Tag Archives: Gus

How geeky

I’m going to be heading down to South By Southwest in a couple of weeks, and I am stoked … I’m even going to be taking the Startup Bus!

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to miss one of my son’s gymnastics meets. He has ten this year, so making 90% is a decent percentage, but the fact is I HATE missing this.

As I mentioned not too long ago, most problems can be solved with a specific amount of money, and this is such a problem. I could

  • Fly back from the conference for the meet, rent a car (it’s in Detroit) and fly back to the conference. Cost – about $1,200 and it  would cause me to miss 20% of the conference, which is a problem for work.
  • Teach my wife how to use the Flip video camera and have her record everything for me. Cost – nothing.
  • Teach my wife how to set up a laptop with a good video camera and stream the event to me live via Skype. Cost – almost nothing (I might have to borrow a mifi). The real problem here is that I would be expecting my wife to handle A/V issues that I normally handle myself. That’s not going to happen
  • Buy my wife a tablet with a built in video camera so that she can stream the event to me live via Skype. Cost – $300-1000 depending on which tablet I get.
    • I could get a “Windows 8” ready x64 tablet, but that would wind up being a toy for me
    • I could buy Paula an iPad or Android tablet (like the 7” Samsung) – that latter option is pretty tempting
  • I could borrow a tablet. Cost – $0 (plus some sort of favor in return, I suppose)

I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do at this point. Seeing the video would be cool, but I really want to stream it live.

Next step: checking out the wifi quality at the venue …


My 8-year-old son Gus just had a nice day recovering from a great gymnastics meet by staying in his pajamas all day and alternating make-up homework (he was sick most of last week) with lengthy rounds of Need for Speed: Most Wanted, his new game for the XBox.

Gus takes his racing games very seriously … he’ll sometimes spend an hour or more customizing a car with wheels, parts, and decals (it’s kinda like photoshop – I think he’s learning design skills from this). When he’s having trouble overcoming a specific racing challenge … well, let’s just say it gives us all an opportunity to work on anger management principles.

So after a great day of racing and customizing his new game, he turned off the console and then looked horrified. “I forgot to save!” He was crushed. All his “work” from today was lost.

I thought for sure it was a mistake – doesn’t it just save as it goes along? I had him turn the game back on, but sure enough, it was back to where he started the day. Unbelievable.

I did an Internet search to be sure his work wasn’t lost and eventually discovered that you have to go through multiple menu levels to enable “autosave.” Obviously, I did this – if it didn’t have autosave, that game was going in the trash – but what planet were they on when they didn’t enable this by default?

You don’t have to guess what your users prefer … you can measure their behavior patterns. I don’t know if there’s an easy way to get telemetry data for XBox games, but there are various toolkits to measure users’ actions for web, Windows, and phone applications. When choosing default settings, I would tend to err on the side of NOT losing any data and only change that default if my measurements showed a vast majority of users bothered to go into a menu to turn OFF something like autosave. It’s possible EA did the research that proved most users didn’t want autosave on and Gus is an anomaly … but somehow, I doubt it.

I remember my friend Rory repeating his rant that the stupidest question in all of computing is “Do you want to save?” Of course I want to save! Why are you asking me that? Worse – how is it possible to forget asking me that??? Just save it and allow me to revert if necessary.

If you’re a developer, please – PLEASE – make it harder for your users to throw information away than to keep it.

Less than 100 percent

I read an article on ESPN recently where another pro golfer thought that Tiger Woods was going to have an awesome year this year because of how good his bad shots were looking. If his bad shots are not too bad, then his good shots must be amazing.

It made me think about my “bad shots” … namely, those days where I don’t feel 100% and things just aren’t clicking. Those days I miss the important email or forget to prepare for the important meeting the next day. How good am I on my bad days?

Last night, my 8-year-old son Gus went on the “puke every hour” plan and all three of us didn’t get much sleep. (He was remarkably cheerful, which made me really proud, and he seems to be on the mend. Should be fine tomorrow. On a related note, at what age do humans learn the relative importance of making it to the toilet for vomiting? I did SIX loads of laundry today to clean up the mess – definitely worth thinking about the next time you buy multi-colored bedding for a kid.)

Needless to say, I was not at 100% today. Took half a sick day in fact, because I was so unproductive. That said, it was a pleasant day keeping Gus’s spirits up, eating Jello, and eventually watching Airplane as a family. So while this “bad day” wasn’t productive, at least it was pleasant, all things considered.

How good are your bad shots these days?


My son’s gymnastics team (boys level 4) finished second overall at a very competitive meet today, even though the highest individual place any individual boy achieved was a third. Go figure.

The boys learn from each other, push each other, and genuinely like each other. It’s pretty awesome to see 7-, 8-, and 9-year-olds bond together to make a team that’s greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Learning from kids

My 8-year-old son Gus had his second competitive gymnastics meet this morning. As we were leaving the venue to head home, I asked him if he had fun, and he gave me an emphatic “Oh yeah!”

Gus knows what’s important – he’s doing gymnastics because he absolutely loves it. Because he has some natural ability and a good body type for the sport, there’s nothing to prevent him from succeeding at it. But because he LOVES it, he works his tail off at it and continues to improve. To the outside observer, success FOLLOWS enjoyment of the sport, but to him, success EQUALS enjoyment.

As a proud papa, it’s fun to see him enjoying a sport and getting good at it, and I’m learning a lot, too. I’m impressed with everyone I’ve met in the sport. I like his coaches, and I get along very well with the other parents on his team. I’ve also been very impressed with the attitude of sportsmanship I see embodied by all the coaches and other gymnasts I’ve seen at his first two meets (and the prior “practice” meet). There was a kid in Gus’s rotation today who was the only one on his team. Gus’s 6-member team adopted him, and he had plenty of kids to share high fives with. This is a great sport.

I’ve made the decision never to “coach” Gus myself. Obviously, I could encourage him to keep his legs together better on a certain skill, or I could incentivize him to keep improving his scores. I don’t want to do that. It’s so cool to see Gus motivating himself – it would be less cool if he were doing something to please me. He has good coaches. My job is to cheer for him.

I can also film him and show him the video. That way, he’s coaching himself. I ask him questions, and it’s truly interesting to me. At lunch after the meet, I asked him if he feels pressure or if he just does it. He says he just does it. Interesting. It sure looks pressure-packed, but maybe that comes later.

Gus faced a little adversity today. He got off to a great start, doing an excellent pommel routine and earning a 14.9 (scoring is on a 16-point scale – all the kids do the same routines with some opportunities for bonuses). That turned out to be good for his first podium finish, a 3rd place! After a solid rings routine and a really good vault, he was on his way to an exceptional parallel bars routine when he did a swing handstand that went too far, and he fell, right before the dismount. He got back on and finished the routine but didn’t get a good score for him.

I was really interested to see his reaction. He cared, obviously, but he wasn’t devastated. He ate a Clif bar before the next rotation and tried to regain his focus. He had a significant bobble on high bar that showed his confidence wasn’t fully back. He had another bobble on floor, but then he finished strong with a fine roundoff-back-handspring, a skill he added last week. His all-around score was lower than the last meet, but it was great to see how well he could handle adversity. I wasn’t sure what he’d say when I asked him if he had fun afterword, so I was thrilled to hear his enthusiastic “Oh yeah!” Clearly, he knows what’s important.

I think I’m going to learn a thing or two from this kid.