that I don’t know what features need to be added to make the web feel more complete. However, what seems to make the web feel alive these days is quite simply, end-users! By that, I mean the concept of “The smartest guy in the room is everybody”. Companies make the concept and business plan, outsource the dev work to India or Canada, and then have bloggers work on the word of mouth, but eventually end-users manage and organize the contents and make it lively. YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, and so on all have these components.


The central idea of collective intelligence or the Wisdom of Crowds is at work these days. The most effective sites have no boundaries and are happy to work with each other even if they are in competition. I agree that such companies may not answer questions but they do solve some problems. Those problems might not be a concern to a father who is worried about his child safety on the internet, or a corporate executive who’s trying to get the most out of online Ad business. But those are the problems of little Johnny who was born with a mouse in his hand. Google, Apple, MySpace, YouTube attracted little Johnny. Microsoft and Yahoo didn’t. Little Johnny has found Apple and Google “intelligent” and on the other hand, Microsoft and Yahoo have lost on the “concept of cool” as far as Johnny is concerned. What little Johnnies ask next, ought to be Web 3.0!

Web 3.0 – part one

What would be Web 3.0? That’s the question many seem to ask these days. Before getting to that question, there are some serious doubts about the premise that Web 2.0 ever existed! However, regardless of terms and definitions and looking beyond Search and the market share, some companies have profoundly changed the way we think about the Web in recent years!


Conventional Internet portals like Yahoo, MSN, and AOL (i.e. YMA) have been conventionally the place where people go to read things – and in occasion do some random interactive tasks where there was a strong dependency on what that portal has to offer. In some cases, Web services tried to do the same way of conventional business electronically and some of them ended up being a big catalog where the actual service provider was someone else. It was an interesting concept after all, but not interesting and exciting enough to sustain.


Engineering perspective of Web 1.0 is “There is http, let’s share our contents”!


YMA had anticipated Portals and Internet Access win in the long run because it creates end-user dependency. On the other hand, Google created a platform where people dominantly go to do things. Google redefined the concept of Web Search as a powerful tool for everyone and monetized it handsomely. Successful platforms tend to be something that makes others successful and empowered. For instance Google offers ~75% of the revenue and ISVs like that a lot.


In my opinion, if Web 2.0 ever existed it has been the evolutionary idea of empowering users to create and share contents as well as building communities. The most important change we’re witnessing is that Internet has become a place where people go to read, write, and do things. RSS feeds are perfect example of profound sharing, MySpace is a great tool for building community and making personal web-sites, and Wiki based platforms are where users can add contents on the fly. For these reasons, some normal users miscategorize Web 2.0 as disruptive!


Engineering perspective of Web 2.0 is “There is http and SOAP/ REST/ APIs, let’s share our contents and functions”!


Just like other highlights of internet era, Web 3.0 ought to mean different things to different businesses. Whether it’s a life-changing experience, or about the concept of on-demand service, or even mobility and emerging markets, the survival of a platform turns on its ability to get all sides on board.  This often results in pricing patterns that do not fit traditional market rules. There are three types of multi-sided platform markets …


                                                                            To be continued …

Flash Memory & Online services

After so many high-capacity flash based MP3 players, it was just about time that a vendor like NEC has developed a laptop computer that doesn’t include a hard-disk drive! Hopefully the battery life will increase to double digits!


In my view, Flash Memory will be one of the Key components of an evolution in consumer products. It might sound crazy, but with the way flash-based technology is going I foresee 100-500 GB flash drives (remember the day when 1GB HD was a dream?). That means a lot less power consumption, data access time in microseconds, and virtually no data-loss. Next to CPU and memory, that’d categorically put an end to the last mechanical component of a server (cooling fans and CD drives excluded).


Power consumption and data-loss are amongst the most costly problems for any online business. Thinking about how a flash-based server will impact the bottom line for MSN, Yahoo, and Google …