Strong Opinions @marksbirch

Random thoughts from a NYC entrepreneur and investor about start-ups, technology and the people that make it all happen. Also find time for good tunes and good food.
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8 plays
Black Flag,

AUTHORITY WEEK HARDCORE WEDNESDAY: Police Story by Black Flag - While rock may have been rebellious, punk was about stomping on the rules and kicking order to the curb.  In the late 70’s, it came to mess up the music scene and society at large.  By the 80’s, punk transformed again into a more raw and violent and chaotic form, spawning the first hardcore bands in LA, DC and NYC.  Of course, there is nothing the authorities hate more than those “punk kids” and did what they could to shut them and the movement down.

Black Flag had plenty of run-ins with the law prior to their seminal debut full-length album Damaged.  Their shows got raided, they were constantly harassed, and all an all life was difficult for them and their growing fan base.  So Police Story is autobiographical in that sense; it was their own experience but Black Flag would ultimately get the last laugh.

26 plays
Twisted Sister,
Stay Hungry

AUTHORITY WEEK 80’S TUESDAY: We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister - The 80’s gave us some of the greatest feet pounding, fist pumping, stadium shaking arena rock anthems.  But for a brief period in 1984, one band, pulled together from across the New York metro area came together in the late 70’s, released an album that gave us not one, but two anthems that ruled the airwaves and dominated MTV.  Twister Sister was that band and the album Stay Hungry was that album.

I Wanna Rock is great in its own right, but this is Authority Week and the tune for today is We’re Not Gonna Take It.  It was the lead single and the bigger chart topper.  But even better, it was the song that was a target of the PMRC’s ire, leading singer Dee Snider testifying before the Senate committee on music labeling.  And that is bad ass, facing off against the man and standing for freedom of speech.

Enterprise software sucks.

We don’t talk about it much here at hn, but think about it. Every man-made object you encounter every day was manufactured somewhere. And moved, more than once. Now add in all the sales, marketing, customer service, operations, accounting, finance, human resources, etc., etc., etc. needed to support that manufacturing and distribution. Next, add financial markets, healthcare, energy, entertainment, etc., etc., etc. and you have tons of stuff. But you don’t see it and rarely think about it. Kinda like most of the iceberg being underwater.

And all of this needs software. And most of what they have sucks. I mean really sucks. Enterprise software is so bad that there are multi-billion dollar industries devoted to consulting on how to use it, how to share it, and how to store it in data warehouses and harvest it. It’s so bad that lots of people have to dump the data out of their enterprise systems and into Microsoft Excel just to get anything done.

When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he said because that’s where the money is.

What banks were in the 1930’s, enterprise IT is in the 21st century.

via Hacker News

In our ongoing theme around the challenges of enterprise tech (to put it mildly), we found this classic thread from Hacker News from a few years back.  Guess what?  Nothing much as changed.

At Enhatch, we are doing our very best to rethink the way business apps get created and deployed to users.  For one, we believe most needs in the enterprise could easily be handled by elegantly crafted apps that are available on mobile devices.  That is where employees are spending more and more of their day doing work and the device they are most comfortable with.  But more importantly, why are we not giving business users the ability to create their own apps and their own processes that conform to the way they work?  Maybe users, and not IT department or outside consultants, know best as to what they want and when they need it and how to get it done.

It is time we rob the enterprise IT vendors and raid the armies of the systems integrators, and like Robin Hood bring joy, riches, and freedom to the users from the tyranny of bad technology.

(via enhatch)


want to wake up and get going on your work week? turn this up loud and you will be wide awake before this song is over

I have to agree with Fred, this is good music to get you fired up and ready to kick Monday in the face…

Plus, it’s unfair to compare PCs with mobile devices because some of the things you do on PCs are hard to do on mobile devices (at least for now).

In praise of unfairness by Benedict Evans

This was snapshot of a broader essay on biases and challenges of comparing structurally asymmetrical markets. It was a relevant snippet though and something I will expand upon later, but PC’s and mobile devices are certainly not the same use cases. The reality is you cannot do the same things on mobile as you can on a PC.

But that is changing.  In fact, as mobile devices become more and more powerful, they are taking over single-use devices (GPS devices, MP3 players, cameras, ebooks, etc.) and they are slowly eating away at typical PC functions.  Email is now done on smartphones (much of which is migrating to messaging apps).  News is read on mobile devices.  Social is more and more happening through apps on phones.

How about work though?  It’s still a challenge to do spreadsheet stuff on a device or to edit long documents or to do an real programming or build a presentation on.  Those are still PC driven tasks today.  But times they are a-changing…

30 plays
Nuclear Assault,
Handle With Care

AUTHORITY WEEK METAL MONDAY: Search and Seizure by Nuclear Assault - Rock has from its earliest days been about challenging authority and pushing the boundaries of the status quo.  Often that also meant facing off against law enforcement, so this week is all about all things related to breaking the law.  But since I have already posted my favorite song about the law by Judas Priest, I am going with a NYC thrash band formed by ex-Anthrax members from the mid-80’s named Nuclear Assault.

Forever in the shadows of the more popular Anthrax, they finally had a commercial breakthrough with their third album Handle with Care.  They served a brand of heavier, more aggressive straight up thrash which was in full effect on this album.  There is no mystery as to what the song Search and Seizure is about.  I’m calling it harassment in the first degree.

Stopped by for soup dumplings on the NYC Chinatown Dumpling Tour yesterday. (at Shanghai Gourmet)

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
Matthew 28:5-7 (NIV)
50 plays
Aretha Franklin,
Amazing Grace: The Complete Recordings

WORSHIP SUNDAY: What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Aretha Franklin - Everyone is familiar with Aretha the Queen of Soul and hear string of hits, especially those from the late 60’s and 70’s.  What many do not realize is that her father was a well-known and fiery preacher who founded a Baptist church in Detroit and that early in her career she was a Gospel singer.  When she turned 18 though, she wanted to follow Sam Cooke’s career and record secular music.

Over time though, Aretha would reach back to her roots and sing many of the classic gospel tunes she grew up with.  One of my favorites besides a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace is the traditional hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus.  The words we written by Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855 during a time of great sadness in his personal life and later put to music by Charles Converse in 1868.  It is one of the great songs of comfort in the modern hymnal and a song of encouragement and hope, quite appropriate for this Easter Sunday. The version Aretha recorded was a live performance at a Baptist church in Southern California in 1972 and backed by the choir, it is simply amazing.   Happy Easter all and may we rejoice that He has risen!

Homemade chicken curry