Alex King and Leadership →

This memory of Alex King contains some very inspiring words, where he describes how he ran things at Crowd Favorite before he sold the company.

His words come from the type of person most of us dream about working for, and one that we would want to be when in a leadership position.

Early on, when it was just a few people, it was very much a team, a collaborative atmosphere. I tried to keep that as we grew. I told them that they had autonomy. I told them that I wanted to hear from them if they thought that things could be improved. I hammered that.

In every meeting, every monthly meeting, I would ask for feedback. I would ask for suggestions of things we could do better. Very rarely did I’d actually get any. The process of asking for it consistently, I think, was important. It let people know that their voice is valued.

When people did come to me, I tried to make sure that even if we weren’t going to do what they asked, that they saw some sort of visible change based on what they’d asked for. Even if it was just me following up in another week or two weeks after that to talk to them about some aspect of it, just to let them know that their voice was heard and what they’d risen wasn’t forgotten.

Another aspect of this manifests itself in the Intranet as a note on process. It says, “If you ever find yourself doing something you don’t understand or think it’s stupid, it is your job to stop and ask somebody why.”

Two things come from this. One, sometimes processes get out-of-date and we end up just doing things because we’ve always done it that way. That’s no reason to do things.

The second, more likely, is that there is a good reason and that this person may not know it. When they ask, somebody can tell them and they could understand the value of what they’re doing.

All of these things come together to create an environment where people feel empowered, people feel like the work they’re doing is interesting and important. Of course, that’s dependent somewhat on client projects as well. The way that we go about doing things is efficient, it’s not a waste of time, and they have input into the process and that their input has value.

Rest in peace, Alex King

I am very saddened to read about the loss of Alex King tonight.

Alex was my introduction to WordPress, Twitter, Apple, internet security, and many other things that are (or were) new technology. But beyond that, through his writings about the things he created — of which bits and pieces were embedded into his website — he emanated a sense of leadership, and a sense of building something “the right way”.

His website was a part of my morning routine. After checking my email, his website was one of the few tabs I would open almost daily. I would always either learn something, or be motivated to work harder by one of his accomplishments. I enjoyed watching him grow from a WordPress applications developer to a business founder, and also a father. Often, his statuses would be posts about golf, humor, or a new gadget he was tinkering with, reminding me that leaders and technology builders have real lives, too.

When you are an engineer, you build something making the best decisions that you know how to make. Often your methods stem from something you learned from the best people you know who are also engineers or leaders. While I have had the privilege to work in the same office as some of these people, I can say with certainty that Alex also had an impact on the engineer I am today.

I know I am a stranger to you, but thanks for everything Alex.

Century-Old Pennsylvania Relief Map Restored by PSU →

Here are some excerpts of the story:

In 2014, as Penn State’s Steidle Building was undergoing renovations, a large—7.5 feet x 17 feet, to be exact—map of Pennsylvania was discovered leaning against the wall of an office.

It turned out to be a relief map, or a map that depicts land configuration and height of land surface, of the state. Made in the late 1800s, the map was displayed at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair.

The fully restored 7.5 feet by 17 feet plaster relief map of Pennsylvania is displayed in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery

It’s great that they were able to restore it. I really want to go see this thing.

Walter “Wolfman” Washington Heats The Hague

Gearing up to see the Joe Krown Trio this November, I began scanning YouTube again for old Walter “Wolfman” Washington footage. I thought I had seen it all until something prompted me to turn away from YouTube last night, and instead search Vimeo.

Thanks to filmmaker Maarten Toner, I was stunned when I stumbled into what might be the jackpot video of Walter “Wolfman” Washington” and The Roadmasters. The video covers over 45 minutes of their 1988 performance at a club called De Zwarte Ruiter (The Black Horseman), in The Hauge, Netherlands.

This performance could possibly be Walter “Wolfman” Washington and The Roadmasters — (with a young Jack Cruz on bass, who still plays with Washington) — at their peak, with absolutely ill solos from every member of the band, intense crowd energy, and honest raw funk.

On top of the fine performance by Walter and his band, this video footage contains the hair-raising performance of the late great Johnny Adams, who leads Walter and his band on “Stand by Me”.

Penn State Lunar Lion keeps eyes on the Moon →

While Google’s Lunar XPRIZE may have been an ambitious goal, the new goal of reaching the moon within the next decade sounds like the start of a slow death to this project. I hope I am wrong.

Penn State’s Lunar Lion team has announced that it is withdrawing from the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition — however, the program continues with the goal of landing a spacecraft on the Moon within the next decade.

Surface Tension →

Apple’s strategy, according to Joel Watson:

They are almost always the last to the party, but they are always the best dressed, the most interesting, the sexiest and the only one everyone remembers the next day.

I don’t fault Apple for this type of behavior because all they are really doing is letting the other guys take the risks and make the mistakes and gauging public response based on other products before taking all of that knowledge and refining the hell out of their own product before launching it (2 or 3 years after the first one came out).

It seems to be working.

(via Daring Fireball)