The Daily Pennsylvanian

Check out Wesley and me in the Daily Pennsylvanian (our university’s newspaper):

The next Mark Zuckerberg may be walking Penn’s campus. Wharton freshman Wesley Zhao and College freshman Dan Shipper, along with New York University freshman Ajay Mehta, partnered to create — a website that maps the locations of a user’s Facebook friends.

Since the website’s launch on Feb. 21, it has attracted 30,000 users and has mapped over 3 million friends. In February, the site was featured on CNN and Mashable, a news website that covers social media and technology.

You can read the rest of the article here.

18 Mar 2011, 4:15pm | 1 comment

What do you want to do least today? Do that first.

I think everyone goes through periods in their life when they feel lazy and unproductive. I know I have. And I think a big key to success is being able to get up every single day and forsake what you want to do for what you have to do.

One of the biggest obstacles I face in doing what I have to do is procrastination. I find that on days where there are unpleasant tasks that I need to take care of I end up just procrastinating by messing around online or doing other mindless activities. And the worst part is that the thing that I’m trying to avoid is always in the back of my mind. It’s unbelievably distracting, and it can take what would have otherwise been a good productive day and make it suck.

So how do I get rid of this? I defer to what my dad told me recently:

“Every day I sit down and I figure out the thing that I want to do least. Then I do that first.”

Forcing myself to do this really changed how I deal with things that I find boring or unpleasant. Once I get what I don’t want to do out of the way it opens up my day immensely. It lets me concentrate my attention on the things that I love to do like build software instead of worrying about busywork. And most importantly it ensures that not only am I devoting my time to things that I want to do, but that I’m devoting it to things that I have to do.

Drop me a line on Twitter at @danshipper if this works for you!

17 Mar 2011, 7:13am | 2 comments

Goal Setting and Time Management

I’ve found that a good way to get things done is to set daily goals, and schedule/track your time. Sebastian Marshall turned me on to this method, but mine is slightly different. Here’s a list of my goals for tonight (starting at around 1 AM):


So first I write out my goals and then I write out a proposed schedule for myself:


Then I start working and check things off as I go along. Try it out, it may help you. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t hit all of your goals, as you can see I only got about half. I find that I would rather have a less than 100% success rate. It keeps me hungry.

16 Mar 2011, 7:34am | 4 comments

Nerd Culture

A post entitled “Nerds, we need to have a talk” has been one of the top items on Hacker News all day today. You can find the article here. The author says:

My fellow nerds, geeks, hackers, designers, makers, builders, and DIYers, there is something very very wrong with our culture right now.

We’re jackasses to one another.

No we’re not! Right? Geeks help each other out! Well, sometimes we do, but most of the time, we’re the most abrasive, critical, non-cooperative community of people I’ve ever encountered. How many websites are there like the daily wtf? Or clients from hell? Or photoshop disasters?

How many blog posts have been written about how everybody is doing everything WRONG! Stop using comic sans, GOD DAMNIT! What are you, illiterate? “Grammar nazis” are engrained into our culture, and disregarding something somebody has sed because of of minor misspelling is a common, accepted, and even expected practice.

I agree with this in part – but I don’t think that destructive commentary the only kind of crticisim the hacker community produces. Granted, when we first launched FavoriteThing.Me we were hammered all day long by people trying to hack it after we put it on Hacker News. People tried MySQL injection to make us lose our database records, and they inserted javascript into our pages to make them forward to outside URLs. Some of it was borderline malicious, and definitely annoying. It can be enough to make you not want to ask the developer community what they think of your app again.

But on the other side, in my opinion, the developer community fosters some of the most helpful and selfless individuals anywhere. When WhereMyFriends.Be got some attention we got numerous emails from people offering us help and advice. And they didn’t want anything in return. It was unbelievable. In no other industry will your “competitors” (I mean it in the loose sense of the word) willingly come to your rescue, and impart their hard won knowledge to keep your endeavour from sinking. 

So yes, there is a group of people in the developer community that likes to rip apart everything they see. But let’s not let them color the vast majority of coders out there who contribute knowledge, wisdom and insight on a daily basis without asking for a cent. They are the glue that holds us together. And they shouldn’t be overlooked.

15 Mar 2011, 7:32am | 1 comment

Twitter’s Beginnings

I you haven’t already seen this, Jack Dorsey has been tweeting about his experience starting Twitter at Odeo. Read the TechCrunch article about it here. The funny thing is reading Jack’s conversation with co-founder Biz Stone about the new site:

me: Biz! How goes?  We’re starting work on the twttr implementation today.
Biz: really?! NICE
me: yeah, i roped florian in.  i think we’ll be able to get most of it up and working by the end of this week.  then i’ll do the sms and style side next week. along with ajax stuff.
Biz: two weeks and we’ll have twttr. yay!
me: yeah!  should be pretty quick.  have all of florian’s time and all of mine.
Biz: oh man that’s awesome
Biz: i’ve looking longingly at my empty sms on my phone throuhout the panels
Biz: sucks that teen people has the shortcode
me: i know!  that’s going to be tough.  doesn’t help that the code also spells TXT
Biz: hmm

What I like about this is that these aren’t two tycoons of industry talking in highfalutin terms about markets, sectors and capitalization. It’s just a few guys trying to create something cool. And that’s what makes the whole web culture so awesome. You don’t have to have an MBA to be great, you just have to have a cool idea and enough perserverence to see it to completion.

14 Mar 2011, 6:47am | 1 comment

Difference between doing it first and doing it right.

Just read this article by a site called Marketaire. It’s always very humbling and exciting to be written about in any way, but something in this article really caught my attention. They said:

Mashups like this aren’t particularly new, however there’s a difference between getting there first and doing it right. 

Quotes like that are gratifying on a personal level. It’s awesome when people look at the hard work you’ve put into something and validate it. But I think there’s something more to this quote. I think it’s true. Getting there first gives you a leg up. But if you build your product right, or build your business right you it’s possible to beat the guy that got there first.

Nike didn’t invent the shoe. But they do the shoe business right – all the way to the bank.

13 Mar 2011, 7:23am | 2 comments

Good artists copy, great artists steal

Really good insights from Steve Jobs


12 Mar 2011, 7:06am | 2 comments

The Book of Five Rings

I’ve recently been reading The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. It has a lot of valuable insight in it and I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes:

“Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. Even when your spirit is calm do not let your body relax, and when your body is relaxed do not let your spirit slacken…Be neither insufficiently spirited nor over spirited.”

“You should not have a favorite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much as fault as not knowing it sufficiently…It is bad for commanders and troopers to have likes and dislikes.”

I think the second quote is especially relevant for programming. While I think it’s great to have in-depth knowledge of one language, I think it’s even better to be familiar with a wide variety of languages. This allows you to be agile, and to choose the language that best fits the project instead of the language that you’re most comfortable with.


11 Mar 2011, 11:07am | leave a comment

Why Credibility Matters

The events of the last few weeks (see here if you don’t know what I’m talking about) have made me realize the unbelievable importance of credibility to business, blogging and life. I think Quinten Farmer of OnSwipe said it best when he told me today, “It doesn’t matter what you say, it just matters what your credentials are.”
Continue Reading

9 Mar 2011, 9:43pm | 4 comments

More on Limits

Sebastian Marshall has a great piece on his blog today on overcoming limits. Here’s an interesting section:


The question you asked – “What steps/training did you use to remove your inhibitions?” – I think that’s already like, half the battle. Most people don’t even realize that they have severe inhibitions. It’s like gravity, it’s always there acting upon them, but they don’t consider it.

Unlike gravity, this force can be changed and overcome.

Step 1 is to intellectually get your mind around it. It’s a bit of a constant process. I think it was Hunter S. Thompson that said something like, “Nobody can tell you where the safe line is… everyone that found out is on the other side.”

For me, I run downside/upside calculations a lot. Man, on paper a lot of stuff makes a lot of sense to do. Did you know Gandhi used to write 60 letters a day sometimes, to various people he found important and influential throughout India, the British Empire, and the rest of the world?

That’s cool, that’s worth emulating. Nothing to lose by doing so, paper and typewriter ink is cheap enough. But even Gandhi acknowledged that he was often anxious about doing it, sometimes even directly in the letters he was writing.

I reckon realizing that there’s natural inhibitions, studying the nature and cause of them, and coming to the intellectual conclusion that you’d do better if you were taking more inhibited action… that in and of itself goes a long way.

I love the quote by Hunter S. Thompson: “Nobody can tell you where the safe line is..everyone that found out is on the other side.” Check out Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas if you get time.

Bottom line: it’s difficult to push your own boundaries but ultimately worthwhile.


9 Mar 2011, 8:06am | leave a comment

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