Brad Feld

Month: October 2008

Stanford has put all the course material for CS 193P – iPhone Application Programming up on the web.  If you are developing an iPhone app, or considering it, the course looks like it has a huge amount of useful data. 

While it’s not over yet as the Supreme Court might weight in, the Federal Court Kills Patents on Business Methods.  I haven’t read things carefully yet (I’ll leave that for the bathroom this weekend) but from the quick analysis I’ve read (In re Bilski: Patentable Process Must Either (1) be Tied to a particular machine or (2) Transform a Particular Article) it looks like it is a strong, unambiguous decision in the good fight to eliminate ridiculous patents.

The Federal Court declined to weigh in on my hated software patents, but this is a huge step in the right direction.  Bye bye business method patents – at least those that aren’t either tied to a particular machine or transform a particular article – how we’ll miss thee.

The Hedge Fund Essays

Oct 30, 2008
Category Random

All of the hedge fund (and some of the VC fund) statements I’ve been receiving the past few weeks have long essays in them.  I categorize most of them as either (a) marketing, e.g. "look how smart we are – we know what’s going on" or (b) rationalization, e.g. "our numbers totally suck, but here’s why you should be optimistic about our future performance."  However, at least one of them was really interesting, well thought out, and gave me plenty to think about.

It appears Fred Wilson received at least one that he put in the same category.  He did us all a favor by summarizing it in his post Hedge Funds: The Third Quarter Report and giving his thoughts about what he had read.  He also makes the strong statement that every investor needs to consider all the time – are you a buyer or a seller at this price.  As Fred eloquently and succinctly states, "If you don’t want to buy more, that tells you something."

If you are inclined to read Fred’s post, do yourself a favor and wander over to the WSJ and read Art Laffer’s op-ed The Age of Prosperity Is Over.

VentureBeat had a Downturn RoundTable yesterday consisting of a panel of VCs and an panel of entrepreneurs giving their advice on what to do to whether to current economic crisis.  I found the TechCrunch commentary to be a very good summary:

Since VentureBeat actually put on the event, it seems appropriate to link to their content also.

By far the best five minutes are John Doerr of KPCB reciting his 10 tips (which are written here).

Direct, clear, and actionable.  While a lot of this is common sense that should be done all the time in any entrepreneurial business, if you are an entrepreneur you are going to hear this over and over again in the next "chunk of time."  And – if you work for a startup, recognize that these are the things going through the head of the leadership team right now; help them accomplish them.


Oct 29, 2008

I was talking to Andrew Hyde over at the Job Fair and a few of the folks I ran into busted my chops (in a good way) about my publicly declared jihad on my weight.  For those of you that have commented – thanks – the encouragement, support, and suggestions have been great.

I’ve started a group competition on Gyminee called Overweight Boys In BoulderThe competition is to lose the most % body weight before 1/31/09.  The losers buy the winner a super healthy meal at Leaf (and we all have a party together).  Micah has suggested he’s going to kick my ass, but I think his odds were better in the sushi eating contest that occurred recently.

While I was talking to Andrew, he mentioned an idea I hadn’t heard before called anti-charity that appears to have some fans on the web.  The idea is brilliant – you make a public commitment to a goal along with a contribution to a charity you are opposed to if you don’t achieve your goal.

For example, if I don’t get below 200 pounds by 1/31/09, I’m going to donate $100 in my name to  It’s a cynical, but awesome motivational tool.

If you thought the reason I haven’t been doing a Daily Reading post lately was because I didn’t feel like adding more to the endless stream of political noise, global economic crisis, and the impending extinction of arctic wolves, you’d be wrong.  I simply forgot I was doing it.  Oops.  Here are a few good ones from today.

  • Chess Move Simulator:  If you are a chess player, you must check this out.  Awesome.  Thanks Bruce.
  • Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform: A guide for the perplexed: Mary Jo Foley tries to explain Azure. 
  • If you notice a bunch of software engineers wandering around Boulder, that’s because the Boulder Colorado Job Fair is in full swing.  If you run into someone from out of Boulder, be nice and make sure you tell them it’s never actually cold in Boulder.
  • Seth Godin speaks up on some of his failures in Failure as an eventAs is typical of Seth, he has concise, brilliant advice.  His biggest lesson of all – "Persist. Do the next one."
  • Bill Flagg has a great contrarian post on Startup Valuations.  Actually, it’s not contrarian.  It’s just good old bootstrapping common sense.
  • Ho Nam at Altos Ventures has the real contrarian post of the day (he even uses the word contrarian in it).  RIP Good Times? A Different Perspective.

Off to spend the day with a top secret group of VCs discussing what we think of the future.

I regularly get the "why do you blog" question.  I also regularly get "thank you for blogging" notes (thank you for the thank you notes.)

I’m a fan on Andrew Sullivan – he has a magnificent article in The Atlantic titled Why I Blog.  He nails it.

Thanks for the link Dave.

With a nod to a line given to me from a recent television show that I enjoy, I’m declaring a jihad on my weight.

I’ve struggled with my weight for the past 15 years.  I was a skinny person until I hit 28.  At that point, something happened and I gained about 60 pounds.  At my peak, some of my friends referred to me as fat.  Eek.

I started running about seven years ago.  I lost about 20 of the pounds.  Some them went into muscle, some of them went away.  But a bunch of them hung around – mostly my belly and my ass.

In 2003, when I was training for the Chicago marathon, I dropped another 30 pounds.  None of my clothes fit; that was very satisfying.  I ran my fastest marathon by a wide margin.  I’m sure my cholesterol was a lot lower.  No one called me fat anymore.

Five years later, I feel semi-fat again.  I’m still running marathons, but those 30 pounds are back.  I’m 20 pounds off my peak, but no where near where I want to be.

Enough.  Starting today the weight comes off.  If you are having a meal with me, help me help myself.  Send the bread back.  Ask me if I’m sure I want another drink (one is plenty).  Remind me that I only have to eat half my food.  Notice all the vegetables that I’m eating.  Pat me on the head when I skip dessert.

Weight – you are going away.

iPhone and Tasks

Oct 26, 2008

My iPhone 3G continues to delight me.  For all of you naysayers out there (e.g. "eh – Feld’s Mac Fetish rears its head again – he’ll be done with it in a week and give it back to Ross), you are wrong this time!

As a heavy Outlook user, the requirement for me to be happy was a seamless experience with Exchange.  In the Apple iPhone 2.0 software, Apple did an excellent job of integrated EAS (Microsoft Exchange Active Sync) that has completely won me over.

But Apple left one thing out – Task management.  There is no app on the iPhone for managing tasks (sorry – notes doesn’t cut it) and as a result there is no way built in way to sync one’s Outlook tasks to the iPhone.  I whined about this in my post My Relationship With Apple Is Like My Relationship With The Republican Party.

As a result of the post, I got some good suggestions for iPhone Task managers and different approaches.  One of them seemed strange to me, but turned out to be the best one by far.  The suggestion was to stop using Microsoft Outlook for Tasks, switch to a web app called Remember The Milk, and use the Todo iPhone app from Appigo.  Ironically, this suggestion was from someone who used to work at Microsoft!

I was skeptical at first but tried all of the suggestions (and paid about $75 for the privilege since I just bought all the paid apps assuming there might be something good in there.)  There was no comparison – RTM + Todo + iPhone was exactly what I wanted.  In addition to a great iPhone UI, it turns out that I can email myself todo items (I get a private email address) which is what I often want to do anyway (since the todo item is in an email that someone else has sent me.)

I’ve been using RTM (the pro / paid version) for over a month and I love it.  I can imagine a scenario where there would be an acceptable iPhone task app that synced properly with Exchange, but it would have to be full featured (categories, date ordering, notes).  And – since I’ve changed my workflow to no longer have tasks in Outlook, I don’t see any reason to go back.