Tuesday, March 22. 2011
I've been slacking on state of the company updates because
I'm a slacker.
What We Have Been Up To:
Peter has been working really hard on the heat mapping software we are making for NWB Sensors. The software can now record at 1 FPS (I'm told it will go up to 7 FPS if Sandra Bullock and Keaneu Reeves are using it). The software also keeps track of GPS coordinates which are some of the best coordinates to keep track of. If you need a top-of-the-line heat imaging setup using Flir Tau or Photon cameras and rad software from Digital Engine give Paul or any of the other NWB Sensors guys a call at 406.579.0510.
I have been putting together a web site for NWB Sensors which will be up as soon as they decide on a sufficiently cool URL. I have also been “helping” out at the social media user's group (SMUG) classes that the TechRanch has been hosting. We just finished with the beginner sessions so going forward there will be a class about once a month on various social media topics. Laura Rhodes has been doing a wonderful job putting these on so if you're interested drop by, you can find a schedule on the TechRanch website. Finally I am finishing up an idea we were tossing around the office – a Facebook application to trade and price your friends on a stock market. Brain Trolley Trader is in beta right now so come and try it out!
Kevin has been working on additions to the OpenWrt router firmware to enable VPN with IPsec connections. The functionality is all there and working as of a couple of days ago, woohoo Kevin! Kevin is now working on making the setup process a little more user friendly. The patches have been submitted to the OpenWrt project so be on the lookout for the updates to be committed in the near future. We have also been tossing around the idea of offering pre-loaded and configured routers for sale. I will definitely make it known if or when that happens.
We have also held two LAN parties since my last update. We
have had around 30 people at each which has been amazing! Unfortunately we are
really pushing the limits of the library’s electrical system so if we get too
many more people we may have to start looking for a new venue. If anyone has any good and cheap suggestions please drop me an e-mail.
That is all for this month, happy Spring!
Saturday, January 29. 2011
Digital Engine Software is proud to host our fourth LAN party of
the year on February 5th from 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the Bozeman Public Library. We'll be playing some StarCraft 2, UT 2004, Quake 3, Team
Fortress 2, Counter-Strike: Source, Left4Dead 2 and anything else that
happens to strike our fancy. Drinks and snacks will be provided and
we'll take pizza orders come dinner time. Admission is free and everyone
For more information visit:
Our website: http://www.digitalenginesoftware.com/lan/
Our Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=102202183163875
Or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, November 3. 2010
Another super exciting month for us here at Digital Engine Software. Ok, maybe not super exciting but marginally above average! Let’s see…beginning of the month we had our third LAN party of the year. It was a lot of fun, I got to play grownup Lego’s quite a bit (Minecraft) and Peter laughed all the way to the bank whooping it up on LoL (League of Legends). We also attended the Tech Ranch networking party at the 317 Pub. Having been to a whole two networking events with the Tech Ranch I can authoritatively state that they are all awesome. You get to meet some really interesting people, talk about some cool stuff and usually there is free food/drink. Which brings me to my starving entrepreneur tip of the day: There are a surprisingly large number of events in this town that just give away food. A lot of the time it is even good food (even assuming you haven’t eaten Ramen for the last 12 meals). Attend these events. You will meet some people (sometimes cool) and you may be able to sneak out some food. Mix your stolen food with Ramen the next day and you can eat like a king! I call it Fancy Ramen ™.
As far as actual work goes just some more of the same. I have been finalizing some of the web projects I have been working on and trying to develop a solid marketing plan for whenever Peter thinks of his name for the Git GUI project. Peter, ironically, has been working on the Git GUI project and Kevin has been working on his office management software along with a nearly fully-functional demo for a secret project we’ll hopefully be able to discuss sometime soon. Kevin has also submitted his patch to the Duplicity project to be merged with the main development branch so theoretically Duplicity will have a Window’s port (and a lot of bug fixes) available soon. A social media users group is in the works at the Tech Ranch. The first meeting should take place before the end of the year. Keep an eye on our blog or the Tech Ranch calendar for the official date. More next month!
Monday, October 4. 2010
September is gone already, that was crazy fast. Digital Engine Software has been busy but nothing too much has changed since last month. Kevin has been teetering on the edge of insanity as he works on trying to automate some interactions with the state websites. I’m tempted to try and push him over because I’ve never seen a ginger angry before but as it is I will most likely be the first against the wall when the Kevin revolution comes so I’m not going to push my luck.
In other news we were asked to do an evaluation of some inventory management software. Peter took charge of that and it turns out, unfortunately, that there is only one semi-decent piece of open source inventory management software (OpenBravo in case anyone is curious). OpenBravo is even a corporate sponsored half open source half premium product that has received almost $20M in venture funding. As we were evaluating off-the-shelf software options we also ran the numbers on our own development. Once you begin digging into the nitty gritty of the software features you begin to realize how incredibly immense these programs are. Our conservative estimate for development time was nearly 3,000 hours. There are admittedly some very complex and gigantic open source projects but inventory management doesn’t have nearly the sexy cachet of say a new encryption algorithm implementation. Ultimately we discovered that this is definitely an area that is better served by closed source proprietary solutions. Peter is also still hard at work on his GIT GUI project. I’m pushing him to get it done by December 7th because it’s possible that he may become a permanent resident of the World of Warcraft once Cataclysm comes out.
As I blogged earlier I spent most of September preparing for and actually doing the Orbit seminars. So much fun! We have another LAN party coming up this Saturday (October 9th) at the library. Our reserved seat charity this time around is the Human Resource Development Council – donate and help keep people warm and fed this winter. I’ve also been attending some Young Professionals Group meetings. These are really cool get-togethers put on once a month by the Chamber of Commerce (you don’t have to be a member of the Chamber to join YPG) where younger individuals (<35or so) meet to network, learn stuff, volunteer and have fun. Last month we had three business people from the community come in and answer our questions and I’ve heard that this month is Vegas night. There are four sub-committees within YPG that you can join: Community service, education, social and mentoring and the groups alternate hosting the meeting or activity each month. If you’re a younger professional and you enjoy groups you should totally join (bonus points if you’re not a financial adviser or a chiropractor).
Monday, September 27. 2010
Last week Gary Bloomer from the Tech Ranch, Shelby Nordhagen of NetNewMarketing and I made a trip up to Bigfork and Frenchtown to give our presentations on e-marketing. It was so much fun! The audience members were awesome! They were really engaged and often contributed as much or more than Shelby and I did. I should warn, however, that these seminars are pretty basic. We have a lot of great information but anyone involved in the industry will likely know 95% of the stuff we cover. However, if anyone reading this blog is interested in an introductory course on how to set up a WordPress site, search engine optimization, Google Analytics, AdWords, social networking or e-mail marketing should plan to attend one of our future seminars! They’re a lot of fun, you can make fun of Gary and he can’t do a thing about it plus lunch is included. Keep an eye on this blog or the official Orbit Montana site for dates and places starting again in the beginning of 2011.
I just finished working on a couple of projects that used GoDaddy as their hosting provider. Please note the past tense. GoDaddy is the most worthless hosting provider ever. Not that their actual service is bad once the site is up, they appear to have plenty of hardware and bandwidth, but the getting the site up part is where they fall on their stupid faces. Instead of using the industry standard cPanel GoDaddy decided to roll their own administration panel and incorporate it into their website. I’m not against people trying their own thing, variety is the spice of life as it were, but reinventing the wheel by adding 18 different advertisements and making it oval is a pretty stupid idea.
So let’s assume you have navigated the GoDaddy crap maze and found the area that allows you to create an ftp account. Hooray! You think you’ve won, but in fact GoDaddy has spat in your cereal and definitely not for the last time. For some reason the completely automatable task of ftp account creation takes 30 minutes. Why should something simple like FTP account creation take longer than say 5 seconds? My guess is that the IT guys have been tasked with figuring out how to make bowel movements a sellable add-on and are too busy to work on trivial things like FTP account creation.
Thank goodness, FTP is finally set up, we have a bowel movement added to our shopping cart and we can start making our website. Oh noz! We forgot about the database we need to keep track of the number of kittens I kill while waiting for FTP accounts to setup. But really, how difficult could it be to setup a database? Assuming you can find the link to the database setup page you are required to create another user name and password pair for logging in to the database setup. Once that’s done you can count on another 30 minutes to create the database and users. Cheers GD!
Database is setup, we have FTP access, and finally we are able to get our site up and running! Hahaha, nope. GoDaddy doesn’t have access to some common PHP packages like Archive_Tar or the PHP FTP commands (those are the two that I know of for sure, I’m guessing there are probably lots of others). Of course the fact that these packages are missing isn’t documented anywhere on their website so you get a silent fail and you have no idea why. Not to mention that you can’t create folders outside of the web root, or change the web root location at all for that matter. GoDaddy is a gigantic sore on the internet’s butt. However, I did spend tons of time on their phone support line and never had a bad experience, so kudos on your support GoDaddy otherwise kindly go away.
Friday, September 3. 2010
August is officially over (according to Julius Caesar) so time again for another State of the Company. The big news this month is that we have expanded! An incredible office opened up on the third floor and since things were getting a little cramped up in the tower we decided to get it. Half of the new office is for Peter and half has been converted into an employee lounge of sorts. It's pretty swanky. Unfortunately I keep forgetting to bring my camera into the office so no pictures yet but as soon as I remember I'll update this post.
For any budding entrepreneurs out there considering whether to get an office or work out of a garage, definitely get the office. Yep it's a little extra money a month (when we were first looking prices ranged from ~$275-$600 per month for single offices) but the ability to go somewhere outside of your house and focus on your work is priceless.
On the work front Kevin is still working diligently on his office management project. In fact, due to a shortage of decent backup programs Kevin spent part of August porting Duplicity from Linux to Windows! Woohoo Kevin! While we are waiting on some items to be sorted out with the heat mapping project Peter has been working on a GUI for Git which sounds like it is coming along nicely although I haven't seen it yet so it could be a lie just like the cake. Finally I have been finishing up the real estate search plug-in for Joomanager, making modifications to the Huffing For Stuffing site and working on my Orbit presentation. We are going to have a ton of great information at our Orbit presentations (the first two will be in Big Fork on the 22nd and Frenchtown on the 23rd) so come by if you can make it. Also the next LAN party will be on Saturday October 9th at the Library. See you next month!
Wednesday, August 18. 2010
Sunday, August 1. 2010
The blog has recently started to look like it was written by programming robots. To show that we are actually real life people with feelings and emotions and organs I figured I would write a little about what we have been up to.
Wednesday was the Emerging Technologies Symposium hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. We all went and got to talk with some cool folks. I got us a booth right across from Microsoft thinking Kevin could wage an all-out war in order to release some of the pent up frustration he has had building since he started working with the Microsoft Sync framework. Unfortunately Microsoft sent a non-Microsoft lackey probably realizing full-well that we were planning on ambushing them. Next time Microsoft! Otherwise I thought it was an excellent way to advertise and spend the day. Especially considering the booth only cost $150 and we all got lunch+$25 gift card from HP.
What We Are Doing Right Now
Peter is finishing up work on the heat mapping software he has been working on for NWB Sensors. If you need the best heat camera+software solution that money can buy contact one of the guys at NWB! Kevin has been working hard on the big office management suite he is making for HCS as well as on a super secret project demo. As I mentioned above some of the office management suite functionality was being done using Microsoft Sync but I'm pretty sure Kevin gave up on that and moved back to Git which is great because we now have office t-shirts that say "Git Forked" and this is just one more reason to wear them. I have been working on a PHP script to download MLS files from a repository and add property listings to a Joomanager database as well as create search functionality for said database. Unfortunately because Joomanager is set up to allow you enter any number of fields you want dealing with the database is a gigantic pain. Fortunately it is a kind of fun challenge and I'm almost done!
What We Will Do In The Future (Probably)
This Friday the 6th is our second LAN party. We will be holding it at the Bozeman public library from 3:00 p.m.-Midnight'ish and the theme is StarCraft II but everyone and all games are welcome. Our official LAN website is: http://www.digitalenginesoftware.com/lan/ . Further out I will be helping to teach classes in rural Montana towns on how to setup and market your small business website. This program is being put on by the Tech Ranch and you can find out more at the Orbit Montana website. Peter will be working on our speculative project which is just getting to the exciting parts and Kevin will be planning his revenge. I'll update more next month!
Friday, June 18. 2010
Saturday, June 5. 2010
Well I just realized that it has been nearly two weeks since
LAN for Kids and I hadn’t done a follow up.
I am just recovering now so I figured this might be a good time. LAN for Kids was insanely fun! I had such a great time putting it together,
thank you to everyone who came out. I
would also like to thank our sponsors once again. The Tech Ranch for sponsoring the venue,
Michael Clark from Danix who let us use a whole bunch of his networking
equipment, Scott Lease from Pepsi who donated a ton of pop, Brandon VanCleeve
from Pine Cove Consulting who let us use a couple of their switches, Colter
Lease from Propaganda Works who donated a sweet John Belushi print, Stacey
Alzheimer from Theraputika who donated an hour long massage, Richard
Stallman/The Free Software Foundation for signing the comic, and HeadRoom for the use of their headphones. Go buy their stuff now.
Well I just realized that it has been nearly two weeks since LAN for Kids and I hadn’t done a follow up. I am just recovering now so I figured this might be a good time. LAN for Kids was insanely fun! I had such a great time putting it together, thank you to everyone who came out. I would also like to thank our sponsors once again. The Tech Ranch for sponsoring the venue, Michael Clark from Danix who let us use a whole bunch of his networking equipment, Scott Lease from Pepsi who donated a ton of pop, Brandon VanCleeve from Pine Cove Consulting who let us use a couple of their switches, Colter Lease from Propaganda Works who donated a sweet John Belushi print, Stacey Alzheimer from Theraputika who donated an hour long massage, Richard Stallman/The Free Software Foundation for signing the comic, and HeadRoom for the use of their headphones. Go buy their stuff now.
Because you can’t expect to put on a large event without running into problems, and because it’s sometimes funny to hear about those problems afterwards, especially if you weren’t responsible for fixing them, I will mention our minor freak outs briefly. First we woke up to snow. Dirty, evil snow. Fortunately logistics problems had ruled out our plan for an outdoor LAN (hahaha) and we all knew how to man up so the snow didn’t slow us down. Take that Mother Nature--oh snap! We also didn’t have the internets. Well, we had wireless internet but none of the wired jacks worked. Apparently one of the internet trucks broke down in the internet tubes. We thought Steam games might be a lost cause because even though we were hosting our own servers we still had to make an initial login to Steam to host the game. Then, out of nowhere, Kevin swooped in like a ninja and bridged his laptop’s wireless connection, plugged it into the router and BAM, internet for all! Kevin also set up some sweet traffic shaping so our network performed like a champion and a boss. Kevin saved the day, many thanks Kevin! Also big thanks to Ian Nicklin who helped with setup and game hosting on his personal super computer and Peter Nix who also helped with hosting and setup, you guys rule!
The gaming rocked! Games from 20 years ago are the best. We played some huge Quake 3 games, a StarCraft 1 game, a little Left4Dead and finished off the night with Team Fortress 2. Some guys brought an Xbox with Street Fighter and an arcade control pad and played it on the projector. It was RAD. I bought WAY too much pizza. On the up side it meant everyone got (was forced) to take some pizza home at the end of the night. The event ended just before midnight. Unfortunately during all the craziness I completely forgot to bring my camera, so no pictures this time, but trust me, the setup was beautiful and epic and beautifully epic.
XKCD comic signed by Richard Stallman – Chris Webster
John Belushi Print –
1 Hour Massage – Erin Snyder
Wii Guitar Hero Controller – Ian Nicklin’s boss
Overall I/we had an amazing time and I can’t wait to run another. In fact I will be trying to put together some additional equipment so we can have a complete LAN kit in house and we could potentially host smaller events once every month or two. I did learn a couple of things and I think future events will be much cheaper ($5 or possibly free) and we will sell the food and drink. We also need to find some cheaper space but I’m pretty sure we can work that out. Thanks again to everyone that donated, helped, came or just generally supported us, we really appreciated it!
Boring logistical stuff:
The tough part in hosting LAN parties is that there are
actually some non-trivial costs for each additional person that attends. Each person needs a decent amount of table, a
chair, three or so outlets, a port on a preferably gigabit switch, CAT 5 to the
switch, long CAT 5 from each table switch to a central switch which needs to be
a fairly large gigabit switch. Fortunately
each piece of that equation is a one-time cost.
Unfortunately renting a large space can be relatively expensive compared
to the number of people the space can host times the amount of money we can
reasonably charge them to get in, especially if we want some of that money to
go to a charity. If I can get the
equipment we will be able to host approximately 50-60 people. Fifty or sixty people are all we could
reasonably fit into the Homewood Suites ballroom. I went to nearly every big rental space in
Friday, April 30. 2010
Digital Engine Software and The Bozeman Tech Ranch are proud to
sponsor the first ever LAN for Kids event to be held Saturday May 22nd
from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the Homewood Suites in Bozeman. Net
proceeds will go to benefit Thrive and the CAP Mentoring program.
Digital Engine Software will be offering the following hosted games throughout the evening:
- Quake 3
- Unreal Tournament
- WarCraft 3
- Team Fortress 2
Plus players are free to bring and host any other games they want.
Attendees will be treated to all the pizza and drinks they can handle and the opportunity to win some amazing auction items. Please join us for a fun night to benefit a great cause.
Tickets are $20 each ($10 with student I.D.) and space is limited so register soon!
Register online at: http://digitalenginesoftware.com/lan4kids*All networking, power, tables and chairs will be provided. Please do bring your own computer and monitor.
Tuesday, March 30. 2010
Bresnan - $2,000 per month plus $2,500 setup fee. The rep I spoke with said prices normally run between $85 and $115 per megabit per month depending on location and how much you are buying. He also said they can go up to 1 gigabit connections if needed.
Qwest - $2,750 per month. The Qwest rep said they offer a DS3 connection (45 megabits) for about the same price.
Bridgeband - A rough guess of between $2,000 and $3,000 per month.
LightNex - $1700 per month. LightNex also offers average 10 Mbps burstable to 20 connection for around $1100 per month and average 5 burstable to 20 connection for $765 per month.
Little Apple Tech - I met with one of the Little Apple employees at the home show. He told me that they could provide the bandwidth but that they would probably charge as much (or more) than the other providers because they would have to roll out new hardware.
This little exercise confirmed what I had been suspecting: hosting locally doesn't make financial sense. Even the "premium" hosting services like Rackspace and DreamHost have their highest end dedicated servers for half what we would pay for bandwidth only. However, all of the reps I talked to were really awesome, especially Tom from LightNex who came up to visit us despite knowing full well we were just tire kicking. I certainly hope that one day the market shifts so we can work with at least one of these companies in the future.
Thursday, February 4. 2010
We are making a website right now and we would like users to be able to login using their OpenID credentials. After an hour or so of googling I gave up trying to find a list of the OpenID URL formatting for the various OpenID providers (http://username.myopenid.com or http://flickr.com/username for example) and instead went through the MyOpenID site directory to compile my own list. Here it is in all of its glory:
Edit 2-4-2010: Today I went through and attempted to verify that all of these openid providers were good. The third column in the table represents my findings.
|Blogspot:||http://username.blogspot.com||must use blog url, blogspot = blogger|
|ClaimID:||http://openid.claimid.com/username||Signs in but nothing happens, appears to be broken on claimid end|
|clickpass:||http://clickpass.com/public/username||I was only able to signup with IE and then there was a weird login procedure but it ultimately worked|
|Flickr:||http://flickr.com/username||Couldn't get flickr to work|
|identity.net:||http://username.identity.net/||Never got sign up confirmation e-mail to test|
|Technorati:||http://technorati.com/people/technorati/username||Didn't work, reports of brokenness as of November of last year|
|MySpace:||http://myspace.com/username||Must make and use account url|
|Musicpictures:||http://ww4.musicpictures.com/openid/username||Works fine but there is 0 openid advertising on the site|
|Elgg:||http://explode.elgg.org/username||Tried registering two different places on elgg.org and neither worked. explode.elgg.org no longer exists so I think openid providing went with it. However, there is still an explode.elgg.org option in their openid login so I may be wrong.|
|MyID:||http://username.myid.net/||good - easiest sign up of any site I visited|
|Sxipper:||http://username.sxipper.com/||Demo works with trainer id but it didn't work on the actual openid logins I tried.|
|Typekey is now part of typepad so I couldn't verify that typekey still works but typepad definitely does.|
|Smugmug:||http://username.smugmug.com/||Couldn't get to work with trial account, possibly works after paid?|
|StartSSL:||https://username.startssl.com/||This site is weird, I kept getting ssl errors when I went to sign up. I was told via e-mail however that startssl is an openid provider and their url is in the format listed here.|
|Beemba:||http://username.beemba.com/||beemba.com forwards to cliqset which does allow openid logins but as far as I can tell does not provide logins.|
|Idtail:||http://username.idtail.com||Oriental site of some sort, couldn't get signed up but they do have openid login options|
*These sites do not require your username in the login string.
The login procedures at the different sites varied but my rough estimate says about 50% of the sites require you to know exactly what your personal URL is for the provider you are trying to login through (http://openid.aol.com/joojoo2988 to login with aol). Another 45% used some form of the RPX plugin and the final 5% rolled their own system that assisted with a small set of providers and allowed you to enter the URL for the rest (see Stack Overflow). This list is by no means exhaustive and if you know of another url you would like me to add to the list leave a comment or send an email.
Tuesday, January 26. 2010
And as a random aside: As with a lot of the open source projects R doesn't have the pretty UI but holy cow is it powerful. The DBI/RMySQL packages made interfacing with our database almost trivial. Many thanks to the people that contribute, I just can't say enough good things about R.