The Sacrifice

I have been working on two projects at once for the past week: (1) manually submitting a new app to lots of download sites, and (2) taking notes so I can write an app to automatically submit to these sites.

There is already a good piece of software that can do this. But that software costs $$$ and also requires a montly subscription service. I have a tight budget while I try to generate some revenue. So I have to do this the hard way.

The work itself is not bad. I am a developer at heart. So I love doing this. The problem is that I have a day job. So I need to do this work when I get home. That means no playing video games with the Missus. And I have to skip playing with the kids.

My plan is to not do this forever. Either I am going to make some recurring profit or not. So I won't have to work 2 jobs forever. But my start-up is truly a second job that requires a lot of time that would otherwise go to the family. We are all in this together making a sacrifice.

You Get What You Pay For

I have been evaluating programs that will automatically upload my software to download sites. RoboSoft looks good. However it costs $100 to buy and reuquires a montly service fee. It may very well be worth it thought.

Tried another upload program named SoftCab Submitter. This is distributed as "linkware". As long as my home page links to them I can run their program. That is the theory at least. I linked my main web page to their site. But the program does not recognize this. Therefore I cannot upload any software. Nice. It did not look like this program would help much any way. You must manually select each of the 1000 download sites when using it.

I guess the moral of the story is you get what you pay for. If I can generate enough revenue with the software, I will buy the top of the line submission program. Until then I might have to write my own. I am a developer after all.

Host Contenders

I was starting to think no free web hosting plans exist which allows sharing of executables via http. But I thought I would give a couple more a try. Free Hostia was ranked high by c-net. I uploaded my EXE file and crossed my fingers. But I kept getting a permissions error when I tried to download the EXE. Others file types I uploaded worked fine.

So I tried to work with Free Hostia customer support. Opened a trouble ticket. Response came back quick stating you could not put an EXE on the Internet. I responded that you could and showed some examples from other web hosts. Then I got another quick response stating my file size was too big. So I uploaded a smaller EXE test program. Finally I got the real answer. They do not support EXEs.

About this time I got an e-mail from X10. My account registration had been approved. So I put my executable out there. And I finally got what I needed. I could download my executable using an http URL. Just when I thought all my problems were solved, the X10 web server went down for a while. I started looking for how to report this to customer service. And I found some disturbing news. Seems the support staff was having a stressful time. I saw posts from them like ""If you don't like it, leave" and "Do not PM staff". Their attitude was that it is a free service so customer should not expect much. I am going to monitor their web server up time and figure out if I need to start looking again.

Sharing an Executable

I tested several free web hosts. My main goal was to upload an executable, and make it accessible via an http link. This task appears to be unsupported by most of the free web hosts.

One web host I tried was GeoCities. Their name was familiar because I used to use Yahoo all the time, and I think Yahoo bought GeoCities. So I signed up for an account. This was easy because I already had Yahoo mail. I was told to check my mail to find the signup info. Funny thing was that Yahoo marked the e-mail as spam. But the e-mail came from themselves. Did not matter though, because they do not allow executables to be shared.

The I tried Tripod from Lycos. I had to opt out of a ton of offers to sign up for a free account. However they also turned out to not allow executables to be shared. Reason was that this could spread viruses.

Award Space was a better experience. They had an 18 page terms of service document. Their signup page had a small 3 line control to read these terms. But I copied the terms out to a Word document and poured through it. They stated clearly in there that they do not support executables. Made my life easy. I passed before I even signed up.

Web Host Search

My requirements were simple. Needed a free web host. It had to allow people to access an executable I upload. Finding free web hosts was not very hard. But finding a good one seemed to elude me at first.

I tried out ZendURL. But I ran into problems almost immediately when they ran out of disk space while trying to create my account. Normally I would expect administrators to keep an eye on these things and manage disk usage to prevent this. Not here though. After my account had creation problems, my subsequent actions always got errors like "Warning: opendirfailed to opendir: No such file or directory".

So then I tried HelioHost. I should have known I was in for a treat when the opening page asked "Tired of all the n00b hosts on the net?" But I gave them a try. The top of the signup page had quotes like "All your base are belong to us" and "We areteh roxxors". OK. When I tried to create an account, I just got a "PWNED" message, and the PHP script hung forever. At this point I was not even sure this was a real web hosting site. Maybe it was a joke. Time to continue the search.

Software Release

So I had a Britney Spears blog. And I had a program that would try to drive users to the site. Now I needed to gete my program to users. Since my goal was to get traffic to my site, I figured that I would give my advertising program away for free. I know people can download freeware from the Internet. But where do I send my program so it can get downloaded?

I had previously ran acress a program which would automactially submit your shareware/freeware to over 1000 download sites. This program even had a trial version which was free for 30 days. How could I lose? So I installed this uploading program thinking it would work magic. But there was still work to do. It required you to fill out a lot of information about your program.

One of the difficulties in using the posting program was that I needed my software on the web where one URL could launch a download. I have an ISP. So I put my advertising program on there. Unfortunately my ISP would only allow access via https (secure HTTP). I would later find that many sites featuring freeware could not deal with https.

So I started looking for another web site to host my downloadable executable. Many free web hosts specifically prohibit this. Others do not mention this, but you find out the hard way when you sign up and try to share an executable from their servers. I guess I could have searched for a paid web host that would server up my executable. But I wanted to keep costs low until I was bringing in some revenue. So the search was on for a free web host which would allow an http link which would initiate downloading of my program.

Site Traffic

So I fixed one problem. Provided a site where you can view lots of Britney Spears pictures on one big page. But I created another problem. Nobody was coming to my site. I thought that if you build it, they will come. No such luck.

I am a problem solver. And when I can solve problems by writing code, even better. So I decided to write an app that would direct traffic to my site. What kind of app? Well the Britney Spears image viewer of course.

Britview version 1 was born. I got a bunch of Britney Spears images. Converted them to bitmaps. Embedded them as resources in my application. And Britview would cycle through displaying them one at a time. The drawback was that my executable was huge.

Britview version 2 improved upon this. I know client/server. So I hosted all the images as jpegs up on a server. The app would download them to the local drive and display them. Had a little trouble at first displaying the jpegs. But I got a free library written in C++ to solve that.

Britview version 3 added another twist. I was worried that if a lot of people downloaded and ran my app, my server would die trying to serve up the images. So I figured there were plenty of images already out on the web. My latest version went and downloaded the pictures directly from other servers.

You can see and get Britview 3.0 for yourself.

The Britney Blog

I thought perhaps software maintenance was too narrow a topic. More specifically, I thought it was a topic for too narrow an audience. So I thought about my interests and what was popular. Of course. I could write a blog about Britney Spears.

Unfortunately I do not have any deep insights into Britney news. But I do like looking at Britney Spears pictures. The trouble with a lot of web sites is that you have to do a lot of clicking to see each image. Or the images are embedded amongst a lot of fluff like advertising.

Well I saw a problem and decided to create a fix for it. I would make my Britney Spears blog have a lot of images all available on the same page with little other than the images. Now of course I needed some ads to try to make a buck. But the goal was to be heavy on the images, all on one page.

At first I gave each image a title and some comments. But that took away from the pictures. So I instead put a paragraph after every 20 pictures or so. I needed some text for the Adsense code to detect my topic.

Revenue generated by the Britney Spears big image blog? Nada.

Software Maintenance blog

The day job consists of maintenance for a legacy application suite. It is a relatively large project. The project provides the customer with a lot of money. Figured this would be a good topic to write about. So I started my Software Maintenance blog.

Luckily the antics of software development and maintenance provide for lots of topics to write about. Figured I would get 10 to 15 posts written, then add some Google Adsense ads to monetize the blog. Well I am up to 40 posts on that blog now. Total revenue from ads is a whopping 58 cents.

Not exactly time to quit the day job. But blogging is fun. And I have something to talk about with the development staff, family, and friends.

Company Man

I have decided to start a business on the side of my normal day job. This has always been inside me deep down somewhere. Read an encouraging article about a high-schooler who did the same and became successful.

At first I want to do some blogging. By I am a developer by trade. So I want to also write some software. Thought I would give it 6 months to see where it would go.