Books 07.21.2011

Just Finished: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

I don’t know if I mentioned this, but I was fortunate enough to attend the Future of Web Apps conference in Vegas. Learned a ton.

Anyway, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, was a keynote speaker at the conference. Zappos played a big part in making it a really fun conference. They’re headquartered in Vegas and Tony is really keen on trying to make the downtown area a happening tech scene. I think they can do it.

I really like Tony’s outlook on work. Surprisingly to me, he never seemed to be a workaholic. He wasn’t an overachiever in school either, in fact his first college ventured involved crowdsourcing and publishing study notes–mainly so he could pass the classes he’d slept through all semester. When it feels like work, he would disengage. When it was something he could really pour himself into, he’d make magic. I think a lot of entrepreneurs and creative types can relate to something like that– if your heart isn’t in it, it’s not likely you’ll hang around too long.

After selling LinkExchange– the company he cofounded with a college friend– to Microsoft for $265 million, the 24 year old Hsieh was offered an additional 20% of his cut to stay on at LinkExchange for one more year. But his heart wasn’t there. So instead of just “showing up” and collecting another couple million, he got back to what he does best– starting companies.

I made a list of the happiest periods in my life, and I realized that none of them involved money. I realized that building stuff and being creative and inventing made me happy.

Hsieh admits that writing isn’t his strong point, but the book is written in a very conversational manner and is an easy read. I think anyone who has considered starting a company, or who just isn’t finding their desk job very satisfying, will find Hsieh’s enjoyable and inspirational. Fun read.

Test Lab 07.20.2011

Front End development for the good people at REC Studio

REC Studio is the hottest new motion design house in Los Angeles. In my opinion.

The REC crew approached me about developing their website. It was a nice change of pace from my daily design & production work. Not only was the proejct a great refresher, but I was able to pick up a few new tricks along the way.

What I picked up:

1. Embedding fonts. I know it’s been around for awhile now, but I finally broke it out. I was surprised how easy it was.
2. Div hiding techniques. The designer Rich wanted a hover over state that I’d never really tried before. I found an article on creating a hidden state over the images. I whipped out my z-axis and things got real weird.
3. Custom highlight color. Never messed with it, but I think it’s like favicons, it’s just one of those nice details that makes a site that much more polished.
4.  Dealing with an OCD designer.Rich is my good friend, but I forgot how damn meticulous as they get. This was the first time I’ve played a purely front end role on a website build, and it was a cool experience for me to see things from a a developer’s eyes.
5. My first (mostly) HTML5 site. You know what they say. Probably not going back, right?

This was our first pass at the site, and I know we’ll keep optimizing away. I look forward to tricking it out a little more with some nice jquery / css3 transitions where I can– their livelihood behind based on beautiful motion and all. Also stoked to get them a mobile version in the next couple of months.

Follow @recstudiotv or visit recstudio.tv to be blown away by what these guys can do. And to see the site I’m helping bring to life.

recstudio mockup


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Michael S. Mioduski is the founder of GhostRanch Communications, a presentation design studio.