Friday, July 15, 2005

Day 3 - SIC 2005

Wow. I meant to post yesterday, but I was extremely busy and I was so exhausted I could not even blog about it. I went to a number of sessions, but missed portions of the afternoon ones. I missed the session on UI design because I was talking to people about ShareWrap. There is a lot of interest and excitement about the product activation system that does not "phone home".

Microsoft is here at the conference and they had a session where they presented something that is shipping with their Visual Studio .NET 2005 product called the "Shareware Starter Kit". I will be publishing a PowerPoint presentation that describes what all has to be used in order to get it to actually work in the first place.

At the exhibit I was literally swamped. I was executing about three conversations at once and needed to be doing about five at a time to keep up with the rate of people arriving. Thankfully the PowerPoint presentations explained both what the Microsoft SSK (that's the acronym for the system) actually required in order to set it up and the fact that it was developed in 5 weeks. To compare: The average product activation system takes about 4-6 months to develop. Of course, on the positive side, they are utilizing about a dozen technologies that are proven. However, I honestly think that the startup developer can't afford those technologies, but it is a nice gesture. I will be putting up the PowerPoint presentation on the Microsoft SSK up on the ShareWrap website (www.ShareWrap.com). I think the majority of the crowd saw the system and were wondering why Microsoft was even bothering to try, but having a central description of the system is useful if you know anyone who is excited about or interested in it. Even the C# users here at the conference were, well, not exactly enthusiastic, but some developers in other languages appeared interested in using the system even with its restrictions.

Anyway, I made a surprising discovery here: About 25% of the top shareware developers use Delphi. So much for ShareWrap being a C++ library. Well, not entirely true. I have business cards and contact information for those who are using Delphi. So, for the next few months I will be slightly busy creating ports of the ShareWrap system to other compilation environments and bringing the subsystems online that are not exposed yet in the SDK. I know enough Pascal to be dangerous. So, if anyone has connections to really great Pascal groups and links to books on the Delphi language, I would appreciate that.

I am sort of out of it today being exhausted and, for some weird reason, I keep waking up at 7 a.m. Highly unusual because I always wake up with an alarm clock. Maybe when they deliver the morning paper here at the hotel, of which I just read the headlines on my way out of the room because I can't stand the texture of newsprint.

Some of the best quotes of the conference came during the day's sessions. Phil Schnyder of Avanquest is the most hilarious character ever. I'm probably embarrassing him with repeating some of his quotes from his session on Sales and Marketing Strategies, but when someone says stuff like, "When you fill out your forms, be sure to say that I look like Mel Gibson", "I don't really market to left-handed dentists," and "Oh! You're a lawyer? We have a special [$395] version for you!" the session is worth every second. He does look like Mel Gibson. Whoever that is...

Just kidding.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Day 2 - SIC 2005

Today I found out that Internet access is "free" at the expense of moving to a public area and having to turn on my computer's firewall. However, that is a small price to pay compared to the rediculous $9.95 US per 24 hours of access that was originally thought to exist. Very few places actually do that rate any more. I guess they can get away with it because the hotel is "super fancy." Silly hotel.

I hung out with a couple people (Hi Carolyn and Jessie) from TechSmith today (a former life) after they spotted me. Well, technically I spotted them first, but only because I knew they were coming because they are sponsoring SIC 2005. I told them about this blog, so they are probably thrilled I mentioned them (and possibly annoyed as well because I mentioned them).

I met a whole ton of people today from a number of companies. As usual, I supplied all sorts of advice and advertised my products - perfecting my sales pitch for the ShareWrap product. Actually, I found out the trade show is tomorrow evening (giving me more time to prepare a flashy awesome presentation - assuming I haven't told everyone at that point). I am crossing my fingers for five minutes and hoping that enough people subscribe to the service to make it worth bringing 200 lbs. of equipment to an exhibit. Actually, I was sort of panicking inside today because I desperately needed a USB drive of any size. I found someone who was willing to part with a brand-new, unopened package for about $40 US (256MB PNY with locking capabilities). It has been an unspoken toy on Christmas lists for several years now. My younger brother actually got one before me and I was the one who bought it...go figure :P

By the way, contrary to popular opinion on c-prog, I am alive and am still the owner of the list. Hello to the 5,000 c-prog users out there reading this. Having Internet access is such a relief. I can check up on all sorts of things.

SIC has a nifty webcam on its website: http://www.sic.org/

I've learned a lot of marketing techniques today that I will be trying out in the future on my website. Including some SEO ideas that I had formerly labeled as great ways to get banned from search engines. However, I just found out today that one of my common tactics for getting users to remember products may actually cause me to be blacklisted from Yahoo...you can bet that issue is going to be fixed in a jiffy when I get back.

I keep getting lost time-wise. I, for some completely bizarre reason, refuse to change my clocks back two hours. In fact, this past year I did not change my clocks for daylight savings time. Boy was that confusing. A lot of people including a few customers were relieved when everyone else switched back to my timezone (whatever that is) for the summer months.

I've already formed a few mini partnerships to help strengthen my company's sales and ShareWrap seems to be having an interesting effect on even the companies here that use Armadillo. It appears to have good reception - either that or people are just being nice to me because I look like the starving, legless, armless, goatless boy from Bakalavitalagooshen. Only I have legs. And arms. And I'm not exactly starving. Therefore, I must be on the Bakalavitalagooshen timezone.

I better wrap this up. The people here are looking at me strangely and may decide to discover what this blog is all about. I guess I don't mind, but there might be undue mental stress involved if they do read it before buying my products.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Day 1 - SIC 2005

Unfortunately, I do not have access to the Internet at this point. The price for access is a rediculous $9.95 (US) per 24 hours here at the Hyatt. You would think that for about 450+ technical geeks at a single gathering wireless Internet access would be one of those nice convienences they simply give out for free. As it is, I am going to have a heck of a time getting the overhauled Powerpoint presentation onto my main PC. Oh yeah, I changed the Powerpoint after giving a short presentation to a guinea pig audience of people who don't understand the technology. That opened my eyes to the major details I was leaving out.

The Colorado mountains are actually quite lovely this time of year. While Michigan has skiing and stuff up north, I don't get up there very often. Besides too many jokes have been made of "Youppers" (Upper-peninsula). I took some photographs on my way back from visiting some relatives of the mountains and they are quite picturesque.

As to the product I'm demonstrating, well, it has already piqued some interest. People are starting to ask about this product activation system from CubicleSoft. I am going to have to be really careful because Digital River is here. Digital River is an acquiring company of all sorts of products for shareware related ventures. I actually subscribe to one of their services, mostly because I can abuse their bandwidth for almost nothing. Anywho, they apparently bought up a product activation system called Armadillo. A well-known product activation system for being a tough shell to crack (multiple puns intended). My purpose here at SIC (Shareware Industry Conference) 2005 is two-folded. First, to learn a lot about selling software that I probably don't know that I don't know. This is known as an unknown unknown. Second, I am here to advertise the CubicleSoft ShareWrap Product Activation system. This system has one primary feature that is sure to cause a stir: It doesn't phone home. The homepage is here: http://www.ShareWrap.com/

Like the logo? That logo took about 25 hours of CPU time to render 300 dpi images for print logo artwork (yeah, I'll take pictures). It was ray-traced in the latest version of Pov-Ray. Some people have already said it looks like bubble wrap. It is supposed to look like blown glass. I actually saw a glass pitcher that showed me that what Pov-Ray rendered is what it would actually look like in real life (excluding the usual slight imperfections). There is actually a light source inside each letter, which creates the cool "laser" effect on the ground. When FedEx Kinko's printed the banner, the manager said it was the best artwork that had come through in several months. I'm hoping that the banner, logos, artwork, brochures, presentation, and demonstration will help bring me a number of sales tomorrow.

I am probably going to have to borrow a USB key (i.e. The memory keys that act as a hard drive) to get this crazy Powerpoint onto the other machine tomorrow before I go completely nuts. Of course, some people think I am already nuts...including myself.