The Professional Steve

Tutorials, developer resources and inspiration.

Starting A Software Business

I have a few irons in the fire (the most important one being my new job). Another one of involves starting an online business.

Well, I guess that last iron isn’t in the fire until I finish my Cloud Computing assignments, but it’s near the fire. It’s leaning against whatever it is that the fire is in. It might even be getting slightly warm due to it’s proximity to said fire. I’ll be putting it in that fire on March 15th, when my Cloud assignments are due.

What with my new job, my commute, things around the house I need to take care of, my classwork, and all that stuff I keep in and around a metaphorical fire, I don’t have a lot of free time. I do, however, have time to listen to podcasts while I drive and do chores.

One of those is The Smart Passive Income Podcast hosted by Pat Flynn. It’s one of the resources I’ve found in my search for information about creating online business that have little to no sleaze factor.

So far Flynn is sleaze free.

Most of his content revolves around creating sites that provide valuable information for free, and then, for those who want to dig deeper, offering more in-depth products and services for a fair price.

That approach is exactly what I’m doing with my Python tutorials. Those tutorial posts will always be free, but I will use them as a kind of first draft for an ebook and online course once I’ve finished them. It’s also my hope that the blog will be useful to people in its own right, and that a smaller set of those people will find my future ebooks and courses valuable enough to pay for them.

But there’s a different and more general approach to software businesses (and perhaps all businesses) that two of Flynn’s podcasts describe. The core of the idea is something I first came across in Seth Godin’s blog. I wish I could find the quote, but I’ll paraphrase it here:

Look for the pain points and provide solutions to those problems.

In episodes 46 and 149 of The Smart Passive Income Podcast, Flynn and his guest Dane Maxwell discuss specific methods for just how you find the pain in any industry.

They go into detail, but the basic idea is that you simply ask people what their problems are. Now, you’ve probably guessed that it’s not as simple as that, and it’s not. But the process of actually finding out what the true difficulties a person is grappling with is not rocket science. You have to ask probing questions, get inside the other person’s head, and try to think about things from their point of view.

That’s a useful skill to learn for all sorts of reasons, but in this context, once you’ve found some pain points you can use software to provide a solution, often in the form of a web application that customers pay a monthly fee for. If the application truly solves their solution and is reasonably priced, customers will save money by using your product and will be happy to pay for it.

I strongly recommend listening to these episodes. I know I’ll be listening to them a few times more at least.

Yes, I’m still alive

But I got a job! I am now, officially, a software engineer. I’m still getting used to being an exempt employee, and to my commute. Also, I’ve still got a cloud computing class to complete before the 15th. So I don’t think I’ll be doing updates every weekday. But I will try to keep do a post a week.

Installing and running MongoDB The Mac

MongoDB is a modern NoSQL database. It’s syntax is very like JavaScript and it is a key-value. That means if you want to store something in the database all you need to do is give whatever it is you want to store a name. Then when you want to retrieve that thing you use the name you gave it. That’s basically it. I’m really looking forward to using this in my current Cloud Computing assignment. The MongoDB site, for your convenience, has instructions on how to install it and how to get started using it.

Cloud Log 2: Getting the database up and running

So, the api (users, friends, followers, tweets, retweets, etc) now works in memory but now I need to get this thing connected to a database. I’m going to try to use MongoDB because SQL seem like overkill. I don’t need the headaches of relational databases, writing queries, etc. I just want to store user info and tweets. Simple.

Installing Java With Homebrew

I may have already mentioned it, but I thought I’d make a separate post about it for easy access.

Here’s how you install Java with Homebrew.

Homebrew: The Best Package Manager For Your Mac

I may be just a little biased. It’s not like I’ve done some big survey but, hey, this is my blog, I’ll recommend what I think is the best.

Homebrew is a package manager much like apt-get or yum in Linux. If you’re not familiar with them, all you need to know is that Homebrew is a program that, if you’re going to do software development on your Mac, will save you a lot of headaches. I’ve already done several posts about how to install this or that program/framework/language using Homebrew. Really, it’s just the best way.

Go install Homebrew.

Cloud Log 1: Getting it done

I’ll show screen shots in later posts but here’s what I’ve got to do in my off hours before March 15th. I have to finish a web app and restful api that is very like twitter. The app is a standard Tomcat affair and the api is using JAX-RS. This is kinda-sorta mostly done. The only thing that needs adding is a database on the api’s backend. I plan to use MongoDB as it seems easiest. I then have to install this on a school server and use HAProxy for load balancing.

This whole thing is called Chatter. I don’t think I’ll be able to release the source code for that.

Next I need to create a simple version of google drive that checks the contents of a directory and it’s subdirectories and changes the contents of the database reflecting that directory. Also you should be able to download a complete copy of that directory somewhere else and both those copies should be kept updated.

Wow that’s kind of a lot. Let’s see if I can up my game and get this done before the March 15th deadline!

Teacher’s Pet Log 3: Gigapause

Soooo… I got hired! And not with a Ruby On Rails outfit. I need to focus on doing well at my job and finishing the assignments for my incomplete cloud computing course. I’ll come back to this project after I’ve been at my job for a bit and I’m done with Cloud. Learn Ruby Online

Yesterday I mentioned why’s (poignant) Guide to Ruby. Well, this character, why, also made a pretty fun online tutorial for learning Ruby. I heartily recommend it’s employment for your learning needs.

Teacher’s Pet Log 2: New Name

The app is now Live!

It’s still in the “hello world” stage. Also I had to change the name as teacherspet was already taken on heroku.

In case your interested the Trello for this project is here.

The next task I’ve set for myself is to follow this tutorial to give my app the ability to take file uploads.

Let’s see what the day brings.


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