The Story of My First Startup 30 Years Ago

Nov 21, 2016

This is a story of my first startup from 1985-1988; some of this will seem so familiar to people who have started companies today and some will seem completely alien as the world was much different back then. People haven’t changed much but technology, knowledge, the market and opportunities have. Failure is still the most common result even today.

Some of this I have never told anyone in detail before but it’s been so long now it hardly matters. In the end it’s a story of a great idea wrecked by poor decisions and the world’s worst marketing idea—competing with Microsoft head on.

It’s ultimately my idea and my fault, though I leave it to you to laugh, groan or nod in understanding.

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I Miss Being Part Of A Complete Team

Nov 9, 2016

I work for Ginormous Corp, Massive Division, as part of a high profile project, doing the part of it everyone is watching. Yet we are dependent on a dozen teams, spread out over the whole division, with an insane amount of dependencies, meetings, processes, systems and modules. Constant changes coming from all over the place make even knowing what we have to do and when a continued struggle. We have to worry about distributing budget, getting and making estimates, try to negotiate with other teams for their part, and somehow make progress with our part.

It’s beyond frustrating and is clearly a big company problem. This project has visibility to the parent CEO and a lot of investment. I often say we are the little penguins on top of the giant iceberg: everyone sees us but no one seems to notice the massive berg below.

I really miss being part of a small wholistic team, where everything and everyone we need is right there or at least fully involved if remote. A lot of times in my 35 years that was the situation including my two companies (85-94) and other occasions including two jobs ago at the travel company (now sadly just a brand of HugeTravelInc).

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The Unreasonableness Of Hacking A Presidential Election

Oct 27, 2016

I am really tired of explaining to some friends on Facebook how completely unlikely it is that Democrats are hacking voting machines to flip Republican ballots in Texas. I don’t understand why educated people believe rumors to be fact and refuse to consider how impossible this is to do.

It isn’t that I think voting devices can’t be altered individually in a controlled environment, but I cannot imagine how thousands of devices not connected to the internet can be hacked without anyone noticing anything. At work we can often barely update server applications or databases or even configuration files without major issues (which is sad). How would you even begin to approach updating a myriad of different electronic voting machines in thousands of precincts one at a time without anyone noticing?

Furthermore imagine how difficult it would be to rewrite the programming of a large set of different software and hardware versions you may not even be able to identify before arriving on site, having ready made software replacements that correctly function to flip certain votes and do it in a statistically valid way (flipping 100% of all votes is a dead giveaway). Since you have to install your patches one device at a time across entire states it would take a large army of people, who somehow have to explain what they are doing and why to a massive number of precinct workers without even one slip-up; a single guilty party would be enough to destroy the scheme.

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Lessons Learned Shipping Apps

Oct 3, 2016

I shipped my first app Trapeze to real paying customers in January of 1987.

Yes, that’s thirty years ago. Man am I old.

Over the years I’ve worked on and shipped a lot of apps, and delivered app like projects. Although every industry and type of app may be different, some things stick out as being important, or at least worth considering.

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I Dream Of Something

Sep 20, 2016

The project I have been on all year is doomed to failure, not because it can’t be done, but because there is a never ending set of additions and changes, while the completion date is moving earlier and earlier, with dependencies on a dozen other teams, multiple simultaneous app and server releases, and a decided lack of people. All with a budget with more zeros than I have ever seen in my 3.5 decades of doing this yet strangely that’s not a big help at all. Most of the budget isn’t even software.

One can attempt the improbable, tempt the impossible, but this is something beyond my understanding.

So pardon me if I avoid working this evening and dream of the things I would really like to do instead. Of course most of this is as unlikely as we are to finish this nightmare anytime soon, but stay with me here.

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