Saturday, February 23, 2013

Want to compete with big software companies? Copy their best features!

If you run a small software company, you know how difficult it can be to make money. Contract software pays well, but you always have to be on the hunt for new contracts. The right product sells well but it takes an enormous amount of effort and time just to come up with a good idea, not to mention the time it takes to actually develop the product.  Because of this dilemma, a lot of small firms spend their entire existence scratching at the bottom of the industry looking for the tiny crumbs of customers that might keep them in business for another year.

Let me be very clear here: doing business this way makes no sense for a small firm and will eventually lead to non-growth or bankruptcy.  It simply isn't sustainable unless you have a true visionary at the helm and, let's face it, there really aren't a lot of Steve Jobs' out there anymore.

So what's a budding powerhouse company to do if they want to compete with the big boys and pull in the big bucks? Simple: imitate, copy, scale down.

When businesses buy software from a large vendor like Microsoft, they rarely use all of the features in the solution. Think about that for a moment: does anyone in your company use all of the features of Microsoft Office? Even collectively, I'd wager the answer is no. But even though many features will never be used (most users don't even know about many of them) businesses still pay for them when they buy the package.

When you consider the above paragraph, the solution to competing effectively becomes obvious: create a compatible product but offer fewer features; only the features that, say, 75% of users actually use and sell it for much less. The remaining 25% who use those other features? Ignore them. They can go to the larger, more expensive package.

By following this method, you can build a sustainable, growing, and forward profitable company. One where you can have the freedom to experiment with ideas and technologies that you think might be a hit in the market but couldn't otherwise afford to take the risks to create.

Lastly, in some countries, there could be issues with following this method so definitely consult with an attorney about patents before you do an exact clone of a product. In most cases, you should be alright but it's better safe than sorry.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Medical update for those who are interested

As most of you who follow this blog regularly already know, I'm a diabetic. Unfortunately, for most of the time I've been a diabetic, my blood sugar numbers have been largely uncontrolled and often ventured into the 300+ range (normal is 120 and below). I ate unhealthily, I didn't exercise, I didn't do anything you read that diabetics should to do maintain their health.  Then it came and bit me in the butt.

In December, a small pinprick at the bottom of my foot turned into an infection that ultimately led to the amputation of one of the toes on my right foot. Shortly after, another infection led to the loss of my big toe on the same foot and the entire left side of my foot being cut open and cleaned out (the infection was extensive). In fact, the wound was from the area that my now gone toes were to about an inch from my heel.

Overall, my healthcare providers, a wonderful doctor named Joseph Newman and a nurse called Laura Grey, thought the wound was healing well and, though I had a few setbacks, the prognosis seemed to be getting better.

Then, last week, Laura found an 'abscess' - a small bit of depth in the side of my foot and suggested I go to see Dr. Newman about it. The doctor took a culture from the abscess and called me Monday morning to tell me that it had grown a bug and that he wanted me to see another doctor (a D.O. and infectious disease specialist named Dr. Anthony Zeimet) to get treated.

I met with Dr. Zeimet on Tuesday morning at 8am and he sent me to the hospital for a full day of testing and an MRI. He also started me on a six week course of intravenous antibiotics meant to fight and kill any infection I had in my foot.  On Wednesday, the MRI came back and the news was not what I had hoped.

It seems that my foot has many tiny abscesses in it and performing surgery to clean them out would do significant damage to the foot itself. Dr. Zeimet broached the subject of amputation with me and suggested that I opt to have a below the knee amputation of my right leg.

Surprisingly, this didn't upset me as much as I thought it would. I understand how traumatic losing a body part can be but I also understand that, realistically, I need to weigh living a healthy and productive life against an ongoing (and probably unsuccessful) battle to save a sick limb. In the end, I made the decision to continue the six week course of antibiotics but stated that, if they don't work, I am open to amputation.

Perhaps I should be more upset about this than I am. Perhaps I should be railing at the world. But my main focus in all of this has been healing successfully and moving on with my life. I'm not willing to engage in endless battles with infection after infection just to save my leg. The logical and prudent thing would be to chop it off, heal, get a prosthetic, and get on with life. That is what I plan to do - unless, of course, the antibiotics actually work.

I'm sure if the time comes to actually take my leg I will have a plethora of emotions around it. One can't be human and not feel an attachment to their body and having a body part cut away is traumatic. But life is full of joy for those who look to find it. A temporary setback won't ruin that joy and won't hinder a life lived with joy.

After all, it's just a leg.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My New Project: Simple Diabetes Manager

As most of you who've been reading this blog for any length of time know, I'm a diabetic. I've been diabetic for over 10 years and have suffered many complications (including toe amputation) because of out of control blood sugar. While most of my problems stem from excessive weight gain and overeating, some of it comes from the inability to effectively track and correlate the things I do and eat with blood sugar readings.

So today, partly to 'scratch my own itch' and partly because I believe other diabetics could benefit from it, I've started developing a new project called "Simple Diabetes Manager". SDM will allow diabetics to easily track the things they do and eat and then correlate those things to their blood sugar readings. The software will be available first for the Ubutnu desktop, then for Windows,  iOS, Android, and Blackberry, a short time later.

I really believe that, when you're diabetic, it's imperative that you properly track your blood sugar. But equally important is the ability to correlate activities and foods to those readings. Having a 10,000 foot view of what effects your readings and by how much can assist both you and your doctor in treating your disease. Simple Diabetes Manager will fill that need.

Of course, obligatory screenshots are below. If you want to help out, the project is written in RealStudio and will be open source. Just contact me and we'll work something out.