Spring 2011 ASU Webapp Course

In Spring 2011, the College of Technology and Innovation at the ASU Polytechnic campus will again be offering CST 533/494: Database-Centric Enterprise Application Development. The calendar is not yet out, but should soon be listed as a Thursday evening class: one night per week for the Spring semester. The course will be available at both undergraduate and graduate levels for 3 credit hours.
The course essentially teaches dynamic web application architecture concepts and development processes using Ruby (w/Rails), Java (w/Spring, Eclipse, and Tomcat), SQLite, MySQL, and other industry favorite technologies as a means to the learning process.
  • New technologists: If you’re looking for training and experience in this area, definitely check out the ASU Polytechnic campus.
  • Old hats: If you are an “old hat” software engineer just looking for the credit hours, this may provide a fun, project-oriented opportunity towards working on your degree.
  • Companies: I am always on the lookout for opportunities to expose students to industry perspectives. If you’re interested in any sort of corporate sponsorship or collaboration, please contact me directly.

2010 Libertarian Primary – Governor Candidate Comparison

If you’re a registered Libertarian in Arizona you may have noticed that, in most districts, you don’t have many candidate options. In my district, the only real choice was for state governor. You can quickly make that decision in about 45 minutes by reviewing the following material.

All have variances in opinion and political approach. If you’re voting on the candidate most likely able to compete against the democratic and republican candidates I’d recommend either Barry Hess, who tends to come across as a somewhat robotic career politician, or Bruce Olsen, who is less charismatic but is definitely decent with words and speaking on camera. Hess is the more politically experienced of the two… but again, the robot thing.

If you’re voting primarily on core principles, note that Alvin Ray Yount seems to be playing up the God/Christian card fairly heavily, based on his website and opening remarks on the PBS debate. Whether this is bad/good is of course a matter of perspective. ūüôā ¬†Personally I find it odd for a Libertarian candidate to be pushing this, and it has pissed me off to the point of dismissing him as a candidate. Cavanaugh… well, to be honest, doesn’t seem to be firmly on top of things in terms of both his knowledge and campaigning ability. So that only left Barry Hess and Bruce Olsen.

My biggest deciding factor for picking the next Arizona Governor is approach on fiscal solvency, most notably in balancing the state budget. (Both have various details worth reviewing on their respective websites.) Their approaches to border security are also considerably different. Olsen wants to build a fence; Hess is more interested in tech-based borders.

Hope these brief notes have helped! If you were lame and didn’t register for the primaries in time, you can still register for the November 2nd, 2010 general election before the October 4th, 2010 deadline.

2010 Arizona Citizens Clean Election Commission .PDF Downloads

Arizona Voters: A .pdf (70MB) version of the giant tree-wasting booklet published by the Citizens Clean Election Commission that you may have received in the mail–the one with little blurbs/statements on all the candidates–can be found here.¬†Other currently relevant publications from the AZ CCDC can be found here.

General elections are just around the corner, so please forward this information to your Arizonan friends and encourage them to spend the 5 minutes to register to vote via the Service Arizona website.

My FonWallet Story: Making It All Public

Update: April 26th, 2009. I’ve had a few brief conversations with Todd over telephone and IM, and have offered to cease pursuing both¬†judgments¬†and remove this post from this website provided a prompt, reasonable payment schedule for the personal judgement against Todd. He has committed to proposing me a payment settlement plan by the end of April, 2009. I am currently awaiting this documentation.

There are several areas of this post in which he has taken issue. Since many people have already read this post I am¬†hesitant¬†to silently change copy, so for¬†readability purposes I have highlighted that original copy in bold, followed it with additional personal commentary in square brackets, and Todd’s verbatim remarks in curly braces.

Update: November 1st, 2010. I recently had a phone conversation with Todd, who stated a payment schedule should be possible in the near future. I’ve yet to receive any follow up of meaningful action.

Update: December 1st, 2010. Very minor typographical corrections.

—-

I’ve avoided writing on this for a year and a half now, but have been pushed to do so by several inquiring minds over the past year and a half not affiliated with the company. Some documentation on this can be found in public record, and some not. I will note the points on which I’m speculating. None of this information is covered by any NDA I am under.

The company under discussion is generally known as “FonWallet”, though the official legal entity has changed¬†numerous¬†times and is fairly tangled in the personal affairs of one of its owners, Todd Coulter.¬†{Todd, April 16th, 2009: “This is totally false, inaccurate and easily proven”} [Preston: April 26th, 2009: When I first became involved in the project, most important assets at the time seemed to have direct ties to Todd, personally, rather than the company: such as bank accounts, server assets, and vendor accounts. ¬†At the time, at least, there were a handful of different entities that all centered around Todd… A few I recall were FonWallet Payment Solutions, Inc., FonWallet Payment Solutions, Ltd., MBXIP, SipCellNet… possibly other I do not remember. I do NOT have detailed knowledge of the activities of those additional entities, nor do I make ANY claims as to how–if at all–they currently relate back to FonWallet. Also note that I¬†still have the original stock certificate log books for FPS, Inc. and FPS, Ltd.] I have neither¬†vindictive¬†nor harmful wishes against anyone affiliated with the company: only to be compensated for my work.

I¬†personally performed a significant amount of work for FonWallet, at the time known as FonWallet Payment Solutions, Inc. and now known as FonWallet Transactions, Inc., largely in the first half of 2007.¬†It is a startup operated largely in Phoenix. {Todd, April 16th, 2009: “This is again totally false, inaccurate and easily proven”} [Preston: April 26th, 2009: I personally know more than a few people of current and former involvement with the project that are local to the Phoenix area. Whether or not Phoenix now represents a majority of the projects efforts, I do not know: simply that there is a significant amount of work being done in Phoenix. With regards to the entity primarily associated with the project, all current documentation I can find–including the FonWallet.com website itself–leads me to believe that “FonWallet Transactions” is now the preferred nomenclature. This could be wrong, but from the perspective of a reasonable outside observer, this definitely seems to be the case.]

Employees/Contractors of the company were initially paid as promised, however, dollars dried up around summer and most of the concurrent staff stopped received compensation. The only reason some of us stayed on as long as we did was due to a personal guarantee made by Todd Coulter to personally cover the staff debts if the company were not able. Soon thereafter I moved on. Others stayed. As far as I know, none of the compensation owed across that period has ever been paid, even though the company has been in operation under a new name. I am aware of at least 2 others people owned money by Todd Coulter, personally.

Mr. Coulter eventually became completely unresponsive to inquiries on the matter, which prompted me to file suit. (AFAIK¬†I’m the only that did so.) Mr. Coulter did not respond to the suit. A motion for judgment was made on 12/12/2007, and ruled upon in my favor shortly thereafter.

Two suits were actually filed, with myself (Preston Lee) as the¬†plaintiff¬†for both. The first names FonWallet Payment Solutions, Inc. as the defendant with a ruling of $71,324.32. The second names Todd Russell Coulter personally as the defendant, with a ruling of $24,044.32. The sum total is $95,368.64. I suspect that the company name change was made, at least in part, to avoid having to pay these debts.¬†¬†{Todd, April 16th, 2009: “This is totally false, inaccurate and easily proven”} [Preston: April 26th, 2009: This is purely speculation on my part, and to be honest, I hope is completely wrong. I do not have insight as to the specific reasons for the creation of a new entity (FT, Inc.), except for the knowledge that the old one (FPS, Inc.) was out of money, had a ruling against it for $71K., and the stock books were were in the possession of the guy (me) who filled suit. Again, I hope I’m wrong about this, but I haven’t been provided with any reasons to believe otherwise.] To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Coulter was properly served on both accounts but neither notified the other owners of the company nor made attempt to respond to the suit.

Regardless, the latter ruling still stands, and I have tried numerous times over the past several years to settle the matter and collect compensation for the months of work and expenses that I am personally owed. I wish all those affiliated with the company the best of luck, however, this matter is certainly not “closed”. There are some interesting and challenging concepts involved and I wish the staff the best of luck. I write this note as a friendly, public attempt to settle this matter once and for all.

Relevant public legal documents are available from Maricopa County, Arizona. If anyone–specifically Todd Coulter–would like to the discuss the issue with me directly, you can reach me direct via email or my cell.

The Financial State of Arizona

moneyThe Arizona Joint Legistlative Budget Committee (JLBC) released two documents yesterday quantifying the effects of U.S. economic fear, uncertainty and doubt as it applies to Arizona’s 2009 budget, and proposals for 2010. The big question on U.S. minds is, “How will all this affect my business?” By most accounts the answer is not positive.

The JLBC’s February 12, 2009 budget update puts “January revenues 21.5%…below [fiscal year] 2008”, for a cumulative 2-year decline of 35.9%.¬†“January results [are] significantly worse than expected”, says slide 4 of the report. These numbers directly translate to additional lump-sum budget cuts for state-funded programs, including the Arizona University System.

Layoffs in the private sector worsen the situation via a direct reduction in state sales and employment taxes. In a 2010 appropriations hearing presentation also released yesterday, the committee discussed specific cuts to a page-long list of Arizona institutions. A 2010 option for reducing the Arizona University System budget calls for a $160.6 million lump-sum reduction. “ABOR and university system received a combined¬†$141.5 million lump sum reduction [in 2009].”¬†Such changes would affect Arizona’s Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University despite higher projected enrollment numbers and tuition increases across the board. Arizona State leads in projected enrollment increases at 4% in 2010, with 15% at the East campus. Arizona University System tuition prices have increase an average of 8.5% annually since 2004.

The effect? All employees and families of the state of Arizona are nervous to find out, as “[c]urrent forecasts can indicate the direction of the¬†economy, not its precise landing point”, to quote the 2009 update report. The nightly news will likely continue to cover layoffs, salary cuts and sob stories for Arizona not-for-profits for the foreseeable future, and it seems unlikely that a “quick fix” will restore budgets to previous levels as existing layoffs and budget decisions cannot be quickly recovered.

Please tell me I’m wrong.

Sustainable Living

One purpose of my visit to New Mexico last weekend was to see what a self-sustaining single-family habitat in the Southwestern United States would.. or at least could.. look like. Several observations of which those of the region should already be keenly aware…

  • We use entirely too much water. Luxuries such as golf courses in 110 degree (Fahrenheit) heat consume an absurd amount of resources. The Governator officially declared California to be in a drought earlier this year, and Arizona… well… it’s a desert. Maybe we should lay off on the palm trees and grass, hmm? Fighting this hard against the Earth’s ecological tendencies for the sake of luxury is bound to produce the highly inefficient modes of living to which we’ve become accustomed.
  • Solar water heaters and photovoltaic collectors will be huge. Output effecientcy levels are increasing, they are approaching blue-colar affordability due to technological improvements and rebate programs, and fall in line with the ideal of consuming local resources.
  • We eat poorly, and also consume a tremendous volume of costly non-native food. Foods simply lend themselves better to certain regions and we need to be more explorative of regional food options.
  • Gas sucks. We all know it so I won’t go into it ūüôĀ

This is a snapshot of my own macro-economic sustainability opinions, which change rapidly with the times and fall somewhere between ecological conservatism and hard-nosed financial feasibility.

Sustainable American living activists need to focus on three primary goals: (1) significant cultural change in all socioecominic classes, (2) improving sustainability technologies to produce incentives for #1, and (3) figuring out how to reduce the human footprint in economic context to make #1 and #2 plausible. Specific ideas I would like to see pursued..

  1. Focus aggrocultural subsidies away from small rural farms and onto medium-sized, community-run suburban farming initiatives which share equipment and resources. The notion of the¬†independent, middle-American mom ‘n’ pop farm in Smallville will always be romantic, but you cannot ignore the economies of scale. We need to look at the production possibilities curve of farm size vs. output, factor in waste of transportation costs and pesticidal effects, and find a compromise which will allow significantly-sized local farms to produce native or near-native vegitation within a 20-mile radius of urban areas, while not requiring the populous to return to an aggregarian state or douse everything in chemicals. (Not that chemicals are inherently bad: just unnecessary and wasteful in many cases.)
  2. Incentivize¬†large-scale adoption of solar water heaters by artificially raising the cost of traditional indoor tank water heaters and using the difference for solar subsidies. It’s¬†ridiculous¬†to spend energy heating a tank full of water in an empty air conditioned home when you could just put a damn tank outside in the sun for 10 minutes and have¬†magnitudes¬†more hot water for free. Sense make that does.
  3. Incentivize large-scale adoption of household solar arrays by using artificial energy costs to subsidize payments to households selling energy back to the grid via bi-directional meters.
  4. Plausible¬†sustainability¬†change¬†requires working with the existing system. You can blame The Man all you want, but the world is not going to¬†abruptly¬†adopt better principles overnight. Changes need to come gradually–in a way people can slowly accept and adapt to–in incentives facilitated by the government, demand from the people, and interest of the industry.
  5. Ceteris paribus, chose local products and services to keep money in the region and reduce waste.
  6. Recycling costs cities too much. Trashing stuff costs citizens too little. Residents should force the issue with their municipality and compost the sanitary organic waste.
  7. The food industry needs to stop wrapping every last item in a silly little shrink-wrapped cardboard box and sell everything OEM-hard-drive-style. That is, make one box for the display, but sell the product in an extremely minimalist biodegradable packaging. This will be (1) easier on consumers since there’s less trash to deal with, (2) better for the environment, and (3) cheaper for everyone. You can put as many bright colors and wacky content on the display as you want, as well as print on the biodegradable packaging.