I Won’t Sign Your NDA

Don’t ever say this:  “I have an idea and I need your advice.  But first, can you sign my non-disclosure agreement?”

 

I’d love to help brainstorm or share my insight on your idea.  I’m not going to sign your NDA.  This is why:

 

1. Your idea is worthless

Ideas are plentiful and cheap.  Yours is not special.  What is special is the ability to turn that idea into reality.

Execution is all that matters.  Stop wasting time protecting an idea that isn’t real yet, and spend all of your time making it real and amazing.

The exception to this rule is ideas built on a ton of domain knowledge.  Science heavy, or an industry niche.

 

2. There’s no time to waste

The best protection for any idea today is to build it better and faster than anyone else can.

Don’t waste the little time you have.  Start building your idea NOW.  If the idea is as “original” and “amazing” as you say it is, prove it.

 

3. I’m not going to steal it

I’m not stealing your idea.  I’m too busy working on my own ideas.  That’s why you want advice from me.

 

4. Secrecy sucks

If your idea is awesome, I want to share it with people I know that can help you.  You want me to share it.  That’s how you’re going to find amazing minds to help you build it.

 

Now get out there and build your fucking idea!

 

Garage Door, meet Pebble Watch

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I love remote-controlling things.  Last week I made my Pebble Watch control our garage door.  Here’s how:

 

The Garage Door

To open and close the garage door I used a Raspberry Pi A+ computer connected to a 5 volt relay.  I found a great tutorial on Instructables.com and followed it to the letter.  It takes about an hour to set up.

Screenshot 2015-04-08 22.29.26

The tutorial leads you through configuring your Raspberry Pi as a web server on your local network.  The author provides his code for a hosted web page with a single button.  When you click on the button it tells the Raspberry Pi to briefly complete the relay circuit (like pushing your garage door’s button).

Voila!  You can control your garage door from a website in your house.  Now let’s get that control on your wrist ;-)

 

Adjusting the Website

Let’s take a closer look at the code in the instructable.  In the index.php file (the main page for the website) we can see the PHP code that fires the relay on button click:

 

The code is saying “when the ‘trigger’ (website button) is pushed, change the GPIO pin 7 (output pin on the Raspberry Pi that we have the relay plugged into) to on for 1,000,000 microseconds (1 second)”

Well this is great for controlling the door from a website, but how do we do it from our watch?

I started playing with the Pebble Watch SDK and found that with Pebble.js you can make AJAX calls super easily.  Huzzah!

Side-note: Pebble’s new web-based SDK CloudPebble is awesome.  You can write and deploy apps from within a browser and they install over the web to your smartphone, and then via bluetooth to your watch.  Welcome to 2015.

If we can make AJAX calls from our watch with Pebble.js, that means we can make a watch app that loads our Raspberry Pi’s website.  We’ll be in business if we create a special webpage on the Raspberry Pi that auto-opens the garage door when the page is loaded!

I copied the index.php page and renamed it to ‘auto.php’, then removed the IF statement in the PHP so the GPIO pin is set on page-load instead of button-click.

 

Now when you load the page, the garage opens.  Whoop!

 

Pebble Watch Control

I signed up with CloudPebble and turned Developer Mode ON in my Pebble App on my iPhone.  Then I wrote a very simple Pebble.js app that makes an AJAX GET request to the auto.php page when it’s opened.

 

Once you install the app on your Pebble, you should be able to open your garage door from your watch.  Boom!

 

‘Better’ Security 

I’m still pretty new to web development, but I know that having a page with this much physical world power, even if it’s only available on our local network, is not a good idea.  To make my system a teeny bit more secure, I added a URL Parameter password to the auto.php page:

 

Now, if a user visits our Raspberry Pi’s auto.php page, they’ll see “You’ve entered the wrong password”.  But if they add “?pw=ooglyboogly” to the end of the URL, the door will open!

Adjusting this on the Pebble App is as simple as changing the URL that the AJAX request uses.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Cookie Marketing

Last holiday season I was chatting about marketing with one of Newaya’s partners. They said that their best marketing tactic was sending freshly baked cookies to clients. Both existing and potential. I was dubious at first, but I tried the idea with my own flare and it worked.

Last year I sent my favorite trainer drone to many of Newaya’s referral partners as a ‘thank you’ for their business. Because the gift was simple and also unrelated to our primary business, I think the gesture stuck on our partners’ minds. I got a lot of exuberant thank you messages, and all of those partners are still working with us today.

This year I’m going to send some holiday cookies and see how it works. I’ll let you know.

The Brain Keyboard

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and wanted to get the general idea written down. It’s very rough.

One of the next major revolutions in technology will be brain machine interfaces. Specifically an interface with instant thought-access to things like spreadsheets and notepads.

Computers made humans much more productive by providing very rapid access to powerful data-storage and manipulation tools. Those are things our brains just aren’t very good at.

But the keyboard, mouse, and screen are the current bottlenecks for accessing a computer’s tools. A bottleneck that exists even for very fast typists and savvy computer users.

What if you could access a spreadsheet and manipulate data at the speed of thought?

My Ultimate Quadcopter Build

I’ve been experimenting with recreational drones for 18 months now.  After a lot of late nights and iterations, I have a quadcopter that I’m very happy with.  It’s going to get amazing backcountry skiing video this season.

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Features:

  • 50-60mph forward flight
  • 5-6 mile control range
  • 1-2 mile line-of-sight video range
  • ~15 minute battery flight time

 

The Frame

I’m using a QAV400 frame from GetFPV, but with a special twist.  I installed longer motor arms from the QAV500 so I can use 10″ propellers (instead of the 8″ props that QAV400 arms are limited to).  Longer props give more power, efficiency, and stability.

 

The Electronics

Flight Controller - My copter is driven by the fantastic 3DRobotics Pixhawk.

Motors - I’m using T-Motor’s 1100kv.  These have been crazy powerful, and after months of hard flying they’re still running great.  I bought a set of SunnySky 1100kv motors to try when my T-Motors are toast.

ESCs - The Lumenier 30A ESCs from GetFPV have provided plenty of power and I’ve had no issues so far.

Camera Gimbal - GetFPV’s Plug-and-Play Gimbal was expensive, but it’s been completely worth it.  My videos went from very bumpy to very smooth in about 30 seconds of frame adjustment.

Camera - GoPro Hero 3 – I use the GoPro for both FPV (live video output) and for recording.  People used to warn against this, but after months of flying I’ve had no issues.

Live Video Transmitter - ImmersionRC’s 600mW 5.8GHz transmitter, with a 3D printed enclosure from the RCGroups FPV forum.  This gets me about 1km of range with SpiroNet Omni antennas on both receiver and transmitter.  Using a helical antenna on my goggles, I can get 3-4km.

Video Antennas - SpiroNet RHCP (right hand circular polarized) omni antennas

RC receiver - EZUHF’s 8-channel Lite receiver.  Though in the future I’ll use a 4 channel because you can squeeze 8 channels into one with PPM!

 

 

 

 

How to Start a Startup

The folks behind Y-Combinator (pretty much Sam Altman) are doing a class at Standford.

If you’re interested in starting a company, or even further, in startup culture, I would highly recommend following along with this class.  This is the first time (that I’m aware of) that some of the smartest people in the tech/startup world have put together a class at a university.  The class is at Stanford and every piece of it aside from physically being in the classroom is free on this website.  This world is getting so radical.

http://startupclass.samaltman.com/

We should all shoot for the stars (and miss)

Usually when I have an objective and I work to complete it, the end result is a very different scenario than I pictured as a *complete objective* at the outset. I think this is pretty cool, because we tend to model our objectives on familiar things we see in life, but it would be boring if every person was solving the same life problems in the same way.  That’s a stagnant society.  Of course, many obstacles in the human life are similar between humans, but as we delve into the eccentric qualities of the human character, the “different” outcomes of these objectives become your defining qualities as a person. The species diversity of human beings.

So, do things and be open about the result. Adapt quickly. What keeps most people from achieving their goals is too firm of an idea of what those goals are.

Do what you want to do, and be open to the world’s interpretation of what that looks like.

If you shoot for the stars and miss, you could end up in a new universe. That would be an amazing discovery.

Is the Internet step 1 to unified consciousness?

Obligatory “I haven’t been posting enough” note

For the past few years I’ve been trying to post very final blog entries.  Polished, edited, etc.  That doesn’t seem to work, because I’m not posting much.  Now I’m just going to try to post more often.  So, here goes.

 

Where we’re going?

In 500 years, if humans are still alive, do you believe they’ll be thinking independently?  I don’t.   I think one of the greatest human inventions will (someday) be a shared consciousness that 1. forces humans to empathize with one another (hopefully making us more compassionate beings), and 2. educates us much quicker on the human knowledge base.  Wow, that sounds like a cool world to live in.

 

Is the internet version 1.0?

Yeah!  Totally.  At least, it’s version x along the line of whatever we call the progression of recording human knowledge and making it shareable between all living minds with the least friction.

I can’t wait for whatever breakthroughs are coming in our understanding of the human brain.  The more we learn about learning, the faster we’ll be able to consume knowledge and the more ideas we can come up with.  Since each being’s perspective is different, if we each had access to the full body of human knowledge – what kind of advanced, creative ideas would we be generating every day?

 

Sweet!