Book Club,Thoughts — December 31, 2011

My apologies for not sharing any books these past few months. I’ve been reading on a Kindle. And Amazon, it seems, doesn’t agree that second hand books are worth handing down to the digital age.

There is a tip I’d like to share. Something that has worked very well for me is to identify a writer I love. Read everything they have written. Read what they read. And continue ad infinitum.

For the last five years I’ve pretty much exclusively read fiction. Dostoyevsky to Kafta to Kundera to Cervantas and now Vargas Llosa. But I could not resist reading Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs (I highly recommend it!).

Since then I continued with Einstein. And currently Benjamin Franklin. But back to the first two…

Einstein and Jobs are connected in more ways than dying and being born (respectively) in the same year.  I’ve wanted to write about my favorite connection for some time. Since today is the last day of 2011, it probably explains my sense of urgency.

I remember watching Jonathan Ive’s speech at “Celebrating Steve” and being moved to tears by what he said:

Now while hopefully the work appeared inevitable. Appeared simple, and easy, it really cost. It cost us all, didn’t it?

But you know what? It cost him most. He cared the most. He worried the most deeply. He constantly questioned, ‘Is this good enough? Is this right?’

And despite all his successes, all his achievements, he never presumed, he never assumed, that we would get there in the end. And when the ideas didn’t come, and when the prototypes failed, it was with great intent, with faith, he decided to believe we would eventually make something great.

But it wasn’t until Einstein’s biography that I started thinking about caring in the large scope of life. Physicist Lee Smolin described Einstein as, “a gardener weeding a flower bed.” He wrote:

I believe what allowed Einstein to achieve so much was primarily a moral quality. He simply cared far more than most of his colleagues that the laws of physics have to explain everything in nature coherently and consistently.

Care about what you do. Sweat the small stuff. Charles Eames once said, “The details are not the details. They are the product”. I believe this to my core. My New Year’s Resolution is simple: To care even more.

Happy New Year!

Hero vs Coward.

Thoughts — December 7, 2011

“I tell my kids, what is the difference between a hero and a coward? What is the difference between being yellow and being brave? No difference. Only what you do. They both feel the same. They both fear dying and getting hurt. The man who is yellow refuses to face up to what he’s got to face. The hero is more disciplined and he fights those feelings off and he does what he has to do. But they both feel the same, the hero and the coward. People who watch you judge you on what you do, not how you feel.”

—Cus D’amato, legendary boxing trainer

The Secret of Life

Thoughts — December 4, 2011

I find it hard to believe I have never seen these 46 seconds before:

“When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” – Steve Jobs

So true.

(found via

On perfection.

Building,Thoughts — November 23, 2011

“Have you ever thought, not only about the airplane but whatever man builds, that all of man’s industrial efforts, all his computations and calculations, all the nights spent working over draughts and blueprints, invariably culminate in the production of a thing whose sole and guiding principle is the ultimate principle of simplicity?

“It is as if there were a natural law which ordained that to achieve this end, to refine the curve of a piece of furniture, or a ship’s keel, or the fuselage of an airplane, until gradually it partakes of the elementary purity of the curve of the human breast or shoulder, there must be experimentation of several generations of craftsmen. In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness.”

Antoine de Saint Exupéry — French Aviator

Nothing lasts forever.

Thoughts — October 6, 2011

Put a dent in heaven. You’ll be missed dearly here on earth.

PERSIST on telling your story.

Thoughts — July 5, 2011

I stumbled upon this letter a few moments ago. Pixar animator Austin Madison hand-wrote it for “aspiring artists” … I would say for aspiring creatives in any field.

(images courtesy of Willie Downs’ Animator Letters Project)




May 17, 2011

To Whom it May Inspire,

I, like many of you artists out there, constantly shift between two states. The first (and far more preferable of the two) is white-hot, “in the zone” seat-of-the-pants, firing on all cylinders creative mode. This is when you lay your pen down and the ideas pour out like wine from a royal chalice! This happens about 3% of the time.

The other 97% of the time I am in the frustrated, struggling, office-corner-full-of-crumpled-up-paper mode. The important thing is to slog diligently through this quagmire of discouragement and despair. Put on some audio commentary and listen to the stories of professionals who have been making films for decades going through the same slings and arrows of outrageous production problems.

In a word: PERSIST.

PERSIST on telling your story. PERSIST on reaching your audience. PERSIST on staying true to your vision. Remember what Peter Jackson said, “Pain is temporary. Film is forever.” And he of all people should know.

So next time you hit writer’s block, or your computer crashes and you lose an entire night’s work because you didn’t hit save (always hit save), just remember: you’re never far from that next burst of divine creativity. Work through that 97% of murky abyssmal mediocrity to get to that 3% which everyone will remember you for!

I guarantee you, the art will be well worth the work!

Your friend and mine,

Austin Madison



Building — June 10, 2011

Today we pulled the wraps off my company’s fourth product A web service to bookmark, share, and discover videos worth watching.

We’re only in prototype form now. So for those that enjoy playing an active part of an ever evolving creation,  please sign up and let me know what you think! I’m really looking forward to receiving your video recommendations (@mosko) and sharing some of my own favorites with you.

Here’s one to get started:

We’ll be on Facebook, Twitter, and (of course) Shiftd if you want to stay posted.


What is execution?

Thoughts — May 9, 2011

There is so much talk these days about execution. But what exactly is execution? Another buzz word like innovation? It seems fashionable to claim execution is more important than ideas… (Can we really separate the two?). What is an idea without execution? And what does it mean to execute without an idea?

Here’s a Japanese man ironing a shirt:

To me this feels like execution. All movements are precise, purposeful, and lead towards one final result.

Feynman Lectures on Computing

Book Club — February 21, 2011

Over Chinese New Year I rediscovered and old favorite that I want to share with you today. Feynman Lectures on Computation, while not a novel (I said I would share novels) is so good that I don’t want to leave it sitting on my bookshelf any longer.

From 1983 to 1986, Richard Feynman taught a course at Caltech called “Potentialities and Limitations of Computing Machines.” Although computing during that time is quite different than today, most of the material is timeless and explained in the brilliant, yet whimsical, manner that Feynman is so famous for.

Take for example, where Feynman first introduces the concept of the Turing machine:

Turing’s idea was to make a machine that was kind of a analogue of a mathematician who has to follow a set of rules. The idea is that the mathematician has a long strip of paper broken up into squares, and what he sees puts him in some state of mind which determines what he writes in the next square. So imagine the guy’s brain having lots of different possible states which are mixed up and changed by looking at the strip of paper. After thinking along these lines and abstracting a bit, Turing came up with a kind of machine which is referred to as – surprise, surprise – a Turing machine. We will see that these machines are horribly inefficient and slow – so much so that no one would ever waste their time building one except for amusement  – but that, if we are patient with them, they can do wonderful things.

What can you expect from this book? Well, Feynman himself explains it best: “These lectures are about what we can and can’t do with machines today, and why.” They are told in the style of imagining “you are explaining your ideas to your former smart, but ignorant self, at the beginning if your studies!” Absolutely fun and refreshing!

If you would like to read this book, tell three people about my company’s latest project, WikiReader, and then send me an email. Before next week, I’ll chose a name by random, and send the winner my book.

Shipping, anywhere in the world, is on me.


Thoughts — January 24, 2011

May you rest in peace, and catch all the birds in heaven – my furry little friend.

© 2017 moskovich