The state of the State, 2011

Our country is pretty messed up right now. Economically, we are headed down into a black hole.

As far as I can tell, it all started when the government removed some banking regulations put into effect during the Great Depression. The result was that the banks made mortgage loans that could not be paid back. A LOT of them. So we ended up with tens of millions of loans for about $200,000 each that were worthless. Trillions of dollars of debt. Banks were sucked under. The government bailed them out. They took the bailout and put it in their petty cash drawer.

Anyway, the debt is much worse than that. There are reports that the Federal Reserve handed out another $16 trillion secretly, without government authorization, to our banks and European banks.

So Congress, in their infinite wisdom, is voting to cut social programs.  This is basically just a huge new tax on the elderly, the poor, and the middle class (because the wealthy don’t need social programs).

They also decided to have a huge battle over raising the debt ceiling (which has been done over 100 times in the past).  This obvious stupidity caused the lowering of the US credit rating. All of this also caused people to start yanking their money out of stocks and bonds, and another trillion dollars disappeared in the stock market.

In my lifetime, we started heading down this path several times, but we were saved by technology which created more jobs and pulled us out. There was the personal computer, the internet, and cell phones. Well, maybe not cell phones, since none of them are being built in the US.

Recently I saw an article that talked about an announcement by one of the largest factory owners in China. He has 1.2 million employees. He is planning on replacing most of those employees with robots. At least 3 million robots.

This is astounding. He has the lowest paid workforce in the world. He has decided that robots are cheaper. No one will stop him, in fact the government will probably loan him the money. It will happen, it is happening, and he will probably be done within 3 years.

This opens a solution for the US. We can also build and install robots in factories. Why not build our products in US robot factories instead of Chinese robot factories?

I see this as the Robot Race, similar to the Arms Race of the Cold War era. Every country will start installing as many robots as possible. How many robots? Maybe a few BILLION?

I am working on robots in my garage, trying to learn as much as I can. Someone has to install, program, and repair all of these robots, and the networks that link them together. I am looking for investors, business partners, engineers, and programmers. This is the big boom of this century. Catch it now. I am looking for at least $500,000 to get this ball rolling, and all I want out of it is a very small percentage of the profits.

The flip side of the robot coin is that soon there will be no jobs at all. Our society is not ready for this. I would also like to have an organization working on this problem. We need a way to transition to a society that does not work for a living. It will affect everything. I am going to start brainstorming sessions on this in September, anybody that is interested is welcome to join me.

Sacramento Open Shop – Let’s get STARTED!!

MAKERS! CREATORS! INVENTORS! ARTISTS! AND PATRONS OF THOSE TYPES!


Join us to create Sacramento’s first Maker Space!

Imagine New Opportunities
America has one intrinsic value: we innovate better than anyone else. Our freedom allows us to think any way we wish… and imagine anything. It seems like such a small advantage, yet it is the key to everything.

  • Imagination creates new products.
  • Teamwork and collaboration gets them to market.
  • Selling products creates jobs and gets the money flowing.

Sacramento Open Shop (SOS)
What are we?
We are a non-profit corporation which originated in a Meetup group: ‘People Who REALLY Build Things!’ Our mission is to create a space in which to build things! Most groups can meet in a restaurant, a park or someone’s house; but we need a shop and tools.
Many of us are lucky enough to already have a shop or workspace at home. What we need is the inspiration and feedback from other inventors. We also need to collaborate on complex projects, because very few people know EVERY branch of engineering. Also, we can contribute to buy equipment together that we might not be able to afford as individuals.
This is not a unique idea, there are hundreds of spaces like this in the world, at least 5 in the San Francisco bay area: http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/List_of_Hacker_Spaces

Open Source Hardware
We will save time in our projects by utilizing Open Source hardware and software.

For many reasons, it has become difficult to protect your ideas and inventions. People have started working openly on projects. That is, you create something new and publish every single detail on the Internet (but there is no need to publish until AFTER you have put your product on the market). Other people grab your plans, modify them and then they publish every single detail of their improvement on the Internet.
Suddenly you have 100 engineers working on your project for free. The problem is, you haven’t made any money…
But not everyone wants to make that product themselves. So you start manufacturing and selling the best possible version of your product. You use the Internet as your sales and distribution channel, avoiding the expenses and problems of brick-and-mortar marketing.

But how do you make your product? You can do the first short run in our shop. Other members will help you build it. Then, when you are ready to get started, we will give you advice, and possibly put you in touch with potential investors.

Other Benefits
If we use this current opportunity, we will also have access to a complete commercial welding shop with a CNC plasma cutter, mill, lathes, benders, and every tool you might need for working with metal.
There will be some time on this equipment free with membership, but some costs and priorities will be set with extended use. Scout will be teaching classes on how to use this equipment.
There is also some equipment for ceramics and glass.
There will be electronic equipment such as oscilloscope, voltmeters, Arduinos, Basic Stamps, and power supplies.
People are donating more supplies and equipment on a regular basis.
We WILL catch the attention of high-tech corporations. Do not be surprised to find someone from Intel, HP, or Apple looking over your shoulder one day.

What I want From YOU!
It takes quite a bit of money to rent a shop space. Unless someone gives us such a space for free, or drops a pallet of money on our doorstep, we have to raise the funds ourselves. The only possible solution is membership fees.
I am reaching out to everyone that I know with this information. I am hoping that many of you will pass this link along to your friends, because there are really not that many inventor types in the Sacramento area. We want at least 30 inventors or artists, and they are a very rare commodity.
The minimal budget we need to start our shop is $1500 a month. We are hoping that each inventor can afford $50 a month for membership to this group.
If you are not an inventor, perhaps you can afford to help sponsor an inventor? Maybe even just $10 a month? You tell us what to do with your money.
We are also looking for people who can put in effort instead of money. Maybe you can find sponsors or members, help organize fundraisers, etc.
Some creative people really don’t have any extra money. They are not usually the type to go get a job flipping burgers, they are too busy tearing stuff apart to see how it works. Some of these people will go on to form companies. A sponsor will find it very easy to acquire early stock in those companies. So rather than investing $200,000 in real estate that might go down another $20,000, why not invest a little in a creative person and his start-up company?

How can you actually help?
If you are interested in this radical new thing, contact:
Scout Handford-  (scout@dreamworksmetal.com)
and
William Betz- (WildZBill@hotmail.com)
and tell us how much you can get involved!
Do it now, because this is happening now, not next year. This window of opportunity is very narrow.

The Near Future

 

cosplayWe live in a transition period. That is, the basic structure of society is changing. Entire sectors of the economy are disappearing, taking millions of jobs with them. Our social networks are shifting into the digital sphere, we may have 200 friends rather than 2, and yet we may have never meet most of them face-to-face.

The big question is, if my job disappears, how do I make enough money to survive?

I am trying to look at it this way; if I can figure out the future structure, then I can find a place in that structure with inherent value.

So I read other futurists, I study trends. One of the big road signs says “Singularity!”

Briefly, the concept there is that change keeps accelerating to the point where everything seems to happen at once. Computers become super-intelligent, and perhaps we integrate our minds with the computers. Then we start experiencing every second as a year, allowing the acceleration to continue.

Whatever.

The point is that vast changes are coming. Most of them are related to technology.

It seems that the only way for anyone to keep up is to get out in the middle of everything, to be involved with as much new tech as possible.

My solution starts with the Sacramento Open Shop. This is a non-profit corporation that my friends and I have created. Our basic intent is to have a space where people can work together on projects of any sort.

For some people this means an app for the cell phone, for others it means a 30 foot tall moving mechanical dragon that shoots flames.

I expect that we will be a business incubator. Any time that you have a crowd of people building whatever they want, surrounded by encouragement and skillful help, new products are bound to be created. Friendships turn into solid business partnerships.

The way this group is going to work is monthly donations. We need enough money to rent a space. Think of it like a fitness gym for your mind and skills. You pay about $2 a day, you show up, you learn and practice new skills.

And really, don’t you want to be there when we turn on the fire breathing dragon?

Sacramento Open Shop

Currently the biggest thing that I am involved with is the Sacramento Open Shop.

We are a group of inventors that get together and work on projects of various kinds. In this group are people with every skill that you can imagine. So if you can think of something that you want, this group CAN build it! This can become truly amazing. Robots, Upper atmosphere balloons, steampunk faux weapons, RepRap machines, the list of projects is endless.

I see this as much more than just a community workshop. I see this as a possible solution for a lot of the economic problems that we have here in the U.S., and here at home in Sacramento.

We have a LOT of unemployment. A large majority of manufacturing jobs have gone to other countries. Creating products and selling them to the world made America wealthy and strong. If products are produced in other countries, only the wealthy owners of the companies continue to make money. The middle class is free falling into poverty.

If we are to survive this change, local people need to learn to produce products for local customers. Not shoddy products at low prices, quality CUSTOM products! New products!

One new orientation is ‘Open’. Open means that the information needed to build a device is freely available to everyone, and that anyone has the right to build as many as they want, for themselves or to sell. That is what I believe in, that is why it is an Open Shop. We will tap into that information. We will add to that information.

Another orientation is 3D printers. These amazing machines allow you to input a CAD file, and then they either cut out a product from a block of material, or build a product by extruding material. If you have the machine, you can download a file to build the product you want, at only the cost of the raw material and the electricity. We will have these machines. We will teach CAD classes.

Our main problem is that we need a steady location, centrally located. We would like to have some equipment, and 24/7 access. At this time we get together when we can, in empty rooms, which really isn’t enough.

I am trying to get pledges so that we can plan a budget, and actually go out and lease a building. If we get pledges of over $700 a month, we can find a small place, slightly bigger than a garage. At $1000, we start having elbow room. OR, if anyone reading this would like to donate any size space, PLEASE CONTACT ME!! This would be a long term relationship, lol.

Personally, I pledge at least $100 a month, a little more if needed. I also pledge my time and every possible effort. I am in the process of making this a non-profit corporation, which is not easy or cheap.

Memberships are available at different amounts.  As I understand it right now, I can not promise any privileges for members based on their contributions. Pledge whatever amount you can, not what you wish you could. If there is not enough pledged, we can never open the doors. We will make membership cards that display your status (and perhaps they will have RFID to unlock the doors).

Eventually, this will be the most exciting place to BE that you have ever experienced. The goal is to have comfy couches, kitchen, work areas, and social events. We will have WiFi and websites, and classes based on learning how to DO things.

So, figure us into your budget. Doesn’t this seem to be worth at least as much as a dinner and a movie?

Sacramento Open Shop Pledge Form

OH YEAH! Board Positions!

A board member is someone that can raise funds on a regular basis. That could mean recruiting new (paying) members, donating funds themselves, getting grants, or any other method that you can dream up. At this early stage, you can be a member of the Board of Directors if you are a Gold Member and recruit 2 other Gold Members. In the future it will become much more difficult to join the board. We will have a maximum of 11 people on the board.

You can put this title on your resume and business cards. Trust me, that is VERY impressive to people that run companies.

How to get a job.

I got a job this week, in the midst of the Bush Depression.

I consider myself almost unemployable. I am 56, I have not worked at a normal job for 5 years, and my resume is full of companies that went out of business.

The one good thing is that I went to an HVAC school and graduated. That shows that I did something productive for the past 6 months, and that I am not senile.

I got a job by adopting a new attitude. I have become CUTTHROAT!

I would do anything to get a job. I have decided that many people out there are lying about who they are, some are faking their educational credits and job history. The only way to compete is to do the same thing.

Do ANYTHING to get your foot in the door.

Improving your resume:

First of all is the resume. It has to get past the receptionist that is the first filter, and yet still carry enough information to intrigue the hiring manager. So you put a list of skills at the top of the page. Every single skill that you have, and make it sound professional (you do not cook, you are a baker!) You will have variations of this list depending on what type of job you are applying for. That receptionist has been given a list of three key words. If none of those key words is in your list, it is thrown away. If all three are there, it goes in the ‘good’ pile.

The receptionist may filter your resume into a company format before passing it on. That means that all of your fancy formatting efforts are destroyed, and your resume may become unreadable. I have decided to convert my resume to Adobe’s .PDF format using a free service I found online. That way, it will usually be delivered with the same style that you put into it.

Eventually your resume is read by ‘the old white guy’. This is someone with the authority to hire people. They are usually older and very experienced. They have a built in B.S. detector. To get an interview, you either have to satisfy him, or snow him with your B.S.

You must word every job description on your resume to please ‘the old white guy’. It must look as though you were an excellent worker, a self-starter, made the company more profitable, etc. You only left because you had a much, much better opportunity somewhere else, or the company failed through no fault of your own.

Finding jobs:

What type of jobs are you capable of getting? Think of every different job title that you should look for. Write them down. Make the list as long as possible.

Now search on the net for job sites that specialize in your type of work. Craigslist is great but do not stop there, because the competition is fierce.

Now start applying for jobs. If possible, email out at least 10 resumes a day, and try to reach 20 a day.  If you are employable at all, by the time you send out 100 resumes, you should get an interview. Do that in a week, not a year.

Many businesses have set up an application process of some sort. Learn to get through these at high speed. Have all of your information printed in large letters and stapled to the wall above the computer so that you can type it in without hesitation (or some other suitable system). You did know that some of these processes are timed, right?

The questions are often designed to determine your aptitude, or your ability to manage people. Write down the tricky questions and talk to professional HR people about how to answer them on your next application. Remember, if they are looking for managers, you have to say that you like telling people what to do. If they are looking for workers, you have to say that you enjoy taking orders from people, even when you know they are wrong.

The interview-

When you get an interview, it means that they have decided that you have the background to do the job. From this point on, you have to sell yourself.

We have all heard that phrase, but what does it mean?

This is the key to getting the job. You have become a product. Think of yourself as a product in a grocery store. The company is the customer. They are hungry, they only have a little bit of money, and they are only going to buy one item. They wander around the store, looking at hundreds of items. You want them to grab you and drop the money on the counter.

At any grocery store, there are the ‘impulse’ items right near the counter. These items sell faster than anything else does. They are very cheap, very brightly packaged, and are bought on impulse, not because they are on the shopping list. Nobody writes ‘3 musketeers’ on their shopping list.

You want to be an impulse item. You must be attractive, interesting, warm, cheap, and convenient. So SMILE! Wear a suit or other business attire. Make friends. This is all about reaching out to them on an emotional level.

It is very similar to a date. You look them in the eyes with a warm smile and a handshake. You remember their name. You find common ground to talk about. If you get a chance, you take them for a ride.

A good way to look at it is that these people may become your best friends for the next 10 years. Not only that, they are willing to give you money! Most of my friends have never given me a dime. If one of them said “Hey Bill, every time you come to spend the day with me, I’ll give you a hundred bucks.” I would be there every day!

Answer their questions as if you have the highest standard of morality, do your best to project the feeling that you know how to handle the job, and act as if the prospect of doing the job absolutely thrills you. They want to have someone that is part of the team, easy to work with, responsible, professional, etc. BE THAT PERSON!

Then go home and have a beer.

Magic

For many years of my life, I searched for magic in the world. I have actually climbed mountains, walked through forests and desserts, and met with people claiming to have certain powers. I learned to meditate and alter the way I perceive the world just to catch a glimpse of something that should not be there.

In one way, I have to say that magic does not exist. If someone tries to tell you that they can walk on water or lead you to paradise, you should run the other way as fast as possible. Most of the amazing things that you hear about are either totally false or a case of a professional using special equipment to fool everyone.

 

But there is a bit of ‘magic’ in the world.

 

I find magic in the personalities of the people that I meet. Each person is different, each has experienced a different world, and you can listen to them for days while they tell you their experiences and how they perceive the world around them.

 

I have talked to many people for extended periods of time. Sometimes I tell my friends that I have found that everyone is crazy. This is just a humorous expression of my perception, because I have found that everyone drifts from reality and talks about beliefs that are obviously impossible.

 

A major problem is that we are seldom logical and rational people, fully aware and awake. More often we are emotional and reacting to events as they occur, and at some level of attention from deep sleep to day-dreaming. The average person probably is only fully awake for a few hours each day.

Rationality and logic are actually a result of extensive training, and very few people use them. Instead they rely on ‘common sense’.  Common sense is a list of ‘facts’ that authorities figures have passed on to you during your life. The problem is, was the first authority figure that created the ‘fact’ a rational and awake person? Usually, the information that we carry with us as common sense carries with it the attitudes and morals of our parents, priests, or childhood peers. The truth is that common sense is a total fabrication. The term is only used when you do not do something the exact way that someone else expected you to do it. It is really just a lack of communication.

 

 

 

What if I told you that there is a better way to think? A way to improve your level of success in the world? A ‘common sense’ approach that feels natural and yet always gives you a better result than usual? It is done by using a combination of rational thinking, emotional judgment, symbol manipulation, strategic planning, controlled attitude, and precise communication.

 

We only need to use a little bit of rational thinking, so don’t get stressed about it. We start every ‘train’ of thought with things that we know to be true. No assumptions. If your initial thoughts are based on concepts that can be proven scientifically, then they are less likely to turn into daydreams, and other people will believe you.

 

We all make emotional judgments about everything. The ‘hunch’ is actually a message from the non-verbal areas of the brain. These non-verbal areas are much larger than the thin layer that differentiates us from animals. This type of thinking made it possible for our ancestors to survive for a billion years. You must take a hunch seriously, but then filter it with logical and rational analysis to see if it fits reality.

 

Symbol manipulation is what we do very well. Language is the best example. With language we create a sound that represents a certain thing, and then share it with our friends. We use math, music and special terminology for our work. Take key concepts of any subject that you wish to discuss/understand and create/find a simple word and symbol to represent each concept. Suddenly it is much easier to manipulate that knowledge. It is condensed and easy to move about in your mind.

 

Strategic planning is not often taught in any place but military and management schools. Most people are taught to be workers, to complete any task set before them by a manager. Lower level managers are taught how to manage people. They try to get them to come to work every day, do the job, not fight, not waste time or resources, and stay until the end of the day.

But at the top there has to be someone that is a strategic planner. They have to pilot the entire organization in profitable directions. To them, people and departments are just symbols to be manipulated. They have a goal to achieve, and everything else is an obstacle, opportunity, or tool. Usually they have a time limit and a budget as the limits of their ‘playing field’.

There can only be one person at the top. But if each of us has a better understanding of what that person is trying to achieve, we can help insure that our company can reach those goals.

 

Controlled Attitude is a symbol/key-word that I use to represent the self-image that we should project to others. What I mean is that your attitude has a lot to do with success in anything that you do. If you allow yourself to act differently each day depending on how you happen to ‘feel’ at the moment, you will never be very successful.

Let us say that you want people to like you. The best way to get people to like you is to always be a happy person. No matter how you really feel, you smile at everyone that you meet and talk in a happy, up-beat manner. One bad day where you express depressed or angry thoughts will be remembered for years, and people will not feel very close to you.

On the other hand, if you want to be a successful leader, you have to project the attitude that you know exactly what you are doing, know where you are going, and inspire others to believe that if they follow you they will improve their life too.

To use this technique correctly, you must decide what your goals are, and exactly what attitude you need to project. It may take years to change a ‘bad’ attitude into a useful one. You can not fake the right attitude, you have to live it.

 

Precise communication is essential to powerful collaboration. Say the right word at the right time with the right inflection, and the meaning that you wish to convey leaps into the minds of others like a flaming spear. Anything else is just a mush that has to be translated by the listener. Use of phrases like “that thing” or “these ones” convey nothing except the need for attention. The listener must approach and solve the mystery. The speaker may as well be invisible.

No one can read your mind. If someone has been with you long enough that they can figure out what you mean before you are done talking, you are just boring and predictable.

On the other hand, when working as a team, everyone should know the goals and direction of travel. Some things do not need to be said because they can be predicted or assumed. At those times the correct words can resonate in everyone’s mind. To say complementary words for the group makes the mind glow and the spirit leap. A snide or sarcastic remark can destroy the rhythm, break the spirit and dissipates the group.

 

Can you remember all of that? Do you think any of it is wrong? Perhaps you know of something else that can be added to the list. Comment and I will listen. Inspire me to write more.

Social Media Friends

In the olden days (like 10 years ago), the friends you had were people that you had met through other friends, family, or work. Some people had one friend, very social people had 20 friends. Now it is easy to have 2000 friends. You may have never met most of these people, but you can talk to them whenever you want through email, facebook, twitter or any other social site.

My problem right now is that I only consider someone my friend if I have met them in real life. On Meetup, I have over 100 friends that I have talked to, drank with, and shared memories: http://www.meetup.com/members/2357457/friends/  On LinkedIn I currently have about 30 people that I have met or worked with, with only a little overlap: http://www.linkedin.com/in/wildzbill

On Twitter (http://twitter.com/wildzbill) I am following a new model. I don’t know most of those people. I have a few friends, a few famous people, and a bunch of strangers. The key here is to use a filter program like twitterdeck, and put everyone in different categories. So I have friends, stars, and everyone else. I will add other categories, so that if I am interested in a certain topic, I can tap into the information that is flowing from that group. But most people are just people. They talk about their lives, their relationships, what they had for breakfast, etc. They will not go into any category, and I will probably never read their posts.

This has a deeper meaning. No one will listen to you unless you have a single, obvious label! If you broadcast more than one interest, you will be shoved into that mass of ‘other’ people that everyone ignores! You are just noise/spam/follower_#3456!

So, in response to this effect, people create many different identities. It is quite common to have 5 different identities on Twitter. First, you have yourself. That is, you broadcast whatever you want, and only your friends respond. Then you have your business ID, where you only broadcast information that is professional, useful, dignified, etc. Perhaps you have a ‘party’ ID, that only broadcasts your crazy/impulsive thoughts.

I am contemplating a change in my entire concept of friends. I will switch over to the idea of having as many friends/followers as possible, and just use filters to look at my real friends, business associates, interesting people, famous people, creative people. If you are reading this, you have to wonder, “Which group am I in?” Then you have to think the same thought about all of your ‘friends’.

Personally, I hope that I end up in categories like friends, creatives, geniuses, studs, organizers, and wisemen. :)