Steve Moyer's blog

You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling

The subtitle of this article was going to be "What to do when your job doesn't offer fulfillment or a value to society", but I quickly realised that I didn't actually know the answer. I do have a few ideas but I'll leave it open ended and others can add to the list later.

Web 2.0 - A Second Chance To Make The Same UI Mistakes

Get ready kids. It's time to play the newest game in town; "Guess What This Control Will Do". Today's action packed game includes all sorts of links, drop-down lists, buttons and icons that don't do at all what you expect. Today's article is going to attempt to help (former) HTML jockey's understand the UI concepts that rich interface designers have been using for the last decade. There are simply too many UI mistakes being introduced into today's Web 2.0 applications.

Building Internet Communities

In my last regular post, "Entrepreneurship (Part II) - Please Help!", I feigned indignation regarding the lack of comments my posts were receiving.  Without comments, it's very difficult to determine whether you're providing useful content to your target audience, but now something worse has happened ... Sympathy Comments (thanks Keith and Gavin).  This post is going to discuss a couple reasons why forming an Internet community is hard as well as a couple ways an Internet "host" can satisfy his or her visitors.

Contest: The Technology Person Who Has Had The Biggest Impact On Me

This is the first of a series of contest entires. Voting begins on Friday 08 September.

Since I spent the first 15 years of my career as an embedded engineer, it was critical that I learn to program efficiently. Embedded systems have several requirements that are challenging ... limited processor power, limited memory, and the need to always be running. Wouldn't you hate it if your microwave oven gave you the blue screen of death? There is often a financial incentive to minimize the hardware costs which only serves to exacerbate the problem.

You might say this still isn't rocket science, but for my candidate, it is. His name is Jack Crenshaw, and I've been reading his "Programmers' Toolbox" articles in Embedded Systems Programming magazine for almost twenty-five years. His early stories were peppered with commentary on how routines were developed for NASA. Some articles are purely theoretical, but many have pseudo-code algorithms that can be directly implemented. These articles are the primary reason for the success of the embedded systems that I've developed.

Entrepreneurship (Part II) - Please help!

Last month in my post titled MicroIVs - Making Dreams Come True, I described trying to instill the entrepreneurial spirit in my two eldest children. In what can only be described as yet another manifestation of my insanity, I'm considering teaching an "Entrepreneurship 101" class at the Grace Prep School, where my son will be attending 10th grade. Two factors make me think this would work; First, I'm on the advisory board for the local public high school's Technology education programs, where I've seen this work. As part of the marketing curriculum, the students have managed all facets of a successful store, located right in the high school building. Second, Grace Prep is a pretty progressive school ... it has already embraced many non-traditional learning techniques and values education with experience over rote learning. There may be a third alterior motive, since I'm concerned that I'm not boring enough people through this blog (although, based on the lack of comments I've received, I suspect that you are indeed snoring before you reach the "add new comment" link). I suspect there would be some real satisfaction in lulling a student to sleep and then calling on them. In any case, I'd like your opinion on both the concept and the implementation.

Here's the elevator pitch: Have the students in the class create a real MicroISV. The students could be divided into groups (Sales/Marketing, Customer Support, Management, Product Research and Development) based on their interests and/or aptitudes, with each group responsible for a portion of the business. I would provide the domain name, web site and software development (a program I wrote in less than a week last year). I believe that this software is saleable and have considered creating a MicroISV for it, so I don't feel bad using it as the company's product. The students would have to start the business, market and sell the software, handle customer interaction and direct product development.

"Muntz" your code

A long time ago, when I was a much younger engineer, I read an article in "Electronic Design" magazine by Bob Pease of National Semiconductor titled "What's All This Muntzing Stuff, Anyhow?". In this article, he describes how Earl "Mad-man" Muntz, would clip parts out of his engineer's circuits to see if the parts were absolutely necessary. As a consequence, his television sets cost dramatically less than his competitors. This article is definitely worth a read (as are Bob's other articles).

I'm Not Dead Yet

So goes a famous line from my son's favorite movie, Monty Python's "Quest for the Holy Grail" (I'm sure he'll grow out of it). I realize that I've missed my last three posting slots and thought I'd explain.

MicroIVs - Making Dreams Come True

Hey! Where's the "S" ... that's the all important "Software" part! If you thought I misspelled the title of today's post, I didn't. I'm starting off today talking about "Independent Vendors". Does the same Internet that enables MicroISVs today also support the creation of self-sustaining MicroIVs of different flavors? I believe it does! If you didn't catch the thinly veiled recapitulation of the the title of Bob Walsh's excellent book, "MicroISV - From Vision to Reality", all I can say is "Shame on You" (okay, maybe you're in the wrong place ... you can find Google here). If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, then maybe other businesses can follow the MicroISV leaders. Almost every topic in Bob's book is either directly or indirectly related to every small business.

Show Me the Money

... so went the famous line from the movie "Jerry McGuire".  And while it may be appropriate for a sports agent, it really doesn't sound as good when I hear the salepeople in our company say it (fortunately, never directly to the customer).  As a large company (C-COR has over a thousand employees), we are multi-faceted ... we have a hardware division, a software division and several mechanisms for making money via services.  In all these cases, what the sales group really means is "give me some money", with the often unspoken corollary of "and I'll give you something of equal value".  The rest of this article focuses on software businesses and what happens when a customer offers money for something you don't have.

Go Overboard on Features

I realize I'm treading on dangerous waters with the title of this weeks post, but I'm tired of hearing about "Architecture Astronauts" and "Creeping Featurism" in response to questions I ask developers about specific features. First and foremost, program architecture is something that you should think about before you start coding! The reality is that, even if you don't formalize this step, the act of coding is based on your current mental framework of the problem at hand and your previous experience with software.