Idea: A Way For The Homeless To Panhandle Digitally

X For Y: Kickstarter For Homelessness

Imagine a world where the homeless don’t have to stand next to a freeway exit to panhandle. They don’t have to hold up signs begging for money in order to survive. That was the seed that spawned this idea.

Social Media For The Homeless

What if there was a platform, specifically, for people to panhandle? Helping the homeless went viral in 2011 when Ted Williams was put in the national spotlight. So people are interested in helping the homeless. It’s just about whether or not they can access their story. On this platform, the homeless can take pictures of their lives and post updates so people can see how their donations help that person.

Augmenting Solicitations

Now, that kind of social media involvement is going to be rare, especially for someone from the homeless community. So there’s another added benefit, they can augment their cardboard signs with a 4 digit alpha-numeric code that people can use to donate to them digitally. People who don’t have cash  or people who don’t have time to stop would now be able to donate. Also, people can choose to support someone through regular donations if they were inclined.

Monetization

A transaction fee would be deducted from all donations.  Homeless people may not have a bank account, so the company would provide a debit card for the homeless to use.  Additionally, as another source of revenue, this debit card would have transaction fees for withdrawal. This type of revenue may be viewed as predatory so the entire platform may work better as a not-for-profit.

A Possible Pivot

Some homeless people may feel uncomfortable with attaching themselves and their livelihood to any kind of entity, due to mental illness or disinterest.  The homeless, by nature, are transient and may not necessarily be confined to a specific geographical area. This app could possibly provide a way for homeless shelters and homeless advocates to document possible security threats and create a safer environment for everyone involved.

Startup Ideas

Ideas are worthless.

If you’re a part of any kind of startup or creative community, you’ve heard that repeated over and over again. It’s all about execution. So if that’s the case, why not just reveal every idea I have? I mean, there’s no inherent value to them, so who cares if someone steals the idea?

More importantly, maybe I’d get feedback on some of them. So that’s what I’ll be doing. Not sure if I’ll do this on a weekly basis or just whenever, but that’s what I’ll be doing. Dropping ideas on here and you can evaluate them however you want and let me know what you think.

Starting A Great Business With Any Idea

On /r/startups, people will occasionally ask for ideas for startups or how people come up with ideas for their startup. I understand why they’re asking but it really bothers me every time.

If you need to ask someone else for help just to get an idea to start a business, you probably shouldn’t be starting one. Having an idea for a business is one of the most basic requirements for a business and if you’re not able to do that by yourself without asking for help, I don’t know how you’re going to succeed.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. I did the same thing more than a decade ago. I was looking for businesses that I could run on my own. I went through a book at the local book store and came upon ‘massage therapist’. I could do it entirely on an entrepreneurial basis and wouldn’t require employment in order to do it.

I failed miserably. I spent thousands of dollars on training only to find out I couldn’t even give way the massages in order to fulfill the licensing requirements. Also, and this is the bigger issue that I oddly did not even consider at the time: I don’t like touching people. I’ll do it for the money, of course, but it skeeves me out to have to touch another human being that I’m not attracted or related to.

So, that’s one reason why you shouldn’t be asking other people for help in ideas to start a business. Another reason is that most ideas aren’t particularly helpful to begin with in the first place. You need to believe strongly in your business and if the idea doesn’t resonate with you on a deep, meaningful level, you’re not going to be able to weather all the rejection, stress and failure that comes with running a business.

Ideas aren’t that hard to come up with. Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast that was bringing up some concerns regarding privacy for Facebook and Google. Given that so much of their business model is based on acquiring data from their users and how people are becoming more concerned about their privacy, they predicted that other business models will rise up to address those concerns.

Now I don’t personally feel that privacy is that big of a concern but I came up with an alternative. Rather than a business model that’s based off of pimping their customer’s data, I came up with a business model oriented towards customers earning their cycles through Mechanical Turk type work. It’s probably a horrible idea. I didn’t even bother to write it down when I got it, but it was an idea nonetheless. That’s the only kind of mindset that’s required for an idea to start a business. You see a problem and you find a solution. It’s really that simple.

 

Noobs, Impostor Syndrome & Arrogant Asshole Syndrome

Impostor syndrome is the overwhelming feeling that even if you’re employed at something, you aren’t, actually, that. You could be a programmer for ten years and still feel like some phony that lucked out into no one noticing how horribly, horribly incompetent you really are. Due to the changing standard of programming competency and the requirement that you be learning constantly to stay afloat, programmers are prone to this kind of syndrome.

Because programmers are always trying to stay relevant, we’re often always asking questions. In forums. In IRC. Wherever. If you’re stuck on a particular problem, it can be helpful to get a different perspective on the matter.

So often, when asking a question, you’ll receive some sort of condescending remark, like “OMG N00b, htf do u not understand this? rtfm much? lol”. It’s a given. I used to chalk that up to the inherent social and empathetic deficit that occurs when sitting at a computer for an extreme amount of time, but I recently stumbled upon a different perspective.

Because programmers are so prone to Impostor Syndrome,  they are also prone to Arrogant Asshole Syndrome. If you believe that it is almost inevitable that someone will eventually discover your incompetence, it is natural to want to jump on anyone else who you believe to be incompetent because it takes attention away from yourself. By focusing the attention on others, you’re able to ignore your own deficiencies as a programmer and as a human being. So what many of us have assumed is simply just a lack of social skills or empathy is actually something much simpler: an outward manifestation of Impostor Syndrome.

In closing, I’d like to say that we all fall prey to Impostor Syndrome at least once, but falling prey to Arrogant Asshole Syndrome is a choice.

Why The Fuck Do I Have A Website

If you’re not using your personal site to somehow advertise your career, it’s a bit masturbatory to have your own personal site. I bought this domain name because I needed something to showcase my gamedev portfolio. My original plan was to develop a bunch of games and try to make a living doing that. This site was not, originally, my username. It was an avaliable domain name with a coherent combination of five random characters.

Quickly, I realized that I was heading down the same path as music with game development. Namely,  that I could do it for the next decade and still have absolutely nothing to show for it, so I abandoned game dev for something more economically viable: web development.

I needed a way to showcase whatever I worked on and I already had this domain so I figured why not?

I’m starting to realize though that this ‘showcase’ isn’t really showcasing shit. I don’t want people to just come to this site, read some text and leave, never coming back. I want them to have a fucking experience.

I just saw some guy’s resume done in a pixelart Javascript platform game. Now I don’t really believe that guy is really proficient in C, C++, Java and whatever else he said, but I’ll always remember his resume.

Then I remember that really great livestream-like site where it’s a guy pretending to code the site in real time. That was a great experience.

That’s what I want. I want people to come to taqfu.com and have a memorable experience that could possibly be turned into some kind of gig.

Now it’s just about figuring out what that means.

 

 

Stranger Things Is Awesome

Stranger Things was not what I expected at all. I thought it was going to be some kind of weird remake in the style of Eerie, Indiana, but it was more akin to Goonies meets Wayward Pines.

Oddly, I could not remember the racial makeup of Goonies. I genuinely thought it was a multicultural group. If the racial turmoil of the sixties and seventies gave way to the racial diversity of the eighties and nineties, surely, Goonies must have had a few minorities, right? Nah, it was just that Asian kid. But I digress.

Why is Stranger Things so fucking awesome. Verge said it was because of the casting and, I mean, that’s always going to be a part of how great a show is, but, no, I think Stranger Things was great because it encapsulates so many great mythologies seamlessly.

There’s that Goonies kind of mythology where the kids have this narrative that some how inexplicably lets them triumph over bad shit. Then there’s teenage narrative of trying to find identity through your social circle. And, finally, there’s this very adult narrative of loss and avoiding loss. These three narratives are quite different in perspective but are seamlessly spliced together to be really compelling.

Plus, who doesn’t love dungeons and dragons and creepy government run laboratories?

The Shame & Shitheap That Is PHP

I made the decision to become a PHP programmer because it was easy. LAMP was easily installed and the PHP docs, regardless of whatever anyone else says, are fucking top notch. I tried C and Java before PHP and they just didn’t take with me.

But if I had known that PHP was so widely disregarded, I probably wouldn’t have picked it as my programming language. During the process of becoming familiar with PHP, I immediately noticed how weird the language was. Naming conventions were all over the place and parameter order within functions was sometimes unintuitive or inconsistent, but I’m just a noob, so what did I really know?

One of the main arguments I seem to hear about PHP is its lack of design. That, it is, essentially, just a shitheap of functions that were built up over time to accommodate its users. If I’m remembering correctly, it also wasn’t built with the idea of being an actual programming language. It was merely a way to run scripts dynamically back in the early 90s.

I’m not sure what bothers me more about the vitriol towards PHP. The people slinging it or the kind of victim mentality that PHP programmers have adopted in regards to it. Much like someone who has been repeatedly pummeled by schoolyard bullies, there’s no fight in them.

In /r/php, someone asked some kind of question about keeping up with the joneses. Someone responded along the lines of, “first, stop using php.’ I responded,”Even in our forums…” and was downvoted. Now maybe it was just the troll downvoting me, but I tend to think there’s some universal shame towards being a PHP programmer.

Even now, I dread having to tell people my language of choice at meetups. Maybe it’s just the impostor syndrome talking but I imagine they’ll respond in this polite, condescending way,”Oh, PHP, huh? Well, Facebook uses it, so it can’t all be bad, I guess.” Later, they snigger to their friends about it. “PHP? lol”

But Facebook doesn’t use PHP because it’s the best choice. They use it because they have so much code in PHP it’d be infeasible for them to switch to anything else.

But maybe there’s a dignity in using PHP. Beyond the techno-circle-jerk that programming circles are so prone to, does any programming language really have to be the best? When you’re building houses, are you building castles from stone dug from a quarry or are you building some boxes out of wood, drywall and insulation? Real life isn’t about being the best. It’s about getting shit done. Now I might always have that sense of shame at meetups, but I’m proud of every nearly every fucking thing I’ve built, even if it is in PHP.

 

Why Another WordPress

After browsing /r/forhire, it became clear that there were two required skillsets I was inexperienced in: WordPress and SASS. The former is a “CMS” (great top comment in this reddit thread about why it’s not a CMS) and the latter is a stylesheet language.

There seems to be a lot of demand for a WordPress Plugins, but there also seems to be a lot of people who are able to fulfill this demand. Since demand and supply are relatively equal, it almost negates the purpose to even bother learning it. But I figure it can never hurt to learn something new, right?

The thing is I have very little experience with WordPress. I’ve, of course, used it before (though sparingly). So how do I build a plugin for WordPress when I don’t actually use WordPress?

That’s the problem that I’m trying to resolve, I guess. I’ve tried my hand at a personal blog before, but I always gave up pretty quickly, because, ya know, inertia. But having a blog, though a pretty outdated concept at the point, could help in some kind of way to get a gig and I always have a lot to say, so why the hell not?

I am genuinely wondering if I’ll be able to come up with a plugin idea though, which, of course, is the reason why I’m writing this. Only time will tell.