Tools of the Trade

A startup really consumes your life. Luckily i have a suite of sweet tools to keep my efficient and productive.  My favorites: icons

Balsalmiq.  This is sick wireframing software.  It’s so easy and intuitive, it can allow anyone to make fairly decent wires.  It’s also a great way to get ideas across to other people.   Doing a full-screen demo of wires always seems to impress people.

YuuGuu.  If you want to share your screen to another person to either do a demo or just display a problem, this is the best way to do it. We’ve tried a bunch of different types (such as Vyew) and this is by far the best.

Dropbox.  We’re not the only one who loves this.   In fact, on the Balsalmiq blog they wrote, “If you don’t use DropBox, I will shake my head at you in disapproval.”  Dropbox is a network file times 1000.  It’s incredible.  We put lots of files into Dropbox as a way to share.   In fact, i’m about to start using it as a way to share all my files across my computers and my girlfriend’s.  A great way to just do backup to another machine.

Skype.  This remains the best way to do voice-to-voice communication.  It’s also a damn good IM client.  Haven’t experimented with the screen sharing yet.

Jing.  For debugging, there is nothing better than Jing.  If you don’t know Jing, here’s the use case it solves: (1) click a button, select an area of your screen, capture a video of that area for as long as you want, click to stop and here’s a URL of that video hosted on the Jing site.  Easy as pie and incredibly useful.

TripIt.  If you travel at all, this is a must have. When you make an airline or travel reservation, all you do is forward your email confirmation to tripit and they keep track of all the details.  Once you’re at the airport all you need is their iPhone app (or mobile site) to easily grab confirmation codes

Google Apps / Docs / Tasks.   Using corporate email through Google Apps is very easy to do and eliminates lots of effort of setting up Exchange or anything else – it’s both simpler and better.  Through that we get Google Docs which has always been a tremendous way to collaborate on documents with others.  For instance, i have a doc that i use that Nader (in San Francisco) can edit each day in real-time as i work on it.  I also use tasks as a great way to keep track of what i need to do.  I love that i can add tasks from the iPhone (great tasks interface) and then see them back on machine so i can knock ’em out.

Any other items that you use that you’d recommend?  What are your favorite work tools?

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Loo.me Radio is Coming

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I decided that i needed to give you all (my readers) more music.  I get lots of requests for recommendations and thus i decided to expand my minuature blogging empire a little bit.  So, starting today there is a new site assciociated with Loo.me and it’s called ILikeThisSong.com

What is ILikeThisSong.com? It’s a site which will have a new song posted there every day.  These are my favorite songs of the moment.   Also, there is a popout player that will play ALL of the site’s tracks for you like a radio station.  This radio station will soon be linked on Loo.me.  I’m currently working on that.

For now though there is limited integration.  But feel free to check out the new site and let me know what you think

25 Random Things About Me

I got tagged in Facebook to do one of these lists.  I really enjoyed reading some of my colleagues and some of my old friends from high school so i thought i’d put one together.

The rules are that once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged or however many you want. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

Here are my items:

1. I don’t like fruit (with the exception of apples) and i’m happy that my sister’s the same way. It makes me feel less strange.

2. I tend to get around. I’ve been to 49 states and hope to get to the final one, Mississippi, sometime soon.  Since college, I’ve lived in Virginia, New York, Washington DC, Boston (sort of), and now Los Angeles.

3. I have no toenails on my 2 little toes.

4. I was born in NY, then moved to CA, then moved to Texas before i finished my youth in Minnesota.

5. I grew up in Minnesota.  When i moved east in 1996, i felt like a Midwesterner.  I then lived on the east coast for 11 years.  When i moved to California last year, i felt like an Easterner.  After a few years here, who knows who i’ll be.

6. i’ve never broken a bone. I attribute this to my love of milk.

7. I love the extended Lewis Family clan and feel so fortunate that i have such great cousins, aunts and uncles.

8. When i was younger I used to dress up like a ninja and wonder around in the woods with my brother.

Continue reading “25 Random Things About Me”

Changing it up every 3 years

A good post today by Chris Anderson about completely changing jobs every 3 years.  He writes:

When I was at The Economist, there was a policy to rotate everyone every three years. The idea was that fresh eyes were more important than experience. “Foreign everywhere” was the mantra, and around your second year in Cairo, you could expect to get a call from the editor asking you to consider Mumbai or Sao Paolo–ideally two places you’d never been to and knew nothing about.

I’ve changed jobs every 2 years and do find that if you don’t continue to challenge yourself and learn new things, you can get complacent and bored.

Another interesting point about the post is the connection with Macolm Gladwell’s new book, Outliers, which talks about how people achieve success.  Anderson writes:

I was thinking about the three-year rule while reading about Malcolm Gladwell‘s observation that it takes 10,000 hours to become truly expert at something. If you really throw yourself into a job, you’ll spend 60 hours a week working. That’s 3,000 hours a year (allowing for vacation), which means you’ll hit the 10,000 hour mark a few months after your third year.

What do you think – how often do you try something new?

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New Name: Sideways8 & Loo.me

I did some changes today to the blog. I’m changing the name from Sideways8 to Loo.me. I’m doing this for a couple of reasons.

  1. I really didn’t like having wordpress.com in my URL. It just seemed amateur and lame
  2. Sideways8 is a good name but it didn’t really have anything to do with me and the blog. I really loved it before, but i’ve grown out of it
  3. I like short URL’s. They’re much better

Why Loo.me:

  • Well, a loom is a device for weaving threads. Similarly, this blog is a place where i like to weave different threads together and discuss them whether they are technology threads, movie threads or anything. This is where i post and discuss what’s going on in my world.
  • A loo is a strong hot wind (seriously) and i’m often pretty full of it. So it works
  • Also, my name is Mike Lewis but many of my friends call me Louie or Lou. This is me. So, my blog is loo dot me

The two together make sense to me. Let me know what you think

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Why I like to blog

While reading Fred Wilson’s blog today about Live Blogging, he ended his post with this comment:

Blogging has a reputation as an ego centric activity for people who want to be heard. And that is certainly true and a big motivation for many people who do it. But blogging can be valuable in many other ways.

I often get in conversations with people as to why i blog.  To many it’s viewed as pure a vanity project.  I’ve found that putting my ideas and thoughts down for others to read is a great way to stimulate conversation and “talk” with friends but to do so by;

  1. allowing them to jump in at their leisure.  After they see the movie or read the book that i’ve written about or if they finally get a moment when they’re bored at work.
  2. not requiring them to participate.  They can read and process but unlike email they don’t have to respond unless they want to.  I’ve noticed that many of my friends will read my blog, never comment but will bring it up with me weeks or months later.  I love this.  We’re talking but in a turn-based way.  I’m just always making the first move
  3. making the conversation to be public – anyone can join.

I love it for these reasons. I don’t really care how many people read it or if anyone at all reads.  Sometimes i like to just get my thoughts down on paper so they’re organized and stated and i can forget them.

Why do you blog?  What do you like about it?

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Cities of 2007

I was just reading these two blog (here and here) posts about where people have been this year. I thougtht i’d take a moment at look at my travels in ’07. Here’s what i did (below). Not too shabby. I hope to put some new cities on the list in ’08.

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  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Chicago, IL
  • Key Largo, FL
  • Boston, MA
  • Washington, DC
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pocono Lake, PA
  • Westerly, RI
  • New York, NY
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Denver, CO
  • Las Vegas, NV

International Cities:

  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Targu Mures, Romania
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Athens, Greece
  • Tréguier, France
  • Mykonos, Greece

Top 5 Albums of 2007

Here’s a list of my favorites for 2007. I originally wanted to list 10, but then i realized that i hadn’t really listened to 10 albums. I’ve listened to lots of tracks, but not really 10 full albums. So here are the top albums of 2007 for me.

Honorable mentions

  • Easy Tiger by Ryan Adams
  • Icky Thump by White Stripes
  • American Gangster by Jay-Z
  • Magic by Bruce Springsteen
  • Endless Highway Tribute to The Band by Various Artists
  • The Stage Names by Okkervil River

#5: Favourite Worst Nightmare by Arctic Monkeys

The album jams. That’s all i can really say. These guys have good lyrics and they hit hard. You have to be in the mood for the Monkeys but if you are, it’s pretty damn satisfying. As people say, “Arctic Monkeys play a less hooky brand of brat-punk than a lot of their peers and predecessors, but their off-kilter song structures—and Alex Turner’s witty, effusive descriptions of youth culture—make them every bit as unique and vital as their supporters claim.” While the albums is pretty much the same stuff as their first album, it’s still good. I also saw them live this year which increased my enjoyment as i was able to fully appreciate their skills

#4: Because of the Times by Kings of Leon

KOL are weird and strange and shrieking but they really deliver. The two songs “Ragoo” and “Fans” are truly great songs. The rest of the tracks grew on me over time, especially after i saw them live. They have a great sound and they are one of the last true rock bands. Most of the artists today are emo, electronic, pop, or some mix of all 3. These guys are just old school rock.

#3: Oracular Spectacular by MGMT

I was introduced to this by Tiger in December and the first time i heard it, i was hooked. The first track “Time To Pretend” is fantastic. They are rock mixed with electronic so you can jam and dance at the same time. A very, very enjoyable album


#2: The Stage Names by Okkervil River

This album is amazing.  It has depth in a way most others don’t.  It also rocks in a traditional rock ‘n roll way of rocking.  Let’s just say there’s only one CD i bought for someone as a present this Christmas and it was this one.  I like this review:

Usually, we go through life in a hazy bliss, emotionally and spiritually dead to what is going on around us. Sometimes, it takes something glorious to snap us out of this haze. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a new album from a band that is by leaps and bounds becoming one of the best currently making music. Am I speaking nonsense? Maybe, but then again you wouldn’t think so after you heard Okkervil River’s The Stage Names. Yes, this is an “indie” rock album but the layers and substance that fill and encompass it are utterly unmatched. In many ways, this album is the kind of musical collection that could alter your discernment and overall attitude on life.

While that’s going a bit far, it’s still a great album.  Check it out.

#1: In Rainbows by Radiohead

I was never a huge Radiohead fan but i really love The Bends. I was skeptical when the new album came out. That said, this was the one album of the year that i kept playing because it was so easy to listen to. This is what i just read in the AV section The Onion and i agree completely so i’m just going to repost it: “First, Radiohead announced the completion of a new album that few people even knew was in the works; then, the band said the record would be for sale in a week. And the price of this unexpected bounty? Whatever people wanted to pay, be it £100 or sweet fuck-all. After all that brilliant hype-stoking, the biggest surprise was that In Rainbows wasn’t some collection of afterthoughts or off-putting avant-garde exercises, but an honest-to-goodness Radiohead album—and an excellent one at that. Matching the glitchy sound of Kid A and Amnesiac to the fully developed rock songwriting of Pablo Honey and The Bends, Radiohead delivered its best album since OK Computer, renewing its heartfelt exploration of how the organic and the electronic can exist in creaky harmony.” You can download the entire album here.

Beer Scavenger Hunt: Capital Hill Edition

We had a great hunt this weekend. In fact, it was the biggest turnout we’ve ever had for a hunt. It clocked in at over 55 people!

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Had a bunch of teams attend, such as:

  1. Team Mckendr: Mairead brought two 6’7″ dudes who were truly able to pimp out their hiding spots
  2. Team Davidson: Bryan Hozack + team. As usual Bryan was incredibly prepared and crushed the hunt.
  3. Team Newbies: Chloe Lewis, Meggy and Roy. They actually joined Team Pug for a super team. For newbies, they were great.
  4. Team Home Field Advantage: Erika, ScottyJ, Krug, Hercey. Great performance by the veterans.
  5. The Favorites. Team Just Graduated: Justin + GW team. All hype. For such a small team, they were pretty slow and put in rookie hiding spots. There’s always this spring.
  6. Team NY: Jules, Taco, Abbey. They joined with Team Pug for also. They get the MVP though for making the trip
  7. Team DJ Afterwards: Tiger, Daniel T, and Tom. They were rockstars because, well, they are rockstars.
  8. Team Pug: Danny, Percey and MPL (and eventually Samol and Shwabe). Any team with a dog gets huge bonus points.
  9. Team Loyola: Julia Turner Team (Julia and Molly). They get major points for just showing up. Although i think they were a bit in awe of the whole experience.
  10. Team Ohio State: Jenny led the charge to the most enthusiastic team i’ve seen
  11. Team No-Show: Molly Hill, Noah, Todd S., and Sara Pescatello. They get no points

The hunt’s best clue was:  “In the Church courtyard, the sack you’ll see next to the erect pipe is not the testicles of a priest but rather the container of some lovely spirits.”

Capital Hill proved to one of the best locations in DC for a hunt.  I was residential but also had some good stores and lots of spots for hanging out with a 12-pack.

Any ideas for where the hunt this spring should be?

Putting myself through pain: part 2

I ran The Nation’s Triathlon this weekend.  A fun event for those watching and a painful, but rewarding event for those like me who are dumb

We started on the waterfront in Georgetown at 7am on Saturday. The fire boats in the Potomac were spraying water all over at the beginning. I’ve never seem them before – i must say i think they look pretty cool.  The water was really warm (75 degrees) and not that disgusting.  It felt just like a regular lake.

Just so you know how far it is. I entered right by that “Swim Exit” sign and swam to the bridge (in the distance) and back. Yeah, that’s right. To the bridge and back. Also notice how everyone else had a wet suit which makes it easier to swim. That would have been nice, but i like to think of it as cheating (only b/c i don’t have one).

Continue reading “Putting myself through pain: part 2”