The amazing adventures of Doug Hughes

Archive for February, 2012

Struggling To Be Useful Today

Pardon the stream of though nature that I expect this blog post to embody.  I’m pretty much failing to do useful work today.  I did get some time in for one of my clients to finish up some unit tests I was writing and I worked on some details for a new project proposal.  But since then I’m really floundering and I’m not sure why or what I can do about it.

So, rather than do more of what I’ve done for the last couple hours, I’ve decided to hop on my treadmill and get some walking in.  I also figured that if I blog while walking that maybe, just maybe, I’d get some inspiration.

I could be working on, the non profit that the Alagad crew is starting up.  I need to get more content up on it, especially as related to refunds, etc.  I need this content not only so I can start promoting, but so I can show it to the merchant account provider and get approval for our merchant account.  With that we could really get started.

Given all the other things (ADD and depression) I’ve been trying to manage I’ve been giving myself a free pass on, but I’m thinking next week I’ll set a rule of doing one hour of work on it every day, first thing in the morning.  If I’m not enjoying the writing, then at least I’ll be doing a little bit each day.

Speaking of which, no chance you, fine reader, know of anyone who would be willing to donate some design time to make a little prettier?  If so, send me an email at, please.

I could also be working on a couple of my other side projects (,, all my parked domains, etc).  But again, I’m just not.  And I’m not sure why.

Beyond that, I could also be outside trying to finish putting my kids play set together.  This would be something I just might enjoy, but it seems like I should be putting more effort into doing real work durring the weekday.

And so, I am here on the treadmill walking.  I’m hoping that maybe getting my blood flowing will get me off my arse.  And, on that note I just remembered that one of my clients needs me to research YouTube Direct.   I think I’ll do that.


My Goal, Revised

A couple of weeks back, while trying to inspire myself, I made a rather bold goal.  My goal was to publish one KickStarter project a month until one was actually funded.  I’m supposed to have published my first project by Febuary 17th.  Well, that’s not going to happen.  Not because of inaction, but because I now realize that this goal is totally ridiculous.

Not long after stating this goal, I submitted my first project proposal to KickStarter.  The way it works is you write up a proposal for a project and submit it to KickStarter.  The KickStarter folks review the proposal and decide if it falls within their guidelines or not.  The following are KickStarter’s guidelines, meticulously copied off of their site:

  • I am creating a project. Kickstarter is for the funding of projects – albums, films, specific works – that have clearly defined goals and expectations.
  • My project fits within one of Kickstarter’s categories. Kickstarter can be used to fund projects from the creative fields of Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater. We currently only support projects from these categories.
  • My project does not incorporate charity or cause funding. Examples of prohibited use include raising money for the Red Cross, funding an awareness campaign, funding a scholarship, or donating a portion of funds raised on Kickstarter to a charity or cause.
  • My project is not a “fund my life” project. Examples include projects to pay tuition or bills, go on vacation, or buy a new camera.
  • My project offers rewards, not financial incentives. The Kickstarter economy is based on the offering of rewards – copies of the work, limited editions, fun experiences. Offering financial incentives, such as ownership, financial returns (for example, a share of profits), or repayment (loans) is prohibited.

The project I submitted was is a non-profit that will facilitate making mobile donations to charities.  This is a work in progress created by myself and the rest of the team here at Alagad (Chris Peterson, Liz Hughes, and Randy Miller).  You can visit to learn more about it, but be warned that I’ve not yet completed the content on the site, I’m not happy with the design, and there are a few features left to implement.  That said, I’d love to get any feedback you may have on the overall concept.

What I was asking KickStarter for was funds to complete the development, improve the design, and generally push this app over the finish line.  Unfortunately, I was declined by KickStarter.  For those who wonder how KickStarter rejects you, this is what I received from them:

Kickstarter Staff commented on your Kickstarter submission:

Thank you for taking the time to share your idea. Unfortunately, this isn’t the right fit for Kickstarter. We receive many project proposals daily and review them all with great care and appreciation. We see a wide variety of inspiring ideas, and while we value each one’s uniqueness and creativity, Kickstarter is not the right platform for all of them. We wish you the best of luck as you continue to pursue your endeavor.


It’s pretty straightforward.  I can’t say I was terribly surprised either.  Reviewing the guidelines, I think fell into a gray area.  Specifically, does incorporate charity or cause funding.  If itself wasn’t a non-profit (which was our original intent, but won’t work – that’s a whole other story) I think this would have been more likely to be approved.  But, giving us funds would be, well, making a donation to a non-profit.

Another challenge with KickStarter is that they require projects to offer rewards to the people who make donations.  With a physical project this is easier than with a web app, you can simply reward them with the product they’re supporting.  But this isn’t as easy with something intangible like a web app.  For I proposed having Chris Peterson, one of our developers, make a set of one of a kind turned pens to give out as rewards.  While the pens are beautiful, they are unrelated to the project at hand.  Overall, it was an awkward proposal and I understand why it was declined.

This rejection puy my goal into perspective.  It’s going to be hard to get a project onto KickStarter unless it’s for a physical product.  Perhaps open source projects would have better chances.  Pretty much everything I know in this world is web (and now some mobile) development.  Looking through KickStarter, there just aren’t many projects of this type.  I’ll have to be creative.

I’ve decided to update my goal. Instead of trying to publish a new project every month, I just want to publish one project this year.  I don’t care if it gets funded, though I’ll do my best to see that it is!  I simply want to have the experience of publishing a project on KickStarter. Wish me luck and give me suggestions!

Yes, And…

Yesterday I had my first improv class at DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro.  I decided to enroll in an improv class to help improve some of my presentation skills.  It also might help a bit with the free association mindset used when brainstorming new ideas.  Furthermore, I figured it couldn’t hurt to push myself outside of my comfort zone a bit.

My initial impression of the class is pretty positive.  The instructor clearly knows his stuff and is very supportive and encouraging.  Everyone in the class seems really nice too.  I think we’re all there to have some fun and learn something new, which is good.

I did find the class a bit intimidating, however. I’m really not scared of making a fool of myself in public, so getting up on a stage and trying to free associate a bit isn’t that scary to me. What is intimidating to me is being social and meeting new people.  I’m in the category of people you might call “slow to warm up”.

The class opened with a few warmups where we had to move in odd ways and make a unique sounds.  For example, we stood in a circle and, one by one, made some sort of movement and made a noise.  We all did it – and I can’t actually remember what I did – but I felt like perhaps I could have been more creative.  I think I held back a bit because I wasn’t really terribly comfortable. This was true on all of our exercises.

If I’m honest with myself, I hold back in social situations a lot. I’m pretty paranoid about saying something outlandish or acting oddly and creeping people out. So, that leads to me stuffing my hands in my pockets and keeping quiet. Once I start to feel like I know the people I’m around, I’ll relax a bit, but that can take a while.  The class is six weeks long, so I figure in about seven weeks I’ll be perfectly comfortable!

After the warmups we learned the basic tenet of improve, “Yes, and…” This is improve at its’ simplest.  You just agree with whatever the person you’re working with says, no matter how outlandish, and then try to build on it.

So, here’s an imaginary improve situation I made up on the fly:

The scene: Two people are at a park sitting on a bench.

Person 1: Man, it is a seriously beautiful day today!

Person 2: It is a beautiful day today, yes! And, I’m sure glad they’ve cleaned up the toxic sludge in that river down there.

Person 1: You are glad that the’ve cleaned up the toxic sludge, yes! And, I’m surprised you didn’t land in jail for dumping it there!

…. the scene continues like this until the it ends ….

In this example, the participants always restate what the other person said, then say “yes”, and add then build on the previous thought.  “Yes, And”.

Agreement and building onto a thought is the core essence of improv.  While I found it awkward to do this on stage, in front of people, the core principal has direct applications in business and entrepreneurship.  Rather than shooting down new ideas before they’re fully formed, we should all build on them.  You never know what you might end up with, maybe the next great idea! Or, at least, perhaps something to laugh at.


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