Hi. I'm Rick. I write, advise, and invest.
The first time I used a remote control
The first time I put on a walkman on and walked down the street
The first time I recorded a sound on my mac and played it back
The first time I played a synthesizer
The first time I used a cordless phone
The first time I tapped a BASIC program out of A+ magazine into my Apple II
The first time I dialed into a BBS
The first time I saw an Osborne 1 suitcase computer
The first time I flew a remote controlled plane, or sailed an RC ship
The first time I programmed a VCR
The first time I played an NES
The first time I used a sequencer
The first time I bought a CD
The first time I saw the Apple //’s amazing full color HGR2 graphics.
The first time I programmed turtle graphics to make something beautiful
The first time I wrote a PASCAL program
The first time I saw a font on a Mac
The first time I saw a camcorder
The first time I saw Sim City
The first time I used Photoshop
The first time I chatted with a stranger on the internet, a man in Finland
The first time I saw a piece of film come out of an imagesetter, from a Mac
The first time I used Quark
The first time I saw a Powerbook
The first time I saw the actual faders move on a mixing board
The first time I saw the cover of Wired magazine
The first time I used a color laser printer
The first time I saw a Heidelberg digital press print something without film
The first time I bought a cell phone
The first time I saw Steve Jobs walk on stage and show the world the iMac
The first time I saw my computer play four simultaneous tracks of audio
The first time I saw a digital camera
The first time I saw an autotune filter
The first time I saw the world wide web
The first time I paid for something with my ATM card
The first time I saw a video on the internet
The first time I saw Napster
The first time I used a computer on a porch with Wi-Fi
The first time I wrote a song on a computer
The first time I got something delivered to my house from Kozmo.com
The first time I used a remote car starter
The first time I bought something on eBay I had been looking for for ten years
The first time I used GPS
The first time I ripped a CD
The first time I saw a TiVo
The first time I travelled with an MP3 player and rocked out in the Sahara
The first time I IM’d someone from my phone, a T-Mobile Sidekick
The first time I saw the amazing AJAX that was Google Maps
The first time I played music on my phone
The first time I IM’d someone a file
The first time I saw Livejournal
The first time I saw an iPod
The first time I used Zipcar
The first time I met someone in real life that I only knew on the internet
The first time I blogged asking a favor and a kind stranger came to deliver
The first time I watched a Roomba clean a floor
The first time I saw Minority Report
The first time I used Dodgeball
The first time I saw Flickr
The first time I logged into Facebook
The first time I learned about Ruby on Rails
The first time I played an Xbox game with some kids across the planet. I lost.
The first time I downloaded a movie
The first time I checked in on Foursquare and people magically show up
The first time I connected my computer to the 3G network
The first time I saw Daft Punk
The first time I logged onto the internet on an airplane
The first time I bought a book on the Kindle
The first time I videochatted with my girlfriend
The first time I blogged something that a “real news publication” picked up
The first time I heard about AWS
The first time I saw a Tesla roadster
The first time I saw an iPad mini
The first time I took a picture of a check to deposit it in my account
I have a confession: when I was a child, I pirated software. I began pirating Photoshop from version 2.0, 1991 or so, on. I would use those bit-by-bit binary disk duplicating apps, with two 3.5” floppy drives attached to a Mac. I never read a manual. I taught myself Photoshop by patiently going through every single menu item and palette option and figuring out what it does. I did this for many apps. They were all pretty easy to copy, except one QuarkXPress. That one took some real technical know-how to copy.
In 1993, after graduating from college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I went back to Alaska for a while, worked at the airport, thus fulfilling my childhood dreams of getting to play around on baggage carousels and doing that flag wavy thing with airplanes. I worked at the radio station. In 1994, when my sister was going to Boston to attend Northeastern university I went back with her.
By then, I was a full blown software pirate. To be clear, I’d copy, and trade, and give away, but I never sold it. I never profited by it. We copied it, passed it around, and learned the software. I learned Photoshop, Quark, Premiere, Bryce KPT, Newtek Lightwave, and many other software apps. Music apps - Opcode Vision and StudioVisio (another notoriously tricky app to copy), Protools, Cakewalk, etc. Oh and fonts. I was obsessed with fonts. I had a collection of some 10,000+ fonts. If a font existed, I had it.
In the eyes of the software industry, I was a thief. In their eyes, I probably “stole” tens of thousands of dollars of software from them.
But, then, in 1994, a funny thing happened. I went to a little company in Harvard Square called MacTemps. I took two tests, one in Photoshop, one in Quark. I passed them both, only missing a single question across the 50 or so tasks in each app (the question I missed involved the conversion between picas to points, something I’ve never forgotten since). They instantly placed me into a page layout job, at Bank of Boston, and from there I began an illustrious career with MacTemps, which grew into the massive staffing company Aquent Partners (who later became a client of mine). They placed me in a series of increasingly rewarding jobs, first at banks, then in audit, then in creative studios. Eventually I left them for a while, took a full time job at Ernst & Young, learned the web (mostly on pirated software), and then went back and started a prepress company with some friends inside a larger media company. Then I went back to Aquent, and graduated to ad agencies. From there, I started freelancing at Ad agencies, eventually taking a full time job at the prestigious agency Arnold, during its Volkswagen “Drivers Wanted” heyday.
From there, with some friends, I started my own agency. And at that agency, the first thing I did was - get this - I TOOK OUT A LOAN to lease $2,500 of Adobe software - Photoshop and Flash (which I had also learned through piracy). Our $2,500 purchase grew through the years, and my last negotiation for a company-wide site license for Adobe amounted to somewhere around $50,000 per version.
So, by my calculation, I have now personally overseen the procurement of well over $250,000 of Adobe software through the years. Software I learned through piracy. Piracy that gave me a career.
As Emma and I were sitting here catching up on the day’s events, we discussed today’s new announcements from Adobe about Adobe Photoshop CC. The upgrade looks pretty good, and Emma enjoys downloading Photoshop on a subscription plan, which works with her full time job as a designer. It’s easy - money comes in, she spends a small amount to stay up to date, and it works for her.
For me, however, it doesn’t work. I still love Photoshop, and like to use it all the time, but I don’t want to pay a monthly fee for it. I am a casual user now. I’m a well off-casual user. and I’m sure I’d go impulse buy Photoshop through the app store or something, but i can’t countenance a monthly fee for something I use once a month.
But more than that, the new cloud-only, subscription only Photoshop will, of course, be incredibly hard to pirate. I’ve read the forums, there’s a chance they can pull it all off with a virtual server blah blah blah, and maybe that’s just as complex as bit-by-bit hacker-made copy apps were in 1989, but it seems to me that the era of pirated Photoshop may well be coming to an end.
Both of us learned Photoshop on pirated software, yet in the end, we both became wildly profitable customers for Adobe. Ironically, Photoshop itself also eventually became a client of mine, as I lead my old firm’s work with Adobe on Photoshop Express.
But I wonder how the next suburban 15 year old nerd will learn Photoshop. I guess they’ll become GIMP Jockeys. Sad.
While Apple’s shareholders and analysts welcome the company’s financial tactics, they say that the maker of iPhones, iPads and iMacs must continue to innovate and fend off increasing competition.
“This is a substantial return of cash, and it’s the right thing to do on many levels,” said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research. “But, ultimately, the company has to execute. This is no substitute for that.”
This is like your spouse telling you over and over that you need to spend more time at home, and the minute you do, instantly berating you for not focusing on your career enough. Apple FINALLY succumbs to the completely-fabricated distraction of shareholder return, a fake issue trumped up by the financial industry for their own self-benefit, who then immediately turns around and berates Apple for not “focusing on product.”
Hell is the public markets.
The perfect scapegoat is someone at both extremes. He must be both an extreme outsider and an extreme insider. It can’t be a completely random person drawn from a homogeneous lot. It must be some sort of outsider, lest the people in the crowd get introspective and realize that the sacrificed was essentially just like them (and, next time, may well be them). But neither can the scapegoat be entirely different from the crowd; he must be an insider, since the pretext behind the ritual is that he is responsible for the internal community strife.
—I’ve been slowly working my way through these Peter Theil class notes from his Stanford class CS 183 for over six months now in my Instapaper queue on my phone in lines, etc. They keep getting better. Part 18 is amazing.
The ability to approach problems from a variety of angles is the undercurrent running through coworking spaces like Secret Clubhouse. Originally established by Rick Webb (cofounder of The Barbarian Group) in September, the Secret Clubhouse addresses a simple, but critical, need for entrepreneurs in the already crowded coworking scene in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn: it gives them a place to sit every day and take advantage of being elbow-to-elbow with other startup impresarios.
In the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, those seats were filled with staff from Gawker, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Vimeo, whose offices didn’t have power. Now that things have settled down, manager Alison Vingiano says Secret Clubhouse isn’t quite filled to capacity of 35 desks, but those who are working from there can work alone or plug into the local tech community through hosted events or just from hanging out in the basement lounge, which is appointed with a pool table, musical instruments for impromptu jam sessions, as well as food, drinks, and cushy seating.
Vingiano says that while collaboration is now a main focus of Secret Clubhouse, “a lot of it happens naturally.” Between hosted meetups and skill-sharing events, Vingiano says Secret Clubhouse members are encouraged to announce positions for hire or talk about what they are working on. Contrary to popular opinion that an open environment like the Secret Clubhouse is just as distracting as a coffee shop, 68 percent of those polled by Deskmag said they were able to focus better, and almost as many (64 percent) reported they were better able to complete tasks on time.
Was talking about this with Emma and Doug last night, and Apple is a bit in a rut, isn’t it? Sure, product improvements, etc., but after reading more about Google Fiber, and Google’s total relentlessness on innovating total new product areas (Cars, glasses), I’m getting a bit fed up with my hero company. A hundred billion in cash basically sitting under the mattress (okay, being managed out of an obscure office in Nevada). And some basic product things just aren’t getting done. Here’s 10 things they could do to shake it up.
1) Displays. The whole situation is a mess. First off, their monitor situation is a joke. 27”?? What is this? 2002? If anything the dire situation only makes me assume that the TV is on the way. An Apple Television is a must at this point. It’s taken so long I’m not sure I’ll even have my usual apopleptic fit upon first touching one. And you know what? You should just trojan horse the Apple television with a fuckin 60” iMac. Do it. The world needs a 60” iMac.
2) iTunes match limit lifted or raised to 250,000 like Amazon, please. I mean, seriously.
3) Just close the other studios for iTunes movies & TV. It’s getting embarrassing. You’re Apple, you’re supposed to have this amazing prowess with studio negotiations. The lore used to be it was all Steve, but eventually Eddie Cue was given some due. At the very least, if Google can take on the car industry and the ISP industry, you could, you know, solve America’s HBO problem without breaking a sweat.
4) Would it kill you to make a wireless keyboard with a keypad?
5) I don’t know this whole Mountain Lion “Save a version”/”Duplicate” nonsense is SUPPOSED to work in the file menu, but it doesn’t. Let it go. Bring back “Save as…” and be done with it. PLEASE.
6) One more nitpick before I go big: Would it kill you to put your headphone jacks in a place where people can find them on the iMacs? Seriously? And this bottom headphone jack on the iPhone 5 has gotta go.
7) Okay: $100B. In cash. Sitting around. It’s getting ridiculous. Doug said last night maybe you should buy Honda or something. Why not? It’s market cap is $60B. GO FOR IT. Do something ridiculous. Disrupt a new field. Bring us the future.
8) Or maybe Facebook? Why not? You suck at the internet (I’m sorry Eddie, you’re making it better, but… ugh). You could pick it up at a 20% premium over its current stock price and still have $30B cash on hand. Buy Spotify, Netflix and Foursquare ON TOP OF IT, and you’d still have more than $20B cash on hand. Seriously, it is getting embarrassing that a company supposedly renowned for changing the world for a better has $100B sitting there NOT working to change the world for the better.
9) On that note, I think it would be just ducky if you actually told us where that $100b is invested. I love you guys, but god knows what you’re doing with it. You might have a $10B short on Samsung for all we know. Why not at least give us some broad ideas?
10) I’ll leave my last one for my time-honored grumble from my old days as a dude who cared about raw processing power vs. cost. Give us a Mac Pro you can swap the processors and components out in, and sell us upgrade kits. I’m richer now and can afford to buy a new one every time (and yes, I still use Mac Pros, a lot), but the waste side of it is disturbing to me. Mac Pros really are only for Pros now and I think they’d probably buy into a system where you buy a case+components and then can buy component upgrades along the way. Do it for Pixar.