tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:/posts Hodson Blog 2017-11-11T01:00:45Z Dave Hodson tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/1089459 2016-09-13T00:43:24Z 2017-11-11T01:00:45Z What Makes a Great Engineer?

I have hired a lot of engineers. In different locations, in the US and globally. Men and women. Super experienced or straight out of college. I’ve learned that the best engineers don’t conform to any specific demographic (gender, age, race or ethnicity). 

Hiring is really hard. To be successful, you have to have a solid strategy that absolutely includes technical questions and demonstrated ability to code (yes, I know some people don’t like this, but if I’m applying for a job as a car mechanic, it seems reasonable that I have to demonstrate I can, ya know, work on  an engine.) Even with the best strategy, a hire can turn out to be average, or even below average. 

There are three key traits that are found in the really great devs:
  • Aptitude - Fearless because they have the ability to quickly learn new concepts, programming language(s), tools, environments, operating systems, etc. 
  • Self motivated - Internally driven by the desire to solve hard problems. 
  • Integrity - Transparent, even when the news isn’t good. Tells it like it is.

All you have to do is interview people and hire the ones that have all three of these traits. Easy right? Actually, it isn’t easy at all. If we drew a quick Ven diagram, it would look something like this


Depressing but accurate in my experience. I sometimes joke that the intersection on the diagram means that about 5% of the world has all three of these attributes and that seems to be about right.




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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/998993 2016-07-13T23:37:40Z 2016-07-13T23:37:46Z Race Review: Surf City Marathon/Huntington Beach - Finisher!

On Superbowl Sunday, February 7, 2016  we ran the 20th edition of the "Surf City Marathon" in Huntington Beach, CA

Some of the marathon crew wanted a winter race and our usual options didn't line up on our various calendars (and the weather didn't cooperate either). We searched around for something that would be warm, not hot, and dry. After several years of looking at Surf City, we decided to go for it this year. At a very pricey $145 for the event, I skeptically pressed the "Register" button and signed up.

Race day

The race had an early start at 6:30am - the forecast high was 80F, so the earlier the better! As parking was supposed to be a challenge we went on parking recon after the expo. The effort paid off nicely when we pulled into a nice spot on the street at 5am and walked to the start. When the race gun fired, it was a pleasant 48F.

The first two miles of the race were flat and fast, running along PCH in the cool ocean air. We took a quick right turn at Mile 3 and ran smack dab into a large group of high school kids cheering so loud I thought I'd won the marathon! It's funny how crowd support quickens your step a bit and fires you up, even at Mile 3. We took another few right turns and hit the only set of hills in the marathon. Miles 5 - 8 went through Huntington Beach Central Park which was nice and shady (particularly relative to what was coming up). After Mile 8, the course took us back down the hill and onto PCH to start Mile 10.


Running north on PCH, we hit the turnaround about Mile 12.5 and then ran back south to Mile 15.5. This was easily my least favorite part of the race - almost 6 miles on 6 lanes of black top. No shade and the temperature getting increasingly warmer.


We left PCH and ran north along the path at Bolsa Chica State Beach to Mile 20.5, essentially retracing our steps along PCH but this time with a view of the ocean and without the 6 lanes of black top :-). The ocean views were great and the breeze helped to cut the heat a bit. A quick turnaround and then another 5 miles south retracing our steps. 

At Mile 25.5, we exited the beach path and headed south on PCH to the finish line. Conditions at the finish were in the low 80s - February in SoCal.

Post-finish we rushed to pickup our drop-off bags, shower and head the airport for a quick bite. Fortunately we had a live stream of the Superbowl on the plane and caught the 2nd half at home.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course and great support. Grade: A

Course - Some nice parts however the PCH portion, almost 10 miles, is pretty lousy. But hey, finding a marathon in February that is dry and warm isn'tn easy. Grade: C

Aid-stations - Many aid stations, fully stocked. Plenty of water and electrolites. Grade: A

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit long sleeve shirt.  Grade: A

Price - Incredibly steep. Grade: D

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/968927 2016-01-13T04:22:53Z 2016-01-29T17:34:26Z Joining First Round Capital's Expert Network

I started working with First Round Capital in July 2015 as part of their Expert Network.

As many entrepreneurs have discovered, finding strong advisors can be a difficult proposition. The goal of the Expert Network is to reduce the friction that happens all to often when entrepreneurs attempt to find an advisor to help with a specific need:

The First Round Expert Network is a carefully curated community of over 100 experts across domains — like product, design, engineering, marketing, finance, business development, and human resources — who are available to advise First Round companies to help solve their biggest problems, today.

This is different than the work I do with StartX as a Lead Mentor in several ways — most notably that while StartX takes no equity in any company, FRC has invested in all the companies that take advantage of the Expert Network. Additionally, StartX is an incubator whereas FRC is a venture capital firm.

In the first six months, I have had two main areas of focus:
  • Advisor to CEO - advising CEOs in areas related to engineering, hiring, culture, financing and scaling a business
  • Technical advisor - advising CEO/CTOs in areas related to mobile, cloud computing and global scale
Time commitment is always a big concern of mine - domain specific advisory roles keep interactions focused and productive. FRC gets a definite “thumbs up” on this one!

If you are interested in learning more FRC’s Expert Network, head over and sign-up
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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/950442 2016-01-07T20:00:00Z 2016-01-20T00:12:18Z Race Review: Florence Marathon - Finisher

On Sunday, November 29, 2015 we ran the 32nd edition of the Florence Marathon.

Florence was our last stop in Italy and after 11 days touring, it was time for the marathon. Everyone tried to have a lazy day on Saturday to rest up and recover from the miles of walking and running every day. We headed out to the expo to pick up our bibs. The expo was on the marathon course so we made sure to scout out the neighborhood and get a general feel for the run (although we missed the hill at Mile 20). The usual excitement of an expo, this time all in Italian. There were just over 9000 runners and over 90% were Italian (there were 50 Americans in total). So ... *everything* was in Italian. Which made it a lot more fun :-)

Race day

We were staying close to the start of the point-to-point race. It was late November and anything is possible but fortunately it was dry and relatively warm (~40F) with light winds. The race started beside the Arno river promptly at 8am in several waves. Each wave began with a cheer and great crowd support. Before I knew it, we were off ... and promptly split off into groups of 1 or 2 or 3. I wouldn't see some of my fellow travellers until the finish line!

Kilometers 1 - 5 were pretty straightforward - fun neighborhoods, lots to see. We ran past the main train station and into Parco del Cascine around 5.5k. I wasn't sure how this part of the run was going to go as the map looked like we would just doing loops and mentally, that can be tough. Seeing the Kenyans exiting as we were entering the park is normal stuff as they are easily twice as fast as I am. However watching the other runners loop by you over and over can kill your morale. Luckily, this run was well thought out as the park was large enough that you didn't see the other parts of the loop until you were upon them. Five miles here was great - beautiful trees, nice paths and best of all, the first stop in the park had hot tea. Some of the group found this to be a treat and made sure to hit it at every stop they could. I just stuck with the Italian-style gatorade, which was ... fizzy. But it was quite good! 

After exiting the park, we crossed the Arno and after a few miles, crossed under the old city gate and past the walls that used to protect Florentinians from the attacking Siennans hundreds of years ago. We ran through town up towards the Boboli Gardens and the Piatti Palace. We then headed East along the Arno and crossed it again at Kilometer 21 - the halfway point of the marathon!

The next 10k took us through various neighborhoods in Florence, past the Academia and up to the site of the expo at Stadio Comunale. This part of the run was interesting but has lots of turns so you have to pay attention. There was a not-nice surprise waiting at Mile 20 -- a pedestrian bridge over the railway. Steep hill at Mile 20, ugh, who is the sadist that put this on the course?!

The last 7k of the marathon had an amazing number of important sites - the Duomo (and the amazing dome built by Brunelleschi), Campanile, statue of David and crossing Ponte Vecchio just before Kilometer 40.

The last 2k went by in a flash and before I knew it I was across the finish line. Quick trip to pickup our drop-off bags, shower, dinner, pack and then head to airport in the morning. Crazy trip but a great marathon!

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course and great support. Grade: A

Course - A lot of turns! See a number of Florence neighborhoods and listen to the locals yell "die die die!" as you run by (which apparently means "go go go"). Grade: A

Aid-stations - Many aid stations, fully stocked. Plenty of water, hot tea, bananas and fizzy electrolites. Grade: A

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: A

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/917706 2015-10-16T22:43:16Z 2016-01-11T18:55:04Z Race Review: L.A. Marathon - Finisher

On Sunday, March 15, 2015 we ran the Los Angeles Marathon, something I never thought I would do.

I have to confess, LA isn't my favorite place. Just the thought of the town brings visions of traffic jams, smog and urban sprawl. When one of our buddies suggested we do a group weekend there and schedule it around the marathon, my vote was a solid "no way". I lost. 

Fast forward six months and it was time to head to LA. We had rented a house near Venice Beach and bit by bit everyone turned up. To orient ourselves to LA (and have some fun before the marathon) we went to Universal Studios on Friday. The weather was warm (a harbinger of what was to come) but pleasant for the time of year. A good time was had by all, however, I would personally recommend that you stay off the Minion rollercoaster -- it made me turn green.

Saturday was the day to keep our feet up, rest and hydrate. First we had to hit the expo to pick up race packets and look for fun race shirts (sponsored by asics, so they had some good ones). We had been receiving email the last few days about the potential for hot weather but the news on Saturday took everything up a few notches. Suddenly we were all being blasted with "Be careful" and "plan ahead" email from the Race director. This freaked everyone out. By the afternoon, the announcement was made that the race would still have the same start time of 7am but they were eliminating the "wave" starts. This meant that we could start earlier (good) but that it would be a complete zoo at the start with a mix of runners and walkers, all moving at different speeds (bad). 

Our Saturday night dinner was quiet instead of the usual rowdy "let's all get pumped up" vibe the group usually has during a pre-race meal. There was quite a bit of discussion about race strategy, should we run/not run and an overall feeling of ... well, impending doom. As the group got ready (you probably know this already, but never wait until the day of to prepare) we took an inventory - we had salt tablets (new for some us and I really don't like to try something new on race day), bandanas that hold ice (great for ultras apparently), plenty of fluids and a solid race plan.

Race day

The race is point to point, so we rose early, left the house at 4:30am and headed to Santa Monica to catch the bus to Dodger Stadium (as a Giants fan, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make this journey. Somewhere I was sure that I would see Kruk and Kuip there, scowling at us and yelling "We see you!")

The race started right on time at 7am and as advertised, there was only 1 wave -- everyone at once. The temperature was a warm 75F but the sun wasn't up yet. The first few miles of the course had some moderate hills but the main issue was watching your feet. Lots of people, all going at a different pace. At times, the runners in front would suddenly part like the Red Sea and you would have to quickly dodge a walker. A little crazy.

We hit Mile 7 about 8:30 and were very happy to see some of the group cheering us on with signs and words of encouragement. Funny but sometimes that makes all the difference. At this point, we were taking salt tablets once an hour and besides the initial GI feeling of ugh, everyone was feeling strong and on plan.

Miles 10 - 14 were fun - incredible crowd support, plenty of tourist attractions (Gruman's theater, Hollywood, Sunset Strip). All the while we were hitting a series of rollers; the course was never really flat. After Mile 14, we made our way down a series of hills to Beverly Hills. The sun was out in full force by this and the temperature was rising. The crowds were great, cheering everyone on and squirting the runners with water (the Fire Dept even opened some hydrants and had hoses going as well). 

Mile 20 came and I hit the wall hard. The course crossed over the 405 freeway here and there are no trees or shade to speak of -- due to the street configuration, there weren't even crowds or hoses. It got really hot; all the ice in my bandana and the cubes under my hat had melted. Time to bust out some mental toughness! 

We pushed on and ran through Brentwood, starting at Mile 22. The crowds returned, ready to keep the runners wet and cool. There were trees. The course even started to head downhill towards the Pacific Ocean. Life was good :-)

Soon we could see the final left turn onto Ocean Avenue/Highway 1. Santa Monica is such a beautiful sight and that day didn't disappoint. The coast was great, the rides on the pier were packed and the finish line half a mile ahead. At this point, your adrenaline takes over and before I knew it, I was across the finish line, standing in front of some seriously cool machines that quickly reduced my body temperature. Finishing temperature was almost 90F.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course and great support. Grade: A

Course - Didn't think I'd like it, came away loving it. Great way to see lots of different neighborhoods in LA. Grade: A

Aid-stations - Many aid stations, fully stocked. This was a critical aspect of the race due to the heat. I understand they had issues in previous years but 2015 was very well done. Grade: A+

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/807208 2015-02-04T23:26:12Z 2015-02-04T23:26:13Z Joint Venture Silicon Valley - State of the Valley Conference 2015

Joint Venture Silicon Valley held the annual State of the Valley Conference today and it was, as expected, phenomenal.

I've been a board member at JVSV for the last two years and am always impressed by the excellent Russell Hancock, President/CEO of JVSV. Russ and team work hard all year for this event and it shows.

One of the most interesting parts of the day for me is the data-rich (geek heaven!) presentation that leads off the conference. JVSV issues the "Silicon Valley Index", a study of the local economy, housing, venture capital and other important aspects of Silicon Valley metrics. There is a ton of data, so much so that it doesn't all fit in the report - JVSV has launched a website to allow everyone to dig more into the numbers - you can find it at http://siliconvalleyindicators.org/

Data from the study quickly made its way into various stories in the media and will likely be quoted widely.

Kudos to everyone at JVSV - can't wait until next year

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/796718 2015-01-15T23:26:01Z 2016-01-11T18:55:38Z Race Review: Prague Marathon - Finisher!

On Sunday, January 11, 2014 we ran the Prague Marathon, in the beautiful Czech Republic.

Prior to race day, we made sure to take in a walking tour of Old Town and the surrounding neighborhoods to make sure we had a good understanding of the many historical areas the race travels through. This was a really good idea and I highly recommend it.

Here's the official race video that shows some of the amazing sights

Race day

The race started at 9:00 am just off the Old Town Square. 9:00 is a late start for me as I usually run early so I tried to sleep a bit later than normal and worked on fueling. The latter turned out well but sleeping in on race morning didn't work -- too much adrenaline! Temps were in the low 40s with high humidity and a forecast intermittent rain.

The start was amazing - we ran west through Old Town Square and almost immediately crossed the Vltava river. A quick left turn, headed south and just past Mile 2, across the Charles Bridge. This bridge is usually full of tourists, but today it was all runners, all going the same direction. An amazing sight to see (the video above does a good job capturing it). We then crossed (again) over the Vltava and headed north along the river for the next 5 miles.

The elevation of the course was pretty consistent, a few hills but nothing of significance.

At Mile 8, we crossed the Vltava again and headed south. We ran along the river, had a quick out-and-back loop from miles 16 - 19 and kept going. I had not ventured this far south in Prague and it was neat to see the buildings and various statues along the route. Crowds were out cheering, and continued to do so even during the rain showers. The rain was nice because it would get very humid, then rain, then the temperature would drop and the cycle would start again. Things never got too wet; the lower humidity was nice.

Crossing the river two more times, we ran mostly along the water and took in sights like the colorful buildings below that are amazing to see.

Finally, we took a left turn, ran down the cobblestone Staromestske Namesti, into the Square and through the finish line. Great run!

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course (was worried I'd get lost and don't speak Czech but had no problems). Grade: A

Course - 26.2 miles of an 11th century city, most of it with a view of the river. Grade: A

Aid-stations - Many aid stations, fully stocked. No Gatorade. Fun volunteers. Grade: B

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

Bonus - Got to run in Prague


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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/791631 2015-01-06T00:41:38Z 2015-01-06T08:30:53Z StartX: Vynca.org

The latest class of companies officially joined Stanford's StartX incubator in late 2014. As a Lead Mentor, I am fortunate to mentor two companies, one of whom is Vynca

Mission

Vynca.org was founded on the idea that we could all benefit greatly from making early decisions about our end-of-life care. 

Working with their initial customer, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), Vynca is striving to make end-of-life care discussions part of the doctor/patient relationship. 

Vynca and OHSU are using the POLST framework ("Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment") to enable patients to specify what type of care they would want in various medical situations. Their ePOLST system enables the sharing of POLST data with state registries and other healthcare systems.

While this might not sound like the "normal" mentoring engagement, the mission of the company resonated with me immediately. Also, the team has many of the same challenges that any startup has including technical implementations with large healthcare systems, how to navigate the world of venture capital, hiring and more.

Team

The Vynca team consists of 2 PhDs and 2 MDs, a great combination that understands both the medical and technical aspects of their business. Keep your eye on them as they continue to make progress!

StartX

Quick note - company applications for the next session must be submitted by February 1st, 2015.


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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/730632 2014-08-21T19:55:52Z 2014-08-21T20:29:53Z StartX Teams

I’ve had more than a few asks recently about the various teams I’ve mentored at StartX (I was a mentor at the first StartX, fka SSE Labs, session in June of 2010 and continue in this role today). After a bit of sleuthing through my mail, I’ve put together what I think is a comprehensive list along with any pointers/info I have about the current status of the team.

Roles

  • Lead Mentor - my primary role at StartX
  • Board of Advisors - I occasionally serve as a Board member for companies. The BoA is comprised of entrepreneurs, VC and StartX alumni
  • Judge - Periodically I participate in the evaluation process which determines the teams that are invited to StartX/StartXMed.

Teams

  • ThinkBulbs - Led by Alvin Tse, ThinkBulbs launched the "Say Cheeze" app for iOS. Alvin is currently at FlipBoard.
  • Fresh Cookies
  • Juntos Finanzas - Led by CEO Ben Knelman, Juntos continues to be recognized for their innovative approach to providing financial products and services to cash-based households.
  • Nutrivise - Led by CEO Laura Borel, Nutrivise was acquired by Jawbone
  • Mind Sumo - A fantastic team of folks, driving hard to help college students succeed in the job market.
  • Medigram - HIPAA compliant group messaging for doctors/hospitals. 
  • Endowr - Team at the formation phase, trying to disrupt student loan lending.
  • Appfluence - Hai and team offer Priority Matrix, an award winning, multi-platform project management app.
  • Bluesora - An early company in the quadrotor space.
  • Pixelapse - GitHub for designers and their teams/customers.
  • Insynctive - Led by CEO Eric Kish, Insynctive offers a SaaS-based solution for HR, benefits and payroll.
  • arc
  • Tangible Play/Osmo - Changing education and iPad gaming with the interaction of tangible objects and software.
  • Roam Insights - Enterprise sales analytics tools.
  • Dynaoptics - True optical zoom for mobile devices
  • Script - Building a great photo/drawing app, PicCandy
  • OMG 


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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/669342 2014-03-29T14:40:38Z 2014-03-29T14:40:38Z Dave Hodson - On the Startup Spirit of Microsoft Silicon Valley

Nice post up on the Microsoft website - my bio, projects I've worked on at MSFT (fun stuff: IM, SMS, Health, HSG, Search, Social graph, cloud, scale, communications, infrastructure, Skype, Bing), efforts in the startup community (StartX) and as a board member at Joint Venture Silicon Valley.



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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/642417 2014-01-16T16:51:48Z 2014-01-16T16:51:49Z Crystal Springs Marathon - Finisher!

On Saturday January 11, 2014 we ran the Crystal Springs Marathon, my 20th marathon but first trail marathon. Yes, I was a bit nervous about getting lost or wiping out on a tree root.

The race started at 8:30am in Huddart Park. Temps were in the low 40s with a forecast for possible rain after 11am. Distances were 50k, marathon and 22 miles - the majority of runners were doing the 22 miler but there were a decent number of marathon and ultra runners as well.

From the start, we took a flat/downhill 1.5 mile single track to warm up our quads for what was next - 5 miles of some serious uphill! The trail, full of switchbacks, climbed approximately 1600 feet with some steep sections. We crossed the road (Skyline) and had some nice downhill then hard uphill to the aid station. 

What a welcome sight - not only was there an opportunity to refill fluids (it was still cool, but pretty humid so everyone was loading up on fluids) but since this was an ultra we had all the "good stuff" - M&Ms, peanut butter sandwiches, Coke and Reese's. Yum! We then headed to the next aid station, 6 miles away, on a single track trail, high above a canyon that made me a bit dizzy looking down. The trail was technical and required a solid level of concentration to avoid taking a fall. We reached the second aid station and loaded up on fluid and goodies.

Next came a 4 mile add-on for the marathon and ultra - 2 miles of downhill switchbacks and then 2 miles back up to the aid station. 1200 feet of elevation change in total. My quads were starting to scream so I just kept thinking about reaching the top and loading up on electrolytes and a Reese's. At the top, it started to rain intermittently, but we stayed dry under the cover of the trees.

We made it back to the first/last aid station, caught the score of the Seahawks/Saints game (3-0, first quarter) and then headed out for our last 5.7 miles. There was one incline of significance, but the rest was downhill on switchback single track through the woods - beautiful. At the finish, everyone grabbed some hot soup, assorted protein and carbs then hit the road.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course (was worried I'd get lost but had no problems). Grade: A

Course - 26.2 miles of trees, a few views of the Bay . Grade: B

Aid-stations - Four aid-stations with water that wasn't from a garden hose. No Gatorade. Fun volunteers. Grade: B

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

Bonus - I won the raffle and got a new pair of trail shoes. Grade A


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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/630214 2013-12-13T22:42:11Z 2013-12-13T22:42:11Z Trigger.io - Amir and James Head to Square

Amir and James started off 3 years ago as WebMynd making web plugins and pivoting to take on mobile as Trigger.io

They've made some amazing progress during this time, launching their initial product, Trigger Forge and just recently open sourcing their native modules. Along the way they've had great support from a cast of investors.

Today they've announced they are moving to Square and putting the company in the able hands of Antoine

Congrats guys!


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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/592295 2013-08-05T02:32:54Z 2013-10-08T17:28:00Z Giants Race 2013

Excellent 2013 version of the Giants Race! Half marathon and a Sergio Romo bobble head doll

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/586103 2013-06-27T19:21:13Z 2013-10-08T17:26:48Z Skype and Azure at the BUILD conference

Great headline/post on what I've been up to since I moved post M&A to Skype

Love this quote from Satya Nadella

Skype is re-architecting their core architecture to take advantage of the cloud for their 190-plus million users.




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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/578853 2013-05-13T20:19:13Z 2013-10-08T17:25:20Z NoSQL/Big Data in the Cloud

Great post about NoSQL and Big Data in the cloud - an overview that also discusses a portion of the Bing Social Data Platform (I managed this team and the larger platform effort during my time in Bing).

The numbers are quite interesting for scale geeks like me:

It’s also used by the Bing search engine to provide almost-immediate publicly searchable content from Facebook or Twitter posts or status updates. With around 350TB of data, the scope of Facebook and Twitter data is remarkable. When this data is being ingested, transaction throughput reaches peaks of around 40,000 transactions per second and totals between 2 to 3 billion transactions per day.

To summarize:

  • 40k trans/sec at peak
  • 2 to 3b trans/day
  • 350TB of data. The numbers and scale

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/481632 2013-04-24T04:32:10Z 2013-10-08T17:04:35Z Joint Venture Silicon Valley

Last month I officially joined the Board of Joint Venture Silicon Valley and am fortunate to be featured in their recent newsletter.

Working at the intersection of the public and private sectors is new to me and I've already learned how little I know about how local government functions. Hopefully I will be able to contribute and help make progress on some near-and-dear quality of life issues like traffic/commuting and the Bay Area environment.

The first Board meeting was quite humbling.

Probably won't be the last time I feel that way.

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/389451 2013-04-12T22:16:39Z 2013-10-08T16:45:53Z Yeah, the Paris Marathon was Crowded

50,000 runners take up a lot of space

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379796 2013-04-11T03:28:42Z 2013-10-08T16:43:48Z Migrating from Posterous to Posthaven

This is a bummer

On April 30th, we will turn off posterous.com and our mobile apps in order to focus 100% of our efforts on Twitter.


Sigh.

After a bunch of procrastination and failed attempts to migrate to Wordpress and tumblr, I checked out Posthaven. Signup was quick, had to agree to $5/month (geez, I better blog more...) and the import was painless.

Good job Gary and company, now when do I get an iPhone app?

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379489 2012-11-14T04:59:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:44Z Santa Barbara Marathon - Finisher!
On Saturday November 23, 2012, we ran the Santa Barbara Marathon (yep, Saturday, not Sunday)
The day started off early with a 4am wake-up call for some of the runners. We left for the shuttle spot at UCSB at 5:30am, with temps in the low 40s and 10 mph winds. The shuttles were taking both full and half marathoners to their respective starting points. The half was supposed to start at 7:15, the full at 7:30.
Busses for the full were flawless; almost no waiting, direct to Dos Pueblos High School where we were able to hang out in the warm gym until the starting gun went off. The half had some challenges with logistics which caused both events to start 20+ minutes later than planned. Overall, there were about 1000 full and 5000 half runners. When we started just before 8am, the temps were low 50s and sunny.
The initial 9 mile loop was fairly flat, passing the Santa Barbara Airport, UCSB, Isla Vista (where we got a brief peak at the ocean) and then back past the high school. We then headed south towards the Wharf.
A significant part of the course was on the eastern side of Hwy 101, which meant we didn't see the coast - at all. However, the sun was out, the wind (which would be a factor at the finish) was still calm and the course had beautiful orange groves and other scenery that is hard to beat in November.
Miles 9-14 or so were on a bike path that kept me on my toes; bridges, turns, dips, etc. Miles 21 - 23 were mostly downhill with the only significant hill at Mile 23. We had heard about the 170 feet of incline, but didn't think much of it based on the map. Chris was able to (as usual) cruise right up the hill. I was left crawling on my knees, begging for it to end. Ok, not really, but it kind of felt that way :-)


Once we hit the top of the hill the ocean re-appeared, which was fantastic. We ran past La Mesa and Shoreline parks, which had great ocean views and made it all worth it. The adrenaline kicked in hard and the last 2.5 miles (downhill) made for a fast, but windy finish just past Leadbetter Beach.
Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course. Full marathon transportation was fine but race started late. Grade: B

Course - A few scenic views, spectacular ocean views for last 2.5 miles . Grade: B

Aid-stations - Frequent aid-stations with water that wasn't from a garden hose. No Gatorade. Plenty of volunteers. Grade: B

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit short sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379505 2012-08-26T19:22:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:44Z Random August Day on Paulina Creek

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379515 2012-05-07T03:44:25Z 2013-10-08T16:43:44Z San Luis Obispo Marathon - Finisher!
Two weeks ago, 4/22/2012, I ran the inagural San Luis Obispo Marathon.
As it was the first time there has been an official marathonin San Luis, I came expecting some bumps in the road (incorrect mileage, missing water stops, etc). There were approximately 800 marathoners and probably 1000 half-marathon participants.
The full started at 6:00AM, with the half starting 30 mins later at 6:30. The weather had been quite warm the previous few days but thankfully temps were in the low 50s with a nice marine layer that would last most of the race.

We stayed just a few blocks from the start so the logistics were nice and simple. No bus to catch at 4am, just a short 10 minute walk in the dark. The race started at 6am on the dot. We ran the initial 3 miles through downtown and then hit the first big hill between Miles 3 and 4.

Once we hit Mile 5, the scenery began to change into the beautiful wine country of the Edna Valley. The course was green with a number of vineyards on the way out to Mile 13. There were a lot of rolling hills, some fairly steep.

After a brief out and back for Miles 12 and 13, we headed West and then back towards town. The hills didn't let up! By Mile 20, my calves were screaming and my quads were hoping the rollers were coming to an end.

At Mile 23, we re-entered town and had a net downhill to the finish. There were a few uphills, especially having to climb up to a footbridge to go over the railyard and a sadistic last hill at Mile 25.8 (who does that?!?) The last half mile was all down hill and made for a very fast finish.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course. The expected inagural challenges were nowhere to be found. Grade: A

Course - Scenic Edna Valley. Big hills in multiple spots. Grade: B+

Aid-stations - Frequent aid-stations with water that wasn't from a garden hose. No Gatorade. Plenty of volunteers. Grade: B

Swag – Nice medal and dri-fit long sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379530 2012-03-26T02:37:25Z 2013-10-08T16:43:44Z The Failure of Hot Deploy

MVC is a great pattern that provides nice abstraction and allows for an easy way to divide tasks amongst a team. Driving site navigation, externalizing connection info, messages and other properties is a great idea and allows for changes to a site that doesn't require recompilation of binaries.

Coupling the above with Tomcat and the ability to hot deploy makes for a great agile team. Things can work in a Continuous Integration/Continous Deployment model. Drop the files in, tell Tomcat to reload and life is good.

Well, almost.

Unfortunately, if you've utilized hot deploy, you find pretty quickly that there are a number of strange OutOfMemoryError exceptions in the logs. They are difficult to reproduce. Something is just not right ...

As I learned last week at the SV Web JUG meeting entitled "Is Instant Redeployment Really Possible", there are a number of reasons that hot deploy doesn't really work and the solutions to making it work aren't easy to accomplish.

Through the use of numerous code examples (and a few Starbucks gift cards), the meeting's guest speaker Sang Shin explained in detail why hot deploy is an idea not ready for primetime.

If your code has statics or singletons (and what code doesn't), the references to these objects are not neatly handled. Enough redploys and boom, you are out of memory. Essentially, the class loader holds a reference to each of the classes it has loaded and any class that can't be unloaded cleanly causes a memory leak.

It turns out to be that simple really - without purchasing one of the various commerical products that purpotedly handle the reference issue (which they do by creating an individual class loader for each and every class, property file, etc) you're hosed.

Not exactly the promise of hot deploy. Which is why I always have n + 1 servers running behind mod_jk

 

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379536 2012-02-01T21:44:01Z 2016-01-11T18:56:00Z Race Review: Redding Marathon - Finisher!
Two weeks ago, 1/15/2012, I ran the Redding Marathon, six weeks after running the California International Marathon (CIM). This was my third marathon in 78 days, qualifying me to be a Marathon Maniac!

The marathon was small, with about 500 runners and 100 three-person relay teams.. The weather was cool (40F), dry with little wind. As this was a January race in Northern California at an elevation of 1000 feet, I was happy there wasn't snow on the ground.

We got up at 5:30am and took the 7am bus from the finish to the start. The driver didn't get lost and we arrived with plenty of time. The starting line was the top of the Shasta Dam, which turns out to the second largest dam in the United States. They opened the Visitors Center where everyone hung out until race time, which was nice as it was warm! With five minutes to go, they asked us all to head to starting line.

The race began on time and was well-organized. The first 1.5 miles of the course went directly across the top of Shasta Dam and then headed steeply downhill to the river's edge (outflow of the dam) for another mile. Once we got to the level of the river, we ran along a "Rails to Trails" route that followed the river for approximately 23 miles. The views were incredibly beautful and the numbers of marathoners was small enough that it felt more like a nice long run than a race.

We ran through the old train tunnel at Mile 4 (stopping for photos of course) and continued on to the first set of hills at Mile 12. Along the way we were on the lookout for ice on the course - parts of the trail were in the shade and were slippery for the first few hours of the run. Miles 12 - 14 had some hard hills; we also passed the first hand-off for the relay so there were lots of kills (me) after that.

After another mile long hill from 15 to 16, we did an out and back then headed across the Ribbon Bridge at Mile 22.

The last four miles followed along the Sacramento River through downtown Redding and we finished by crossing the Sundial Bridge.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course. Grade: A

Course - Beautiful, remote course. Big hills at Miles12-14. Grade: A-

Aid-stations - Fewer stations than a large marathon, but spaced apart approximately every 2 or 2.5 miles. Well stocked, super friendly volunteers. Water that wasn't from a hose and Gatorade (the Smurf one) that wasn't too strong. Grade: B+

Swag – Great medal, nice dri-fit long sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379565 2012-01-20T04:34:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:45Z Google, Red Means Danger

The "new" Google Reader

 

The "new" GMail

 

Twitter's Bootstrap site and their commentary on buttons

 

Is the "Compose" button supposed to tell me when I'm sending mail that is dangerous? I don't get it. Or is the danger here that a designer at Google is actually trying to drive away users?

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379587 2012-01-19T06:40:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:45Z Running Java, Play! and Scala Apps in the Cloud

SVJUG held their January meeting on 1/18/2012 with guest speaker James Ward, a Principal Developer Evangelist at Heroku.

James did a rapid-fire 90 minute presentation covering multiple web frameworks. He started each project from scratch, wrote code, configured, tested locally, pushed to Heroku, built and scaled each app.

Whew.

It was fun to watch.

We covered the following frameworks:

Spring Roo

James created the basic "Pets" app using Spring Roo commands. He made minimal configure changes, built and ran everything locally. To push to Heroku, he created a Git repository (the push mechanism for Heroku at this point, didn't sound they support SCP, etc) and then pushed this repository to the Heroku Git repository. After starting a Maven build (interesting in that Git only contained his source and configs, no binaries/jars), all binary assets were obtained, a build was run and then deployed and instantiated.

 

Play Framework

There was a lot of interest in the Play Framework. James built a basic CRUD app, creating a basic input screen and a service that emitted the items in JSON. He showed us how modifying both the markup and the source caused no noticable pause to rebuild (no service tomcat6 restart to reload the binaries)

Utilizing a bit of JQuery, he took the JSON output and included it on the input screen to demonstrate the ease of using Play with JQuery. His IDE was IntelliJ because he noted that IntelliJ v11 has built-in support for the Play Framework while Eclipse currently does not.

His demo was using Play 2.0, which no longer uses Groovy for templates as Play has moved to Scala templates instead. Additionally, he noted that Play 2.0 uses SBT (Scala Build Tools) instead of Maven..

Like SpringRoo, the Play CRUD app was pushed to Heroku via Git, built, instantiated and scaled on Heroku. It all looked quite simple from the audience.

 

Scala with Twitter Finagle

The last demo of the night built an app using Scala instead of Java and used Twitter's Finagle framework (we didn't cover Lift unfortunately). James discussed the trials and tribulations he has had learning Scala ("challenging") and demonstrated building a basic app. Like the prior frameworks, he pushed via Git to Heroku, built, ran and scaled the app.

 

Discussion Items/Links

  • Demos - James put all his demos (including a few we didn't have time to cover) up at http://java.herokuapps.com
  • Bootstrap, from Twitter - highly recommended taking a look at Bootstrap for help with design.
  • Netty - Next gen app server built with Java NIO

Overall, a great talk - we covered three very interesting frameworks in 90 minutes and discussed basic pros/cons of each. Time to try them out!

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379605 2012-01-06T00:55:44Z 2013-10-08T16:43:45Z Great sunset at New Year's

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379620 2012-01-03T01:48:07Z 2013-10-08T16:43:45Z Harry's Rules and Happy New Year

Some words of wisdom to try and follow in this New Year

1. Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life

2. Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life

3. Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life

4. Spend less than you make

5. Quit eating crap!

6. Care

7. Connect and commit

(from "Younger Next Year" a book that I'm not old enough to be in the author's demographic, but one that has a number of very interesting ideas)

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379638 2011-12-14T16:59:00Z 2016-01-11T18:56:18Z Race Review: CIM 2011 - Finisher!
Last Sunday, 12/4/2011, I ran the California International Marathon (CIM), five weeks after running the Marine Corp Marathon.
Revisiting the race that was easily my biggest bonk ever was a bit intimidating. I went over my running plan fifty times to make sure I wouldn't suffer the same outcome (plus my wife wasn't going to pace me the last 13 miles like last time).

CIM had 8000 marathoners and 1000 relay people this year (full as usual). The weather was cool (36F), dry with no wind. As a bonus, the CIM folks decided to become the marathon with the most port-a-potties in the U.S. (apparently 1 unit for every 26 runners).

We got up at 3:30am and took the 5:30am bus from the host hotel to the start. Our bus driver got lost in the dark as did a number of the others. Luckily we made it to the starting line with plenty of time to spare. Riders were allowed to remain on the bus until 5 minutes before the start, which was nice.

The race began on time and was well-organized. The event is billed as a fast net downhill race ("A very fast course, if not THE FASTEST, course in the country") which is true, however, there are a number of rolling hills in the first 20 miles or so.

After a 0.5 mile downhill start, the course followed various semi-rural roads, always with a not-too-steep incline followed by a not-too-steep-but-a-little-steeper-than-the-incline decline. I worked to maintain a consistent pace and not charge ahead on the downhills.

Luckily, I had some amazing crowd support at Miles 8 and 21 which gave me something to look forward to during the race.

The rollers end at just about Mile 20 when you pass through "The Wall". The last 6 miles of the course are extremely flat and many runners fly on this last part of the course. Those of us with screaming quads cheered as the kills multiplied!

The last few miles were rough but somehow I crossed the finish line intact. My legs were killing me from the rolling hills but I managed to avoid repeating a major bonk. Tired but happy I closed the book on my 13th marathon and slept in the car on the way home.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization – Well organized, marked course with good crowd support. Grade: A

Course - Rolling hills. Make sure to train for them. A few scenic spots. Last six miles are the best part. Grade: B

Aid-stations - Well distributed and staffed. Water in garbage cans, from rubber hoses. Ultima. Yuck. Grade: C+

Swag – Great medal, nice dri-fit long sleeve shirt.  Grade: B+

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379664 2011-12-08T05:47:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:46Z Dart: Structured Web Programming Language

 

The goal of Dart is ultimately to replace JavaScript as the lingua franca of web development on the open web platform.

The Silicon Valley Google Technology User Group's December 2011 meeting (stream) was focused on the new structured language, Dart. Google released Dart in a technology preview in October 2011 with the goal of moving web programming into the future ("removing 15 years of cruft").

The majority of the presentation was given by Steve Ladd, a Developer Advocate at Google. Steve has previously worked with Rails, HTML5 and Java and MVC frameworks (he authored "Expert Spring MVC").

Dart looks extremely familiar if you understand OO, particularly Java. Dart has a compiler that emits Javascript capable of running on any "modern" browser (defined as Chrome, Safari 5+, Firefox 4+ and IE9) or it can be run in a Dart VM. The Dart team is also advocating a new MIME type "application/dart" that will allow Dart to be run directly in browsers that support it.

Currently, Dart does not have support for Refection, so there isn't (yet) a jUnit type unit testing framework available. In a nod to building large scale apps, Steve Ladd made sure to walk through code samples that made use of mocks, emphasizing the value of interfaces.

Dart also has a number of things that are missing in Javascript:

Libraries

The core library contains support for Collections, Maps, Hashtables and more.

Classes - look quite a bit like their Java counterparts

class Rectangle {

final num height, width;
Rectangle(num this.height, num this.width);

}

Interfaces - very Java-like as well

interface Shape {

num perimeter();

}

class Rectangle implements Shape{

final num height, width;
Rectangle(num this.height, num this.width);
num.perimeter() => 2*height + 2*width;

}

Static Types

Well, kinda sorta. You can turn on enforcement during compilation if you want (throws an error). However, during run-time, the VM will determine the actual type and execute (even if I do something like take a Rectangle object and erroneously declare it as a String). This "feature" seems pretty dangerous to me.

Dart Editor

At the meeting, we got a preview of the Dart Editor, which runs inside Eclipse. It was an early version, but many Eclipse basics were working including auto-complete and the ability to drill into declarations. It looked almost ... Java-like.

Conclusion

Dart looks pretty interesting. Javascript is pretty messy, especially without jQuery. With a friendly open source license (BSD) and native support in Chrome, the language might have some legs.

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Dave Hodson
tag:www.davehodson.com,2013:Post/379690 2011-12-01T00:08:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:46Z Another Random List of Books I've Read Lately

A random list of books I've read lately:

  • Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World - Michael Lewis. If you read "The Big Short", you will love this book. Lewis looks at the financial meltdowns in Iceland, Greece, Germany and finishes with a scathing look at the U.S. and California (made me think about moving!). Like most Lewis books, well researched, very informative and complex/obscure concepts are explained so layman can understand them.

    •  The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mocking Jay (trilogy) - Suzanne Collins. Ok, this is supposed to be a series for teenage girls. And yes, there are certainly parts of it that are exactly that. However, when I started reading the second book, I was amazed to find the strong undercurrent of rebellion, anti-government drive and the power of the individual. Great series, but I found the ending pretty weak.

    • It's So Easy and Other Lies - Duff McKagan. Yet another rock star bio. Must be my fifth one this year (grin). Great book, good insight into the mess that was GnR and Velvet Revolver. Interesting last third of the book where Duff talks about how he redeemed himself.



    • In the Long Run: A Father, a Son, and Unintentional Lessons in Happiness - Jim Axelrod. I randomly heard Jim Axelrod (news reporter) talking about this book in a radio interview. He focused on the relationship he had with his father (not always easy), which caught my attention. Axelrod went from couch potato to runner in his mid-40's and decided he would run the NYC Marathon and try to beat his father's PR. He discovered a lot about his father which was interesting, however, the last quarter of the book (NYC training and the marathon) was a snoozer.

    • Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard - Chip Heath, Dan Heath. This is the best book on organizational theory I've read all year. How to steer the ship (even if it is big) in the right direction without destroying an org. Lots of interesting anecdotes and ideas.

     

     

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      Dave Hodson