Just Get Started

It was new years eve when I had the idea for a new project. I was walking around my neighborhood on a phone call with my buddy Dave. We were talking about what we wanted to do with the upcoming year. We both had similar goals. Dave wanted to meet more people in his town and create a community of like minded coders and designers and I wanted to share more of myself and my interests with people and take more time to directly answer questions from the dozens of emails and twitter questions I get online.


Ideas are the easy part. Especially around the new year. It’s the DOING that is the hard part. Usually I try to set up habits to get in the right frame of mind. Usually by setting deadlines or to do something every day. But for these projects, we needed something more. They were bigger projects than just trying to floss more or do morning pushups. We decided to try something new.


Both of us have heard about this before. Have an accountability partner that keeps you on the right path. For some, it’s a workout buddy. Others, it’s a nightly talk with a spouse to be sure you did everything on your list. Dave and I decided that we were going to keep each other accountable for these ideas to make them actually happen.

That was 4 weeks ago. Dave and I talked at least once a week after that, checking in on each others progress. Dave has made a lot of progress by finding a shared office space and starting to get a meet up on the books.

I, however, did nothing toward my goal of a new podcast. Just a bunch of talk about the structure of the show, the name, what hosting platform I would use, what recording software, etc. I mean, I THOUGHT I was doing a bunch of work to get this podcast started. I scheduled meetings with other friends of mine to talk about what software they use for their podcast. I have thought about topics, the length of the show, the format. Should it be a Q&A show? Maybe a show with a co host? Maybe both?

All of this thinking kept me from actually doing what I originally wanted to do.

Just Get Started

I was discussing names, yet again, with Dave over slack when he interrupted and said. “You haven’t even made one show.”

I was reminded instantly of the advice I give to students when they start asking about what tools to buy, what computer to get, what camera or lens do they need. The answer is always Just Get Started. I wasn’t taking my own advice.

I immediately opened up Screenflow and recorded my first episode. No name, no title, no structure. I finally had momentum (or is it inertia?). Instead of setting up a new site to take questions, I just asked on Twitter. I received a few questions and recorded my next episode.

Using That Inertia

Once I got started with the first episode, more answers started to show up. I remembered that a friend of mine made a website for hosting podcasts. Also, another friend of mine just started a new podcast on that very same site. “Good Enough For Me” I thought as I signed up for the service and my new podcast had a home.

The Name

I recorded the first two episodes and still didn’t have a name. I thought about names like “Get Started Already” to remind myself and others to just start with projects. But I thought it may be too simplistic. Then I remembered my favorite talk I gave called “The Creative Gap”. It was based on this video from Ira Glass where Ira talks about the Gap between where you want to be and where you are now. I always thought that that idea was very powerful. Using the gap as a way to think of being a beginner at something not as a fixed thing, but as a journey towards where you want to go.

Two Hours

That’s all it took to go from Dave reminding me to start a podcast and for me to have a podcast up on iTunes. Listen to the first episode and you will see how scattered it is. But by the third episode, I had a name, and a rough structure for the episodes is starting to take shape. All because I took that first step in actually doing the work.

What are you stuck on?

What project did you say you were going to start this year? Have you done it? If not, try just doing one part of it today. Not the planning part of it, but an actually part of it. Did you want to exercise more? Don’t figure out what gym to join. Just so some pushups. Want to make a new website? Try making 10 blog posts first. Want to take more photos? Don’t watch another camera review. Go take 100 photos with your phone and choose your favorite 10 to put on Instagram.

It’s a lesson I constantly have to re-learn. The details don’t need to be perfect. Just get started making something real and the rest will be easier to figure out.

Go! Get Started!

Favorite Books I Read in 2015

Bold: How to Go Big, Make Bank, and Better the World

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work

The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream

The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure

2015 Goals Met List

Before you go make big plans for next year, don’t forget to celebrate everything you accomplished THIS year. It’s rare any of us take a moment to really appreciate all the wins we have had. Here is my list of personal and business goals that I achieved in 2015.

Business Goals Met in 2015
Build an Amazing team to help run Greyscalegorilla.
Focus more on what is working and ignore what isn’t.
Surround myself with people that are better at me at everything so that I can learn from them.
Learn More Cinema 4D and X-Particles.
Empower my team to make decisions instead of micromanaging. (this one is tough and is still ongoing.)
Launch Renewal Pricing For GSG Products.
Make The Reflectance Channels Easier To use In Cinema 4D.

Personal Goals Met in 2015
Marry my best friend.
Read 20 books. (By read, I mean listen to on Audible)
Be more present when around people. (AKA – Stop playing with my phone).
Move to Michigan to be closer to family.
Cold showers every day.
50+ Pushups every day.
Go to more conferences.

There were plenty of goals that weren’t met or only partially met. I wanted to try to meditate more for example, but I probably did it less than 20 times this year. I will add it to my 2016 list and push forward.

Hope you had a productive 2015 and have a wonderful 2016.

This Paragraph Should Be At The Beginning Of Every Book

Use strong words to communicate your ideas. There will always be caveats and one-off counter examples. But putting those things in your writing or speaking simply confuses the message.

Getting Real

This is from a book called Getting Real. It totally changed the way I thought about the world.

They cleverly disguised it as a book about software development, but it’s ideas have changed almost every part of my life.

Halfway though reading the book, I had to stop bookmarking pages because I realized I was bookmarking every page.

Also recommended by the author – Rework

Everything is Not for Everyone

Digital Pinball Machine Final Build And Specs

It’s been almost three years since I started building a digital pinball machine. in 2011 I started getting really into pinball. But, I couldn’t really have a “Real” pinball machine in my apartment because of the noise. So, I decided to start building a digital version out of a custom PC, some virtual pinball software called Visual Pinball.

These digital pinball emulators really worked well and all the games that I played as a High-School and College kid were available in their original form. I could build ONE cabinet, download all the files, and have ALL the games I ever played in one box. Cool!

I started doing research online and seeing other videos and photos of how other people have built their machines. I even tried some other builds at the Chicago Pinball Expo. I asked a lot a questions and did a lot of research before building my own rig. Learning how to maneuver through Microsoft Windows was probably the most challenging part. I haven’t touched Windows in over 15 years so it was pretty tedious for me to learn to do even simple things like install the software and batch rename files.

More Than I Needed

I chose the parts I did for the best speed and quality. I have tried other digital pinball machines and they all had problems I didn’t want on my machine. Some had a lot of lag between hitting the buttons and seeing the flipper flip on screen. Others had put cheap TVs in their game that led to poor brightness when viewing from the side. If I was going to build a machine, I wanted it to be the best, brightest and fastest.

Some of the hardware used could have be scaled back, but I wanted to be sure this was as good as possible even if I had to spend a few extra hundred bucks. Here are some decisions I made to make this machine different from the other Digital Pinball Machines i tired.

Here are a few decisions I made that I think helped make the final machine much faster and better looking.

SSD Drive: This was an expensive but easy choose. the SSD Drive boots into the interface MUCH faster than a normal drive. When you launch a game, it only takes a few seconds to load. Ive seen this take over thirty seconds on slower machines.

Two NVIDIA GeForce 560 Video Cards: It’s a bit overkill, but I wanted two fast cards for displaying all the graphics. The main playfield TV is the only one that needs this much graphics power, but I wanted to have matching cards for future versions of Visual Pinball just incase they incorporate higher graphics for the back glass or DMD area.

3D TV: I chose a 3D tv not for it’s 3D capability, but because 3D TVs have brighter output and better viewing angles. This is important for this type of installation because we will be looking at the TV at at angle not typical of a normal TV. I also wanted an extra high quality monitor because we would be standing so close to the TV compared to usual TV watching.

After I got all the hardware together and working, it was time to build a cabinet for it all to go in. Honestly, I was going to try and build it myself. But I just got too busy at work. So, I called on VirtuaPin to build a custom cabinet. I have seen their builds before and I knew they had experience in all this stuff. I dropped off all the TVs and other hardware and they did the rest. The final cabinet was delivered to my office all ready to boot and play.

Here is an itemized list of everything used in the final build.

Monitor Hardware

Main Monitor 40″ Samsung 3D TV
Backglass Monitor Hanz-G 16×10 27 inch.
LED DMD with PinDMD Controller Board and 5v PSU

Computer Specs

Sabertooth P67 Motherboard
Crucial M4 128GB SSD
Intel i7 3.4 2600K Quad Core
4GB Ram
Logitech Wireless Keyboard
Logitech Wireless Mouse
1 NVIDIA GeForce 560 TI
1 NVIDIA GeForce 560
DMD Screen
Seasonic 760W Power Supply

Custom Cabinet by VirtuaPin

Finished Cabinet with all parts, glass, pre-wired, and backbox elements installed
Widebody – Finished – Trimmed
Ultimate Cab-Builder’s Button Kit
Terminal Block
Speaker Panel
Widebody Apron
Playfield Glass
Tempered Backglass
Power Strip with Autoswitching
2x120W Pyle® Pro Stereo Power Amplifier
PYLE PLW10BL 10-Inch 600 Watt Subwoofer
2xCooler Master 120mm Computer Case Fans with Chrome Guards
Custom Lockdown Bar
Pinball Hardware Pack Including real pinball buttons, trim, door and legs.


Windows 7 Profesional
DMD Align
Visual Pinball

It was a really fun project to work on. But, i’m glad it’s all finished and working well now instead of a ball of wires. having it all cleaned up in one box is way more fun. 🙂 If you have any questions about it, hit me up in the comments.

Standing Desk Day 1

A few things came together in the last month to make me try a standing desk yesterday.

1. My lower back was hurting. I had lower back surgery when I was 21 and I felt some of the same pain coming back. This was not good. Plus, it always seemed worse when I sat down for a long time.

2. I have been working on this pinball project. It required me to stand up and sit down a lot. It also was in another part of the office with a crappy wooden chair instead of my fancy Aeron. It didn’t help the back problems.

3. Some of my friends tried it and they liked it. I got to test it at Max’s house for a few minutes and thought it could work.

4. I thought that it would make me actually WORK more. It would limit my time at a desk and hopefully make that time more precious and productive.

So, in trying to fix my back, and be more healthy and productive, I tried it. I went to Home Depot and got a few cinder blocks. Turns out 16″ (the size of one block) was the perfect amount to raise the desk to make it a good height for standing. No new desk, not expensive. A few bucks and some rearranging and I was standing.

Day one wen’t pretty well. It was about 5 hours on my feet and I was definitely getting a bit sore. I did feel tired at the end of the day, but in a good way. In a “I actually worked today” kind of way. I’m currently writing this half way into day two and I definitely feel more productive. It’s not as easy (or comfortable) to watch an hour long youtube interview or another damn TED talk. I find, so far, that I am propelled to get shit done. I also moved the pinball project to the desk as well, so I can easily go back and forth without sitting in a crappy chair, or getting up a lot to test it. Extra Bonus? Dancing while working is now an option. Pretty fun!

I will let you know how it goes after a month or so. Have any of you tried a standing desk?

UPDATE: I now work in a shared office and don’t have the ability to customize my desk like this. But, I have experimented with sitting on yoga balls and other weird looking seats with good results. I used the standing setup above for about 9 months and still recommend it for anyone who wants to try a standing desk inexpensively.