Category Archives: Random

Publishing a Website Using Google Spreadsheets

Since spreadsheets and databases are pretty much the same thing, I thought it would make sense to have a web publishing platform built on Google Spreadsheet. After taking a look around, I’m having difficulty finding anything.

I checked out the Google Spreadsheet API, and they seem to have all the functionality you need to build such an app. The only solutions I could find, however, were written for developers:

There’s even Tabletop, which takes Google Spreadsheets and converts content to Javascript for you. Still, no simple solution for publishing a widget or webpage yourself.

This slideshow, Google Spreadsheet as a Web Application Data Prototyping  highlights some of the pros and cons of using Google Spreadsheet as your database, and how the author implemented it himself.

Pros – Spreadsheet architecture is similar to relational database, changing cell/column data is easy, clients understand spreadsheet, importing data is easy, quick prototyping.

Cons – Time consuming, not an end solution.

What if you could publish websites quickly from a Google Spreadsheet so it wasn’t time consuming? And what if anyone could use Google Spreadsheet, or a similar spreadsheet app, to act as the primary database that runs a simple website?

That would be cool.

LA Tech/Startup Event Calendars

Are you organizing an event for the LA tech/startup community? The best way to get the word out about your event is partnering with people/organizations that have a reach to your community, ideally those with large and engaged mailing lists. That being said, you should get your event listed on all the tech/startup focused event calendars. Here’s the list: Event Calendar
Alexa Rank: 86,509/18,308 (global/US)
How to get listed: Submit event through site.
Event listings: Curated.

Built In LA Events
Alexa Rank: 187,070/29,837 (global/US)
How to get listed: Submit events through site.
Event listings: All submitted events are listed.

Startup Digest Los Angeles Event Calendar
Alexa Rank: 67,329/30,088 (global/US).
How to get listed: Submit through site.
Event listings: Curated.

SiliconBeachLA Event Calendar
Alexa Rank: 613,014/139,141 (global/US).
How to get listed: Email
Event listings: Most submitted events are listed.

TechZulu Event Calendar
Alexa Rank: 334,263/166,764 (global/US)
How to get listed: Email
Event listing: Curated.

QStreetStartup Events Calendar
Alexa Rank: 3,422,053/NA (global/US)
How to get listed: Submit through site.
Event listings: Not sure.

WeAreLATech Event Calendar
Alexa Rank: 8,596,302/NA (global/US).
How to get listed: Submit through site.
Event listings: Most submitted events are listed.

LA Tech Events
Alexa Rank: No Data.
How to get listed: Submit through site.
Event listings: All submitted events.

Streamlining Process – How Long Should You Spend?

Trying to decide if you should spend time making a process you repeatedly do more efficient? Think about how often you do the task and how much time you can shave off if you make it more efficient. Then, look inside the table to see how long you’re allowed to work on the initial workload you put in before you’ve streamlined your process and start saving time.

is_it_worth_the_timeSource: XKCD


Brushing Up On Coding Chops

I just built a log-in, sign-up functionality from scratch using PHP/MySQL this past week. There’s so much logic built into something that’s seemingly so simple!

– What to do if people sign-up with a non-valid email address or password.
– Checking to see if a new sign-up isn’t using an email address already registered.
– Seeing if a user signing-in has used the right password/email combo.
– Giving them the right notification based on any errors they’ve made.

I haven’t even touched letting people stay logged-in if they leave the browser, or letting people log-out once they’ve logged-in. No wonder the best practice these days is not building everything from scratch.

So I’m turning this into a framework I can use for any web product that requires login/signup functionality.

In & Over My Head

I’m about to sit in on a Coloft Academy class called Elasticsearch, An Introduction. As it’s title suggests, it’s a class that introduces you to Elasticsearch, a “flexible and powerful open source, distributed real-time search and analytics engine for the cloud.” Long story short, I’m pretty lost already.

Other students of this class include the CTO of DocStoc, and devs from Science and Demand Media. Definitely going to be lost…

In my experience though, pushing your limits is a great way to speed up learning. I assume I’ll be completely lost during this class, and perhaps a few years later I’ll remember this class and notice how far I’ve come along.

Mostly, I’m writing this blog post so I can type up all the words I don’t understand:

  • “Clustered” database
  • Dynamo
  • Riak
  • Cassandra
  • Lucene – a set of Java libraries to perform search
  • NFS
  • top-level namespace
  • “clustering”
  • boolean filters

Huh, surprisingly I was able to follow most of the class. Baller.

The Heartfelt College Application Letter That Got Me Into College (Unedited).

I recently dug up my college application letter that got me into Claremont McKenna College. This was written by an 18 year old Yohei, and 8 years later, I must say I’m surprised at how consistent I’ve been. Please excuse my writing, I had just spent three years at a high school in Japan and my english had deteriorated quite a bit.

Definitely read the signature at the bottom, it’s the most ridiculous part of the application letter.

Dear people that are going to read this letter,

My name is Yohei Nakajima. I was raised in a Japanese family of four; I have one younger brother. After moving to Seattle at the age of two, I spent thirteen years of my life there until I moved to Japan for the last 3 years of high school. The reason I moved to Japan was because my parents wanted me to have some sort of Japanese education before I decided a country in which to go to college to. While many students had trouble deciding a college within the United States, I was first faced with two big choices, whether to go to college in Japan or in the United States. Since all of my friends from high school are moving onto college in Japan, it was a hard decision, but I decided that I would like to continue my education in the United States. Japan is a very college-conscious society, and people are based on the college they go to, and not how hard they study there. This results in many Japanese college students to party for four years. I believe that I know myself well, and I knew it would make it a lot easier for me to study when surrounded by peers with high aspirations.

When people ask me why I chose Claremont McKenna College, I tell them “love at first sight.”

After convincing my parents, who wanted me to go to a Japanese college, to visit American colleges with me, I spent a spring and a summer to visit over 15 college on both the east and west coast. I was looking for a small college where I could get to know everybody very well. I was looking for a college far enough from the city that people would stay on campus, but close enough to go on the weekends. I was looking for a college where students were there to study, but ready to have fun. I was looking for a college that would give me chances to meet people that would have a positive effect on me. I had an extremely specific idea of the college I wanted to spend four years at. I didn’t think any college would fit my idea of an “idea college”, but I was wrong. When people ask me why I chose Claremont McKenna College, I tell them “love at first sight.” It was no question. I had actually fallen in love with the campus and the atmosphere.

In the future, I am looking to be an entrepreneur.

In the future, I am looking to be an entrepreneur. I was thinking about dual majoring in economics and legal studies. I want to meet people I could work with after college, and I want to become close friends with many of these people. My academic strengths are in the math and sciences but learning those subjects and the jobs in those subjects did not appeal to me. This is one of the reasons I am choosing entrepreneurship for my future, because I would always start a company that had to do with technology, and I thought my strength could help me there. Through the people I meet, and through the many subjects I study at CMC, I hope to find an interest, which I may later continue as an entrepreneur.

I am confident that I will lead one of the most fun, most educational, and most fulfilling college life that anybody has ever lead.

I do not have any concerns for college, and I am confident that I will lead one of the most fun, most educational, and most fulfilling college life that anybody has ever lead. My only expectation from college is to be part of my great college life. I hope to become a leading member of the college and be one of the most involved students with the college.

People value many things in life, and I happen to value happiness the most. I consider myself to be one of the happiest people in the world, I have always been this way, and plan to stay this way.

I consider myself to be very “go with the flow” kind of person. I keep my goals extremely high, but I keep my expectations extremely low. This allows me to work hard and keep trying, but to stay happy. People value many things in life, and I happen to value happiness the most. I consider myself to be one of the happiest people in the world, I have always been this way, and plan to stay this way. I see the best things in life, and ignore all the bad things in life. Although many people would think of this as ignorant, I would have to ask those people why being ignorant is bad if it can keep you happy. I truly believe in the phrase “ignorance is bliss” from the Matrix, but this does not mean I do not have aspiration. There are many things in life that still motivate me to grow to my potential, which I believe is extremely high (Note: I am full of myself, and extremely aware of it, but I love myself for it, and it makes me happy).

…we have become engaged…We both also understand that it may not work and in that case we shall both go on with life.

One of the things that motivate me is something I would like to share. She is a girl I met in my years at Japan and is extremely important to me. Although we both understand it may seem hasty, we have become engaged. She will spend four years of college in Japan while I study at CMC, and she plans to move to the United States after that. Although we both understand that in most cases a four year long term relationship does not work, we are going to try. We both also understand that it may not work and in that case we shall both go on with life. With Akane in my life, I believe I will be able to concentrate on my studying and social life. I’m going to make and assumption that I am the only person to write about the fiancé in their introduction letter, so you can tell how much she means to me.

this is something people will figure out quickly, and something people will not forget: I love everybody.

Now if I may, I want to make one last point that I am actually a very fun guy. I wasn’t sure if this introduction letter was a formal one or not, so I decided to go ahead and try to write a formal letter. My writing is something I know I must work on. It has never been my strong point, and living in Japan for three years didn’t help too much. Oh, this is actually going to be my last point, and this is something people will figure out quickly, and something people will not forget: I love everybody.

Yes, I love you too, and I can’t wait to see you,

Your loving friend,


PS: I really can’t wait to start college at CMC.

Life Is Beautiful

Early Morning: 15 minutes of yoga, 20 minute bike ride, made & ate breakfast (omelet & banana)!

I was looking at my new year’s resolutions yesterday and realized that some simple activities would tackle multiple resolutions. For example, “stress less about small things” and “maintain an awesome body” (read: work out more) can be knocked out with a little yoga and bike ride in the morning. Cooking and eating breakfast is also something that always makes my whole day better. Not for the first time, I decide these are things I’ll do more often.

Late Morning: Set up classes for tech entrepreneurs!

I’m looking forward to the classes coming up at Coloft Academy. I can’t deny that there are still difficulties I’m facing with growing the program, but I’m noticeably improving across the board with my job. Today, both owners of Coloft (Avesta & Cam) came in, which is basically enough to make my day – they’re both so awesome.

Lunch: Big group lunch!

Our monthly lunch where the members of the shared workspace I work for eat lunch together that we order from Z Garden. The fact that we always get Z Garden is now a running joke (I guess there used to be more variety?), but I love that it’s turning into a comfort food I associate with Coloft.

Afternoon: Listening and giving feedback to pitches!

Half-way through the 5-week tech accelerator program we’re doing with the high school kids. Today, they did a practice pitch for the first time, and both teams did great. The students in the program, the organizers, and David (who teaches with me) are all great to work with. Definitely makes me wonder if teaching is something I’d want to get into.

Early Evening: Group Bowling!

Well, that was fun. Throwing heavy balls across a room, knocking things down. Definitely slightly disappointed that I was stood up (?) by a really cute girl I was hoping to get to know better, but everything happens for a reason. Bonding with work friends outside of work is fun, I should do that more often. Bowling is also awesome, everyone should do it more often.

Late Evening: ~*~Spiritual gathering~*~

My friend Snap Chatted me the picture of a squiggly colorful light thing that seemed to float in the air. On my drive home, I see this squiggly light against a window of a place called The Source. Feeling drawn to it, I park my car and walk up to the window on the second story. I meet a guy named Nate who invites me to the Source Cafe downstairs, and met some people with great energy including an amazing raw food chef (I should say supposedly since I didn’t actually try his food yet, but I will soon). I step outside after a bit and notice the door to the upstairs open (it wasn’t earlier) and step into a gorgeous space that was once a christian church, then a hari krishna church, and now a multi-faith spiritual community center. My friend is there to introduce me to his friends (they’d just finished a 2 hour meditation session), and I decide I’ll try out their Sunday/Wednesday meditation sessions sometime soon.

Nighttime: Write & relax…

Wrote this up. Not trying to proofread, just wanted to share my wonderful day with anybody who his might energize. Now I’m going to snack a little more, and chiiiiill, before I go to bed.

Good night!

Santa Monica Youth Tech Academy: Day 1 of Week 2

I know this is kind of jumping ahead because I didn’t document anything from the first week of the 5-week Santa Monica Youth Tech Program that I’m teaching this summer. But as part of today’s exercise, we had all the students type non-stop for 5 minutes. This was what I wrote up.

We had an awesome first day for the second week of the Santa Monica Youth Tech Program. Although I would have loved to continue covering customer development (which is what we did last week), due to the objectives of the course (to have them understand the different roles/functions of a startup), we have to move onto design this week.

For the first class, I spent the first half talking about design jobs in the tech startup world. I explained to them that design is increasingly becoming focused on the people using a product, aka UX. Looking at various job titles and median incomes it became clear to them that “graphic design” is only a small portion of the design world. Today, the best paid designers know UI/UX and even front-end development that makes them valuable.

For the second half of the class, we had Ben Fathi come in and talk about his experience as a designer, what he loves about it, and how he got into it. He then dove into a basic Photoshop tutorial and had each student do a web site mock up using layers, guides, clipping masks, and other functions he finds himself using. Because he’s been doing this for so long (and does a great job at it!), I knew the students would learn specifically the features of Photoshop that a designer actually uses (Photoshop has a lot of features and mastering all of them would take too long to fit into this course).

I’m very excited to have Chris Brereton from Picture Healing come in tomorrow and introduce them to Illustrator tomorrow. Considering these kids are building civic tech startups, I think it’ll be awesome for them to hear about his experience building a social enterprise focused on tech, the pivot he’s gone through, etc.