General

The dumping ground when I can’t be bothered to properly categorise a post.

A retrospective on Dyna Project version 0.1

Jack Hughes
Whilst version 0.1 of the Dyna Project isn’t quite finished, I thought it would make sense to take stock before work starts on version 0.2. But first some introductions would probably be helpful. What is the Dyna Project? For a lot of years I've been interested in constraint satisfaction problems and how to solve them. The Dyna Project is my latest attempt to create a tool for solving constraint type problems in an accessible way.

Your business model is not a software feature

Jack Hughes
I created a product a few years ago and whilst it is doing fine on new sales it is really bad at monetising the existing customer base. The reason it is doing so badly at monetising our existing customers is because I assumed that the business model could be plugged in later, like any other software feature. I was 100% wrong. Why didn’t I build the business model in from the start?

Scam of the week

Jack Hughes
Last week we had to fend off a scam attempt. The scam worked like this: Order a product from a company and arrange to pay by bank transfer; Manually pay a counterfeit cheque into the company account. The cheque has no chance of clearing. Rather cleverly, the amount of the payment was 10x higher than the amount due. So it looks like a simple transcription error; Ask for a refund for the difference to be sent by bank transfer to another account; Profit!

Why lone software projects fail

Jack Hughes
I have an awful lot of failed software projects. Most programmers do. It comes with the territory. Most of the failures have been the result of running out of steam one way or another. Your early enthusiasm slowly wanes until the mere thought of carrying on makes you feel a little sick. It is easy to forget that programming is an intensely psychological activity. Your attitude is central to the success or otherwise of your project.

Tech Support would be a lot easier if...

Jack Hughes
…customers didn’t start the conversation with their own fault diagnosis. Quite often the hardest part of the conversation is trying to coax the customer back a step to the original problem. And then working forward from the problem to a diagnosis. Providing good remote tech support is one of the hardest jobs in the tech industry. You are at the end of a phone or email, cannot see the users set up and only have the highly edited highlights of what the customer is willing to tell you.

A recovering "wunderkind"

Jack Hughes
If there is anything the IT industry loves above anything else it is youth. I used to work in a company with an engineer who’d been programming since the early 1970s, who’d implemented operating systems on mainframes in assembly language, wrote OSI (up to session layer) and TCP/IP comms stacks from scratch on DOS based machines and made them all work together in the background. He wasn’t the only one either.

If you haven't made it by the time you reach age X, you never will

Jack Hughes
I forget where I read that, but for a while it made me very unhappy. I was approaching X at the time and I most certainly had not “made it”. Still haven’t. Probably never will by my definition when aged X. And you know, it doesn’t bother me one bit now. One of the nicer things about getting older is that your definition of “making it” changes. In my twenties it was about money for the most part.

Observations on 8 Issues of C# Weekly

Jack Hughes
At the end of 2013 I thought it would be interesting to create a C# focused weekly newsletter. I registered the domain and created a website and hooked it up to the excellent MailChimp email service. The site went live (or at least Google Analytics was added to the site) on the 18th December 2013. And then I kind of forgot about it for a year or so. In the mean time the website was getting subscribers.

The evils of the dashboard merry-go-round

Jack Hughes
What is the first thing you do when you get to the office? Check your email probably. Then what? I bet you go through the same routine of checking your dashboards to see what’s happened overnight. That is exactly what I do every single morning at work. And I keep checking those dashboards throughout the day. Sometimes I manage to get myself in a loop, continuing around and around the same set of dashboards.

Operating System Use by C# Devs

Jack Hughes
I started a C# newsletter about a month ago. Nothing fancy, just a weekly digest of news and links related to C# programming and the related libraries and tools. I sent out the fifth issue last Friday. The website has Google Analytics (GA) installed, and one of the things that GA gives you is a breakdown of which operating systems your visitors are using. Now, it is early days, the website has only had 174 visitors in the last 31 days (1 - 31 March) so I don’t want to draw too many conclusions from such a small sample.