A very different Detroit bailout plan

A totally different idea on how to rescue Detroit. Basically, give a government rebate to encourage people to purchase a car! The article addresses environmental and business concerns.
The $30 Billion Rebate – Jeffrey Leonard

The way to do it is to offer a 50 percent rebate check to every purchaser of a new, American-made car produced by any auto company that signs up for a voluntary restructuring program with the federal government. The rebate would be paid by the Treasury Department, and then exchanged for preferred stock in the company that produced the car.


The downside of a u-ISV

Here’s an article that’s closer to the truth of doing a u-ISV:
The Software Product Myth

In our completely un-contrived scenario you’re now making $2500/month from your product, which doesn’t allow you to quit your day job. So you work 8-10 hours during the day writing code for someone else, and come home each night to a slow but steady stream of support emails. And the worst part is that if you’ve built your software right the majority of the issues will not be problems with your product, but degraded OS installations, crazy configurations, a customer who doesn’t know how to double-click, etc&


Interactive Customers and u-ISV

One of the suggestions from the micro-ISV world is to encourage customers to talk so you can listen to them. Providing good customer support is key to a succesful small business. Here are some tools that get mentioned.

  • An easy to create social network site called Ning. The idea is to make it easy for customers to communicate with you. It also acts as word of mouth advertising. It’s hard to picture having enough customers for a community but that’s just lack of confidence.
  • Everyone loves reading Joel on Software, so why not buy his software, FogBugz? It’s $199 per user installed on your own machine. So for a u-ISV it’s pretty cheap.
  • Trac software is the open source bug tracking/wiki/etc. I’m inclined to go this route but FogBugz sounds pretty tempting, too

Persian Tile Patterns

I’m collecting some info about a certain mathematically interesting tile pattern used in Persia in the 13th Century.

Girth 1

Girth 2


NewNewsWire and NewsGator

Ok, maybe it really is time to try that new fangled thing: RSS Feeds
First, I signed up for an account on www.newsgator.com and then I opted to use NetNewsWire for my Apple MacBook and this one for Microsoft Outlook.
From Mac RSS Reade – NetNewsWire by NewsGator:

Looking for an easy-to-use RSS and Atom reader for your Mac? You’ve found it!
The Eddy award-winning NetNewsWire has a familiar three-paned interface and can
fetch and display news from thousands of different websites and weblogs. ”

News · Politics

GM, Ford, Chrysler not paying $70/hour

In reading about the proposed bailout of the auto industry, I’d been bothered by
the figure that union workers are making $70/hour. It left me feeling very
unsympathetic to UAW and the auto workers but more sympathetic to GM, Ford, and
Chrysler management. After all, how could anyone compete when your labor wages
are so much higher?
Well, it turns out to be a dishonest calculation:
[Assembly Line](http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=1026e955-541c-4aa6-bcf2-56dfc3323682)

Let’s start with the fact that it’s not $70 per hour in wages. According to
Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automative Research–who was my primary source
for the figures you are about to read–average wages for workers at Chrysler,
Ford, and General Motors were just $28 per hour as of 2007.

That $28 gets raised to $70 by taking benefits being payed out to retirees and
dividing by the number of active workers. Which is $42/hour.

Of course, the cost of benefits for those retirees–you may have heard
people refer to them as “legacy costs”–do represent an extra cost
burden that only the Big Three shoulder. And, yes, it makes it
difficult for the Big Three to compete with foreign-owned automakers
that don’t have to pay the same costs. But don’t forget why those costs
are so high. While the transplants don’t offer the same kind of
benefits that the Big Three do, the main reason for their present cost
advantage is that they just don’t have many retirees.

Of course, the contracts were renegotiated last year to reduce benefits, take
the auto industry off the hook for retirement benefits, and reduce wages:

It was a radical change that promised to make Detroit far more competitive. If
carried out as planned, by 2010–the final year of this existing contract–total
compensation for the average UAW worker would actually be less than total
compensation for the average non-unionized worker at a transplant factory. The
only problem is that it will be several years before these gains show up on the
bottom line–years the industry probably won’t have if it doesn’t get financial
assistance from the government.

So maybe the unions aren’t as responsible for the auto industries woes as commonly presented.


Amazon CloudFront

Amazon CloudFront looks like a great way of
doing a Content Delivery Network (CDN) on the cheap. I don’t see a way for me
to use it right away but it’s certainly a great way to make static content
quickly accessible.
You put your files on Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) and use the CloudFront api to create a url to access those files. Amazon takes care of caching the content close to the user and ensuring it’s scalable.



I’ve started researching being a small, independent software vendor/developer. One of several inspiring stories is balsamiq.com which was referenced in this NY Times article Man Writes Software, Blogs About it, Makes $100k in 5 Months

The Eric Sink articles are good for convincing me that it’s possible for a one
or two people to actually develop viable, commercial software. Being able to
distribute software via a website is empowering compared to try to distribute
shrink-wrap software.
Here are some books: