I’m following Derek Sivers‘ lead here in creating a snapshot that may be the starting point for whatever legacy I leave behind. Unlike him, I have no problem writing about and for myself, which is probably not a great thing for reaching an audience, but it gets me out of bed in the morning. Here I’ll share about myself in a nutshell.

Timeline for Context

1977: born in California

1992: started playing guitar, built an RC car

1995: started on bachelors degree in Materials Science and Mineral Engineering at UC Berkeley

1999: graduated college, went to work for Onyx Optics machining then managing production of laser crystals

2000: switched to a test software engineer at Curtis Instruments, using C to test electric motor controllers for fork lifts

2002: learned Perl and Python to broaden my software engineering skills

2004: started Sterry IT in the midst of computer virus epidemic which transitioned into general computer consulting business

2008: created one of the first Twitter search engines serving 20,000 requests in one day

2011: discovered Bitcoin, created some services around it and increased understanding of money’s role in society

2015: went to work for Uber getting experience in big tech as a software engineer

2019: left Uber to work on personal projects including combating fake news and US government reform

About Me:

My Philosophy

I’ve always been curious. I love filling in gaps in my understanding. I read and listen to podcasts to broaden my knowledge and awareness.

Meditation I consider to be a powerful tool for being able to control attention and understand underlying concerns. I’m a fan of the stoic idea that we should focus on what we can control and accept what we cannot.

I’m learning more about how fear of death, practicality of violence and the will to power guide a lot of human activity. I feel people should be able to do what they want, as long as it doesn’t harm others. Harm comes in many forms so people should think about what they do before acting. I feel US society is far more punitive than necessary and believe in forgiveness as a way to give those who’ve made mistakes a fair chance at personal improvement, and as a way to release victims from dwelling on past injuries.

I believe the universe is physical machine but quantum mechanics tells us that there is uncertainty inherent in nature. Therefore I believe we should live as if we have free will and that our choices matter. Though there are outliers, I believe most people want to be comfortable, to spend enough time with friends and family and to find self-chosen meaning in life For me, the goal is to have a positive impact on the world. I hope to leave the world as good a place as when I was born. I don’t believe in reincarnation but the idea that the idea helps incentivize better behavior.

I support your self-determination

One of the first causes I studied was the free software movement. Technology, largely controlled by software, will grow to be so important, that personal freedom depends on which software is in your life. When you buy a device and cannot inspect or change the software inside, it is less your device than a way to accomplish something that someone else still controls, and by extension that device has some measure of control over you.

The analog to software in the cloud is personal data. You should be able to control how your data is used (including its full deletion), and be able to download it and migrate to another cloud or self-hosted service. Using and supporting services that make their source code available (such as AGPL licensed services do) goes hand in hand with data control.

Money is necessary to live in modern society, however, most of our monetary activities take place on platforms controlled and monitored by someone else. Cash, gold, Bitcoin, and barter provide ways to transact, over which you retain the freedom to do what you want or need to do. I support their unencumbered use.

I believe in personal bests

Many of us are concerned with and compare ourselves to others. It’s tempting because we can sense someone’s greatness without knowing anything about their level of innate talent and the hard work that went into developing their skills. Rather than delve into that comparison I believe it’s much better to focus on doing my best, to measure performance and then work to improve. Recently I took up running, so working toward faster times and longer distances is a good example. Almost everything in life can be measured. I’m looking forward to improving all kinds of personal records over my lifetime.

I write daily

I don’t publish as often as I would like, but I believe in writing on a daily basis. It helps clarify and improve thinking and framing on the issues, scenarios, and events I care about. I make it a habit to jot a minimum number or words per day. Periodically, I review what I’ve written, editing along the way to see if I should revisit or publish anything.

I have to fight distraction

We live in a world engineered largely toward business ends. Apps foster habituation, devices become indispensable, games with random rewards play on dopamine-centric brain chemistry. For this reason, I remind myself often to limit activities that are repetitive and of low long-term value. I also like to set goals for more meaningful activities like reading, writing, exercise, and spending time with people, in these times preferably by phone or video call.

Questions? Thoughts?

Email me.