Friday, October 31, 2008

Pet Superfood Store

As a fan of pets and organic food, I was excited to develop a store for Organic Pet Superfood (  What's more, working with small and start-up businesses has always been rewarding for me as they bring the most excitement and enthusiasm to a project.

I'm also a big fan of open-source software.  It provides a level of customization and independence that you don't normally find in propietary software.  This project was the first opportunity that I had to use one of the newest open-source eCommerce software packages out there called Magento.

Although the learning curve for getting the store to have the same look and layout as the rest of the site was somewhat steep, setting up and using the store administration was very easy and intuitive.  I'm looking forward to making more stores using this engine.

Factory Wings

This project was a collaboration with a design company that the client was using to design their new store look.  The designers didn't have much experience with ProStores and the way it used templates and store-specific tags.  That's where I came in.

The designers and I started by discussing what was possible on each side and how far we could push the technology.  They then produced three compositions for the client.  Once they had decided on the comp they liked best I began translating the Photoshop images into XHTML and ProStores code. 

This has proved to be a good strategy of specialization as there are designers who have far more experience in creating visually effective designs than me while I'm able to leverage my years of experience in programming and eCommerce to guide the client.  While there was some delay on the design side the client was very happy with the whole experience.

Harbour House Crabs

After having done several ProStores eCommerce projects a client asked to have their old store upgraded so that it could be hosted on newer servers and gain the benefits of the latest software edition.  The problem was that when their former developers had tried to upgrade it in the past the store broke.  I was called in to find the best way to move the store into the new version.

After finding the code that was causing the store to fail when upgraded I set out a plan to fix that code, upgrade the store, and move it onto the newer server.  After the client agreed to the estimate, I delegated the project tasks to my small team of very-capable developers and we got started.

While the project lasted a little longer and incurred an additional cost than estimated due to some features that the client requested to be included we finished well before the busy holiday period for a satisified client.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


For the past few years I've been struck by the desire to create a program that can learn.  A few years back my interest was sparked when I realized that learning is just another word for adaptation and that if the forces of evolution can work on adaptations the same should be true for learning. 

To that effect I've been creating a program in Java that creates a variety of genes which describe the structure and attributes of neural networks.  The program goes on to test those neural networks against a problem and breeds new genes based on the most successful neural networks.  After many generations of this the neural networks become closer and closer to solving the problem.  This is known as neuroevolution.

I set up a blog a while back to discuss my progress on the program at

Current Studies

Daniels College of Business

I'm currently in my seconde year of studying at Daniels for my International Masters in Business Administration.  I've gotten to meet a lot of great people and feel that I've learned and grown quite a bit during my time here.  All the same, I'm looking forward to graduating in June 2009.

While I've been involved with the Association for International Management (AIM) since arriving at Daniels, this year I took the increased responsibility of becoming president for this student group.  While it has been stressful at times it has also been a very rewarding experience.  What I love most is being able to connect people with others that can help and guide them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Development Services

I've developed web solutions and provided technical support for clients for several years. I've worked with partners and clients all over the US and as far away as India and Taiwan. The projects have given me the opportunity to learn a large assortment of skills (both technical and business-related) and provide a wide range of services to organizations. My passion is using technology to help groups become more organized, coordinate their activities, and streamline operations.  I've done this in the most open, honest, and professional manner possible. 

For me this means:

  • Responding to emails in a timely manner

  • Being available for communication at agreed-upon times

  • Working within defined budget constraints of a project

  • Explaining how changes in a project can increase or decrease the costs before performing them

  • Completing projects by their deadlines or communicating well-beforehand if a project deadline needs to be pushed back and why

  • Working with clients to provide the best solution to meet their needs

Technical Skills

The following is a list of applications and languages that I am highly skilled at:

  • PHP Programming w/ MySQL Database Design and Interaction

  • HTML/CSS/JavaScript Web Page Development on Apache Web Servers

  • Drupal CMS

  • Linux System Administration

  • Java Programming (especially SWT and JFace)

Additionally I am familiar with a wide variety of software applications that a project might require.

Business Skills

  • E-Commerce

  • Website Development

  • Content Management System (CMS) Setup

  • Web Applications

  • Desktop Applications

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Website Analytics


Marketing with Conscience

Redmann Mahoney, LLC (RM) offers public relations and marketing services to environmentally friendly businesses of all sizes.


Imagine. Create. Ignite.

Interactive media with a kick.  Fire it up.


This past week has been very busy and provided some much needed change in my life.  This is the first post of my new website which I've moved to recently.  The main reason I made the switch was to have more control of the site and provide a platform to show my professional work.

The reason for this was my decision last Friday to quit my internship that I had been going to for the past three months.  When I had first started I was excited to see how a large company worked and was impressed by the facilities.  However, I've come to realize that I prefer a smaller organization and even more prefer working for myself.

This site is then an opportunity to display the work that I've done in the past in an effort to promote my services both here in Denver and online.  Recently I've partnered with a local environment-friendly consulting company called RedmannMahoney.  I provide their clients with web development, eCommerce setup, domain management, and even international marketing advice.  I hope to expand this business in the coming months.

For the time being though I was excited to be leaving the cubicle world on Friday for a more flexible work schedule.  That night, Erin and I went to a Pioneer's hockey game with our friends Brian and Casey.  We've come to the conclusion that we really enjoy hockey and even enjoy college hockey over NHL.  There's just so much going on and the players are always so into the game.

Saturday found us enjoying a warm Fall twilight out in a corn maze.  It was near the end of the season, so the corn was dry and trampled in many places, so it wasn't very challenging to find our way in and out of the maze.  We had come prepared though with our mugs full of cider and tequila hot toddys.  We ended the night with a wonderful chili dinner at Erins' friends condo while we watched a football game.

On Sunday we continued the Autumn fun with a pumpkin carving party.  Erin and I learned that we both like to carve pumpkins, so we wanted to try something creatively ambitious.  With the election coming up we decided to carve Barack Obama's face into the side of the pumpkin.  Erin found a design online and two painstaking hours later we had our Barack-O-Lantern.  I like to think it was worth it.

Anyways, yesterday and today found me back to work on a mid-term for my International Political Economy class.

Next up for this week: A reporter for the school eDigest wants to write a student profile about me.  I'm helping organize a Q&A about international business in the field of sports management with a member of the US Olympic Committee.  Erin and I are celebrating Halloween!

International Political Economy Mid-Term

Here is an example of the kind of material I'm producing at school for those brave (or foolhardy) enough to read it.


    With the current credit crisis that is sweeping our country and the world, the current global economy can seem to be an incomprehensibly complex system.  However, by looking at the theoretical and ideological underpinnings of this system we can start to understand it, and the current crisis, much better.  While it can be shown that much of our understanding of political economy today is dominated by Liberalism, that was not always the case.  A look at how this theoretical understanding came to dominance will further help illuminate our current situation.  Finally we'll see that while there are a variety of views on liberalism, those that embed liberalism within the oversight of government and it's surrounding society provide more convincing solutions for crises like the one we're currently facing.

    One thing that the current credit crisis has done is exposed the ideological and theoretical underpinnings of the current global economic system.  Recently the former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, admitted to Congress that his ideology had pushed him to make flawed decisions.  This is the ideology of Liberalism; of free markets, free trade, and spontaneous order of Adam Smith's pioneering works.  It is an ideology based on the idea that less government is better and that markets, when left to their own, will create an efficient coordination of economic activities.  Milton Friedman is one of the latter proponents of this ideology as he often described economic freedom as “an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.”2  Alan Greenspan followed this ideology by letting the derivatives market remain remarkably unregulated and with little oversight from the government.  It was under this same ideology that the sub-prime mortgage market was allowed to flourish without protection from malicious lenders or suspect mortgage bundling practices.  The ideology of Liberalism maintains that a lack of government regulation was necessary to maintain an efficient market and sufficient to self-correct any irrational activity.

    What makes this ideology so compelling is the theoretical structure on which it is based.  This theory dictates the relentless use of the assumptions of “maximizing behavior, market equilibrium, and stable preferences”.3  These assumptions provide us with theorems which explain that a rise in prices will cause a decrease in demand and an increase in supply until an equilibrium is reached.  In fact, this science of economics has been able to build a remarkably elegant and detailed theoretical framework based on these assumptions and theorems.  Such is the appeal of the theories behind liberalism that “the degree of consensus on many issues among economists ... is little short of amazing.”4

    These ideological and theoretical underpinnings of liberalism as the current economic model of choice are so strong in fact, that they are largely taken for granted.  Even as Greenspan talked to many lawmakers about the current crisis, many Republicans tried to blame the mortgage meltdown on the unchecked growth of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their government backing.1  For these lawmakers, the problem isn't too little government regulation, but too much government involvement in the market.  This can be explained by the power of capital which has been theorized to create a historical bloc that is politically organized around a set of hegemonic ides that reinforce the basic tenets of capitalism.6  This means that these lawmakers are part of a government that is supported by a well-functioning market.  The more efficient and productive this market is, the better support it can provide the government.  This shows the symbiotic relationship between the state and the market as each has developed over time.  Thus for some it becomes difficult to even think of questioning the current capitalist economy without questioning the government.

    Looking at how this symbiosis between government and the dominance of liberalism has developed over time will help explain the actions that governments are now taking to address the current economic crisis.  While Liberalism was most notably expounded in 1776 by Adam Smith it has since then faced challenges by several competing theories including Marxism and Realism.  However, the theories of liberalism and the capitalist system they generated have proved to be very adaptive in the face of challenges.  During the Industrial Revolution in England the ideals of liberalism were taken to their extremes leaving laborers incredibly downtrodden and miserable.  But rather than rise up and overthrow the system as Marx predicted, the system adapted to become more accommodating to them with health and safety regulations.  During the Great Depression of the 1930's in the United States the system again faced a crisis.  Again liberalism adapted to provide relief for laborers in the form of the New Deal.

    This adaptation in the face of social concerns took on an international aspect after World War II as America emerged the victor.  It was at this time that agreements between Britain and the United States set the “terms for the reestablishment of an open world economy.”7  It was at this time that America was able impose the same form of liberalism that it had come to after the New Deal onto the global economy.  The growth of capitalism based on the theories of liberalism were then only fettered by the emergence of communism in the USSR and related countries.  When the Soviet Union fell it was further proof for many of the theories of free markets and free trade.  Of course, by that time capitalism had shown itself to be able to adapt to a variety of countries and regions as Germany and Japan, for example, showed increasing growth.

    In this historical context, it can be seen that the dominance of liberalism in our understanding of global economy has largely resulted because of the dominance of the states which have supported its existence and propagation.  As these states became more powerful, either through culture, resources, geography, or policy, they work to instill their economic ideology and policy in states that come under their sphere of influence.  This can be seen in the global economy with the concept of policy credibility which is “central to the broader task of elevating the market as the principal means of directing economic affairs.”8  This idea of policy credibility, which seeks to separate the state from the management of its money supply, though is not empirically supported.  However, because it is the norm for the current dominant countries, it is pushed on to emerging economies as the solution for a better economy and state.

    With the adaptability of liberalism and it's close relationship with the society and state with which it exists there is a strong argument that liberalism should be embedded within the social structure.  Giving the market free reign can lead to an economic correction that is both painful and often sudden.  We have seen that in the last few weeks in our current crisis.  The understanding of the dangers of a purely capitalist society have been with us before, even recently, as George Soros has written, “the spread of market values into all areas of life is endangering our open and democratic society.”9  When a society is given a clear and understandable choice, they will always choose a stable and fair economic system.  Equally offensive is the other side of the spectrum where the economy is completely subsumed by the state.  Such systems, like those in the Soviet Union, cannot be as efficient as market-driven economies and will eventually fail or change.

    That answer is embedded liberalism where liberalism is tempered by the society in which it develops.  Since different countries and regions have different societies and different politics this is going to look different from country to country.  While some may bemoan the inefficiency of so many different versions the overall effect is good.  For even in our current global crisis there are several countries that will only be slightly affected.  China, Brazil, and the UAE are just a few examples of countries that will continue to grow despite the current credit problems.10

    What's more, even in the US, the amount that liberalism is embedded will change over time.  As cultures and states become more or less risk-averse, their economies are likely to become less or more embedded, respectively.  That is, now that we have experienced such a large shock to our system America will likely remain more risk-averse for a while.  This will mean more government oversight and regulation to insure that any market corrections are small and manageable.  A look at history though shows America to be a culture of risk-takers meaning that the pendulum will not likely remain on the deeply-embedded side for long.

    While the current credit crisis in the United States is an immensely troubling concern, it has laid bare the the ideological and theoretical principles that have supported the current thinking on the global economy.  This is giving economists, policy makers, and the public an unprecedented opportunity to recognize these underpinnings and question their usefulness.  It will likely show that the current dominance of Liberalism on our theoretical understanding of the system is the result of historical events that favored America.  It will also likely lead to a movement towards more of an embedded liberalism in which government and society have more oversight into the actions of the market.  Thus even though the current crisis is troubling, we can look back at the amazing versatility and adaptability of liberalism in our past and be confident that it will continue to be a solid theoretical and ideological framework for understanding our future.

1. Andrews, Edmund L., “Greenspan Concedes Error on Regulation”, The New York Times, October 23, 2008,


2. Friedman, Milton, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), Chapter 1, "The Relation Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom," p. 7.

3. Becker, G. S. The Economic Approach to Human Behavior, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), “The Economic Approach to Human Behavior,” p. 5.

4. Blinder, Alan S.

Blinder, Alan S. Hard Heads, Soft Hearts,
(New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1987), �Murphy's
Law of Economic Policy,� p. 2.


4. Blinder, Alan S. Hard Heads, Soft Hearts, (New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1987), “Murphy's Law of Economic Policy,” p. 2.


6. Gill, Stephen and Law, David, Gramsci, Historical Materialism and International Relations, (Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1993), “Global Hegemony and the Structural Power of Capital,” p. 94


7. Ikenberry, John G., International Organization, (The MIT Press, Winter, 1992) “A World Economy Restored: Expert Consensus and the Anglo-American Postwar Settlement,” p. 289


8. Grabel, Ilene, Monetary Orders, (New York: Cornell University, 2003), “Ideology, Power, and the Rise of Independent Monetary Institutions in Emerging Economies,” p. 25


9. Soros, George, Atlantic Monthly, Volume 279, No. 2, (February, 1997), “The Capitalist Threat”


10.DREA, Business Pundit, “10 Countries Least Affected by the US Financial Crisis,” (October, 2008)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ice and Fire

It's been another exciting weekend, albeit starting a little earlier than most. My friend Brian invited me and Erin to come out to the Avalanche hockey, season-opening game along with his wife Cassie and our other friend Neil (on the right). Even though the Av's lost (3-4) to the Boston Bruins it was an exciting game. There was a puck that shattered the glass behind one of the goalies and one player that slid skates-first into the goalie (it might have even been the same goalie). There was also, of course, the requisite fights for our viewing entertainment. We called it a night after the game though because I had to get up early the next day for a breakfast.

As part of being president for the Association for International Management (AIM) at Daniels I'm working on our Buddy Program this year. It's a program where we group incoming international students with local and second-year students to help them adjust to life here. Past participants have commented how helpful the program has been. So on Friday morning we kicked-off the program with a breakfast where the new international students got to meet their local "buddies." The breakfast went well with participants quickly becoming comfortable and talking amongst themselves; making plans for their groups to get together.

After a slow day at work I was happy to get together with Erin at the Rio in Lone Tree for some nachos and margaritas. It's starting to seem like we're addicted to Mexican food and margaritas in particular. We then did something that we had been talking about doing since Outlaw Day a few weeks back, smoke cigars. So after dinner we went next door to The Robusto Room which is a joined cigar bar and alcohol bar (only place I know in CO to smoke and drink inside). The small cigars we got were good and mild, but they left both of us a little light-headed. We finished the evening watching "Burn After Reading" at the movie theater across from the bar. It was really funny and eclectic with some darkly comedic moments.

With the weather turning mostly cold and wet these past two days, we've spent the rest of the weekend mostly inside. One of my business partner's (and Erin's friend) Cameron and I have finished up the latest eCommerce site we've been working on. It's an organic pet food store which you can see here: Organic Pet Superfood. It was certainly more enjoyable putting together than my 9-5 job with much more flexible hours. I hope we're able to do more work like this in the future. I guess we'll see this week.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Your Typical Ups and Downs of Life

Well, this weekend started early with a golf tournament out at Park Hill Golf Course. Really early actually since we had to be there by 7:30 am. After a few shots at the driving range some friends from a group I see a mentor with and I got started. It was a best-ball scramble and a shotgun start with our team on the 12th hole. After a cool morning the day warmed to comfortable start as we stayed at par for several holes. As always, my play was pretty inconsistent going from hitting a ball into Colorado Blvd. on one hole to sinking a 8 foot putt to give us a birdie on another hole. Altogether it was a lot of fun and I even won a prize...albeit for being the first to hit a car, but I'll take what I can get.

The game theme continued Friday night as I went out to play at a poker tournament with my friend Brian. The inconsistency of my play continued as well with me winning some hands and losing others pretty badly. Again, even though I didn't place in the poker game I had a good time and rode home content.

Saturday started off great with sleeping in and a nice breakfast. The plan for the day was for Erin and I to go by her parent's place, pick up their bikes, and take them out to the Platt river trail. We got the tires filled up, tossed the bikes in the back of my truck, and parked by the trail. It was at this time that my truck died.

Now I have to admit, that I hate taking care of vehicles. I know how to change a tire, change the oil, replace a spark plug, etc., but I usually don't do anything with my truck until I absolutely have to. So when the truck died, I finally cleaned most of the gunk that had been developing around the battery posts. That gave us a little more juice for me to drive back towards a strip mall. We even made it over to a Checker auto parts store with a jump, but just barely.

I spent the next few hours trying to get the battery out so it could be charged and the system checked. When the battery post connector wouldn't come off I finally decided the battery was not salvageable and cut the cable to it. It was only after I had replaced the cable connector and put in a new battery that the parts store merchant was able to test the system to find...that my alternator wasn't charging the battery. If I had just had the truck jumped longer to fill up the battery they could have seen that when I arrived. So now I need to find a place that will replace my alternator.

Anyways, it turned into such a stressful, frustrating afternoon that Erin and I went out for sushi at Hapa (good sushi) and played some games at Dave & Busters. Today has been much more relaxed with sleeping in, a good breakfast, and a walk along Cherry Creek. Now with a storm rolling in its a good time to stay in, do work, and finish homework for the next week. Which I'm sure will include just as many ups and downs.

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