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I will never compare March 12, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Life.
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To Dick Hoyt. This is the most inspiring article and video I have ever read and seen, respectively. Read the story below and watch the video, copied from here.

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay For their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he’s pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he’s not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars–all in the same day.

Dick’s also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much–except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

“He’ll be a vegetable the rest of his life;” Dick says doctors told him And his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. “Put him in an Institution.”

But the Hoyts weren’t buying it. They noticed the way Rick’s eyes Followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was Anything to help the boy communicate. “No way,” Dick says he was told. “There’s nothing going on in his brain.”

“Tell him a joke,” Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? “Go Bruins!” And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, “Dad, I want To do that.”

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described “porker” who never ran More than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he Tried. “Then it was me who was handicapped,” Dick says. “I was sore For two weeks.”

That day changed Rick’s life. “Dad,” he typed, “when we were running, It felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore!”

And that sentence changed Dick’s life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

“No way,” Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren’t quite a Single runner, and they weren’t quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then They found a way to get into the race Officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the Qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, “Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?”

How’s a guy who never learned to swim and hadn’t ridden a bike since he Was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick Tried.

Now they’ve done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don’t you Think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you’d do on your own? “No way,” he says. Dick does it purely for “the awesome feeling” he gets seeing Rick with A cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992–only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don’t keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.

“No question about it,” Rick types. “My dad is the Father of the Century.”

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a Mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries Was 95% clogged. “If you hadn’t been in such great shape,” One doctor told him, “you probably would’ve died 15 years ago.” So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other’s life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass. , always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father’s Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

“The thing I’d most like,” Rick types, “is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.”

And the video is below….

It’s a small, small world. March 12, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Life, Okapi.
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There are those times in life when everything just comes together in one moment. All the planets line up, there is a lunar eclipse, etc… Things that seem totally random, but they can’t be! And that is what this little story is about.

The first amazing Flash site that I ever saw (a lot of them sucked back then) was back in 2002. It was nikeskateboarding.com, V1 (they’re in V2 now). I was 13 years old, and had never, ever seen anything like it. I had an actual “experience” with a website. It was, by a long shot, the best looking website I had ever seen (later to be dethroned by Rob Lindstrom’s work). I spent a lot of time on that site, seeing everything that could be done, and finally found the credits for it. The makers: odopod, a small design studio in San Francisco.

Thanks to nikeskateboarding.com, I dove into Flash and never looked back. I spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours learning the interface, animation, and most of all, ActionScript. After becoming a half decent at Flash (I thought I was good at it, until I found out how much more I had to learn :D), I sent odopod an email telling them about how much of an inspiration they were to me and asking if they had any tips for becoming a better ActionScripter. They were really nice (probably because I told them I was 15) and we emailed back and forth a couple of times. In one of the emails, they told me if I was ever in San Francisco, I could stop by and take a tour of the shop. I was happier than a kid in a candy shop.

Fast forward to MacWorld ’04 (maybe ’05, not sure though): my aunt Martha had gotten my brother and I tickets to the SF MacWorld. We were excited for it, and I was even more stoked when I realized I could finally take odopod up on their invitation to tour their shop. I sent them an email letting them know I was going to be in town, and I got their cell phone numbers.

My brother and I took BART in to SF for MacWorld. At lunch time, I gave odopod a call and got directions on how to walk from Moscone Center to their office. I made it there and got a great tour of the shop. I met everyone who was behind the magic of nikeskateboarding, and they even let me see some of their current projects (nikesoccer.com was one). It was great, definitely one of the most memorable moments of my life. I went home and was determined to become one of the best Flash developers ever (I think I got pretty far).

Two years later, I met Andrei Ostacie, owner of Okapi Studio, from a Craigslist ad. There was one problem though: Okapi is based in Bucharest, Romania. At first I was reluctant to work with designers outside of the US, but their work was better than anyone else’s that had responded to my ad by miles. I started working with Okapi in December 2005, and we quickly came to like each other. In March, 2006, I became their US Account Manager, in charge of the North American clients (we have clients from Russia, England, Italy, and Romania).

In August of 2006, I got an email from Andrei asking me to talk to a prospective client that was based out of Mountain View, CA. Andrei apparently gave them my cell phone number, so they called me while I was getting my car fixed. I told them I would call back. When I got home, I immediately Googled this client’s name and found out he was in management at Yahoo!… I ended up driving down to Mountain View, and we got the account: MonVia. Our first job was to create a home page design for Drumtable. We went through several drafts, failing each time. Finally, Mani emailed me some screenshots of a Yahoo! site that was being redesigned; Y! Tech.

The designs looked really, really familiar… Okapi’s next round of deliverables were right on the mark.

A week or so later, I was going though odopod’s site (I do from time to time, just to see what they’re up to). I saw a little thumbnail on the bottom left of something that looked like Y! Tech, so I clicked on it. It took me to the detailed portfolio page, and sure enough, odopod was responsible for the redesign of Y! Tech.

There must be a God 😀

Buying Music on iTunes — My Experiences February 9, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Advice, Life.
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Recently, I’ve been buying all my music off of iTunes. I used to buy the CDs from Best Buy when they came out, but wow, after using iTunes, I’ll never go down to the store again. Talk about convenience! The only thing that I don’t get from iTunes is the little booklet that comes inside CDs you buy at the store. I kind of miss those, but in reality, I usually just look at them once and never pick them up again (especially the ones that don’t print the lyrics). I’ve bought over 100 songs on iTunes now (not much compared to a library of 1000+) and I am “hooked” on it, if you will. 

Most kids my age don’t bother to pay money for their music. They do have legitimate reasons:

  1. I make minimum wage — $8/hr
  2. LimeWire and BitTorrent are always free and easy
  3. Artists already have enough money, there’s no point in me giving them more
  4. I have ANTI-CAPITALIST tattooed on my arm! (I’ve seen a guy with this)
  5. I am so original that the bands I listen to aren’t on iTunes (only good excuse here)
  6. I like the band, but they aren’t worth my money (I used this excuse forever)

So here is my rebuttal to those excuses:

  1. You should have learned Ruby on Rails when you were in 8th grade. You would be making upwarsd of $80/hr now :p. No but seriously, learn a skill and charge money for it.
  2. I have downloaded hundreds of songs from LimeWire — almost all of it Rap music. I really don’t feel the need to support people that shoot eachother for “turf”… Hahaha
  3. They have a lot of money because they are talented, a lot of people like them, usually MTV made them, and I respect the fact that Viacom took the risk of making them. I’m not going to lie, I don’t have what it takes to build the next Viacom… Gotta respect “the man” 😉
  4. For everyone out there that is “anti-capitalistic”, I really pity you. Money makes the world go ’round, I’ve said this a million times over. You have to eat to live, and food doesn’t come out of heaven like it did in the days of Moses (manna :p)
  5. This is actually a good excuse. I don’t know what to say except… Those bands suck hahaha
  6. Quick solution to this problem: if they aren’t worth your money, they aren’t worth your time. The saying goes “time is money”, hence my reasoning behind that statement. I only buy music that I deem “worthy” of my money and [listening] time.

The reason why I prefer buying music to downloading it is because:

  1. Quality of paid for content always trumps illegally obtained content
  2. The Album Artwork is always right… Haha, I hate when Album Artwork is wrong
  3. When people at school are talking about all the songs they have been downloading, you can tell them how superior you are because you buy your music (hahaha juust kidding)
  4. YOU FEEL GOOD about the songs that you’ve bought when you listen to them. You aren’t thinking… Wow, I could actually get thrown in jail because I have this illegal content on my computer (I know, I know, chances of that are one in a billion). But, it’s a good feelinggg 😉

Moral of post: Buy Music on iTunes.

The Greatest Movie Ever February 9, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Blogging, Life.
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I’m watching my favorite movie ever right now: Fever Pitch. Definitely the greatest movie of all time ;)And I can’t wait for the Giants games to start!!

Ahh, the Suburbs February 7, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Education, Family, High School, Life.
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I thought this was hilarious… From Paul Graham’s Why Nerds are Unpopular essay

If I could go back and give my thirteen year old self some advice, the main thing I’d tell him would be to stick his head up and look around. I didn’t really grasp it at the time, but the whole world we lived in was as fake as a Twinkie. Not just school, but the entire town. Why do people move to suburbia? To have kids! So no wonder it seemed boring and sterile. The whole place was a giant nursery, an artificial town created explicitly for the purpose of breeding children

Where I grew up, it felt as if there was nowhere to go, and nothing to do. This was no accident. Suburbs are deliberately designed to exclude the outside world, because it contains things that could endanger children.

And as for the schools, they were just holding pens within this fake world. Officially the purpose of schools is to teach kids. In fact their primary purpose is to keep kids locked up in one place for a big chunk of the day so adults can get things done. And I have no problem with this: in a specialized industrial society, it would be a disaster to have kids running around loose.

What bothers me is not that the kids are kept in prisons, but that (a) they aren’t told about it, and (b) the prisons are run mostly by the inmates. Kids are sent off to spend six years memorizing meaningless facts in a world ruled by a caste of giants who run after an oblong brown ball, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. And if they balk at this surreal cocktail, they’re called misfits.

Customer Service January 27, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Business, Family, Life.
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I entitle this post “Customer Service” because I have learned a lot about how to treat your “customers” in the last few weeks. I’ve found that the best way to learn how to treat your customers is just by watching my grandparents. Yeah, who woulda thought? I spend the night at their house almost every week when I’m down in Mountain View, so I see them quite a bit. There have been a few things that I have learned:

#1) Cold Mornings
I was freezing one morning so I [jokingly] said I felt like I woke up on the top of a ski resort because it was so damn cold. The next time I was there, I woke up and apparently they had hired the guys that supply oil to heat hell or something; I was burning — It was great!!

#2) Jalapeno Bagel
Every morning when I wake up, they make me breakfast. One morning I mentioned how much the Jalapeno bagels at Noah’s Bagels RULE (they really do). So I woke up the other morning and a Jalapeno bagel from Noah’s Bagels magically appeared on my plate. At first I didn’t believe it, so I looked again. Yeah, it really was a Jalapeno bagel from Noah’s. This is really great service… I think I’ll stay at this place again! 😀

#3) DSL
They were stuck in the stone ages for… ever… So they’ve finally gotten DSL after I suggested it would be easier to get work done if they paid an extra $5 a month for a connection that is 2,000,000,000,000 times faster. :p
So how does any of this apply to customer service? Well, your customers are your business; you are only as strong as your “weakest” customer (people tend to tell more people how much they hate a certain product rather than one they would recommend). For my grandparents, they want happy grandkids. Grandkids make a suggestion, grandparents figure out how to please them (too bad parents aren’t like that).

This completely applies to founding a startup. For the past few months, I have been asking tons of people to give me suggestions on how to make *********** better (will announce this in the next few months). And guess what? It’s paid off. I could have never built a product to where it is today, there have been tons of people that have helped me make it better. They say 1 can take an army of 10, and 2 an army of 100. What about 3? 4? 5? When you involve your end user (the customer) in the building/evolution of a product, you are almost sure to have a better product that will appeal to more people. Which means: sells more, sells faster, has more potential to be…

“the next big thing”

🙂

I haven’t blogged much lately January 23, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Blogging, Life.
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Reason: I have to get a lot of work done. Also, been doing a lot of reading. I’ve realized that there are a few billion books in the world, so I am setting out to read .001% of them before I die. I love reading now, it’s amazing — the life’s work of one person can be summarized in 1,000 pages of text, and I find that mind blowing. What this means is: I can learn from the mistakes of others, I can learn from the findings of others, and I can aggregate more data and figure out my own opinions on things.

I have become a master with XHTML/CSS/JavaScript (yes, including *Ajax* whoop whoop!). I have (not bragging) actually become really good at these front end languages, I was surprised on how fast I picked up on CSS and JavaScript. And yes, all the pages I write are XHTML Strict DTD compliant :p 

I’ll blog more when my “big secret” will come out (that sounds kinda bad). Hopefully by the end of March we can get it out. The only clue I will give is: it will save a lot of people a lot of time — and that’s what I’m all about:

Make a more efficient world

Lucky January 16, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Life, Rants.
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I watched this video with Warren Buffet about 6 times in this last week. I have also done a lot of thinking about my life ever since I watched that video. So anyways, here you go.


I am lucky.

I am lucky I was born in 1988, 18 years before the Web 2.0 boom began. Lucky I was born in Davis, California — a quiet, intellectual college town in Northern California. Lucky to have the parents that I have — to this day, I’ve never heard them fight. Lucky to have 2 brothers and 2 sisters who taught me how to share, how to lead, responsibility, and how to interact with people. Lucky to grow up with support from my entire family — my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and other “family” members like Nate Pina (my older brother) and his family.

I am lucky to be homeschooled by my Mom and Mrs. Washabaugh through 3rd grade, where I made my first best friend — Michael Washabaugh. Lucky to have been able to go to GVCA from 4th-8th grade; from an academic perspective, it would be hard for me to find another school in California as rigorous as that school. I credit all of my current “IQ” to the foundations that were laid down at that school. I am lucky to have had the friends that I did at that school — Eric Haynam, Jon Roby, Dwight Smith, and my best friend, since 5th grade, Travis Parker. I’ve been best friends with Travis for over 8 years now, and we’ve never been mad at eachother once. Lucky to have developed an above average EQ (the awareness of and ability to manage one’s emotions in a healthy and productive manner) while at GVCA also; it helped me so much down the road when I had to move to new places and make new friends.

I am lucky to have moved to Maryland in 2003. Lucky to make the friends that I did out there; there are three guys really mentored me that I still keep in close contact with today — Ben Tedesco, Edgard Gasca, and Hector Oropezah. Lucky for all the talks I had with Hector; I will never forget the one we had on the boardwalk at Ocean Beach, New Jersey. Hector told me of all the mistakes that he wish he would have never made, and he wanted to make sure I wouldn’t make those same decisions. Lucky enough to have a dad that cared enough about me to send me to private school (CLS) instead of public school. Lucky to have made all the friends out there that I still talk to today. Lucky to have Nate Pina out there with us to be my older brother and help me through that horrific winter.

I am lucky to have moved back to Vacaville, California (greatest city to grow up in ever). Lucky to go to The Father’s House church and Launch Camp that year (3 days after moving back) and meeting all the people I did there — it made the transition to Vacaville easy on us. Lucky for that whole summer; it was just so much fun — we were all still little kids; Josiah, Rob, Chris, Me, Nate, James. I am lucky to have been born with a love for technology, the internet, and most of all, Flash. Lucky for my tour of Odopod that inspired countless nights of learning more Flash. Lucky to have seen that learning programming languages would help me get a good job when I got older (it paid off faster than I expected, but I didn’t mind :p).

I am lucky to have been able to work for The Father’s House as their web developer. Without that job, I would have never become as good as I did at Flash. Lucky to have switched from Vaca High to Buckingham 1 week before my Sophomore year began. Lucky to have had Mrs. Oates as my English teacher in 10th grade; her class taught me a lot about myself — if I see a teacher put a lot of effort into teaching, I will return her effort with effort of my own in their class. This has remained true for everything I do; if I am motivated to do a good job on a certain project, I’ll do the best job you’ve ever seen. The flipside is the opposite; that’s just how I am built, and I don’t plan on changing it. Lucky for to have made all the friends I did that year — Megan, Joanna, Marco, etc… Buckingham is “no ordinary high school”; I love it.

I am lucky to have my dad, Uncle Jim, and Don Graham as people to talk to about business. Lucky for all the talks I’ve had with these guys about business and life in general — they helped me learn so much, and made it possible for me to avoid the mistakes that they made. These guys are the best mentors I could have asked for.

I am lucky for the friends I had during the summer of 2006 — Jeremy, James, Christy, and Cailey; I could have gone down so many wrong paths that summer, but it was theses friends who saved me. Lucky to have been able to become best friends with Cailey, the happiest girl I have ever known.

I am soo lucky to have met Okapi. Lucky for all the clients I landed under their name. Lucky for the business skills I gained as I managed each client. Lucky for Andrei and Gabi; two guys I have never met, but I talk to every day for about an hour (I will meet them soon!). Lucky enough to get a client called MonVia, which is the company that I am doing my startup under.

I am lucky to have teachers and a principal that let me go to school Monday and Wednesday of my Senior year in high school. Lucky to have started reading again Senior Year. Lucky for all the “mentors” I have but will probably never meet — Warren Buffet, Mark Cuban, and Ayn Rand. Lucky to have a teacher that I realized was a real human being, Mr. Robbins; we’ve had countless talks that I have grown from.

I am lucky to work with Jorge Fernandes, Mani Kulasooriya, and Jim O’Connor. These guys have taught me so much about Silicon Valley and how the entire industry works; no University or business school in the world would be able to give me the knowledge I have today from all the experiences I have had with them in the last 6 months.

I am lucky to have had an idea for a startup that began at the beginning of 2006, thanks to the book Getting Real by 37signals. Lucky to be able to have the right skill set needed for a startup (thanks to all the programming I did starting at age 11). Lucky for the much needed support I have gotten from everyone on it. [will there be a “lucky” statement about the company here soon? :)]

I am lucky for my Grandparents who let me stay at their house any time I want, and (this is the best part) wait on me in the mornings so they can get me breakfast. Lucky for aunts and uncles that will open their house for me any time I need to stay in The Valley. Lucky for Brent and Mary-Anne and all the help they were in applying to Stanford and Santa Clara.

I am lucky that I am born in a market economy that pays off well for guys wired like me; like Warren Buffet says — “If I was stuck on a desert island with a bunch of other people, I’d be useless. The most useful person in that situation would be, say, a rice farmer. I can allocate capital, but that doesn’t matter in a situation like that.” Lucky that I wasn’t born 4,000 years ago — I would be some animals lunch.

I am lucky.

If I “had to do it all over again”, as Buffet says, I would just ask to be lucky.

When so many things went right when they could have gone wrong, I can only be optomistic towards the future and say… Thank you God. I didn’t deserve any of this.


And if I left anyone out, don’t be offended. It’s 1:30am and my brain shutdown two hours ago.Thanks

Blogging in Tahoe! December 10, 2006

Posted by sdpurtill in Blogging, Life, Vacation.
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I’ve been in Tahoe the last few days, it’s been ridiculously fun. It’s snowing right now, and I just got out of the spa… It was so great, we were in the spa and snow was just going crazy on us! Anyways, I’m out. Going back to the cabin to play some Mexican Train and read!

Solve this December 6, 2006

Posted by sdpurtill in ActionScript, Life.
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And you’re a GENIUS…. Well, not really.

var age:Number = 17;
age++;
trace(age);

Hahahaha… I miss Flash.

Anyways, if you didn’t get it, I’m OFFICIALLY 18 years old.

😀