Main | Agile »

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Emails to the FeedJournal Domain

I just had a large backlog of e-mails delivered to me. They were all addressed to any of the e-mail addresses in my feedjournal.com domain. There were e-mails all the way back from the end of August until today. Of course, this is an extremely costly thing to have happen to an µ-ISV and especially at a time around a product launch.

I have been speaking to both my domain name registrar and my hosting provider and problem is now solved once and for all. You should all feel free to safely use the feedjournal.com addresses for contacting me in the future.

I am terribly sorry for everyone who tried to contact me during this time (31st Aug - today) and never received a reply. I am now starting to process the e-mail backlog and reply to each and everyone of you.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

FeedJournal is Awarded First Place in Microsoft Contest

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that my newspaper project FeedJournal had been awarded First Place in their Made In Express Contest. As regular readers of my blog know, my brainchild FeedJournal is the .NET application I am writing to revolutionize the way you read newspapers.  

The judges (Chris Pirillo, LockerGnome; Phillip Torrone, MAKE Magazine; Robert Scoble, Scobleizer) motivation read:

Jonas helped us all take a step closer to publishing our own newspaper based on the news we care about. FeedJournal is actually a little glimpse of the future…it will likely be a common way for readers to ‘roll their own’ magazines in the near future.  

This is probably my finest moment ever in my long software development career and I want to thank Microsoft for arranging the contest and everyone who has supported the project by dropping emails or blog comments. And I want to send a special thank you to my wife and baby daughter for having patience with my late evening development sessions during this time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Promoting FeedJournal

Small software businesses, or µ-ISVs, are cropping up everywhere nowadays. A big challenge for them is to get a foothold in the industry and claim a piece of the market. Then they need to keep that attention.

In Bob Walsh's excellent " Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality", I learned that a blog can be an excellent vehicle for spreading the word about your product. It can also help to make sure you are keeping your customer's attention focused, by having them subscribe to your blog's RSS feed. The Blogosphere is a fast-moving media where the attention span sometimes lasts shorter than it takes to read a headline. The cross-pollination in the blogosphere is an interesting phenomenon which I hope to be able to leverage some more in the future.

For now, I decided to add a new section to FeedJournal's web site. The new section is called "In Blogs", with the obvious allusion to "In the Press", and will contain interesting mentions about my application from the blogosphere. I know, FeedJournal is not even out for beta testing yet, but it is never too early to start marketing, right? And besides, I can't resist the kick I get out of seeing my name mentioned in other people's blogs!

As a side note, after months of owning the domain feedjournal.com, I finally figured out how to configure the DNS so that I can use my hosting service with the domain. Until now I was using GoDaddy's forwarding functionality together with a masking technique. Now the hosting is set up like it should.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Creativity as Driving Force

Take a minute to remember the last project you completed alone. Can you remember the satisfaction of seeing the pieces fall into place to build a greater whole, to put the finishing touches and perhaps launch it publicly? This satisfaction, in its best moments, defines one of greatest feelings in life. It is the driving force for artists, hackers, bloggers, journalists, and anyone who lets their creativity be a central part of their day-to-day activities.

Creativity can be manifested in different ways for different people. The force of it is just as powerful though, no matter if it is being used to cook, do gardening, writing, drawing, composing music, or anything else. I am a software developer, and my choice of profession has a lot to do with getting an outlet for my desire to be creative. It is my firm belief that people gain happiness and satisfaction from nurturing and giving in to their creative impulses.

Society brings with it social pressures and expectations as well as stereotypes we are expected to fit into. These are stifling our creativity, and it is up to each and every one of us to find our own way. To find our own way is not an easy thing and we must constantly fight this war, in order not to fall back into stereotypical behavior and dissatisfaction. It is by leveraging our creativity that we can force this issue to our advantage. The war against stereotypical behavior must be fought on many fronts: professionally, as a family, in your relations with close ones, and of course in your dealings with yourself.

A personal example: Last year I decided that I wanted to start my own software development business. This decision stemmed from the fact that I had always had creative positions in my professional life until I emigrated from Sweden to Israel. Here in my new country I started to work in a position where my creative juices weren’t flowing like I was used to. I was more and more missing the development work I always had been doing in the corporate world. I decided that the best way for me to express my creativity by building software applications on my own time.

It is the first time I am creating a large software project on my own, including marketing and selling it. It is nothing short of amazing. Everyday I am learning something new and the fact that I am my own boss means that I can focus my creativity in the direction where I am feeling most productive that day. One day it means writing articles or blog entries, another day it means coding or web site building.

Going it alone in the software business is of course not a new phenomenon (small shareware shops were heard of decades ago), but there is a rather recent term for it: micro-ISV (Independent Software Vendor). It connotes to one or a few individuals who are building and selling software products. The term was coined by Eric Sink in an MSDN Magazine article, and it stuck in the industry. Today, there are books, active forums, podcasts and web sites dedicated to help out the budding or already blossoming micro-ISV entrepreneur. These micro-ISV and shareware people who are going it alone have all made a proactive choice about using their creativity daily.

I think there is a reason we are seeing a entrepreneurial boom in the software industry today. The growth and acceptance of e-commerce along with more powerful and affordable Rapid Application Development tools (Visual Studio Express comes to mind), makes it much easier for the single software developer to make a living today. It’s a beautiful world where creativity can pay the bills!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Project Management with ToDoList

Reading my fellow finalist Douglas Steen's entry about bug tracking tools, I am totally agreeing with him that it would be great to have a lightweight bug-tracking tool built into Express. Sure enough, we have the Task List pane where tasks can be sorted and having a priority but that's not really accomplishing anything substantial.

Douglas chose a web-based bug tracking system and he mentioned another web-based system. Hunting the Internet will lead you to yet other web-based systems. Why does 99% of bug-tracking systems have to be run in the browser? I hate the browser: it is less responsive than a native Windows application as well as usually lacking a menu and having quirky keyboard support.

Just because a system is multiuser doesn't mean that the browser is the only interface. The large advantage I see of using the browser is that no client software will need to be installed and we will support multiple operating systems, but I would happily trade this for a native Windows interface.

I was hunting high and low for the Holy Grail of bug tracking systems until a couple of months ago, when I finally discovered a wonderful freeware application called ToDoList.

ToDoList is the perfect application for a single developer who wants to manage any project. The interface is a bit on the complicated side, but can be customized it to suit your own requirements. For each hierarchical item you can add formatted comments, priority, estimation, tags, dependencies, etc etc. There is also a possibility to export the task list to XML for web publication along with a zillion other neat features.

ToDoList is hosted on CodeProject and is being actively developed with new features at a continuous pace. Try it, you won't regret it! I am actually writing each draft of my blog entries inside ToDoList.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Domain Names

OK, time to return to the blogosphere after my honeyweek with the baby.

I have set up a web site at feedjournal.com where all things related to my project will be collected and presented. In the meantime I have put up some basic information together with the project goals. I bought the domain from GoDaddy.com, and it was a very straightforward process.

feedjournal.com was actually not my first choice of product/domain name. I was initially having my eyes set on a different name but the .com name was taken. Or rather not taken, but parked, like almost all decent .com domains today. It's pretty frustrating to see that one after the other of all your candidate names are taken, and when you try the more esoteric names you find them taken as well. And then you try the really absurd names, and sure enough, none is available. Not that these domain names are in use, many are just bought by companies who sell them on for much higher prices.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


As I have mentioned on the blog before, the big project I am working on right now is a feed aggregator in the form of a paper newspaper. This application is currently being developed using the .NET 2.0 framework. By using this development environment I automatically qualified to enter Microsoft's $10,000 Made In Express Contest where the idea was picked along with 11 other finalists.

I have previously used the name "RSS Star" for the project, but from now on the name will be FeedJournal. Information about this project is available at www.feedjournal.com - and as part of Microsoft's contest I will also be blogging at http://spaces.msn.com/madeinexpress6

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Download sites

When creating a software product enterprise that completely lives on the Internet there are some things you simply can't do without. One of them is having your products listed on the popular download sites: Download.com, Tucows, etc.

Since I am trying to bootstrap (BTW, check this word's etymology) my business, I am not going to use any of the costly programs that these download sites have available for speeding up the registration process. In case you are going the free way you will need a large amount of patience depending for some of the download sites. The table below gives the lowdown for the most popular ones.

Download site

Approximate time before submission is registered


Two weeks


Close to 300(!) days


One week


One day

Download.com is the leader among the download sites and I am happy to say that I just got listed there with my "pilot application" Window Control. When you get added to their directory you are automatically given a nice download button to put on your web site. This is of course optional, but I was quick to add it to my product page.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Book review: Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality

As I mentioned in an earlier post I was reading the book Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality by Bob Walsh. Now I've finished it and must say that it is packed with very sound advice for a startup software business. While containing a lot of screenshots, filling up the pages, these also make it convenient to read the book offline and still getting a glimpse of the sites mentioned in the text. A short introduction to Getting things Done is also included.

All stages of the business is covered, from finding an idea, choosing a company and domain name through development and on to marketing, selling and support. Interviews with various micro-ISVs are sprinkled throughout the text, and serve as a reality check in some cases. It is entertaining to read Bob Walsh's book and his sense of humour keeps the reading a pleasant experience.

Watch this space for my own venture into the micro-ISV world.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, and for that name which is no part of thee take all myself."

Juliet did not run a µ-ISV, but she did realize the importance of having a fitting name. Naming a company is not a trivial thing, and I have been struggling with finding a good name that has an available .com-domain as well. From Walsh's book I found a reference to "The Igor Naming Guide" which is available for free at http://www.igorinternational.com/process/naming-guide-product-company-names.php. This seems to be an excellent overview and I hope to have a name ready by the time I finish reading the PDF.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Starting your own software business

Today I got a package from Amazon:

Front Cover

Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality by Bob Walsh. It describes how to start a one-man business developing software products. I am eager to read it, and I will report my results here.

© Jonas Martinsson 1995-2006