Saturday, December 22, 2007

I'm Still Here, More or less.....

It seems like a common theme of some of my more recent posts has been an apology for not posting much lately. So far the on-going legal stuff trying to keep a land developer from forcing a road across my property has cost me heavily financially, and is continuing to do so. To make financial matters worse, a network service and maintenance contract I have had for years with a local county wide agency is not being renewed for next year. Their idea is that they will save money by not maintaining anything and wait until it breaks down completely, then hire someone to fix it. It looks like an impending train wreck to me, but time will tell. Regardless, the contract is not being done for next year. On top of that, ammo has gotten a lot more expensive, and I use a lot of ammo and bullets every year.

Needless to say, I need to get more bucks rolling in the door. Applying for a big grant, or begging for money are just not my style, so I may have to do it the old fashioned way, earn it!

A portion of my income has been coming from software sales of a software package I wrote (and continue to add to) several years ago for running a Washington State liquor store. The computer and financial reporting requirements for small liquor stores here in Washington are so strange that there is no generic point of sale and report writing software that will do the job. Not even close! The my program was written in Visual Basic for DOS, and used the VB DOS ISAM database engine for it's databases. To this day it works well, fast and accurate. It lacks the prettiness of newer Windows based software, but it's rock solid stable and will run well on the most modest of computers. The current cool aid is that DOS is somehow "Hard to use" and Windows is much easier, and that older versions of Windows that will run DOS programs are "No longer supported" by Microsoft. Have you ever called Microsoft for support on one of their operating systems? What a joke.....

None the less, the market is driven by perceptions, not realities. My current software works very nicely on any of the Windows 9x versions, but even with all the tweaking and fiddling, it just doesn't work as it should with any of the Windows NT flavored versions like 2000, XP, and Vista (spit). Sure, it can be run in a virtual machine, or even in a Windows emulator on Linux, but that makes the setup a lot more complicated, and a lot harder to fix if it gets messed up, particularly for the liquor store owner. They just want to run their store, not be a test pilot!

The bottom line of all this is that I'm pretty much working two shifts, seven days a week. During the "Normal" day I do my regular job, then grab a nap (mmmmmm, naps!) then work from after dinner until 3 or 4 am programming, writing a completely new version of the liquor store program from scratch, using Visual Basic 6 for the programming language. C++ would be a better final result, but the learning curve and development time pretty much rule out anything C based.

I've haven't had the time to follow all the blogs as I would like, and posting has been slowed way down, too. You do what you have to do to pay the bills!

In the meantime, if anyone knows of a piece of software that needs to be written that will pay me large amounts of money and which will take a fairly short amount of time to write, I'm open to suggestions!

On the other hand, KeeWee is planning to win the lottery..............




5 Comments:

At Sunday, December 23, 2007 1:55:00 PM, Blogger kbarrett said...

What specific issues were you having under Vista or XP?

I do tech support for a DOS based program ... I know quite a bit about fixing this stuff up to deal with Gate's issues.

 
At Sunday, December 23, 2007 11:07:00 PM, Anonymous Alcibiades McZombie said...

Have you ever tried it with DOSBox? I know it was built for games, but I'm wondering if it can work with other programs.

 
At Thursday, December 27, 2007 2:28:00 PM, Blogger Sigivald said...

Why would C++ produce a better result?

Especially compared to the smaller learning curve of a newer VB (ie VB.NET 2k8).

Thinking about writing in VB6 again gives me the shivers, myself.

 
At Thursday, December 27, 2007 4:09:00 PM, Anonymous Mr. C. said...

ALC: I have not had a chance to try DOSBOX, but the long range solution is, unfortunately, to move to a Windows platform.

SIG: The BIG advantage of using C++ is being able to run it through different compilers for different operating systems, such as Linux.

Mr. C.

 
At Friday, December 28, 2007 2:40:00 PM, Blogger Sigivald said...

Well, true, if that's one of the goals, that's a big win.

But since you were using VB6 and the machines were all end-user-maintained windows machines, I wasn't assuming crossplatform portability as a goal.

(Of course, with Mono you can run .NET CLR code on linux and the rest, as long as you don't do the same things you can't do in portable C++, ie graphics/GUI work.)

 

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