Diving Into HTML

The Computer Youth

I was fortunate enough to grow up on computers.

My Dad worked for some branch of Apple at some point, and was one of the original computer nerds, into programming and all that jazz. He would always be the ‘computer guy’ for all our friends whenever they had issues that needed fixing. He’d always grumble and rage about it, but, then again, that’s par for the course. He’d still do it and always help people out with whatever tech problems presented themselves.

He was an Apple guy to the point of making his license plate “MAC ONLY.”

I was playing the original Warcrafts, Command & Conquer, Power Pete, MDK on a mac computer before the iMac back before my memory really grew consistent.

By the time we had our mandatory typing class in 3rd grade I was busy showing off how I could already type without looking. I was so cool. Look at me showing off my privilege.

A fair number of my friends growing up, and more as I got older, were from a young age equally well versed in the computer world.

It’s such a strange thing to take for granted, considering it’s likely the most valuable skill one can have in the modern world.


The reality of our time is that if you have computer skills, you will have a job, and usually a well paying one.

For a long time, (being rebellious and all) this is what put me off of the whole idea of learning programming etc.

I wanted to go my own way, and go on the paths less traveled. And I’ve spent the better part of my life doing so. I’ve have learned the value of doing so, and intend to continue on my own path – making decisions, as much as possible, from a rational basis while never betraying the heart. This is how I like to think of it. I like to think we all know what a betrayal of the heart is. It’s the opposite, I suppose, of following your gut. When you know something is right, you have to do this thing, and you choose not to.

At any rate – I dove away from computers in every way I could. I transferred from the well-respected successful polytechnic university I originally enrolled at, and ended up at a more well-rounded, less academic city school. I’ve pursued music, community service, languages, the whole Japan thing, education, cycling, small business, coffee, photography, interviews, and freelance videography. Now I’m here. And it’s been a drawn out period of instability and uncertainty, and I’ve come to really face the skills I have and the ones I want to have to be able to really be an asset in society.

Working with stak has given me a chance to dive into many newer fields and see where I really am, and am not, useful. And it’s one of the most gratifying things perhaps – to feel useful.

Asking for something else to work on for the company, I was prompted with learning the html for our new website. So I’m going to dive in – there are so many resources for learning programming. It’s just another language after all.

How hard could it be? 

Finding a Structure

This is paramount to learning anything. Whatever the system is, if it works for you, it’s good. There is no perfect system for learning something, and some of the worst (what does that mean?) structures can be the best for some people. If using it helps you make progress, it’s correct. If it doesn’t, try something else. Find structures and stick with them no matter what.

For learning Japanese, I had several structures that I would stick to religiously. One, namely when I was learning Kanji, was Wanikani. Though it’s a paid service, it gave you words to ingrain into your memory at spaced intervals so it would remind you right before you forget each meaning. These kind of things are really important if you find one you are able to buy into.

One thing I did with Japanese was begin a project. That was, along with you know, being able to live basically as a Japanese person, to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from the beginning to end. When I was started it would be grueling; looking up practically every single kanji on the page, and if I worked really hard, finishing a page in a day. By the time I got halfway through, I was reading without looking up more than a word a page. The closer you get to the start of my battered copy of that book, the more covered in ink each page gets. Whereas the second half has practically no markings at all.

So what’s it going to be for HTML? Well, I’m lucky because I have the project. Turning our website design into usable HTML code. That’ll be my Harry Potter. As for my Wani Kani, my steady ‘vocabulary’ study…

I could watch videos telling me how to learn like this or this. Both great content but, there is a common trap of talking about learning instead of just learning. Supplements are only ever supplements. The true path of learning is not so clean-cut and predeterminable. It’s more about the time spent with that which you don’t yet understand.

Do Lots Of Work

This is one of my favorite quotes ever. Due to its lack of elegance and feeling of honest, and just the fact that it’s advice I don’t often hear:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

So. Let’s dive in.

I used this, and I made this:

Which looks like this:

All in all, html is definitely a more satisfying way to start learning about programming than python or anything else I’ve tried before.

Onwards and upwards. Until next time.




























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Finding The Newest Tech

Scour The Web

I thought I’d have done this earlier,

having gotten into the tech and modern device field…

But where are the best places on the internet to go, if you want to know more about IoT devices?

What are the resources out there that aren’t just click bait, but guidance stones pointing you towards the most resourceful corners of the internet?

Having been involved in esports, cycling, photography and videography, language education and some other fields, I’ve spent the time perusing the internet etc. and finding all the nooks and crannies that I still haunt to this day. But when I think about tech, and especially the IoT world, my mind comes up with very little.

This entry, I’ll spend some serious time checking out the best places to go to get not just info, but quality info. So you can get pointed in the right direction. The natural flow of experience from those who walked before – it’s a lot faster than wandering around on your own sometimes.

The Places You’ll Go

A google search reveals everything you need.

The trouble is, as the years have gone by, advertising has taken over. Though as always the internet has managed to remain, to a degree, the land of the free, glance value ends up looking eerily similar to what happened in the TV broadcasting world. In reality, it is on so many levels, different. The internet maintains a high level of transparency regarding what is and isn’t advertising. It also gives users so many options within their grasp to get around advertising, and at the least, be aware of it.

I say this because a google search of something these days first reveals those links that have bought their position on the list, that have purchased their visibility. The task nowadays seems to be wading through these fields to find the flowers hidden among the weeds – the sites that have earned, not bought, their position. Of course it is not all black and white – I have found a lot of fantastic things through advertising on the internet, and also found a lot of non-advertising content that provides very little to the reader, but maintains popularity – clickbait and aggregates.

So let’s try a search: ‘iot tech device blog site’ 

First off, we get an ad for SAS. Interesting company, but giving us very little info related to what we searched, a company trying to get us to buy their products.

Next: Feedspot. A site that acts as a google for blogs only. A list of IoT blogs within a list of IoT blogs. Okay.

After that: iot-now.com. Interesting. Doesn’t immediately appear to be trying to sell me anything, and seems to be focused on exactly what I searched for.

Most important: they have different categories at the top all meant to point you in the right direction. This seems like exactly what we’re looking for. IoT News, Blogs, Events, Resources, Magazine, IoT Whitebook. Let’s walk through each one. On our third result! Thanks googs.

IoT Now

IoT News: Surprisingly, exactly what it should be. Simple to the point of looking cheap? News articles related to IoT. Changes in CEOs, shifts in the global economy, updates on OEM manufacturing, current events. Good stuff.

Blogs: More indepth looks at various topics. Our blog is better.

Events: This is cool. Even with the current covid situation they have events listed in upcoming order. This is cool even without an inkling of an expectation to go to one, just to see all the stuff out there. It’s not often you hear about conventions and events from the tech field, outside of the big ones.

Resources: This is just so good. Literally any kind of resource you could ask for all put together for you to easily look at. There’s no need for me to list all the types of resources they compiled. It’s great.

My only qualm is that the format itself doesn’t really look appealing to me – it looks kind of old fashioned, or cheap. But the fact that it’s all cohesive and comprehensive across all their pages is just great.

They also run a Magazine and this interesting thing called the IoT Whitebook. This seems to be a more business end focused version of the website. All the in-depth details you’d be interested in if you had a stake in the business. Interesting articles linked like this one on 0g.

I’m gonna spend some time exploring this site and getting to know the IoT world even more.

Knowledge is Power

What is power in the modern world?

Perhaps the ability to make informed decisions.

More people than ever (though not nearly enough) are in positions where they don’t really have to think about survival anymore. When that’s off the table, societal structures quickly take priority.

The more info you have over what’s right, what’s in, what’s good in this world across the different spheres (social, economic, entertainment, culture) the further you can go.

A little tangent, but this is pretty close to the argument for the whole Black Lives Matter movement. It’s not that black people cannot move ahead in society. It’s just so much harder because of the position they often start off in. Someone who is wealthy, comfortable, and knows stability in their lives has more time, which they can use as they see fit, not to mention influences and opportunities from their environment that push them forward.

So. As I heard recently in an interview with Hugh Jackman “It is never the wrong choice to educate yourself.” Go learn more.












































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Living in an IoT World


When I got into stak, I made the mistake of thinking it was one of the only gadgets of its type. I posted originally about how well, I knew Google Home and Amazon Alexa, but that was just about all I could name within the Smart Home genre.

Now I know better.

Now I know that I know nothing.

I dove into research about the Smart Light Switch market this week. It was a deep dive. The world is large, and full of devices and inventions and copycats and failures.

So I want to take some more time to illustrate to you why one might be overwhelmed when they’re choosing an IoT device, and thus why, these companies have a duty to aim for quality and not just a simple cash grab.

We believe it is our duty personally at stak to tackle the issue of overflowing devices and, at least for our part, move our world toward the solution IoT was supposed to have been.



is just the tip of the iceberg.

Of Smart Light Switches alone.

Smart Switches on the whole allow you to set routine timers and give you overall centralized control over the lighting in your house, usually through an app, usually connected by Wi-Fi.

There are also:

Smart Outlets

Smart plugs on the whole give you control over whatever is plugged into the outlet, again, usually from an App.

Smart Lights (stak)

Smart Lights give you, again, centralized control over one light in particular (usually color and dimming control as well, regardless of the plugs or switches or wires involved.

Note: If you have one of these smart devices, usually you won’t need the others. So if you have a smart light chances are you won’t need a smart plug or a smart switch. Chances are.

Smart Thermostats

My brother actually just moved into a new house with his girlfriend and they have the black ecobee thermostat in there. These devices obviously make controlling the temperature… easier? It’s not like it was hard before to press temperature up and down. On a serious note, it lets you measure a lot more things. Humidity, allergens, air quality, UV, etc. In addition, a lot of these devices have AI Learning built in so they can learn when the thermostat fails to accurately provide the heating or cooling requested and can then compensate for it, giving a more stable and comfortable (and efficient) experience.

Smart Doorbells

Smart Doorknobs

Smart Locks

Smart Speakers

Smart Coffee Machines

Smart Vaccuums

Smart Fridges

Smart Security Cameras

Smart Blinds

And so on.

We’re getting to a smart device for everything.
Things to be considered. These are not smart devices that save us time and energy, these are connected devices that let us use them through our phone (which often takes time and energy).

Automation. Now that’s something that is truly smart. AI. These are the areas where the namesake is deserved, and most importantly, the smart version is actually more useful than the regular one.

Let’s be honest. In a market this saturated (though I feel flooded is a more accurate term, considering there is still so much room to grow and develop, and there are so many subpar products), why do we, why does anyone feel like they have the right to ask for people’s time and money? Because we’re headed down the smart path. Of not just providing cute, stylish, ‘convenience,’ but of pushing towards automation, searching for the areas to which only IoT tech can bring us.

It’s a big investment of time, money, and effort to dive into building a smart home, which is why so far on an individual level, it’s pretty reserved for the wealthy.

However, just like with iPhones, as this becomes the standard across the world, it becomes accessible by people of all socioeconomic levels. This opens up new worlds – where people have access to something they did not before. We believe we’re nearing this turning point in the home world, having only reached it so far on the IT and personal technology level. 

When I was in my 2nd year of university, I managed to go on a 10 day volunteer service trip to Guatemala to help build stoves in the rural areas of the country. This seemed like an excuse to go ‘do something.’ However, I learned something I will never forget. The number 1 factor in pushing forward a country’s cultural and political developments is women gaining power. The number 1 factor in women gaining power is women gaining time. Putting a stove in a house that did not have one not only saved lives, but saved the busy mother’s time.

This is smart action.

This leads to a smarter world.

I believe the push for IoT, while being flooded with low-effort money grab products, is one of these pushes, and it’s just a matter of time.








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What Makes A Website 2

As we’ve been working on our new website, it’s been a learning process in so many different areas.

Programming, marketing, design, photography, videography, writing, advertising, coordinating, being in charge of a team/project.. the list goes on.

Last time, I talked a lot about trends, what’s popular, what’s liked, and why it’s important to know, and why it’s not necessarily a bad thing to follow them.

This time, I’d like to talk about how different sites convey the process of —Buying Stuff—, that very important modern endeavor. As all other things, it is best not robbed of an artistic touch. In fact it’s the part of the website that conveys the most emotional connection between the consumer and designer, and thus, requires a delicate touch. So, let’s look at some examples, draw some conclusions on what’s happening, and form some opinions on what’s best.

Let’s take a big one first. Apple.

As is the standard, you’re hit with the latest products and a quick Learn More or Buy set of two options. As you scroll down there is an image to describe the product and a few words for what it is, and the page you’ll be brought to if you click it. This works in a way that it wouldn’t work for us because well, this is Apple.

  1. They have lots of different products
  2. They are already known
  3. The products they make are already understood
  4. A greater proportion of the visitors on their site are there to buy something

Onto the buy page. Let’s get an iPhone SE, since it’s the first thing advertised to us.

When you load in, you see the picture of the different colors on the left, and all the options and shop menus come sliding upwards on the right. We’re getting really nitty-gritty, but this little detail does a lot. It makes you feel like this is a modern website, one that is done professionally. Also, it brings the viewer on a short journey – the picture is the first thing they see, and the quick sliding up of the rest is the next thing the eye goes to. A lot more pleasant than having to decide for yourself where to look first, even though this seems like such a small, insignificant thing.

There is reliability in the simple, white minimalist style. In the simplicity of the options presented to you: Choose your finish (3 options). Choose your capacity (3 options). Choose your carrier (4 options, and a 5th for Sim-Free). It answers questions you’re likely to have “Will it be unlocked?” Then there is a simple Q&A for turning in the phone you already have. And then a payment option. Then the choice for applecare shows up. Offers for delivery or pick-up.

When you choose one option, it slides you down to the next one so you don’t have to take it all in at once.
This is actually a lot of different things to run through, but thanks to the simple style and smooth flow of the web design, it actually feels pretty simple. Also it feels unintrusive. Never does it ask you for anything, or ask you to sign up for anything, or give any details at all. This is something I feel is very important.

On the left there are assuring details: Fast, free, no-contact delivery. Free and Easy returns. Have questions? Contact an iPhone specialist.

The finishing screen will vary depending on what you choose, but you’ll likely be brought to a “Added to bag” page with the item you just selected and other things you might want to purchase laid out below.

Reviewing the bag brings up your total at the top, in big letters. Again, this is trustworthy somehow, to me. It’s not trying to hide any numbers or taxes or deals. Recommendations, other products, etc. are all listed below if you’re curious. And at the very bottom, a “Need more help? Chat now.” and a Questions About Buying FAQ expandable window. This is great.    

Anyways. Most important to me are these three things:

  1. A flow that is pleasant, and not overwhelming, to the eye.
  2. A noticeable absence of things being pushed onto the customer.
  3. Clean, minimalist style.

Now let’s try a smaller example. One that might be more uncomfortable to look at (and thus, hidden in a less obvious place of the internet).

I found this site (printypets) on an instagram ad recently and tried it out – got my girlfriend a present.

I felt a lot less comfortable using this for these reasons:

  1. I found it on an instagram ad. All this means is someone paid money to be promoted and show up on people like me’s feeds.
  2. I never got to talk to a human through the entire process, even when I had sent them a special message upon ordering my product.
  3. They wanted me to sign up for stuff.
  4. They pushed extra LIMITED TIME OFFER deals on me throughout the entire process.
  5. I had no way of knowing whether this product I paid for was coming, in what condition, how it would be sent, and more importantly, how the artist would actually create the product (you give them a picture and they turn it into something for you). You have to pay extra for a ‘special consultation,’ which did not really interest me… given two choices, neither of which I liked.

However, what I received in the end was great and I’m thoroughly satisfied. It probably surpassed my expectations. So we can also talk briefly about what they do right (in terms of the website).


  1. They use a trusted base, one that customers are familiar with even if they don’t realize it – shopify.
  2. They use photos sent in by customers to advertise reliability, explain their product, and show positive reviews all simultaneously.
  3. They have a nice bar at the top explaining deals and current events (Covid)
  4. All the other standard things are there including what cards are usable, social media links, a social justice cause, and other products you can buy too.
  5. Almost none of the photos are professionally done, and it feels like a bunch of friends got a bunch of instagram photos together to make the website.
  6. There are just too many deals and small offers and begs for more attention and purchases. It makes me feel like this is a quick money grab rather than a long term business. 

Again, in summary;

  1. They practically spam you with discounts and offers (if you post us on your social media 5$ off!!). This makes me feel like they are untrustworthy – a money grab business, rather than something more reliable. This makes me not want to buy their stuff.
  2. They have a niche market and a good product – it would help if they could advertise it in other ways than people’s social media photos, though that requires investment (the lack of such feels, again, unreliable)
  3. They offer chat functions etc. which is great, but then failed to answer to a question upon purchase.

Again, of course they did a ton of things right, namely the product! So, no real complaints, just healthy criticism.


Conclusions & Thoughts

Fill your customer’s head with this notion: “BUY BUY BUY, MORE, MORE, NOW!”

Just kidding.

There is a balance to be struck between what you can do and what you should.

While yes, it’s good to have a lot of pictures – if you cannot find a healthy mix of professional photos and social media photos from customers, it might be better to slightly change the format.

On the other hand, if all you have are professional photos, it becomes harder for the customers to relate.

There is a wavering of trust on either side of that extreme – and it goes down to every detail in the website.

When you are a niche market product like printypets, you can know that and leave some things unfinished, and push for the short term gain option. But they also, I believe, have the option to push for a more refined, trustworthy, long-term establishment. And if they don’t, I feel like they are likely to lose to any competition that goes for a cleaner, more professional look.

It’s given me lots of thoughts for what we ought to do – in finding the balance between too little and too much promotion. Between looking professional and relatable. In conveying what our product does while also maintaining minimalism.

Most importantly, dealing with money and policies in as clear and simple a way as possible. Coming from a different country (from any western customer) is already going to be asking for their trust – so maintaining a feel, an image of something close to what they are used to is really vital.

I do feel though that we’re getting there – some balance of the clean, minimalist look of apple with the explanations and utility of a site like august.com. I’m hoping we can stay away from the trendy, pushy offers and discounts of sites like printypets, and also incorporate more aspects of flow and photography like Apple does.









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Stability and Stagnation


A lot of the problem I have with things I read online is that it feels like the author feels a need to show that they know what they’re talking about. Even when they don’t really.

This is totally just a human thing.

But I think it’s really good to remember that it’s not just okay, but rather a good thing sometimes to not know what you’re talking about. It’s also a really good thing to be sincere.

On the other hand – words without substance reach nobody.

There’s a really good podcast I was listening to today about this subject that I highly recommend. Tim Ferris Show, interview with Brené Brown.

There’s a balance. And I imagine you only get there by being sincere and wanting to know more. And that comes through searching for what you don’t know.

About balance – I thought I would talk about this for a bit, considering all of our lifestyles around the world have suddenly had to change, to varying degrees completely readjust to deal with the pandemic.

With Start-ups?

The distinction between stability and stagnation, between risk taking and conservative decision-making, is probably more relevant to start-up companies than anything else, given their short life span.

In the end, it might seem like the start-ups that succeed are those that, through happenstance or favorable conditions, made the right decisions for the right time. But the ability to distinguish what is right, what risks one can and should take, are abilities that can be developed.

This is like the untrained spectator watching poker or high level backgammon and imagining it to be a game of chance; when really, those performing know it to be much more.

I’ve found this aspect of business and the booming start-up company culture to be just… fascinating.

The Ones Who Didn’t Make It

I mentioned this in a blog post a long time ago,

but there’s this great resource out there called Failory.

It talks about different start-ups that have failed, and how and why they met their varied  demises. A quick glance at the website now brings up, at my first click, an interview with some Robert Walker, who was running the now failed dating app for geeks Cuddli. Other pages are not interview style but just type-ups of info on why the company went the way it did.

If nothing else, the site’s very existence might remind you of the importance of learning from failures, not only trying to emulate previous successes (especially success which you had no part in, and thus have no grasp on the processes involved).

As someone who has spent several years of his professional life teaching, and also who has taught himself a second language to fluency (after failing at this with two other languages), I can attest to how the best teacher is failure. In a lot of ways, trying to fail is the best path towards succeeding.

On A Personal Level

We’re all stuck at home. Crazy things are going on in the world, no matter what side you’re on, what country you’re in, things are kind of crazy. And amidst that, we are hit with a pandemic, situations we have never had to deal with before.

As someone who’s been meditating and into buddhist philosophy for almost a decade now, the thought that everyone would somehow have to get used to staying at home and give up their usual pleasures and stimulations.. I kind of laughed and was excited for it.

Now, to be completely honest, I’m rueing it.

Regardless of my personal situation, times like these require the right balance of movement (you know, emotional stuff, momentum, that kind of thing) and acceptance.

So I guess the words I’d have for all you now are the words I have for myself.

Take the time to reflect on what you need as a person. Then consider the environment you have, and think about what you need to do every day to feel like you’re moving forward. And do that every day.

Nothing is forever, and there is always sunshine after the rain clears.

The most beautiful sun shines after a storm.