Archive for the ‘Seattle’ Category

Snowing in April?

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

It really shouldn’t be this cold in Seattle this time of year. I guess I wouldn’t know since I’ve never been in Seattle this time of year… but it has only been this cold a couple times this winter. It even snowed a little the other day.

Seattle Startup Weekend – SkillBit

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Last weekend I participated in this thing called Startup Weekend in Seattle. Basically, there were over 100 people attempting to create a startup company (basically a web app) going from concept to launch in just over 50 hours. It was pretty intense.

The weekend started Friday evening with everyone sitting at tables of 5-6 people. Each person shared their idea with the table. They were then written down and one person took the ideas and pitched some of them to another table. The other table decided which 1 or 2 ideas were worthy. These ideas were collected at the front in paper form then randomly distributed to different tables. Each table read the idea on the paper separately and voted either yes or no to the idea. Only about 5 ideas made it past this stage. My theory is that ideas on paper in a sentence or two don’t get people nearly as excited as if someone else was pitching it to them. We ran through that again to get a different set of about 5. So, 10 ideas total. Each of these 10 was pitched to the entire group by the person who originally suggested it. We took a vote on all 10. You could vote either yes or no to each one by either raising or not raising your hand. There were about 4 that made it past this round. Next, there was discussion about each of these 4, and different people talked about the merits of each. Then, a final yes or no vote from everyone and we came out with a clear winner. We were going to build a RideShare that actually worked and that people actually used.

So… now to figure out exactly what we are building, and who else is building similar stuff. An hour or so into this, and the business development people come back with their findings on the competition. They determine that there are some strong competitors in our area, namely Goose Networks. They are doing a lot of the stuff we would be doing and it would be difficult to differentiate ourselves. So, we took a vote if with this new information we should switch ideas. Most people thought we should switch, and so we decided on the “ for Enterprise” idea.

Basically we would create a web application that would allow small to medium sized businesses get a better sense of what skills their employees had to better utilize these. Each employee in the business gets a profile which has basic information plus their answers to certain questions the boss had asked. So, the boss could ask something like “What languages are you fluent in?”. Each employee would answer this question and their answer would show up in their profile. Then, later you could search through the system to find an employee fluent in Spanish to talk with a new client. This is just an example. I’m sure there are plenty of questions you could ask to get useful answers to help in finding skills in your organization. What are we going to call this? We call it SkillBit. The skill part is easy to understand. The bit part represents the simplicity of the software and lack of features I suppose. As with any good web application, it does one thing, and does it well… hopefully.

We have yet to launch SkillBit publicly, but you can sign up on a waiting list to get an announcement of when it launches.  If you want more details about how the weekend went, you can read the Seattle Startup Weekend blog which was posted two by two people throughout the weekend.

Productive Day

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Today felt like a really productive day, even though I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night. Today I actually did some real development as opposed to bug fixing and small tweaks to our websites like I have been doing for a while now. I did quite a bit of refactoring today, which is fun if you understand what’s going on with the software. The best analogy I’ve heard so far for refactoring is reshaping a piece of clay. You take a glob of code here, and move it over there. Take some extra code out that you don’t need, and make the code look nicer. Nicer looking code is easier to maintain. Basically, if you have to fix or change something later it will be easier to understand and fix without too much work. Refactoring can be frustrating if the code is too ugly in the first place. If you don’t really understand what the code is doing, you can really screw it up by moving around those globs of clay, or code in this case. But, this code was pretty clean and simple. It just needed some minor refactoring.

After work I went to an entrepreneur networking event at Del Ray hosted by nPost. I met some cool people working on some really cool startups. Several people from Zillow were there, and I talked to one of them. I talked to a VC who was working on his own business plan for something in the mobile shopping arena. I met the two guys, John and Tom from You should check out their site. It’s pretty nifty. I think I’ll start using it. I was directed towards another entrepreneur, Matt, who is working on a site for online video tours of real estate. We talked about how he might be able to use my Gmap Uploader for the floor plans on his site. Definitely check out his site called Cool Toors (a second o instead of the u) if you have property for sale or rent and want a good way to put up a virtual tour.

Amazon Fresh

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

So, Amazon (the company I work for) just launched Amazon Fresh a couple days ago in Seattle (Mercer Island according to the newspapers) and it looks like its going to be pretty sweet. Basically, its fresh groceries ordered online with three delivery methods: Pre-dawn delivery, daytime delivery, and local pickup. I hope they can get the user interface right, because I tried using Safeway‘s the other day, and it was kinda annoying. Maybe that’s just because there were like 10 different kinds of milk, and it wasn’t easy to just pick the standard skim milk from the list.

Enjoying Seattle, part 2

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

I guess dedicating Sunday morning to writing a blog entry didn’t work out so well. But, good news,  I got a bunch of other stuff done, such as buying a bunch of sports equipment from Play It Again Sports: a frisbee to replace the one I lost, swimming goggles for the apartment building’s pool, and racquetballs, and a second racquet for the apartment building’s racquetball court. I also went to QFC to buy a bunch of food, and ran a few miles that night. Now that I have a Nike+iPod (without the Nike shoes though) you can see my runs on facebook, and probably here soon.

I plan to make full use of the amenities of the apartment building I moved into a couple weeks ago. There is a pool, hot tub, fitness center, grill, and even a racquetball court. That’s right… a racquetball court. That itself pretty much sold me on the deal. The apartment itself is pretty nice too. It’s has two bedrooms, and one and a half bathrooms. There is a washer and dryer in the second bathroom and, something I may not be able to live without, although I did one summer: a dish washer in the kitchen.

The apartment itself is in Belltown at 1st Ave. and Broad St. which is only a few blocks from the space needle and a few blocks from the bay, although I don’t actually get a view of the bay. The view out my living room window is of downtown, and you can see the space needle pretty close outside my bedroom window.

Initially, I had thought that I would take the bus down 1st Ave. and then walk several blocks to work. But, after consulting Google Transit, I found out that a bus took me directly from my apartment building to work.

I’ll write more about the last few weeks in Seattle soon. Highlights include moving my stuff in, the first few days at work, the Flexcar experience, Rebecca visiting, the roommate moving in, the Capital Hill Block party, the Blue Angels, and hanging out with my friends in general.

Enjoying Seattle

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Those two words sum up the past few weeks fairly well. It seems like I’ve done so much stuff in the past few weeks and have not had much time to sit down and actually contemplate everything that has happened. So, since its pretty late, I’m going to go to bed, and commit at least an hour tomorrow morning to write a full blog post about my first few weeks in Seattle. See you tomorrow morning. This may (and that’s a big may) be the start of me writing personal stuff on my blog.

Flexcar not using Google Maps?

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Wow… I can’t believe my eyes. Flexcar is using the old style of Mapquest to display the locations of their cars. This is terrible. Whenever you want to move the map or zoom in, the entire page has to load, and its slow too. It takes more than a couple seconds to load each page. Why are they not with the program, using Google Maps, or something similar?

I’m considering creating a Google Maps mashup for Flexcar, if no one can tell me of one that already exists. Anyone?

Specifically, I’m interested in the car locations in Seattle where I will be living soon.

Seattle Bus Map

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

Here’s a map of the bus routes in downtown Seattle. I’m using this to figure out if I can commute to work without a car once I start working for Amazon. The image was pulled from this page at King County Metro Online and Google Mapified using my Gmap Uploader.