Artpreneurship Class Video

Posted by stephan on April 19, 2014 in Uncategorized with Comments closed |

We needed to make an Ad for ourselves in my Artpreneurship class at MSUDenver.


Student Newsletter Issue 2

Posted by stephan on April 9, 2014 in Uncategorized with Comments closed |

Student newsletter of the Center For Innovation at MSUDenver.


CFI student Newsletter v1i2

Center For Innovation Student Newsletter

Posted by stephan on April 2, 2014 in Center For Innovation with Comments closed |

I am starting up a newsletter for the Center For Innovation students of Metropolitan State University of Denver.

We are all about Entrepreneurship and Small Business.

CFI student Newsletter v1i1

Price and cost

Posted by stephan on April 2, 2014 in business, life with Comments closed |

When buying something you look at the cost to benefit ratio is buying this product worth it for the benefit it promises?

You can go to Walmart to buy some little mass produced plastic and electronic toy for a buck and get some enjoyment out of it for hours and hours. I won’t buy a replacement fob for my Kia because I would have to pay over $200 for it because it costs too much. Yet $200 for a dishwashing machine is a steal because it saves me so much work. The kitchen is being remodeled right now and let me tell you washing the dishes in the bathroom sink is not fun at all.

I’ve spent time playing war games of various sorts and it was fun, mainly because of learning how others played the game too. If I found myself up against someone who played very tight with his resources I would spend my resources damaging him as as I could which often broke his spirit and won the game. Against someone who liked to crush my unit completely I would retreat them as they were damaged and lure the enemy into hastily created ambushes.

One of the big things in my entrepreneurial classes is figuring out the cost of goods sold, so you know if you are making money or not on each transaction. This is important because it is not as simple as totaling up the material, time and wages that went into building the product but also the overhead things like rent, utilities and insurance.

All these things have logic behind them and that’s fine but sometimes you hear stuff on the radio and you just wonder about the logic.

For example a dad moved his daughters room to the driveway because she “didn’t clean it to his specifications” and while the stuff was out there he had the room painted.

People of course said that was great because “his house, his rules,” and “tough love” and on and on. Others said it was terrible because “humiliation is never right” and other reasons.

And I was just left wondering if the price he paid is worth the cost he’s going to bear in the future. This dad got a clean room. Wonderful, but what did it cost to get?

The report seemed to emphasize he was a soldier, though I am not sure if that was an excuse or not. We have a volunteer military and it is pretty clear what is expected of a new recruit long before you enter, but a child is not a volunteer. A husband and wife enter into a marriage voluntarily but children don’t.

Families have to love each other, right? There’s this blood relationship, it’s supposed to be the most important thing, isn’t it? In some families it is, but this family looks like a clean room is more important then love.

Its like something from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The father utterly destroyed his daughter’s room and drove her into the arms of the worst people around.

Having a slave was more important then having a daughter, all so one room, not even the whole house, was clean.

Save up well for retirement, sir, because when you are lying in bed all day and tubes are coming out of you and drips going into you, don’t wonder if she isn’t there. You’ll have plenty of time to asks the question: Was it worth it?

How do you do it?

Posted by stephan on March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized with Comments closed |

My coworker put her baloney sandwich down the Rainbo bread wrapper she had used to carry her lunch. We had break together, for some reason the call center didn’t schedule her and her husband’s breaks together. My own lunch was a sandwich with a slice of “pork roll” a jumble of random pork cuts in a net. I hoped I got all the strings off this time, they make a nasty floss.

She paused then asked me quietly, so it was nearly drowned out by the movie on the breakroom TV. “How do you do it without crying?”

She was looking to me as a pillar of support, I wasn’t sure why. I had had my 90 review recently and I was in the top 1% of customer reps, in the top 11. Which told me exactly where I was, because who uses top 11 for anything? I knew the top rep was in my work group, a college student who would work through breaks and slept during lunch.

We were not part of the student group or the lifer group, those people who seemed content with this kind of mind-numbing work. We were the rebooters, people trying to get back on their feet after a major life setback. Her husband had been an architect, but a major health issue had bankrupted them and now they were starting over, but it was so very hard.

I looked into her pleading eyes, “I don’t …remember.” Which was true. I would forget what happened in this place once I passed through the doors. My wife always asked how my day was, but I wouldn’t be able to tell her because I couldn’t remember and she would hold me close.

Only a few things stuck with me once I got home. The joke about kittens hanging onto the windshield wipers as the tech said it was raining cats and dogs. The mother who called the wrong number and was encouraging her baby to say hi to grandma.

“Oh…okay. Are we going to make it?”

I could only shrug. “I don’t know.”

We weren’t going to make it. I had budgeted the house and everything so that we could survive if I lost half my salary. But now I was only making a sixth. My wife was cooking all day trying to make the best food she could from the food assistance we were receiving, but the produce was either a long way from ripe or a little passed its use by date. For course, she watched our baby.

She hadn’t found a job at all, I had had to talk fast to convince the hiring manager of the call center to give me a chance. This was an AnyJob, we were terribly overqualified for it but it was the only job to take us. It wasn’t enough, but everyone had said that taking any job would change things for us.

The economy wasn’t the same anymore and a real career seemed out of reach. Our house was on the market. We were sort of lucky, we had enough equity so that we weren’t underwater, so we could sell for a loss and still pay off the mortgage, even if it left nothing for us.

The pastor from church had set us up with a new move-in who was a real estate agent from the coast. I didn’t think he was doing a good job of it but I had nothing left over to try and do something about it. I felt so empty inside.

A couple of weeks ago we got a call from a neighbor, she had just come back from an ultrasound and learned her unborn baby had cancer. How to handle that news. We had lost our own unborn baby to a drunk driver and was enough to connect with her. We talked until the tears stopped and helped her pack some things for the stay in the children’s hospital. They were setting up a oncology team for after the C-section in the morning. Her husband was in DC, and her family in Utah, but she needed someone. Her husband’s flight would be coming in by lunchtime. We finally learned that the cancer had gone into spontaneous remission and the baby boy was going to be okay, but they were moving to DC so they could all be together.

“What are we doing wrong?”

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We had done all the right things, gone to a good school, gotten good grades, and had had good jobs, but now everything was crazy and upside down.

Companies were saying there was a shortage of workers, but wages were flat. Corporate officers were saying that there weren’t enough qualified workers so they had to outsource, but of the few jobs I did hear back from, I was overqualified for. Managers were saying that they couldn’t find good workers, yet I would get rejected for job after job if I only claimed to have 19 out of the 20 things the job description said they wanted.

My pastor set me up with a job coach and we sent out another 500 resumes and didn’t even get rejections back anymore. I doubted they would work, they hadn’t the previous 2k+ times, and after 6 months even she gave up so she could work with someone else she could help.

I didn’t need resume help so much as an introduction to someone who might have a problem to solve. That would give me an honest chance to make a difference. But getting that chance seemed so impossible now. People would ask what they could do but whenever I asked for that, they would backpedal and change the subject. I guess I just don’t count.

“I don’t know.”

“Neither do I.”

And so we ate our sandwiches trying to beat the clock so we didn’t get in trouble for clocking back in late.

Screenplay by Syd Field

Posted by stephan on February 4, 2014 in Uncategorized with Comments closed |

We were in the library again, and while I was looking for another book on writing pulled Screenplay The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field down, by accident.

It looked interesting enough so I checked it out with the massive pile our daughter wanted to check out too.

Now I know a screenplay is very different from writing a user guide or a help system, but I thought why not learn something about the process they go through. I figured there would be something from it, because I have noticed good ideas come from combining different areas of knowledge.

A movie script needs a genre to set the basis of the story, 3 Acts for structure, 52 scenes to show what is happening to the characters, 10,000 words of dialog telling the audience what the characters have to say, and in the darkness bind them.

I had never known that a screenplay is almost pure dialog. There is a paragraph to describe a character or a setting and that is about it. The director’s job is all about visually creating the scene. I had expected it to be more like a play script like the ones we read in High School English class, with stage direction and the like.

One of the most interesting pieces of advice he gives is to copy existing successful scripts so you learn the format. It was surprising to me to see that advice because so much of what I read about writing is focused on being original or different from everyone else so you are not going to be accused of plagiarism. Yet I remember hearing of composition students copying the works of the masters, many artist do the same thing as an exercise, so why not writers too?

He lists some sites to find scripts to read: SimplyScripts, Drew’s Script-o-rama, and Dailyscript.


Posted by stephan on October 25, 2013 in Uncategorized with Comments closed |

I don’t know why but the last few days has been so interesting about technology.

I was at the bus stop waiting for my daughter and was talking with one of the other parents. She had come up behind me and surprised me because I had my headphones in, listening to Welcome to Night Vale (A rather spooky but funny podcast)

She sighed about the cost of her Android plan. It was just too expensive. I told her that I went with the iPod touch + dumbphone combo. A dumbphone plan costs a lot less, and a pay per usage plan can be good and cheap.

Her son is blind and has gotten an iPad and a windows laptop through the school. He never uses the windows laptop because he needs to also use a $1000 screen reader dongle (that he can use on any windows machine but is a pain to set up) He spoke gleefully of VoiceOver and how easy it is to do everything on the iPad. He’s even in the photography club because the app can tell him what he is taking pictures of and he takes good pictures.

It is amazing that a slab of glass and metal can be something a blind person can use and it wasn’t even its main design intention. I’ve helped visually impaired people a few times, and usually things were made to be unique to the touch and all that, but it turned out to be really expensive, and not all that useful. The side-effects of apple tech is amazing.

Then there was the lady behind me in line at the pharmacy. I was reading an ebook on my iPod touch and she goes, “You can read a book on that thing?” I gave her a quick tour of books, movies, music and games. It also fit in my pocket better then a paperback, like the guy ahead of us. Somehow the conversation veered into wait times at the DMV.

There is a lot of technology out there, and you probably don’t need the hottest thing on the market. Look around. Think about what you are doing. Use what fits for you.

Lessons from Software Project Management

Posted by stephan on October 23, 2013 in Uncategorized with Comments closed |

President Barack Obama on Monday acknowledged technical problems that he described as “kinks in the system.” He also promised a “tech surge” by leading technology talent to repair the painfully slow and often unresponsive website that has frustrated Americans trying to enroll online for insurance plans at the center of Obama’s health care law.

via Instapundit.

Well, it doesn’t look like we have to worry about Obamacare anymore. One of the fundamental lessons of Software Project Management is that adding people to a late project only makes it later.

It is obvious that the managers of the site have never read Peopleware or Mythical Man-month two of the foundation stones of modern project management.

Obamacare will limp along, it might even “work” for very simplistic and broad definitions of “work” but it won’t be fast enough for work-arounds and changes to be made that will render the website and the law moot.

And whoever the next president is, there will be more then enough incentive to kill it to put it out of everyone’s misery.

I was wondering what the grand edifice was going to be, that symbol of former glory like the Colosseum, ironically it will vanish with a press of an enter key. More’s the pity, there will be nothing to help people remember what happened and learn not to do it again.

Homework Hurts Families

Posted by stephan on October 15, 2013 in Uncategorized with Comments closed |

Our daughter has homework but most of the time it is us just badgering her to do it. Which used to lead to shouting and slamming doors. So not only is there no learning there is also damage occurring to the family.

So now we let her have some time to do the things she wants and help when she wants it with homework after dinner. Sometimes it goes long, but that happens.

I found The Homework Myth and that is fascinating, but the reality is that some very noisy parents think lots of homework is a positive thing.

Really, it is just building resentment and those parents will be dying alone in a rest home somewhere far away.

It also means that their children will put off their dreams and have a major mid-life crisis where they do the socially acceptable things, but miss out on what they really want to do because they never take the time to discover it.

Youth is the best time to figure out what your talents are, but everyone is competing to outdo the Jones’ in extracurricular and other things. With all the exhaustion and sleep deprivation, people start turning to energy drinks and other things to keep up and then they sit at home in front of the TV trying to get the strength to go to sleep. Or worse turn to sleeping pills or alcohol to try to sleep.

Lots of numbing and very little living. Sorry, pass.


Posted by stephan on September 9, 2013 in Uncategorized with Comments closed |

BRD OF DIRSo a girl in my New Venture Creation class left and returned as we were talking about people we need to help our businesses get off the ground.

She was reading the board trying to catch up and she was stumped and raised her hand to know what BRDOFDIR was.

As soon as he said it, you could see it all click together and she turned bright red, because it was obvious by the first word what it was. It was worse because she was the one that brought up COO, CFO, CMO, and those kinds of people. The funniest part was she’s the savviest one in there and most likely to success, in my estimation. Brainfarts can be just awful.

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