Recessions are good

For some reason, our recent posting of the Goldenseal Pro project is getting tons of qualified programming contractors, and the price quotes are looking much better than what we received last September.  So, we are very optimistic that work will start in earnest on Goldenseal Pro, probably in just a week or two.

Based on financial news and the Baltic Dry Index, it looks like there is a bit of a global economic slowdown going on right now.  So, along with cheaper gasoline, it also seems to be providing much better availability of programmers.

Dennis

Goldenseal Pro progress

We just re-posted the Goldenseal Pro programming work on a couple of websites for programming free-lancers.  At least we are getting experienced at talking with people about it, and have more detailed specs to give.

Back when we were Turtle Creek Construction, we sometimes had to calculate estimates for the subcontractors doing work for us. We’d say “the computer says you can do it for $4250” and they’d say OK.

Maybe it’s time for us to take our years of job costing data for Turtlesoft, and make an estimator for programmers.

Dennis

Goldenseal Pro progress & thoughts about free estimates

We are currently negotiating with a 6th possible programming contractor for Goldenseal Pro, in a 5th country.  So far they have all gone something like this (spread out over a week or 2):

  • Contractor:  We can do the work for $xxxx.
  • Turtlesoft: OK, let’s talk details.
  • Contractor: Great!  Our hourly rate is $xxx.
  • Turtlesoft: Um, what about that $xxxx quote?
  • Contractor: If you pay us for 40 hours of  work at $xxx, we can give you a fixed price estimate.  But, wouldn’t you like to do it hourly instead? It’s really much better to do it hourly.  Really.
  • Turtlesoft: No, we don’t know you well enough to do hourly, and would like a fixed price quote please.  What do you need from us to make that happen?
  • Contractor: (disappears)

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Back when we were Turtle Creek Carpentry, we started off doing time and materials work, but gradually discovered that bidding was more profitable (on average).   I think the basic idea is that any project is risky, and someone has to bear the risk.  In theory, it probably ought to be whoever has more experience and knowledge about the work.    They’ve done it before, and can calculate the costs better.

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On the other hand, every construction contractor probably has horror stories of free estimates gone awry.  Bad math, or nice drawings and calculations that are handed over to someone else who does it cheaper.  Free-estimating anxiety is why we first wrote estimating spreadsheets back in 1986, and why MacNail, BidMagic and Goldenseal have been popular since then.

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Anyhow, we are still looking.  If we don’t have a contractor lined up by February, we will start the work in-house.

Dennis

Goldenseal Pro progress

Well, we had a programming contractor lined up more than a month ago, but it just didn’t work out.   Since then, we have posted the project on several websites for programming freelancers, but haven’t found a good match yet.  We are still talking with a few folks, and hope to have something lined up soon.

The worst that can happen is that we don’t find anyone, and do it in-house instead.

Chart of Accounts window

We are thinking about removing the Chart of Accounts window in Goldenseal Pro, and would like to hear from users who want to keep it (or not).

Way back in early prototypes, the “account finder” window was going to be the main interface, with all money transfers being a drag between accounts.  In practice that didn’t work very well, so the window became much less important.  The employee who did most of the work on it was also not a very good programmer, and nobody since then has figured out his code.  We either need to do a major rewrite, or just abandon it.

Opinions?

Goldenseal and Yosemite

We started testing Goldenseal under the new Yosemite OS10.10, which was just released yesterday.  So far, no problems with the current Goldenseal version 4.9.2 release.  We will also test on some older versions, and will have a more thorough report in a couple of days.

The overall Yosemite interface is “flat”, with most of the 3-D appearance removed.   Seems kind of boring.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director
Turtle Creek Software

Goldenseal Pro progress

The past few days we’ve sent the Goldenseal source code off to a couple of programmers, after signing non-disclosure agreements.  They’ll take a look, and then we’ll decide which to go with, and sign a contract for Goldenseal Pro. That will probably take a week or two.

Meanwhile, we have started work on a major overhaul to the Turtlesoft website.   Web page design has improved enormously since our last site overhaul, and the new format will be friendly to screens of any size: from phone to pad to desktop.  There are a couple thousand pages on the site (mostly in support of the Answers button), so it’s a big project, and will happen gradually.  Right now we are still learning how to best use css rather than tables, for page layouts.

Kickstarter Post-mortem

Running a Kickstarter campaign was an interesting experience!   Even though it didn’t meet its goal, it accomplished several things:

  • We got some video editing experience.  In the works are some instructional videos that we will put on YouTube, to help out beginners.
  • All but $40 of the backing came from existing users.  We kind of expected some new users/backers from Kickstarter itself, but business software must just not be entertaining enough for that. Oh well, this is what happens when you are in a non-sexy industry like accounting.
  • We got acquainted with Kickstarter.  They make it very easy to set up a campaign.  We’d recommend it highly if you want to produce a movie, or launch some sort of innovative tool that will attract the fancy of the Kickstarter backer pool.
  • It was a “vote of confidence” with our users.  Although not overwelming, it was sufficient to make Goldenseal Pro seem worth doing.
  • We now have the same incentives on our shopping cart, as reduced price pre-orders for Goldenseal Pro.  You save some money by paying in advance, and we get the funding we need to have pros do the conversion. We even save the 5% Kickstarter fee.
  • Playing around with Cocoa for a couple months really convinced us, we would much rather work on estimating and accounting code, rather than slog through framework esoterica that we’ll never touch again.  Unfortunately, Apple’s standards for developer tools are much lower than for their consumer products.  PowerPlant was understandable, and it’s sad that it wasn’t replaced with something as good, or better.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director
Turtle Creek Software

Goldenseal Pro

The bad news is that the Kickstarter did not reach its goal.  There were 23 backers and $7000 pledged.

The good news is that bids for the programming work came in lower than expected.  Two freelancers from Sweden & India respectively, have already done Carbon to Cocoa conversions, and seemed very competent from our message exchange.

So, we are now accepting pre-orders for Goldenseal Pro, and the project can probably still proceed on the original schedule.

If you have questions, please contact us by email or phone (607 220-4514).

Thanks,

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director
Turtle Creek Software