ColdSpring 2.0 Alpha 1 Released! Your Help Needed!

Mark Mandel posted information about the ColdSpring 2.0 Alpha release and I wanted to make sure it got out to the general public. There is a documentation contest running and your help is requested in trying out the release and helping to identify issues. Make sure you have joined the ColdSpring Users Group as this is the best way to give and get information about ColdSpring.

Mark's Post is below for your reference

ColdSpring 2.0 Alpha 1 is now available for you to download and test!

Major features included in this release:

  • Enhanced underlying architecture for greater extensibility
  • XML Schema For ColdSpring configuration files
  • New BeanDefinition architecture
  • BeanFactoryInterceptors for intercepting BeanFactory lifecyle events
  • BeanProcessInterceptors for intercepting Bean lifecyle events
  • XML Custom Namespaces for defining your own XML dialect for creating and configurating beans
  • Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP) Custom XML Namespaces
  • Greatly extended AOP functionality with AOP expressions
  • ColdFusion 9 ORM Integration classes
  • Utility Custom XML Namespace for creation of data structures
  • Enhanced error reporting
  • Multiple Bean Scope support – beans can be prototype (transient), singleton, as well as request or session scope bound

More details can be found in the release notes, and my blog post:

We are also running a competition to help flesh out the missing pieces of the documentation, with an opportunity to win a copy of ColdFusion Builder!

Details can be found here:

Happy testing!

Thanks to all have been involved in this release!

Quirk in MySQL Join Conditions

I found a quirk in a join condition today that caused too many records to display. Look at the following query and notice the two AND clauses after the LEFT JOIN to activitytype.

view plain print about
2FROM organization grouptable
4    SELECT c.CommunityID, o.OrganizationID, d.DivisionID
5    FROM
6        community c
7        LEFT JOIN organization o ON c.communityID = o.communityID
8        LEFT JOIN division d ON o.organizationID = d.organizationID
9    WHERE c.communityID = 1
10    ) orgmodel ON ( grouptable.OrganizationID = orgmodel.OrganizationID )
11INNER JOIN member m ON orgmodel.OrganizationID = m.OrganizationID    
12LEFT JOIN activity a ON a.memberID = m.memberID
13LEFT JOIN activitytype at ON a.activityTypeID = at.activityTypeID
14AND hasDistance = 1
15AND activityDate BETWEEN '2011-08-01 00:00:00' AND '2011-10-24 13:38:14'
16ORDER BY activitydate

This query runs and returns 2918 rows. However, when I audit this data, I get rows back that are outside of the time bounds specified in the BETWEEN clause: ( AND activityDate BETWEEN '2011-08-01 00:00:00' AND '2011-10-24 13:38:14' ). There is no activityDate column on the table activitytype. There is an activityDate column on the activity table however. This means the query is parsed and executed without MySQL throwing an error, but the expression is not used to limit the number of joined rows. The correct recordset (428 rows) is easily obtained by moving the join condition to the correct join statement.

view plain print about
2FROM organization grouptable
4        SELECT c.CommunityID, o.OrganizationID, d.DivisionID
5        FROM
6            community c
7            LEFT JOIN organization o ON c.communityID = o.communityID
8            LEFT JOIN division d ON o.organizationID = d.organizationID
9        WHERE c.communityID = 1
10        ) orgmodel ON ( grouptable.OrganizationID = orgmodel.OrganizationID )
11    INNER JOIN member m ON orgmodel.OrganizationID = m.OrganizationID    
12    LEFT JOIN activity a ON a.memberID = m.memberID AND activityDate BETWEEN '2011-08-01 00:00:00' AND '2011-10-24 13:38:14'
13    LEFT JOIN activitytype at ON a.activityTypeID = at.activityTypeID
14    AND hasDistance = 1
15ORDER BY activitydate

I hope this helps someone else with their MySQL queries.

Long Live the Conference!

Last year, one of the major tech conferences, CFUnited, closed it's doors for good. This left a hole in the learning and networking opportunities for ColdFusion developers. I gained much from going to CFUnited over the years. It helped me personally and also professionally. The opportunities to learn from the best minds in the business and develop my skills have been some of my fonder memories of my career.

I would like to invite you to take part of a Technology Conference my group is organizing on Sept. 17-18. The price is minimal, only $60 for 40 sessions and 2 hands on classes! This is our third conference and we guarantee you will have a good time.

Space is very limited so register as soon as you can!

The conference will cover a wide variety of web development and design topics including Web and Mobile technologies. See the schedule here: NCDevCon 2011 schedule

Registration for the event will be $60 which includes:

  • Entry to the weekend event and all presentations
  • Lunch (both days)
  • Coffee, drinks and snacks (both days)
  • Conference shirt

Also available are 2 hands on sessions. We will walk you through building your first web application and also building your first mobile application. These hands on courses are included in your admission fee.


Our EventBrite Registration Link

Can't go? You can still help!

We have a nice NCDevCon flyer for you to forward to your co-workers or hang in your break room. We'd appreciate it!

Thinking Like a Cupcake Kingpin

As you know, my company ChallengeWave is a tool for healthy challenges at work. at ChallengeWave, we've got a number of very large prospects (VLPs) in our sales pipeline. These prospects represent many millions of dollars of revenue. Each sale is complicated and requires approval at numerous levels. Each sale also requires a significant budgetary appropriation. These factors increase the sales cycle, or the length of time it take to close the deal and start receiving funds.

Dealing with complex sales is a work of art. It requires skills in information gathering, positioning and patience. Many months pass before we get to an implementation. This is not only frustrating, but it causes delay in verifying our newest capability with users. We've been looking at ways to increase our feedback loop with our customers. We've chosen to do this by finding customers with smaller sales cycles.

Now, the good things about smaller markets is the shorter line to decision makers and budget wranglers. We can get feedback on our business much quicker. We can validate our results without going through a 9-18 month sales cycle.

This presents us with an interesting problem. As we compete with companies many times our size, our nimbleness and ability to deliver customized solutions is a large asset for us. This asset isn't of great interest for smaller markets who may not even have a wellness strategy at all. Much less, have complicated systems to integrate with. We need to carve out a compelling, simplified offering to help small business.

Cupcake Kingpin

Getting to an understanding of this problem and defining a strategy has taken many months. When running a daily business one gets mired in details and it can be tough to see the forest for the proverbial trees. One trick I use to help me step back from details and focus on the big picture is to imagine I'm a cupcake kingpin in the cupcake business. (My years of making cupcakes for my nieces makes me an expert :) ) So I ask myself, if I ran a cupcake business, how might I handle this problem?

The first thing we must do is rephrase the issues in cupcake-ese. This helps us to over-simply the details and look at the bug picture from an outsiders perspective.

My Problem in Cupcake-ese

In cupcake-ese, the problem is we have a new, unproven recipe and we need to see if people like it enough to buy it.

How would you approach this if it was your cupcake business?

  • Would you hire an army of SEO consultants to build link backs and press releases?
  • Would you hire a market research firm to ascertain which part of the Gartner Magic Quadrant you fit into?
  • Would you just discontinue your current offerings and just offer your new product to the public at large? ( Ha Ha, you may laugh at the absurdity of this, but that is what happened with New Coke in the '80s)

My Solution In Cupcake-ese

The way to solve this problem for the cupcake business is to just make up a few batches and hand them out on the street. If people vomit in the nearest garbage can after ingesting your newest cupcake treat, your mix needs adjusting. However, if the test subjects come back with their friends, you have a winner.

So, we at ChallengeWave have a new cupcake recipe and we are looking for suckers a trial group. Group members will get 2 months of ChallengeWave for their use. Employees will be able to track their activities, challenge other employees, compete on teams and compete against other companies.

In exchange for the free service, ChallengeWave wants unvarnished feedback and help with case studies or press releases as appropriate. If you think your company might be interested in giving ChallengeWave a shot and your company is:

  • 10-50 employees
  • flexible
  • somewhat motivated (especially to change their lifestyle)
  • somewhat competitive
  • computer literate
  • team oriented

If your organization is interested in applying for a trial of ChallengeWave for your organization, let us know.

Have you considered the cupcake kingpin approach to problem solving? Have you solved problems with the cupcake (or similar) method? Tell me about it in the comments....

On What Is Important

An article showed up in my inbox today titled Startup Weekend pep talk: It ain't the code. The background of this article is a pep talk delivered by Jason Cohen, of Smart Bear Software to the audience at Startup Weekend in Austin. I happen to agree strongly with the meat of this article and want to share it with you.

Rather than paraphrase the article and add my own opinions, I'd like for you to read it and apply the points it to your own start up company.

Read: Startup Weekend pep talk: It ain't the code

To Free or Not to Free

It's pretty common for web based services to offer a free sign-up account as a trial period or self-directed demonstration. An advantage of offering free sign-ups is to give a potential customer a good look at the system in order to make a buying decision. For services with automated enrollment and simple service structures, free sign-ups can be a good idea. Converting a free sign-up customer to a paying customer helps lower sales costs. At ChallengeWave, we've decided not to offer a free sign-ups. Let's talk a little bit about why that is.


Gmail Gmail, how thou hast forsaken me

  • Oh Gmail, Gmail
  • How thou hath forsaken me
  • Thou makest me to switch accounts where there used to be no problems
  • Thou loggest me out at inopportune moments when I've emails to write
  • Thou ignorest my pleas to open different accounts in multiple tabs
  • I beat my breast and tear my clothes in anguish...
  • I regreteth having multiple email accounts running off thine servers...

Alas, there is no answer....

( yes I know all about enabling multiple accounts. I've done that and gmail still sucketh. I want it back the way it was. Back when each tab seemed to be a sufficient separation....)

The worst entreprenurial sin

In my opinion, the worst entrepreneurial sin is building a product without a revenue stream. Sure there are strategies to build a web application, go viral and sell to GoogFaceYahooSoft.... but most of my readers live outside of the reality distortion field of Silicon Valley and must actually build a business that makes money.

A business is

A business is defined as the exchange of a good or a service for a profit. If you do not know who will give you a profitable sum for your good or service, stop what you are doing right now and go figure it out.

By figure it out, I mean get some real details. For example, advertising is a choice for a revenue model. Advertising can be a successful strategy and it can also be the lazy man's version of revenue planning. If your monetization strategy is "Advertising", you should get a good understanding of your value as an advertising partner. Some things to think of:


Perfection is the Enemy of the Good

Remember when you used to work at BigCompanyCo as an employee? Remember all the dumb stuff they did there and how you would do it differently when you get in charge? Honestly, that feeling was one of the major drivers for me to start my own company. I felt like I could do it better, cheaper and faster.

I was right, of course, (thankfully!), but I must admit I've learned a whole lot along the way. I'm a software developer/program manager by trade and I've spend the last 12 years building products and services for various companies. This means I've got a very strong technical focus and I'm able to craft and deliver very good technical strategies for lots of situations.

Like, do you need a quick and dirty reporting application to get insight in to your daily sale composition? Do you need an enterprise quality lease contract risk scoring application? Are you in need of an e-commerce infrastructure that can handle the surge of being on all 5 major television networks to raise money for cancer? I'm your guy.

Specialization at the expense of Generalization


So you've got a good idea, do you?

There is an old saying, "Ideas are cheap, 'tis execution that pays the bills". It's possible to have a good idea and use poor execution. It is possible to have a poor idea and use good execution. Allow me to pontificate:

Good idea, bad execution

An example of a good idea that was executed poorly is WebVan. Founded in the late 1990's, WebVan promised to let you order groceries online and deliver them to your home. This is a good idea and one I would pay a premium on. Mostly because I'd be able to avoid maniacal coupon clipping crazies clogging up the isles with their grocery carts and coupon flip books.

The good part of the idea is in taking friction out of the grocery shopping experience. Many a good business model has been in offering convenience at a slightly increased cost.

The bad execution comes in how WebVan allocated it's funds. Since huge tranches of money was raised through Venture Capital and though an IPO, Webvan was not careful with it's funds and collapsed under it's own overbuilt, overspent and underutilized weight. WebVan was voted the #1 Dot-com flop by C-Net in 2008.