Goal-Free Living With Stephen Shapiro

I did my usual weekend house chores which gives me the opportunity to listen to Podcasts, which is something I relish. I want to recommend a great interview that Michael D. Pollock of Solostream Webstudio did with Stephen Shapiro about his book and web site Goal-Free Living.

Stephen talks about how many successful people he’s interviewed don’t equate their success to lots of goal setting and how people become stressed by goal setting. Likewise todo lists can become a real burden and get in the way of what needs to be done. Stephen keeps a short todo list with just the top priority items on it. Then he has a can do list for everything else. Items move across from the can do list to the todo list as necessary. I do like the sound of this.

Other concepts Michael and Stephen discuss include “Use a Compass, Not a Map” where you find the intersecting point between passion (what you love to do), skills (what you are good at), and value (what creates value – for you and others). If you can achieve the right amount of passion, skills and value you can be successful in whatever it is you want to achieve.

I’ve always been passionate about what I do and what I deliver to my customers. And I’ve always felt I deliver real value. Skills is where I come up short. Not in in the ability to create good products, but in my abilities to be a great marketer and salesperson. People that run small business’s need to be skilled in many different areas, which is simply a fact of life, so we do the best we can and get on with it.

I’m sure you will find SavvySoloCAST #29: Goal-Free Living With Stephen Shapiro a great way to start your week.

Two in one – Surfulater V1.99, Build 2.0 Released

Two releases in the one week, we must be getting close to Christmas. This release will make our bleeding edge users happy, as Surfulater now works with IE7 RC1 and also with Firefox Version 2.0, RC2.  Note that neither IE7, nor FF2 have actually been released yet.

There was a problem with Attachments not opening if IE7 was installed, along with a more pressing problem which came out in this weeks V1.99.1.0 release. The latter prevented expandable fields from appearing at their full height and was caused by all of the CSS changes which have recently been made. Both of these have been fixed and Surfulater now behaves itself, if either IE6 or IE7 is installed. Hopefully no further problems will show up when IE7 is finally released.

For Firefox Version 2, RC2 I’m pleased to say all that was required was a simple update to the Surfulater Firefox Extension. In earlier days the Firefox folks make a number of changes which broke lots of Extensions. I was dreading that being the case again, which it wasn’t. If you are using FF V2 you need to download and install the new extension.

I’d not seen either IE7 or Firefox V2 until yesterday and without wanting to stir up any debates I have to say I really do like what I’ve seen so far in IE7. It looks good, seems smooth and fast and works well. Unfortunately I can’t quiet say the same for Firefox V2. However neither product has been released yet, so it is premature to make any final judgments.

Downloads are in the usual place, so go for it. Oh and release notes are over here.

Surfulater V1.99, Build 1.0 out now

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the latest release of Surfulater is now available for download. I would have posted earlier but there have been a few hiccups and we’ve got workmen here making lots of noise, which is a tad distracting.

If you have Internet Explorer Version 7 (Beta? or RC1) installed I suggest you stick with V1.98.4.0 for now as Texas Tomato has reported a problem which is caused by IE7. I’ll be looking at the IE7 issues shortly and hope they’ll be easy enough to resolve.

Two other problems showed up today. One by Perry Mowbray that turns out isn’t new, and another by David Wengier that sort of is. The good news is I’ve already fixed them both, and neither should prevent you from using this new release.

You’ll find the nitty-gritty details about this release in the Surfulater Help and also on our Forums. Make sure you backup your Knowledge Bases before installing any new release, as well as on a regular basis.

I’ll write in more detail about the latest release once the hammering stops, if not   sooner. In the mean time have a great week.

PS. Please excuse the MojoPac distractions.

PPS. Perry reckons the new release is snazzy.

MojoPac – Potentially Great Software with Serious Flaws

The ability to run Surfulater from a USB Stick is something our users and I would like to see. It is easy to carry around your Knowledge Base files on a USB stick or even use them directly from a USB stick, but there are times when you are using someone else’s PC and want to use Surfulater. One way to accomplish this is to run it on the USB stick. However there are hurdles to overcome, primarily in respect to licensing and conversely piracy. We need to ensure that our customers can use their copy of Surfulater on a USB stick, but prevent unlicensed use, and that’s the difficult part.

To my knowledge only U3 USB sticks provide the capabilities software developers need to adequately protect their software on USB sticks, however there is a reasonable amount of effort required to get your software working on U3 devices and I’ve read where some folks aren’t all that happy with the way U3 works and about it not working in some corporate environments. So I’ve shied away from this as a solution and have been looking at alternative ways of meeting the need to access Surfulater Knowledge Bases on different PC’s. For example providing the ability to view KB’s in a Web Browser, without needing Surfulater installed at all. I’m also working on synchronization, which will make it a breeze to use the same KB’s at work and at home.

So what’s this about MojoPac? My friend Leigh Wardle e-mailed me yesterday to tell me he had Surfulater running on a USB stick using a new product called MojoPac and my reaction was wow, followed by how! I couldn’t see how they could protect licensed software from being pirated by copying the MojoPac installation. I told Leigh of my concerns and he promptly e-mailed me back an excerpt from their Web site that indicated the software was protected by locking it to the serial number of the USB device, and therefore copying it to another USB stick wouldn’t work. I thought ok that sounds great I really need to give this thing a try. Unfortunately it was downhill from there.

I duly registered on the MojoPac web site and downloaded the software. My first problem was that I wasn’t able to install it on my 1G Corsair Flash Voyager USB stick because it doesn’t have a serial number. That’s fine and good, as without a serial number they can’t provide the protection software developers need.

I tried another USB device and it worked a treat. Start it up and you get a clean, brand spanking new instance of Windows XP running. I have to tell you I was impressed, and still am.

Next I installed Surfulater and after a small hiccup it installed and ran perfectly. I exited MojoPac, moved the USB device to another PC and started it there and again it worked a treat. Next I activated the Surfulater license to get it from a Trial Version to a Full Version and did some more testing, which all went fine.

Then I moved the USB drive back to the original PC, started MojoPac and Surfulater and Surfulater ran as a Free Trial when it should have been fully licensed! This is problem number one. In essence any software that uses protection techniques that check for various installed hardware will likely not work with MojoPac, as it stands. This is because a MojoPac system includes a mix of the underlying PC’s hardware plus its own emulated or virtual hardware. To resolve this the underlying hardware should not be visible in MojoPac. I think you’ll find a fair bit of commercial software won’t work, because of this. But things get worse.

I kept thinking that relying on a serial number alone to protect MojoPac and all the licensed software installed therein couldn’t be adequate and it didn’t take long to prove that I was right.

I went back to my original Corsair USB stick (without a serial number) and installed a virtual drive. This looks to Windows like a real drive and includes a serial number. MojoPac installed and ran fine on this, and my initial reaction was great. But then reality set in. I can copy this virtual drive to another USB stick or hard drive, or post it on the Internet for others to use, and MojoPac works.

This means that MojoPac itself is easy to copy (pirate) and use without paying for it, but the far bigger problem for me as a commercial software developer, is that it makes my software just as easy to copy and use for free. Surfulater won’t run on a different hardware configuration as I mentioned above, which is a MojoPac failing they need to resolve, but other licensed software I tried works perfectly.

I really don’t want to rain on their parade as I see MojoPac has great potential if these issues can be resolved, but my feeling is that the underlying issues will be difficult to fix. The MojoPac Web site tells us they’ve got some very clever people working there and they are nicely cashed up with VC Funds, so resources shouldn’t be a problem (yeah I’m jealous I know). As things stand right now they need to take some urgent action before they get into serious hot water. If it were my product I’d remove it from the market untiil I could address these issues.

There also seems to be discontentment brewing over on the MojoPac Support Forums, with company representatives AWOL. Hopefully they’ll return soon.