Entries from June 2008 ↓

Trading Places with Indian Outsourcers, MIT/Stanford Venture Videos, and Intelligent Syntax Highlighting

Trading Places with Indian Outsourcers (video) – An interesting look at a programmer who loses his job to offshoring and travels to India to get his job back. From the TV show 30 Days.

MIT/Stanford Venture Lab Videos – A collection of videos (updated monthly) presented by the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab, including: The Rise of Crowdsourcing, Future of Content Consumption, Shaking the Money Tree of Multi-Platform Social Networks, and Green Tech for the Consumer Market.

Prettify Code Syntax Highlighter – “A JavaScript module and CSS file that allows syntax highlighting of source code snippets in an html page.” If you listen to the stackoverflow podcast you’ve already heard Jeff Atwood talk about this tool. It’s impressive, especially since it’s written in JS. Make up a fake programming language and it will infer the syntax and highlight it. Seems like the first sign of the impending launch of SkyNet.

We Hate Quickbooks – A smart viral marketing play by the developers of Less Accounting. From the site’s description: “This site shows the unfiltered timeline of Twitter users who ‘tweet’ the word ‘quickbooks.’ We’re showing the good with the bad, so decide for yourself!” (link via Matt Youell)

Increasing Conversion Rates & Looking for Suggestions

I’m back from 10-days in L.A. where my wife received her PhD in Psychology after six years of grueling work. Yes, Dr. Walling is now in the house.

I’m launching a decent-sized project tomorrow (about 22 person-months of work), and moving to Boston on Monday – thus the dearth of posts lately. But tonight, instead of doing something important, I’m blogging. Since I don’t have a lot of time I’m going to rattle off a few things I’ve been thinking about:

What’s New
I’m on a kick to increase revenue from a few of my websites. Aside from my ASP.NET Invoicing Application, I run a blog directory submission tool and an e-commerce site.

My blog directory submission service receives 900 organic visitors per month without fail, and has for 3+ years, but only makes around $60 a month. The same goes for my e-com site, except that gets around 5,000 organic visitors (it’s on the first page of google for some generic keywords), and closes only 3-5 orders per month.

Those numbers are despicable, so I’m on a quest to improve the conversion rate of both sites, and will be sharing that process with you in the coming months.

Looking for Suggestions
I’m looking for a term to describe something I’ve been thinking about: a software/web developer who uses his (or her) talents to build, buy, and leverage websites and software applications to create multiple recurring income streams. Sort of a cross between a webmaster, a Micro-ISV and a website flipper.

It’s like a Micro-ISV in that it’s one person, but the “products” he makes money from are not limited to downloadable software. The “products” can be software as a service (SaaS) applications, e-commerce sites, interactive learning environments…anything you would need technical skills to implement that provides real value for a group of people (i.e., not these crappy Adsense sites that clutter search results with poorly-written ESL content). This developer would typically have a portfolio of sites/apps he’s working on to stave off boredom and ensure a stable, recurring income.

I’m trying to describe that in less than the two paragraphs used above, and here’s what I’ve come up:

  • Solo Entrepreneur (too vague)
  • Solo Software Entrepreneur (too long)
  • Web Entrepreneur (too lame)
  • Internet Entrepreneur (also vague but my current favorite, even though it sounds like a term Dan Kennedy or Yanik Silver would use)

Yes, this is a somewhat random question, but I think I’m going somewhere with it.

Any suggestions?

ASP.NET Developers: Why Not to Use Parentheses in Directory Names

A friend of mine wrote the other day:

If you include parentheses ( ) anywhere in the directory path of a website, the error list in Visual Studio 2005 SP1 will not report the File/Line number/Column number for any compile time errors in the website project.

This has been a known issue since at least last year (I found blog posts dating from back then). One of the developers here [at his current place of employment] reported it to Microsoft months ago when they were on-site and nothing happened. I asked about it again last week after spending a couple of hours tracking down an error, so he opened a support ticket for it. A week later MS gets back to him and says “change the parenthesis to brackets and it will work fine.”

Except that we are on 3.x of the application and it’s all in MS Team Foundation Server (TFS), and TFS doesn’t allow you to rename a project (according to the guy I’m working with).

First of all, ouch.

Secondly, can anyone confirm or deny that you can’t rename a project in TFS?

Third, if you can’t rename a project in TFS…Microsoft, this is lame…fix it!

LinkedIn PDF Button as a Resume, Sarcastic ecards, Writing Code for Obama, Cities & Ambition

The LinkedIn PDF Button is the New Resume – Another post supporting my theory of the impending extinction of MS Word resumes. The best line:

Finally, after many years of wondering how to go about that, an opportunity to dabble on the side has presented itself. The first step was to hand off a resume. Hrm. I don’t even keep a resume anymore. I mean, how can I? I’m the blog is the resume guy.

Cities and Ambition – Paul Graham’s new essay bodes well for my move to Boston. I like that Paul’s best writing has nothing to do with software. Plus he’s really, really smart.

PHP Developer Opening in Obama’s Campaign – Write software, change Washington.

someecards.com | ecards for when you care enough to hit send – Sarcastic and often hilarious ecards from one of the writers of the Onion.

SomaFM: Commercial-Free Internet Radio – With several instrumental stations this site has some good coding tunes. Coming to you straight from my homeland, San Francisco.

Why an NDA (or Any Small Contract) is Worth Your Time

A comment from Warren on my recent post Lessons Learned “Selling” My Micro-ISV (about my ASP.NET billing product, DotNetInvoice) brought up an important issue and a common misconception about NDAs:

Is an NDA even worth the time of writing it up?

Unless what you’re selling is worth the better part of a million USD, all you’re going hear from a lawyer is “it’s not worth taking it to court” (i.e. legal fees will eat everything before you get a bite)

A wise man once told me “We don’t write contracts for when we go to court, we write them to keep us out of court.”

Continue reading →

Lessons Learned “Selling” My Micro-ISV

Those of you following the chronicles of my ASP.NET billing product know that I purchased it about 16 months ago and after putting in hundreds of hours cleaning up the code and growing revenue, I offered it for sale to free up time for this blog and pursue another potential opportunity (that has since gone by the wayside, as these things are apt to do).

Within a week of my “for sale” post I received 20 email inquiries, sent out nearly that many NDAs, distributed 13 sales packets (including a detailed description of the product with all the relevant data, and a Google Analytics PDF) to those who returned signed NDAs, and spent about 10 hours answering questions via email. I set a deadline for offers to keep the process from dragging on, and by the time the deadline passed I had three suitable offers on my desk. Two of them were nearly identical, with a down payment and monthly payments.

The third was something I hadn’t expected.

Continue reading →