Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Caffeine deprivation

Startups run on caffeine. A week or so ago, Vyatta almost came unglued. The coffee maker broke. Nobody knows what happened. It was a nice, expensive, Cuisinart model and it simply wouldn't brew anything or heat up when we hit the switch. We can't quite figure out whether it's the switch that has the problem or the heating element. We called Cuisinart tech support to see if we could get a replacement shipped out (overnight, of course). The Cuisinart representative said we had to have an original receipt. Naturally, Robert had expensed it to the company when he bought it, and the receipt is in the bowels of an accountant's filing cabinet somewhere.

Dave (Newman), John, and Mike (Larson), shown in the picture, seemed to deal okay, even if they were a bit edgy. Tom, just about came unglued. Remember that guy, Shane, who was a contestant on the last season of Survivor (the season that ended last week), the one who smoked three packs of cigarettes a day right up until he left for Panama and then went through level-10 nicotine withdrawal in front of millions of viewers? Well, Shane was a bit more composed at the height of his withdrawal than Tom was when he found out the coffee maker didn't work.

John made an emergency Starbuck's run for everybody. That staved off the immediate effects. Tom went on a mid-morning search for a replacement coffeemaker at the local Target. We now have this Mr. Coffee thermal carafe thing that only brews 8 cups at a time. It makes pretty good coffee, but the volume just isn't there. It's a stop-gap, I'm sure.

Note to other entrepreneurs: it's probably wise for all startups to keep a spare coffee maker in the supply cabinet just for emergencies like this. The loss of productivity from a failure could be as great or greater than losing the email system, broadband connectivity, or source code repository. You have been warned.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's Deja Vu all over again!" to paraphrase Yogi Berra. The second coffee maker went kaput after just a few weeks of service. We're certainly cursed with some sort of playful appliance daemon which seeks to kill said devices at random intervals. Tom didn't get angry, just took action and within an hour came back from Peet's with our third (and hopefully) final coffee maker, a "Capresso".

Of note is that all three of these devices are nonstandard save for the size of their filter holders. Definitely not open source :-) !
// John

Mon Jun 19, 12:15:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Milen said...

Get an electrical/electronics engineer to work for the company. That way you'll be able to develop cool hardware stuff and keep the cheap or not-so-cheap Chinese coffee-makers up and running. Maybe have a coffee-brewing router?

Wed Jul 26, 12:20:00 PM 2006  

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