Software, Guns, Martial Arts… huh?

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Most companies tend to have one direction. Apple makes cool hardware, from MacBook Pro’s to iPad’s. Wilson Combat creates some of the finest firearms. If a company does multiple things, they try to keep them in the same ballpark, like Microsoft makes Windows but also the XboxRemington makes fine firearms and also ammunition to go in them.

So what’s with putting software and martial arts, both empty-hand and firearms, together? They don’t seem to have a lot of overlap.

Well, they do and they don’t. On the surface they don’t, and I’m reminded of that every time I have to fill out a form because I cannot place the company neat and square into a single category. Or each time I try to explain the company to someone, they always raise an eyebrow when I tell them what the company does — it doesn’t fit into a nice box. It’s not like chocolate and peanut butter, it’s not a whole wheat side and a frosting side. It’s not even apples and oranges. We make software, we teach, we train. There’s products, there’s services. In fact, there’s work afoot to make firearms-related software. So there’s perhaps one place where it all comes together.

Of course, I also think about companies like GE, and they have a massive array of products and services. So who says everything has to fit into some nice neat little checkbox?

I founded this company to further my talents and abilities. I’ve come to learn what I’m good at in life, and it’s not necessarily hard skills like how to write software or how to shoot a bullseye. It’s not even soft skills like teaching, but that’s getting warmer. Ever since I was a child I wanted to teach, and while I never ended up a high school math teacher (yes, that was my goal, probably because of my 7th grade math teacher, Mr. Vern Williams), I have taught, whether it was being my son’s Cub Scout Den Leader, or being an NRA Certified instructor and assisting with classes at KR Training. Teaching seems to be something I have a knack for, so why not roll with it?

But what I really want to do is make people’s lives better. I don’t like writing software for the sake of making money. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with money and seek to make a good living so I can provide for my family. But I’ve spent many years in the software business and it wears on me when people only want to make software to make money. They don’t care if it’s good software, just if someone plunks down their money for it. I think that’s a crappy way to do things.

Virtue does not come from money, but rather from virtue comes money, and all other things good to man.
— Socrates

Computers have been one of the greatest inventions ever. They have brought a tremendous amount of power to each and every person that uses one. What makes them especially wonderful is how it is a melding of both hardware and software, and through that software you can do almost anything. A computer is a wonderful general-purpose tool that through different software can be made to solve many problems and make your life easier. How cool is that! So when people write software where the #1 care is making money, that bothers me. I want software to solve a problem. Usually the best software comes because a developer has a personal itch to scratch, and that’s certainly where most of my inspiration has come from in the nearly 20 years I’ve been a professional software developer. Then you write it to be usable, to “just work”, to empower and enable people to accomplish things. To do this is a difficult and time-consuming craft, which is why it often runs counter to a lot of business pressures that need to ship something now — thus usually substandard — to make quarterly numbers.

I don’t want to do that.

I liken it to Pixar. Pixar understands that story is king. They know that what makes a good movie is to make a good movie, and the heart of that is the story. All the fancy computer animation, all the merchandising, Hollywood star voices, etc. is all secondary. If they make a good movie, they will (and do) make money. So many other studios strive to make blockbuster movies but fail because they are chasing money without understanding how to get there. Again, money is nice, but do something that people really need, that makes life easier or solves a problem. Satisfy people, and you in return will be satisfied.

My personal study of martial arts, both empty-hand and weapons-based, is because I want to solve problems and make my life better. I enjoy the physical exercise from martial arts because when you sit in front of a computer all day, it’s nice to get up and move around. I enjoy the mental stimulation but also release and relaxation from a good workout. Opening weekend of deer hunting season is a great time to get out in the country, relax, and spend time with friends. And certainly, knowing how to defend yourself and your loved ones if that flag should ever fly, that certainly will make your life better. So then to be able to teach others how to do the same? It only seems natural to me.

So while on the surface it seems a strange melding of things, to me it all makes sense. The company is called “Hsoi Enterprises” for a reason — because it’s my, Hsoi’s, endeavors. I want to make people’s lives easier, I want to make people’s lives better. Through that which I know how to do, be it shoot, program, or teach, I will strive to make life a little bit better for myself and for others.

Thank you for your support.

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