May 16, 2003

Matrix Yawn

I saw the movie. Yahoo rented out a theater and a ton of us saw it this afternoon. Yawn.

I was going to write about the whole experience, but then I found that someone else summed up my thoughts nicely.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:10 PM

May 15, 2003

Weblog Burnout Rate?

Does anyone know what the average "burnout rate" for webloggers is? You know, if you were trying to figure how how likely someone was to abandon their blog in the first 3, 6, or 12 months. What would that number be?

Do most bloggers stick with it? Or it it more like dieting, where most people are good for the first month or so, but then if becomes more of an occasional activity?

I have no idea to begin looking for that kind of info, but suddenly I find myself wanting to know...

Posted by jzawodn at 09:28 PM

Left Hand vs. Right Hand

Well, the Comcast Monkey came today to fix my cable modem problems. It turns out that the problem was completely outside my apartment. I got a new modem out of the deal anyway. I never liked the old RCA piece of crap.

Apparently there was a 1:2 splitter outside. That was connected (improperly) to a 1:4 splitter. My line was the only one plugged in. So they ripped out the 1:4 and put be in the 1:2, all the while muttering "who the hell would have done this?"

Of course, we all know the answer: Another Comcast tech would have done it.

It's a good thing I also have DSL.

Update: As Dan and I were discussing this via IM, we relaized that these Cable/DSL techs are a lot like programmers or sysadmins. No matter what they see, they'll always complain about the guy who did the job before them. Always.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:40 PM

May 14, 2003

Executive Compensation

I did something today that I've done more often that most people, I suspect. I actually read the "Notice of Annual Meeting of Stockholders" document that was sent to me by my brokerage. As a shareholder of several major corporations, I get these in the mail pretty frequently. I suspect that lot of people do--anyone who directly invests in stocks does.

You can learn some pretty amazing things from these documents (and regular SEC filings). For example, an Executive Vice President at this particular company was paid an annual salary of $500,000 in 2002. And he received a bonus of $562,500. He was awarded 100,000 stock options and brought in $117,112 in "other compensation" in 2002. In that same year, the Company contributed $2,750 to his 401(k) plan and paid a $450 group term life insurance premium.

Not bad! I'm a little surprised he didn't try to max out his 401(k) contribution. The limit was $10,500/year (or something like that) and his company matches a percentage of his contributions. But, hey, that's just me. I'm saving for my retirement on some tropical island.

Anyway, it gets better! In 2002, the Company also paid $113,912 in relocation expenses (that's on top of the $58,943 in relocation expenses for 2001, it says).

He must have had a lot of books to move. I'm pretty sure my relocation was well under the $10,000 limit.

But that's not all. Let's call this mysterious executive "Bob" while I quote from the another section of the document that mentions him.

In March 2001, the Company entered into an agreement with Bob pursuant to which, Bob is entitled to certain reimbursement of relocation expenses, including a mortgage subsidy. In March 2003, the Company entered into a letter agreement with Bob amending the terms of that agreement. Under the terms of the new letter agreement, Bob's base salary for 2003 was reduced to $450,000 and, in lieu of the mortgage subsidy, Bob is entitled to a payment of $23,000 on the first anniversary, $16,000 on the second anniversary and $8,000 upon the third anniversary, of his closing escrow on the purchase of a home in the Bay Area. The payments will be grossed up with respect to taxes payable by Bob and are conditioned upon the continued employment of Bob with the Company.

(Emphasis mine.)

Must be nice. Pulling down roughly half a million dollar is base salary and at least as much in an annual bonus. Why does a guy making that much cash need help paying for a house?

I have no idea. If I had that kind of cash, I'd be quite content to pay for my own place.

What I do know is that this is typical. (Like I said, I read these documents when they come in the mail.) And it's strange at the same time. You see, I don't know how much any of my co-workers are paid. We may be paid the same. Or maybe they make $30,000/year more than me. Or less. And they probably don't know how much I'm paid. It's a taboo subject at work. And I really don't understand why.

But it's trivial to find out how much Bob and the other's at the top are paid.

Update: I checked Bob's Company's 401(k) policy. It turns out that he did maximize his benefits.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:12 PM

May 13, 2003

Confusing the Newbies

Has anyone ever created a mailing list called reply-all? I think that'd be entertaining. I'm not sure why, but the thought amuses me greatly right now.

Perhaps it's time that I stopped looking at the monitor.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:26 PM

Hourly Link Cosmos via

I couldn't resist. I'm a big fan of Technorati, so when I read about the new APIs (using REST no less!), I had to hack up a new module for the right side of my blog's main index.

If you look, you'll see a "blog cosmos" section there. It's updated once per hour using my script. You may notice similarities to my script. I used it as the basis for this one.

Anyway, it's there for the taking. It's a quick but useful hack (for me, at least). Knock yourself out. Send patches if you do something cool--like error handling? :-)

Or not.

Update: Or I could have waited a few hours and used one the new MT plug-in. Man, that was FAST.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:06 AM

May 12, 2003

Just Do It

My Dad used to joke that my grandmother suffered from a debilitating mental condition: inertia. We all thought this was funny and true. She had (and still has) a way of arguing for the status quo rather than change. In fact, she's able to spend impressive amounts of time and mental energy thinking about doing (or not doing) whatever it is she's trying to avoid--or at least delay.

Apparently it runs in the family.

After very careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that my biggest weakness (or one of them) is the ability to simply act. To get off my ass and Just Do It, whatever "it" may be. Instead of doing it, I'll think about doing it. Or I'll put it on the list of other its to do when I actually have time to do them. Or I'll think about all the reasons I shouldn't do it. Or... you get the idea.

It's not a simple matter of procrastination. There's more to it than that. Procrastination is a simple. You just keep not doing it. But I make a mental "project" about not doing it.

It's not a fear of change. At least I don't think it is.

I think I'm just really good at over estimating the amount of stress that something really will cause, time it will take, and so on. Often times I'll spend far more time and energy thinking about it--more than it takes to Just Do It.

Here's a simple example. I've been "almost done" with a chapter of the book for quite a while now. I needed to sit down and put the finishing touches on it so that I can send it to some people for review. And so they can tell me how far from being done I really am. I've been thinking about it off and on for several days now--thinking about how much time it's going to take, because this sort of thing always takes more time that it should.

Well, it didn't. And then I realized that this has happened before. Many times.

Perhaps there's a good way to overcome this problem. I'm not sure what it is or how to go about figuring that out. But maybe by writing about it I'll be just a bit more likely to think less and Just Do It more often.

(And no, this has nothing to do with Nike. Nothing at all.)

The problem reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite books:

Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours.

I used to think I really understood that statement. But I'm only now beginning to appreciate it.

Oh, bonus points to anyone who can name the book without the use of a search engine.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:29 PM

What did you fly yesterday?

I flew a Grob 103 for about 1.5 hours. Two solo flights and one with a friend (Lance) in the back seat. Here are the pictures I took of the Grob on the ground and some from the front seat while flying near Monterey Bay and over Hollister, CA.

Lance took some pictures too, both from his flight with Mike in the ASK-21 and when we flew in the Grob.

The weather wasn't as good as expected. The sea breeze ruined most of the good lift, so I didn't get anywhere close to earning my "B" badge. Maybe next week.

A few more details are here in my flying blog.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:55 PM

May 11, 2003

Ignoring Google

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the blog world completely ignored Google for a few days?

I have.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:50 PM