Successfully Selling Your Own Products

For years, the conventional wisdom for software developers has been that they can do their normal jobs during the day, and then offer their services on the side as freelancers or consultants. I bought into this notion for a long time, slowly raising my rates and offering my services to a variety of clients.

Yet I found that this was unsatisfying, and I knew that I wanted to do more. Not because I dislike my job or because I hate solving problems, but because I wanted to stop trading time for money.

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Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 @ 12:08 pm | Comment (1) | Categories: Business Management

The Problem With Paper Books

kindleWhen you buy a book on Amazon, the transaction ends when the book gets packaged up and shipped (or delivered wirelessly over Whispernet). There are no updates (typos are corrected over Whispernet, but content is not updated), no connection to the author, no new versions when the material changes. For most books this is just fine: novels don’t have “updated content” and cookbooks rarely change either. But for technical books this sucks: technology changes quickly, and with the release of one minor version, your technical book (which you spent so much money on) is now totally worthless.

Paper books are notoriously hard to update, and you certainly don’t receive a new copy for free when a new edition comes out. Even the technical books that do get updated still require you to purchase a whole new copy! College students will tell you about “edition hell”, where professors (who receive a free version of the book) update the edition with minor changes, and ruin the used book process. Everybody has to buy a $90 textbook, because there are no used ones in the “required edition.”

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Thursday, January 31st, 2013 @ 7:00 am | Comment (1) | Categories: Technology, Business Management

On Book And Content Pricing

Yesterday, an (understandably) frustrated gentlemen tweeted a link saying the fact that my book’s print and ebook editions were priced the same, was “greed.” While this was a bit hyperbolic to be sure (and the price being identical was in fact a mistake that has now been corrected), it sparked a discussion about book pricing and content value that gave me pause to reconsider all I had previously thought about buying a print versus an ebook.

It’s not uncommon to see ebooks priced lower, and in many cases significantly lower than their print counterparts. It makes logical sense on first pass: the cost of printing, storing and distributing physical media is higher than the cost to send an ebook to a purchaser via email. Marco Tabini points out that “when you buy a can of beans at the supermarket, it’s the beans you really want, not the can, which is simply a convenient medium for the manufacturer to sell you their goods.”

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Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 @ 8:05 am | Comment (9) | Categories: Business Management
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Painless Spec and Schedule Development

In the time that I have developed software, I don’t know that I’ve ever met a developer who got excited about writing specs for anything. In fact, most developers loathe writing specs, or developing schedules of any kind. It’s not that they’re lazy, or that they don’t want to be held accountable; most of the time it’s because developers prefer to express themselves via code, or because developers are afraid that if they set a schedule, and then reality doesn’t match up, they’ll be forced to produce sub-standard code. Neither of these is an ideal situation.

This is directly at odds with the business need of specifications and schedules. Businesses need schedules to know when products will be finished and schedule things like trade shows, product launches, and write contracts with clients who need or want a particular product. It’s not as if businesses want to push their developers to insanity by forcing them to schedule and then stick to it; more often than not thousands of dollars hinges on the schedule, and it simply must be met.

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Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 @ 1:00 am | Comment (4) | Categories: Technology, Best Practices, Business Management
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Announcing Blueprint DC

Since being laid off last month, I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to do next. After consulting with my fiancee and with friends and colleagues, I decided that the best approach would be to begin working towards my own consulting company. And so, several weeks into the process, I’ve laid the groundwork and today, I can announce it.

Blueprint DC, a full-service custom software development company based from Washington, DC, is officially open for business.

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Monday, November 30th, 2009 @ 1:00 am | Comment (5) | Categories: Technology, Business Management
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Pair Programming: Where Teamwork Comes Out

The New York Times did a profile on the topic of pair programming, the art of writing software with a partner. They looked at it through the eyes of an individual who does pair programming every day.

The profile is pretty good, and makes a strong case for pair programming. While I’m not fully prepared to surrender my freedom to another person for 100% full-time pair programming, I think that doing pair programming is something that can be very effective.

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 @ 1:00 am | Comment (3) | Categories: Business Management
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