Thursday, December 6, 2007

More water

Seattle had a huge, record setting storm. Several inches of rain at our house--some of which found its way into the basement.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

How does Jacuzzi stay in business?

About 3 years ago, we finished a big remodel on our house, including a nice big tub for two in our bathroom.

Soon after it was finished, I came down after a bath with my wife to find a puddle in the kitchen with water dripping out of the ceiling (right below the tub.)

After several visits from the contractor, the plumber, the special Jacuzzi plumber, and holes in both the ceiling of the kitchen and around the tub, they fixed the leak. Great.

Forward about 9 months. I came down again, to find another puddle. The Jacuzzi plumber returned, another hole in the wall by the tub, but he though he had it fixed. We got in for a bath the next day, but heard a noise. I checked the kitchen and it was like a waterfall. By the time we drained the tub, over 2 gallons had come down into the kitchen. We ran around naked, finding pans to catch the water and every towel to mop up the mess.

After another attempt to fix, the Jacuzzi plumber decided to just have them send us a new tub. That arrived, and they set it up to test in the garage...and none of the electric things worked. I think they made 2 more trips up (they're about an hour drive from our house), with every part they could replace, and still couldn't fix it. So they had Jacuzzi send ANOTHER tub. So at this point, Jacuzzi has shipped 2 giant tubs--they're big, something like 7 feet by 3x3 crates, so must cost a ton. Thankfully it's all been covered by warranties.

The plumber had it shipped to his house, so he could test everything before making the drive to replace it.

Finally, over six months after that drip in the kitchen, we had a working tub. Yeah!

Until last night. We both heard a noise. Fortunately, we'd procrastinated, so the hole in the wall hadn't really been fixed--just the board covering the hole. So I could quickly see it was leaking AGAIN!

How does Jacuzzi stay in business? Their plumbers have visited our house 6+ times; at an hour drive each way. For the initial leak, I know the contractor charged them a lot to fix all the holes in the newly finished house. They've sent 2 extra tubs (at no charge to us, thankfully). The plumber is about to visit again.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Nice Button With a Gradient PNG

Borrowing again from things Peter has done (Post 1, Post 2), I did a button effect using his gradient alpha PNG ideas.

The Gradient on a blue background:

And the buttons I did using the graphic...really just a solid background with a border. But the gradient makes them look much better.

Button Button Button Button

Note: I couldn't get some of the effects to work right in the blog editor. Since the gradient I did goes from transparent to opaque to transparent in a top-to-bottom pattern, you can use the CSS X:hover to change one tag background-position: top; to do the mouse-over.

.mjbbutton {
background:#f44 url(/images/top-bottom-gradient.png) repeat-x bottom;
border: 1px solid #800;
padding: 4px;
color: black;
.mjbbutton:hover {
background-position: top;

For MyMealCoach, I'm using this so a client will be able pick a color scheme, and the buttons can all change to use their colors--without having to redo any graphics.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pete's Multi-purpose Apha-Gradient PNG

My brother had the idea, and writes about it here.

I'm using it on another site, so at some point clients will be able to customize the look by just picking a couple colors. With the gradient applied, it will look like we're doing all new graphics and things for them :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Increased Download Rates

We made a change to our websites a couple weeks ago, that really seems to have increased the number of downloads!

Previously, the home page had a "Download" button that linked to a separate download page. Pretty ordinary, I made a copy here so you can see.

I could see from the logs that the number of viewers on the homepage, to the viewers of the download page, to the actual files downloads decreased each step. I thought to try some changes to remove some steps--but still keep the information on the old Download page.

Many sites do a Download button, then on the 2nd page use the Meta-Refresh tag to send the download. That works, but gives the Security Warning in Internet Explorer. And I didn't want that either, it's another step for people to download the file.

I started with GetRight Pro, and changed so the download button sent directly to the installer EXE, but also added some javascript, a timer set by the onclick, to refresh the page to a similar "Your download has started" page with the same information as before.

It was right the day after a new version, which spikes the downloads, but they were higher than before. After a week, we changed GetRight to do the same. And it showed a similar increase on the day of the switch--and it's nothing trivial, it's a 10 to 20% increase! Thanks to the nice graphs that FileKicker can do, it's pretty easy to see--this is a 3 month period of downloads, and easy to see the peaks for the new versions.

Here is the basic HTML...just calling a JavaScript timer function in the onclick

<script language="JavaScript">
function handleClick() {
setTimeout('window.location.href = ""', 3000);

<A href="" onclick="handleClick();">Download Now</a>

If you just download GetRight or GetRight Pro, you can see how it works!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Big Pricing Experiment

We decided to do a pretty major pricing experiment. After talking to several people at the shareware conference--we decided to do the opposite of what everybody said.

For a few years, our upgrade policy was "2 years, all upgrades are free" with a $29.95 price. (Before that, it was "free for life"--something I'd do differently. We haven't charged for an upgrade yet.)

The recommendations we got at SIC were to offer a more expensive option with a longer upgrade time. What we did was offer a cheaper version with a lower upgrade time.

"1 year, all upgrades are free"
I've been keeping track of the "Dollars Per Day" (DPD) in Excel. Using a time at the end of June and beginning of July just before we made changes as a base.

We started with the 1 year option at $16.95. I could immediately see that we sold more copies--about 60% of the people choose the cheaper price! But in the end, the big question is did we make more money. We stayed at that $16.95 price for 2 months. At the end, it works out to being at 87% of the base DPD amount. So we made less.*

On October 1, we changed so the 1 year option increased to $19.95. At that higher price, we made 97% of the base DPD amount. So very slightly less.

BUT, these people understand when buying that we're going to charge them an upgrade fee sooner rather than later. So we really are hoping that a little less now works out to more in the long term. Sometime in early 2008 we need an "upgrade worthy" new version--and we'll charge for it.

* Note that all of these are over the typically lower summer months.

Tablet PCs

I've seen pictures for years about the tablet computers, the latest about an Apple one...with various things saying they would be the next big thing.

Why they haven't, and won't be anything more than a niche:
Every time I can remember seeing a marketing picture of one being used, it shows some document with red hand-drawn circles and arrows and handwriting on it. "Fix This." "What About Europe."

For the CEO and high up management types, that looks awesome...but they're the ones drawing the red marks (and approving Tablet PCs). The people whose job is to actually do the "Fix That" is going to want a keyboard. I can only think of specialized jobs that interact better with a computer with a pen than a keyboard. Such as an artist or, say, a CEO who just has to mark up a document :)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Horrible site...

As part of checking the new programs submitted to FindFiles, I visit the sites to check them out.

TSoft came today--the worst web page I've seen in a very long time. I wouldn't mention it if it was some abandoned site without updates in years...but it's obviously being maintained and actively submitted to software sites.

Where to begin critiquing this site....
  • The colors.
  • Animated everything.
  • The "sliding in" text.
  • An animated clock with a totally incorrect time for my time zone.
  • Wait, the other animated clock, also with an incorrect time for my time zone.
  • The details about what the product actually does way down at the bottom.
  • The Internet Explorer promotional button from IE 4(?).

Thursday, November 1, 2007


So, this blog is mainly about computer programming, software marketing, gadgets, probably some video games I'm playing...and also Quilting.

My wife is an avid quilter. I can't sew--but all the algebra and geometry classes I've taken, plus just thinking in terms of pixels for a lifetime lets me be a big help to her for laying out and designing her quilts. In my head, quilts are made of large fabric pixels.

Here is a design I did for her. The cuts divide the middle squares into 2/3 and 1/3 parts. Then just swaping and rotating the pieces. Geeky me, an animated GIF of the cuts and rearranging.

She picked the fabric (she's better at that by far!) She made 4 of the 3x3 checkerboards using 9 inch squares. 2 with the "blue" fabric in the corners, 2 with the white fabric in the corners. Putting all the pieces together in a mirror pattern ended up with this quilt. It looks like it takes a lot more work than it does!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Download completion rates...

We use FileKicker for our downloads, with many different items so we can track different download locations and links on our sites. It lets us get some really good download statistics. I was comparing numbers...our average download completion for several programs is between 61% and 65%. And that's with our main tool being a download manager, which presumably people are using to download many of our files!

GetRight is a bit different...we have used our own tool GetRightToGo for all new user downloads for GetRight. We've been doing that for well over a year.

For GetRight, people first download the 300K small EXE build by GetRightToGo, which then when run it downloads the full 4 MB GetRight installer. (That 4MB is on the small end of when you'd ever want to use something like GetRightToGo--it makes even better sense with huge 100+ MB files; but we want to keep using and showing off our tools!)

I've always seen that both the tiny 300K file, as well as the installer it downloads got far higher completion rates than our regular links--the 300K gets over 91%, likely because it's so small and fast to download. And the EXE downloaded by it gets 85%. But there was always a bit of a drop between the two, people who downloaded the 300K file, but didn't run it (or possibly inflated by people who downloaded the 300K file twice.)

Comparing the worst case: the total number of download starts (completed + abandoned) for ToGo to the total number of completed downloads of the final installer EXE, it's still 68%. Not a huge amount higher than our regular downloads---but it is higher!

It is likely that for a bigger file, the difference would be even larger. Like some of the 1+GB games that have used GetRightToGo--many people would simply be unable to download the files without some assistance!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Web Design...

We did a pretty new and unique web design for, and then later adapted it to

Borrowing from the Windows' Start button, we put all the navigation into a button that showed series of sub-menus. We think it's great. It works especially well for our FindFiles software download site, since it nicely hides and organizes the dozens of categories. It all boils down to a simple, nice button that says "Find Files".

One of the main comments we got was to be careful doing something new and unique...

I think we were right, and a step ahead of the times.'s new web design does exactly the same thing! The main difference is mouse-over vs clicks. I think our onclick is better, it's easy to miss a submenu and have the whole thing disappear on Amazon. But now that Amazon is doing it too--I'd bet you'll start to see this sort of site navigation appearing everywhere!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Incremental Sales...

We'd heard for several years at the Shareware conferences about doing bundling and things to try and sell more. But we never had the products to do it.

After the conference in 2006, I just decided to make some so we could do it! I made a couple little tools (actually extracted parts from a bigger program). Some things that were very obvious and easy to understand. Especially the "Where'd My Space Go?" is easy to understand with the name, a little text, and a picture. I eventually added a friend's screen-saver as another choice. I wanted several very different things--something for everybody.

We did simple checkboxes on the buy page to add them to the orders. And really cheap prices. Make them like the goodies at the checkout in a grocery store--a real impulse thing to add the $5.99 extra tools.

It has worked well. Most days about 10% of the orders add one of the items.

You can see how we've done it at or The GetRight one shows how we've done several buy options as well (more on those in a later post!) We do the form for selecting ourselves, none of the registration services did this the way I wanted. There's a little javascript to direct people to the right spots depending on their choices.

We've also done the tools as standalone programs--with really no promotion. But they've gotten a few sales that way too. The tools we did are available through RegNow's affiliate program, so if you want to try with ours before making your own, you can do that too.


This was a costume from a few years ago. I made the head out of chicken wire and paper mache on an old bike helmet.
I found somebody who could sew (she'd worked on the costumes for a play my brother did) to help build the rest of the outfit.
My wife doesn't particularly like it. I suppose it's because we'd need to build some "Ripley in the fork-lift suit" so we could be a pair.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Free invention idea...

Why do keyboards only come in one size? My 10 year old nephew could be learning to touch type on a smaller keyboard that actually fit his hands better.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A nice Windows trick...

This is one I do on my PCs to make it easy to view any file in Notepad.

Find the registry item:

Add a new sub-item for that:

For the (default) value in the command key, you just want it to be:
notepad.exe %1

Now, every item shown in the Windows Explorer will nave "Notepad" in the right-click menu.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


A friend an I are creating a new fitness website. I'm the programmer, he's the Personal Trainer with the Big Idea (and the sales skills to sell it!)

Among a ton of other cool things I've gotten it to do already, if you have a blog or website like this, you can embed your daily food information for anybody to see! What better way to get feedback and help from your friends and family--they can see how well you're doing sticking to your food goals.

First Post

So, I'm only a couple years late to starting a blog...Today is the day!