Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What's in a Name?

Naming your product is hard. Naming your company can be even harder, especially when you need a URL to go with it and you need to avoid existing trademarks.

The Name Inspector has the pros and cons of what they deem the 10 company name types are. It's an interesting read.
Though most of the TechCrunch names are “Web 2.0? names, there’s nothing particularly Web 2.0 about the categories. They all represent linguistic naming strategies that can be used for companies or products of any kind.

Of course, there are different ways to categorize names. You can use phonetic properties like sonority or number of syllables. You can use semantic criteria, such as whether they are metaphorical, metonymic, or literally descriptive.

MacGourmet and SQLGrinder more or less fall into the "Compounds" category. MacGourmet is a combination of the platform name and its target audience. SQLGrinder is a compound of the language that is basis of a lot of database development, SQL, and an action play on the fact that is uses JDBC, which is part of Java, as it's connection library. (Java, coffee, coffee grinder... get it?). Advenio is much more straight forward. It's in category one, a real foreign word, a latin word meaning "to reach, or to arrive." I found it while scouring a latin dictionary for a word that didn't seem to be used by any companies, hadn't had its dot com domain already registered and sounded cool. In what category does your company or product name fall?

Full post: 10 company name types on TechCrunch: Pros and cons

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Why Can't Programmers.. Program?

Wow, and I thought only I held such a dim view. Jeff Atwood over at Coding Horror blogs on how bad a lot of software developers really are:
I'm more than willing to cut freshly minted software developers slack at the beginning of their career. Everybody has to start somewhere. But I am disturbed and appalled that any so-called programmer would apply for a job without being able to write the simplest of programs. That's a slap in the face to anyone who writes software for a living.

The vast divide between those who can program and those who cannot program is well known. I assumed anyone applying for a job as a programmer had already crossed this chasm. Apparently this is not a reasonable assumption to make. Apparently, FizzBuzz style screening is required to keep interviewers from wasting their time interviewing programmers who can't program.

I can totally empathize with this. I've spent a lot of time on the hiring side of the interview table and it's hard to find good people, even hard to find competent people, and damn near impossible to find great people.

After interviewing a bunch of clearly unqualified people for a database position back in the days, unqualified people who wanted WAY too much money (more than what I made in some cases), we decided to try giving applicants a basic database theory test. One guy was so insulted by the test that he pretty much ended the interview... but was it that he couldn't do the basic relational theory? We'll never know. I know if presented a test like the one we gave I would have probably been like "you have to be kidding me, but OK, this is cake, I can play that game." After reading the linked post you can see why we did the test. People were failing even the basics.

Maybe it's foolish to begin interviewing a programmer without looking at their code first. At Vertigo, we require a code sample before we even proceed to the phone interview stage. And our on-site interview includes a small coding exercise. Nothing difficult, mind you, just a basic exercise to go through the motions of building a small application in an hour or so. Although there have been one or two notable flame-outs, for the most part, this strategy has worked well for us. It lets us focus on actual software engineering in the interview without resorting to tedious puzzle questions.

Amen to that. Any real software developer worth their salt will be able to talk code, think code, hell even dream code (I do that all the time). The tedious puzzle questions can be more than a little annoying.

Honestly, in a time when engineering and computer science is becoming even more important, and fewer and fewer students are going into the fields, what does our future hold, when the current work force fails to provide qualified applicants? (For the record I have a degree in CompSci).

Read the full post: Why Can't Programmers.. Program?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Red Sweater MarsEdit Acquisition: Good for the Mac Market

Now that I've had a break to think about the whole MarsEdit acquisition a couple of days ago, I think that this is not only a good thing for Daniel and MarsEdit users, but it's yet another sign of the vibrancy of the Mac software market. I think that it, like the NewsGator acquisition of NetNewsWire, clearly shows that not only is a worthwhile pursuit to develop Mac applications from scratch, but it's also worthwhile to acquire Mac applications because of their increasing value in a growing market.

What's ironic is that the whole thing seemed to come out of another acquisition "gone bad" which led Daniel to post:
But what I can’t believe is that a relatively mature product like this sells for only $5000. And Garrett was including 50 hours of consulting with the deal. By my reckoning that means he was essentially selling 50 hours of work and throwing in the business for free.

But this got me thinking. Will anybody sell me their product for $5000? I am a good buyer. Make me an offer, and if I like what you’ve got, I’ll pay cold hard cash for it. No installment crap. If you won’t sell for $5000, how much will it take? -- Sell Me Your Product

I think this succeeded beyond his expectations, which is great. (The MarsEdit buy probably didn't come out of this, but Daniel has been blogging about one acquisition that did.)

What does this all mean though? It can't be anything but a good thing that an indie Mac developer is growing his own business, and saving 2 applications at the same time. I think it is really great to see the blogs and Mac news sites light up in support of these things.

This is yet another sign that the Mac market is alive and thriving. As the Mac market continues to grow (ignore the market share numbers, they are more or less meaningless) software developed for this market will continue to gain in value. More and more you see individuals casting off the chains of the rat race that is the "typical" job market, and going into business for themselves. You gotta love it.

So Much Going on in the Mac Indie Realm

Wow, a lot has been going on lately, and I've been so busy with MacGourmet 2.1, nutrition support (which is coming later), and a complete redesign of the Advenio and product sites, that I haven't had time to comment on things.

But here goes:

Daniel Jalkut over at Red Sweater today announced his acquisition of MarsEdit, which is a product created by Brent Simmons of NewNewsWire fame. It was part of the NewsGator Acquisition of NNW, but since then it's sort of stagnated. I use it, as does my sister, to post to The Cooking News) and I look forward to the changes in store for it now that it's in the hands of Daniel.

On a related topic:

Brent Simmons over at NewsGator has posted screenshots, dev stories and an alpha download of NetNewsWire 3. It looks different, and promising. He has a interesting blog post on the evolution of the toolbar buttons and a lot of great discussion follows in the comments.

There is also a great discussion over at Justin William's blog Carpeaqua entitled "How Do You Develop Software?" (God I love visiting that blog just for the random picts of Elisha Cuthbert)

It's interesting to see how other Mac devs approach the whole development process. Personally, I'm a top-down designer, bottom up developer. I have an idea in my head, and know pretty much were I ultimately want to go, so I always have a plan.

The implementation though, usually starts with a small core that I build on. I always go for solid functionality over the glitter at first. I'm more interested in making sure the features and usability are there before the eye candy, so a lot of what I do tends to be sleek and clean. I am also a firm believer in the notion that version 1 of a product is really just a dry run for version 2 and beyond. I am usually inclined to completely rewrite things for version 2, using everything learned from the first pass.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

SQLGrinder and SQLite: Revisited

I just downloaded the latest version of the Zentus SQLite JDBC driver, and I can say that once again, SQLGrinder has a good driver that can be used for your SQLite work.

Earlier versions of this driver allowed the use of the SQL editor, but now the schema browser works well too.

To use this driver, you just need to download the Mac OS X version, extract the archive, put the files sqlitejdbc-native.jar and libsqlitejdbc.jnilib in Library/Java/Extensions, and start up SQLGrinder. Finally, you just need to set the compatibility setting to JDBC 1 in Connection > Settings and set Autocommit to true. That should be it. Many thanks to David Crawshaw for his work on this.

[Update] SQLGrinder doesn't yet come with the configuration information for this driver built in. Here are the values I'm currently using -- Name: SQLite 3, Base class: org.sqlite.JDBC, URL prefix: jdbc:sqlite. Just add a JDBC driver configuration in Preferences and use these values and the driver should load.[/Update]

For additional information, see this post as well: Using SQLite with SQLGrinder 2

Friday, February 02, 2007

Is Bill Gates on Crack?

Reading the web exclusive interview posted on Newsweek's site, Finally, Vista Makes Its Debut. Now What? you'd think so. His comments are so ridiculous and off the mark, you have to wonder what he was smoking during the interview.

When asked about the new security in Vista, he kind of goes off on a tangent about how exploits found are fixed and that's why they have software update, ending with "Apple hasn't done any of those things."
You also talk about improved security in Vista.
Yes, although security is a [complicated concept]. You're [referring to] the fact that there have been some security updates already for Windows Vista. This is exactly the way it should work. When somebody comes to us [after discovering a vulnerability] we've got [a fix] before there is any exploit. So it's totally according to plan, and that's why we have the whole Windows Update thing. We made it way harder for guys to do exploits. The number [of violations] will be way less because we've done some dramatic things [to improve security] in the code base. Apple hasn't done any of those things.

Huh, Apple hasn't? Apple doesn't fix the few things found immediately, with a built in software updater? Wrong Bill. And what's with the quote? "Way harder" and "way less?" That'd be like, so cool. Like, wow.

But wait, it gets better. When asked about the "Get a Mac" commercials specifically the one where PC has to undergo surgery for the upgrade, Gates responds:
Well, certainly we've done a better job letting you upgrade on the hardware than our competitors have done. You can choose to buy a new machine, or you can choose to do an upgrade. And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it's superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say? Does honesty matter in these things, or if you're really cool, that means you get to be a lying person whenever you feel like it? There's not even the slightest shred of truth to it.
What is he? Twelve? What kind of an answer is that? And I dunno, unless you recently bought a new PC, or had a high end one to begin with, most reports I've seen say that you can run Vista, but you don't get the whole experience.

He also goes on to sort of claim ownership of all of Apple's ideas:
You can go through and look at who showed any of these things first, if you care about the facts. If you just want to say, "Steve Jobs invented the world, and then the rest of us came along," that's fine. If you're interested, [Vista development chief] Jim Allchin will be glad to educate you feature by feature what the truth is. I mean, it's fascinating, maybe we shouldn't have showed so publicly the stuff we were doing, because we knew how long the new security base was going to take us to get done.
I'd LOVE to see this list. but here's the thing: it doesn't exist. This is just a ridiculous claim. Exactly what, has Apple taken from anything previewed in Vista. This is clearly a tit for tat re: Jobs not unveiling all of the new Leopard features until after Vista ships. Honestly, I'm thinking they interviewed Bill Gates, but it's not Bill Gates the founder of MSFT, it's a 14 year old kid named Bill Gates from Muncie, Indiana. Because the claims go further downhill from even this point:
Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine

I'm speechless. There isn't a shred of proof that exists that could back up this claim, and plenty that runs counter to it.
Let's be realistic, who came up with [the] file, edit, view, help [menu bar]? Do you want to go back to the original Mac and think about where those interface concepts came from?
Xerox Parc?

There's more ridiculousness in this piece, you really have to read it. I truly hope that it's a joke that was published accidently, because I'd hope that Bill Gates can't be that stupid, or that blatant a liar.