Matt Gornick

First Few Weeks at OrangeQC

Posted in Uncategorized by mgornick on May 31, 2009

So 2 weeks have passed since we first started working on OrangeQC. I
wanted to post some random ideas and opinions about stuff at OrangeQC
and starting up in no particular order.
 
Early Mornings:
I love getting into work first thing in the morning (5 a.m.-). I can
knock out all my email for the day, catch up on some last minute
tasks, plan out my day accordingly, etc. It is a lot easier to get
things done when you don’t have distractions to divert you from work.
Also the sunrise out of our windows is pretty nice in the morning too.
 
Test Driven Development:
Should have started with this. Writing tests afterward is a pain and
defeats the purpose of agile development. I think I’m going to find
myself writing more tests and fixing more code than if we just started
by writing tests.
 
Food:
Eating healthy. Enough said.
 
Afternoon workout:
This is a must for me. Getting in early and working till ~noon is
pretty exhausting and I need a break in the day. Hitting the gym and
doing a solid workout has been great in clearing my mine and helping
me solve problems that I couldn’t get before. After the gym, I grab a
healthy lunch and head back to work.
 
Deadlines:
You work fast when you have a deadline to meet. You work even faster
when the deadline is set by the customer.
 
Dual monitors:
This is a productivity must. I’ve found myself programming and
working much more efficiently than with just a single monitor. The
SongAlive team has a pretty nice 24 inch monitor. I might look into
one after we get a few sales. Right now, we’ll use the free 17 inch
monitors.
 
Fire at Five (Event):
Fox Development Corp. has a once a month event for all the tenants at
Research Park and EnterpriseWorks. Fire at Five is a time to relax,
enjoy a bonfire, grab some food, and socialize with employees at other
companies. This being my first Fire at Five, I was pretty impressed.
There were a ton of people, great food, and a very social atmosphere
(not to mention the weather was great).

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Fitness and Measuring Everything

Posted in Uncategorized by mgornick on May 20, 2009

After spending a good portion of my life not caring about keeping track of my exercises, calories, weight lifted, miles ran, etc. I've come to the conclusion that that just doesn't suffice anymore.  Without a doubt in my mind, I'm pretty healthy: I eat good, excercise frequently, and enjoy rock climbing.  When trying to enact change like gain weight, losing weight, run a 6 minute mile, and climb harder routes one must properly measure the progress being vs the goals.

Generally speaking, one can't efficiently change something they can't measure.  The same holds true for workouts, health, lifting, you name it.  Students gain a clear understanding of their performance by receiving grades on homework and tests.  Although debatable, this is an objective way for students to tell if they are meeting their goals.  I'm going to test the methodology and apply it to my physical activity.

I read an article by Tim Ferris that described his "arguably exaggerated" journey in gaining 34-lbs of muscle in 28 days.  Despite this incredible feat, he brings up some very interesting points; namely, he says "6. Record every workout in detail, including date, time of day, order of exercises, reps, and weight. Remember that this is an experiment, and you need to control the variables to accurately assess progress and make adjustments."  I'm also keeping track of food (carb, protein, fat) intake as they are useful measure to gauge progress of change as well. 

I'm attempting to keep track of the variables by using a service called Gyminee (www.gyminee.com).  It does a pretty decent job of keeping track of food, workouts, and personal goals.  I'll be experimenting with the service for the summer and see how it works out for me.  Initially, I can tell that it doesn't have some basic excercises in its database and it has been ridiculously slow for some reason, but I'm going to stick with it and see how it works for my lifestyle.

Why meetings fail and how to change that

Posted in Work by mgornick on May 16, 2009

I recently attended several meeting which, in hindsight, turned out to be completely pointless.  Oddly enough, we have meetings to fulfill a particular goal (e.g. inform others, brainstorm, follow-up on pending tasks) but when meetings occur just because their is nothing else to do, everything gets lost in translation.

I see one huge reason that meetings fail: lack of strict agenda.  From this there are two things that could occur:

1. There is absolutely no agenda at all, or

2. There is an agenda but it is not strictly adhered to

The first bad, but the second is worse.  May people lack agendas in their meetings because they don’t think ahead or they do not think that it will drastically improve the quality of their meeting.  Unfortunately, it is even worse when people think that their agenda is solid and perfect.  This gives people the false sense of hope that their meeting will in turn be successful and productive even though the opposite is usually true.

So how do you fix dysfunctional meetings?  There have been books written on this topic and a laundry list of remedies that people prescribe, but their are two fundamental laws that should be followed:

1. Create an agenda.  This includes:

  • creating a document that outlines the date/time/duration this meeting will occur
  • key bullet points that need to be addressed (limit to ~2 or 3 per hour)
  • sub-bullet points that are more specific and granular
  • try to separate the document so notes can be taken on the paper (if necessary)

2. Follow that agenda.  This includes:

  • Having the person in charge (usually the one who created the agenda in the first place) keep the group from digressing.  This is critical!  Many meetings start with a goal to inform the team of everyone’s progress only to find that one person spoke and then started a debate about new features, previous meetings/engagements, and highly granular topics.
  • Sometimes the agenda creator is shy or timid and thus feels bad if they need to cut a topic off or move onto other items.  I would recommend trying a timer or something to the effect of, “We’re going to go around the table and give about 5 minutes per person to fill everyone in on what action items they’ve completed. Go!”  This gives each person a clear understanding that they need to fit possibly months of work into a 5 minute summary so they need to be concise and cogent.  Once you allow for unlimited time to be spent talking and digressing, the meeting will in fact fail.

This summer, I’ll be following my own advise when setting up meetings with OrangeQC.  We’ll be following a mix of Agile and Extreme Programming methodologies in order to get things done.  I’ll keep you in the loop as to the successes and failures of my future meetings.

Finished with Final Exams

Posted in Uncategorized by mgornick on May 15, 2009

I am finally finished with final exams for the semester. Taking all
CS theory classes was difficult as I didn’t get a chance to do some
solid programming. Luckily, that will change this summer.
 
The summer is here and it is time to hustle and get OrangeQC.com up
and going. I’ll be getting situated and moving everything into the
office space this weekend. The team officially starts on May 18 and
will be “crushing it”. Stay tuned for updates.

Apple and Competing with Piracy as a Startup

Posted in Work by mgornick on May 2, 2009

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2009/04/30/pirates-go-for-their-next-target-apple.aspx

I read the recent article by The Motley Foot on “Pirates Go for Their
Next Target: Apple” and started to think how to apply their strategy
can be applied to startups. To summarize, the article describes how
piracy is a problem in industries such as music, movies, software, and
hardware. The music and movie industries have taken the stance of
suing everyone and everything they can. Software developers (such as
game makers and Microsoft) try to add more complex copy protection and
varieties of product registration. Oddly enough Apple is quite
different by selling software without protection as well as building
hardware that takes years of expertise to design. Because of this, I
see many different avenues for startups to apply these tactics to
their own brand (slighted to B2B software startups, but they should
apply across the board).

1. “Hard to copy”: Pirates had an immensely difficult time replicating
the latest iPod Shuffle because “[the] basic components, like
resistors and capacitors, are too tiny to even identify.” [1] As a
startup, if you’re building software to run locally on a computer
their is little one can do to protect your software. The solution
(and buzz word) is cloud computing. Amazon, Microsoft, Google all
have their own cloud resources for people to use. Running your
startup on the cloud or integrating a critical component with cloud
resources is immensely beneficial. People can’t pirate something they
can’t install (most of the time).

2. “Be Open”: Apple touched on these ideas with no protection on their
OS X packages and much of their consumer software. I would venture a
guess that they are hoping people will pirate it so people are more
inclined to purchase higher end Macs. They opened up their software
so it can become viral and ubiquitous. Startups should take the same
route. Twitter is famous for providing an open API and toolset for
developers and look where they’ve gone. Now everyone on different
platforms, devices, etc. are all using Twitter. Startups should try
to build there idea as open as possible. B2B startups should
definitely take this route as products like Salesforce.com, SAP, and
Quickbooks can always bring in feeds of data that can be of use to
them. If you allow companies to utilize the data in a way you never
thought possible, then you will have created a long-term customer (and
beta tester for new features).

3. “Customer Service”: In a B2B startups, your customers are directly
paying you for the service you provide. It is easy to see the
connection between exceptional customer service, support, and
assistance and how likely these customers will stay with your product.
(Especially in a startup) if a customer requests a feature, small
change, etc. we need to give it to them. If the feature pertains to
the industry you’re marketing then it will be immensely useful to more
of your customers that haven’t thought of it yet. For example,
building small features (possibly for a fee) for some customer and
providing them to other customers down the line. Your startup looks
like it is in tune with their customer industry and fast-paced;
whereas, you literally learned of the idea from your users. Also,
most companies fail miserably at customer service. If you can provide
an easy way to talk to a person, you’d be surprised how customers
respond.

The basic principles that Apple uses to compete with piracy, startups
should use as a template to attract more customers and keep their
competition at bay!

Vibram FiveFingers at the Gym and Running Day 3

Posted in Health, Personal by mgornick on May 1, 2009

So, I decided to experiment with my new Vibram FiveFingers KSO at the
gym today. I’ve worn them almost exclusively for 2 days in order to
build up the endurance I need to work out with them.

Lifts: Squats and leg press were great as I received more feedback
from the KSOs and my contact with the ground. It was much easier to
focus on correct form, stability, and using a variety of muscles to
stabilize.

Running: I was a sprinter back in high school so I was used to running
on the balls’ of my feet, but the design of the KSO’s pretty much
force you to do that. Running heal-toe isn’t possible as the shock
runs up your ankles, knees, etc. for each stride. Instead, your body
becomes pretty comfortable running on your toes/balls’ of your feet
which shifts the shock to your calf’s, Achilles, and arch which
actually feels quite comfortable. I ran on both concrete and a
rubberized track surface for a variety of 100-m sprints and 400-m
strides. Both felt very comfortable and didn’t cause any pain. I did
notice being sore after running on concrete, but I’m assuming that is
to be expected. I will continue to use these for my short distance
running and training.

Balance and Stability: Balancing on plates, planks, balls, and such
varied in difficulty. I found myself engaging a wider variety of my
muscles to stabilize and balance. I think this is going to greatly
help with rock climbing where flexibility and balance are critical.
On certain exercises where balancing on a plank (with a ball folcrum)
I performed quite poorly. I believe this was because using flattened
shoes push the stabilization and center of mass higher (possibly
knees); whereas, with the KSOs I felt that any slight change in my
ankles or specific points on my feet caused me to lose balance. This
was definitely a better workout with the KSOs than my Sauconys.