DR Performance Practice Deck 1.2 – 20% off!

Head over to the Hsoi Enterprises LLC website to learn about our most recent release: the DR Performance Practice Deck 1.2.

To help celebrate the release of this version, the Pro Uprade is being offered at 20% off the regular price, through the end of June 2014.


Time to do my own thing

Today, I step out to be on my own.

I’m leaving the world of W-2 employment to become a full-time independent software developer. I’m making Hsoi Enterprises my full-time gig.

I’m excited, happy, and yes, scared. But very much looking forward to this.

Why am I doing this?

I’ve primarily worked for someone else all my life. But for over 20 years I’ve done side-project work to help scratch my own itches. Four years ago I got more formal with it when I founded Hsoi Enterprises LLC. So I’ve always been semi-indie, and one could say today’s event is just the next step in the evolution. But certainly my primary income came from being a salaried employee in someone else’s company.

There’s multiple reasons why I’m doing this. I’ll share two: one business, one personal.

My Own Road

Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch.
– Eric S. Raymond

I like to create useful, meaningful software that enriches and improves people’s lives. Throughout my career, things I’ve done on my own usually happened because I had an itch to scratch, a need to satisfy. The best software always is the software that the developers themselves use regularly. But often, the direction of a product is pushed by people that don’t use the software, or care more about selling the software than about the use of and users of that software – this often leads to less than good software (and the users are left unsatisfied). Long ago I came to terms about the balance between “good” and “good enough”, the need to ship even if it’s not perfect because we need to make money to keep the lights on in our ivory tower so we can keep working towards “good” (thanx, Doug!). So I grant all the realities of business. But by the same token, I firmly believe if one writes excellent software, it pays off greater dividends in the long run. This is not only in the form of revenue, but also in reputation and goodwill. Conversely, if one keeps shipping shoddy software, if users are constantly frustrated and hate your product, that just isn’t a solid business model.

I’m tired of compromising on this front. I know you can make good products, have happy customers, and still make money. Look at Apple, which is probably why I’ve been an Mac and iOS guy all my life but also why I believe you can have gorgeous, user-satisfying products, good reputation, and succeed. Look at Liberty Bottleworks. Look at EliteFTS. No, you cannot please everyone, nor should you try. But you can ensure you please yourself, that you hold yourself to high standards, and work to build a solid reputation with satisfied customers.

I want to make awesome software. I want to make more useful things. I want to make people’s lives better. And I won’t get to where I want to be unless I travel my own road.

My Family – Along for the Ride

[I] do not believe in quality time but quantity time. I do thinking creating great memories is important but not as much as “being there”. Because of this I work a lot of strange and odd hours.

– Dave Tate, owner EliteFTS, talking about his kids and who he is

When I was growing up, my Dad wasn’t around much. It was just due to the nature of his job, and his dedication to it. As a kid, I resented this because while it was nice to have money and nice stuff, what I really wanted was my Dad. So of course I did what all kids do regarding their parental shortcomings: swear to do better when I’m a parent! For me, that meant being around for my kids. (BTW, I got over my resentment many many years ago, because I came to understand Dad much better as I got older… but a story for another time).

Early on in my professional software development career, I saw how this was a job that could be worked remotely. This is not a job that requires being on-site; yes there are benefits to being on-site, but it’s not a hard-and-fast requirement. I also saw how due to this fact, you could have a bit of a non-standard life (I’m looking at you, Robin Mair and Greg Dow). This greatly appealed to me, and I set about making full-time remote/telework a hard-requirement for any job I took in the future.

Due to that dedication and focus, I was able to spend 12 years working full-time out of my house. One way I can sum it up is that when Oldest took his first steps, I learned about it via a phone call from Wife. When Daughter took her first steps, I got a phone call. But when Youngest took his first steps, it was right to me because I was home. 🙂 Over those 12 years, I got to be deeply involved with my family on a daily, even hourly, basis. That’s precious to me.

People keep bringing up those death-bed regrets, and no one says they wished they worked more, that they wished they had less time with their family.

See, much of life tends to boil down to two things: time and money. I can always get more money, but I can not get more time. Time is the more precious of the two.

After the 12 years at home, I took a job in an office. I spent 2 years there. It was an educational experience in many regards, and I’m happy I went back for the experience because I learned much from the good and from the bad. But the biggest thing I took from it was that that was not the life for me. The precious time wasted being stuck in traffic every day. The orchestration of life around a time-clock and someone else’s notion of what “productive” meant. It just wasn’t working for me. This isn’t a slight against any employer in specific, it’s regarding that sort of life in general. It is not for me and does not enable me to best satisfy myself and provide for my family that which is most important — me.

Working at home gives me the ability to be around my family all day every day (helped in part because we homeschool). Yes, some people think, as a result of our work/school situation, we live an insular lifestyle. No, we just are a tight family. This work setup, the ability to have a more flexible work schedule, allows me to provide my children what I believe is right and best for them, including mentorship as they embark on their own business ventures. What’s funny to me is I’ve thought about having daily “stand-up meetings” with the family. Yes Dad, your daily asking of “Son, what did you do today that was productive?” has come full circle. 🙂

Yes I know. The life I’m leaving is the life many of us live with. Understand this is a personal preference for the road I wish to journey down. I have friends who prefer working in an office; it’s just not my preference. I have friends that consider commuting to be a useful endeavor; I don’t. I know what my priorities are in life, what I want out of the life I have left on this Earth, including what I wish to provide for my family, and well… tho I’m scared and have no idea how this will work out, I’m closing my eyes and taking the plunge.

What’s Ahead

For the immediate future, it’s about getting established. I have infrastructure to firm up.

I already have some projects to work on, and I actually will  be contracting back with my (now) former day-job for a time and helping them find a replacement for me and transition to that replacement person. For the record, I am thankful for the support and mentorship I’ve received from Lee and Carrie Little, founders and owners of Bar-Z Adventures.

If you or someone (some company) you know is looking for a solid software developer, drop me a line. 🙂

Meantime, I forge ahead. I don’t know how this will work out, and honestly while there’s much about this situation that I’ve done before, there’s much that’s new and novel — I don’t know how it will go, or even if it will wind up being the right road for me to travel. But still, I look forward to the challenges, to the new experiences, and the hope for the life I wish for myself and my family. If nothing else, it’ll be an interesting experience, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.

The Year in Ammo (2013)

Anthony over at LuckyGunner sent me an email to mention their Ammo in 2013: A Look Behind the Scenes at Lucky Gunner.

I don’t always post stuff like this (i.e. solicted stuff), but I thought this was interesting and useful. Besides, Anthony didn’t just send out a blanket spam email. I don’t know if Anthony actually reads my stuff normally (or even abnormally), but it was evident in his email that he at least checked my blog first, and in his email to me commented in a relevant manner. Personal touches always make a positive difference. 🙂

From looking at the stats…

I’m not surprised at the popular calibers, both the contents of the list and the ordering of the list. Seems about what you’d expect.

Interesting that California is one of their top traffic spots. Really, I’m not too surprised because outside of a few cities, California is actually populated with a lot of “good ol’ folk”. It’s just that unfortunately those few cities dominate the political and cultural impact of California.

As a geek, I did enjoy seeing the growth of not just iPhone use but the visits from mobile platforms. Just shows how our habits are shifting. Desktop isn’t going away any time soon, but mobile is getting big.

Neat info, Anthony. Thank you for sharing with us!


PanemQuotidianum 1.0 is now available

December 13, 2013 (Austin, Texas) – Hsoi Enterprises LLC announces the release of PanemQuotidianum 1.0 – an iOS (iPhone/iPad) app bringing you Daily Bread for your Daily Life.

PanemQuotidianum is “daily bread” for your Catholic life.

Every day you can wake up (or go to sleep) with a bite of spiritual bread to nourish your soul. It’s light and simple, but filling and satisfying.

Simply set when you’d like to receive your panem, and you’re done. Each day at your set time, a notification will post. Respond to that notification to view that day’s posting.

PanemQuotidianum represents a labor of love, and the first collaborative effort to grow Hsoi Enterprises LLC as family business. Thank you for supporting our efforts.

PanemQuotidianum is available now in the Apple App Store for $1.99. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Catholic charities.

PanemQuotidianum – Your Daily Bread for your Daily Life.™

kwikkEmail 1.0.3 live in the App Store

I occupy my time with writing and releasing software. The latest — kwikkEmail 1.0.3 — just went live in the App Store.

Thank you for your support.

Review – Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun

Back when the book Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun first came out, I was contacted by the author and/or publisher about reviewing it. They would send me a free copy of the book in exchange for a review on my blog. I wasn’t interested. First, I’m not a Glock guy. Second, my blog isn’t a place for pimping and promoting stuff — if I do mention a product or service, it’s because I want to, it’s because I have a personal interest, and generally I spent my own personal money to obtain it. I really don’t want to shill for things because then you can only wonder if my motives are true or if someone’s paying me. I mean, look at most any magazine that promotes some product or lifestyle (it doesn’t matter: guns, fitness, fashion, guitars, home improvement, etc.). Notice they have advertisers all over the pages? Then notice what the magazine must also review? Do you think bad reviews are going to sell ad space? So how honest can those reviews really be?

That said, the Glock book came out in paperback back in January 2013, and they asked me again if I wanted to review.

About a month later I responded and agreed.

I agreed because I decided I wanted to read the book, and if I can get a free copy to read, why not? If the price to pay is a review on my blog, then so be it… because I’m not sure they’ll want me to review things again. 🙂

No, this isn’t a very favorable review. If I am going to review things here, I’m going to give my straight opinion on it, even if that’s saying it sucks. It’s my “no bullshit” rule in life, and I won’t set that aside for anyone.

I didn’t care much for the book.

It took me a couple months to finish reading it. I had other things going on in life and the book was low priority, but it was relegated to the bathroom for reading. So I’d read a few pages here and there, and eventually got through it.

At first, I was very turned off by the book. I was mistaken in my expectations for the book. I thought it was a biography of Gaston Glock. It started off that way, but didn’t keep going that way. It annoyed me because I thought either the author, Paul M. Barrett, was a shitty writer, or that I was duped. But it was just my own misconception, and, frankly, once I realized it was more a “biography” of the Glock gun itself, that made things clearer. Then looking back over the chapters already read, it made more sense. So if you keep that in mind — that it’s a “biography” of the gun itself, it’s not so bad.

And truly, the Glock handgun did a lot to change the face of firearms, police, personal defense, the firearms industry, music, Hollywood, etc.. So I agree that there’s an interesting and compelling story to tell here.

But I didn’t care for the telling of the story.

I guess I’m getting old and tired of drama.

Even as a kid I preferred non-fiction over fiction. Oh sure, some fiction is good and enjoyable. But I remember as a kid in elementary school when every other kid was reading stuff like The Phantom Tollbooth I was checking and rechecking out these books on “how to play chess” from the school library. Even today when people talk about their reading lists and have all this fiction, be it Harry Potter or 50 Shades or whatever, I’m reading books on how to program in Ruby. I’m not a total stick in the mud, but that’s just my preference.

So perhaps that’s why the Glock book turned me off. Sure it had some “just the facts, ma’am” stuff in there, but a lot of the book came off as an attempt to make some sort of “reality TV dramatic thriller” out of the book. All the sex, lies, and dirty politics… and let’s throw in a little more sex and intrigue. A bunch of “he said, she said” anecdotes, etc..  Really, it felt like Barrett was writing with the hopes of making it into a screenplay, or at least a reality TV show.

Maybe that’s the way to write today to appeal to today’s audience? I don’t know. But it just wasn’t my thing. If it’s your thing, great.

I did appreciate getting some level of insight into the Glock gun’s history. I did like reading some of the stories, like Barrett’s time with Mas Ayoob to help gain some experiences for writing the book. But I guess I would have preferred a straight history book instead of a dramatic regaling, at least for this subject matter.

I was also annoyed by the end of the book, since it had advocations of “See? This is how evil guns are, thanks in part to Glock… so we need to increase gun control”. Yeah… not the sort of book or author I’d like to support. So I guess I’m glad I got to read the book for free.

Best I can say is the book was a way to pass the time while sitting on the toilet.

LEGO Heavy Weapons

This is so cool.

Fully functioning models of various firearms, built in LEGO. The engineering that went into this is fascinating.

What’s cooler is the plans for building these is soon to be released in a book called LEGO Heavy Weapons.

What’s coolest? The creator of these designs, Jack Streat, is 17 years old. This kid has a bright future in engineering. What were you doing when you were 17?

I was able to see an advance copy of the book. If you’re familiar with LEGO sets, you know they come with instruction manuals. The manuals are step-by-step pictures on how to build. At its heart, the LEGO Heavy Weapons book is no different; that sort of familiarity is good. But what the book adds to the mix is explanation and history. Up front there’s discussion about how he goes about design and creating models, which I thought was some pretty cool insight. Then each design has some discussion about what it took for him to build it. There’s also some breakdown on how the model actually works. It’s really quite cool to see all of this in-depth detail.

The designs are complex, and they’re going to require a lot of parts that are unlikely to be in your bins. Thankfully he provides a complete parts list complete with quantity and exact LEGO part number for ease of ordering.

Really, this is pretty slick.

It’s not going to be for everyone… serious LEGO and gun nerds need apply. But even if these aren’t your direct things, you just have to appreciate what Jack did. The desire to build, the patience to build, the further patience to document the design, the ambition to publish a book. Like I said… what were YOU doing at age 17?

(Disclosure: I was contacted by No Starch Press about this book, they gave me the promotional copy, and so on. While I normally don’t accept and do outside promotion because this blog is my personal blog, I opted to do this because I like guns and I like LEGO and chances are  once I learned about this I would have posted it here anyways because I think it’s way cool. Besides, No Starch publishes a lot of awesome title… check ’em out.)

Changes around here – WordAds coming

You might have noticed things look a little different today.

I’ve been asked to be a part of WordPress’s new “WordAds” program beta test.

I’m a programmer… I’m a geek… how can I resist being part of a beta test? 😉

The theme I was using wasn’t compatible with WordAds, so I had to pick a new theme. Just as well. I didn’t really like the prior theme, it was just the best for my needs of all the available choices at the time. But like all things in the WordPress world, always moving, always evolving, always improving. A lot more themes available now, and this new one I think looks good and offers a lot of features that fit my needs. So it all works well! I like the new look a lot more than the prior one, or really any theme I’ve used previously on this site.

So new theme, rearranged a few things, added a nice banner image. BTW, that banner image is a picture I took of a storm cloud that was rolling through my area on April 26, 2011. It was a HUGE storm, truly wicked to watch the cloud as it was rolling through. One of these days I’ll try to post some of the video I captured of it.

Anyways… the big change is WordAds. Because the back-end of this blog is presently hosted using the free wordpress.com hosting, you’ve probably already seen some advertisements when you come to the site. I believe the only thing that’s changing is the type of ad, from the old wordpress ads to these new WordAds. Exactly what it’ll all look like I don’t know… haven’t seen it yet.

This is my personal blog. It’s where I post what I want to talk about, from whatever angle I want to present it. This blog was not created to be a money-making venture. I tend to stay away from product promotions and other such things because that’s not what my blog is about. Plus, I don’t want to get into the bias that plagues a lot of magazines that do reviews but also advertise from those manufacturers. I mean, when was the last time you read a gun magazine that said the gun sucked? They can’t… the same manufacturer they review also gives them advertising dollars, and do you think that company will want to advertise with a magazine that trashes their product, no matter how honest it may be? I don’t want to get into that situation. If I say something is great, it’s because I think it’s great. If I say something sucks, it’s because I think it sucks likely due to my experience with it. I want the freedom to be able to do that without worrying about revenue pressures.

Thus advertisements that appear here? They appear due to the agreement with the server host. I have no control over them, and I have no idea what they are showing. In fact, while I knew they displayed ads in the past I never saw them because they don’t show them to me. Not sure if that’s because I’m the logged in blog owner, or all wordpress.com-based admins don’t see them, or exactly what causes them to be suppressed, but I don’t see the ads myself. So I generally don’t know what’s being advertised by wordpress. But, IMHO it’s a fair trade because I’m using their site for free, but they need to pay for all the costs associated in enabling me to do this for free.

We’ll see how this goes. It’s a beta test, and it’s a voluntary program in general (I could opt to pay wp.com an annual fee to suppress ads, or I could do my own full hosting on my own site… which was always my goal, but I have inertia to overcome, plus there are benefits to staying with wp.com vs. wp.org).

Aimpoint CompM4s review

I got to review an Aimpoint CompM4s for TacticalGunReview.com.

Please go read the review, here.

(NB: I did not receive compensation for the review, but I’m still marking it as “For Hire” because I was doing it for the TGR website; and I will have the opportunity to buy my own CompM4s at a discount… and I will, because I loved it.)

Back from the range

Just returned from the local indoor gun range.

I’ve been wanting to rework my AR’s, so I’ve been swapping parts, buying a few new things, putting a few old things on the shelf. Still not at my 100% ideal setup, but close enough for now… especially since more changes require money, and right now I’m drained.

So the range trip was for two things:

  1. Re-validate the 6.8 SPC to ensure it was still holding zero.
  2. Zero the rebuilt Bushmaster

The Wilson Combat 6.8 SPC upper now rests atop a Rock River Arms lower, still with the RRA 2-stage match trigger. Shooting the Silver State Armory 6.8 SPC 85 grain Barnes TSX tac-load, shot just fine. If anything, it’s evident that I am the weakest link. 🙂

The main focus was to work on the Bushmaster. I wanted a lighter gun, so this is a minimal setup. I started zeroing it at 50 yards with some Georgia Arms “canned heat” 55 grain FMJ, just to get things on paper. A lot of twisting of knobs and adjusting the front sight post, and things were looking good. I switched to Hornady TAP FPD .223 Rem 75 grain. A slight tweaking to the sights and things were good. Then I got to the real meat of it all: the Aimpoint Comp M4s. A bit of adjusting, a bunch of playing and oh… what a sweet sweet optic.

The thing is? I can’t tell you much about it here. I received the Aimpoint on T&E for TacticalGunReview.com. So my experiences and results are going to be written up there, not here. I’m working on the write-up, but I have a little more field work to do before I publish it. When I do have it all up, I’ll of course link to it from here. I’ll just say that yeah, I dig that Aimpoint. 🙂

And… if you could guess by my previous post, going to the local indoor gun range is always an adventure. I prefer to go mid-week first thing in the morning: i.e. about as dead as it can be. But due to schedules, I had to go in the afternoon. The place was busy and I had to wait for a lane. Once I got one… boy, it was noisy in there (this is why you wear both ear plugs and ear muffs). It was also a continued reaffirmation as to why I generally try to surround myself with competent shooters. While most of the folks there weren’t bad, there was much room for improvement. Folks, this is why it’s essential to get good training. If you really want to tighten up those groups, if you want to stop throwing all your shots low-left, find a good teacher… I happen to know one.

As for some tips:

  • Again ladies, you may have nice boobs, but for your own well-being, cover them up. Hot brass down the shirt is no fun.
  • If you want to thumb-cock your revolver that’s fine, but there’s no need to point it up at the ceiling every time you do so.
  • When you (un)case your firearm, please do it on the benches so the muzzle points downrange… not on the floor behind the line so the muzzle points towards everyone on that side of the line.
  • We all know about ear/hearing protection, but eye protection is important too.
  • Wash your hands before you touch anything you care about: your eyes, mouth, food, etc.. Not that there was food on the line, but many people were handing guns and ammo, then just leaving. There’s a sink, use it.
  • If you want to borrow the extra benchrest that’s sitting unused next to me, all you need to do is ask.