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Covering the Beatles' 'Eight Days a Week' and Recreating the Ed Sullivan Show using Unreal Engine 5

Video video 1 min read

The past few months marked the last summer before my daughters were both away at college. We passed the time working on a project together.  It combines all our interests, from music to engineering to filmmaking. So what was it? Well, we set about recreating the set of the Ed Sullivan Show and performing a cover of Eight Days a Week by the Beatles. Why? You'll have to watch the video to find out.

We used Blender for modeling, Unreal Engine 5 for creating the environment and lighting, Cubase 12 for recording music and vocals, Artlist for crowd noise, a

A Pre-Launch Pivot

ApartmentJet: The Story of a Startup Part 1.3 5 min read

This post is part of an ongoing series of articles about my previous startup. Click here to view the table of contents.

A Pre-Launch Pivot

By the end of summer 2016, we were stuck. Our idea of a sharing economy solution for apartment dwellers had been dismissed by many of the biggest players in the multifamily industry. The handful of companies who loved the idea said there was no way they could make it work, because they had an unofficial NO-Airbnb stance.

We weren’t about to let that stop us. We knew Airbnb (and sites like it) were here to stay. We set about brainstorming.

Now, the following paragraphs highlight some of the problems we identified and how we solved them. They're not particularly

Hanging up on Saul Goodman, Sadly

television 3 min read Hanging up on Saul Goodman, Sadly

Better Call Saul airs its final episode tonight. There's not much I can say about it that hasn't already been said better. Brilliant writing, complicated characters, gorgeous cinematography, clever shots, fun use of music, and a slow, steady, anxiety-inducing pace that sucks you in, grabs hold of your nerves, twists them, tickles them, pokes them, and, a few moments or episodes or seasons later, always manages to deliver. There's no other show I've seen that captures quite the same tone, mood, or look, and I've loved it since day one.

The finale arrives at a transitional period in my life.

A Short Ride with a OneWheel and Skydio 2 Drone

Video video 1 min read

A couple weeks ago I spent the afternoon OneWheeling with my nephew. We decided to let the drone accompany us.

Let me just say the Skydio 2 is brilliant. DJI drones certainly win for camera quality, but this Skydio drone tracked us better than any camera tracking system I've ever used, and it did so while navigating complex obstacles like trees and cars and houses and street lights. Once or twice, we almost lost it, but that was operator error. I thought I chose a setting I hadn't actually chosen, which caused some erratic drone behavior. Even then, it always

Hello, Rejection

ApartmentJet: The Story of a Startup Part 1.2 4 min read

This post is part of an ongoing series of articles about my previous startup. Click here to view the table of contents.

Hello, Rejection

In June 2016, we held our first unofficial ApartmentJet meeting at my house.

I was in the process of moving in. The rooms were empty. The cupboards were bare. Stacks of boxes lined every wall. I did, however, have two folding chairs and a whiteboard, which is all we needed.

Andy and Eric in my empty apartment.

We began with our basic idea. Something multifamily, something “sharing economy”.

We identified four primary stakeholders. Property owners, management companies, residents, and guests. Each stakeholder had separate concerns.

Guests (also known as Airbnb travelers) who stay at a property want reliability and security.

Unboxing Ohmie, A Lamp Made From Orange Peels

Video video 2 min read

Kickstarter is fascinating place. Some campaigns offer niche products you never knew you needed. Others offer rewards you won't find anywhere else. In some cases, you back a campaign simply to support ideas you believe in or ideas that represent progress towards a worthy goal. Ohmie: The Orange Lamp was such a campaign.

I backed it in July 2021. The idea was simple: an organic, fully compostable lamp 3D printed from inedible orange peel waste. It hit all the sustainability goals: repurposed waste applied to a near-wasteless manufacturing process to produce re-usable electronics and a compostable product in compostable packaging.

Some Origin Stories Begin with a Phone Call

ApartmentJet: The Story of a Startup Part 1.1 4 min read

This post is part of an ongoing series of articles about my previous startup. Click here to view the table of contents.

Some Origin Stories Begin with a Phone Call

It can be difficult to pinpoint the origin of a new business. Companies often mythologize origin stories for marketing purposes. Ours, however, began with a phone call.

Late on a Spring evening in 2016, I felt a buzz in my pocket. I answered, and a familiar voice dove right in. “Just talked to Eric,” Andy said. “Wanted to run a couple ideas past you.”

I met Eric Broughton and Andy Hamilton ten years earlier at a startup named Yield Technologies. We were three of the first six employees. In its infancy, the company performed software consulting projects for a range

Testing the DJI Mic On a OneWheel

Video video 2 min read

A couple weeks ago, I picked up the brand new DJI Mic. I own a couple lav mics, but they can be complicated, and they require XLR inputs, and they're never charged when I need them, and they're all just a little more cumbersome than I want them to be, which means I rarely use them. That being said, they record great audio. So the question became: if the DJI Mic is better from an ease-of-use standpoint, how good is the audio quality?

Before I made the purchase, I watched this review and this comparison. both reviews are better (and

Here We Go

ApartmentJet: The Story of a Startup Introduction 4 min read

This post is part of an ongoing series of articles about my previous startup. Click here to view the table of contents.

Here We Go

On October 29, 2018, after months of planning and preparation, Expedia Group’s communications team came alive. At 6AM pacific time, their press release hit the wire. Shortly thereafter, embargoed news outlets ran the story. One of the world’s largest travel companies announced to the world it had acquired two short term rental startups.

One of them was ours.

They had scheduled our day in fifteen minute increments. The legal team briefed us about what we could and couldn’t say. Expedia was, after all, a public company, subject to all sorts of regulations, and no one, especially us,

05.30.2022 - Relating to Sid Meier

journal 4 min read

I'm currently listening to the autobiography of Sid Meier, famous video game creator. It's a funny and fascinating memoir. Honestly, I didn't realize how many games he's created or how many I've played. I had forgotten about Silent Service, a submarine simulation from the late 80s. My dad bought our family's first PC around that time. My two most frequently played games were Test Drive and Silent Service. I had no idea it was created by the guy who's name would be forever synonymous with Civilization.

I'll probably share a ton of quotes from the book in the future, but here's one that made me smile.

My coworker Jake Solomon once asked me point blank, "What's your guilty pleasure?" It should be mentioned that he did this on stage in front of a few hundred people, which is not usually the ideal place to unburden your soul. Fortunately, the answer came easily.

"Excess," I told him with a pained smile. The drawback of being able to isolate the interesting part of any given thing is that you are constantly interested by every given thing. I routinely find myself stumbling into new hobbies almost by accident, and as with my work life, I seem incapable of doing anything halfheartedly.

As an example, I like to play the guitar. I know a fair number of chords, and when I'm playing music with friends I'll occasionally hand over the keyboards to someone else, so I can pretend to be a rock star in short bursts. But I wouldn't consider myself astronomically talented at, or obsessed with, playing the guitar-I'm just interested in it. Therefore, I own about twenty of them.

In my defense, some are for convenience. I keep two at the office and two in our church building, because you never know whether the acoustic or electric mood will strike, and I don't want to haul them back and forth all the time. The rest are either hanging on display at home or in various states of storage, but they do get played, as I keep insisting to Susan.

Then there are the radio-controlled airplanes, and the historical memorabilia, and the golf clubs... like I said, guitars are just one hobby of mine. I'm a nerd, and nerds always want to have the latest gadget. I can justify my extensive collection of game consoles as part of my job, at least, but for the most part I have to make a conscious effort to keep the accumulation below pathological levels. I once got to visit George Lucas's library at Skywalker Ranch, which has a ladder leading up to a second-floor balcony where you can access another several thousand books. It's probably a good thing that I've never lived in a house that could hold that many books, but a grand, sprawling library is the first room I'd install if I did.

As someone who has, throughout my life, taken heat for my varied interests and the resulting accumulation of items pertaining to those interests, this was delightful to read. There are those who complain about the money spent, about the clutter and "mess" from having all these interesting items scattered around the house. I learned a long time ago that if someone doesn't inherently understand, they probably never will. At best they'll humor you.

I've always said my varied interests are, in many ways, indirectly responsible for the success I've had in life. They're emblematic of curiosity. They're signs of wanting to know how the world works and where it's going, of a desire for continuous personal growth.

Most of my career success has occurred due to the generalist nature of my skillset. I'm not the world's best programmer or best software designer or best copywriter or best graphic designer, but I can and have effectively worn all those hats. I was able to do it because I'm genuinely curious about how each area of focus impacts the larger project.

For me, curiosity is satisfied by experimentation. When I want to know something, I'll usually try to learn it. It won't usually be the deepest education. I'm not going back to college or anything like that. But I do like to acquire first hand understanding, either by reading or trying. Note: If I'm not interested in a topic, there's very little chance anyone will convince me to explore it. Thankfully, my interests (and desire to be a better person) are rather broad.

To acquire understanding, I regularly buy books, gadgets, LEGO, cameras, electronic drum sets, drones, exercise equipment, video production gear, monitors, toys, mini solar panels, flight simulators, home automation tools, outdoor gear, etc.. As a result, my home fills up with an endless influx of new stuff.

When I was younger, there was an argument to be made that I couldn't afford my curiosity, but that's less of a problem now (although, I still can't afford my own personal aircraft, which would be cool). But this is how I learn. This is how I grow. This is how I pursue that which interests me.

If one person's method of learning and satisfying curiosity is different than another's, why assume one is right and the other is wrong if both are effective for the people applying them? In today's world, shouldn't we encourage all manner of learning and curiosity, especially when data confirms the more you learn and the more questions you ask the less likely you are to think you know everything?

Regardless, it's always nice to discover there are people like you in the world. It's exciting to see your methods reproduced by others with even better results. Maybe you're doing something right after all.

05.16.2022 - The One with the Covid

journal 2 min read

After 26 months of pandemic life, I finally encountered the mighty Covid. Thankfully, I've been vaccinated and boosted. So while my bout hasn't been the symptomless walk-in-the-park many others have enjoyed, it certainly hasn't been the worst illness I've ever experienced.

It all started with a sore throat. Coughing. Fatigue. Lots of fatigue. Then came a fever. By day three, I couldn't concentrate for more than a few minutes. I tried and failed multiple times to watch a new show, always resorting back to familiar sitcoms that made no demands of my attention or focus. (The title of this post

Remembering My History with the TV Sitcom Wings 25 Years After its Final Flight

Video video 8 min read

On May 21, 1997, the tv sitcom Wings aired its final episode.

As strange as it may sound, discovering that show proved to be the beginning of a lifelong adventure. Together with my interest in computers, the emergence of the internet, and a desire to create, Wings helped jumpstart my career.

I explain it all in the video above, but here's a recap.

In early 1994, I started watching Wings by accident. It aired in syndication immediately before my favorite show, Quantum Leap. I'd occasionally flip on the television early, putzing about my dorm room, and I'd catch bits of

#amreading

'Words of Radiance' by Brandon Sanderson
'Think Again' by Adam Grant
'Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying' by Wolfgang Langewiesche

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