Four short links – January 24, 2019

Reality of open source businesses, marketing ideas, income equality debate, and organizational alignment.

  1. AWS, MongoDB, and the Economic Realities of Open Source (Stratechery) — How and why MongoDB is getting massively pinched by AWS.
  2. Ideas for promoting your software product (Justin Jackson) — Good list of marketing ideas to test.
  3. Noah Smith on Worker Compensation, Co-determination, and Market Power (Econ Talk) — Great debate on the nature of income inequality growth: whether it exists (because that’s not decided), and various labor market attributes that might influence it (e.g. the growth of temp agencies).
  4. What Elon Musk Taught Me About Growing A Business (Dharmesh Shah) — The clearest articulation I’ve seen of organizational alignment and its importance. If your organization isn’t aligned, go back to start.

Monica, the CRM to make you a better friend

Monica is my new favorite software. It’s a CRM to “organize the social interactions with your loved ones.” In the few weeks I’ve used it, Monica has done a great job proactively encouraging me to be a better friend.

Monica is also open source on GitHub with an active community. It’s clear how this has influenced what the product is. I’d love to see Régis Freyd (the creator) turn Monica into a viable business too. This would ensure its long-term sustainability, and also help solve for product gaps (e.g. hiring for design polish).

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Here’s Oregon’s New Bill to Re-legalize ‘Missing Middle’ Homes Statewide

Here’s Oregon’s New Bill to Re-legalize ‘Missing Middle’ Homes Statewide. So cool: requires cities to allow missing middle housing in low-density zones, gives them state money to do the necessary planning, and removes parking quotas for accessory homes.

Book notes: Thinking in Bets

Just finished up Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts.

Overall, Thinking in Bets is a pretty middle of the road business book. It’s good for lots of tactical details around “thinking in bets” and avoiding inherent biases. It doesn’t have an overly compelling narrative.

Some of its more salient points include:

  • “Resulting” is judging a decision based on its results (which are probabilistic) instead of the thinking and process leading to the decision. A good decision can always have a bad outcome because no decision is ever 100% predictable.
  • Transforming “I know” into “I think with N% certainty” creates space for evaluating what you think you know that led to your current conclusion. It also creates space for others to critically examine the facts leading to your conclusion without you being “wrong”.
  • Sugar industry funded research that eventually triggered low-fat food products. Took decades of real-world impact to realize the flaws. See Snackwell opinions from Michael Pollan.
  • Separate the message from the messenger to avoid bias based on perception of messenger. For instance, liberals could learn a lot from conservatives this way. Tactically, practice this by removing the name from the statement and evaluate more objectively.
  • Remembering the future is the best way to plan for it. From the vantage point of the present, it’s hard to see beyond the next step. We end up over planning for addressing problems we have right now. When we work backward from the goal, we plan the decision tree in greater depth.

Overall, Thinking in Bets provides useful reference material for “thinking in bets.” Which is the title of the book. Which you don’t really understand the meaning of unless you’re a poker player or read the book.

Four short links – January 7, 2019

Consumerism, philanthropy, consumer surplus, and banning single-family zoning.

  1. How This All Happened (Morgan Housel) — History of the American economy since WW2, explaining consumerism, consumer debt, and the rise of financial inequality.
  2. Relentless: How One Guy Brought the Internet to America’s Schools (Without Fail) — The right way to be rich is to use your privilege to work on harder and harder problems.
  3. Creating Surplus (Fred Wilson) — Useful chart depicting which goods/services have gotten cheaper because of technology, and which have gotten more expensive in the same period.
  4. Could Oregon Become the First State to Ban Single-Family Zoning? (Willamette Week) — State legislation is becoming a possibility.

Year in Review: 2018

A reflection on family, business, and travel. See also: 2015, 2014, 2013.

I definitely feel older this year. Not yet in the “my body is aging” sense, but in the “I am definitely not a kid anymore” sense. I am acutely aware of all the responsibilities I hold as a father and husband (and homeowner, for that matter). This post is a couple days late accordingly.

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Software I use, December 2018 edition

In October, I bought a new MacBook Pro and did a fresh install. I took notes on the software I installed with the hopes of sharing them with the world (as I did in 2014 and 2011). It’s now December and I finally have time to write the blog post. Busy!

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