How to start

Links

Nathan Konthy:

Quite a few years ago I found myself in a situation where I wanted to start my own business. I was sick of working at the places I was working at, and I wanted to get out on my own. Problem was… I had no idea what that was. I didn’t have any obvious breakout ideas. The experimental ideas I did have seemed impossible to market, as in, I had no idea how to sell anything. The thought occurred to me to try to raise money to build something, but I didn’t even know where to begin.

It was an awful unmotivating place to be.

If you’re looking for inspiration on getting started with building a startup, then Nathan’s post is a nice read.


Getting Your Idea Going: How to Validate a Business Idea the Right Way

Links

Will Schroter:

Long before you set up shop and hang your shingle, your job as a Founder is to spend as many cycles as you can validating whether your business idea even merits a logo.

Validating your business idea isn’t a dark art. It’s literally asking people whether they would use or buy what you’d make.

The challenge is: How exactly do you go about doing that?  Since most Founders are only validating a business idea for their first time, they don’t have a great sense for how to validate a business idea well or how to interpret what they are learning.

The result is often a heavily skewed view of what the market thinks—or worse—no view at all and a long run into the abyss.

As it happens, there are really only a few parameters to consider before you put a lot of effort into pursuing your idea.  It’s all about that early validation. The good news it doesn’t take too long and it’s generally free.

Another great post from Will and the gang at Startups.co, I recommend checking out their blog if you haven’t already.

Startups.co also runs a slack channel that has a founder giving a live chat every day about work, life, and everything in between.


Invent the Future

Startups

One of the pioneers of personal computing, Alan Kay thought of laptops and graphical interfaces years before they were realized. At XeroxPARC, Apple, HP and Disney, he has developed tools for improving the mind.

Alan gave this lecture as part of Startup School at Stamford and his lecture was great so I wanted to share parts 1 and 2 here.


Don’t “empower” anybody.

Links

Claire Lew:

I hate the word “empowerment.”

I never think I should “empower” anyone — especially our employees.

Why? The definition of the word “empower” is:

to give power to (someone); to make (someone) stronger and more confident.

The key words here are “give” and “make.” Empowerment means you’re transferring power to someone else. You think someone else needs you — your permission, your influence, your talents — to do something. And I don’t ever believe that’s the case.

Our employees don’t need me to do anything.

When it comes to motivation, everything people need they already have inside them. Each person has something unique, special and important to offer the world. And as a leader, it’s my job to merely create the best environment that allows them to come into that themselves.


What makes a programming language cool?

Links

Richard Kenneth Eng:

There are many programming languages today vying for your consideration, especially the “hot” (or “cool!”) new languages like Ceylon, Crystal, Dart, Elixir, Elm, Go, Haxe, Julia, Kotlin, Rust, Swift, TypeScript. And new ones seem to be popping up every month!

Even some of the not-so-new languages are grabbing attention, languages like Clojure, Erlang, F#, Haskell, Lua, OCaml, Scala. Some of these languages are decades old!

So it got me wondering: What makes a programming language, regardless of age, trendy and exciting?


Unnecessary Qualifiers

Links

Tara Mann:

Most people struggle with confidence at times, especially in the workplace and I’m no exception. I often find myself presenting my design work and my opinions with a variety of qualifiers, as if pointing out my perceived flaws before someone else can will negate them. This is just as much a reminder to myself as it is to anyone else, but please, present your work without apologies.

Here are a bunch of unnecessary qualifiers and why they’re unnecessary. When I find myself typing one of these, I take a step back, read over what I was trying to say, and rewrite…

Interesting reading from Tara with several key take aways.


How to Boss

Links , Startups

Cameron Moll:

Years ago as a high school student I was driving to school and Bruce Springsteen came on the radio. Except he wasn’t singing. He was answering questions from a local radio host.

At some point in the interview, Springsteen shared an uncanny observation about parents, paraphrased as best as I can I recall:

The best way I know how to honor your parents is to take all their good attributes and incorporate them into who you are, and leave behind all the bad ones.

That observation has stuck with me for more than 20 years.

No one knows how to Boss like the Boss himself, Springsteen.


Build a Status Page powered by Github and Uptime Robot

Code

This post was originally posted on Coded Geekery, my personal blog about finding a work-life balance, but I wanted to share it here as well since it’s about the Flybase status page.

Overview

We built our own status page for Flybase, you can see it here.

It was built as a static HTML page on Github Pages. It uses Github Issues to report any incidents and Uptime Robot to monitor our sites.

This idea is based loosely on the statuspage repo created by @pyupio, but simplified, as I wanted this to be pretty much automated, plus we already use Uptime Robot for monitoring, so combining Uptime Robot with Github Issues works great.

To get started, you’ll want two things:

  1. An Uptime Robot account
  2. A GitHub repo where you can throw your site up and use the issues system.

Create a branch in your repo called gh-pages, this is where your files will sit.

Ok, let’s build our status page:

1. create index.html

First, create our index.html file:

2. Create script.js

Next, we’ll create script.js, this is the file that talks to our services.

Replace the following variables with actual lines:

YOUR-UPTIME-ROBOT-API-KEY-1 and YOUR-UPTIME-ROBOT-API-KEY-2: Uptime Robot’s default API key is universal, but is also read and write. We want this monitor to be read-only so we have to create an API Key for each site we are creating. This is an array of keys.

To add more sites, just add a new line and add a new monitor key.

YOUR-GITHUB-USERNAME: Your Github username where the repo you created lives.

YOUR-GITHUB-REPO: The Github repo you created to use.

2. Create style.css

Finally, we want to create our style.css file. Just copy this entire block into the file.

4. Git it Going

Once you’ve created your files, you want to put them on your repo, you can either create them directly from the github.com interface, or you can create them locally and commit them.

If you want to add this to a specific domain, then create a file called CNAME and store your domain or subdomain in there.

Finally, create a file called .nojekyll which tells Github Pages that this is a strictly static site.

To customize Github Issues, we set up labels to identify issues:

  • operational means all systems good.
  • investigating means under investigation.
  • outage to identify an outage.
  • degraded to identify an issue causing degraded performance.

On top of that, you can add labels that start with system: and they will show what system the issue is related to. For example system:blog would show an issue with our blog.

Labeling an issue with any of these tags will reflect on the status page.


This status page works pretty well, and was useful last week with the AWS outage that happened. It showed the status of our various services, and let us push updates via Github Issues that showed up below.

I do plan on making an update at some point to take into account comments inside issues.

This is a basic status page, but it helps show people what is happening with your sites, and keep everything nice and transparent.

Originally posted on Coded Geekery, my personal blog about finding a work-life balance


Unlock honest feedback with this one word

Links , Startups

Claire Lew:

A few years ago, a CEO told me how she was struggling to get honest feedback from her board.

No one seemed willing to be critical or give her pointers on things she could improve. After every board meeting, she would turn to them and ask directly:

“What feedback does anyone have for me?”

She’d hear crickets. Every single time.

Good advice for getting feedback.


Seth Godin: Drawing a line in the sand

Links , Startups

There are two real problems with this attitude:

First, drawing lines. Problems aren’t linear, people don’t fit into boxes. Lines are not nuanced, flexible or particularly well-informed. A line is a shortcut, a lazy way to deal with a problem you don’t care enough about to truly understand.

Most of all, drawing a line invites the other person to cross it.

Second, the sand. Sand? Really? If you’re going to draw a line, if you’re truly willing to go to battle, you can do better than sand.

  • Seth Godin

That saying has always bugged me too, and we never draw lines here at Flybase.