Taken: Fall 2012

Rating: 7/10

Summary: Although I barely audited this class, the one lesson I picked up was far too valuable to get forgotten

What I learned

  1. Prototype everything – use paper, smartphone video, fake responses, whatever it takes to get a real person to experience your product


Taken: Fall 2014

Rating: 5/10 2014’s start-up buzzwords, fresh outta Stanford

Summary: Like all popular business books, this course (directly based on the book by the instructors) contains a few nuggets that make you mutter ‘hmm’ to yourself and teaches you the vocab you’ll need to interact with MBAs for the next few years. The real value lies in the case studies and interviews. Each lecture has a section of interviews in which real people talk about how the lecture content applied to their businesses. These are extremely hit or miss. Unfortunately you’ll have to sit through all the misses to find the sections that will make you feel like you didn’t entirely waste your time.

What I learned

  1. Management is necessary
  2. Teams should be capped at 4-5 people
  3. Ben Horowitz played football in high school


Taken: Summer 2013

Rating: 10/10 Would recommend, Have recommended, The recommendee took it and his life was changed (not a joke)

Summary: Best course ever. Hunker down, commit yourself to it and you will learn useful things guaranteed. The instructor took me from zero to roll-your-own crowd-funding site in a matter of 3 months. It was accessible, engaging and confirmed my suspicions that the software fueling internet start-ups is ever-changing and I shouldn’t try to keep up. But, most importantly, I learned that I can learn to internet if I need to. And if I have a problem that isn’t answered on StackOverflow, give up.

What I learned

  1. Emacs
  2. Javascript
  3. Node.js
  4. AWS
  5. Heroku
  6. Bitcoin


This class should be pretty awesome, but I think my hapkit ‘paddle’ is not perfectly circular so I’m getting all kinds of nasty friction when I push the ‘paddle’. I’m currently stalled with no clear path to picking this thing back up. If I get copious amounts of free time in the future I’ll put it all together and try printing out another piece, but until then it was worth a try.

If there are two things people really love, it’s VU meters and Nixie tubes. (evidence here and here). This guy had already figured out a decent circuit for this, but it used a now-obsolete THAT2252 chip for the RMS measurement. The best replacement I could find for this chip was using part of the THAT4301. With a few tweaks and lots of help from THAT app notes and tech support (most helpful tech support I’ve ever encountered, no joke) the replacement was made that supported two outputs for a stereo audio signal. The PCB was fabricated and lots of 0805 components soldered on. Once both 12V power supplies were plugged in the nixie tubes were up and VU metering! Perhaps even more exciting was a first-rev PCB of this complexity working with no prior testing or prototyping, just a lot of datasheets taking up my mental RAM.

I have to admit I thought everyone’s nostalgia for Nixie tubes was a bit silly at first, but seeing these things in action I’m definitely tempted to put these in more projects.

Good things come in threes

Good things come in threes, and in purple

See it in action:

My first notable project on the RaspberryPi involved the Pi version of Minecrat and the wonderful Pandora-in-your-terminal app Pianobar. I thought it would be useful  fun to create a remote control in Minecraft that would work with Pianobar. I settled upon creating a ‘trigger’ block that could be right-clicked to bring up this menu of blocks. In the video below, the trigger block is sand. The block menu that pops up is updated with the current state of pianobar, so when I pause a song, the block turns from green to red. When I hit ‘next’, the next song starts playing and the first block turns back to green. I enjoyed myself quite a bit on this one.


and then for good measure I output the song title and artist to sky-writing in the Minecraft world. Enjoy

Disclaimer: I have not tested this code since the video was taken in February of 2013. The fundamentals are still good, but I doubt it still works out of the box.