Why The Research Triangle is Better Than Silicon Valley

Wayne Sutton, local entrepreneur and master of all things social, presented at Ignite Raleigh on 19 reasons why the Research Triangle of North Carolina is better than Silicon Valley. The presentation was a hoot and a must see. Wayne left out #20, which is the CFinNC conference.

CFinNC is a free web development conference held in Raleigh, North Carolina during the weekend of October 17th and 18th with an International line-up of speakers presenting on timely and relevant topics on web development. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and the creativity of the planning committee, registration for the event will be free and includes entry to the weekend event and to all presentations.

CFinNC is held in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, not Silicon Valley... which we believe would've made #20 on Wayne's list.

Come watch Model-Glue 3 on the CFMeetup today at Noon

I'm presenting on Model-Glue 3 today on the CFMeetup at noon (EST).

We'll look at some of the powerful features of the recently released Model-Glue 3 and use the framework to build out an application while you watch.

This presentation will give you an understanding of how Model-Glue 3 helps you build feature-rich applications faster and more consistently.

More information here: http://www.meetup.com/coldfusionmeetup/calendar/11247016/. You can join the meeting here: http://tinyurl.com/cfmeetup.

Thanks to the consistency awesome Charlie Arehart, the recording of Model-Glue:Gesture for Fun and Profit can now be viewed.

Vote for Adobe Napalm

Go vote right now on the name of the next Flash Based RIA Framework.

I voted for Napalm. Think about it. Listen to the ring of the syllables. Imagine the really cool icon. Now vote for it.

Adobe Napalm belongs with awesome product names like ColdFusion, AIR, Catalyst....have you voted for it yet?

Maybe we should have a role-play where you introduce the framework to your boss...

    Me: Check out our ultra-cool, elegant branded application that saves a hundred baby seals per hour.

    Boss: Looks amazing! You built that in a week all by yourself? What powers it?

    Me: Adobe Napalm.

    Boss: (in Neo Voice) Whoa! Can I Vote for it?

P.S. I didn't come up with the name, but I'm kinda partial to it.

P.S.S Have you voted for it yet?

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On Start Ups, Developers and Equity

I skimmed a post on FlexCoders today that posed the question "If you had the chance to start up a RIA development company, How would you go about acquiring amazing developers without start up capital?". Being an entrepreneur and also being a developer, I wanted to put some thoughts out there. Keep in mind these thoughts are not directed at the original poster, but to the community at large who is constantly offered interesting and creatively worded business propositions by the non-development community.

On Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are an interesting breed. They function much like a proud parent of a reasonably untalented child. I don't mean this to offend anyone, but I do want to draw a metaphor. Have you ever been forced to sit through a child singing a very clumsy, off-key, screeching song, only to have the proud parents and prouder grandparents beam at the end and ask you what you thought? Parents are often blinded by their love and their involvement in their children and often value the allure of the child (and the metaphorical singing) much more than others with less involvement. This is a natural phenomenon, and I believe vital to the continuance of the human race.

Entrepreneurs often have the same blinded fascination and love for their own business ideas. They categorically believe in the success of their idea and will move heaven and earth to see the idea come to fruition. This often means sacrificing all else, family, social relationships, outside hobbies, etc, to further the idea of the business.

Entrepreneurs often consider their business to also be their principle hobby, effortlessly spending nights and weekends developing the idea and the business around the idea. Business is fun, for them.

Another noteworthy thing about entrepreneurs is they are perpetually short of funds, time and talent to carry out these ideas. See, ideas are cheap and any visionary can have several really good ideas per day. Ideas are easy to think of, and internal optimism and intuition can cover any potentially glaring holes.

On Ideas

Reality is, ideas actually do not matter. What matters is execution of those ideas. Actually, execution takes a back seat to getting paid for the use of the idea. Getting a check from a customer or a client is the highest form of flattery for an idea and often requires a series of efforts from a multi-disciplinary team all working in the same direction. The end reward for the entrepreneur is successful fruition of their idea.

Let's look at software for a moment. Software requires development. Selling software requires marketing, sales and legal expertise. Running a software business requires people skills, management expertise and financial acumen. Oh, and it requires an idea, but we already discussed the worthiness of ideas, didn't we.

In a start up company, the entrepreneur will probably fulfill a number of those roles. This is key as it helps the entrepreneur marshal the scant resources available to bring the idea through the phases leading to a customer writing a check. Often, the entrepreneur is not a developer, but knows he/she needs developers and developers are somewhat costly in the grand scheme of things. So the wily entrepreneur seeks to procure developers for as little expense as possible. An economy of resources is a good thing.

However, I submit to you that the original question prompting this article is near a impossibility. The question was "If you had the chance to start up a RIA development company, How would you go about acquiring amazing developers without start up capital?"

Software developers have ideas too. Many of them are creative problem solvers and gain tremendous business experience by writing software that solves real problems in business. Most of them enjoy their work and often put in extra hours working on side projects to entertain themselves. So wouldn't it seem logical to procure a few good software developers that will work for free while the business got started?

As a software developer, my time is money. If I am going to divert my attention from a steady paying job, and away from my side interests, money is going to be involved.

I don't mean future money, like "Instead of paying you, we'll give you a trainload of stock options" but today money. Today money is money that I can go to the bank today and receive the rectangular green yuppie food stamps I'm accustomed to using for groceries and gas.

On Working With No Pay and Open Source

I often work on open source software for which I receive no pay. Is this the same as working in a start up for no pay? I submit there is at least one vital difference. In open source software, there is no money. Thus there is no schedule. We may publish a schedule of our intent, and are free to move that schedule as priorities change.

In a start-up business, the prospective client or customer controls the schedule. If you tell a prospect a demo version will be ready on Friday, you must meet your deadline. Missed deadlines communicate untrustworthiness and unreliability to your prospects. This is anti-cool and usually means less checks. So while I'm perfectly happy to spend inordinate amounts of unpaid time writing software, I'm not willing to have my schedule controlled by those not paying for the right to set my priorities. I'd bet most competent developers feel similarly.

On Evil Investors and Entrepreneurs

Most successful entrepreneurs have been through a money-raising event, like a bank loan or venture capital. These events are usually painful for the entrepreneur because the entrepreneur is not in control and has to listen to the unvarnished opinion of sophisticated investors who deal with hundreds of business ideas all the time and aren't blinded by the vision or the visionary.

I learned everything I know about entrepreneurship from my Dad, a serial entrepreneur. His last business was a contracting company. I would never be able to imagine my Dad offering stock options or deferred payments to his workforce, in lieu of payment. If he did, none of them would show up for work, and I wouldn't blame them for it.

As an entrepreneur, I want to instill the highest confidence in my prospective clients and customers, thus, I demand the right to set priorities and schedules of any team member in my group. For that right, I pay them. Since I pay them, they consistently deliver over and above expectations. This makes us look good to our prospects and gives me confidence to reach across the desk and shake hands to close the deal.

On Bootstrapping Thoughts

So, is it possible to assemble a team without start up money? I'd say there are some ways to make it work, but only for a little while.

1) Cult of Personality. If you have a very strong community reputation as a smart person who gets things done, you can probably get some reasonably talented people to drink your kool-aid for a little while. Make sure to deliver on your promises. Missed promises=diminishing team.

2) Project Work. If your business is service related, land a big project as the way to start up the company. Developers might accept a lower rate on the first contract if promised a higher rate on future contracts. This is certainly preferable to no pay at all.

3) Get funding. Why is it you have no funding? Financial Investors are trained professionals and want to invest in businesses to earn a profit. They MUST earn a profit so if your idea has appeal and your team is competant, you can usually get some funding.

4) Grants. There are a multitude of Entrepreneurial grants and programs available. Many of these have a simple application consisting of a few pages. Working on the application will likely help you refine your idea so even if you don't get the grant, you'll get something out of it.

5) Business groups. Find business groups, like Business Networking International or the Council for Entrepreneurial Development. They can often help you find interns which might help you get over the hump.

To the entrepreneurs out there, good luck to all of you. I know the road is interesting, challenging and rewarding like no other.

-Dan Wilson

P.S. To the reader: What sorts of opportunities have you been presented with? I invite you to share your stories and ideas in the comments.

Why You Should Register for CFinNC before Sept 4th

As you know, we are hard at work planning the CFinNC.com conference. CFinNC is 2 days of jam packed training and sessions on the Adobe platform (CF, Flash, Flex and AIR) and other web development topics. In this time of evaporating training budgets and non-existent funds for conferences, our free conference is the most compelling way to get trained and fired up.

We've opened registration yesterday and are pleased with the results of the last 24 hours. A big goal of the conference is to reach and strengthen existing users of the Adobe platform by offering all levels of content. We have another goal, which is to reach and impress students and developers of alternate platforms on the power and potency of the Adobe platform.

So to reach the first goal, we've opened registration and are initially promoting through the usual Adobe-centric information channels to reach the existing user base. We want to serve the needs of the Adobe platform users as this was our original driving force to start this conference.

To reach the second goal, we'll begin heavy promotion through user group channels, social channels and through a registration drive partnership with DZone.com. This second wave will likely push us to capacity and give us a large attendee base that will be getting their first exposure to the Adobe platforms.

So, if you are interested in coming, and happen to read this post, please decide and register soon. The floodgates open somewhere around September 4th.


My CFUnited Presentation Schedule

I'm honored to give 4 different presentations at CFUnited. I'm especially excited to give "Model-Glue:Gesture for Fun and Profit" as it shows some really bada$$ features of the just released (today) Model-Glue 3 so try to make a special effort to come to that one, if you can. No powerpoint, just code!

I'll list the presentation schedule and hope to see you there!

Date/Time Presentation Room
Wednesday 8/12/2009 11:00 AM-12:00 PM Practical Refactoring: Making Bad Code Good Galactica
Wednesday 8/12/2009 8:30 PM-9:30 PM Model-Glue:Gesture release BOF Matrix
Thursday 8/13/2009 8:30 AM-9:30 AM Model-Glue:Gesture for Fun and Profit Sandtrap
Thursday 8/13/2009 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Building Your First AIR/CF Application Amphitheater
Friday 8/14/2009 4:15 PM-5:15 PM Taming CFCs with ColdSpring Valhalla
Saturday 8/15/2009 4:15 PM-5:15 PM Building Your First AIR/CF Application Valhalla

Hello, Me again. - A Mid-Year Letter from Dan Wilson

CFUnited is right around the corner. I can close my eyes and clearly remember last year's CFUnited like it was a month ago. "Where does the time go?", they say?

I remember in High School watching the second hand slow dance across the dial. Each minute broken up into 60 equally agonizing seconds each in turn taking it's own eternity.

One way I mark time is by looking at my blogging habits. My blogging habits have been abysmal. I partially blame twitter, the ultra-time-suck-in-140-characters or less, since twitter serves as an outlet to the world for me. I also blame Facebook to a lesser degree, though I've long since removed any vestige of twitter or facebook from my work computers in an attempt to control my distractions.

I can also say that Model-Glue has taken it's share of time as well. Thankfully there is a large community of active contributors willing to put in time to keep the framework moving so it is certainly a manageable workload. ( though depending on who you ask, manageable might be debatable). Shepherding Model-Glue to the final 3.0 release is one of my recent professional accomplishments I'm most proud of.

I've also recently gotten married. June 6th to be exact. As proof, I stuck a picture in this post. Don't worry, I won't bore you with more.

We've also combined houses, and bought a new house, and are in the process of closing on the new house and selling the old house. This is a tremendous amount of work and I never thought I'd ever spend 14 hours spreading mulch, but I can chalk it off to one of my professional accomplishments I'd like not to repeat too often :).

I'm also involved, along with most members of the best CFUG on the face of the planet in planning the CF in NC conference. If you are new to this idea, we are holding a really great Adobe Platform in the Research Triangle Area of North Carolina. Thanks to the dedication and cleverness of the members of the planning committee, and the generosity of our sponsors, we've managed to remove the cost of the registration fee. Our unofficial slogan is "The Economy Sucks, We Don't. Come to CFinNC!"

I've missed a few things along the way. I missed the chance to really get down and dirty with CF9 once it hit public beta. I missed the rescheduling of Flex 4 for 2010. Heck, I even missed the chance to spew my own brand of bullpoop in the last Great OO Is Dead blog war.

I think things will settle down a little after CFUnited. I'll be able to really get into CF9 and learn how to make the best use of the newest, hottest features. I'll have time to work on my SuperSecretAIRApplication. I'll even have time to blog more, which I dearly miss.

If you've stuck around this long, thanks. Sometimes we all need to reflect a little and remember where we've come from, so we know where we're headed. Best wishes to you in the last half of 2009.


Bluetooh Headset: Plantronics Voyager Pro Review

I wrote about wanting the Plantronics Voyager Pro bluetooth headset a few months ago and left the reader with the promise of a review. Well, here it is.

In short, the Plantronics Voyager Pro is well worth the money. I paid $100 when I purchased it from Best Buy (the only place that had it in stock) and the price meant this headset would have to perform in the top 5% of all headsets for me to be pleased. The good news is the headset excelled in all categories. Stop reading this now. Go get one.

Things I like

  • Super long battery life
  • Very quick charging
  • Very comfortable wear
  • Good noise cancelling for constant background noise
  • Seems hard to break

Things I don't like

  • --- editors note: do I have to make up something to put here before I release this article? I want people to think I'm fair and balanced, not in love with this headset, which I actually am.

The headset I'm replacing

I replaced an Aliph Jawbone 2, which I didn't like at all over the Jawbone 1. Both Jawbones have less battery power than the Plantronics Voyager Pro and both Jawbones are likely to break when placed in a pocket, unlike the Plantronics Voyager Pro. Both Jawbones are likely to pop loose from my ear as well, whereas the Plantronics Voyager Pro is much more likely to stay on my ear, even if I shake my head like a dog, or a death metal rocker.

Info On The Plantronics Voyager Pro

If you want, you can watch this simple video demonstration of the Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth Headset.

It looks like the price is holding around $99 dollars, pretty much what I paid for it. See results and reviews at the Google Products page for the Plantronics Voyager Pro so you might as well head to the local Best Buy and pick one up. After 2 months of continual use, I am completely happy with the Plantronics Voyager Pro and don't miss either my Jawbone 1 or my Jawbone 2 in the least.

Free ColdFusion, Flex AIR Conference in North Carolina

The organizers of the CFinNC 2009 Conference are proud to announce the ColdFusion in North Carolina 2009 Conference to be held October 17-18, 2009 on the Centennial Campus of NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. The conference will be aimed at ColdFusion and Flex developers and others who are interested in web design using these technologies.

Registration for the event will be FREE which includes entry to the weekend event and all presentations.

In preparation for this conference, we would like to hear feedback from you and your members on what types of content you would be interested in hearing. We hope to make this conference relative to all levels of developers, so your input will be invaluable.

Please visit our website www.cfinnc.com for more information. We are currently accepting submissions for presentations. If you have a topic you would like to speak on, please go to www.cfinnc.com/page.cfm/presenters for more information.

Please announce this to your members. We are really excited at the opportunity to organize this conference and hope that it will be a useful resource for you and your members.


The CFinNC 2009 team

Senior Flex/AS3 Engineer Wanted In Research Triangle Park NC

I don't post too many jobs on my blog, but this specific job is with a really cool company and (more importantly) working for a really cool manager named Isaac. I used to work for Isaac and he is a really good manager who knows how to let technical people be superstars.

This position is full-time, full benefits and on-site so please keep that in mind when you apply. You'd be right in the thick of Research Triangle Park, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, which is a great area, even ranked in the top 10 by Rolling Stone for the music scene. Oh, and Hey! We'd be neighbors.

If you are interested in applying for the position, simply drop me a quick note and let me know. I'll make arrangements to get your resume. No agencies please.

Here is the information for the company:

Digitalsmiths provides the industry's only studio-grade, video monetization solution with an advanced metadata framework that empowers digital media companies to distribute and publish video content across multiple screens, open up new revenue streams for film and TV assets, build audience, increase viewer consumption and boost audience engagement.

Digitalsmiths full time employees receive comprehensive benefits including stock options, vacation time, sick time, paid holidays, Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance and retirement program. We have a relaxed, open and collaborative work environment where both achievement and fun are valued and everyone plays a key role.

The Research Triangle Park area is a great place to live, work, raise a family, and enjoy life. The area is within a couple hours drive to both the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Our natural beauty is a boon for the outdoor enthusiast. There are typically 220 days of sunshine per year with rain being well distributed throughout the year. There are award winning restaurants, as well as, a good variety of art, music and entertainment. Please visit http://www.digitalsmiths.com to learn more about the company.

Here is the information for the position and desired skills:

The Senior Software Engineer position reports to an Engineering Team Lead or directly to Engineering Management and is responsible for designing and implementing software products and services. Candidates should have a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science related technical field of study plus at least three years of work experience using Flex/ActionScript. Five years experience with software engineering and familiarity and desire to work with Flex/ActionScript may be accepted in lieu of three years of experience with Flex/ActionScript.

All candidates must be comfortable working in a fast paced early stage environment with tight deadlines.

The main duties of this position are as follows:

  • Deliver engaging, state-of-the-art, high quality products.
  • Design and implement product initiatives under general supervision.
  • Produce accurate estimates and participate in daily task tracking activities.
  • Adhere to core design, development and testing principles set by team and group leadership.
  • Produce clear and thorough technical documentation.
  • Other duties as needed.

Job Requirements and Qualifications include the following:

  • Demonstrated expertise in AS3, Flex, MXML, and the Flash runtime.
  • Demonstrated competence in at least one programming language other than ActionScript.
  • Experience with Object-Oriented Programming and Design.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.

Other Skills and Technologies that are desirable include:

  • Experience with MVC (e.g. Cairngorm, Mate, PureMVC, Spring).
  • Knowledge of software design patterns and architecture.
  • Experience writing Flex custom components.
  • Experience with Web service development using AMF, SOAP, REST, XML-RPC, and XML.
  • Experience with Unit Testing and Continuous Integration using Flex in a team environment.
  • Experience with media player design using Flash and ActionScript.
  • Experience with Digital media (FFMPEG, FLV, MPEG4, MP3, AAC, WMV, 3GP, etc.)
  • Experience with source control (SVN is a plus).
  • Experience with bug tracking/defect management (Bugzilla is a plus).
  • Exposure to agile development (SCRUM, Lean).

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