Startups Posts

Everyone Will Learn How to Code Eventually

Back in high school, I was all about doing things in tech. We were lucky since Mr. Wes Felty was a faculty member at Ingraham High School, and he also doubled as the network system administrator for the whole Seattle Schools District. There was a ton of opportunity to experiment, and here are some of the projects we were able to do:

  • Friends and I helped rebuild and update our school’s website
  • Learned how to build computers in our A+ course
  • Wired and set up the Rainier Beach High School network
  • Through MESA, helped Seattle Parks and Recreation improve their website

I can only imagine what kids are learning nowadays. Ten years later, I’ve continued to stay within the HTML and CSS borders of coding. This year, I’ll be breaking free from those borders. The goal is to learn the basics and harness some coding skills which will come in super handy. As the “business” guy, I think it’s especially important to learn since understanding what goes into coding could be your leg up whether you’re the one coding or managing the product. I want to be able to build product and having a skill set to build prototypes without waiting for this “special” developer to do it is key for me. Kanye West said it best:
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So along with 300,000+ others, I joined Code Year brought to you by Codecademy. I just finished my first week of lessons in Javascript, and I’m left wanting more and lucky me there’s a couple more lessons to do. Naturally, I’ll probably be diving into other resources on top of the to-dos for Code Year. Having minimal coding experience, I’m looking to catch up and there’s a ton of resources out there as my buddy Scott Windsor says:

So what are you waiting for? Go sign up at codeyear or codeacademy or tryruby or Khan Academy. I even teach ruby lessons as well if you want one on one help and instruction.

Coding is just like any skill set. Let’s just take sales, for instance. A lot of folks don’t have any selling experience, but they end up learning how to do it because in the end — it’s a good to have. I feel the same with coding. You may not end up being the best coder in the world, but having the extra bit of knowledge will go a long way in whatever job you have and it may even help you land one. You’ll eventually be learning this stuff sometime in the future, why not just start now. Don’t wait 10 years like me.

Check out my first application from Codecademy, FizzBuzz. It’s crude, but it’s a start.

// for the numbers 1 through XX,

var number = prompt ("How many numbers do you want?");

for (i=1; i<=number; i++) { 

// if the number is divisible by 3, write "Fizz"
// if the number is also divisible by 5, write "FizzBuzz"
  
  if ( i % 3 === 0 ) {
    if ( i % 5 === 0) {
      console.log("FizzBuzz")
        }
    else {
    console.log("Fizz");
  }
  }
  
// if the number is divisible by 5, write "Buzz"
  
  else if ( i % 5 === 0 ) {
    console.log("Buzz");
  }
  
// otherwise, write just the number

  else {
    console.log(i);
  }
}

Tim Tebow Brings Belief in Leadership

Do you remember when Matt Hasselbeck said, “We want the ball and we’re going to score!” during overtime of the 2003 Wildcard game against the Green Bay Packers? He never ended scoring in OT, but after that season — we all knew we had a quarterback for years to come and more importantly a leader here at the Seattle Seahawks. To have an unwary confidence in your leader that everytime he takes the field, you always think you have a chance to win. Unfortunately, I don’t have the same feeling with Tavaris Jackson today, but I don’t doubt they’re feeling it in Denver with Tim Tebow.

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t believe this whole Tebow Time hype — I actually hate it. Does he have the best throwing mechanics? Is he just a running back who knows how to throw? Whatever your criticism is about him, you have got to concede…the guy knows how to win. He’s done it in sun in Florida, and now he’s doing it a mile high in Denver. The biggest characteristic I see about him is the belief. It’s not even about his religion, it’s about everyone around him. From his teammates and coaches to upper management and the fans, they all have this belief they’ll win the game when he takes the field.

Whether he’s the leader the Broncos has been looking for or not, Tim Tebow is bringing a feeling to Denver hasn’t had since John Elway. He’s definitely no Elway, but that’s not important. He’s undoubtedly made everyone around him better one way or another. If you look at it, it’s really about his teammates who’ve made plays. Are people talking about the shut down defense from Champ Bailey? How about the play from Demaryius Thomas with over 200 receiving yards? Or even Matt Prater making those two 50+ field goals earlier this season. Those are the people who really should get the praise, but maybe Tebow is just the poster boy for the success of everyone around him.

I’ve been lucky enough to join some companies that have had that same type of feeling. My career has been a roller coaster, with it’s necessary peaks and valleys. And when you hit those valleys a company, you’re going to need a leader you can just believe in. A person you know without a shadow of a doubt will give you this belief that you’ll pull through. The feeling that you’re going to win. You need that, and my goal is to be that for the company I’m in or the company I’ll eventually start.

I’ll leave you with Tebow’s stat line against the Steelers:
316 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 50 yards, and 1 touchdown.

Tebow 3:16?

P.S. For the record, I think the Broncos lose next week. Tom Brady is just a machine.

Startup Lessons: Mega Man X Gameplay

Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock and roll.
– Shigeru Miyamoto

I remember the time when I first played Mega Man X. This was during the time when I’d go to Hollywood Video with my family and my brother and I would look at the upcoming games while my parents looked for that romantic comedy or action movie to watch that night. We loved playing games, still do, and Mega Man was one of those games that had something you’d always come back to all the way from Mega Man II. I personally loved the unique bosses because you take their powers afterwards. Loved that and that’s why Mega Man was as much of a mainstay for me as Super Mario.

When I saw this video above about Mega Man X by Sequelitis, it brought back the memories of such a great game. It was one of those games where you didn’t have to read the instruction booklet. Although, when I started to play a new game, I never read the instruction booklet until I had to since some games were too complicated — you didn’t have that with Mega Man X. Like Sequalitis says, “This game should have been called ‘Jump n’ Shoot Man’” — it was that easy. He does bring a good point that simplicity in gameplay can allow the game to do bigger and better things.

The three points the video makes that startup folks should see are the following:

The Intro Stage and Theming

Mega Man X teaches everything you need to learn about the game in the intro stage. And on top of that it lays down the theme of game as well.

Startup Lesson: Whenever you create a website, it should have the same goal. Once a user signs up they should be able to learn about what this whole site is about in that first visit. Also, they should have an inkling of where need to go to make better use of the site.

Improvements in Movement

From Mega Man II to Mega Man VI, everything was essentially the same — jump and shoot. In Mega Man X, they added two small elements in dashing and wall climbing which changed the whole game for the better.

Startup Lesson: Startups can do the same by doing a couple of well thought out tweaks to change the whole experience for their customers. Think about it, on a large scale Tumblr probably increased the way people interacted with tumblogs substantially by adding the “reply” and “answer” function.

NGGFFFF!!!

Mega Man had a ton of little things that made you say “WOW!”. The game was already amazing, but little things like being able to take over enemies robot body suits took it over the top. This proves it’s the little things that makes a game awesome.

Startup Lesson: Startups should feel the same way. It could be done through customer service, shipping an item overnight for a customer, or even adding a funny video on an unsubscribe page. It builds character and your customers will notice.

Why I Draw

You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too.
– Frederick Terral

While I was in high school, I was getting tired of all my friends gleaming over these boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and NSync. It was annoying. They would play their music loud in their cars, sing them in the hallways, and even expect dudes like me to take heed in what these manufactured bands were singing about. What did I naturally do? I took it to the pencil and paper and decided to create a little comic book parodying the whole boy band craze called Whackstreet Boys. Not the most creative title in the world, but it got the reaction I wanted.

I love being able take an idea, creating something, and see if it was anywhere along the lines of what I imagined in my head. Sometimes it’s not exactly what I imagined but going through that process over and over again — you begin to get better and better. And seeing those improvements over time in my drawings have always excited me and that’s a huge reason why I continue to draw. Here’s the elements and a bit of a breakdown of why I draw:

The beauty of a blank page

A blank page represents the excitement of creating. The page is just calling for you to make a mark and start anew. There’s just so many possibilities here and you’re in control. You can do anything and no one can stop you. If anything, you can always start with a new blank page.

The wonder of an imagination

When I draw, anything is possible. You literally draw from your experiences and the imagination hopefully you haven’t lost while you were a kid. From the graffiti you see on brick walls, cartoon characters you see in the Sunday funnies to artists you meet at local Sketchbombs — you’re creating something inspired but unique to you.

The satisfaction of being done

There’s always an end point when I draw, whether it’s what you expected or something totally different — you end with a finished product. Either I say, “damn, that’s not what I wanted” and scrap it or “sweet — that’s going up somewhere!”. There’s definitely a lot of the former, but when a drawing clicks — it’s a great feeling. Sometimes it takes a ton of “damns” before you get to a “sweet”.

I continue to draw today mostly on my iPad — I love Zen Brush. I’m not the best artist by any means, but like I mentioned a week ago — “it soothes my soul.” Drawing keeps my brain fresh and taps into the creativity I want to keep from my childhood. Maybe that’s why I love working and building products at startups so much. There’s a sense of taking an idea, building it, and seeing it through while getting feedback. It’s a fun continuous process.

I know there’s a ton of artists at heart out there. It would be great to hear from you on why you draw. Feel free to just tweet me @joesunga with a #whyidraw hashtag to a tweet explaining why you draw or leave a comment below. I’d love to start curating everyone’s thoughts.

#whyidraw around the world

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Hack a Mobile Sports News App This Weekend

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
– Roy Keane

Unfortunately, I’ll be missing out on some fun hackathons this weekend: Hacking Seattle News and  AT&T Mobile App Hackathon. This weekend is just packed with sporting events I’m looking to be a part of like UW Football, Seattle Sounders FC (Kasey Keller’s last regular season game), and Seattle Seahawks. With that said, folks here in Seattle startup community should definitely go and create some awesome stuff — plus they’re both FREE. Maybe I’ll end up crashing both and pitching a mobile sports news app, in hope someone builds it.

Hacking Seattle News

There was 10,000 reasons why I wanted to go to this hackathon, but it seems to be a super intense one with the who’s who coming out too grab that huge cash prize. Similar to what we did at TeachStreet with Startup Weekend Seattle EDU and education, this is another themed hackathon specifically for news. The big player hosting this awesome event is KING 5, which is great. The more and more traditional media we can get coming out and supporting the local startup scene, the better.

If I were to go to this event, I would create something KING 5 would be able to use moving forward. Would it be a tool for their writers, newscasters, etc.? Or would it be something directly for the community to use? It may even be good to see what the problems are in the news industry and what are they dying to have solved? There’s going to be a good amount of news geeks out there, so pick their brains and add them to your team. They’re going to be valuable, I’m sure of it.

Adobe – 801 N 34th St; Seattle, WA
Friday, October 14, 2011 at 5:00 PM – Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 5:00 PM (PT)

AT&T Mobile App Hackathon

I really wanted to go to this event. I’ve always wanted to hack on a mobile app and meet up with folks who can make this a reality. I had ideas on games and possibly an video interviewing app (of some sorts). It’s always good to have ideas, but it’s even better bouncing those ideas off of folks. Especially if the folks you’re actually bouncing these ideas off of are familiar with mobile apps. I know I’m not, at least not yet — so any type of feedback would be super insightful.

Another reason why I was excited for this event was that it was only 1 day. Sometimes it’s too hard to give up a whole weekend, I did that already with DeathMath at Startup Weekend Seattle EDU a couple weeks ago.

F5 Networks HQ – 401 Elliott Avenue West; Seattle, WA 98119
Saturday, October 15, 2011 from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM (PT)

(Photo via Bob Levey/Getty Images North America)