Advice for actresses and actors

November 30, 2009 at 11:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I work in a headshot printing/xerox place in the heart of NoHo. So I get tons of actors, actresses, agents, and producers walk into my store. Here is my advice to anyone who is trying to make it in the entertainment business in Los Angeles:

Good luck and bad luck are constantly swirling around you. But knowing how to use it is not luck!
I can never over-emphasize how much of a role luck plays in Hollywood. Being successful is often just being in the right place at the right time and not being the most beautiful or the most talented or whatever. So concentrate on putting yourself in a position to get lucky. Think of each social gathering/meeting/audition/whatever as a sort of a lottery. Each time you put yourself out there, it’s like scratching a lottery ticket. The more you scratch, the more likely you are to win, but most lottery tickets lose. So try to spread your bets across many projects instead of the one big jackpot. Make the cost of your failures cheap. You’re going to fail a lot at first, so get used to it.

Yes means maybe . . . no means maybe
See above rule. I got burned by this one myself. Things I thought were sure things ended up not panning out. Conversely, other things that I thought were disasters actually led to new and interesting things. Don’t necessarily think a “no” is a bad thing. It’s very hard to predict the future, so don’t try. Be aware of opportunities that come up when a “no” event happens.

You can learn more by studying Lindsay Lohan than you can by studying Grace Kelly
This is known as “survivorship bias”. People often pay too much attention to things that successful people did. That’s fine, but it’s also important to draw attention to things that the failures did wrong. Valuable data often lies in the misses, not the hits.

Opportunities are like buses. . . there’s always another one coming
This is actually a bit of business advice that a friend’s father gave me once, but it can be applied to acting. I’ve noticed this to be true in my own life as well.

Looking impressive vs being impressive.
I get a LOT of people that talk themselves up in my store. And the more I get to talking with them, the more I realize that the guy’s full of shit. People who excessively brag about themselves/accomplishments are generally overcompensating, I’ve noticed. The more you drill down, the more below average the person seems to be. General rule of thumb: the more expensive a guy’s sunglasses are, the more of a dipshit he is. Unfortunately, Hollywood is rampant with these assholes so beware.

Embrace failure!
Yeah, sounds paradoxical, I know, but it’s true. The word “failure”, has a negative connotation in the English language, and this has always bothered me. It kind of implies that you did something wrong and it’s something to be avoided. In my opinion, one of the biggest hindrances to success that people have is the need to avoid failure all the time. This is nonsense! Failure is not something that you should avoid, it should be something you embrace!

A good quote from Thomas Watson: If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate

Someone who is nice to you, but not nice to the waiter, is not a nice person
This rule never fails. Someone told this to me once and it’s resonated with me ever since. Remember this every time you have “lunch” with someone.

Hope this helps. Sometimes you can get the best advice from people who are OUTSIDE a given context, you get a different perspective.

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Online dating

November 19, 2009 at 9:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Guys,

I’m trying to come up with some wildly different approaches to solving the online dating problem. I’m emphasizing concept development instead of technological development (which is overemphasized, in my opinion). One strategy for instigating creative ideas is to ask oneself “what is the dominant idea behind all this?” Take Speed Dating, for example. The dominant idea behind speed dating is “going on a large number of small dates instead of a small number of long dates”. One can throw out the “dating musical chairs” format, but still keep the basic concept. So my question for you guys is:

What is a good excuse/activity for people meet up for 5 minutes?

I’m thinking about hooking up people via gps/cell phones, although that may change. I would like to get some input or ideas of anything that comes to mind. I don’t care if it’s outlandish or “probably won’t work”. I’m not looking for “right”, I’m looking for “different”. While the “crazy, but wrong” idea might not work, a related idea could, so please don’t hold back.

PS Any hackers on my list who are into experimenting with concepts (not necessarily this one), join my meetup Hacker Codejam . It’s kinda a hangout for programmers who like to work on their side projects from time to time. We can hang at my dad’s place next door, I might start an internet cafe there someday.

Interesting number paradox

November 17, 2009 at 11:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

There is a paradox which states that all natural numbers (1, 2, 3, 4. . .) are “interesting”. You can prove this to be true by contradiction. If there were uninteresting numbers, there would be a smallest uninteresting number – but the smallest uninteresting number is itself interesting, thus producing a contradiction.

Another paradox:
This sentence contradicts itself – no actually it doesn’t.
– Douglas Hofstadter

Carrie Prejean

November 13, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anyone see the Larry King/Carrie Jean interview? This bitch is so dumb:
King: “Can you hear me?”
Prejean: “No, I can’t hear you.”

hhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Travel luggage

November 9, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Please ignore this post again. I’m experimenting with some more SEO stuff.

Vintage luggage is a good place to buy suitcase, travel bags and stuff. I changed a few things around, and re-worded the travel bag for laptops page. I also changed the page for rolling suitcases. Try using them for your luggage needs, blah blah.

Wonder if this will work. . .

Poignant xkcd

November 9, 2009 at 11:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s a very poignant xkcd comic. It brings about a very good point that life never really dies, it just rearranges. I love xkcd.

xkcd

Pepperdine

November 7, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My meditation retreat in Malibu was cancelled at the last minute. I decided to go to a neighboring university, Pepperdine, to do some reading and hacking on my computer. All I can say is “wow”:
Pepperdine

I’m in the university center, which is a very wide open space with plenty of couches and chairs. I wish I had a camera right now. There’s a fireplace here and a beautiful view of the pacific ocean. The chairs here are very comfortable. Fuck Starbucks, I’m going to start hanging around here when I want to get serious about my computer science research.

Good startup ideas

November 6, 2009 at 11:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Recently I posted the question “What is your best startup idea” on Hacker News. I combined most of the responses plus a few I found lying around the web and put them in an easy-to-read format. If anyone has any additional suggestions for startup ideas, please put them in the reply section of this blog, and I’ll add them manually.

Also, if anyone wants to put any of these ideas into fruition, there are two hacker-style events you can go to:
3 day startup – http://www.3daystartup.com/
Hacker codejam – http://www.meetup.com/hacker-codejam (this one is my personal meetup)

And if you can, please help spread word about this in the hacker community. IE: facebook/twitter/email/blogs/whatever . I’m trying to gain some grass-roots momentum for my meetup.

IMDB, but for government
StumbleUpon for iPhone Apps.
GPS + Digital Photos
Social network for chance encounters
Wikipedia for genealogy
Like imdb, but for government
Online dating site, but from a different perspective
Community problem solving
Open source credit scores and history
Reverse Ebay: Want to buy XYZ
Facebook + Craigslist
Who looks like ME?
Website for sharing startup ideas
Touch screen restaurant menu
Location based gaming
Top-Ten List
Dynamic podcasts for reading material
Website for selling websites
Real estate aggregator

Why I like lisp

November 4, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I get a lot of programmers ask me why I am so gung-ho over lisp. Hal Abelson, one of the authors of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, wrote this in the preface to Simply Scheme. I couldn’t have stated it better myself:

One of the best ways to stifle the growth of an idea is to enshrine it in an educational curriculum. The textbook publishers, certification panels, professional organizations, the folks who write the college entrance exams–once they’ve settled on an approach, they become frozen in a straitjacket of interlocking constraints that thwarts the ability to evolve. So it is common that students learn the “modern” geography of countries that no longer exist and practice using logarithm tables when calculators have made tables obsolete. And in computer science, beginning courses are trapped in an approach that was already ten years out of date by the time it was canonized in the mid 80s, when the College Entrance Examination Board adopted an advanced placement exam based on Pascal.

. . .

Harvey and Wright’s introduction to computing emerges from a different intellectual heritage, one rooted in research in artificial intelligence and the programming language Lisp. In approaching computing through this book, you’ll focus on two essential techniques.

First is the notion of symbolic programming. This means that you deal not only with numbers and letters, but with structured collections of data–a word is a list of characters, a sentence is a list of words, a paragraph is a list of sentences, a story is a list of paragraphs, and so on. You assemble things in terms of natural parts, rather than always viewing data in terms of its tiniest pieces. It’s the difference between saying “find the fifth character of the third word in the sentence” and “scan the sentence until you pass two spaces, then scan past four more characters, and return the next character.”

The second technique is to work with higher-order functions. That means that you don’t only write programs, but rather you write programs that write programs, so you can bootstrap your methods into more powerful methods.

These two techniques belong at center stage in any beginning programming course, which is exactly where Harvey and Wright put them. The underlying principle in both cases is that you work with general parts that you extend and combine in flexible ways, rather than tiny fragments that you fit together into rigid structures.

You should come to this introduction to computing ready to think about ideas rather than details of syntax, ready to design your own languages rather than to memorize the rules of languages other people have designed. This kind of activity changes your outlook not only on programming, but on any area where design plays an important role, because you learn to appreciate the relations among parts rather than always fixating on the individual pieces.

Programming C is kinda like making a machine with interlocking gears. If one of the gears is off, the whole thing doesn’t work. But as long as it is programmed correctly, it functions like clockwork.

Lisp, on the other hand, works kinda like a biological ecosystem. Groups of simple units (cells) can be grouped and organized a certain way can create insanely complex systems (humans) with relative ease. It’s hard to do this in C because the gearwork becomes too complex.

Hacker Codejam

November 3, 2009 at 8:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ve been attending a lot of technology meetups/barcamps lately and I figure I would create one my own. Here:
Hacker Codejam

Here’s the link: Hacker Codejam

The basic idea is we get together in an open space for a few hours, mix for a bit, separate into groups and pair program together. My dad has some space next door to me that I can use, it’s about 2700 square feet. I might even set up some projectors/HD sets if they’re needed so it’s easier to display the code.

The whole idea is to get together and work on projects together in a collaborative environment. Quote-unquote “hard” problems suddenly become easy when they’re attacked at the group level. It’s also a good environment to hang out, have some (sometimes) free food, brainstorm ideas with other people, give/receive advice for a programming problem you happen to have, and perhaps even find startup founders.

Anyway, check out the meetup, and I encourage the readers of my blog to tell your friends and post this up on your blog/twitter/facebook or whatever. I’m trying to create some internet buzz.

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