In the Tail

Exploring the niche consumer

$2500 dollar investment

April 25th, 2007

I’m starting a new web project today and I’ve decided to do this one a little different. I’m going to document each step of the project on this blog and make the source code available too, so it’s kind of an Open Source Web 2.0 site.

I’ll be using Ruby on Rails to develop the site, which is one of the faster growing Database backed Web Application environments. If you have not read the book Beyond Java I would encourage you to read it, Bruce Tate has done an excellent job of explaining some of the problems Java is facing and how Ruby on Rails solves those.

The idea for the site is to make it easier for entrepreneurs to come up with nifty Web 2.0 domains themselves. The number of .com domains registered has skyrocketed to over 50 million as of last year, according to Domain counts but at the same time a .com domain is still the gold standard for your presence on the web. Trying to come up with an unregistered site is getting very hard and that’s where this new site will help. I also need to give credit to this site Domain Generator which got me thinking along these lines, the problem with this site is that there seems to be a fixed list of names and most are not available, I plan of fixing both of these issues with my site.

There are a couple of ways to find a good domain name, the first one is to make a word up like google.com, ebay.com or skype.com, which is feasible for some creative types out there unfortunately I’m not one of those… Or you could use foreign words like yugma.com or nexo.com, but many of these are taken and to me they are harder to remember. So that leaves us with another way which is to use compound words, like hotmail.com, fogcreek.com or livewire.com . You are not going to find these in the standard dictionary like other compound words such as newsstand, flowerpot or ladybug but they are easy to remember and they can be used to describe a concept also. They also have a nice feature for engineers in that they can be created by an algorithmic process.

The site I picked for this website is JargonFly.com (see compound word sites make sense), which is a site I registered a while back. This is also how the title for this article came up, because a couple of weeks ago a company made me a cash offer for the JargonFly.com domain and they were willing to pay $2500 dollars for it. I obviously didn’t sell, but it did motivate me to go ahead and get the site developed so I can generate revenue from it (hopefully much more than the $2500 I turned down).

Now I’ve got the idea, the domain, a machine to host it on and the framework I’ll use, now I have to figure out how to monetize the site. The obvious things that come to mind is to become an affiliate for an ICANN registrar and collect money for registering sites. The other thing is to have other advertisers such as how to form your own corporation, raising venture capital, etc, plus there is always adwords from Google. I will research those a little later, for now I need to get the site built.

That’s it for now, hopefully by next time I will have the framework laid out for creating the domain names and a way of verifying they are still available.

Freelance Switch

April 20th, 2007

I ran across this great site Freelance Switch. Its about making the switch from the corporate world to being a freelancer. The site design is incredible and it looks like they plan on it being more than a blog.

They have some really good articles on different types of clients and also some QA type articles.

It looks like the illustrations used in the blog come from I Stock Photos. I could really use more style on this site, so I will be looking into them to see if they have graphics I can use.

Working for the Man

April 6th, 2007

I ran across this article Working for the Man this morning and it really hit home. I’m not sure exactly why it is, but the younger generation (18-28) is much different about work ethic and attitude than the previous generation (29-45). I can look around and see some of the reason, when I’m driving home from work and see kids in the back of peoples SUV with the built-in DVD player playing the Disney movie, I know where the sense that everything must be entertaining comes from. One thing I can’t figure out is where the sense of entitlement came from, when I was growing up (way back in the day…) it was still taught that if you worked hard you could accomplish whatever you want, now it seems to be if you complain and whine enough you will get that raise you want. To be honest I’m sure my parents generation thought my generation didn’t have to work hard and compared to them we didn’t, I didn’t have to feed the animals before school and then work at my Dad’s school after work but I didn’t think anyone owed me…

I saw one of the comments towards the bottom and posted the following response, hopefully young people will realize the opportunities they have and go after them.

Your attitude is what is holding you back. I work for a company that was a startup, then got acquired by a mid-size company and not is getting acquired by a big multi-national and the hardest part of my job is finding good developers. By good developers I’m talking about the ones being described in this article, the ones that have a passion for what they do and see writing software as the same thing as creating a fine piece of furniture.

I find it interesting that so many people disagree with the fact that you need to learn the internals of the machine; I think that is absolutely essential. Most people don’t even realize the order of magnitude difference, between memory and disk speeds/network speeds. You can be a good object oriented developer, have the perfect base classes, perfect inheritance pattern and have a terrible product because you don’t know how the overall system works. Most people do not have the patience it takes top learn this level of detail, the interrupt level in daily life makes this difficult. If you can’t do a google search and get back the exact information you are looking for in 55 milliseconds, then people move on to the next thing. There use to be a time (BG) before Google, where any manual or book you got was treasured and squirreled away for the knowledge it possessed, I worry that Google searches are replacing that deep level of understanding most good developers had to build up….

Anyways you can still live in that small town and make good money developing software, but you do have to go after what you want. Start by trying to bid for some outsourced projects from Companies that can’t get everything done. Build up you contacts, write emails, send sample code, maybe even do a project for free to show people you can do it. It is not going to fall into you lap, but if you can make some mid level managers job easier by writing a test harness or a utility program, you will have people beating down you virtual door with work.

RoboGeo

March 25th, 2007

After I wrote the article about the Sony GPS-CS1KA GPS, I did a little more research and I’m not convinced that is the best way to go. The main intent of Geocoding your photographs, is to insert the GPS info into the EXIF headers. There are several programs that allow you to do this, from just plain editing the latitude and longitude into each picture, to pulling the GPS data from the time stamps of a back track log.

One of the main problems with the Sony unit is that it does not seem to be sensitive enough in urban areas. I would look at this review from digitalurban before making a decision.

Robogeo seems to be one of the more popular ones and it seems very full featured. It can directly access a Garmin GPS unit and can used GPX files generated by other GPS’s.

Another option if you are a little more technical and don't want to spend the money on Robogeo, is to use gpicsync. It's written in Python and will run on Windows and Linux. You still have to produce a GPX file so it's not as tightly integrated as Robogeo is.

You will still need a receiver capable of recording GPX files. I'm leaning towards the Garmin GPSMap 60CSx it uses the SiRF GPS chipset which is very accurate from everything I've read. It is quite a bit more than the Sony, but it's a full featured GPS. I do have an older Magellan Meridian Gold GPS unit, but when I downloaded back track information I did not see any time and dates associated with it.

Permalinks in Rails

March 15th, 2007

I was looking into different search engine optimization techniques (SEO) and one of the things they said were that search engines filter some links based on http get arguments. If you have a link like http://www.secretfalls.com/trails/show?1, it might not index that page. Well in Rails that shouldn’t be an issue, because the way the controller works, you get the identifier as part of the http URL, so the above example would be http://www.secretfalls.com//trails/show/1 which is better, but it would still be nicer to have http://www.secretfalls.com//trails/show/Hickey_Gap_Trail.

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class HikingController < ApplicationController
  before_filter :common
  def common
     @states = State.find_states
  end
  def index
    @trails = Trail.find_trails
  end
  def show
    @trail =Trail.find(params[ :id ])
  end
  def show_by_state
    @trails =Trail.find_by_state(params[ :id ])
  end
end

I was going to do a big write up here, but like so many things in rails I found that someone had already doe exactly what I wanted. Take a look at SEO for Ruby on Rails This plugin acts_as_friendly_param is super easy and gives you nice seo friendly URL’s

Midland WR-300 AM/FM Weather/All Hazards/Civil Emergency Alert Monitor with S.A.M.E.

I'm a big fan of having a Weather radio and apparently many others are too.  I wonder if this is season specific, but I was surprised at how high of a sales rank this product had.


You get local weather reports when you need them (Like when an F4 is approaching your house). Digital PLL tuning for clear reception; S.A.M.E. localized reception; 30 programmable county codes so you can receive alerts about one county or many counties... from your home, to your cabin and where your kids go to college(I didn’t think about this one, it would be nice to call you kids at school in the event of bad Weather, because you know they won’t be paying attention); Full function alarm clock; Built-in AM / FM radio; 10 memory alerts... easily add, edit and remove unwanted ads Powered by included AC wall adapter and 4 AA batteries (not included).

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #24 in Electronics

Sony GPSCS1KA GPS

March 7th, 2007

When I go camping or hiking I want to remember where I was when I took a picture, so I started looking around for a camera with a built-in GPS unit. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find something close. The Sony GPS-CS1KA GPS image tracker calculates and records the time, date and location of each picture you snap (well sort of). What it does is constantly record your position every 15 seconds with accurate time information, then when you take your pictures off your camera it compares the Datetime recorded in the Exif 2.1 header to determine where you were when the picture was taken. It’s a pretty cleaver approach, but honestly with GPS chipset prices coming down so low, building it directly into the cameras makes sense.

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #1,346 in Camera & Photo

If anyone has one of these, can you tell me how you like it?

Before you buy one of these see my other article about robogeo

FloorPlan 3D at buy.com

March 4th, 2007

I like to check the more popular websites like amazon.com, buy.com, etc to see what is moving up the ranks. This one caught my eye FloorPlan 3D v.11 Remodel & Home Design at buy.com, ranked as #1 software in entertainment

I thought the housing market was imploding, subprime lenders were going bankrupt and the Yen carry trade is unwinding, so then I looked a little closer and noticed that after the mail in rebate the software is free.

This makes sense, people will take anything that’s free.

FACING THE GIANTS

March 2nd, 2007

FACING THE GIANTS is a movie that was written, directed and stars an Associate Pastor from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia named Alex Kendrick. The movie consisted of an all volunteer staff with Alex playing the role of Grant Taylor, the head football coach in the movie.

Even more amazing is that this is actually their second movie, their first movie was FLYWHEEL, which was filmed on a $20,000 budget that came from private contributions. Using an all-volunteer cast of actors, the movie utilized local homes and businesses as sets.

The filming of FACING THE GIANTS lasted six weeks and was done in and around Albany with a two-week break midway through. University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt, volunteered to fly from Athens to Albany for a cameo appearance.

What does this have to do with the niche consumer, well FACING THE GIANTS is currently ranked #25 at amazon.com for most popular DVD’s.