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The Writer of TheAlienPebble.com

Technology, the Internet, automobiles, good design, the future, creativity, and fairness, fascinate me. I am a fan of engineers and persons who make things, or make things better, the way adolescents love any pop star that TV or Simon Cowell tells them to love. In 2003 I received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, and a minor concentration in some area of business I’m unsure of to this day. I will graduate from law school in May 2013. Yes, it has been quite the 'schooling' hiatus. Read on at your own peril if the aforementioned is not enough information for you, about me, the writer.

Kudos. We’ll start where the gadget-lust-train first took me. I worked for Circuit City stores while attending undergrad, in the music department at first for a short time, and the remainder of time in 12-volt (car audio) sales and installation. Those were great times. I still have a hearty laugh remembering Rod Lovell in a cowboy hat attempting to convince the entire store that DIVX would upend the industry and that DVDs were ridiculous and a joke; in that same rant he did call Blockbuster’s demise. Good call considering the time. I really miss people like Rod Lovell.  He once won a Volkswagen Beetle, the result of a Sennheiser sales contest, and later offered the top Sennheiser sales person in our store (likely the reason he won) the opportunity to take a picture next to his new ride. Simply fantastic times, though I wish just one of my paychecks made it out of that store alive.

Later, one of those ill-fated paychecks would go to pay for XM Satellite Radio (XMSR) hardware, which I installed in my 1994 Honda Accord weeks before the service went live. That early XMSR antenna seemed as large as a ship sale, and friends who swore I had just been taken-for-a-ride teased me. Who in their right mind would pay for radio?

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After undergrad I went to work for XM Satellite Radio, as an independent contractor, but well imbedded in the corporation. It was great fun. Everything was quirky and had a great start-up feel.  Even better, feedback would quickly and easily reach the upper echelons of management, and where it made sense to do so, this feedback would be implemented in the future operation of the company. It was a wonderful atmosphere. I’m perhaps not well equipped to speak about Hugh Panero’s pedigree as CEO of XMSR, but he was a great person in any interaction I ever had with the man, and I had a few. Once at a team dinner, my manager attempted to filter my conversation with Mr. Panero after I fervently disagreed about some silliness related to the MLB strike; she all but lunged after me and clamped my lips shut. It was Hugh that continued the conversation and relaxed the situation, before I even had a chance to acquiesce to my frightened manager’s wishes. She was no doubt deathly afraid that I would make an outrageous statement resulting in her firing.

Not long after XMSR merged with Sirius Satellite Radio, the fun was over. I quickly met my new manager in New York for a 'ride-along'. At the end of the day, after a lengthy conversation he said to me, “you know… I would like to offer you the job.”  He was referring to the very position I currently held. The entire day had been some sort of real life ‘Office Space’ moment where I was apparently interviewing for my own job. Things crystalized further after I met my boss’s boss and expressed fondness for an employee based in the old Washington DC XMSR offices. After I declared how invaluable this particular employee was to the company, his response was some diatribe about learning long ago (perhaps during some charlatan guru’s-new-age-executive-retreat-sweat-lodge-death-camp) that “anyone could be replaced!” Needless to say the culture at XMSR had changed significantly.

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At the height of my disenchantment, embracing a hilarious stereotype, I took a second job with a start up internet-software-company. It made and sold rich media websites and web based compliance software to school districts and other community organizations. It was a small company. I learned a lot from all three partners, and generally had a great time working with the gentlemen. One partner, the CEO, was a Stanford man. Another partner had some degree from Columbia University. I learned the most from the partner who had dropped out of Cooper Union, converted religions, and was now CTO. Several years after I left, I learned that the same CTO was sued for: allegedly stealing the software he created as ‘work for hire’, altering the attribution notices in the code and distributing it as open source, and for launching and operating a rival business in direct competition only 400 feet away from the partnership, all while he was still on its payroll. Balls.

I only worked with the three partners for about a year as I decided I would finally go to law school, an idea that I had been mulling over for years. It dawned on me that I probably couldn't swing law school while working two-jobs. To that end, I should also say that my boss at SiriusXM Inc., the very person who had interviewed me for my own job, turned out be a fair person after all. In fact, he would even agree to modify my role with the company so that I could attend law school while still working for SiriusXM. Of course, he may have also done this hoping to get his hands on my report-automation-excel-scripts.

Bored yet? Well let’s wrap-up in a lightning round before this gets too much longer-in-the-tooth.

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As for law school, what can I say? It’s law school. Perhaps the only novel thing I can tell you, is that it is possible to enjoy law school. I have had many enjoyable moments in law school, my favorites edification wise, being representing clients at Fair Hearings, and working in poverty law. I also experienced perhaps the most hilarious tandem intellectual property/internet law professors on the planet. Of course sitting with a group of great classmates and distilling the "Jackson Continuum", to the "Jackson 5 Continuum" is a close second. I imagine my law school experience being a lot less enjoyable at any other school. The faculty was mostly tremendous, and it was not nearly as stuffy as one would imagine law school (and yes, I never mentioned its name - mostly for its own protection). While I have mostly enjoyed my law school experience, I must say at times it has been infuriating, being downright self indulgent in its right-of-passage. Consider the voice-cracking-fear bestowed upon the latest Socratic method victim, in a class where there is no credit for class participation. At those moments, the method, the professor, and the ridiculous panic of the student on call, all work in unison to create the most flawless of douche-chills. 

I cannot believe you are still reading this. Impressive. I have built all my PCs since 1998, but haven’t built one since about ‘09. My beloved main machine is a 2011 15 inch MacBook Pro: Samsung 830 SSD, 8Gb RAM, ~0 unnecessary apps running in the background. Some of my favorite things aside from those mentioned at the outset, are: my Tom Bihn Brain Bag, my toolbox, my current car, Judge Learned Hand quotes (even some of the ones I vehemently disagree with), old Jamaican Duppy stories, good music, and inventing new unnecessary projects as an excuse to use power-tools, a multi-meter, solder or the like.

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One-more-thing. Speaking of Judge Learned Hand quotes, I’ll try to write keeping his famous “words are not pebbles in alien juxtaposition” creed in mind. Perhaps you may find a bit more of the text surrounding that quote useful:

“The privilege of ‘free speech,‘ like other privileges, is not absolute; it has its seasons; a democratic society has an acute interest in its protection and cannot indeed live without it; but it is an interest measured by its purpose. That purpose is to enable others to make an informed judgment as to what concerns them, and ends so far as the utterances do not contribute to the result. Language may serve to enlighten a hearer, though it also betrays the speaker's feelings and desires; but the light it sheds will be in some degree clouded, if the hearer is in his power… Words are not pebbles in alien juxtaposition; they have only a communal existence; and not only does the meaning of each interpenetrate the other, but all in their aggregate take their purport from the setting in which they are used, of which the relation between the speaker and the hearer is perhaps the most important part.” 

N.L.R.B. v Federbush Co., 121 F2d 954, 956-57 (2d Cir 1941).

That is, I will try to write about things I use, or am familiar with, or otherwise have some salient reason to speak on. I hope the above-said will give you some insight into who and what you are reading, and help you to assign some appropriate value to whatever is published here. That said, at least the next time you come upon the inevitable alien pebble in your shoe, but much sooner I hope, click on over and read a post. Welcome.