Tales and thoughts from the founder of NormSoft (maker of Pocket Tunes), working and living in St. Croix, USVI

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why I hate MySpace...

My sister just sent me a link to join her MySpace network. I already have a MySpace account, so this should be dead simple, right?


I click on the link in the email. It asks me to sign up for a new account. Squirreled away in small print is an option to log in with an existing account. I finally find this option and click on it. It logs me in but fails to accept my sister's invitation.

No amount of screwing around has enabled me to accept her invitation.

I've been programming computers all my life and every time I interact with MySpace, it makes me feel stupid.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Well, I can't say it much better than Engadget:


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wow, my first earthquake!

I am traveling in the San Jose area (for the Business of Software conference) this week. Last night I was out at dinner in Sunnyvale with a colleague, and suddenly the room started swaying left to right. It felt as if it was swaying as much as 6 inches, but nothing was falling off tables, and it felt mostly gentle but random. There was no rattling and no thunderous noises as might be expected from what Hollywood has told us.

It lasted about 20 seconds, and then I had the strange sensation that maybe the ground was still moving, but I couldn't quite be sure. Similar to the sensation you get when leaving a cruise ship after a few days.

Apparently earthquakes of this magnitude (it was 5.6 and located about 8 miles from San Jose) are not super common, so I was "lucky" to experience it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A couple of months ago, I was considering creating a website for St. Croix restaurant reviews. The idea would be that it would be all user-contributed reviews and easily updatable, like a wiki. Well, it's been done! Take a look at Yelp.

I've started writing reviews for all of the St. Croix restaurants I love! Check out my Yelp page.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Seth Godin has an interesting post about bundling.

It got me thinking about how this applies to software. One application is this: General purpose software often doesn't stand out as much as software with a sharp focus, even if it's as good or better.

Part of the reason is due to the effect that Seth talks about. When someone searches for a product, they search for something that solves one specific problem. So what they find first are the products that focus specifically on that problem. The general-purpose apps fall to the bottom of the list.

Of course, part of the problem is likely due to the fact that it's hard to create general purpose software that excels in several areas without being hard to use or expensive. But I recall in the early days of Palm OS, there were tons of specialized database apps and a few really good general-purpose databases. The specialized apps always seemed to out-sell the general purpose database apps, even when the general purpose apps were just as good. Some of those database applications even came with hundreds of templates to make them work just like the specialized apps.

How do you get around this effect if you have a really good "bundled" application (e.g. a product that solves more than one problem)? One extreme idea is to create separate products. Market each one at one of the problems it solves. It's actually the exact same product under the covers, but it's targeted at just one problem instead of several.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I find it interesting that, even as Steve Jobs praises DRM-free music, he likes the DRM concept when applied to locking out applications from the iPhone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Vista Shuffle

Anyone who knows me knows that I detest Windows Vista. Yet I use it on my laptop because that's what it came with, and I need a Vista machine for testing compatibility.

Here's my latest gripe; I call it the Vista Shuffle.

We use a Windows VPN at NormSoft. Windows Vista has a new method of connecting to a network. When I'm traveling, I use WiFi or a Sprint mobile broadband card, so I have to go to the "Connect to a network" screen. I enable the Internet connection, and then I open the same screen to connect to the VPN.

Here's where the fun starts. About 50% of the time, next to the NormSoft VPN entry, Vista says, "This connection requires an active Internet connection", and the Connect button is grayed out. Well, I do have an active Internet connection (I'm posting to this blog, aren't I?). Typically if I disconnect my main connection and reconnect once or twice, the NormSoft VPN entry will eventually be enabled, and I can connect. But sometimes, like this morning, I can never get it to show up.

Even worse, sometimes the VPN entry becomes enabled for about 2 seconds. If you don't click on the Connect button in that short time window, you're SOL. Hence why I call this the Vista shuffle. (Imagine a heavily-drugged psychiatric ward patient shuffling down the street. That's how I feel.)