2012 Atkinson Yearbook

Every year, for many years, I’ve made a photobook of the past year for Vicky as an XMAS present. You can click to view the 2012 edition.


Business Personal

How can I help you?

Back in September of last year, I decided I was spending entirely too much time doing things I wasn’t enjoying — commuting for an hour to Berkeley via BART to spend equal parts of my time

  • doing project management on tragically underfunded projects,
  • participating in marathon executive meetings, and
  • digging around a decade-old PHP/Oracle/ActionScript/Perl codebase that preferred to speak XML/XSLT to itself.
What was I doing? What should I be doing? How could I do it?

The following questions nagged at me. What was I doing? What should I be doing? And most importantly, how could I do it?

I also asked several of my close friends if they had work for me. Actually, I put it this way: find me a couple of months of work and I’ll quit my job. Two of the responded simultaneously; I suddenly had two full time gigs starting immediately. Oh boy, was I busy in Q4 2010. And one of those gigs kept going for the first two months of this year. It’s been thrilling.

Meanwhile, I took the advice of another friend to form a corporation (18INT) and build a real business. Why not? I’ve been doing the Internet consulting thing since 1997. Five years ago, I’d made it my aim to understand the operational part of the business. Having earned something like an MBA of hard knocks, I was ready to start something new.

The past five months have been relatively easy if I don’t think too hard about the intense weeks in November when I was working 10 hour days seven days a week. Now that the Facebook game I’ve been helping with is close to launch, I face perhaps my greatest challenge: signing the next big project.

This is a big challenge in a personal sense only. I’ve worked with plenty of people with a talent for selling. My personal style was to overachieve relentlessly and wait for people to ask me to work on something. I’ve learned that proactively asking how I can help works well, too. I just need to find the right part of me that delivers this request in a genuine and non-self-conscious way.

With less work in March than I prefer, I’m poised to ramp up my new business development skills. I hung out at GDC for half a day last week. I’ll be at Web 2.0 in a few weeks and at ad:tech after that. And I’ll continue to reconnect with my favorite colleagues of the past. Lastly, I hope to find the time to be more diligent in talking about what’s going on with me.

My goal is to sign enough work in 2011 that I must hire one or two full time employees. I know there’s more than enough work out there. So, how can I help you?


XMAS Card 2010

Today I present the Atkinson family’s 2010 Christmas card!

Handwritten cards? So last century. Photo cards ordered and sent from Shutterfly? So last decade. E-cards? Not good enough. This year I decided to create a big project for myself and it turned out pretty weird. Good and weird and funny (I hope).

I created the video above with

Hurrah! The days are getting longer! The sun will be brighter! May your life be filled with peace and joy!

Business Personal

Eighteen Intelligence

Leon AtkinsonMy life has been quite busy lately. After nearly two years as VP of Engineering for BTS, I left to start a consultancy. It began with a casual comment to a few friends that if they had 2-3 months worth of work for me, I’d consider cutting loose. Mark Celsor has been dealing with a flood of new business in the past quarter and was eager to have me work with Vine Street Interactive. Meanwhile, Jenny Martin asked me if I knew anyone available for Facebook API work. Fortunately–or unfortunately depending on perspective–both of them wanted my help right away. Saying yes to either of them meant saying goodbye to BTS. Saying yes to both of them meant saying goodbye to daylight….well, nearly so.

Since October, I’ve been working two full time gigs while also making preparations for the launch of my new company, Eighteen Intelligence Corporation. For tax reasons, the paperwork won’t be filed until January. California makes all corporations pay a minimum of $800/year in taxes, so it makes sense to start a company early in the year. I’ve been trying to work about 10-12 hours/day 7 days/week for more than a month. I’ve had to take a day off here and there to prove to my family and myself that I still exist. I see light at the end of the tunnel now, as one of the two projects is going into the bug-checking phase and should launch in a couple of weeks.

I hope the other project wraps up mid-December and leaves me a couple of weeks to enjoy the holidays. I expect to available to you help you with projects in January. How can I help you? Thanks for asking! If you’ve worked with me, you know what I’m capable of. (Horrible, isn’t it?) I’m concentrating on building Internet applications, particularly those integrated with Facebook. I’d enjoy helping you start from a requirements specification and see the project all the way through launch. I can help in a CTO-ish way to set up best practices for your team, or I can be a really fast coder who helps you make an insane deadline.Eighteen Intelligence Logo

You can read more blah-blah-blah marketing stuff at the Web site. Please contact me about any opportunities for us to work together. Thanks! And since it is the season, I should also thank a few people who’ve helped me out recently. Thanks to the BTS folks for employing me. Thanks to John Szeder for sending leads and projects my way. Thanks to everyone who’s already asked about my availability. Thanks to Kathy Marshall for accounting advice. Thanks to Jenny and Mark for the projects that enabled me to launch this adventure. And of course, thanks to Vicky and Tre and Henry for putting up with me toiling in the basement office.


Car Damaged, Repaired

In June, I was rear-ended on my way home from work. I’d been doing the Martinez-to-Berkeley commute via I-80 for seven years, so I was probably due for some teenager to run into me. Neither of us was hurt. I was stopped and she wasn’t looking. Since I pay for collision insurance, I knew I’d only be out a grand, max. As it turns out, her insurer agreed that it was 100% her fault and agreed to pay my deductible. The damage was north of five grand. It took a month, but I got my car back, and I cannot tell that it’s been in the shop.

State Farm Insurance
Image via Wikipedia

A curious thing happened the week I got it back. I got a letter from my insurance company, State Farm, telling me that I was more than 51% responsible. They had already paid for the repairs, so it didn’t make a lot of sense. I complained and the next Monday they got back to me and apologized for the mistake. My agent, Mark Woodard, called me to let me know and he followed up with the adjusters. A few days later, I got an apology in the mail. Also, this weekend I got another letter telling me they’d checked in to make sure I got the check from the other insurance company to cover my deductible.

So, all’s well that ends well. I just wanted to note publicly that while it was annoying to get the mistake letter, everything else about the service I got was great. The repairs were done by Haw’s Auto Body in Concord. They weren’t fast, but they were clearly working hard to get the best parts.