Entries from October 2007 ↓

Anyone Have Credit Card Fraud or Chargeback Problems?

I’m doing some research and I wanted to find out if you or your company has problems with credit card fraud and/or chargebacks. If so, how do you combat them?

You can post a comment or drop me an email at rob -at- softwarebyrob dot com.

I got the information I need; thanks to everyone who responded!

[tags]credit card fraud, chargebacks, online fraud[/tags]

Buy 2 Laptops for $399 – The One Laptop Per Child Project

You’ve probably heard of the One Laptop Per Child project (a.k.a., the hundred dollar laptop). It’s a brilliant idea; provide children in developing nations with inexpensive laptops that can easily connect to the internet.

The laptop is the size of a textbook, lighter than a lunch box, durable, highly water resistant, uses 1/10th the power of a standard laptop, recharges by a hand-crank, can be read in direct sunlight, has no internal moving parts, and runs Linux. This thing is awesome.

You’re probably thinking the same thing I did when I first heard about it: “Where can I get one?”

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What topic(s) are most interesting to you as a reader of Software by Rob?

It’s house-cleaning time. I need your feedback to help sharpen the focus of Software by Rob.

(Update: poll has been closed, see results below).


The Inside Story of a Small Software Acquisition (Part 3 of 3)

When we left Part 2 I had fixed 23 bugs and released the next version, DotNetInvoice 2.1, to the existing customers. The release included a fix for every known issue. Customers felt supported, and a few new sales rolled in. Things were looking up until the end of the first month rolled around.

What Sales?
The funny thing (not funny “haha,” but funny like you feel after eating Sushi from a street cart in Mexico) was that after four weeks of sweating bullets, fixing bugs, and dealing with angry customers, sales were quite a bit below previous months.

Given the extensive conversations I had with the former owners I was confident their numbers were correct. But I could not for the life of me explain the sudden drop in sales.

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Self-Marketing for Software Developers

SmartMoney.com interviewed me this week for their article Web Sites Find Security Seals a Boon for Business. The article talks about ways online merchants, specifically small businesses, can use security seals to legitimize their websites in the eyes of potential customers.

It occurred to me that displaying seals doesn’t change how a website operates; the seals are all about marketing. They’re all about playing the game of looking legitimate to potential customers.

In this case, standards and seals are a good thing: they allow people to quickly verify if a website uses SSL or is reasonably “hacker safe.” This is helpful when you’re shopping for that antique Platypus Beanie Baby and wind up on a site you’ve never heard of. Seeing the Verisign seal probably gives you a bit of warm fuzziness.

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The Fallacy of Management

In case you missed Gates VP’s comment about The Fallacy of Management on my recent post Q & A on Leaving Management for Development, I’ve re-printed it below:


I have a working theory that I’ve titled The Fallacy of Management.

The basic definition is that current managers would have us believe that the work they do is the very reason for project success and therefore they believe (and have convinced others) that their’s is the most important role.

The real truth is that most managers are just overhead, projects would likely self-assemble without them, especially with good devs on the job. However, companies do things like targeting management for bonuses and taking other steps to make management a “position of privilege.” The truth is, good managers don’t deliver projects on time, good programmers deliver projects on time and managers just guide the process.

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Are You Having Trouble with this RSS Feed?

I’ve received a couple comments surrounding a problem with my RSS feed. Apparently, some RSS readers are displaying the same posts over and over again. I use Google Reader and SharpReader and I’m not seeing it, but if you are having problems please email me at rob -at- softwarebyrob dot com and let me know your RSS reader and your symptoms.

I have a few ideas of things to try, but it won’t do me any good until I have a test case or two. Thanks in advance for your help!

Update: I received 30 emails last night and through the many screen shots and first-hand accounts I was able to pinpoint the problem: WordPress was not publishing the timestamp (aka pubDate) for each post, which confuses some RSS readers. After fiddling with FeedBurner I updated it to point to my RSS 2.0 feed instead of the RSS .92 and that appears to have fixed the problem.

Thanks to everyone who helped out with this troubleshooting effort, and if you continue to see weird RSS behavior please drop me a line.

Q & A on Leaving Management for Development

I’ve received several emails about my post Why Good Developers are Promoted Into Unhappiness. One reader asked some interesting questions on his quest to decide between development and management.

Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

Q: Does leaving management for coding greatly cut your salary?
Going back to coding may cut your salary, but it’s quite possible it will not. In my case, the first time I went from management to coding I was fortunate enough to move into a higher paying development position. The second time I didn’t receive additional money for my “promotion” into running a development team, so going back required no monetary sacrifice.

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Amazon Launches a Payment Processing API and a Startup Challenge

Why Amazon.com Could Be This Year’s Most Important Startup
“[Amazon.com’s new payment processing API] is everything that Paypal isn’t: well designed, API-centric, and built with developers in mind.”

The platform even accepts payments as small as $.01 (a.k.a. micropayments), which have yet to be “done right.”

It appears that Amazon is trying to become the next “platform” for developers. Add payment processing to their storage, queuing, search, mechanical turk, elastic compute cloud, and e-commerce services.

Amazon also has a $100,000 Start-up and Entrepreneur Challenge. Submit an idea (you don’t even have to build it), and they will choose the top 5 finalists. After that the Amazon community will vote on the best idea; prizes include $50,000 in cash, $50,000 in AWS usage credit, and an investment offer from Amazon. Not sure how excited I would be about those last two.

[tags]amazon, startup challenge, aws, flexible payment services[/tags]

The Inside Story of a Small Software Acquisition (Part 2 of 3)

When we left Part 1, I had emailed the developer of an invoicing software package, asking if he would be interested in selling the rights to his product.

The developer and I began an email exchange that lasted nearly a month. I received screen shots of the revenue for previous months. I reviewed code samples and data models. I played with their online demo, inquired about their customer base, how many copies they had sold, and how much time they spent supporting the product. I put it all together and, using what I know about small software product valuations, made them an offer.

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