Something is up – my Alexa Rank dropped by 4 Million+ in past 3 months

Happy New Year everyone!

Nothing much I just wanted to share:

* I ended up in alexa for various reasons and figured hey might as well check my rank and guess what I found – dropped from ranking around 4M to 8M in the world in the past 3 months. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in the business of making my blog popular but a drop of 4M, something must be up. Could there be a surge of new sites (that many new sites? that many new businesses? in the past 3 months). Or maybe the holiday season and people just hit some existing sites they hit only seasonally. Not really into solving this mystery but interesting nevertheless.

alexarankdroppedby4millionin3months

 

I guess I am not a popular kid anymore 🙂

And can I just say wow, there are lot of sites out there…

 

My Quest to be a Better Leader

leadershipimage.jpeg
Leading Engineers

Engineering Leadership (or management – some engineers are not fans of the term “manager”) is not easy as some people think. Leadership is hard enough, the complexity of people then add to that the complexity of engineers. There’s not a lot of books on the specific subject so it’s not surprisingly that I still hear top executives saying that one just needs be technically proficient/architect, sure – architect of teams/people maybe but not just of systems/code. That’s where the challenges of engineering leadership comes in, one is expected to be both good at systems/engineering and people. Those two could mean different worlds.

Long topic but I wanted to share what I hope to follow and achieve. These are taken mostly from Google’s Proxy Oxygen (Google’s Quest for a Better Boss), books, articles I have read on the subject (you can catch some at my GoodReads account) and experience from peers, friends and my own.

These are “big” topics on their own, (obviously thousands of books have been written on leadership), my goal is to simply to share in case it helps and for others to remind me should I forget to walk the talk.

Also, though useful in most cases, it could vary depending on what stage your company/team is in. If you are just starting up, you need more coding + pitch/sales/marketing power more than maybe engineering leadership.

There is no timeline to get these right (if even possible at all), it’s a lifelong process and better have a target than nothing at all.

1. Be a good coach

  • Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive.
  • Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths.
  • Learn more about coaching and apply (and be more organized, templates etc)

2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage

  • Balance giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice. Make “stretch” assignments to help the team tackle big problems.
  • Give them tools to enable them to do their best
  • Demand the very best, help if possible, otherwise find other options, if all is exhausted cut losses
  • Trust them to do their best
  • Emphasize results, not time spent
  • Delegate that which is not your strength

3. Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being

  • Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work.
  • Make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition
  • Treat them well
  • Know what makes them tick (money, power, status, popularity, greater good)
  • Appreciate individuality
  • Do the hard work of knowing but also ask what motivates them

4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented

  • Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it.
  • Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.
  • Shield the team from distraction
  • Manage external expectations

5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team

  • Communication is two-way: you both listen and share information.
  • Understanding is the goal, communication is just a tool
  • Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team connect the dots.
  • Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.

6. Help your employees with career development 

  • Mentor when you can, refer to someone if outside your expertise
  • Training time on regular work week hours (internal + external expertise)

7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team

  • Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy.
  • Involve the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it.
  • Team vision, Core values
  • Where does each one fit in the team (roles)
  • To be the best, know the best (who are our competitors)
  • When saying no to roadmap/tasks, support it by giving costs

8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team

  • Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the team, when needed.
  • Understand the specific challenges of the work.
  • Learn their code base – invest time on this
  • Good architecture – “With good architecture, debugging is a breeze because bugs will be where they should be.” – David May
9. Integrity
  • Just, fair, transparent
  • Do not commit without consulting them
  • Admit mistakes
  • Give people proper credit
  • Confront problems, not people

10. Advocate Quality

  • Test, Test, Test
  • Code review
  • Simplify, Simplify
  • Continuous integration
  • Cannot commit if builds are failing
  • 5 whys – incident report always
  • Do not build something you cannot measure
  • Have a Devil’s advocate, 10th person on architecture decisions

11. Innovation

  • Advocate design thinking – emphatize, define, ideate, prototype, test
  • Safe environment to learn from instead of fear failures and move on

Hack Cafe Idea

I believe in startup communities. Idealistic, some may say but I like to think that I never stopped believing in doing small (or big) things to make the world a better place and startups contribute a lot.

And one way to help build those communities is having a space to encourage it.
Sharing one idea I’ve been thinking (and hoping) can be implemented in Manila and Philippines (my home country) in general. I’m sure I’m not the only one but sharing nevertheless and if someone beats me to it all the better.

A coffee place where generating great ideas/work comes first before great (or even just good coffee).

Disclaimer: I do not claim any intellectual property on this (and in fact this is brought upon by different ideas from friends and people I’ve met). I hope that by sharing this, it becomes real (or if it’s already real I can help market/support it)

Venture Capital 101 – Google Hangout with Dr. Clint Korver

Had a great opportunity to talk to and discuss about Venture Capital investing with Dr. Clint Korver – Co-founder and Partner of Ulu Ventures, serial entrepreneur earlier today.

Venture Capital is not everybody’s game and there’s not a lot of information about there and even more know, the number of VC firms struggle to stay afloat, you can almost imagine that some will keep their trade secrets. Client and Kauffman Fellows are one of the few (if not the only) who goes out of their way to share on this topic.

This is part of VC101 (NovoEd) class where Clint was one of the mentors (along side others from Kaufman Fellows Academy)

Learned a great deal in the very limited minutes (not to mention Google Hangouts technical issues) and most of all got a lot of my questions answered. Including:

  • How involved are VCs with valuation vs seeking expertise outside the firm
  • How VC on a high level come up with exit multiples
  • How to become a VC (straight from a VC)

Sharing here (in two parts due to some technical issues)

Aside from Engineering & Leadership, I hope to learn more and share about building and funding things of great value and it might take time but as they say seek your path and this is one of mine.

Thanks Clint for sharing your time and knowledge, hopefully soon I could pay back the honor or pay it forward.

Philippines Startup Report

Thanks to the nice folks rappler.com I’ve had the chance of watching online what’s happening (or has happened) in Geeks on a Beach – a brand new conference for everyone who is passionate about startups, technology, design, and making the world a better place that was held yesterday in Boracay Island, Philippines (the best beach/island in the world – though I might have a slight bias since I was born 2 hours away from those islands).

rappler online video coverage here

Although from a global perspective, the startup scene here is average (needs more entrepreneurs, needs more information, more funding) with my interest in this subject (with my goal to be an angel investor) and having the privilege to know some social entrepreneurs in the country I would say that these are exciting times for the startup and enterpreneurship in the Philippines.

Stay tuned!

Oh and I just learned too that Ms. Philippines won title of Ms World 2013 (Megan Young)! Hurray for the Philippines…

Switched my blog’s social media plugin to AddThis

Just wanted to share (ran into this) social media plugin and figured what better way to test it than use it in my site. So far so good. Impressive simplicity but powerful analytics (smart enough to show which channel/media the user uses to share often)

It’s easy – just go to https://www.addthis.com/ then sign-up

I wouldn’t describe steps (because yes, it is that easy). But of course you might not always be lucky (so feel free to shot me a message if I could be of help).

Knowledge for the sake of Knowledge. (or not)

A co-worker shared this article/link below today about what Ph.D is about; prompted by a discussion on productivity, personal ambitions, continuing education.

The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D by Matt Might

But I might have had a different take away. This to me a good reminder on why you seek out knowledge: (assuming you do)

* knowledge for the sake of knowledge?

* knowledge to buy the luxuries of life?

* knowledge to buy you way into fitting in?

* knowledge to do something different, better for someone other than yourself?

whatever your reason is, you are entitled to it (there is no right nor wrong answer) but as the article says “Keep pushing,”

yet don’t forget to ask yourself why

or maybe the better question we should ask is, “what do I use my knowledge for?”

switched home pc from vista to ubuntu

i have a > 5-yr old thinkpad t400 with windows vista business and noticed that time was taking it’s toll on it so started rescue and recovery (thinkvantage blue button)

rescue and recovery has started for a minute when I remember that it might be a good idea to disconnect some of my license keys etc (itunes disconnect accounts, and other software i have) and luckily there is a cancel button in the progress bar.

or not… lucky enough
i clicked on cancel then it restarted
then windows is broken (cannot load winload.exe etc etc)
cannot even get to thinkvantage again (apparently it uses windows boot to get there)

so i needed to recover my windows vista:
* i did not have rescue and recovery disk (yes, i know i should have)
* but my DVD/CD reader/writer is no longer reliable (did i say time has taken it’s toll)
* i have no vista CD (even if i had my CD drive is not working)

so seems i have these options:
1- get a new CD/DVD drive then find a recovery CD (any variant of windows i guess should work)
2- have bootable USB with Windows 7 (implies that i have to have windows 7)
3- take a leap of faith and install ubuntu

I was able to borrow a windows CD then figured I should give my CD drive a chance. Slowly creeped it’s way into the recovery mode but never got there. So ok, maybe I should go for USB bootable Windows 7 tomorrow (need another PC for this).

Or…. try Linux from USB if it will work fine on my machine. And so I did and it worked (fast….) and shutdown fast too. I was left with no choice but to switch (well not really, I left my Lenovo recovery partitions in case I could fix Vista later on)

So this is now being written on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Desktop. And so far so good.

Except:
1- no native support to stream Netflix instant videos (since they run Silverlight) but was able to find Netflix Desktop (seems to be WINE + Silverlight + Firefox)

2- no GotoWebinar support (no easy work-around so instead of spending time I just used my iPhone for now).

the new journey with Ubuntu continues…

DMV behind-the-wheel driving test in Fremont, CA

Passed my behind-the-wheel driving test today in Fremont, CA DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) [4287 Central Avenue, Fremont, CA 94536]

Sharing a thing or two about the experience and what could be useful to others.

Written Test and Permit (pre-requisite to the actual driving test)
Before you can take the behind-the-wheel driving test you have to pass the written test and be given a temporary permit (good for 90 days of writing).
Rather than discuss here, I would suggest you go to DMV website and read about Drivers License application

After reading the requirements and ready to take the written test, make an appointment (I haven’t tried walking-in but from the looks of the line I would highly recommend making an appointment).

Preparing for Behind-The-Wheel test (aka actual driving test)

  1. Have a car to use for your test.
    • DMV will not provide you a vehicle so if you don’t own a car, you can borrow from a relative or rent a car.
    • But the vehicle must have:
      1. valid car registration (as the driving test date)
      2. car insurance (or named non-owners insurance – particular on liability)
    • I rented a car from Enterprise to use for my test. If you do this too, make sure you tell the rental company that you will use this for DMV behind-the-wheel test so they can give you a letter stating you are allowed to use the car for the test. Also my examiner looked for the rental receipt/document and when he saw that I did not accept supplemental liability protection I had to show him my StateFarm named non-owners insurance. I got one since although I don’t own a car I sometimes drive friend’s, relative or the company car and want I have my own liability insurance (by the way, renters insurance usually does not include damages caused by motor vehicles)
    • Depending on the availability of the car you will use, you can now then schedule an appointment
  2. Schedule an appointment (through their website)
    • Behind-the-wheel is by appointment only
    • I could not do it online then (getting an error) for some reason but when I called DMV (1-800-777-0133)
    • If you’ve driven before (e.g. foreign license) then I would suggest you make appointment right away. The closest DMV office to your area might not have an available behind-the-wheel appointment. Since I live in Mountain View, the closest one were Santa Clara, San Jose, Los Gatos, Fremont.
      • I took my written test in Los Gatos (everyone was nice, not too crowded and went smooth up until the correction of the paper – where I had to wait for almost an hour to get the paper corrected)
      • Why Fremont for behind-the-wheel:
        • Co-workers suggested that it’s relatively easy here compared to others (whatever that means)
        • The earliest that had available schedule
        • Not Los Gatos since there are more uphills and sometimes the roads are narrow then becomes wide etc
  3. Know the area (possible routes)
    • Test examiner will give you instructions along the way but it helps to be familiar with the area (especially if you don’t live in the area)
    • I got my most helpful information from this blog post – Akbar’s Home on the Web
    • Know that no one can predict the routes (but getting familiar with the common ones will help). Since my appointment was a Monday, I went to familiarize with the area the day before that. There were others there too, practicing and scouting the area. I will the route I ended up below.
  4. Day of the appointment
    1. Get you documents ready (your permit, car registration, insurance) and a pen could be handy
    2. Come on time (at least 20 mins before) – parking in that DMV could be hard to find
      • make sure you feel well, ate well, well hydrated (or anything that could cause discomfort)
      • also helps if someone can go with you (if you haven’t had a foreign/another state license then this is a must) since you can’t drive to DMV with just your permit (and without being accompanied by another license holder)
    3. Go and line up at the behind-the-wheel appointment line (as of today was at Window 11). There will be a marker above the window that should give you a hint.
    4. Once you get approved for the actual driving test, you will be asked to get your car to the back (line up on the left side) then wait for your turn
      1. Before you go to the back (and as a best practice, make sure your seat adjustment is comfortable, mirrors are set properly. When I took my foreign drivers license this was actually part of the driving test but in here in CA it doesn’t seem like it (nevertheless do it for your own safety before it’s too late/too risky to make adjustments)
      2. I waited for may 30+ mins for this one (this is when a company could be helpful – the wait could get boring – but during the actual driving it should only be you and the examiner)
    5. Once it’s your turn then test time. Greet your examiner with a smile (not scored in the test but that should be nice). Then there are two parts:
      1. Pre-Drive Checklist
        • basics functions in your car (know where and how to control)
          • windows
          • mirrors
          • turn signals
          • brake lights
          • flashers
          • headlights
          • wiper
          • horn
          • parking brakes
          • defrosters
        • also know how to turn your car key without starting the engine (accessories only > on)
        • arm signals
        • seat belt (since you drove up to the test area, you should already be using it)
        • when the examiner comes in make sure he/she uses the seat belt, if not ask politely
        • examiner will also hand you a piece of yellow cardboard/paper (laminated as of my time) about what will take place (e.g. instructions will be given a long the way)
      2. Actual Driving
        • Examiner will now ask you to start driving (in my case move to the right to exit the DMV to the right)
        • He/she will not trick you (that’s written in the yellow paper mentioned in item#1) so be alert but take it easy, relax
        • This is the first test, leaving that area will require you chase to the next “lane” so make sure you check your mirrors and look over your shoulder (you should know this by now)
        • When exiting DMV make sure you signal of course and stop to check and make sure you exit safely.
        • If examiner asks you to turn right, then exit in a way that you end up in the rightmost lane (that is, do not cross two lanes and end up in the middle lane). If examiner asks you to exit left then turn right, then make sure you end up in the right lane closest to the middle first then slowly move to the right (looking over the shoulder again as best practice) then make your right. Then just follow along, constant/reasonable speed and below the limits indicated, you’ll be alright.
        • At some point (in the residential area) he will ask you to park at the curb (side of the street). Just a regular parallel park (not in between two other vehicles – there wasn’t a lot during my test). He/she will not trick you but make sure to:
          • look at your mirrors, then over your shoulder to make sure you can safely park
          • straighten you parking and try to be within 18 inches away from the curb (more or less – no need to be very accurate but at least not too far, not too close)
          • examiner then asked me to do a straight reverse (make sure you do not hit the curb). Follow best  practices when backing.
          • then examiner asked me to get back on the road, as usual, look over the shoulder and get back on the road safely
        • Proceed and follow along the instructions and you will be fine. At the end you will be back at the DMV to do a diagonal park, then you will know if you passed or failed.
        • When you pass the test you will be asked to go back to Window 11
        • Make sure you check your name and address properly
          • this turned out bad for me – I have two first that ended up with no spaces so ended up with just one firstname lumped together – make sure the staff will get it right before you give a go signal to finalize it

My route

remember there are too many possibilities for routes (depending on examiner, his/her mood, traffic conditions etc). so familiarize but you should only take the test when you’re comfortable driving even if you’re directed to an area you’re not too familiar (or at least you can pay attention and react accordingly to traffic rules/signs)

dmv.behindthewheel.fremont

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. come out of DMV on Dusterberry Way turning left (get to the center lane first, then move towards the rightmost lane)
  2. turn right towards Central Ave
  3. turn left on Glenmoor Dr (there were speed bumps here – examiner told me one could go over the bumps at most 20 mph)
  4. turn left on Mattos Dr
  5. slight left on Palmer Dr
  6. turn right on Argyle Rd
  7. turn right on Central Ave
  8. turn left on Fremont Blvd
  9. turn left on Peralta Blvd
  10. turn right on Dusterberry Way
  11. turn right on Thornton Ave (no right on red on certain times – watch out and read the timings if red light is on – unfortunately I couldn’t read it earlier – seems to be 7AM-9AM then 1PM-3PM not sure but wasn’t red when I got to it)
  12. turn right on Fremont Blvd
  13. turn right on Central Ave
  14. turn right on DMV (before Dusterberry Way) then park

Checklist/Tips/Reminders – there are too many in the handbook but having a few here relevant to the area

  • turns, merging
    • always
      • signal
      • look over mirrors
      • look over your shoulder
    • when turning, if you start at the inner lane, end at the inner and if you start at the outer lane, end at the outer lane (i.e. do not cross lanes while turning)
  • yield
    • green circle is not a protected turn (let oncoming traffic pass)
    • there were places where left turn should only be if the left green arrow is lit
    • always yield to pedestrians
    • yield signs
  • stop
    • stop at red light
    • full stop at intersections with stop sign – FULL stop – not partial stop
    • stop before the limit line

Good luck!

Safe driving practices and following rules are not only for test purposes, follow them even after you get your license. It would make the road a safer place to be and as they say “the life you save could be yours”.

Though car-free life style is still in my opinion better in most cases (healthier, cheaper) I would still say – happy driving!

[RG]

sushi, software and success

Just finished watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi  – a film about Jiro Ono, a 85 year-old sushi master and owner of Michelin 3-Star restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro, on his continuing quest to perfect the art of sushi.

“Once you decide on your occupation,” says Jiro, “you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”

Reminds me of a lot of things I try not to forget:

1- make a choice, then move full speed ahead

2- you must love what you do (otherwise find another one)

3- excellence and quality

4- art

Just around the time when I am in the process of reading Seth Godin’s book Linchpin. Probably safe to call the master sushi chef the linchpin that ties together vendors (shrimp, fish experts) and the rest of sushi hungry and foodies of the world.

I would recommend this movie to everyone. Most especially to my fellow technologists.

We don’t have to learn how to make sushi but we definitely could learn a thing or two on how to make software/products that can make everyone say “Ahhh……”

Jiro_Dreams_Of_Sushi_2011_DVD_Cover