Kevin Warnock

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Archive for the ‘Robert Warnock’ tag

Why in 1978 I moved to San Francisco from Chicago

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The Memorial Church at Harvard University photographed by user Siim Teller, April 22, 2011

The Memorial Church at Harvard University photographed by user Siim Teller, April 22, 2011

Tonight, September 2, 2012, I learned why in 1978 I moved to San Francisco, California USA. I never knew why until today, because I never thought to ask the right questions.

I was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA, at the University of Chicago, where my mother worked as a Pathologist.

My parents had married soon after she graduated from Harvard Medical School, where she was one of five women in a class with 145 men.

My mother met my father Robert Warnock at Harvard, where he earned his PhD in Physics.

My father and my mother got married in The Memorial Church on the Harvard University campus, a church I visited in 2000 when I was in Boston, Massachusetts, USA meeting with storage vendor EMC to discuss an investment by their venture capital division in my startup Hotpaper.

When I visited The Memorial Church, it was just another church. When I told my father about my tour of the Harvard campus, courtesy of my EMC provided limousine with two eager salesman trying to sell me an unnecessary USD $1,000,000 dollar storage array for my startup, my father said ‘your mother and I got married in that church!’

After they wed, my father decided to move with my mother to Chicago so that he could work at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).

My mother was doing research at the University of Chicago, discovering that asbestos is even deadlier than was known at the time. Amazingly, the University of Chicago did not have a spectroscopy attachment for its electron microscope, and my mother needed this device for her research. IIT did have the needed equipment, but they charged money to use it, and IIT was a lengthy drive from our house at 5138 South Dorchester in Hyde Park, on the South side of Chicago. My mother rode her bicycle to University of Chicago, and it would have not have appealed to her to have had to drive to IIT on a frequent and regular basis.

My mother’s research was funded by the National Institutes of Health. I would think that a grant could have been won to order a spectroscopy attachment, but for whatever reason, that was not the path my mother took. Instead, she wrote to a friend she had worked with for a year some twenty years earlier in Seattle, Washington, USA. During that two decade span, that friend had become Chair of the Pathology Department at the University of California at San Francisco.

My mother explained her research and that she had heard that UCSF had a spectroscopy attachment for its electron microscope. My mother asked her friend if she could move to San Francisco and work at UCSF so she could use the required hardware. Her friend said ‘yes,’ and my mother started at UCSF as a full professor.

I learned tonight that my mother was promoted to full professor at University of Chicago just one month before she left for San Francisco. She had been an Associate Professor before that, and I remember as a kid the day my mother was granted tenure. Since I was young, I hadn’t heard that word before, so I thought she said ‘ten year.’ I assumed it was her tenth anniversary of employment. I told my mother that story tonight — perhaps for the first time.

I have a suspicion that University of Chicago panicked when they found out she was leaving for UCSF and rushed through the promotion to full professor, because the timing is so unlikely to have happened naturally. Even if that’s the case, I am sure my mother was pleased that she got to be a full professor at University of Chicago and University of California at San Francisco. My mother retired from UCSF years ago, so is now Professor Emeritus. She still has a website on the UCSF web server.

My mother decided to move our family to San Francisco, since my father had made the decision to move to Chicago. I did not know this until today.

I had always thought we moved to San Francisco because of its reputation as a great cosmopolitan city with superb weather. I had sometimes considered that perhaps UCSF had recruited my mother, but she dispelled that notion today. She did not have to interview for the job at UCSF. She did not have to compete with dozens of candidates. She asked her friend if she could work at UCSF and he said ‘yes.’

I am so thankful my mother needed a piece of equipment that University of Chicago didn’t have. She moved us to the center of the Internet world, and had we stayed in Chicago, I probably would not have become an Internet entrepreneur, which has allowed me to build a richly rewarding life that I cherish.

Thanks Mom! I love you.

I have a smart father

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Brief excerpt from paper 'Hamilton-Jacobi equation' by Robert L. Warnock

Brief excerpt from paper 'Hamilton-Jacobi equation' by Robert L. Warnock

I like to think I am a smart and inventive guy.

I have two professional claims to fame:

I created the first online document assembly website (Hotpaper) and the first online office suite (gOffice).

Both of these categories of software proved to be quite popular.

In the United States, LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer now dominate the online document assembly business.

In the United States, Google Docs and Zoho now dominate the online office productivity business.

I am proud that I created the first versions of these significant components to the fabric of the Internet.

While my contributions to the Internet may not have the sex appeal of the social network Facebook or the political influence of the micro-blogging website Twitter, my contributions do allow people to get real work done online.

Getting work done is important to the advancement of humanity. Friending and Tweeting also help advance humanity, but the importance of writing and communicating well with the help of productivity software and document assembly software should not be discounted. How long could you go without Microsoft PowerPoint, Word and Excel or their new online competitors? Probably not long if you are a white collar worker.

I bought a nice house in San Francisco with the spoils of my inventions, and I believe I lead a comfortable and richly satisfying life.

I am shockingly happy. I am surprisingly happy for Google, Zoho, LegalZoom and RocketLawyer — despite their making more money from my innovations than I did.

However, I am not smart like my father Robert Warnock.

Yesterday I learned that my father’s paper Hamilton-Jacobi Equation is included on the peer-reviewed ScholarPedia website.

ScholarPedia is a WikiPedia like website for scientific papers.

Creating an online office suite like I did is a piece of cake compared to what my father works on. Many smart 20 year olds today could build the software I was first to build. But I don’t think any 20 year old could write the papers my father writes, no matter how hard they tried.

Don’t think I am putting myself down by this post.

I am simply showing you how outstandingly bright my father is. My mother is also outstandingly bright, and I’m certain I got my smarts from them.

I regard myself as quite smart.

I continue to invent things on a weekly basis. My mind is frequently dreaming up improvements to many everyday problems. I will never have the time to implement even a small portion of all the crazy ideas I come up with. The best I can hope for is to write a minority of them down and publish them to this blog, where hopefully others will find and then implement them.

I am devoting considerable energy to developing ideas to improve the efficiency of living, including heating, cooling, food production and water usage. Look for many more thoughts from me on these subjects over the coming years. My hope is that my ideas in these areas will have a profound influence on the state of the human condition by the end of my life.

As a side note, I am impressed that Scholarpedia uses Web Fonts to display math equations. That means you can copy and paste the mathematical equations in articles published on Scholarpedia. You generally can’t do this on WikiPedia, where equations are entered as LaTeX source code but then converted to image files for display.

Written by Kevin Warnock

February 8th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Elsie Battaglia’s 100th birthday party at The Original Pancake House in Portland, Oregon

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Elsie Battaglia's 100th birthday party at The Original Pancake House, 8601 SW 24th Avenue, Portland, Oregon, USA, December 12, 2011

Elsie Battaglia's 100th birthday party at The Original Pancake House, 8601 SW 24th Avenue, Portland, Oregon, USA, December 12, 2011

This morning my young at heart grandmother Elsie Battaglia celebrated her 100th birthday party. She was born on this day in 1911! Seventy five of her friends and family joined her at The Original Pancake House. Battaglia has been friends with the proprietors of this business since 1950.

In the photo above, I’m sitting to the left of my grandmother.

Written by Kevin Warnock

December 12th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

New Year’s Day on the Bicentential of the United States of America

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Diamonds Are Forever movie poster

Diamonds Are Forever movie poster, from

[This entry is from my 1976 diary. On August 19, 2012 I posted this to my blog after I added the bracketed language, the photograph and the hyperlinks. I was in 7th grade when I wrote this journal entry. I typed this post as I wrote it, including the mistakes, so you can see how I wrote back then. The first name of the Mr. Bond I mention in this post is James. At the time, he was about 55 years old. I used to play with his daughter Sarah. My father Robert Warnock used to go to Jazz music concerts with Bond. Once when Mr. Bond was hospitalized, my father called the hospital to check up on his friend. When the hospital heard my father ask to speak with James Bond, the hospital staff hung up on my father, thinking he was making a crank phone call. I think my father’s friend later went by Jim to avoid situations like this one. The James Bond movies were wildly popular. I saw my first James Bond movie in London in 1972 — Diamonds Are Forever. I still remember how in the movie the secret launch codes were stored on a Compact Cassette. Until I wrote this post, I had thought these cassettes were officially named ‘audio cassettes,’ but, according to WikiPediA, the official name is Compact Cassette. I now suspect that’s why Compact Discs were so named.]

I got up at 11:00 today and woke Andy up by telling him it was almost lunch time.

Last night I listend to the top 89 rock hits on WLS music radio. (AM) It started at 6:00 pm. till Midnight.

At about quarter to 12:00 Last night Mom called me up from Mr. [James] Bonds house and asked Andy and I if we wanted to come over and celebrate the new year. So we went over and had some cake and Mr. Bond gave Andy and I a glass of Champagne and we didn’t like it.

Dad put a headphone jack on Andy radio and added a new speaker.

Dad also cut out some pices of wood to make a box for my stereo amp.

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 1st, 1976 at 11:00 pm