Entries Tagged 'About this Blog' ↓

My Pecha Kucha Presentation at the 2009 Business of Software Conference


Yep, that’s me (photo by jmpk).

Somehow I allowed myself to get talked into doing the Pecha Kucha at the 2009 Business of Software conference in San Francisco (seriously though, I want to thank Jeff Atwood for convincing me to go through with it).

Pecha Kucha is 20 slides, 20 seconds each…in 6 minutes 40 seconds you are done. And it’s twice as hard as it sounds.

I hope to share a video of the talk with you in the coming weeks, but for now here are a few resources I mentioned during the talk that I want to provide to anyone interested.

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RSS Troubles (FeedBurner)

Apologies to those who read this blog via RSS. For about two weeks no new posts were showing up in my RSS feed, then last week old posts were marked as new with multiple rows of links added below them.

The real issue, though, is that ever since Google acquired FeedBurner there’s no human support so when something like this happens you’re on your own. It’s an interesting twist on the problem of trusting your data to the cloud, and one that has left me spending several hours trying to figure out the problem (a problem that began out of the blue).

In any case, I apologize for the inconvenience. Things appear to be back to normal.

MicroISVs, Software Products and Startups: Software by Rob’s Most Popular Posts of 2008

Consider this the Year in Review for Software by Rob. Here are my seven most popular posts from 2008:

The Software Product Myth
“A certain percentage of developers become unhappy with salaried development over time (typically it’s shortly after they’re asked to manage people, or maintain legacy code), and they dream of breaking out of the cube walls and running their own show. Some choose consulting, but many more inevitably decide to build a software product.

‘After all,’ they think ‘you code it up and sell it a thousand times – it’s like printing your own money! I build apps all the time, how hard could it be to launch a product?'”

Should You Build or Buy Your Micro-ISV?
“None of the products I’ve built or bought required skills beyond that of a mid-level developer. Let’s be honest, building an invoicing system does not involve insanely complex algorithms and coding chops. Most successful Micro-ISV products (and a lot of not-so-Micro-ISV products) could have been built by a few solid mid-level developers.”

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Problems (For the Most Part) Resolved with WordPress and DreamHost

Suffice to say you probably noticed this site was down for a few days last week (the RSS feed was down even longer). At some point Wednesday morning the process that powers this site was consuming too much processing time and started being killed by an automated DreamHost script. You can read more about the gory details and bizarre side effects, but I just wanted to post a follow-up for the next person who encounters this.

After about 8 hours of troubleshooting I was downloading all of the files and database to move to another host, when the DreamHost support rep suggested I try to run this site under a different shell username. It was a shot in the dark, but sure enough as soon as I moved it to a new user everything started working. Unbelievable.

Of course, next was the hard question: Do I spend the 5 hours to move this blog to another hose, knowing that I’ve had no trouble with DreamHost in the past couple years and that a new host is as likely to have similar issues?

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WordPress Headaches with Closing HTML Tag – Any Ideas?

Update: I finally fixed this issue based on a shot in the dark, hail mary attempt. I will blog about it more next week. For now, suffice to say this kind of thing makes me want to buy and colo my own server.


You may have noticed this site was down all day yesterday.

After about 5 hours of troubleshooting I’ve narrowed it down to either a WordPress issue, or a DreamHost issue.

Closing HTML Tag Killer
I know how to fix the problem: If I go into footer.php and remove the closing HTML tag the home page and single post display work…if I add it back they crash (500 error – when I look in the error log the message is “Premature end of script headers: php5.cgi”).

But the weirdest part is that I haven’t touched the blog, aside from publishing a couple new posts, in weeks. So for this to start suddenly means something else must have changed.

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I’m in a Book! Blog Blazers: 40 Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets

Blog Blazers is a book where “40 Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets to Creating a High-Profile, High-Traffic, and High-Profit Blog.” And amid the likes if Seth Godin, Eric Sink, Aaron Wall, and Jeff Atwood is yours truly (chapter 34).

It’s an easy book to pick up for a few minutes at a time since each chapter (comprising one interview) is only 5 or 6 pages. Many of the ideas presented are unique to this book, and I’ve been keeping a running list of changes I plan to implement on this blog.

The book hit the shelves last week. You can buy it from Amazon, or from the Blog Blazers website.

My New Rig

In the past 3 months I’ve completely revamped my development machine. I purchased a new external monitor, laptop, external keyboard, and printer. I figured the hours I spent researching and purchasing might benefit someone else looking to upgrade.

The New Laptop (Dell Inspiron 1525) – Dual core 2.4GHz processor, 4GB Ram, 320GB HD, Vista 64-bit. This thing screams. I’ve gone back and forth over the years between Inspirons and Latitudes, and while Inspirons have more consumer-friendly aspects (such as audio controls on the keyboard and a memory card reader), the placement of ports leaves a lot to be desired (Latitudes have all ports in the rear, while Inspirons have them all over the place). This time around I chose an Inspiron for the screen quality and price. Total cost was around $1450 including a 3-year at-home warranty.

The New Display (DELL SP2208WFP) – 22″ widescreen. 1680 x 1050 native resolution. Awesome brightness. Built-in webcam. The only downside is it doesn’t swivel 90 degrees (helpful for viewing long documents). Nonetheless, a steal at the sale price of $299 (now $339). I ran three displays for a while (2 externals + my laptop screen), but after I upgraded to Vista 64-bit my USB2DVI video adapter stopped working (no 64-bit drivers) so I’m back to two displays. I’ll probably buy a DualHead2Go in the near future, although fitting another 22″ monitor on my desk is going to be challenging.

The New OS (Vista Ultimate 64-bit) – Oy vey…transferring to a new laptop normally takes about 8 hours. This time, due to the 64-bit OS, it took me closer to 20. In addition, I lost the ability to sync with my Treo, the ability to use my Treo as a broadband cellular modem, and my ethernet card doesn’t work (although wireless is fine). I read a lot of reports on how Vista 64 is ready for primtime, and my comment is: “mostly.” Many peripherals did not work right away and this added up to several hours of troubleshooting.

I like Vista quite a bit (it’s fast with 4GB of RAM), but I have mixed feelings about the 64-bit upgrade path. However, if you want to utilize more than 3GB of RAM it’s your only choice; 32-bit Vista will not support more than 3GB. Of course, most of us remember when hard drives weren’t even 3GB. Crazy.

The New Keyboard (BTC 6300C) – I have long been a fan of laptop keyboards. I love the responsiveness of the keys and I type much faster on a laptop kayboard (which is due to the types of keys used, called “scissor keys”). I use an external keyboard since my laptop is elevated for optimal screen-viewing ergonomics (see picture below). After using a clunky $10 Dell keyboard for the past year it suddenly occurred to me that someone out there might just make an external keyboard with scissor keys. Lo and behold, there are several. I settled on the BTC 6300C, and love it. About $33 with shipping.

The New Printer (Samsung Clx-3175fn) – I looked everywhere for a color laser with built-in networking and a feeder tray. This is the only one I found under $600, and it was a steal at $299 from Office Depot (normally $399). I’ve had it for 2 weeks and I’m loving it. A huge improvement over my 5 ppm HP Photosmart.

My Rig - Insprion 1525, External BTC 6300C Keyboard, and Dell 22

My Rig. Simple, productive, and…gray. Wait, is that iTunes on the external monitor? Back to work!

The View from My Office

The view from my office (note downtown Boston in the distance)

Comments on My Password Protected Article

I’ve heard from a couple readers that they don’t like the idea of the password protected article I published yesterday. I wanted to explain a bit more about my thought process so you didn’t think this blog has been purchased by some marketing sheister.

My intent with the article notification list is to allow people to sign up for notification of the most important or substantial works from this blog, instead of having to slog through every post, whether via RSS or email. I’ve received requests from a few readers asking for this feature due to RSS overload; they were either severely limiting the RSS feeds they read, or stopping RSS altogether.

Previously I offered email notifications through FeedBlitz, but that feature sends an email every time I post, which is too noisy for most. In addition, I’ve always liked the fact that even though I subscribe to my favorite blogs’ RSS feeds, I can still sign up for email notification of their best content. So I wanted to offer this alternative and I wanted to kick it off with something extra to encourage people to sign up.

But here’s where I took a wrong turn: instead of publishing the article as a “page” in WordPress, I published it as a “post,” which means it appeared in the RSS feed. This gave the appearance that I was forcing you to give me your email address. In other words, while I intended to give those who signed up something extra, it appeared as if I was taking something away from anyone who didn’t sign up. This was not my intention, and if you’ve read this blog for any length of time this probably seemed out of character.

To fix this little snafu I’ve removed the password protection from the post (which you can find here). In addition, if you’ve already provided your email and would like remove it from the list please drop me a line using the “contact” link in the sidebar and I will gladly take care of it. I apologize for any confusion.

Own Your Own Micro-ISV: DotNetInvoice is For Sale

I write this post with mixed emotions. I acquired DotNetInvoice (an asp.net billing system) 15 months ago, fixed loads of bugs, added 50+ features, provided support, turned the customer base around (they were close to mutiny), and grew revenue by 6x. This program has become part of me as much as any code you work with for over a year. My intent was to turn it into a full-time Micro-ISV, but it appears that life has other plans.

I’ve come to realize over the past year that the time I’ve spent developing and supporting DotNetInvoice (DNI) has virtually replaced the time I used to spend working on my blog. Long-time readers will notice that my posting frequency dropped pretty substantially at the start of 2007 (due to my acquisition of DNI).

Debating this internally for the past several months has forced me to evaluate my goals and plans for the future. Through this I’ve decided to invest more time into growing this blog, and into an opportunity that I’ve been chasing for years (more to come later)…all of this means I have to make sacrifices to create room in my life.

So I’m selling DotNetInvoice.

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Next Stop, Boston!

It appears that making our way back to California wasn’t in the cards this time around. In two and a half months I’ll be moving from New Haven to Boston. My wife got a rather prestigious job offer in Boston and given that it’s the #2 startup hub in the country it wasn’t too hard to convince me to move. I’m already scoping out a sweet apartment near the “T” (what they call their subway) a few miles from the “Hahbah” (what they call their harbor).

I guess it’s time to transition to another town; to learn the train system, roads, and locations of the grocery store, post office, and good places to eat. After 9 moves in 7 years we’re getting pretty good at it.

I’ll be attending user group meetings and entrepreneur meet-ups to break into the “scene,” so if you’re in the area I hope we can connect.

[tags]boston, relocation[/tags]