Category Archives: From the Forge

Simplify, go forth and conquer!

My friend Doug Mann once pointed out something to me that I’ve kept with me for about 20 years.  Doug is one of the smartest people I know and has the ability to explain things in as few words as he needs to use.  Anyway, we were discussing a very wealthy investment banking acquaintance of ours and I […]

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How to be a good client

There are times where you find yourself in a less-than-desirable business relationship that needs to continue, despite challenges.  Over the years there have been a few vendors that have become a challenge, but sticking to some simple rules have kept the relationship amicable, if not greatly improved.  Try to treat vendors the way you would like your clients to behave.  Sounds […]

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“What is your hourly rate?”

2 years ago, we stopped quoting projects based on an hourly rate.  The reason?  We don’t sell time.  We sell solutions.  This concept is very concisely covered in “Breaking the Time Barrier“ by Mike McDerment of Freshbooks fame.  Our guiding philosophy has always been to provide the highest possible value to our clients, and this method […]

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Process Automation Best Practices

Most software development projects are designed to automate some kind of process.  Sometimes we automate a manual process, optimize an existing software process or solve a problem that most people didn’t know existed.  Any time I take on a project to automate something I’m always very conscious of how the new solution will affect productivity once it’s […]

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Asking the right questions

As with any “boutique” business, the success or failure of our efforts can solely ride on whether or not we ask the right questions. Very much like a custom fabricator or machine shop, we need to know the obvious measurements and materials, but most importantly we need to know HOW our application will be used. […]

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Beware of being “Greenmailed”

Most people are aware of the concept of being blackmailed, but I recently heard someone say “their business model is to greenmail their customers into vendor lock-in” and I had no idea what he meant by “greenmail”.  I asked, and as it turns out, the company he was talking about was a competitor to his and he wanted […]

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The Value of Good Communication

Ah, yes.  Communication.  You likely see it in every single job description under the sun: “Stellar communication is a must” “Effective communication with different business units” “The candidate is expected to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.” (All three of those were pulled from NON Technical job postings on craigslist, by the way.)   I […]

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Still Being Amazed after 20 years in Technology

I really go out of my way to not take advances in technology for granted.  I’m still continually amazed at what we are able to do with tools that have been around a very long time.  Take VNC for example.  I’ve been working with a client (whom I’ve never met in person) in New York, […]

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Things to do when you’re not buried in projects

One summer day in 7th grade I remember being really bored.  You know those days where nothing (not even asteroids on the Atari 2600) seems like fun?  On this particular day I decided to make a list of stuff to do when I was bored.  I don’t remember the list as a smashing success, but […]

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Command-line PHP

I get a little misty when I harken back to 1994 and my first linux install (slackware, kernel version 1.0).  The whole purpose of the excercise was so I could learn to write perl.  I had messed with Visual Basic and got frustrated with the runtime junk and the fact that extending it (OCX controls […]

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