Sunday, April 17, 2016

I am a Software Engineer! Its an Awesome Job! You can be one TOO!

For a number of years now I've gone to elementary, intermediates, and high schools to talk about being a software engineer.  The message is simple, "I am a Software Engineer! It is an AWESOME job! and You can be one too!"  I feel so lucky to be working as a software engineer in Hawaii. It really is a great job. I love solving problems, being creative, learning, and working as a team.  I love my the lifestyle that working as a software engineer provides. I am able to surf, coach my son's baseball and soccer teams, travel and spend lots of time with my family and friends.  I truly am very lucky.

I teach the students about what software engineers do. Where they work. What they get paid. How many jobs there are. What they do for fun. What kind of companies employ software engineers. What kind of technologies software engineers create. Why software engineering is a great career.  And MOST IMPORTANTLY that every single one of them can be a software engineer if they want it bad enough and are willing to work hard.

When I'm done with my presentation, I ask the students, "who wants to be a software engineer?" and nearly all of them raise their hands. Its great to see the hope and excitement on their faces. I know they can do it. Heck if I can make it they certainly can.

My last talk was at Holomua Elementary in Ewa Beach. I talked to 4 classes at Holomua and I just recently got a package with 44 thank you notes from the students. Here is what one of them said,

Dear Aaron Kagawa,
Thank you so much for being so nice and kind!
Ever since you taught me all about software engineering, I want to be one some day!
You told me that in order for me to get there I have to work hard in school. Even if you're not the smartest I can still get me there!
Thank you for taking your time to to teach us all about your job!
From, (A Holomula Student)

It was very touching to read all of those letters and especially letters like this one.  I am thankful for being able to share my passion of software engineering with the students of Hawaii. I believe anyone can make it in the world of software if they work hard and believe in themselves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

LiveAction Company Retreat in Monterey California 2015

Back in August 2015, LiveAction had its second company retreat in beautiful Monterey, California. (Our first retreat was last year on the famous North Shore of Oahu. You can read more about that here: The primary task at our retreats is always very important; hang out and continue to grow our relationships with our fellow employees. At this year's retreat we had a blast. We played volleyball and football, had a private lunch and wine tour in Carmel, serious camp fire relaxation, and some intense games of werewolf (http://www.playwere Our other retreat task is to check-in, validate, and verify our company culture by sharing what's working and what's not. We had lively discussions and debates and in the process we brought our team closer together. We eventually solidified our Mission Vision and Values 2.0.


Revolutionize the network by establishing LiveAction as the visualization and analytics standard.


Our Vision is for LiveAction to be the kick ass solution to simplify the network while providing our team members an awesome personal and professional life.


  1. Determined to win together 
  2. Create remarkable experiences for our customers, partners and team 
  3. Open, honest communication 
  4. Kick ass innovation 
  5. Empowered 
  6. Hold each other accountable 
  7. Respect each other, our customers and partners 
Flying everyone out to Monterey, California for a retreat is pretty damn cool. (btw, Monterey/Carmel is super nice. If I was a sea otter I totally would think that Point Lobos is paradise.) My engineering team spent extra time in San Francisco, Big Sur, and silicon valley and we had an awesome time as well. However, all the sights and sounds of the retreat would mean absolutely nothing if we didn't genuinely and thoroughly enjoy spending time with one another.

I've been working on LiveAction with a bunch of engineers for about 8+ years now and these people are more than my coworkers. They are definitely lifelong friends; we’ve shared so many great experiences together. Every day I come to work to our Honolulu Office, which has awesome view of Diamond Head, and realize how lucky I am to be engineering a product with people that I really respect and cherish that is used all over the world by some of the largest companies in the world. LiveAction is a kick ass and revolutionary network visualization and analytics solution. And yet, it is so much more. LiveAction is a team of wonderful people that are committed to do our very best for our customers and for each other.

I am so fortunate to be working for this company and with these people. I am so thankful. It has been an EPIC ride and I'm ready for more.

Oh and by the way... our next retreat is on Maui next month, December 2015! AWESOME.

here are some pics from the retreat

Thursday, December 23, 2010

how about a teach kids tech series

if you haven't seen it by now there are bunch educational videos for parents that google has put together.

i just sent my mother a "tech care package" to hopefully educate her about using the computer. it was a joke of course.

this whole thing got me thinking about teaching people about tech. perhaps google should make a video series for kids. (if they already have one let me know... haha i make like people read my blog). maybe the videos showed kids how to use various google tools like google docs, email, web development, etc. schools could use this as classroom material. then all these kids would be techies already and we won't need this teach parents tech one generation from now. awesome!

Monday, November 8, 2010

shoyu flakes

while i was eating some cold tofu, ginger, and shoyu i had an idea.... the idea is called shoyu flakes. its like shoyu that melts in your mouth. it would be an awesome garnish on top things like tofu, sushi, or even something like salad. it could be like bonito flakes but of course it would be shoyu favor instead of fish.

what do you guys think? maybe @chefmorimoto might like it and i'd be rich and famous.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

a couple lame ideas

(its been a while since i blogged. i've been meaning to get back into it. so here is my first attempt)

idea one: email/wiki page
email is great. haha. well, this idea kinda is about how email sucks for discussions. i don't know about you but it sucks when ideas from email threads. its hard to trace through how the idea evolved, hard to make sure you see everyones comments and concerns. things get lost.

a great example, is my family's football game potluck emails. an email goes out week for people to sign up for potluck, people don't respond to all, format the response funny, etc, etc. by the end its hard to know who is bringing what unless you read all the emails.

enter. wikipages and google docs. some people know that some things are better to collaborate on in wikipages or google docs. good job to those people. but its out of the way. its a separate place. usually when its separate its hard to get people to use it consistently. not to mention a very low percentage of people actually know what google docs is.

anyway... the idea is that we could better integrate google docs and gmail. actually, perhaps its like a distributed wikipage. where there is a document structure thats possible and threaded discussions. i like that... hm. let me think about this more.

idea two: twitter filter
i like following people on twitter. i hate following people that tweet any more than 5 things a day. i tend to ignore anyone with a few thousand lifetime tweets. i just don't want to see that much information. i know there are probably a lot of external services that can do this, but i really just want a way to filter tweets from specific users. perhaps the filter understands the users "tweet rate" and gives me a down sampled view. or maybe the filter just picks a "popular" tweet from that user.

anyway, thats a simple idea that would really be awesome.

(these ideas were kinda lame. but i just wanted to write something down for a change)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

abercrombie tech discussion

on tuesday april 6 i attended a discussion on the hawaii technology industry hosted by neil abercrombie (see the discussion was moderated by burt lum of bytemarks and the panel included; jay fidel, dan leuck, dr. pat sullivan, and neil abercrombie. this discussion was said to be not part of abercrombie's campaign in anyway. it was purely a discussion for the betterment of the industry. there were about 20 people in the audience and it was broadcasted live on the internet. (see some pictures of the event here

some of the discussion points were the following (note i'm not quoting anyone i'm just trying to paraphrase the discussions):
  • problems and issues with the current industry; capital formation and the brain drain
  • that we've made a lot progress in 25 years.
  • that its now or never for the tech industry
  • the need for a tech advisory panel to help aid the future governor and legislature
  • the need for a CIO to reform the state IT infrastructure
  • talked about the progress that act 221 made and some of the issues associated with that
  • talked about how the different industries are related; like hotel and tech.
  • talked about hawaii has a unique diversity and potential to make disruptive ideas
  • etc, etc...

    there were a bunch of good discussions. and i really do appreciate the fact that it was held. i abercrombie a lot of credit for hosting it. and a big thank you to the moderator and panel. BUT i have some comments/suggestions/qestions

    where were all the engineers?
    i convinced two other engineers from my company to come because i think this is important. but i think we were the only full time engineers in the audience. the tech industry is made of business people AND ENGINEERS. engineers need to stop being lazy and come out to these events. or how about students!

    what problem?
    several times in the discussions people attempted to put a finger on what the problems were. i was really interested in what the panel responded with. but... that was from their perspective. it was problems that dan sees or problems that pat sees. valid for them. but maybe not applicable to the larger industry.

    i left the discussion still wondering what the problem was. i first asked myself do we even have a problem? to know if we have a problem one must know what the expectations are. i don't know what that is, so i can't tell you if we have a problem. and for those of you following THAT IS A PROBLEM. what are the expectations? yes, i agree tech isn't as big as it should be. but, what have we done to expect more? have we committed more money to reach goal X? i'm not sure we have. we lack a baseline of to evaluate our status.

    lets say that we use the number of tech jobs as a scorecard (i'm not saying this is a good measurement). well, then we have something to evaluate. we can frame our discussions around that. only when we have goals and expectations can we evaluate our progress.

    jay and neil mentioned that this seems to be now or never (i'm paraphrasing) for the tech industry. hmm. i don't know what to make of that. now or never for what? i don't get what that means with respect to our lack of goals.

    anyway... you get my point. actually, i just wanted to throw out there that i feel good about my little area of the tech industry. i'm really happy with my company, career, and role in the tech industry.

    other cities and states?
    i was hoping some one in the panel said something like, "new mexico and north carolina has similar problems as we do with regards to technology. their state government is doing these 5 things. we can learn from their progress and failures. and i think we can try this." to me it kinda felt like we were trying to figure this out by ourselves. there has to be other examples that we can learn from.

    thoughts about the brain drain
    one of the real problems that i see is the brain drain problem. everyone talks about it. everyone agrees that it occurs. but there doesn't ever seem to be a discussion about it. why is it happening? what can we do about it? so... here is my take on those two questions.

    cost of living. plain and simple. its too expensive for a lot of new grads to start their life in honolulu. hawaii typically doesn't pay as well as the mainland and its more expensive than most cities. what can we do? hm... well how about we do more remote working? maybe these new grads can live somewhere where the cost of living is cheaper. and still contribute to a local company. we could provide tax incentives or something for that. thats probably a lame idea, so you think of something.

    competing with mainland companies is definitely a problem. i know for a fact that local kids that move away to college have a hard time looking for jobs in hawaii cause its so hard for them to know what hawaii has to offer. hawaii companies need (maybe even with assistance from the government) make much bigger attempt to lure our top notch students back to hawaii. we need to market hawaii tech companies to our own kids.

    we need to educate students on what type of job their education targets. the panel mentioned that we have a great Department of Electrical Engineering that attract many mainland company recruiters. i wonder if the career people in the department tell the students that most of the jobs they are studying for are on the mainland. if i was a student and i knew i wanted to live and work in hawaii, i would want to know the number of hawaii jobs available. teach students about our local industry. allow them to gear their studies to compete for local jobs. if the students don't realize what jobs we have, then their will always be a mismatch. there will always be a drain, because they have no choice.

    this was a great event. i don't think the discussions were ground breaking, but i think its awesome that this could be the start of a lot of great things. i really appreciate the leadership that is needed to want to hold such an event.

    to summarize. i want real goals. i want someone to say, we need tech to grow by X amount this year and this much in 4 years. here is how we are going to evaluate it. and here is the plan to accomplish that. or maybe its not that simple....
  • Friday, March 12, 2010

    referentia open house

    this afternoon my company hosted 28 students from the UH Department of Information and Computer Science, College of Engineering and IEEE student chapter.

    i gathered a bunch of my engineers to help me with the presentation. its like we are pro presenters already. we know exactly what we want to talk about and how we want to deliver our message. each time we do this it gets better and better. this presentation went really well. i'm really proud of our engineers for stepping up and contributing to efforts like this.

    so, what did we talk about? i'll give you a quick summary.

    referentia has awesome projects.
    we talked about three of our coolest projects. we talked technical and we even gave a demo. the key thing here was that the enthusiasm about the projects really showed in the engineers presentations. our projects are cool. we are doing innovative stuff. it does matter. it is awesome. and it showed.

    referentia has awesome people.
    one of the points that we really wanted to show was that our employees are really cool. coming to work is fun. our lunch conversations are awesome. we all get a long and really makes a difference. austen mentioned its like we are all in college together struggling through classes trying to make it. it actually does kind of feels like that. we definitely have a bond that isn't normal work stuff. better yet, we have really smart people at referetia. bonus points!

    advice to students
    we always jump at any opportunity to tell students what we think. and we definitely went into this presentation with a goal. our goal was to shock the students a little. here is a summary of what we said:
  • we hire top notch students. the students we hire do more than just school work. they work on real projects. projects that give them an edge over their peers.
  • you are competing for jobs. you better separate yourself from your peers.
  • you need to know what kind of jobs are out there. start using your opportunities in school to reach your goal.
  • i don't care if you don't know java. we can teach you that. but i require that you are driven, determined, and communicate well. if you can't work in a team setting, then i can't you won't do well in our environment.

    for the record
    none of the students use netbeans!