Software Development – Not as Easy as you Might Think

April 25, 2009

programmingI’m trying to get back into developing applications for the Windows Mobile Devices (primarily because I need these certain applications for my own use) and make them available for sale on my software web site. I need to let you know that it’s a big undertaking. Here are the major steps required to create and sell a new application:

  1. Come up with the user interface layout, and create the application.
  2. Do some internal beta testing and fix all found bugs.
  3. Find beta testers to test your application, and email them instructions.
  4. As testers find bugs, fix them and send out updated beta versions.
  5. When it seems that the software is bug-free, make a final distribution.
  6. Get screenshots of the various screens for the application and create the user documentation.
  7. Compile the application executable, documentation, and release notes into an installer program.
  8. Create the new web page content for this new application (screenshots, description, etc.)
  9. Upload new files and web pages to server site.
  10. Modify automated scripts for sending out registration codes to people who buy the application.
  11. Send out an email blast to everyone who signed up for the newsletter mailing list.
  12. Upload the new application and details to 3rd-party vendor sites.

As you can see, it’s a lot of work to develop and make available a new application to the general public. In some cases, it could take almost 1-year to get a product developed and to market. But if you want to do it right, you have to take the time to create quality products.

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Treated Like Royalty

April 25, 2009

royaltyOn my trip to Phoenix this week, I really lucked out and was upgraded to 1st class for both my outbound and return flights. I made MVP last year (because I traveled over 20,000 miles), and as such I can get upgraded to 1st class if seats are available 48 hours before the flight. The best part of being in 1st class is the wide seats, extra leg room, and having enough space to work on my wide screen laptop. The free food, booze, snacks, and coffee are also nice too.

Once you’re spoiled like that, it’s hard to go back to a cramped coach seat. The only thing that was missing was a power outlet for my laptop… good thing I had an extra battery installed!

Now, I know what you’re thinking– you lucky dog. Well, I wasn’t that lucky because I was going home to a sick 5 year-old who has a fever and has been vomiting all over the house. I’ll be spending my weekend cleaning the carpets and comforting my little boy, and believe it or not, I’d rather be home doing that than flying around in 1st class.


I Come Across The Strangest Things…

April 25, 2009

strangeHere’s an off-the-topic story that I’ll share with you. I was waiting in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, and as I was typing on my laptop I noticed something strange out of the corner of my eye. It was a small dog be led by its owner on a leash, walking on its back legs. So, I thought it was pretty cute, that the dog was walking up-right on its hind legs like a circus act. After a while, I noticed that the dog was walking like that for a really long time, and I thought, “either that dog really likes to walk up-right or the owner is playing a cruel trick”. After about 10 minutes of walking around, the dog got closer to me to where I notice it had no front legs! I guess the dog was in an accident and had its front legs amputated. Whatever the case, this dog happily followed its owner around using just its two back legs. Sounds like something for the Guiness Book of World Records… 🙂


Finding Free WiFi Access While Out of Town

April 25, 2009

free_wifiOn a recent business trip I had a few hours to kill before flying out, so I decided to spend that time catching up with emails. Since I was in Phoenix, I could have used the airport’s free WiFi system, however, I didn’t want to hang out at the airport any longer than necessary. So, I decided to track down a hotel lobby that I could comfortably camp out and do my email activities. As it turned out, I discovered that most of the Hilton hotels don’t have free WiFi Access for the lobby guests (it’s a paid service). However, some of the less expensive hotels do offer free WiFi lobby access. The Days Inn, Fairfield Inn, Hampton Inn, and the Marriott Courtyard are a few hotels that did offer such free WiFi services. I ended up at the Courtyard by the airport and set up in a nice spot on a couch in front of a wide screen TV (with CNN). I also had my laptop and cell phone plugged into a convenient outlet mounted on the backside of the couch, so I was in heaven!

I’ll definitely add this particular hotel to my growing list of “Business Traveler Friendly” venues where I can get a respite from all the business meetings and telecons.


LogMeIn vs. Microsoft Mesh for Remote Computer Access

April 25, 2009

boxingI was out of town on a business trip this week, and I wanted to remotely log into my home desktop PC to check my emails and see what videos were recorded by Vista Media Center for conversion to my Microsoft Zune media device. I actually had two different options for remotely logging into my home system, (1) Microsoft Live Mesh and (2) LogMeIn.

I first tried using Microsoft Live Mesh, since my work laptop was already connected to the Microsoft Mesh system. I was able to successfully connect to my home PC and work on it, but the response was pretty slow and the graphics screen updates were crummy. So, I logged off and used the LogeMeIn web-based solution and found much better performance. LogMeIn was definitely snappier than Microsoft Mesh, and I was actually very productive using it.

So, I have to report that LogMeIn was a clear winner for remote login effectiveness, and I’ll certainly be sure to use it again when I’m in a similar situation. If only LogMeIn would work with my Windows Mobile Moto-Q phone for accessing my home PC…. 😉


Microsoft Virtual PC: Microsoft’s Incompatibility Savior

April 25, 2009

virtual_pcIn a recent computer magazine help section, someone wrote in with an issue of running a Windows 32-bit application on a Windows 64-bit system. Apparently, his application would not run on the 64-bit platform. The author of the help section responded by suggesting the reader run his 32-bit application inside of Microsoft Virtual PC. That same response is often give to Windows Vista 32-bit users who have a troublesome application that ran under Windows XP, but not Windows Vista (I had that problem with some old Microsoft Compilers).

Now, this answer sounds easy to do, but let me tell you from experience that using Microsoft Virtual PC is really inconvenient. Because you’re actually emulating a PC inside your own PC, it’s like having a 2nd desktop PC. As such, you have to install Windows XP (or whatever OS you need for your application) on your “Virtual PC”. So whenever you want to run your one or two troublesome applications you have to start up Microsoft Virtual PC, wait for it to “boot up” completely, THEN run your application. It’s a contrite answer to the problem, and not a very good solution in my opinion.

So my solution to the incompatible Microsoft Compiler was to upgrade to a newer version. And if I come across other incompatible applications, I’ll just dump then and find a better solution!


Sending Emails with Large Attachments

April 25, 2009

yousenditHere’s a neat tip that I got from www.howtogeek.com regarding a Microsoft Outlook plugin that allows you to send emails with very large attachments. In a lot of cases, IT departments limit the file attachment size to 5 or 10 MB (for both sending and receiving), so this nifty Outlook plugin lets you get around that issue by uploading your large attachment to their server and providing a download link in the sent email message.

The plugin is for a service offered by YouSendIt.com, where you can send up to a 2 GB attachment if you go with the “Pro” plan. YouSendIt allows you to attach a file with a max size of 100 MB for the free plan. There is also a 1 GB monthly download limit for the free plan, and all links to downloads are valid for only 7 days.

So, it sounds like a useful plugin if you need to send emails with large attachments.