Kevin Dente's Blog

The Blip in the Noise
How TO Sell Software - JetBrains responds

This morning I was pleased to find a comment to yesterday's blog post about JetBrains from Alex Tkachman, COO of said company. He was very apologetic about the problems with their site, and generously offered me a free license to Resharper. Thanks Alex!

In contrast to my earlier post, this is a very smart way to sell software. "But", you may say, "they haven't sold anything". And that's true, so far. But what they have done taken a disgruntled prospect, who probably wouldn't have purchased the software at this point anyway, and turned him into a potential advocate for their software.  At best, I may like the product so much that I recommend to my co-workers that we buy more licenses. At worst, they've addressed a public complaint and generated some good will. This is one of the beauties of the software business, by the way - it doesn't actually cost them material goods to do this. Just an email containing a license key.

Kudos to JetBrains for keeping their ears to the ground and staying engaged in the community. Even with a lowly ZZ lister like me.

I stand by my contention that time-limited license keys are a bad idea, though. Had the software simply been time-bombed from the install date, I might have been a real paying customer from the get-go.



Posted Friday, January 12, 2007 9:48 AM by kevindente | 2 comment(s)

Vista Issue for Application Developers - Notification Icon Color Schemes

One of the implications of the new Vista look and feel that I hadn't considered before upgrading is the effects of the new Explorer color scheme. In particular, I've noticed that some notification icons (I won't call them tray icons lest Raymond beat me about the head and shoulders with his Windows 95 Ship-It Award) have color schemes that don't play as well on Vista. A good example is PureText, the extremely useful tool for removing rich text formatting on the clipboard. On XP the icon looks like so:

Looks OK, right? Here's how it looks on Vista:


Definitely a lot less contrast-y. Something to keep in mind when designing apps for Vista.

Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 9:24 PM by kevindente | 1 comment(s)

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Vista Issue of the Day - Cropper Goes to the Crapper

One of the unfortunate casualties of my upgrade to Vista has been Cropper, the excellent screen capture tool from Brian Scott. It seems that desktop composition wreaks havoc with Cropper's ability to capture screen shots correctly - the Cropper overlay shows up in the captured image, thusly:


Setting the Compatibility option on the Cropper executable to "Disable Desktop Composition" fixes the problem, but of course without Glass the screenshots don't look nearly as cool.

I exchanged a couple of emails with Brian, and he's working on a fix. I look forward to an updated version - Cropper has been my screen capture tool of choice.

Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 8:47 PM by kevindente | with no comments

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How NOT to sell software - JetBrains web site problems

JetBrains is currently running a special promotion for Resharper, offering a "Personal License" to individuals for $99. Being potentially interested, I've spent the last couple of days trying to get an eval license so I could try the software before buying. Unfortunately, filling out the form for a 30 day eval license and submitting it just results in the error ""Our server is temporarily busy. Please, try again later or contact us via e-mail:". I sent an email to that address, but got no response. This does not make me feel warm and fuzzy about buying their software.

This also highlights what I think is a silly but not uncommon practice - the timed-limited license key. If you want to enforce a time-limited eval, great. But don't make me request a special key in order to evaluate the software - just start the clock when I install it. You goal as a software vendor is to make it as easy as possible for me to try (and hopefully get hooked on) your software. The more barriers you put up to that, the less like I am to try it, and the less likely I am to buy it. The "request a key" approach is both an additional hassle for me and introduces a potential point of failure - as in JetBrains' case.

Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 10:38 AM by kevindente | 8 comment(s)

Vista Issue of the Day - Firefox 2.0 CPU Utilization

OK, this isn't really a problem with Vista per-se. But I've noticed that when running Firefox 2.0 on Vista, it's constantly spinning the CPU at 15-25%. Restarting Firefox doesn't seem to help, I have just a few tabs open, and they aren't doing much of anything, And yet the CPU utilization for the process is constantly between 15-25%. I certainly didn't have the problem on XP. Is anyone else seeing this?

UPDATE - It looks like the Mouseless Browsing extension was the cause of this. After disabling it, CPU utilization of Firefox drops to negligible when idle. Either a) this was a problem on XP and I never noticed it, or b) the extension does something which causes the CPU problem on Vista but not XP. More research required here. Too bad, I dig that extension.


Posted Friday, December 15, 2006 8:28 PM by kevindente | 1 comment(s)

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Vista Update - No UAC for you, one year!

Unfortunately, I've had to disable UAC on my Vista install. I was hoping to run with it enabled, at least for a while, so I could grok the issues of developing with and for it. Sadly, it seems somewhat broken on my machine. As I described previously Most of my Control Panel applets, as well as some other apps (like RegEdit) simply failed to run with UAC enabled, displaying a "path not found" error. A few I could work around using Run As Administrator, but in many spots I didn't even have that option.

I'm assuming what was supposed to happen was that an elevation prompt was supposed to be displayed (I don't have a clean install of Vista to compare against, so I can't say for sure). If anyway knows a way to fix this problem, drop me a line. Until then, no soup for me.

Posted Friday, December 15, 2006 8:13 PM by kevindente | 3 comment(s)

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Vista Issue of the Day - Remote Desktop Kills Local Desktop

After upgrading my machine to Vista yesterday, I went home and connected to it via Remote Desktop (from an XP client). It worked fine. However, when I came in to work this morning, I found both my screens blank and unresponsive - I got a mouse cursor and that's it. I could still connect to the machine through Remote Desktop and all my apps were still running fine, but sitting down at the machine, I got nothing. The only thing I could do was remotely restart the machine.

My instinct is that it's a video driver issue, but that's just a guess. More experimenting is required.

Posted Thursday, December 14, 2006 9:21 PM by kevindente | 53 comment(s)

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Upgrade to Vista complete

At long last I've upgraded my machine to Vista. Yes, I used the "u" word. Although I'm usually a clean-install kind of guy, I just got my machine a couple of months ago, and didn't have the heart to rebuild it all from scratch. So I took a chance and went the upgrade route.

My first comment on the upgrade is that it's s..l..o..w. Man, it took forever - at least three hours, probably more - and that's on a very fast machine. I started it at 5pm last night, and when I left at 6pm it was still on the "gathering information" phase (the first step). I clicked "next" at 9:30am this morning (don't know how long phase I took after I left), and it ran until 11:30am. The good news is that it didn't require a lot of handholding.

I've only had a half a day of playing with it, but so far things seem pretty solid. I do have one problem, though. The Administrative Tools Control Panel applets don't run unless I right-click and choose "Run as Administrator". Otherwise, I get a "path not found" error. I would expect an elevation prompt (I'm using UAC), not an error. Do other people see this? It may be upgrade related - I haven't done a fresh install yet.

Posted Wednesday, December 13, 2006 8:43 PM by kevindente | with no comments

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Understanding the Rules for Vista Aero Glass Support

I've been pondering upgrading to Vista over the last couple of days, but hadn't pulled the trigger because of uncertainty about support for Aero glass on my machine. In particular, I run dual 20" monitors at 1600x1200 resolution per monitor, and wasn't sure if the 128 MB of video memory on my video card was sufficient to support glass in this configuration. Lots of Googling didn't turn up any answers, so I turned to the always reliable win_tech_off_topic group.

Drew Marsh was good enough to point me to this document, which I hadn't turned up in my search. It describes the rules Vista uses for determining when Aero glass is enabled, including the memory and bandwidth requirements for various resolutions and in different monitor configurations. Very useful - thanks Drew.

The good news is that it looks like I'm OK with my paltry 128 MB of video memory. Upgrade is a go!

Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2006 10:06 PM by kevindente | 2 comment(s)

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MS Ajax beta 1 goodies

Lest I be seen purely as a big fat winer ;), here's some of the really positive things I've noted in the MSAjax beta 1 release:

  • Opera support (or at least, a commitment to it) - fantastic, Microsoft really listened to the community on this one
  • Improved debuggability - much needed, spelunking through earlier Atlas CTPs in the debugger wasn't very fun
  • Replaceable script library - again, oft requested by the community
  • ScriptManager.EnablePartialRendering defaults to true - I never did understand why it was false originally.
  • UpdatePanel client-side events - woohoo!
  • Extender controls now look a lot more like regular ASP.NET controls - a good thing

I'm planning on digging into the beta a lot more over the next couple of weeks. More later...


Posted Friday, October 20, 2006 1:12 PM by kevindente | 1 comment(s)

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