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March 18, 2009

Saturday is the last day for TechStars applications

Now is a great time to start a company.  One source for some funding and a lot of great connections and mentoring is TechStars, and Saturday is the last day to get your application in for this year.  You still have time!  If you do start a business, you'll get much less realistic time frames from customers and partners, so as Jim used to say in a slightly different context, "Get used to it."

You can find everything you need at Techstars.org.  And don't forget, they've expanded to Boston too so if you can't stand the idea of spending part of your summer here in Boulder, Colorado then I'm sure the Boston entrepreneur community will welcome you too.  If you do apply and get accepted, give me a call when you get to town.

March 18, 2009 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink | TrackBack

March 08, 2009

Virtual Clouds

Virtualization and cloud computing are two areas that I think are coming together in a way that will have a huge impact on how we work with computers.  In this post I'm going to talk about virtualization.  I've been playing with Virtual PC 2007, a free download from Microsoft.  I'm running it underWindows 7.


Virtualization is the idea of having one computer run in software a emulation of another computer.  This isn't new - there have been emulators around since I was a young programmer, but I think we are starting to see an explosion in the use of virtualization, and average people will start benefiting from virtualization.  Already in my company we've virtualized many servers, so instead of having lots of little servers that aren't doing much more than wasting power most of the time, we run them as software simulations on bigger, but fewer servers. 


The benefits of virtual machines are many.  Besides using less power and generating less greenhouse gases, they actually can be easier to use.  To get a development machine ready to use, someone has to purchase and configure the hardware, load the operating system, get the machine on the network, patch it, load all the applications, create user accounts and then maybe it is ready to use.  A physical machine is fragile.  As soon as you login you start changing the configuration.  You run your applications, they drop temporary files and change system configurations.  It doesn't take long before the machine is in a funky state.  With a physical machine, you format the disk, and start loading CDs hoping you don't miss a step until you get it back to a clean state.


With a virtual machine, you just restart the virtual machine from the snapshot you saved when you had the machine in just the right configuration.  You can also run multiple copies of the virtual machine, so if you need four servers to play with, you create four virtual servers.  Need an old Windows 98 machine?  No problem, create a virtual machine, load a Windows 98 image and off you go.  How about running Linux under windows?  No problem.  Below is a screen shot I just made of my Windows 7 machine running Virtual PC 2007 and it is running virtual machines running Vista, DSL Linux and then just for good fun, I'm running an emulator of UNIVAC 1, the first commercial computer ever.  Next up is a Macintosh emulator and that Atari 800 I always wanted.


In my next post, I'll talk a little about cloud computing and how it will combine with virtualization. 


Virtual machines capture  

March 8, 2009 in Web/Tech | Permalink | TrackBack

March 06, 2009

Mind Control

If you listen to the network news (I don’t recommend it) you will hear that the economy has ground to a halt.  You will also hear about how all of the auto makers have seen their sales cut in half.  But did you hear about the automaker that saw sales increase 14% in January over the same period a year ago?

While the auto market had their worst January since 1963, Hyundai actually increased sales.  I heard the CEO of Hyundai on the radio a few weeks ago and mentioned it to TC North.  TC’s written about “taking the fear out of buying” in his Weekly Encouragement email

TC (aka Dr. North) has a long bio, including sports psychology research and consulting with Olympic and professional sports teams.  Somewhere a long the line, he realized that CEOs and sales people are like athletes in that a big part of the game is mental. 

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years talking with TC about entrepreneurship.  When Jim and I started Gold Systems, I was completely unprepared for how the business would affect my attitude, and how my attitude would affect the business.  Thankfully, Jim and I were rarely in-phase – when he was down, I was often up, and when I was down, he would pull me up.

Over the years I’ve learned how to control my attitude most of the time and now I’m more of an optimist than ever.  One thing TC taught me was to catch any negative thoughts quickly and to replace them with positive thoughts.  I know, it sounds like pop psychology gobbledygook, but it works most of the time.  Here’s how it works:

My brain catches sight of a TV news program announcing how bad the economy sucks.  I’m hardly conscious of it, but almost instantly a part of my brain plays the tape of “Look, there’s proof that bad things are happening!  All is lost!”  The conscious part of my brain, which is now on the lookout for this sort of negative thought, grabs control and says, “Not so fast, we’ve seen bad things before and survived just fine.  Things are not as bad as the talking heads on TV want to make them sound.  They are just trying to sell advertisements and suck us into watching more.  Be thankful for all that is going well, and show more compassion to the people who really do have it bad and stop worrying about your own problems.  Oh, and one more thing – good job at catching that negative thought and throwing it out so quickly!”

Now tie this back to the athlete.  When a pro basketball player misses a shot, do you think they run down the court saying to themselves, “I’m a terrible basketball player, and I’m probably going to miss the next shot too and look like an idiot on national TV, and then I’m going to lose my contract and my big fancy house and extravagant lifestyle.”  I don’t know any professional basketball players myself, but I’m guessing that’s not the tape they play.  The good ones shake it off and start telling themselves how they are going to hit the next shot and they keep their mind in the game.

I don’t believe that a good attitude is all that is needed to be a successful entrepreneur or a professional athlete.  Hard work, ability and luck are necessary ingredients.  But to quote TC again, you only have control over two things in life, your actions and your thoughts.  If you don’t get control over your thoughts, everything else is a lot harder.

Here’s a link to TC’s archive of Weekly Encouragement.

Have a great weekend!

March 6, 2009 in Current Affairs, Entrepreneur Essays | Permalink | TrackBack