Friday, May 29, 2009

So it Begins

I uploaded my PHPCMS demo site to this morning. It's not complete, it's not even functional, and it's a blatant rip-off of another site I'm building.

But it's up.

I have a To-Do list as long as I am tall, functionality that needs to be implemented and tested, a sales pitch that needs to be developed, not to mention my companies site that needs to be built and uploaded.

My companies site...

I haven't made a dime, or sold a line of code, but it's mine. It could go nowhere, not even break even, yet at the end of the day it's mine and that's not half bad.

To everyone who expressed doubt, I did it. To those few who told me to go for it, thanks. For those who I've slighted, ignored, and spent far too little time with these past few weeks.... I owe you one.

Only time will tell if I'm successful or not, but I hope I've stacked the cards in my favor and with a little luck I hope to make a go for it, and if all goes well.... well, we shall see.

As a side note... this post is my blog's 88th post. Just saying.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Entrepreneur is REALLY Hard to Spell


I've always toyed with running my own business, striking out on my own, setting my own hours and having the money pour in. I figured that all I needed was an idea, a thing, to market and sell and people would buy it and I'd be set!

Then I got older, there's something about age, and the pressures that come with it that make most people quietly accept mediocrity. People settle, they find something known and comfortable and they stay there. They get a degree because they are told to, and they get a job that pays the bills, and they take their vacation in the summer, and they slowly sink into obscurity.

I was sitting at IHOP one day, waiting for The Missus to get back from visiting with her family and I realized I wasn't happy. I could feel myself stagnating. I could feel that drive, that urge to just go fading. I did not like it. I began to think about what I needed, what was stopping me from doing what I wanted to do. Two things stood out clearly, a lack of time, and a lack of money.

Time, was the hard one. But money was an issue I could fix. I needed something I could do that would bring in some additional income, first to pay for my upcoming wedding, and then to allow me to do thinks that were a little crazier like seeing Europe, or skydiving, or buying a ridiculously expensive bottle of bourbon. In short, I wanted to live, and needed to find a way to finance it.

So I resolved to do something, and given my training and schooling I settled on something technical. However, it seems that even the mention of starting a business gets the sheep, I mean people, upset. Most people I consider friends warned me to not start, there was too much risk, it would never work, the Tech Crash of the 90's was brought up as a warning against doing anything.... different.

I refused to listen.

I had an idea, and I was going to give it a go.

But I knew I had to be careful, I knew some of the issues I was likely going to run into and I thought I knew how to deal with them.

  • Profit - If it doesn't make money then it's not worth doing.
  • Time - I don't have much, so if it takes too much hand-holding it's not worth doing.
  • Speed - I have to be able to design, develop, implement, and sell my idea quickly.
Profit: I knew the best way to make money was to get a large number of people paying a little bit. it's also a lot easier to convince someone to part with a few hundred dollars over a few thousand.

Time: I needed a product that would manage itself, of course I'd have to update it, and test it, and do the installs and setups but I wanted to keep the individual installs to less then an hour or two.

Speed: I needed to raise roughly $5,000 by October 25th. A wedding is a great motivator. That and school loans, and personal loans, and car repairs.... you get the idea.

But I needed to keep an eye on what could keep me from succeeding, and deal with those factors now.

  • Overhead - The anti-profit. Too much overhead and I would loose money.
  • Contracts - If things went south I wanted to be able to get out and not be locked in to long term contracts.
  • Product Differentiation - I needed to do something different, or what was the point
Overhead: This one was easy. I develop my code on free software, work alone, and run my own hosting.

Contracts: Everything I sign up for, every account, must be able to be canceled on a moments notice.

Product Differentiation: This was the hardest, simply put WYSIWYG editors are a dime a dozen, and most people simply don't care enough to tell the difference between good clean code and WYSIWYG code. So, instead of doing something novel I decided to do a lot of common things, only better. I would provide everything a small business owner would need, and make sure that they did not have to worry about a thing.

I'm going to give this a shot. Success or failure is simple, if I can turn a profit, and make enough money to to pay for the wedding and honeymoon then I will consider this a success. If I make more then that, and can use the extra income to help pay down my loans even better. Only time will tell.

Fits & Spurts

I find myself updating this blog in well, fits & spurts. The Missus will demand a blog update, or I'll find something worth posting, or I'll be struck by inspiration but barring those occurrences, I don't update as much as I thought I would.

It doesn't help that most of my views ended up cataloged within the first dozen posts, that I try to keep my personal life offline, and talking about work is simply... boring. I could promise to update more, find more engrossing subjects for my audience of two or three, but I like things this way.

I'm never going to be a "professional" blogger, nor do I have any interest in doing so. Nor do I think that my washy libertarian viewpoint would ever attract more then an audience of two.

I blog as therapy, often whole posts are written, then deleted, as I needed to write more then I needed to post. Often I post here as an outlet. I like my little corner of the internet, it's quiet, and they know me here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Want This Shirt

That's the simple, uncomplicated, uncomfortable truth.

Shirt Text:

Gun Control: The theory that a woman found dead in an alley, raped and strangled with her own pantyhose, is somehow morally superior to a woman explaining to police how her attacker got that fatal bullet wound.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fighting & Women

I spend a lot of my time thinking about fighting, and a lot of my time thinking about the women in my life, so it is only natural that every now and again these two themes combine and I begin thinking about women and fighting.

Most women are not attracted to the martial arts, and they are especially not attracted to what I refer to as "functional" martial arts. Functional arts being those that require you to sweat, get hit, and generally learn to fight. I'd love to think that one day women will learn to fight the same as their male counterparts and we will somehow shed this perception that women are weaker, frailer beings and shouldn't know how to fight, shouldn't have to fight.

I train in Judo and Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, both functional arts, both require me to sweat, struggle, fight. There are two women in my Judo club, none in my BJJ club. Why? Because women almost as a rule do not think about fighting. One day, or a couple hour long, "self defense" classes are rampant spreading a false sense of security and doing little to keep those that take them safe.

I love watching a woman fight. I love watching the speed and agility that women seem to have naturally and I love knowing that at least there is one woman who knows how to defend herself if the need should arise.

I know I've said it before, and I know I'll say it again, but women need to get hit. Women need to know what it's like to have a larger, stronger, resisting opponent doing his or her best to cause them harm and once they know what it's like they need to know what to do about it, and hopefully how to prevent it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's Been 2,920 Days

Well, Almost.

On May 25th, 2009 I will have been with the same lovely young lady for eight years, we will have been engaged for just over a year, and five months, to the day, from our wedding.

I'd love to say it has always been an idyllic courtship. I would love to say we have never fought, never quarreled, never said things we regret but that simply would not be true. We have had our spats, our breakups, some lasting for days, others months. We have both walked away at least once, yet we always seem to come back.

I love her.

I love the fact that her feet are freezing, every day, no matter what. I love her aversion to socks and shoes, and her preference for flip-flops and cargo shorts. I love her hair and the fact that it will never stay in a braid, or bun, but instead will fly around her face in little wisps. I love her walking around with her hair in a towel, and how the towel never seems to end up hung up once she's dried off. Ever. I love her cooking, all of it, even when it doesn't come out quite right. I love her love/hate affair with the bathroom scale. I love the fact that she did not even look at her engagement ring till after she said yes. I love the Hello Kitty bathroom decorations and the fact that if she could the entire apartment would be pink. I love her lips, especially when she pouts. I love her logic, even when it's flawed, and the fact that I can't win an argument against her no matter what I say, or if I'm right, and that it's better to not even start. I love the fact that I can't wait to get home to see her. I love everything, and anything, abut her.

Let's hope the next eight years are just as good as the last.

So I Guess I'm Wrong...

I wasn't going to write this, I sat on it for almost a week. I could see no good coming from giving it the semi-permanence of text.

I volunteered for the New York Biathlon club as their webmaster. I did this because my father asked me to. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, I had looked at the old site and what I saw wasn't pretty. It wasn't bad, but it could be better.

That was what I did wrong.

I thought it could be better, and I got bit. I knew I could do better, and I set out to do just that. I looked at the layout, and simplified it, providing a streamlined look that loads fast and is easy to update. I then switched from HTML to PHP, looking for a dynamic solution, looking for ways to minimize the time required to update the individual pages. I then thought of the possibility of moving away from a website to a content management solution, a framework that would allow the users to edit the web page directly. My original thought was flat files, but if I'm going to do flat files why not have a database backed system? So it grows..

There had always been issues with the existing web master, he's controlling to a fault. In a lot of cases he doesn't keep the site updated, and he really doesn't know how to do things better then he currently is, but in his defense he is a chemist, not a code monkey. But he got the ball rolling, he got the site up and maintained it on his own in an environment I rapidly learned was quite chaotic and unorganized.

Then I went to the meeting.

I expected resistance from the organization as a whole. What I got was resistance from my father, the very man who brought me in to do a better job. I'm not going to bother with details of the meeting as the details don't honestly matter. All I'm going to say is there is something terribly sad about telling your father to stop berating a man he claims to be his friend, a man who has done a job to the very best of his ability. I was very careful not to point fingers, I was very careful not to alienate anyone because it simply would have done no good. My father had no such reservations.

I felt like I was dealing with a child who was bound and determined to throw a tantrum. It was sad to watch, and I was embarrassed for him. Not that he saw it, or would have cared if he did.